It was a long long time ago – English Conversation

Here is a lovely lesson from the website ‘Vocabulary in Chunks’. Watch and listen to children having conversations with a 101-year-old woman. Then, check out the vocabulary chunks. Enjoy!

Vocabulary in Chunks

Hiho Kids

Vocabulary chunks :

• Nice to meet you
• I’m very happy to meet you
• How was it like back then
• We didn’t have radio
• We didn’t have television
• No telephones
• No trucks, they had wagons and horses pulled them
• It was a long long time ago
• I was in the Second World War
• I liked marbles and tops
• We had to wear skirts and stocking
• They didn’t have slacks and pants
• I did research on ants
• You’re really old but you’re really good
• I have a good life
• The secret to living a long life is being happy, working hard, getting exercise, doing things for yourself
• All of those things make you live a long time
• It’s wonderful to meet you, have a great life

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Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Vocabulary | Leave a comment

A Song with Present Perfect & Present Simple

Present Perfect Tense

If you want to understand and remember how to use Present Perfect Tense, just listen to the song  FRIENDS  by Marshmello and Anne-Marie. Here is the chorus:

Haven’t I made it obvious?                               Haven’t I made it clear?
(Do you) want me to spell it out for you?
F-R-I-E-N-D-S.
Haven’t I made it obvious? 
Haven’t I made it clear?
(Do you) want me to spell it out for you?
F-R-I-E-N-D-S.

In the song, Anne-Marie is telling a would-be boyfriend that they are only friends, nothing more. This is not the first time she has told him this. She sings, Haven’t I made it obvious?She uses Present Perfect Tense to indicate that she has told him many times that they are just friends, a situation that started in the past and has continued up to now. She reminds him, I’ve told you 1,2,3,4,5,6, thousand times.

She hopes that she is making herself very clear with this song and that he will stop making unwanted romantic advances now. She is putting him in a ‘Friend zone’. Because she is linking the past and present together, she uses Present Perfect. (For more information on Present Perfect, click here.)

Negative questions often show that the speaker knows the answer. The questions, (Haven’t I made it obvious? / Haven’t I made it clear?) indicate that Anne-Marie knows the answers, which are, ‘Yes, I have made it obvious!! Yes, I have made it clear!!’ She also sings, Haven’t we been here before? She knows the answer, ‘Yes, we have been in this situation before!’

⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ 

There are also several English expressions in the song which are worth noting:

Spell it out –  to explain very carefully to someone who would not otherwise understand. However, Anne-Marie spells it out literally.

Let’s have a look at some of the lyrics and some English expressions:

Don’t mess it up, talking that shit.
Only gonna push me away; that’s it.
When you say you love me, that makes me crazy.
Here we go again.
Don’t go look at me with that look in your eye.
You really ain’t going away without a fight.
You can’t be reasoned withI’m done being polite.
I’ve told you 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 thousand times.

Have you got no shame; you look insane,
Turning up at my door.

push someone away – to show that you do not want any communication with the person. Anne-Marie is warning him that if he keeps on bothering her, he is going to end all communication and then they won’t even be friends.

♥ make someone crazy – to really annoy someone

♥ Here we go again. – The same thing is happening again.

♥  look in your eye – the way you look at me

♥ without a fight – without trying hard

♥ I’m done –  I am finished with / I’ve had enough of / I’ve stopped 

♥ Turning up – arriving, especially unexpectedly

⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ 

Present Simple Tense

Anne-Marie narrates her experience using Present Perfect Tense which helps us understand how she has arrived at her present situation. She uses Present Simple Tense to show facts and repeated actions. 

Repeated actions:                                                                     

♦ You say you love me.                                                                                         
♦ I say you’re crazy.                                                                                                                
Don’t mess it up. (Our friendship)                                                                                  
♦ Here we go again.    

Don’t go looking at me with that look in your eye.

Facts that are always true:

♦ You’re not my lover, more like a brother.

♦ We’re nothing more than friends.

Have you (got) no shame?/ Do you have no shame?

https://www.directlyrics.com/marshmello-annemarie-premiere-hilarious-music-video-for-friends-watch-now-news.htmlThis song uses some non-standard English often used by songwriters these days, especially in Britain and the USA. I think that they have a lot of fun playing with the grammar, but I doubt that they speak or write like this in everyday life.

Click here for the video with lyrics and here for the video featuring Anne-Marie and Marshmello.

You can read the lyrics, below, with my punctuation and grammar corrections. Present Perfect is in blue print and Present Simple is in purple print.

Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Learn Compelling Vocabulary in 30 Seconds

Would you like to learn compelling new vocabulary every day automatically?

♦ No planning   ♦   http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-dayNo decisions 

Have a look at the picture on the right.

♦How would you describe the man’s personality?

♦ How would you describe the background colour?

If the first or only word that you thought of was ‘happy’, then you need to upgrade your vocabulary! How can you do that? … Well, I’m getting to that! … First, let’s look at two more pictures. 

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-day

How does the doctor on the left feel? Do you know a more descriptive word than ‘sad’ or ‘upset’ ?

Can you think of a better word than ‘requires’ or ‘needs’ to complete the description of the picture below, left: Carving the wood ………. patience and precision.

Carving the wood ………. patience and precision.

By subscribing to the Merriam-Webster online English Learners dictionary, you will daily receive:

♦ an excellent, new word with a full description and sentence examples in context,

♦ a picture – which makes remembering so much easier, and

♦ audio pronunciation. 

Deciding to Subscribe (for free) is the only decision you have to make. Then, you will automatically receive a Learner’s Word of the Day each day. It will take only about 30 seconds of your time to read it, maybe less. The 30 seconds it takes you to read the definition and sentence examples will be a great little mini-lesson.

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-day/2018/05/03

The woman has a look of horror on her face.

The sentence examples contain natural collocations. For advanced and proficiency level English students, it is worth remembering that the main difference between you and native English speakers is the use of collocation. 

I suggest that you create a Word of the Day folder in your Inbox, so you can refer to your new vocabulary easily, but keep the emails in your regular Inbox also so that you have a visual reminder whenever you use your email account. 

Click on the pictures above to see the definitions of ‘vibrant’, ‘distraught’ and ‘entail’. This will take you to the Learner’s Word of the Day website.

Click here to subscribe, and just watch the quality of your English soar!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Leave a comment

3 Minute English #4 by Vocabulary in Chunks

Learn words related to getting married

Click here for Vocabulary chunks:

                

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Videos, Vocabulary | Leave a comment

20 Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make

GrammarCheck.net header image         by JENNIFER FROST   20 Writing Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Song with Future Tenses and Conditionals: First & Zero

The song Parachute by Cheryl Cole is perfect for studying Future Tenses as well as First  Conditional and Zero Conditional. She is not literally singing about a parachute. The parachute symbolizes ‘help’ or ‘rescue’. 

We have various ways to talk about the future. You may like to read my earlier posts (Future tenses – part one , Future tenses – part two and The 12 English Tenses), before reading this. 

Today, I will be discussing the future tenses and Conditional structures in the song Parachute:

1. Will,
2. Be going to + base infinitive,
3. Conditionals – First & Zero.

1. WILL 

Future Simple (Will + base infinitive) is used for decisions, predictions, promises, offers, and schedules at some time in the future, which is not always stated. We do not use Future Simple for plans: This year, I will study Mathematics and next year, I will study Chemistry.

In the song, Cheryl Cole uses WILL for promises and/or predictions:

I won’t tell anyone. Promise

I won’t tell anybody how you turn my world around. Promise

I won’t tell anyone how your voice is my favourite sound. Promise

I won’t fall out of love. Promise / Prediction

I’ll fall into you. Promise / Prediction

I’ll hold onto you. Promise / Prediction

You’ll never win the fight.   Prediction

      

2. Be going to + base infinitive

In the song, Cheryl Cole uses be going to + base infinitive for plans. ‘Going to’ is often written as ‘gonna’ because that is what it sounds like. It’s okay for songwriters, but please don’t start writing ‘gonna’ in your English writing practice. 

You’re going to catch me.  Plan

This is the plan. He is always going to catch her (help her) if she falls (needs help). Be going to + base infinitive always refers to the future. It is used for future plans, arrangements, and predictions with evidence.

This brings us to:

3a. First Conditional

There are at least two parts (clauses) in a Conditional sentence. In First Conditional, there is a future possible situation and its future possible result. This is the structure:

If + Present Tense, will + base infinitive
OR
Will + base infinitive  if + Present Tense 

You can also use: Might / Can / Be going to, instead of Will.

https://unsplash.com/photos/F7KPyatac-g

You’re going to catch me if I fall. Photo by Jackson Hendry on Unsplash

In the song, Cheryl Cole uses First Conditional to talk about a possible situation in the future and its future result.

       You’re gonna catch           (me) if I fall.

The singer and her boyfriend have a plan for future possibilities when she might need help.

