English Lesson: If Conditionals & Superstitions

Michael Grammar 1 Comment

There is a superstition that says Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. This is because the number 13 is considered to be an unlucky number in Western culture, and Friday is said to be an unlucky day. So if Friday and 13 happen together, it will be bad luck. Do you think so? There are a lot of other superstitions. For example, if you break a mirror, you will have seven years of bad luck. Do you think so? Let’s look at some of these superstitions today! We use if in a conditional sentence to talk about things that always happen. Do you know how to use this grammar? Take a look at the paragraph above and then check today’s lesson. In this sentence there are two clauses. The clause with if contains a present verb, and the second clause contains will plus a present verb. If the temperature falls below 0°C, water will freeze. So the structure is:  If + present verb, will + present verb. Some grammar books call this the first conditional. We use this grammar to talk about general truths about the future. A superstition is a general truth or belief that is based on …

English Lesson: Causitives – Get Something Done

Michael Uncategorized 4 Comments

I have an old Guild guitar from the 1960’s. It’s a classic! It has been in need of some repair, and last weekend I finally got it repaired. I’ve had this guitar for about 25 years. When I first got it, I was very into jazz. In fact, I used to listen to nothing but jazz. I would listen to such artists as Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass all the time and try to play along with the records. Yeah, there were records back then! I’m glad I got it fixed. I just wish I had more time to play… Yesterday we looked at causatives using have. For example, I had my hair cut. Today, let’s look at a variation of this using get. Do you know how to use this grammar? Take a look at the paragraph above and then check today’s lesson. First, let’s review causatives: Compare these two sentences: I repaired my guitar. ← This means, I repaired my own guitar. I did the action of repairing. I had my guitar repaired. ← This means, someone else did the action of repairing. As we learned yesterday, when we ask someone or pay them to do a job …

English Lesson: Causatives – Have Something Done

Michael Uncategorized 3 Comments

English Lesson: Causatives – Have something done Today was such a busy day. I had my hair cut today. Having your hair cut always makes you feel good, doesn’t it? I think most people would answer yes, of course this depends on the person cutting your hair. If they do a good job, then you’ll feel great. If not, then….you know! After that I picked up my shoes from the repair shop. I had to have new heels put on. Oh, and then I took Happy to the vet to have her nails clipped. She hates it when I do it, so I have to take her to have it done. Today, let’s look at the grammar we sue with have to talk about getting things done. Do you know how to use this grammar? Take a look at the paragraph above and then check today’s lesson: Compare these two sentences: I cut my hair. ← This means, I cut my own hair. I did the action of cutting. I had my hair cut. ← This means, someone else cut my hair. Someone else did the action of cutting. When we ask someone or pay them to do a job …

English Lesson: Talking About Age

Michael Uncategorized 1 Comment

Happy is 12 years old. In human years, she is about 65. She is catching up to her “grandmother,” my mom, who is 82. For their age, they are both in very good health. They also get along very well! I hope I will be in such great shape when I am her age. Let’s look at how to talk about age in English. When you want to know someone’s age, you can ask them “How old are you?” We don’t usually ask, “What is your age?” To talk about your age, we use the be verb. You can say: “I am twenty-five years old” or “I am twenty-five.”  Not, I have twenty-five years. Of course keep in mind that in many cultures, it is impolite to ask someone about their age when you first meet them. Thanks for studying today!

English Lesson: I Envy you…NO!

Michael Uncategorized 13 Comments

Here is a type of conversation I hear quite often: Jack: Jane, what are you doing this weekend? Jane: I’m going to the Justin Bieber concert Jack: Oh, I envy you. Envy is used quite often by students in such situations, but native English speakers don’t use this word this way. Envy is a very strong, negative emotion, and shows your wish to get something that you do not have. Envy includes bad feelings towards the person who has it. If you envy someone, you have negative feelings for them because they have something that you do not have. Thus, envy includes a feeling of resentment towards the other person. Envy also includes distress and sadness. Does Jack really envy Jane? I don’t think so. Here is how a native English speaker might react to someone’s good news: Jack: Jane, what are you doing this weekend? Jane: I’m going to the Justin Bieber concert Jack: Lucky you!   Jack: Jane, what are you doing this weekend? Jane: I’m going to the Justin Bieber concert Jack: You’re so lucky!   Jack: Jane, what are you doing this weekend? Jane: I’m going to the Justin Bieber concert Jack: I wish I could …

