Bad service and how to deal with it

Today let’s look at a lesson I made after watching a reality show called Undercover Boss.

Similarly to the Youngblood lesson, I used it to practice modal verbs with stronger students.

The video will be paused to divide it into parts according to my plan.

Let’s get started:

1) Start the lesson by asking your students some questions:
1. What do you think of the saying “The customer is always right”?
2. Is it common in your country to complain about bad service?
3. What are some reasons why we might need to complain in a store or restaurant?
4. Have you ever gotten angry at a worker in a store or a restaurant?

Follow up the last question by asking what happened and whether your students complained to the manager.

2) Tell your students that there’s a show called Undercover Boss where CEOs of companies start working for their company and see how it works inside out. Show your students the first part of the video and ask them what their first impression of Brad is.

3) To check what they know about modal verbs, give them a handout with 6 sentences and ask them to complete them with their own ideas

1) He may be4) He could
2) He must5) He might
3) He can’t be6) He couldn’t

4) After getting feedback, ask your students if they think the first impression that John (The CEO) has of Brad is positive or negative and show them the second part to check their answers.

5) Show your students the third part and ask them how Brad handles his job. You can also ask them how they think the customer felt after she got his assistance.

6) Before showing them the fourth part, ask your students if they think that Brad can go too far in his job. After watching the video, ask them how they would react to Brad’s remarks if they were in the CEO’s place and whether they would punish him.

7) After watching the last part, tell your students that in the end of the show, the boss has to show the employees that he is the boss. Ask your students what they think happened to Brad after the show.

8) To clarify the meaning of the modal verbs, you can write the following on the board:

Might, may, could

And put a vertical line from 0 to 100% and ask your students to draw a line from the modal verbs to the vertical line to indicate how sure they are about something.

To check their understanding, you can also ask them:
Which modal verbs mean it’s possible?
Which modal verb means it’s very probable?
Which modal verb means it’s impossible?

9) Have your students match the sentence halves so they’d make sense.

10) Give them the following sentences to make a small list of ideas about what could happen to Brad:

1. Brad may
2. Brad could
3. John might
4. The customers might
5. Brad must
6. John can’t have
7. Brad may not have
8. His colleagues might

11) Ask your students to complete the sentences below and make them true about them. Ask them why if you have extra time and have the fast finishers think of 2 more sentences about them using the modal verbs.

12) As a final activity, ask your students to work in pairs.

Student A will be the CEO of a company who’s recently heard that one of their employees has been behaving badly at work. They must talk to the employee, make the employee admit his wrongdoing and warn the employee what may happen in case they’re caught at it again.

Student B is the employee of the company that was called to their CEO’s office. They can’t admit that they’ve done the things the Boss heard them do so they must speculate why people have been complaining about them using modals (e.g. “She must really hate me to say that”, “That could be anybody else”).

Once your students are done, ask them to switch roles.

13) Get feedback from each pair by asking what the CEOs told them and whether they’ve found a compromise. You can also ask if anybody’s been fired.

And there you have it. Another way to practice modal verbs which may be more suitable for your business classes.

Feel free to share any extra ideas in the comments section and see you next week! 🙂

Hadn’t to or Didn’t Have To?

Today let’s take a quick look at another common mistake: hadn’t to.

Quite often, my students would say this in the Simple tenses and forget that have can be a separate verb, not just a verb for the Perfect tenses.

So when it was time for them to say that they didn’t have to go to work on that day, they would say that they hadn’t to go to work which was wrong.

In this case, have to means must and is followed by another verb.

Just like with having something done, if we were to talk about it in a negative way, we would have to add the verb didn’t before it instead of changing have.

In fact, this can apply both to the past and the present.

So, instead of saying: I haven’t to study on Mondays.

You should say: I don’t have to study on Mondays.

Yay, I hadn't to study on Mondays :D

It seems so easy, but how about we check that by doing a short exercise below? 🙂

To practice this a bit more, here’s something for you to think of:

This year, I don’t have to:

1) Wake up earlier than 9:30 AM.
2) Get new documents to travel abroad.
3) Pay for an insurance plan again.
4) Work late at night.
5) Buy new clothes for the Summer .

What about you? 🙂

Share a comment with us giving us a few things you don’t have to do this year.

And enjoy your Summertime. We’ll talk again next Saturday!

Lying and the different types of it

Today let’s take a look at lying. In particular, we’ll look at a few different types of lies. This can help us be more polite when talking to a liar and identify how big of a liar we’ve got.

We will do that with the help of this video by The Economist:

Before we go further, in order to check your understanding of the video, how about we go through a few simple questions?

The interesting thing for me about this video was that it mentioned 4 other alternatives to the word lie:

• Nonsense
• Exaggeration
• Untruth
• Bullshit

Let’s look at these alternatives and see what they mean:


When you say that something is nonsense, it means that what you’ve heard is too absurd to be true.

