Zero waste – Be Inspired while improving your English!

Here is another excellent lesson from Vocabulary in Chunks. As the name suggests, the aim is to improve your English by learning the language in groups of words, chunks, as listed below the video. If you don’t understand some of the vocabulary, don’t translate single words. I recommend typing the whole chunk into google translate ( for an explanation, especially of idioms. Now, watch and listen and learn something about recycling while improving your English.

Vocabulary in Chunks

great big story

The village of Kamikatsu in Japan has taken their commitment to sustainability to a new level. While the rest of the country has a recycling rate of around 20 percent, Kamikatsu surpasses its neighbors with a staggering 80 percent. After becoming aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide associated with burning garbage, the town instated the Zero Waste Declaration with the goal of being completely waste-free by 2020.

Vocabulary chunks to learn from video :

  • Tea fields
  • Idyllic mountains
  • Produces no trash
  • Created carbon dioxide emissions
  • Zero waste
  • A new way of living
  • No such thing as throwing something in the trash
  • Everything has to get recycled
  • In the beginning it was difficult
  • She’s a housewife
  • The classification system
  • Is the key to Kamikatsu’s success
  • A huge burden
  • A way of life
  • Looking at trash differently

Map of Kamikatsu – Japan

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για kamikatsu japan map

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How to Write a Sentence: #5 Adjectives & Adverbs; Nine Parts of Speech

There are nine parts of speech in English: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, articles, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections.

This means that every word in an English sentence belongs to one of the nine parts (or groups). Remember that words can often belong to more than one group; for example: verbto demand, to guide, to order;  noun – a demand,  a guide, an order. Click on the parts of speech headings for more information.

NOUNS students, difficulty, Indonesia, happiness, music, Pedro
PRONOUNS I, me, they, them, mine, hers, everybody, these, who
ADJECTIVES difficult, easy, Indonesian, careful, extreme, my, your 
ARTICLES the, a, an
VERBS runs, is, has, wanted, (modals: can, would, might etc.)
ADVERBS easily, quickly, soon, already
CONJUNCTIONS and, but, because, while, although, after
PREPOSITIONS for, in, at, with, beside, on, below, near

I have listed examples for the parts of speech above. However, what you cannot see is that adjectives, and adverbs can be more than one word. They can be clauses (a group of words with a subject – usually – and a finite verb). A clause gives important  or extra information. Have a look at this sentence:

1. The beautiful tree that was damaged in the storm is gradually recovering.

You know that beautiful is an adjective, but what about damaged? It is a damaged tree, isn’t it? What do you think of the following sentence?

2. The beautiful, damaged tree is gradually recovering.

Sentence #2  uses obvious adjectives: beautiful and damaged, but sentence #1 provides more information about the tree by using an adjective clause: that was damaged in the storm. Think of the adjective clause (also called a relative clause) as just a long adjective which has a subject (the pronoun that) and a verb (was). Adjectives usually go before the noun they are modifying (describing) while adjective clauses always go after the noun they are modifying. For more information on adjective/relative clauses, click here.

The poinciana tree was damaged in the storm.

The tree is gradually recovering.

Adverb clauses are just long adverbs with a subject – usually – and a finite verb. Have a look at this sentence:

1. Our poinciana tree was badly damaged in 2015 when we had a fierce storm, but it’s gradually recovering.

Can you see the adverbs in the above sentence? Remember that adverbs give information about verbs (add + verb). They tell us how, why, where, and when.

Q. How was the tree damaged? A. Badly – adverb

Q. How is the tree recovering?  A. Gradually – adverb

Q. When was the tree damaged?  A. In 2010 – adverb
                                                              A. When we had a fierce storm – adverb clause

2. The tree was damaged because we were not prepared for the storm.

Q. Why was the tree damaged?  A. Because we were not prepared for the storm – adverb clause

Adjective clauses and adverb clauses are always dependent clauses and when you use them, you are using complex sentences. For more information on complex sentences, click here.







