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Giles Parker English Academy podcasts
9 minutes | Jun 17, 2014
Who could have poisoned Banjo? - Modal auxiliaries to speculate about the past
Modals to speculate about the past â€“ Who could have poisoned Banjo? Hi! Welcome to another great English lesson with New English Academy. My name's Giles Parker and I'm your guide for today's lesson. I live in the beautiful Green Heart of Italy but life isn't always as pleasant as it seems here. So today we're going to hear about how my dog, Banjo was poisoned recently. The grammar point for this lesson looks at how to use modal auxiliaries to make a theory about or to speculate about the past. This is when you see something now but you don't know for sure what really happened so you make a theory or speculate about what happened. Weâ€™re going to look at phrases such as Someone must have done it; Someone could have done it;Â Someone might have done something, or Someone couldn't have done something. We'll do the reading and listening lesson first and then look at the grammar point after.Â As you listen to the podcast or read the transcript, try to look for these kinds of modal auxiliaries that speculate about the past. This lesson is aimed at advanced level learners because you need to know how to make past participles, and we will focus on some new, rare vocabulary, but don't let that stop you. As always don't forget to check out the websiteÂ www.newenglishacademy.com for the complete set of interactive comprehension, grammar and vocabulary lessons for this podcast lesson as well as the games and tests. You can also find other free online lessons and a free guidebook on how to use these podcast lessons when you sign up. Comprehension Text â€“ Who could have poisoned Banjo? The Green Heart of Italy is a truly beautiful place to live. We're surrounded by steep, wooded hills and small valleys covered in tobacco plants or sunflowers in the summer, or beans or clover or just left fallow at other times of the year. I can let my two dogs, Banjo and Lucy run in the woods when I take them for a walk. The woods are full of different birds and animals. Sometimes the dogs chase a deer or a rabbit or a squirrel but Banjo and Lucy are too slow to catch them. Recently I was walking Banjo and Lucy on a trail across one wooded hill when Banjo started vomiting violently. Suddenly he couldn't stand up for very long and he started shivering and shaking. He was definitely unwell and tried to crawl under thick bushes to hide. I gave him some water but it didnâ€™t help him. He was really suffering. I half-dragged, half-carried him back down the trail to the car. I suspected that he had eaten some poison that had been left in the woods by someone. We raced to a vet in town and she saved his life. The vet confirmed that poor Banjo had eaten a kind of poison that is often used by local hunters. She also said that she sees a poisoned dog in her surgery every day of the year. I shouldn't be surprised that guys will put down poison to kill animals. It is supposed to be illegal but people still do it. I don't know who did it but it could have been local truffle hunters. Truffles are a delicious type of fungus that grows wild in the woods here. If you can find it you can sell it for â‚¬1000 a kilogram. Local guys train their dogs to find truffles. They also put down poison near where there are truffles. A local hunter might have put down some poison to kill the competition. Another theory is that Banjo might have eaten poison that was put down to kill foxes. Hunting is a very popular pastime here. It seems to me, between September to February every year, if something â€“ birds, animals - can move, someone is going to shoot it. Local hunters like to grow and release pheasants in the woods here and then hunt and kill them in autumn. Foxes kill and eat the pheasants while they are still young. A local guy could have placed poison in the woods so as to kill the foxes and to protect the pheasants. I don't know. It seems kind of extreme to me. Another theory concerns boar. There are lots of wild boar in the hills around here and they do quite a bit of damage to the land as they search for things to eat. A local farmer could have left poison in the woods so as to control the boar population, maybe. I don't know - that seems like a bit of a long shot as local people prefer to hunt boar in the winter. In the end, anyone could have poisoned Banjo and we wouldn't know who. There isnâ€™t a lot I can do.Â I am more careful about where I walk the dogs and I always carry an anti-poison kit which is basically lots of water, and sachets of salt and bicarbonate of soda. After all this is a beautiful place, but sometimes you have to accept that rules are different in the countryside. Grammar explanation Now for the grammar explanation. Did you find examples of modal auxiliaries used to speculate or make theories about the past?Â So, for example, in the text, Â· Someone must have put down poison. Â· It had to have been a local hunter that did it. This is showing that I am very sure about the past. Did you see the two modal auxiliaries? Did you also see the past participles afterÂ have?Â So the rule for speculating about the past is: Â· modal auxiliary +Â haveÂ + verb past participle. Each time we use it we're trying to say what we think happened. This means we can express how sure we are, like 100%, or 50% sure. If you're 100% sure something happened (or not) in the past then you can say somethingÂ must have happened. You can also sayÂ had to have + past participle. For example: Â· He must have felt awful. Â· He had to have eaten poison left by hunters. If you are 100% sure that something didn't happen, then you can sayÂ can't have happened, orÂ couldn't have happened. For example, Â· My neighbors couldn't have done it. They like Banjo. Â· He can't have eaten the poison earlier. He was in the garden all morning. But what if you're not so sure? Then you can useÂ could have + participle orÂ may have orÂ might have + past participle. They all show that you're not so sure. For example: Â· The poison may have been left by jealous truffle hunters, or it could have been put down by pheasant hunters. I don't know. What about making questions? You can easily make questions to speculate about the past. Just move the subject from before the modal auxiliary to after it. So for example: Â· Could they have done it? Â· Might he have died? So, to sum up, when you want to make a theory or speculate about the past because you can see something now, just use a modal auxiliary +Â have + past participle. You can show how sure you are by changing the modal. I hope this has been helpful for you. Don't forget, you can get the full interactive comprehension lesson, the grammar and vocabulary lessons and the tests and games for this free English lesson podcast when you sign up at the websiteÂ www.newenglishacademy.com. See you at the Academy!
