Shall we look at shall?

Today let’s take a look at the word shall.

This is something that people used to say instead of will, but now, you’re most likely to hear it when someone makes an offer, makes or asks for a suggestion and when someone asks you for advice.

Let’s take a look at each use of it:

1) Making an offer

If you want to offer someone to dance with you, just start your question with shall:
Shall we dance?

And let’s hope that the person will accept your offer. πŸ™‚

2) Making a suggestion

Let’s imagine you’ve asked your friends: Shall we invite her to the party?
In this case what you’re doing is suggesting that this person should be a part of the event.

3) Asking for a suggestion or advice

If you pair shall with a wh- question, you can ask someone to suggest something for you or give you advice, for example:
What shall we do tomorrow?
Where shall we go tomorrow?

Let’s see how we can practice this in context:

I’ve got a question for my little champions:
what shall you do at the weekend? πŸ™‚

Let us know in the comments section and make sure you have a great time! πŸ˜‰

Take and get and what they mean

Today let’s take a look at two verbs that have several meanings: take and get.

Take

Let’s look at a few common meanings of take first:

1) Consume

take pills

This is mostly used when we talk about medicine. For example, my grandparents take their pills two times a day.

2) Relax

take a rest

These are some collocations with take that mean to relax. These are:
β€’ Take a break
β€’ Take a holiday
β€’ Take a rest
β€’ Take time off

The difference between them is that the first and second one can mean to relax for a short time, while the other two can last for days, weeks or even years. πŸ™‚

3) Travel by

If you need to get somewhere, you can walk there or take a train, a bus or a plane.

4) Washing

take and get excitement

When you’re dirty or tired in the morning, taking a shower or a bath can give you energy, as well as make you clean.

Get

Now, let’s take a look at some common meanings of get:

1) Acquire

This meaning can be gotten if it’s used before a noun.
Acquire itself can mean a few things: to buy, to gain, to obtain, to receive
Here are some examples of this:
β€’ Get a job
β€’ Get a message
β€’ Get a pet
β€’ Get a present
β€’ Get a result

2) Become

Get will have this meaning if it’s used before an adjective.
Some examples of this are:
β€’ Get angry
β€’ Get bored
β€’ Get lost
β€’ Get married
β€’ Get tired

3) Bring

When you want people to bring you something, you can use get and it will have this meaning.
For example, a polite way of asking someone to give you your phone would be could you get my phone for me, please?

4) Reach

You can use get to mean to reach or arrive to a destination.
Here are a few examples:
I’ll call you when I get to the airport.
I got home late at night.
He got to the city early in the morning.

How about we practice using them in context? πŸ™‚

I hope this made take and get a bit easier for you to understand. πŸ™‚

I have a question for you:
Which of the following would you like to do?

β€’ Get a new car
β€’ Get a new job
β€’ Get home earlier
β€’ Get more sleep
β€’ Take a long vacation
β€’ Take a plane to a new destination
β€’ Take a warm shower
β€’ Take less medicine

Let us know in the comments section and have a good weekend! πŸ™‚

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? πŸ™‚

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? πŸ™‚

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:

β€’ Nonsense
β€’ Exaggeration
β€’ Untruth
β€’ Bullshit

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

Nonsense

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!

Exaggeration

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 πŸ˜€

Untruth

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. πŸ™‚

Bullshit

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

What’s he like or what does he like?

Today let’s take a look at the word like and how it changes its meaning.

We use like in the following cases:

1) To talk about the things we like

This one is pretty obvious, I like animals, I like meeting new people and I like you πŸ˜‰

2) To ask for information about something or someone

Quite often, when you want to find out more about someone, you can ask “What’s he/she like?” and the answer to that will be a description of the person’s appearance, personality and what they feel about this person.

You could also ask a friend who’s in another country “What’s it like in Berlin?” and find out what they think of the place they’re in.

3) To point out similarities

Enrique Iglesias
My friend looks (just) like Enrique Iglesias.

When you say that someone or something looks like someone or something else, you’re pointing out the similarities between both objects.

4) To give an example

This is common in spoken English.

Some people, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, worked hard to become who they are now.

5) A filler

Like is often used as a filler.
A filler is a word we use when we want to buy time to think about what to say.

Here’s an example from a guy who’s moved to Amsterdam and wants to share what he likes about the city:

And also, like… going to Paris is only 3 hours. So if you want to go to Disneyland – 3 hours and you are there!

Let’s practice the different uses of like with these exercises below:

First, choose the right answer to the questions.

Here are two more exercises to give you a better challenge:

If you want to further improve your English, here’s a challenge for you:

Write down your answers to the questions you’ve made and leave a comment for us to know.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoy your weekend! πŸ™‚

Double letters

Today let’s take a look at some common spelling mistakes and how we can avoid them:

When you’ve got words in which the vowel (a, e, i, o, u) is followed by a consonant in the end, you have to double the last letter of the word when you’re comparing things.

Let’s take a look at some examples below:

Big – Bigger – The biggest
Thin – Thinner – The thinnest
Slim – Slimmer – The slimmest
Hot – Hotter – The hottest

If we add -ed or -ing to the words that have only one syllable, but end with a consonant, followed by a vowel and another consonant, we also double the last letter:

Admit – admitted
Forget – forgetting
Sit – sitting
Stop – Stopped

There’s an exception to the rule: if the last letter of the word is w, x or y then we don’t double it.

Note:

If you have a word that ends with the letter L after a vowel then, depending on the English you’re studying (British or American) you could double the letter or not for some words:

WordAmerican EnglishBritish English
CancelCanceledCancelled
MarvelMarvelousMarvellous
ModelModeledModelled
TravelTravelerTraveller

Let’s try to practice these by doing a few exercises:

That’s it for this week and I have a question for you:
Which word was the hardest one for you to spell properly?