Lying about weight
Jake said he could lift 1000 kilos, that’s nonsense!


When people exaggerate, they try to make something seem more important, better or worse than it really is.

Let’s have Steve Harvey give you a good example 😀


Untruth is a statement which isn’t true. The difference between a lie and untruth is that lying has a reason: the person lying wants to deceive you, however, saying something untrue doesn’t necessarily need a reason. In other words, you can believe in something which isn’t true and tell this to other people like Barack Obama did. 🙂


This is commonly used for statements said by politicians. The aim of a bullshitter is to get a reaction from the people listening to them. In fact, these people know the truth, but they’re telling lies on purpose, quite often in order to impress people.

Let’s see if you can tell the difference with a few examples:

To sum it up and to help you further remember this, I’ve got an activity for you:

Think about what happened in your life and share an example when you used one of these types of lies in the comments section.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend and see you next Saturday! 🙂

Where do we use at?

Today let’s take a look at the preposition at.

We use at in the following cases:

1) Exact time

If you want to meet with someone, when you decide the time you’ll meet you say: “I’ll meet you at half past 8“. At is also used with night.

I'll call you at night.
I can’t talk right now. I’ll call you at night.

2) Specific location

If I wanted to say which university I studied at, I’d say that I studied at Dnipropetrovsk National University. Or, if my friend works in a bank and we both know what bank it is, I can say that She works at the bank next to my house.
Notice that I used the to show that we both know what we’re talking about.

Let me point out that when you talk about what’s happening inside a building, you need to use the preposition in.

VA Hospital Fire_3-29-09_-6695 by 
Mike Rosati. License: CC BY 2.0
There was a fire in the hospital.

3) Indicating contact information

When you want to provide someone with your phone number, e-mail address or your website, you can use at with reach. This is a formal way of giving your contact information.

I can be reached at

Sorry for the fake address, but I wouldn’t want to get a lot of spam on my real addresses. 🙂

4) Events

At a concert.
I met one of my friends at a concert.

The concert, in this case, or a party is an event that takes place somewhere and, hence, we use at with these.

5) Unique places

This is similar to №2. When you want to tell people that you are in your house, your workplace, that you did something in your university, you use at to point it out.

Sitting at home on my laptop
Right now I’m sitting at home and working on my website.

Doesn’t seem too hard now, does it?
Let’s try practicing it in context:

I hope you found it useful to you and, as usual, I’ll see you at the weekend. 😉

Conjunctions and how we use them

Today let’s take a look at conjunctions.
Those are the words that connect other words and phrases together.

The simplest ones that we often use are and, but, for, or, so and yet.

But, apart from those, there are many more options we can use.

Let’s look at some of them:

1) Although

When you make two statements and one of them is surprising, you start your sentence with although.

Mozart Conjunction Example
Although Mozart was only 5 years old, he had already written some music.

Quite often we can use either although or though, though can be put somewhere else in your sentences, but, in some cases, it changes its meaning to however and then you can’t switch it to although. These cases turn though into adverbs, not conjunctions.

My Conjunction Example
I can sing and play guitar. I can’t do both at the same time though.

2) Because

This one’s easy to understand. We use because when we give reasons to what we’re saying.

Reason Conjunction Example
I was late to work because I forgot to set my alarm clock.

3) Despite

Similarly to although, when we use despite, we talk about something surprising, something that strongly contrasts whatever we said before.

Surprising Conjunction Example
Mario made some delicious pasta despite never cooking in his entire life.

You can also use in spite of instead, but don’t forget to use all 3 words when you do that!

4) Provided

Provided may seem like a long word, but it has the same meaning as only if. We can add that after this conjunction, but it’s not necessary.

Provided Conjunction Example
He will sign the contract, provided (that) he gets a good offer.

5) Since

Apart from being used in the Perfect tenses, since can be used to show the time when something happened or the reason for something (Just like because)

Using since as a conjunction.
I feel so much better since taking the pill.

6) Unless

Just like provided, unless also means something with if, specifically if not.

Unless example.
You don’t have to come with us unless you want to.

In this case, if I wanted to change unless to if not, I would get

You don’t have to come with us if you don’t want to.

Doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
Let’s check that out by doing a short matching exercise!

The idea for this post came from the fact that when you want your site to be found more often by Google, you have to use a lot of similar words, which are referred to as “Transition words”. Though it can get your website into the top of the search, I find that the first articles often overuse these words and aren’t that useful to me when I’m looking for specific information.

What about you? Would you prefer to see more complex, but easier to find posts or do you think my style of writing is easier to understand and is more useful for you?

Let us know in the comments section and have a great weekend! 🙂