Monday, 31 May 2010

Verb + “that” clause

To say, think, know, believe, reply, agree, insist, feel, explain, claim, estimate, admit, argue + that

We can use these verbs to express an idea or opinion.

They said that they enjoyed the basketball match.
I thought that the problem was solved.
We knew that the problem would be solved.
I believe that the fastest way there is by plane.
She replied that she wasn’t going to attend the conference.
I agree that the problem should be solved.
We insisted that they give us a refund.
I feel that their prices are high.
He explained that the procedure was difficult.
She claimed that she was innocent.
We estimate that next year the company will make a profit.
They admitted that the problem was out of control.
He argued that the company was doing all it could to solve the problem.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Certainty and uncertainty

Writers who are certain about something may use these expressions:

I’m certain/sure/positive/know that…
Studies/Research/Surveys show that…
It’s a fact/certain /true that…

For uncertainty:

It appears/seems that…
It’s possible that...
The research/study/survey indicates that…
I think that…

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Signal words

Signal words can be used to lead a reader in a particular direction. They are useful when writing an essay or reading a comprehension passage.

Introduction: to begin with, to start with, first of all, initially, in the first place

Continuing: secondly, afterwards, then, next, in addition, furthermore, another point, the steps involved are

Conclusion: to sum up, finally, lastly, last of all, to conclude

Comparison [how things are alike]: likewise, in the same way, at the same time, in the same manner, similarly, equally, not only…but also, compared to, and, as well as

Contrast [how things are different]: however, on the other hand, but, on the contrary, in contrast, although, even though, instead of, as opposed to, while

Illustration: for example, for instance, like, such as

Result: as a result, therefore, thus, for this reason, consequently, hence, the effects of, leads/led to, is caused by, may be due to, because of this, since

Emphasis: not only this but also, what is more, in fact, besides, most of all, a significant factor, a major development, a key feature, a primary concern, a major event, a central issue, above all, it is important to note, the basic concept

Uncertainty: almost, it looks like, maybe, could, alleged, might, reputed, seems like, was reported, probably, it could be argued that, typically

Culture file - postcards from Mongolian students

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Concrete nouns

Concrete nouns can be seen, touched, smelt or tasted.

People – teacher, woman, child, etc.
Things – pen, paper, desk, etc.
Animals – chicken, fish, dog, etc.
Places – village, city, river, etc.
Liquids – water, milk, rain, etc.
Substances – plastic, glass, iron, etc.
Gases – oxygen, smoke, air, etc.

'number' or 'amount'

We use number with countable nouns.
The number of students, chairs, tables, computers etc.

We use amount with uncountable nouns.
The amount of money, information, water, equipment, etc.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Several meanings

Many English words have more than one meaning. You can build your vocabulary by learning these extra meanings. Here are some examples.

LIKEI like sleeping.
She looks like her father.
What do you like doing in your free time?
She’s young but she acts like she’s thirty!
Would you like a cup of tea?
Do you feel like going to the cinema?
What do you think of extreme sports like bungee jumping?

COURSEWhat are you having for main course? Fish or chicken?
My German course lasts for six months.
The plane was going to Paris but then changed its course.
Of course we’re going to class!

They were fishing from the river bank.
The bank has a branch in every city.
We left our newspapers at the paper bank for recycling.

RUNI ran to school.
A river runs through the city.
I ran out of money fast as everything was so expensive.
She ran her fingers through her hair.
He’s running for president.
They run an article on culture every month.

STARThe stars shone brightly in the sky that night.
Angelina Jolie is a famous star.
She stars in three important films.
John is a star pupil. He has the highest grades.

I need some change to use the phone box.
This year we are travelling abroad for a change.
The t-shirt was too small so I changed it.
He brought a change of clothes with him for his long journey.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

a drink, to drink (synonyms)

Drink can be both a noun and a verb depending on how it is used in a sentence.

“Would you like a drink?” [noun]
I was so thirsty, I drank all the water. [verb - to drink]

A drink is also called a beverage or a liquid refreshment.