Click here for How to Write a Sentence: #6 A Summary

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Train your brain to recognize opportunity is so much information about how to be successful in life: self-help books, videos, the internet. It can be overwhelming. 

Would you like to know how your brain filters the information that it receives? How about using visualization to reprogram your brain to recognize opportunity? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your brain could spot evidence that things are working out and make you feel more positive about the future?

Mel Robbins uses science to explain in simple language how our brains work and how we can use this information to improve our lives. It only takes ten minutes to watch, with subtitles, and then 30 seconds a day to practise.


Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Song containing Relative Clauses: #2

Shania Twain sings a song called “You’re Still The One” which has several Relative Clauses in the chorus. (See also Shakira, and One Republic.) Links below: one link is the official music video, and the other link has lyrics only, so that you can sing while you’re listening.

Because she sings the chorus three times, you hear the Relative Clauses a lot! If you enjoy listening to this song, you will find it very helpful. Remember the song and you remember the grammar! Sing the song while listening and your pronunciation will also improve. Too easy!

Here is the Chorus with the Relative Clauses in bold:


Shania Twain

(You’re still the one.)
You’re still the one I run to;
The one that I belong to.
You’re still the one I want for life.
(You’re still the one.)
You’re still the one that I love;
The only one I dream of.
You’re still the one I kiss good night.

Did you notice that in two lines of the Chorus, the Relative Clause Pronoun that is included and in four lines it has been omitted? That’s okay. A relative pronoun can be omitted [removed] when it is the object of the relative clause. It has been included in two lines to fit the rhythm of the song, but grammatically it is optional. Note also the Prepositions at the end of three sentences: … run to… belong to. …dream of. These cannot be omitted.



* You can also link to other posts about Songs with Relative Clauses by Shakira and One Republic and Adele.

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Posted in Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Relative Clauses, Songs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Divulging and disclosing (The language of giving information)

For English learners who would like to vary their spoken and written language, have a look at this wonderful post from the online Cambridge Dictionary. Why use ‘said’ and ‘told’ all the time when you can be so much more creative!

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog


by Kate Woodford

We tell each other things all the time, whether it’s our news, some important information or just interesting facts. This week we’re focusing on the language that we use to describe giving information.

Starting with a really useful phrasal verb, if you pass on a message or a piece of news that someone has told you, you tell it to someone else:

Remember to pass on my message to Ted.

No one passed the news on to me.

The verb relay means the same: He heard the announcement and immediately relayed the news to his colleagues.

Sometimes we pass on information to lots of people. The verb spread is often used for this. It frequently comes before the nouns gossip andrumour:

I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!

He’d apparently been spreading rumours about her around the school.

Spread’ is also used…

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

Easy Listening – Practical and Social English #8

If you would like to improve your English speaking and listening, watch this video from New English File Elementary.  It features speakers from England and The United States. The conversations are written under the video. Listen carefully and repeat what you hear:

Conversation 1: Checking out

Receptionist: Good morning, sir.
Mark: Good morning. Can I have my bill, please? I’m checking out.
R: Which room is it?
M: Room 425.
R: Did you have anything from the minibar last night?
M: Yes, a mineral water.
R: Here you are. How would you like to pay?
M: American Express.
R: Thank you. OK. Can you sign here, please? Thank you. Would you like me to call a taxi for you?
M: No, thanks.
R: Do you need any help with your luggage?
M: No, I’m fine, thanks.
R: Have a good trip, Mr Ryder.
M: Thank you.
R: Goodbye.
M: Goodbye.


Conversation 2: Social English

M: Hello?
A: Hi Mark, it’s Allie. I’m really sorry but the traffic this morning is terrible. I’m going to be very late.
M: OK.
A: I think the best thing is for you to take a taxi to the station and then get the train to the airport.
M: No problem. I’ll call a taxi. Well, thanks for everything …
A: No listen. I’ll meet you at the airport. We can say goodbye there.
M: All right. Where can we meet?
A: At the information desk.
M: OK. See you there.
A: Bye.
M: Excuse me, change of plan. Could you call me a taxi, please? To the station. 