8 minutes | May 13, 2014
Why learn grammar?
Why learn grammar? Four great reasons Hi and welcome to another great lesson with New English Academy. My name is Giles Parker and I'm your host for this podcast. Today I'm going to answer a question from one of our listeners who asked me, "Why do you talk about grammar so much? Why do you have to use all those difficult words and ideas?" And she got me thinking - why DO I spend a lot of time talking about grammar? About half of each podcast focuses on grammar while the other half focuses on comprehension and vocabulary. Why do I think it is so important to learn - and teach - grammar? Well today, I'm going to get on my soapbox and explain why I think learning grammar is important. This isn't aimed at any particular level. I think most English learners will find something useful here. You can get the full course with the comprehension and vocabulary lessons and a guidebook with free hints and ideas on how to use this and other podcasts, at the website, www.newenglishacademy.com. Donâ€™t forget, if there is anything special YOU want to practice, let me know and Iâ€™ll design a podcast and some online interactive lessons for you. So, why do I think grammar is important? First, I should make sure you know what I mean when I say 'grammar'. For me, grammar is a combination of 4 different things: 1) knowledge ABOUT language, 2) ability to USE language, 3) a special language that helps us talk about language, and, 4) a special attitude, mind-set or way of thinking about language. Grammar is something we all 'do' or use when we communicate. There might even be a grammar of body language, facial expressions, intonation and other non-verbal communication that we don't really know about yet but that we still use to communicate. Most native speakers of any language have a little knowledge of grammar, but they can certainly 'do' grammar extremely well. Â They don't really need to know the rules, the special language or develop the questioning attitude, because they can usually intuit the correct results of the rules and communicate just fine without really thinking about it.Â One reason to learn grammar isÂ better communication. Grammar describes or talks about the structure of language. It shows us the rules and exceptions that we need to use to do what we want to do in communication. If we have a better knowledge of and ability to do grammar we can communicate more accurately - i.e., we can say what we really mean, better. We can also communicate more efficiently, i.e., help the other person to understand us better without taking lots of time and energy. If our grammar ability isn't so good then we make mistakes and the other guy won't be able to understand us so well and we don't want that. Also, if our grammar ability is weak then other people will make decisions about us that might not be correct. This leads me on to another good reason to learn grammar:Â Professionalism. This is how you look to other people in your profession or work-place, which is kind of important. If your ability to do grammar is good and you communicate efficiently, then your colleagues and employers will believe and trust you more. This usually brings good things like promotion and better salary and improved chances. Having said that, please beware of prejudices. Some people make decisions about us foreign or second language learners based on our ability to use grammar and they might be wrong. We are learning grammar, which means that (we hope) it will get better and that our current ability and knowledge is just a place in the process, not the end of the process.Â One of my favorite reasons to learn grammar is that is develops an attitude or aÂ way of thinking about language, and perhaps about the world. Learning grammar means we can ask questions about language and then look at the evidence of language to find out the rules. We can make theories and hypotheses and test them. If the evidence shows a theory is good, we can make that a rule. To be able to do this we need to share a standardized language that describes language: that is, grammar. Grammar gives names to real things - it tells us what are nouns and verbs, for example, or how sentences and questions and tenses can be formed. So we can use this language about language to investigate the world of language. For me, this ability to ask questions and find answers ourselves, on our own, is quite wonderful.Â Lastly, a good reason to learn grammar is that it improves ourÂ ability to learn languages. We can learn more and improve our ability to use language if we can describe it and ask questions about it. We can use teachers, other native speakers or textbooks and the internet to help us, but we have to know how to ask the questions and what the answers mean and that is where knowledge of grammar as a language to talk about language will really help us. It is so much more efficient to be able to learn the target language by USING the target language rather than by translation. So, if you're learning English, use English to learn English. Â Learn the grammar rules in English to develop your understanding and ability.Â Â What do YOU think about learning grammar? Do you think it is important? Or is it a hassle? Did you notice that Iâ€™m talking about learning? That is very different from being taught which is often the death of learning. In a couple of weeks Iâ€™ll talk about different ways to learn grammar. If there are any techniques that really help you learn grammar let me know and Iâ€™ll feature them. Cheers!
