Shakespeare is possibly the most famous playwright in the world, but his 16th century English can often be quite difficult to understand. Yet, most English speakers use his words and expressions everyday without even realising it. Shakespeare was a rebel as far as spelling and grammar were concerned! He often changed verbs to nouns, adjectives to verbs, borrowed from other languages and invented many words that we still use today. The English language has Will to thank for words like manager, advertising, gossip and meditate. He also used unfriend (in Twelfth Night), centuries before Facebook appeared on the scene.

There are many expressions that he invented, or made popular, which are still a part of everyday language. They are used to make stories more dramatic, to express emotions and to brighten social situations. For example, when you want to help people relax in a difficult situation you might use the expression “Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew). When somebody tells a joke and you laugh so much that it hurts, you say “I was in stitches” (Twelfth Night). If you don’t understand what something means you can say “It’s all Greek to me” (Julius Caesar) and if a guest eats all your food and leaves your fridge empty, you can say “He ate me out of house and home” (Henry IV).


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