3b.  Zero Conditional

In Zero Conditional sentences, the focus is on situations which are true anytime, so we use Present Tense. This makes perfect sense because Present Tense Simple tells us about things, actions, beliefs etc. which can be true anytime, always, sometimes or never; it is used for facts, habits and routines. Often, we want to talk about the result of such things. This is the structure:

If + Present Tense, Present Tense
OR
 Present Tense   If + Present Tense

You can also use: When / Whenever / As soon as / After, instead of  If. 

In the song, the singer tells us that she doesn’t need anyone to help her now. She has her boyfriend. He is there for her when she needs help.

I don’t need a parachute Baby, if I’ve got you.  Anytime / every time

Baby, if I’ve got you, I don’t need a parachute.  Anytime / every time

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

To watch the Official Music Video of  Parachute, click here.

To watch the Video of Parachute with lyrics, click here.

To see the song lyrics,

Continue reading

Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Videos | Tagged | 1 Comment

Eating Breakfast With Giraffes In Africa

A great way to improve your vocabulary and listening skills is with short videos. Watch the following fascinating video about giraffes and follow the link below it to learn the ‘vocabulary in chunks’. You will be impressed by how much you can learn in 3½ minutes. 

    Vocabulary in Chunks

Vocabulary chunks to learn after watching the video :

Continue reading

Posted in Children, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos, Vocabulary | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

120 Grammar and Vocabulary Mistakes to Avoid

The 2018 Grammar Guide

EnglishGrammar.org has produced an excellent Grammar Guide for English students. Also excellent is the fact that it is free!

Grammar and Vocabulary points are listed alphabetically. Examples show incorrect and correct usage and short, clear explanations.

I highly recommend The 2018 Grammar Guide by EnglishGrammar.org. The quality of your English will improve as soon as you start using it. Download it now by clicking here. On the right side of the page, you will see:

+ Download Grammar Guide:

120 Grammar and Vocabulary
Mistakes to Avoid (FREE)

Just enter your email address and first name and you will be able to download this fabulous book. Happy reading!

EnglishGrammar.org has a huge range of resources to help you with your English studies. Click here to go to the Home Page.

          

Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

LEARN 3000 WORDS with NEWS IN LEVELS

Hello everyone! 

I’ve been having fun with a News in Slow French website for my French studies. I read a news script while listening to the audio. It takes on average just two minutes, so it’s very easy to fit into a busy schedule. I realized that a similar English  website would be helpful for you so I’ve been trying to find one which provides news with videos and tapescripts to help you with your English studies.

Well,  I’ve found an excellent English News website for you!

News in Levels

This website is designed for levels 1, 2, & 3 but it is also very useful for level 4 (Intermediate) students who need to improve basic grammar and word order. 

The videos are between approximately one and two minutes. Just read and listen. Do this once or twice a day and your English skills can improve fast. 

Click on the above picture to see the video about Mark Zuckerberg at Congress.

https://www.newsinlevels.com/

Mark Zuckerberg

http://www.newsinlevels.com provides more than just  news. You can arrange to skype with other English students. It even supplies lists of questions for skype conversations. You can listen to and read jokes. This site provides a lot of advice and gives step by step instructions. 

For instructions on how to improve your English with News in Levels, click here.



Posted in Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading | Leave a comment

English Inversion #1: Why? When? How?

https://unsplash.com/photos/2UVX62wP-vo

Only by swimming with sharks will we overcome our fear of them.
Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash

One of the first things you learn when you start learning English is the word order in sentences. The subject comes before the verb

SUBJECT                           VERB

you                                        learn
you                                        start
The subject                          comes

 

Then, you learn that question word order is different.  Usually, the auxiliary verb comes before the subject. This is called INVERSION because we invert the subject and auxiliary verb.  

Question word order:
Have you ever swum with sharks? Why are people afraid of them? What do you think? Will we ever overcome our fear of sharks?

                                        VERB                                  SUBJECT

  have                                     you           ?
  are                                        people      ?
  do                                          you           ?
  will                                        we             ?


We can use Inversion in sentences which are not questions:

Only by swimming with sharks will we overcome our fear of them.

Rarely have I seen such a weird lipstick advertisement!

You can continue with your English studies and never use Inversion in sentences. That’s perfectly okay. However, if you are preparing for a Cambridge or IELTS exam or other exams or situations where you need to demonstrate an extensive use of English, you will be expected to know about Inversion.

Let’s start with why and when. After all, if you don’t know why we use Inversion, you won’t know when to use it.

WHY & WHEN do we use INVERSION?