Alcoholic drinks (booze, liquor) are spirits, cocktails, beers etc.

Bottled water comes in different forms.
Mineral water, still water, spring water or
Sparkling water, fizzy water, carbonated water.

Tap water is directly from the tap.

There are different ways to drink a beverage depending on how fast or slow you drink.
To drink slowly = to sip
To drink fast = to down, to gulp, to guzzle, to knock back

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

You are right actually!

Actually = in fact / in reality

It is used for emphasis - when someone has something surprising to say.
e.g. They cheated in the exam. I actually caught them! I can't actually believe they cheated.

or if you want to disagree with what someone has said.
e.g. "It was built in 1925".
"Well, actually it wasn't. It was built in 1930".

Culture file - Baba Zula (music from Istanbul)

Listen! Did you hear that? – Listen and hear

Listen is when you pay attention to sounds. e.g. What kind of music do you listen to? Yesterday, I listened to some pop music. [You wanted to listen]

Hear is when sounds come to your ears without you necessarily wanting them to. e.g. I heard a strange noise in the kitchen. [You just happened to hear this]

Monday, 17 May 2010

Let’s agree to disagree – an oxymoron

An oxymoron joins two terms that are usually opposite in meaning.

Here are a few examples.

a little big, adult children, big baby, alone in a crowd, almost done, assistant supervisor, awfully nice, bad health, bad luck, big town, bankrupt millionaire, bitter sweet, calm storm, clearly confused, cold toast, completely destroyed, same difference, a fine mess, an accurate estimate

Sunday, 16 May 2010

An (indefinite article)

We use an before a singular, countable noun with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) sound.

an apple, an average day
an egg, an exciting film
an idea, an interesting animal
an orange, an original dvd
an umbrella, an unbelievable story

an honest, honour, hour, hourly [The h is silent. These words are pronounced with a vowel sound at the beginning]

a European, union, university, used, useful [These words are pronounced with a consonant sound at the beginning /ju:/ ]

"a" in numbers

We usually use a instead of one in front of:-

a half (1/2)
a quarter (1/4)
a fifth (1/5)
a third (1/3)

informal numbers
a couple (2)
a dozen (12)

large numbers
a hundred (100)
a thousand (1,000)
a million (1,000,000)

Mid (in the middle of)

Midway, midday, midnight (12 o’clock at night), midsummer, midwinter, midlife (around 45-60 years old), midweek, midyear, midterm, midair

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Art from China - by Roy (ex-student)

"Wh" question words

Wh words are placed in front of questions.

Who (used for people) e.g. Who is that?
Whose (used for people) e.g. Whose hat is that?
Why (used for reasons) e.g. Why do you like ice-cream?
When / What time (used for time) e.g. When are you going to school?
Where (used for place) e.g. Where is the bank?
What (used for things) e.g. What did you cook today?

How (used for method) e.g. How do you go to work?
How much (used for value) e.g. How much did it cost?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wow, ouch, huh! (Interjections)

Interjections are sounds used to express feelings and are used more in spoken than in written English.

To suddenly see/understand something, to show surprise or pleasure Ah
To show agreement Aha, Uh-huh
If you’re feeling cold Brr
If you don’t like something Eeek,Yuck
If you are not sure about something Er, Hmm, Uh, Um, Umm
If you are surprised Gee
To get someone’s attention or express surprise Hey
When something is delicious Mmm
To express surprise or pain Oh
When you drop something Oops, Whoops
If you are hurt Ouch
To express relief Phew
To get someone’s attention Psst
If you want someone to be quiet Shh
If you want something to go away Shoo
If someone is impressed Wow
If you are happy about something Yippee

Snap, crackle, pop (tongue-twisters)

A tongue-twister is a phrase which is very difficult to pronounce.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes, I won't wish the wish you wish to wish.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

How many cookies could a good cook cook if a good cook could cook cookies? A good cook could cook as many cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies.