Hello. Sorry, I can’t take your call. Please leave a message after the tone.

M: Hi Allie, this is Mark. Where are you? I’m at the information desk. My flight leaves in forty minutes.
A: Mark! Mark! Sorry, I’m late!
M: Don’t worry. I’m just happy you got here.
A: Come on. You’re going to miss your flight.
M: Wait a minute. Are you going to come to the conference in California? Am I going to see you again?
A: The plane’s going to leave without you.
M: Allie?
A: I asked my boss this morning and he said yes. I can go!
M: Great! Oh! I don’t have your phone number.
A: Don’t worry. I’ll e-mail it to you tomorrow.

This is the final call for all passengers on flight BA 287 to San Francisco. Please proceed immediately to Gate 12.

M: Goodbye Allie and thanks for everything.
A: Goodbye Mark. Have a safe trip!
M: See you in California. Bye.


This is the last in the series of Easy Listening – Practical and Social English by New English File Elementary.

Click here for Easy Listening – Practical and Social English #1


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A Song with Present Simple Tense

Present Simple Tense is often used for describing habits, repeated actions, routines, opinions & feelings, and facts. Have you heard the song Creep by the band Radiohead? Most of the lyrics are in Present Simple Tense.

Thom Yorke, Radiohead

Click on the picture above for the video. 

You can read the lyrics below. The tenses are colour-coded: 

Present Simple – pink      Present Continuous – blue      Past Simple – green

Song – CREEP by Radiohead

When you were here before,                      
Couldn’t look you in the eye.
You’re just like an angel.
Your skin makes me cry.
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world.
I wish I was special.
You’re so very special,

But I’m a creep; I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

I don’t care if it hurts.
I want to have control.
I want a perfect body.
I want a perfect soul.
I want you to notice                  When I’m not around                                 
You’re so very special.              I wish I was special,

But I’m a creep; I’mweirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

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English Inversion #2: Question Tags


Melania Trump … Wikipedia

How do you say something or make a statement in your language? What is the word order: which word do you say first, second, third, etc? Here are two examples of common English word order:  

Melania Trump was born in Slovenia. 

→  Subject + verb 

She speaks more than five languages.

→  Subject + verb 

How do you ask questions in your language? What is the word order: which part of speech do you say first, second, third, etc? Here are three examples of common English word order in questions:

♦ Was Melania Trump born in Slovenia?        →  Verb + subject 

♦ Where was Melania Trump born?                →  Question word + verb + subject 

♦ How many languages does she speak?        →  Question words + verb + subject

When we change the word order from subject + verb to verb + subject, we call this Inversion. You may be used to questions like those above, but we can also add a little question at the end of a statement.

Sometimes, when we ask questions, we are checking information or making conversation, often both. Imagine that you are meeting Melania Trump. You could say:

You were born in Slovenia, weren’t you     → subject + verb, … verb + subject

 You were born in Slovenia, weren’t you?

When we are checking information, we can make a statement and then add a Question Tag at the end. We say what we believe is true and then check that we are correct. How do you ask this in your language? Many languages, like French and Hindi, have the same tag for all statements, with the meaning isn’t that so? We have a few more tags in English. They won’t take long to learn.

Using Question Tags is a convenient way to make conversation and / or check information. Imagine that you are introduced to someone and you make a statement like, ‘You travel a lot’. What do you expect the other person to say? He or she will probably just look at you, perhaps say, ‘yes’. End of conversation.

You travel a lot, don’t you?

However, you could say, ‘You travel a lot, don’t you?’ Now you have engaged the other person in a friendly way and you can expect a response. ‘Yes, I do. It’s part of my job.’ The conversation continues. 

We use Question Tags constantly in everyday life: checking timetables, schedules, meetings, arrangements, and asking for something when we don’t want to ask a direct question:

∗ Wife: You won’t be late for the school concert, will you?
Husband: Of course not! You don’t expect me to wear a suit, do you?

