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Archive for the ‘The English Language’ Category

I am feeling generous

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language
So… feeling brave today? Here is a poem about English pronunciation. If you manage to read it aloud in class without making a single mistake (Ok. I said ,I was feeling generous…let’s say one mistake) you won’t have to take the oral test at the end of this term. Ready?????Wink
English is Tough Stuff
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.     
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,                     
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Read the rest of this entry »

by Nancy Heiges an ESOL Instructor
There’s an old joke about a missionary’s wife. She and her husband recently arrived at their new church in a South American country. The congregation held a dinner to welcome them, and the local pastor invited them to speak. The wife was reluctant because her Spanish was rudimentary, but after much encouragement, she went up to the podium and began apologetically, “Estoy muy embarazada, y él” - she indicated the local pastor - “tiene la culpa.” Instead of friendly laughter, she was met with stunned silence because, of course, what the congregation understood was, “I am very pregnant, and it’s his fault.”

“Embarrassed” and “embarazada” are examples of ‘false friends’ between Spanish and English: words that look or sound like they should mean the same thing in both languages but really don’t. As a student of Spanish and teacher of English, I’ve run across a few ‘false friends’ which have caused some pretty amusing mistakes. The following examples are real cases of confusion I’ve had with students and friends. The definitions of the Spanish words represent the particular usage I learned in each case.
1. Spanish “molestar” (to bother or annoy) and English “molest.” Imagine my shock when a student told me, “I no finish my homework because my brother molest me.”
2. Spanish “constipado” (congested) and English “constipated.” My Spanish friend was really confused when I urged him to eat prunes for a stuffy nose.
3. Spanish “coraje” (anger) and English “cour-age.” My class looked worried when I bragged I had “coraje” after I killed a spider.
4. Spanish “Tengo frío” (I’m cold) and English “I have a cold.” I told some students I’d missed class the other day because “tuve frío” and they looked at me like, “You big baby, it’s 65 degrees.”
5. Spanish “papa” (potato) and English “Papa.” I thought my Mexican friend was bringing her father over for dinner, so I was puzzled, but nonetheless pleased, when she gave me a dish of mashed potatoes instead.
6. Spanish “sopa” (soup) and English “soap.” I still make the mistake of asking the Hispanic children I work with to please wash their hands with soup.
7. Spanish “sensible” (sensitive) and English “sensible.” My class watched a movie together and several of us were quite misty-eyed by the end of it. I was really pleased when one of the Hispanic students praised us for being “sensible.”
8. Spanish “carrera” (major subject in school) and English “career.” When my 18-year-old Colombian student told me about his career in business, I was amazed that he’d gotten such an early start.
Fortunately for language students, Spanish and English are very friendly languages; most words that sound the same do have similar meanings. ‘False friends’ like these are exceptions, and it comes in handy to know them.

Improving your writing skills

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language
You know that I have been for some time now trying to improveLaughing your written work making you aware of the fact that you always tend to use the same simplistic words when you write ,even though we both know that you have a wider range of vocabulary. So why not use it?
Look at this text and try to replace the verbs “say” and “look” with some others.
Click here when you finish to see my suggestions.
Watch out” ! I said at the top of my voice; but it was already too late. Jim and I both stood there looking at the cyclist flying off his bike and hitting the enormous hole  in the road. “Is he hurt?” Jim said quietly, trembling with fear. “I don’t know” I said softly. At that moment the young man slowly lifted his head and looked at us in confusion. “What happened?” he said, in pain. “Where am I?”
Here’s another one. This time replace the words underlined to make it more interesting to the reader. Click here when you finish to see my suggestions.
It was a nice sunny morning when we set off on our journey. The sky looked very blue with only a few small clouds on the distant horizon. The ship we travelled on was big and had good cabins. We must have been halfway there when I was roused from my nap by a bad scream. It took me a while to come to my senses, but then I saw a small woman in front of me, looking very scared.
And now an entertaining task online that shows you how you can develop a simple sentence like ‘I made tea.’ into a detailed text.  Go to the website: You will see the sentence with shaded words, click ing on a shaded you’ll see that part of the sentence expand. Read the new sentence and then choose another part to click on
Homework: Create your own detailed sentences from one of these:
- I went to the beach.
- I saw a film
Once you have finished your sentence you can post it in the comments below and I’ll publish it.


