Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to improve your listening/ reading of English: Part 02.

When reading, you could go back at the sentence and try to remember if you know one of the words in the phrase or sentence. When listening to someone saying this sentence, You won’t have time to figure out what any of the words means. You can’t tell that person: “wait!” and then open your dictionary and ask him: “how do you spell ‘enthrall’?”
Also, unless it’s an informal situation (talking to a friend.), you wouldn’t be able to ask him/her : “what does “repartee” mean?”.

So, the question is: how is it possible to understand something when you hear it for the first time and you can’t even check how it’s written or what the words in it mean?”

How to improve your listening/ reading of English: Part 01.


       So many of the English learners say that their problem in learning English is listening/reading. Are you one of those people?
let’s see what exactly makes you not able to understand spoken/written English.

1. Languages are made of sentences. Sentences are made of phrases. Phrases are made of words. If you don’t know a word in a phrase, if the word is not important in that phrase (not a key word), you could understand the general meaning of the phrase or if the word is a key word, you won’t be able to understand the phrase. And if you couldn’t understand the phrase, you won’t understand the sentence that phrase is in = your understanding will be compromised.
Let’s look at an example:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pronouns: What they are & how they work.

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun to avoid repetition. So, instead of saying:
      "Tom is a nice boy. Tom has many friends. Tom likes to play with his friends"

we say:

     " Tom is a nice boy. He has many friends and he likes to play with them.
     After mentioning Tom for the first time, we can use the pronoun he. If it was Lisa instead of Tom, we would use she. If it was the car, we would use it, and so on.
These are called 'subject pronouns'. Because they replace the noun that did something = that was a subject.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What are synonyms & why you should learn them..


Synonyms are words that have the same meaning.
Significant, important & crucial are synonyms.
-smart, clever, intelligent, sharp & bright are all synonyms.

Synonyms do not necessarily have the exact same meaning; the meaning of one word can be stronger than the other;
crucial means extremely important.

Why should you learn synonyms?

Knowing more synonyms make you sound more fluent and your use of language more natural.

Sometimes, a combination of words or a whole phrase can be a synonym to one word. For example,
- good-looking = handsome/ beautiful.
- well-to-do = rich.
- state-of-the-art = very modern (a state-of-the-art computer).
(Note how a hyphen (-) is used between words to indicate that they form a single word meaning.

#It is very important that you know that not all synonyms can be used in every occasion.
There are;
-Informal    -Neutral    -Formal occasions.
You can use informal words/expressions with your friends or people your age.
-Neutral words can be used in all situations (Normal language).
-Formal words are used with people at work, meetings, and sometimes with older people.
There is also a very informal language (called slang) like when you're talking with a very close friend.

In your language, how can you say that you don't know something when:
-You're talking to a friend
-you're talking to your teacher
- you're talking with a younger person.
(you can notice how you would use different words; this is Register.)

There are also 'archaic' words (words that are were used 200, or 300 hundred years ago and are no longer used now).

-Also, there are 'old-fashioned' words ( words that were used about 50 or more years ago, but are only used now by some old people)

: Do you know what words does your grandparents use but you don't?...
These are old-fashioned words.
# Synonyms are also important because even if you prefer a certain word and don't want to use another, you might hear or read the other synonyms.

# Some words don't have synonyms or have a few synonyms;
-Window     -Pen
These words usually are names of objects. (Not ideas or concepts.) a word like ‘computer’ is not likely to have a synonym. But for example, a word like ‘big' = large, gigantic, huge, enormous, massive, etc are all synonymous with 'big'.
or also, verbs have synonyms almost always
# Some synonyms are used in different parts of the world; trousers (UK),  pants (US)
Check: American Vs, British vocabulary
# So, when learning a new word, now you can classify it according to what type of synonym  would it be if you already knew a word with the same meaning:
Ask yourself these questions:

-Is this word, -formal, -informal, -archaic,
  old-fashioned, etc?
- Is the word used in American, British, Australian, etc English?

Fortunately, a good dictionary will answer these questions for you.

       As you learn more words, you'll eventually be able to know whether the word is American, British, etc , but it is always better to consult a dictionary when you're not sure.
till next time!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Which version of English are you learning, American or British English?

Since most movies and TV shows are American, people have more exposure to the American language than to its British counterpart. Some people wonder whether they should learn the British or the American English. You might already know that sometimes each has its own distinct words, while of course, they also have common words used in both varieties of English.

To see major differences in vocabulary, click here

Click here for differences in spelling.

But these lists are about vocabulary, which is important. If you use a British word in America, you probably won't be understood, or even if you're understood it would sound weird. That's why it might be a good idea to know the difference in vocabulary. But there's also a difference in accent (= way of pronouncing words) & grammar (how words are arranged). A few words from a British person can readily give away that he's British. The same goes for an American person. Let's see the characteristics of the American accent;

1. The letter 'o' in the middle of words is not pronounced 'o', but a short 'a' sound. As in 'god', 'company', 'dog' etc.

2. The letter ’t’ in the middle of words is not pronounced ’t’, but a light 'd' sound. E.g. butter, waiter, matter, etc.

3. The letter 'R' is pronounced even if followed by a consonant. (Unlike the British who wouldn't pronounce them unless the 'r' is followed by a vowel)
-Harvest      -border

List of American vocabulary vs British vocabulary.

This is a list for words that are completely different in American/ British English. For Words that are only different in spelling
Click here: (American spelling vs. British spelling).

