English

It was hilariously, unbelievably, ridiculously funny!

weddingIntensifying and emphasising adverbs

There are a lot of great ways to make English more interesting. Intensifying and emphasising adverbs are two of my favourite. You can make any story sound more interesting by using them. These are my favourites:

absolutely – simply – utterly – totally – completely – perfectly – bitterly – intensely – unbelievably – thoroughly – incredibly – awfully

Compare the stories see for yourself which has a greater impact in each case, the first or the second?

1. I went to the worst conference last week. The speakers were boring, the food was served late and was poor when it came. The venue was miserable and everyone left feeling demotivated.

2. I went to the worst conference last week. The speakers were thoroughly boring, the food was served incredibly late and was awfully poor when it came. The venue was utterly miserable and everyone left feeling completely demotivated. Continue reading

‘Used to’ + infinitive vs. ‘be used to’ + -ing verb

JapanTURNING JAPANESE?

When we move to a new country, life changes, doesn’t it? Last year, my daughter left university in England and went to live in the north of Honshu, Japan. How is her life different now? How has her routine changed? What does she find difficult?

In England, ………….

she usually got up at 8 o’clock in the morning
she often cycled to the university campus from home
she cooked chicken casserole or spaghetti bolognese most nights
she studied music and Japanese at university
she didn’t understand Japanese very well
she liked watching films

In Japan, ………………..

she usually gets up at 6.30 am.
she always drives to work
she sometimes cooks sushi or spaghetti bolognese
she teaches English in a school
she understands Japanese much better
she likes watching films Continue reading

‘Don’t have to’ vs ‘shouldn’t’

working remotelyYou don’t have to work such long hours, and you really shouldn’t

A couple of friends of mine both work remotely doing different jobs; one is a graphic designer and the other is a teacher. Their lifestyle is very flexible and works well for them as they manage their time according to their plans. However, sometimes they do seem like workaholics because their working hours can be late at night, meaning they miss out on plans we have together now and then. Our friend Jane said; “you don’t have to work such long hours you know, and you really shouldn’t!”

I thought that was a perfect sentence to help explain the difference between ‘don’t have to’ and ‘shouldn’t’, which are easily confused because ‘have to’ is the same as ‘must’. Unfortunately, ‘don’t have to’ is NOT the same as ‘must not’. Continue reading

Write an object poem

Poem BlackberriesHave you ever thought of writing a poem in English?
It might be easier than you think.

BLACKBERRY
In summer hedgerows,
Blackberries sit,
Round, plump and ripe
Like purple jewels in a crown –
Thorns guard them well.
I think of lazy days and laughter –
And know that autumn will soon be here.
(englishanne)

Here are some tips for writing poems in English: Continue reading

And guess what happened in the end….?

In the end, At the end pic‘In the end’ vs ‘at the end’

I saw ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the first time recently. Have you seen it?  It’s a wonderful film, as the title suggests. It’s in black and white as it was made in 1946 and that adds to its charm. It’s a Christmas film really but for me it was heart-warming even with the 30 degree heat outside. It’s a story about the hardships of life and how the protagonist, George Bailey overcomes them. He gets the chance to see what life would be like if he had never existed and that gives him some perspective. The film highlights the importance of love in life, and despite all his problems, in the end everything turns out well for George.

Telling a friend about it yesterday made me think about the difference between ‘at the end’ and ‘in the end’ and how we use them in English. The two are easy to confuse and many learners do because the difference is subtle. I will do my best to make it simple. Continue reading

Choosing the right adjective

picBored v Boring

On Friday night I went to see a film at an open air cinema in London.  We started eating our picnic whilst we waited for the film to start. My friend Rob was telling a funny story when my sister Anna started yawning. Rob stopped mid-sentence and said; “I’m sorry Anna, am I boring?”

Anna was embarrassed and explained that she hadn’t slept the night before because of the thunder storms, so Rob forgave her.

That conversation reminded me of a common problem for English learners, and that is choosing the right adjective between those that end with ‘ing’ and those that end with ‘ed’. Continue reading

Foreign words in English

photoOn holiday this year, I noted how foreign words had been borrowed and sometimes adapted into the French language: “sandwichs” and “paninis” being two examples. There are many such loan words in English, and I wondered how many I could use to describe my holiday.

LIVING THE DOLCE VITA

Having arrived at our holiday home on the beautiful island of Corsica, we started the climb of 50 steps up to the apartment.  Perhaps a holiday chalet would have been a better idea? I can certainly see why older people prefer bungalows!  After we had dumped our suitcases, we headed up onto the roof terrace, with its stunning views of the port and the old town of Porto Vecchio.  The sight of swifts gliding past, and the bells ringing in the ancient cathedral made a delightful setting as we dined al fresco, and then took an afternoon nap or siesta on the comfy chairs provided.  This is the life!

Continue reading

“Queue here please, we’re British!” Present Perfect vs Past Simple

200330172-002I recently travelled around Italy and Spain for work with an English colleague.  I am very used to both of these cultures having travelled there at length, so it made me smile that my colleague was so outraged when she discovered people there don’t queue like British people!  Anyone who has visited Britain will have noticed that British people love queuing and consider it an important part of their culture.  In fact it’s quite offensive when people try to push in!

My colleague and I were standing in a queue for a taxi outside the airport when 3 people pushed in front of us without a second thought and she said;

“That’s so rude! We’ve been queuing for 20 minutes, how dare they push in!”

I thought I would use this situation to address a problem that often arises with my students; that is when to use present perfect (simple / continuous) instead of past simple.

Continue reading

I’m learning a foreign language but my English grammar is letting me down!

With the recent news from the government that as from next year all 11-year olds will be tested on basic grammar this can only be a good thing. It is particularly important when learning foreign languages to understand key grammar terms and how your own language is made up, because if not, this will create obstacles when studying a new language. Many people that I have taught languages to find that the problem isn’t learning the new language, but the real stumbling block is understanding key grammar terms. Even simple grammar terms such as nouns, adjectives and verbs can be confusing if you have not already studied them.
In this blog article I will explain the key grammar terms to understand which should help when learning a foreign language. Continue reading