∗ Ka-men: Fernandas coming to the party tonight, isn’t she?
Patricia: Yes, of course. She’s bringing the music.

∗ John: The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?
Sarah: Yes, it does. All the sales staff are coming, aren’t they?
John: Well, they don’t have to. It’s up to them.
Sarah: You can come to the conference, can’t you? I really need your input. We’ve been working on this report for weeks. I think that we should present it together, don’t you?


You can come to the meeting can’t you?

We add Question Tags to the end of statements to turn them into questions. The statement is the easy part but there are a few things to remember about how to form the tag:  

♦ If the statement is positive, the tag is a negative contraction :

The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?

♦ If the statement is negative, the tag is positive:

You won’t be late for the school concert, will you?

♦ The Question Tag is always an auxiliary verb with the same tense as the statement:

Do & does with Present Simple 

The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?

You don’t expect me to wear a suit, do you?

Am, is & are with Present Simple

Im the lead actor aren’t I (Not amn’t I – simply because it sounds so bad.)

Im not a vampire, am I?

Edward isn’t a vampire, is he?

Vampires aren’t real, are they?

Fernanda is really enjoying herself, isn’t she?

Did with Past Simple

You didn’t forget to bring the beer, did you?     
Fernanda organised the party music, didn’t she?

Was & were with Past Simple

Fernanda wasn’t late, was she?

You were there, weren’t you?

Has, have & had with Perfect Tenses

You haven’t forgotten the food, have you?

Shes organised the party music, hasn’t she?

Shed been trying for months to get the venue, hadn’t she?

Am, is & are with Present Continuous

They‘re  failing the course, aren’t they?

Im not studying enough, am I?

Fernanda is really enjoying herself, isn’t she?

Was & were with Past Continuous

Fernanda was really enjoying herself, wasn’t she?

The students were singing and dancing all night, weren’t they?

Will with all Future Tenses

You won’t forget the beer, will you?

Youll be bringing the music, won’t you?

She will have finished her test by now, won’t she?

They will have been drinking for hours, won’t they?

Modals with every verb                     

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?!

We can’t smoke here, can we?

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?

You shouldn’t have used my computer, should you?

I wouldn’t have if I had my own, would I?

You could have asked me, couldn’t you?

Dogs must be trained, mustn’t they?

Everybody, Somebody, Nobody

Everybody is coming to the party, aren’t they?*

Somebody knows the address, don’t they?*

**Nobody has forgotten the date, have they?*

*Everybody, somebody and nobody are all singular subjects and usually take singular verbs. However, in English we don’t have a neutral singular pronoun, so in Question Tags, we use they with a plural verb.

**Nobody is negative (no + body) so it takes a positive tag. Statements with these negatives also use positive tags: no, nothing and neither.

Nothing could be done to save the house, could it?

Neither of us knew about the insurance, did we?

I have no choice, do I?

♦  The subject in all Question Tags is a pronoun:

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?

Dogs must be trained, mustn’t they?

♦ Note that the positive tag is not a contraction. The negative tag is always a contraction, unless you want to sound formal. If you do, you will need to change the word order:

We are now going to review our legal obligations, are we not?

Im the boss, am I not? 

Surely, they can help us, can they not?

* For practice exercises, click here.

* To learn more about Inversion, click here.

樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂

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The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Tara Moore/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

How do your friends behave at social events? Is one of them the life and soul of the party, chatting, laughing and dancing with everyone? Or perhaps you know a party pooper, someone who spoils other people’s enjoyment by refusing to join in and have fun. This week we’re looking at language that relates to spending time with other people socially.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

English Idioms in Pictures #8

Click on the picture below to find out the meaning of the idiom HAVING A WHALE OF A TIME. Once on the site, you can click on Follow at the bottom of the page to receive more pictures and explanations of idioms FREE.


whale of a time

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , | 1 Comment