English Lesson: Vocabulary Around the House

Michael Uncategorized 4 Comments

Jack and Jill are two young junior high school students. One day, their parents decided that they should each be responsible for some jobs around the house, so both Jack and Jill were given chores to do. There were a lot of chores around the house: walking the dog, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, taking out the trash, etc. In return, their parents agreed to give them a little pocket money each week. Their allowance was $10 per week. On Saturdays, their parents would run errands and take Jack and Jill with them. The kids liked going on errands because it brought them to the stores where they could spend their allowance. Today, let’s look at some vocabulary we use to talk about everyday tasks around the house. I used this vocabulary in the paragraph above, so if you like read it again and then check out today’s lesson. A chore is a task that needs to be done in the house regularly. Some chores are done every day and others maybe once, twice or a few times a week. Here is the vocabulary for some of the most common chores: When you walk the dog, you put a …

English Lesson: Phrasal Verbs & Moving Vocabulary

Michael Uncategorized 3 Comments

My friend Johnny is moving this weekend. He said he is moving to California because ehe got a new job. I am surprised he is moving from New York because he is a native New Yorker and has lived here all his life. I told him I can help him move out of his house, so we have been busy packing up his stuff in boxes. Johnny has a lot of stuff, but he is not going to take all of his things to California. He is planning to give away some of his furniture. I guess he will  probably  throw away some stuff too. He doesn’t have anyone to help him unpack when he moves into his new house, so it might take some time before he can get settled in.   Are you moving to a new home or city? Today we will look at some phrasal verbs and vocabulary related to moving. Check the paragraph above once more, then have a look at today’s lesson: You can move from and move to a city or country; Johnny moved from Boston to New York in 2005. Jenny will move to France in January You can move out of …

English Lesson: Vocabulary About Jobs and Work

Michael Uncategorized 13 Comments

Today’s story is about the work history of a guy named Teddy. Teddy started working when he was fifteen years old. His first job was a part time job in a small restaurant. He had a few part time jobs while he was in high school and college. After graduating, Teddy got his first full time job in a bank. He was a bank teller. He worked in the bank for a few years and then quit the bank and started working for the telephone company. He held that job until he retired at age 62. Today I want to go over the vocabulary related to working. In English, we have some specific ways to ask about and talk about work. When you want to ask someone about their job you can ask, “What do you do?” This is the most common way to ask about someone’s job. We don’t ask, “What is your job? When someone asks What do you do? you’ll need to tell them your exact job or job title. Here are some examples: Question: What do you do? Answer: I am a salesman or I am a teacher or I am a doctor or I am …

English Lesson: Want to & Want a Vs. Wanna

Michael Uncategorized 17 Comments

The other day we looked at gonna, the casual pronunciation of going to. Today, I want to talk about a similar word – wanna. Wanna is the casual pronunciation of both want to and want a. I am sure you have heard this before. However, what you might not know is that there are times when we can and cannot use such pronunciation. Today I want to talk about this with you. We pronounce want to as wanna when we talk about the first and second person (I, you, we, they) but not the third person (he, she, it). The structure is want to + verb.  Here are some examples: I want to eat pizza for lunch. → I wanna eat pizza for lunch. (wanna = want to) I think you want to eat pizza for lunch, too. →I think you wanna eat pizza for lunch, too. (wanna = want to) Jack wants to* eat pizza for lunch → Jack wanna to eat pizza for lunch. (wanna ≠ want to)          *Since we use the third person “s” we cannot use wanna to mean wants to We also pronounce want a as wanna when we talk about the first and …

English Lesson: Confusing Words Part I

Michael Uncategorized 2 Comments

Something happened yesterday with my computer. The screen froze briefly, but then it was ok. I started thinking about how convenient life can be with computers. Instead of having to memorize my friend’s phone numbers and addresses, I can store them in the computer and quickly retrieve them. It seems like children these days are learning to use computers early. I think that is a good thing. Today, I would like to go over some sets of similar and sometimes confusing words in English. I used some of these words in the paragraph above. Have another look at it, then check today’s lesson: Happen Vs. Happening I’ve heard students say things like, “I had a happening today.” That is a strange sentence in English. It is better to say, “Something happened..” Here are some examples. Something happened today. Not, There was a happening today Something happened in school today. Something happened with my computer today. Safe Vs. Safety Safe is an adjective and safety is a noun. Try not to mix them up: Is New York a safe city? (Yes, it is!) In the factory, safety is very important. Shade Vs. Shadow A shadow is a dark area caused by …