William Shakespeare is usually considered the father of English literature. Students study his work in schools all around the world and his plays are rarely out of theatres. But, even if you’ve never read anything by Shakespeare and can’t name one of his plays, he has probably still had a greater influence on your life than you think, thanks to the words he invented. Here are just a few of the many words that experts say came to our language thanks to Shakespeare:


gossip     fashionable     champion     luggage     advertising


He apparently used 31,534 different words, often changing nouns to verbs and verbs to adjectives to invent completely new forms. Shakespeare lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which was a time of great of great movement: merchants and pirates travelled all around the world, bringing new language with them. There were no fixed spelling rules and words changed all the time.

Don’t worry if you find English spelling difficult: even Shakespeare had problems with his own name. Here are some of the different ways he wrote it!


Shakspere, Shakspeare, Shaksper and Shackspeare






Now, let’s practice!

Answer Keys


Illustration by Paolo D’Altan, taken from Akron House Mystery by Gina D.B. Clemen, Green Apple Step 1 (A2)