Word of the day: Fuck you

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
It is my firm belief that you can never learn too much. But if you feel this is too much or if you are under 18 , stop reading right now. 
Perhaps one of the most interesting and colourful words in the English language today is the word FUCK. It is the one magical word which, just by its sound, can describe pain, pleasure,love and hate. In language “fuck” falls into many grammatical categories.It can be used as a verb , both transitive and intransitive (I’m not going to give you an example , in case my mother ever reads this), as an adverb ( Mary is fucking interested in John), and as a noun ( also ,and for the same reason above I am not going to give you an example) and as an adjective ( Mary is fucking beautiful). As you can see, there are very few words with the versatility of “fuck”.
Beside its sexual connotations , this incredible word can be used to describe many situations:
  • Greetings               How the fuck are you?
  • Fraud                      I got fucked by the car dealer
  • Dismay                   Oh, fuck it
  • Trouble                  Well, I guess I’m fucked now
  • Aggression            Fuck you!
  • Disgust                   Fuck me
  • Confusion              What the fuck…?
  • Difficulty                I don’t understand this fucking business
  • Despair                  Fucked again
  • Incompetence     He fucks up everything
  • Displeasure          What the fuck is going on here?
  • Disbelief                Unfuckingbelievable
  • It can be used in an anatomical description - He is a fucking asshole
  • It can be maternal - as in motherfucker
  • It can be used to tell the time- it’s five fucking thirty
  • It can be used in business- How did I wind up with this fucking job?
  • It can be political - Fuck George Bush
And never forget General Custer’s last words: “Where did all these fucking Indians come from?”
And the famous last words of the Major of Hiroshima:”What the fuck was that?”
And last but not least , the Captain of the Titanic: “Where is all this fucking water coming from?”
How can anyone be offended when you say FUCK? Use it frequently in your daily speech; it will add to your prestige.
Today , say to someone- “FUCK YOU”

Word of the Day : Sold out

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
Wriiten English and spoken English are sometimes different.
When we speak, we use different vocabulary, different grammar, and different pronunciation than what is in textbooks.                              
Here’s one example.  In most textbooks, you might find a sentence like this:
“The theater sold all the tickets”
However, in normal speech, we would usually say,
“They sold out“.
“Sold out” is a two-word verb– also called a “phrasal verb”.  
Adapted from Christopher Moses

Word of the Day: Dig

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
Dig - verb                                                                         
to make a hole in the ground
Example Sentences
Dig the holes for the posts in the backyard.
Could you dig that hole a little deeper?
What is an idiom? An idiom is two or more words with a special meaning.
Idioms are difficult, because often you can’t find them in a dictionary. For example, “to have a blast” is an idiom. What does it mean? You probably know “have”, and you may know “blast” (which means “an explosion or a bomb”)… but what does the the phrase “to have a blast” mean?
Actually it means “to have a lot of fun; to enjoy a lot”
Example: I finally tried bungee jumping, and I had a blast.

Word of the Day: Evaporate

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
Today I am opening a new category called “Word of the Day”. I must thank Kenneth Beare from  who is the person behind this new section.
Evaporate - verb
Definition :
to change from a liquid into a gas
Example Sentences
The water evaporated in the hot summer sun.
How quickly does salt water evaporate?

Linking Words

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening, Music, The English Language
There are many differences between Spanish and English pronunciation. English is a time stressed language, as opposed to Spanish , which is a syllabic language.
This is important because we, as Spanish, try to give equal importance to each syllable but in English, only some words in a sentence are considered important and therefore pronounced with more emphasis (Content words) while others are quickly spoken (Function words) some would say ,swallowed.
Look at these two sentences. Although the first has 7 words and the second 12 , it should take you the same amount of time to read both sentences. Why? Because as English is a time stressed language there is always the same distance between two stressed words.
Peter said horrible things about your mother.
He left after dinner taking most of his books in his suitcase.

Another thing to take into consideration is Linking .Words , when they are pronounced in isolation do not sound the same as when pronounced in a sentence. Why? Because of this linking.
Linking occurs in English in these situations:
Consonant+ vowel : when a word ends with a consonant sound and the next one starts with a     vowel sound , we , very often , link them
  Ex: Liked it /laiktit/
         And I /∂nai/
Vowel+ Vowel : when one word ends with a vowel sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, we link the words with a sort of W or Y sound.
To simplify :
♥ If our lips are round at the end of the first word, we insert a W sound:
   Ex: do it /du:wit/
♥ If our lips are wide at the end of the first word, we insert a Y sound:
   Ex: Ray is /reiyiz/
And then we have the Linking “r” for example, the “r” in “here” would not be pronounced in “Here they are ” (because it is followed by a consonant), but it would be pronounced in “Here I am”. Likewise, the “r” at the end of “far” would only be pronounced if the next word begins with a vowel, as in “far away” /fa:r∂wei/ or” far off”. /fa:rof/

Listen to these sentences and repeat after them paying attention to the linkings.
Not at all
Isn’t it a pity Ian’s wearing odd socks?
Was ever a bride so pretty?
Here is a song to practise linking. Pay special attention to the chorus where linkings are much more noticeable. If you want to to an exercise with this song click here.

  • Facetious and abstemious are the only words that contain all the vowels in the correct order.
  • Adcomsubordcomphibspac” is the longest acronym. It is a Navy term standing for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command.
  • Almost” is the longest commonly used word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
  • “Canada” is an Indian word meaning “Big Village”.            
  • “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.
  • “Asthma” and “isthmi” are the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.
  • “Fortnight” is a contraction of “fourteen nights.” In the US “two weeks” is more commonly used.
  • “Ma is as selfless as I am” can be read the same way backwards. If you take away all the spaces you can see that all the letters can be spelled out both ways.
  • “Ough” can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.
                                                                                                                                    Adapted from
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