While it's important for language learners to study a language's grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, it's also important to take the time to learn about a language's history, poetry and culture.

One way that this can be achieved is by studying great and timeless sayings such as those by Mark Twain, Angelou, George Bernard, Goethe, and Waldo Emerson. The quotes about life from these literary and philosophical greats - and many more - can motivate you, inspire you to believe in yourself, tackle adversity and maybe even change your life for the better.

An inspirational quote can help you rediscover the English language, or help you improve your language skills in your English classes!

In this article, there are inspiring quotes, love quotes, leadership quotes, success quotes and timeless words of wisdom from histories greatest minds. 

We've compiled a fascinating list of some of the best quotes. Only the most famous quotes have made the cut, so read on and hopefully be inspired to live your best life!

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The Best English Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. - Confucius.

Confucious is world-renowned for many famous sayings, though none more than this one. Distinctly wise, Confucious invites us to dream, considering our joys and passions when deliberating our career decisions.

We've all worked jobs that made us unhappy. Life doesn't always afford us a direct route to a fulfilling job, but we can surely invest our time, our spare time, to the pursuit of the things we love to do.

Who knows, maybe one day, doing the things that make you happy will also earn you a living.

Consider this related and inspiring quote from the Dalai Lama. He said:

 

“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” - Dalai Lama

In other words; work and sacrifice for the things you want to achieve, and allow the effort expended to measure your success.

Fantastic words to live by!

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." - Confucius

Another life quote from the god-father of Easter philosophy: Confucius. Encouraging us to stay motivated, Confucius reminds us to always strive for progress.

The idea behind these types of inspirational sayings is that progress is progress, no matter how small the increment may be. As long as we persevere we are not lost.

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Albert Einstein is known for many famous quotations.
Albert Einstein is known for famous quotes and sayings, in addition to his mathematical mind. (Photo via Visualhunt)

“Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

It is well known that Albert Einstien was an interesting and eccentric character. Possessed with extraordinary intellect, Einstein called himself "passionately curious", and this curiosity drew him to many monumental discoveries in maths and physics.

It also lent him toward philosophical contemplation. This quote invites us to employ our creativity in the solution of problems, allowing for a mix of practicality and imagination to light our paths.

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"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

This fantastic inspirational life quote by Albert Einstein has many layers.

One can read this quote and apply it to something tangible and practical, like an idea for a new business or product. A known basis for successful entrepreneurship is the identification of a problem or "pain point" in the people's lives that can be solved with a good idea. 

More abstractly, however, we can read this as an encouraging quote because it tells us that in the midst of strife or struggle, there is a path forward toward success and a positive outcome. It might be heartbreaking to lose your job, for example, but now you have more time for your passions. Maybe you develop connections with people who have similar interests and one of them wants to work with you! Now you work in a more exciting field or you've met someone special that you otherwise would not have. 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

The face of the Civil Rights Movement in the '50s and '60s, Martin Luther King Jr. was known for his inspirational speeches and quotes about justice and love.

In a world where the strength of our institutions and the strength of our compassion are being tested, this quote is as relevant today as it was when it was first said by MLK.

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Learn English through MLK's impressive, emotional and inspirational speeches
The courageous Martin Luther King spoke inspirational words for justice and equality. (Photo credit: Alachua County via Visualhunt / CC BY)

 

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was the first president of the Republic of South Africa, spent 27 years in prison for fighting for his beliefs, and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

This positive thinking quote reminds us that failure is inevitable, and what matters is how we handle and deal with that failure. Will you give up and go home, or will you stand up and keep fighting? That is the hidden question behind these words of wisdom.

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“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” - Hellen Keller

Hellen Keller was an incredible woman. Despite her multiple disabilities affecting her ability to communicate with others, she became an icon and activist for disability in the United States and is now a household name. 

This quote strikes particularly hard from a woman who was deaf, blind and who could not speak but who nonetheless learned to communicate, live life, love and inspire others. 

You might like to add quotes like these to your English conversation classes, or maybe this one:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong”  

Mahatma Gandhi a spiritual and political leader whose image is synonymous with peace. He led the Indian Independence movement against colonial Britain in the 1940s.

What Gandhi quote explains itself. Forgiveness is not weakness, it is strength. The inability to forgive is a symptom of the weakminded. 

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Inspirational picture quotes of the Buddha
Inspiring thoughts from Buddha. Photo via Visual Hunt

Quotes to Inspire Your Individuality

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” - Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde earnt the right to give such advice. Unwilling to compromise any aspect of his identity, he served years in jail for his proclivities and spent the rest of his life in voluntary exile.

When examing Wilde's life, one can only determine that he lived completely on his own terms, and was willing to sacrifice anything for the right and space to do so. 

The crux of this quote is; forget everyone else, focus on yourself and be who you are.

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Funny Quotes On Being Stupid

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” - Albert Einstein

Another famous quote from the super-famous Albert Einstein. Actually, there is some conjecture as to whether or not Albert Einstein did speak these words, but it has become a famous saying that is generally attributed to the genius physicist.

It was the Gestalt therapist Frederick Perls that attributed this quote to "a great astronomer", whom many believe it to be Einstein. He described this interaction with Einstein as an "afternoon of unpretentiousness and warmth".