10 minutes | May 8, 2014
Speak like a native - go & like for indirect speech
'Go' and 'like' for indirect speech Hi and welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. I'm your host Giles Parker and today we're going to look at one of the most useful grammar points that will make you sound immediately like a native speaker. Amazingly, this grammar point isnâ€™t in any of the conventional grammar textbooks for English learners, which is kind of strange because it will help you speak and understand English so much better if you can use it. If you can find this grammar point in a book for EFL or ESL learners please let me know. So, what am I talking about? Basically, what Iâ€™m talking about is another way of saying what someone said WITHOUT having to do all the verb tense changes, pronoun changes, etc that you have to do when you use reported or indirect speech. Oh, no. This new way is so much easier and more efficient because it also allows you to do other things at the same time as introduce reported speech. You can also show what you or the other person was thinking or feeling about what happened. And, it can show your opinion NOW about the situation too, and generally it lets you tell or act out a story so the other person can understand you better. So, what is this fantastic, multi-functional grammar point that is so easy to use? A lot of grammar dictators and old school teachers arenâ€™t going to like this butâ€¦ Basically, just use go or to be + like to introduce the direct speech instead of a reporting verb. And that amazing little grammar point is what weâ€™re going to talk about in this podcast. I'll post a free interactive grammar lesson for you to practice this on the website atÂ www.newenglishacademy.com. And, if you have any ideas or requests for things you want to learn just send me an email and I'll make a podcast and an interactive lesson for you. One of the many things we want to do in a foreign language is to tell someone about the past. Often, we want to tell a story about something that happened and we want to include what other people thought or said. I talked about how to do this in last week's podcast which looked at reported or indirect speech. And, you know, using reported or indirect speech isn't such an easy thing to do. Can you remember the rules to do it? There are a lot of things you have to change in reported or indirect speech. When you say what someone else said, you have to change the verb tenses because the time has changed, and you have to change the pronouns because obviously the speaker is different. And you have to change the here-and-now-type words too again because the speaker and the time and the place is different. But...you don't have to make verb tense changes if what you are speaking about is recent and hasn't changed since. Lastly, you have to introduce what was said with a reporting verb likeÂ say, orÂ tell. Do you remember all this? Phew! That is a lot to remember or figure out every time you want to tell someone what someone else said, which is why I put it on the website as an advanced course. But, I was thinking - do we always do it this way? Is there another, easier way to report speech? Then it hit me! Of course - a lot of people don't worry so much about making all these changes nowadays. There is an easier way to speak English like a native without getting confused by verb changes, reporting verbs and pronouns, etc. In fact, two different ways but they share the same rules and they make everything so much easier. You can useÂ go orÂ to be like as ways of introducing someone else's speech. Take a look at this example from Frank Zappa's 1982 classic 'Valley Girl' which exaggerates how girls from a part of California talk. Don't worry about all the examples ofÂ like just focus on the one that introduces speech. Also look for the example of go to introduce speech. So like I go into this like salon place, you know? And I wanted like to get my toenails done And the lady like goes., oh my God, your toenails Are like so GRODY It was like really embarrassing She's like OH MY GOD, like BAG THOSE TOENAILS I'm like sure... She goes, uh, I don't know if I can handle this, you know? I was like really embarrassed... Did you see where the speech is introduced byÂ goes and byÂ go?Â Did you also see how the verb tenses and pronouns don't change at all? No changes â€“ just say exactly what the other person said! That's what makes usingÂ go andÂ like so easy and useful. Here are a couple more examples: She said, "Do you want to go out clubbing this weekend?" And he's like "Do I ever!" Or: My boss got angry because I was late and I'm like, "Whatever". He goes, "Why don't you phone and let us know you're going to be late?" And Iâ€™m like, â€œWhateverâ€. Or: She said, "Do you want to want come out tomorrow?" And I'm like, "That would be cool. What do you want to do?" And she goes, "We could go to the beach?" So why are they so useful? Well,Â go andÂ like do a lot of things all at the same time. First, they introduce what someone says, just like other reporting verbs. But they also introduce what the speaker THINKS or FEELS about the situation too. This means that the person might not actually have