American vocabulary
vs.  British vocabulary:                          Truck            Lorry
Parking Lot        car park          
sidewalk          pavement
high school        secondary school
vacation           Holiday
fall               autumn
faucet             tap
apartment         flat              
garbage/ trash      rubbish
bathtub            bath
movie             film
wardrobe          closet          
cookies            biscuits
candy             sweets
eggplant          aubergine
golden raisin       sultana
pants             trousers          
trashcan           dustbin
cab               taxi

10 Differences between American spelling vs. British spelling.

American spelling:

As we mentioned in ( Which version of English are you learning/ speaking?) There are visible differences between American English & British English in both grammar
& vocabulary. The differences in vocabulary are either in that each use a completely different word or they write / pronounce it differently.
This is a list for words that are only spelled differently.
Check list of differences in vocabulary for words that are completely different.
(Note: AmE = American English. BrE = British English)
American spelling        vs.           British spelling

1. Most ‘-our’ patterns in British English is ‘-or’ in American English. As in;

color                          colour
armor                        armour
favorite                     favourite
flavor                        flavour
humor                      humour
harbor                      harbour
rumor                       rumour

2,Words that end in ‘-Log’ in American English is ‘-logue’ in British. As in;

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Uses of the verb : To have

What do you know about the verb "To have"?
The verb to have has 2 meanings (2 uses);
1. It means :to own, to possess.
- I have a book.
2 As a helping verb, used in the present perfect tense.
- I have washed the car.

When it means "to own", as in the example
'I have a book', this is the present simple. If (He/she/ it) was used, we use 'has' (we cannot add an 's' he haves).
- She has a book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding & Using a Good Dictionary!

A dictionary or the collection of dictionaries you use when you're learning a language play a very important role in your progress and how fast/ efficient you make that progress. In fact, it might be worth saying that dictionaries & the pursuit of constantly obtaining better & more advanced ones, is a worthwhile pursuit.
When you want to find a word in a  dictionary, you can say: "look up a word" not "look for the word".

In order to make the most of a dictionary, there are a few things you need to know, what kind of information can the dictionary give you besides the meaning of the word?
There are three types of dictionaries:
1. Monolingual (English- English)
2.Bilingual (English- to your language    or from your language-to English)
3.Thesaurus.( arranges words according to meaning).
examples; CALD, Oxford, Merriam-Webster.

CALD: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary

COED: Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th Edition)

CALD is recommended for intermediate learners. Its greatest features are :
- Both American & British pronunciation.
- It has a thesaurus. What's a thesaurus? A thesaurus is a dictionary that arranges words according to meaning & not alphabetically.

In the following video, I look up the word "abysmal" & using the thesaurus I could find tens even hundreds of words that has the same meaning as "abysmal". Which is great when you want to know more words with the same meaning ( for example when you write in essays or some exam, you will need a great range of vocabulary to express the same ideas to convey your fluency & command of the language.)

(sorry, the video won't maximize, so please play it in full screen. & sorry again for the low resolution.)

Merriam-Webster also has a thesaurus, but only American pronunciation (if you're focusing on the American English, this will be no problem.) .It provides the etymology (the origin of words) which might be of interest to advanced learners. It might also be used along with CALD.

So, I hope you enjoyed the reviews, & if you have, share the article. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please leave them below....till next time!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Latin in 'English'

Do you know about the great influence that the Latin language has on English? It's a fact that Latin does not only have an influence on English alone, but on French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch & many other languages. Many words are similar or identical because they are derived from Latin.
For example, the word 'dictionary';
in Spanish it's 'diccionario'
in French it's 'dictionnaire'

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CaPitaliZATion in EnGLisH.

With the increase of the social networks & the chatting services online, people tend to ignore when to use capital letters where appropriate. & that's totally fine! but the problem is, when writing somewhere other than a chat room or a text message, the habit may come along....
Writing things like "im", "gonna", "wanna" "u" not a good practice outside the very informal situations. (for example, an English test)..
So, let's see where English demands letters be in capitals.
1. At the beginning of a sentence:note the capital letters in this article at the beginning of sentences; note also how every subtitle (which is a beginning of a line) also has the first letter in capital (orange)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do you know everything about the plural in English?

Do you know everything about the plural?
In English, the plural is made by adding an s or es to the noun.
es is added instead of 's' when the word ends in one of the letters:
O    mango    = mangoes      
x     fox   = foxes
ch   match   = matches
sh   brush = brushes
s     dress   = dresses
   even the 's' of the present simple can not be added to the verbs ending in these letters
Do = does
wash = washes
fix = fixes
bless = blesses ( as a verb & as a noun).

But there are also other ways by which the plural can be formed. These are irregular forms:
Foot = feet
= men
woman = women
child = children

ox = oxen
   = mice
Even though you can often 'guess' or 'predict' the plural of a word, it is best to learn the word & see if it has an irregular plural form. A good dictionary will tell you if the word has an interesting plural form ;

Click here to know more about the best English dictionaries for you

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How to ask questions.

So, that's it for how to form questions in English. Share if you enjoyed the article, & if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please write them below..till next time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Present Perfect

Let's study this example:
-Edward is looking for his pen. He can't find it.
-He has lost his pen.
-(He has lost his pen) means he has lost it recently, and he still doesn't have it.

The present perfect is the use of:
have/has + the past participle.

-I have finished
- we have been
- he has eaten

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The ''Simple'' Past simple

The past simple is the easiest tense in English.
Because you don't have to add something to the verb. And all the pronouns have the same effect on the verb.

You only need to know if the verb is regular or irregular.
What is a regular verb?