It is interpreted that this observation by Einstein wasn't spoken with cynicism but rather pragmatism and humour, hiding some valuable wisdom amidst an entertaining and humorous comment.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” - George Carlin

The hall of fame American comedian and social critic, George Carlin, was known for putting a humorous spin on basic observational truths. His material more often than not focused on the lack of intelligent thought and action of his fellow Americans and American society as a whole, including the countries political leaders.

If you're a fan of stand up comedy, you probably have seen some of Carlin's work. If you're someone who's interested in some intellectual, thought-provoking comedy, George Carlin is a great place to start.

The cat in the back is jealous of that box!
The black cat is jealous of the grey cat's box! We all get jealous sometimes, even cats. Source: Pixabay Credit: Dom Alberts

Best Quotes About Jealousy

“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” - Sean Covey

Sean Covey is the author of a series of books aimed at guiding children through their adolescent years. He advocates a philosophy of personal responsibility and self-improvement.

With online culture becoming increasingly turbulent for young people (Cyberbullying, "cancel" culture, etc.) this quote has never been more relevant than it is today.

Some of the world's political leaders might also benefit from this wisdom!

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” - Othello (William Shakespeare)

Jealousy was a major theme in many of Shakespeare works. Spoken by the treacherous Iago to Othello, was this a clue that should have been heeded?

Here are some more jealously quotes from the famous playwright:

“So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be spilt.” - Hamlet

Often considered Shakespeare's catharsis from the death of his son, Hamlet is a window into the mind of the man and his life away from the ink and the stage. Why was he feeling guilty? Was this line prophetic in nature?

“How many fond fools serve mad jealousy?” - The Comedy of Errors

A near-musical and brilliantly poetic lamentation that comments on the dangers and difficulties of love.

The Best Humorous Quotes

“You only live once but, if you do it right, once is enough.” - Mae West

Known for her recklessness and candor in the face of censorship, this is possibly one of Mae West's least controversial quotes!

The profound truth in these words invites any who hears it consider their own choices. When we are elderly, and we look back upon our lives, will we be proud of our decisions, our path, and our actions? 

These words also serve to highlight the comforting fact that one whole life is more than enough time to live well and discover fulfillment and purpose.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

While this comment spurs amusing imagery, it also touches on the loneliness felt by Marx, one of America's greatest comedians.

Famous in the '50s, Marx probably didn't imagine the invention of LED-backlit e-readers making the inside of a dog a theoretically viable location for sinking one's teeth into a good book!

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." - Theodore Roosevelt 

A humorous take on personal responsibility from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States.

Known for his exuberant personality, Roosevelt cleverly implies that you are the one who is the most responsible for whatever situation you find yourself in and that you should focus on yourself and not others when it comes to the attribution of blame.

Theodore Roosevelt served eight years as president between 1901 and 1909 and is considered to be one of the most famous US presidents in history.

Quote of the day: Inspire yourself
Quotes to inspire you could become part of your daily wellness routine!

Read a quote a day to inspire you! (Photo via Visual Hunt)

Using English Quotes Correctly

English quotes are fantastic additions to an assignment or an essay. They add gravity to your words and serve to accentuate important points and help build the interest of the reader.

Consider introducing your dissertation with a relevant English quote, if you're a tutor or teacher, encouraging your students to do so. There's no better way to impress an assessor than a quote from Lao Tzu, Davin Thoreau, Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey or Dr Suess. 

To avoid plagiarising, don't forget to place quotation marks and attribute the quote to the person who said it!

There are quotes out there for any topic. Strengthen your argument by illustrating a connection between your writing and pre-existing ideas.

People on the internet are most interested in these types of quotes:

  • Life
  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Jealousy
  • Courage
  • Craziness
  • Sadness
  • Family life
  • Inspiration
  • Solitude
  • Marriage
  • Trust
  • Work

What Exactly is a Quote?

A quote is anything that was said by someone other than yourself. Utilising quotation marks, as we have done in this article, signifies that this quote did not originate from the writer, but from someone else. Attributing their name to their quote is important too.

If you're preparing a formal report, there are rules on how you should present and index your quotes. These are referred to commonly as "citations". For more information on citations, click here.

Do We Have to Cite our Sources?

YES! 

If you don't attribute credit to the original author by citing your sources you are committing plagiarism, which is a form of intellectual theft. Depending on what, how and where you have used the plagiarised materials it could even be illegal!

Citing sources demonstrates the depth and breadth of research you've done for your project or your report, and serves to strengthen your work via external support of your ideas.

English newspapers make for great sources, uses them to find quotes! You could also try learning English through the beautiful language of Shakespeare.

Get through the tough times with famous work quotes.
One of the best English idioms. Don't be afraid to think differently! Photo via Visual Hunt

When do We Cite our Sources?

Sources must be disclosed every single time we borrow ideas, words or sayings from someone else. 

It doesn't matter what reason you have for borrowing an idea, but you need to be particularly careful if you're using the material to sell something or make money.

These are situations that almost always require a quote/citation:

  • When you use quotation marks.
  • When you paraphrase someone's words.
  • When you use someone else’s idea.
  • When you refer to someone’s work.
  • When someone else’s work has played a crucial role in the development of your own ideas.

A Conclusion: Quotes for Life

At the end of the day, quotes are about life. They are a window into the essence of humanity and the nature of our world.

Famous quotes come from humanity's greatest and most respected minds. Only fools would dismiss the value in reading the cumulative wisdom of so many great and influential thinkers.

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