Four furious friends fought for the phone.

Six slimy snails sailed silently.

Two tiny tigers take two taxis to town.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore. The shells that she sells are sea shells I'm sure. So if she sells sea shells on the sea shore, I'm sure that the shells are sea shore shells.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Shortened words

Some common words are better known in their abbreviated form.

photograph - photo
newspaper - paper
popular music - pop
facsimile transmission - fax
kilogram - kilo
bicycle - bike
examination - exam
veterinary surgeon - vet
gymnasium - gym
advertisement - ad, advert
demonstration - demo
document - doc
laboratory - lab
doctor - doc
comfortable - comfy
professional - pro

The (when there is only one)

We use the when there is only one: the moon, the sun, the sky, the sea, the earth, the world, the planet, the weather, the President, the capital of England is London

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Noun plurals - final -fe, -f (spelling)

Some nouns drop -fe, -f and add -ves

one knife - two knives
life - lives
wife - wives

one shelf - two shelves
self - selves
half - halves
theif - theives
wolf - wolves
calf - calves
leaf - leaves
loaf - loaves
scarf - scarves

Some nouns add -s

roof - roofs
chief - chiefs
reef - reefs
cliff - cliffs
handkerchief - handkerchiefs

Noun plurals - final -s, -ss, -ch, -sh, -x (spelling)

For nouns ending in s, ss, sh, ch, x, o add es

one bus - two buses
glass - glasses
brush - brushes
match - matches
box - boxes
tomato - tomatoes

Plural forms 'y' (spelling)

vowel (a, e, i, o, u) + y = s
one boy - two boys
donkey - donkeys
valley - valleys
tray - trays

consonant + y = ies
one lady - two ladies
baby - babies
fly - flies
body - bodies
lorry - lorries

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Step, stairs, staircase

Step: a small, individual rise which helps you move from one level to another.

Stairs/a flight of stairs: a series of steps that may lead from one floor of a building to another.

Staircase/stairway: a set of stairs and its surrounding structure e.g. railings.

Synonyms - vehicle

vehicle: mode of transport
car: automobile, motorcar, vehicle
boat: ship, vessel, canoe, dinghy, yatch, cruiser, liner, ferry
train: rail, railway service

Using 'the' for a country

When it's part of a country's name e.g. The Gambia.

For kingdoms, states, etc.: the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands, the United States of America (USA) / the United States (US), the Philippines

For islands:
the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, the Marshal Islands, the Solomon Islands, the Isle of Man etc.

For republics: the Dominican Republic, the Czech Republic, the Republic of China, the Republic of Congo, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Chad, the Republic of Cyprus etc.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Stop talking! Imperatives

Imperatives are used for giving orders. They can be seen on boxes, in public places, instruction manuals, etc. They can also be used for making offers, invitations, requests and giving directions.

Orders: Stop talking! Don’t walk on the grass! Don’t enter!

Offers: Help yourself to more tea. Try one of these cookies.

Invitations: Come in and sit down.

Instructions: Open the box this side. Stir well. Bake for 30 minutes.

Suggestions: Enjoy yourself. Relax. Have fun. Drive carefully.

Requests: Please wait a moment. Remove your shoes, please.

Giving directions: Turn left. Cross the road at the lights.

Negative imperatives: Don’t be late! Don’t talk in the library. Don’t worry. Don’t make such a noise! Don’t forget to ring.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Expressions with “by”

By shows how someone travels.
By bike, car, plane, train, boat, ship, bus, road, air, rail, sea, underground

By is used to show how we do something.
We paid by cheque / by credit card.
He contacted her by phone/ by fax / by email.
She made the card by hand.
They sent the letter by post.

We met by chance at the bus stop.
I rang her by mistake / by accident.

In the passive, by shows something is done by somebody/something.
He was fined by a policeman.
The football matched was watched by thousands of supporters.
Avatar was directed by James Cameron.

By is used to compare changes.
The amount has increased from 10% to 20% = It has increased by 10%.