What is Smissle? 

When people see the name of my site, they invariably think it has something to do with a missile. But no. Although it will hopefully make your English skyrocket, it has nothing to do with missiles.

SMISSLE is actually a play on the Russian word for sense, смысл

... and that's what this site is all about — going beyond the dictionary and textbook, and opening up a whole new world of meaning for anyone interested in mastering actual American English. 

Note: Smissle is meant to be enjoyed as a full-screen experience. If you're on a tablet, turn it to landscape. If you're on a computer, make sure the browser window is completely open.  

Does not work well on phone screens.

The Problem...

If you've been studying English for some time, yet find yourself completely lost when you watch American movies or listen to Americans converse, don't be disheartened or surprised. The fact is that textbooks and basic online language-learning sites rarely prepare learners for real-life language. They usually teach a very polite, "clinical" version of the language — a lot of which is actually barely ever used by native speakers in day-to-day life. They also discourage the aspects of spoken English that make it natural — things like contractions, reductions, slang, catchphrases and language that may not be 100% grammatical, but is in common, everyday use by native English speakers.

Dictionaries aren't much help either in that regard; they'll normally give superficial meanings and examples of words and phrases, but don't explain the nuances they express when used with different intonations or in different contexts, or what they imply when used at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of an utterance, for example. However, their worst offense is that they don't often differentiate between formal, bookish words and those that are more common and idiomatic in conversation — to say nothing of archaic forms that nobody actually uses.

If you have trouble understanding anything on this page... or anywhere else on this site, please use DeepL to translate it into your own language. I feel this is the most reliable translator available online. 

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The Solution...

My name is Hugh. On Smissle, I talk about real-life situations naturally, in an English that's worth learning... and more importantly — worth repeating. What sets this site apart from others is the fact that it's geared towards learners, so everything I say in Stories or on Pages is fully explained. I describe the way Americans speak and what they mean when they use certain words and phrases in different contexts to express themselves from a deeper place; what they're feeling, how they want to make the listener feel, their attitude towards the subject being discussed, etc. In many ways, what I present here is the English I speak, which may sound a bit arrogant, but actually makes sense for several reasons: 

⦿ My English is very standard. I have no trace of any regional dialect in my speech, so it's very neutral, which is what foreign learners are expected to sound like. It would be very odd for an English learner from France to have a Georgia accent, for example, unless they actually live or have lived in Georgia and acquired it organically. 

⦿ My English is consistent. I often see English learners use a mishmash of British English, Australian English, rap English and slang from all sorts of other Englishes. The language on this site is purely American — which includes borrowings from other dialects of English that Americans actually do use. 

⦿ My English is pretty darn good (if I must say so myself!). As a professional translator and editor, I know my language inside and out. I know what sounds current and I know what sounds outdated; I know what sounds natural and I know what sounds silly. And this information is vital if you're to take your English to the next level.

I also think there's an advantage to listening to the same person consistently and tuning your ears to their English. You may have trouble understanding everything I say at first, but the more you listen and re-listen to my stories and examples, the more accustomed you'll become to my voice and speech patterns, and the more you'll understand me regardless of how fast I speak, which will ultimately help you understand others. 

Finally, another advantage to this site is the fact that I'm available to answer your questions and explain whatever I can. I encourage users to write me, comment within the pages, and ask me to explain anything you don't get, or to request that I add new content you'd like to learn more about.

Click on the magnifying glass in the top right corner of this window and enter a word or phrase to start exploring and learning. If you don't find what you're looking for, shoot me an email and suggest it!