said it, but she felt or thought it then instead. They also make the report about what happened so much more dramatic, more NOW and less a thing that happened in the past. The story becomes something that involves the speaker and the listener now which makes it more powerful. Â OftenÂ go andÂ like also introduce some kind of body language or gestures and other signs of what the speaker feels or felt about the story. It is almost like the speaker is acting the story for us and this might make the story more appealing and perhaps easier to understand - which I guess is the standard for good communication. Go andÂ like are really easy to use. Just make sure the subject lines up withÂ go orÂ theÂ to be verb. So for example, if you want to say what a guy said, you sayÂ He goes.... orÂ He's like... and then you say what he said, or thought or felt.Â You don't even have to change the tense ofÂ go orÂ theÂ to be verb, really, but you can if you want. I mean, you can sayÂ He was like.... when you're talking about the past or,Â She's going to be like... when you report what someone might say in the future. But I don't think that is a hard and fast rule. Most people just use the present simple,Â He's like... Best of all, you don't have to change any tenses, or pronouns or here-and-now-type words in the reported speech phrase which makesÂ go andÂ to be + like so much easier than normal reported speech. This is all because we want to keep the story right here between us now, NOT distant and staying in the past.Â Â There is a small problem with usingÂ go andÂ like to report speech in that older, perhaps 'higher-class' speakers of English might judge people who useÂ themÂ as lazy or uneducated and as people who can't use or speak the language correctly. However, you shouldn't let that worry you.Â I think it is a different way of looking at how people talk about things that happened. I think it is kind of exciting that we can make the past closer to us when we use these simple verbs and furthermore that we are seeing a change in English language that is taking place right now. Now, why don't grammar text books for EFL and ESL learners teach it?Â
14 minutes | May 1, 2014
Living with cancer - indirect or reported speech
Indirect or reported speech Hi and welcome to another great lesson with New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide, Giles Parker, and today weâ€™re going to look at how to use indirect speech to report or say what someone else said. There are a couple of really useful rules you need to remember when you tell someone what someone else said. For example, verb tenses change, pronouns and here-and-now-type words also change. AND you need to use a special group of verbs called reporting verbs. Phew! Itâ€™s a bit tricky and that is why this lesson doesnâ€™t focus on how to make questions â€“ weâ€™ll save that for the next lesson. Our comprehension text today reports the meeting between Paola who is suffering from cancer, her district nurse Stefania and her daughter Katia. Cancer sucks and Paola, Stefania and Katia talk about what they can do to help Paola live at home and be as independent as possible. This lesson was requested by Iolanda in Brazil and is aimed at advanced level students but beginners and intermediate level students can still learn from it. You can get the full course including the interactive comprehension lesson and comprehension test, the interactive grammar and vocabulary lessons and fun online language-learning games at our website, www.newenglishacademy.com. Donâ€™t forget to check out the free courses in the course catalogue too. Finally, let me know if there is something YOU want to study, and Iâ€™ll make a podcast and an online course for you too. Grammar explanation How do you tell one friend what your other friend said, or decided or thought? Well, there are two different ways to do this. You can use direct speech which uses the exact same words, like a quote, or 2) you can use indirect or reported speech. With direct speech you say exactly what the other person said. You introduce what she said with a reporting verb such as say or tell. If you write what someone said, then you have use quotation marks or speech marks to show where the quote starts and stops. Here are a couple of examples of direct speech: Â· She said, â€œItâ€™s going to rain again.â€ Â· â€œThatâ€™s the third time this week,â€ she added. Did you notice the reporting verbs? To say and to add are reporting verbs that introduce what the person says. But how about when you donâ€™t want to use the speakerâ€™s exact words, or, more importantly, when you are speaking, not writing, English? Well, this is when you use indirect speech. Indirect speech is a report, not a quote. It doesnâ€™t use the exact same words, though it can. When you write it you donâ€™t have to put quotation marks around the report.