Inversion is mainly used for EMPHASIS. The expressions used (never, rarely, no sooner, only then, etc.) have much more impact when used at the beginning of a sentence than the more common pronoun subject, especially as most of  them are negative.

Negatives are more dramatic. Consider negative contractions: don’t, won’t, can’t, haven’t, etc. They usually have strong stress in English whilst positive contractions: I’m, he’ll, she’s, we’ve, I’d, etc. usually have weak stress. 

 

https://unsplash.com/photos/k8OCHhEymME

Rarely have I seen such a weird lipstick advertisement!
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash


INVERSION is used 

1. to emphasize the uniqueness of an event,

2. to stress how quickly something happened after something else had been completed, 

3. to clarify a situation, and

4. to sound more formal.

INVERSION is also used:

5. after clauses beginning with ‘nor’.

 

                     

Compare the Inversion examples below with the standard sentence examples. Try to imagine how much easier it would be for the speaker to stress words like: NeverRarelyNot until … (than: I … We … People … When)


1. to emphasize the uniqueness of an event

Never have I been so relieved to see anyone in my life!

Standard sentence:
I have never been so relieved to see anyone in my life.

Rarely does someone simply return to “business as usual” after seeing a Matt Church presentation’.

Standard sentence:
People rarely return to “business as usual” after seeing a Matt Church presentation.


Seldom am I impressed with
Hollywood celebrities.

Standard sentence:
I am seldom impressed with
Hollywood celebrities.

Hollywood celebrities seldom impress me.

 


2. to stress how quickly something happened after something else had been completed

Scarcely had I finished cooking when the guests arrived.

Standard sentence:
I had scarcely finished cooking when the guests arrived.

No sooner had we started the meal than someone knocked at the door.

Standard sentence:
We started the meal and immediately someone knocked at the door.
As soon as we started the meal, someone knocked at the door.

Barely had I served dessert when everyone started checking their phones!

Standard sentence:
When I served dessert, everyone started checking their phones.
As soon as I served dessert, everyone started checking their phones.

Can you detect the sense of exasperation that the speakers in the Inversion examples feel? The emphasis is on the timing more than the subject.

https://unsplash.com/photos/qCR_pV2VCls

Barely had I served dessert when everyone started checking their phones!
Photo by jwlez on Unsplash


3. to clarify a situation 

Note how the sentences with Inversion have a sense of urgency whilst the standard sentences are more casual.

https://unsplash.com/photos/bIx15C7AnNg

Only then did we realise what was possible!
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Only after she won the gold medal in the 400-metre dash did Cathy realise the enormous pressure she’d been under.

Standard sentence:
It was only after she  won the 400-metre dash that Cathy realised the enormous pressure she’d been under.

On our trip to Milan, Italy we saw fantastic Green Buildings. Only then did we realise that cities could be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient!

Standard sentence:
It was only when we saw the Green Buildings in Milan that we realised that  cities could be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient!

Little was Henry aware of the damage caused by his thoughtless actions.

Standard sentence:
Henry was not aware of the damage caused by his thoughtless actions.


4. to sound more formal

https://unsplash.com/photos/O38Id_cyV4M

Had I known you were in town, I would have invited you! Photo by Lanty on Unsplash

Had I known you were in town, I would have invited you!

     Standard sentence:
     If  I had known you  were  in  town,  I        would have invited you! 

Had they understood your situation, they might have helped you.

     Standard sentence:
     If they had understood your situation,       they might have helped you.

 

5. after clauses beginning with ‘nor’

I don’t believe in scarcity, nor do I believe that the grass is greener on the other side.

Standard sentence:
I don’t believe in scarcity and I don’t believe that the grass is greener on the other side.

I haven’t been to Japan, nor do I expect to visit there in the near future.

Standard sentence:
I haven’t been to Japan and I don’t expect to visit there in the near future.

✳✳✳  ✳✳✳   ✳✳✳

HOW do we use INVERSION?

…… to be continued.

This post is quite long enough! I will continue in a future post. Meanwhile, you can try to get used to the Inversion examples I’ve given above before I explain the rules and structures. 

I have found a song Never Ever by ‘All Saints’ which features the lines:

Never ever have I ever felt so low …
Never ever have I ever felt so sad …
Never ever have I had to find …

I suggest that you listen to the song until these clauses are locked into your long-term memory! It won’t take long. There is a lot of repetition. Click here for the YouTube video.

Subscribe above to receive an email when I post my next Inversion lesson.

✳✳✳  ✳✳✳   ✳✳✳

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Leave a comment