Let us know in the comments section and have a good weekend! πŸ™‚

Time and time again

Today let’s take a look at some words we use together with time and what they mean.

1) Waste time

Spending time doing something means that you’re doing it for some time. On the other hand, when you waste time this means that you’re spending time badly. When you say that something is a waste of time, you mean that what someone’s doing is useless and that they shouldn’t do this.

Woman fixing something.

Don’t waste your time trying to fix what you broke!

2) It’s about time

Contrary to what you’re thinking, we don’t use this phrase to say what we’re talking about. The meaning of it’s about time is Finally. If you’re waiting for a friend to show up and he comes one hour later, you can start your conversation by saying: It’s about time you showed up!

3) To make time for

When you’re very busy but somebody wants to see and talk to you, you can tell them that you will try to make time for them. As we get older, we also have less free time and we have to learn to make time for our hobbies and the things we care about. Here’s a tip from the co-founder of the Blue Man Group:

4) Kill time

Woman listening to music.

Kill time is similar to spend time. The difference is where we use it. When you kill time, this means that you are doing something to spend the time you have before you do something you’ve planned. For example, when I’m on a train or a bus, I listen to music to kill time.

5) Take your time

One of my favorite phrases, this phrase means don’t hurry. I don’t rush people and I understand that my students may need time to think before they can say something and I tell them to take their time. πŸ™‚

6) Hard time

Hard time has different meanings:

1. Having a hard time means something is difficult for us to do:

I’m having a hard time doing homework. Can you help me with this exercise?

2. Hard time can be a difficult period in our lives.

Since he was admitted to the hospital, Summer’s been a hard time for Jacob.

Let’s see if you can handle using time by doing a quick exercise:

It seems as though I’ve run out of time.
I’d love it if you could share what you do to kill time.

Leave a comment for us to know and see you next Saturday! πŸ™‚

Let’s stop confusing these words

Today, let’s take a look at some words my students often confuse.

Affect / Effect

While both words have a similar meaning, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
Their meaning becomes the same when you add Have an before and on after effect.

Meeting her affected me = Meeting her had an effect on me

Advice / Advise

This is another example of a noun and a verb.

We give people advice, but we advise people to do something.

Bare / Bear

Bare means naked or uncovered.
For example, if I’m walking barefoot, this means I’m not wearing any shoes (and socks)

Bear can be the animal, as well as be used as a verb meaning accept and tolerate unpleasant things and difficulties. (We must bear the responsibility for our choices)

Cereal / Serial

Often, when the topic of movies and TV series comes up, students tend to say that they watch serials, which wouldn’t be wrong if they had given more information. However, all three words have a different meaning

CerealCereal is something we don’t need to cook and usually eat for breakfast.

Let’s look at a few of the meanings of Serial:

1) Part of a series (This book is a serial novel. The whole story is divided into 3 books)
2) Someone who commits a crime more than once. (The police caught a serial killer this week)
3) Something that appears at regular periods of time. (I read serial publications (magazines, newspapers, e.t.c.) to know all the latest trends)

When you want to talk about Prison Break, The Game of Thrones or any other TV programs, it’s better to say TV series.

Complement / Compliment

The first word is often used when talking about food or fashion. For example, you want to tell your friend that the shoes he’s wearing complement his suit or the cheese complements the pasta you’re eating. When you say that, it can sometimes sound like a compliment.

To the person reading this and doing the exercises, you are amazing and you’re doing a great job working on your English! How’s that for a compliment? πŸ™‚

Emigrate / Immigrate

Both words have a very similar meaning, but Emigrate is used to talk about leaving one country and moving to another while immigrate is used to say that you came to live in this country.

My friend wants to emigrate from Ukraine to the USA
(He wants to move to the USA from his own country)
The Vallejo family immigrated to the USA in 2012
(They came to the USA and they’re living there now)

Quiet / Quite

Quiet means that there’s no noise. You can ask people to be quiet if they talk too loudly.
Quite, on the other hand, is used for emphasis and can also mean a little or a lot but not completely

There were quite a lot of people I haven’t seen for years at the party. (I want you to hear that there were a lot of people I forgot all about)
I’m quite tired after our trip. (But not completely tired, I can still walk)

Than / Then

Sometimes people can confuse the two words, but it’s quite simple, actually. Than is used when we want to compare something (He’s older than me) while Then is used for talking about the time or when you talk about what happened or will happen next:

I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have an answer for you by then.
I’ll ask her if she wants to join us and then we’ll go.

I advise you to practice these words in context by doing a few short exercises below:

I hope this post will have a good effect on you, I hope you got quite a good result and that your second try was better than the first one. πŸ˜‰

See you next Saturday! πŸ™‚

Lessful

Today, let’s take a quick look at 2 suffixes: -less and -ful.

We use both suffixes to turn nouns into adjectives and talk about a quality. The difference is that when you use -less, you want to say that something or someone is without this quality and when you use -ful you mean it’s full of this quality.

Homeless guyHe’s homeless – he doesn’t have a home.

Beautiful girl.She’s beautiful – she looks very good.

Some nouns can have both suffixes, while others can use only one or none of them.

Let’s look at some examples:

Noun -less -ful
Beauty   Beautiful
Care Careless Careful
Cheer Cheerless Cheerful
Doubt Doubtless Doubtful
Help Helpless Helpful
Penny Penniless  
Rest Restless Restful
Thought Thoughtless Thoughtful

Let’s look at these and a few other examples in practice:

I hope this was helpful to you and I’d like to ask you:
When you’re feeling down, what can quickly make you cheerful again?

Let us know in the comments section and see you next Saturday! πŸ™‚