Â You still have to introduce what the other person said with a reporting verb, and there is a free list of reporting verbs that you can download from this course on the website. The report of what the person says becomes a noun phrase or a noun clause which is usually introduced by that. Do you remember the two examples just now where the girl talked about the rain? Here they are again as indirect speech, i.e.; now Iâ€™m reporting what she said: Â· She said that itâ€™s going to rain again. Â· She added that itâ€™s the third time this week. Did you see where the noun phrase is? Itâ€™s going to rain is the noun phrase in the first sentence and Itâ€™s the third time this week is the noun phrase in the second sentence. Are you still with me? OK. I mentioned earlier that things like verbs and pronouns change when you use indirect speech. Usually you have to check the tense of the verb in the direct speech and THEN change the tense of the verb in the noun clause. Usually, if the verb in the quote or direct speech is in the simple present then the verb in the noun clause changes to the simple past. For example: Â· Direct speech: â€œIâ€™m hungry,â€ said the student. Â· Indirect speech: The student said that she was hungry. Did you see what happened there? The to be verb changed from present simple I am to she was. And maybe you can see another change there too. Hereâ€™s another example: Â· Direct speech: â€œI finished the medicine yesterday,â€ he said. Â· Indirect speech: He said that he had finished the medicine yesterday. Did you see how the simple past finished in the direct speech changed to past perfect had finished? The same is true for future forms. For example: Â· Direct speech: He said, â€œIâ€™ll do it later.â€ Â· Indirect speech: He said he would do it later. But, Iâ€™m always saying usually. I have to add a HUGE caveat, or a warning, here. The rule that the verb changes tense when you use indirect speech depends on if you are writing or speaking and, if what someone said is still true now. In spoken English, the verb DOESNâ€™T have to change, so a lot of the time, you will hear the same tense in the noun clause. This is especially true when we are reporting what someone said about the future, or when we are reporting something that happened very recently. For example: Â· Direct speech: He said, â€œIâ€™m going to see a doctor about this.â€ Â· Indirect speech: He said heâ€™s going to see a doctor about this. Â· Direct speech:Â She said, â€˜Iâ€™ve had enough to eat, thanks.â€ Â· Indirect speech: She said sheâ€™s had enough to eat. I think you can see that pronouns change too. This is because the speaker is changing. So, for example: Â· Direct speech: Katia said, â€œIâ€™ll look in on Paola every day.â€ Â· Indirect speech: Katia said she would look in on Paola every day. Â· Direct speech: â€œWe are all here to help you,â€ Stefania explained. Â· Indirect speech: Stefania explained that they were all there to help her. Lastly, here-and-now-type words change too. This is because the time and sometimes the place in the report are different from the place and time in the direct speech. For example: Â· Direct speech: Paola said, â€œI want to be as independent here for as long as possible.â€ Â· Indirect speech: Paola said she wanted to be as independent there for as long as possible. Â· Direct speech: Stefania said, â€œYou shouldnâ€™t be left alone in this way.â€ Â· Indirect speech: Stefania said that she shouldnâ€™t be left alone in that way. So, to summarize, you use indirect speech when you want to report what someone said. You use a reporting verb to introduce the noun phrase and in written English more than in spoken English you change the tense of the verb. In spoken English you can relax a bit more. I guess that depends on how accurate you want to be. Now, weâ€™re going to listen to, or read, if you like, a comprehension text that gives a report of a meeting between Paola who is suffering from cancer, her district nurse Stefania who is helping her, and Paolaâ€™s daughter Katia. As you listen, try to find all the examples of indirect speech. Then, check for all the different reporting verbs. Donâ€™t forget, you can get the whole course including an interactive grammar lesson and grammar test, the comprehension lesson and vocabulary games at the website and other free courses at the website, www.newenglishacademy.com Comprehension Text: Living with cancer Cancer affects everyone some time, somewhere. We all know someone who has survived or succumbed to this horrible disease. The process can be brutal and quick, or it can be drawn-out and slow. Seventy-six year old Paola has a slow-growing cancer in her lungs. At the moment, Paola is living on her own and has said that she wants to stay independent and at home for as long as possible. Her daughterâ€™s family look in on her every day and the district nurse comes and checks up on her every week. Here are the notes from the meeting last week between Paola, the district nurse Stefania and Paolaâ€™s daughter, Katia. Â Stefania explained that they were all there to talk about Paolaâ€™s current and future needs and asked Paola what she would like to discuss and plan for that week. Paola replied sheâ€™d like to talk about everything. She said that recently some things had been getting more difficult for her to do on her own, like the ironing or hanging out her washing. She said she could just about manage at the moment but she got tired easily.Â Stefania asked Katia if she could come over and help a bit more with these basic chores. Katia replied that she had been very busy with work and her own family recently, but she would try to find time to help her mother more. Paola also said that she was beginning to have trouble doing her shopping. She said she used to look forward to going out to the shops a couple of times a week but recently she hadnâ€™t been so enthusiastic about it. The groceries weighed a lot, and she often felt exhausted just walking around town. Stefania told her she didnâ€™t have to go out so often, and that she could get help from a local community service that would bring food over for her once a week if she gave them a list. Katia said Paola shouldnâ€™t go out shopping if she didnâ€™t feel up to it. Instead, she said sheâ€™d pick up extra groceries when she did her shopping and bring them over for her. She said it wouldnâ€™t be a problem. She said that if she had known the shopping was becoming a burden for her mother she would have got the groceries for her earlier. Stefania asked Paola about her pain. She said she often felt terrible aches in her chest and that she had trouble sleeping. She also had trouble with all the medicine she had to take. She had forgotten to take some of the medicine at the right time once or twice so she had combined two lots at the same time. Stefania pointed out that that was very dangerous and that she shouldnâ€™t have
10 minutes | Apr 22, 2014
Could you do me a favor? Making requests
Making requests Hi and welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. I'm your guide Giles Parker and today we're going to look at how to make polite requests. This podcast follows on from last weekâ€™s podcast â€˜Pass the paint potâ€™ which looked at using imperatives. Both imperatives and requests are ways of getting people to do things for you but requests are more polite. The comprehension text also features lots more phrasal verbs which we also started looking at in the podcast on imperatives.Â This course is aimed at beginners but Iâ€™m sure everyone will find something useful here. You can check out the full course with an interactive comprehension lesson and comprehension test, vocabulary lessons including pronunciation practice and interactive grammar games, and tests at our website http://www.newenglishacademy.com/. And a quick request from me: If you have anything special YOU want to study or practice, please send me an email. Maybe I can make a podcast and an online interactive lesson for you. Now - on to some grammar! In language we are always doing things, like asking and answering, or inviting and refusing, showing or explaining, etc. It is useful to think about what language and grammar we need to be able to do things. One important thing we want to be able to do is to get people to do things when you can't do it yourself. Now, you can use imperatives like we discussed last week, but they are very direct and straight and not so polite. Imperatives are great for giving orders or directions and instructions to friends and people you know well, but not really useful if you want to be more polite. A better way to be polite is to make a request, such as Could you do me a favor? When you make a request to ask someone to do something you use a modal auxiliary such asÂ can, could andÂ would and make it into a question. For example: Can you pick up the groceries tonight? Could you call me when you get back? Would you bring back some fruit? Did you notice how my voice went up at the end of each question? This is because when you make a request or ask someone to do something there are only two possible answers -Â yes orÂ no. Â AndÂ yes/no questions usually finish with raised intonation - that means when you ask them your voice goes up at the end of the question. If someone makes a request and asks you to do something for them and you think it's OK, you just sayÂ Sure! orÂ Of course orÂ Certainly orÂ Alright. But, be careful! Don't answer with the modal auxiliary. I mean, if someone asksÂ Could you get that for me? it is best not to answerÂ by sayingÂ Yes, I could. orÂ No, sorry, I couldn't. People will think you are making fun of them if you do that. What do you say if you want to refuse the request, that is, if you don't want to do it and you want to sayÂ No! Well, just sayingÂ No! is not so easy, and it is a bit impolite or rude. So, instead, make your refusal politer by apologizing and giving a little excuse or reason or explanation why you can't do it. So for example: Could you walk the dogs this evening? Sorry, I can't. I have to stay late at work again. Did you see the excuse? The guy is working late this evening so he can't walk the dogs. Another, even politer way to make a request is to ask someoneÂ Would you mind doing.... This question is nice and easy and very polite. To ask it, just sayÂ Would you mind and then add a gerund, that is, a verb + ing that has become a noun. For example: Would you mind taking this out? Thanks. Would you mind turning down the volume? It's very loud. Would you mind paying for me? I forgot my wallet. OK, that about explains how to make polite requests to ask someone to do something for you. Now, a quick reminder about phrasal verbs: If you listen to last weekâ€™s podcast â€˜Pass the paint potâ€™ youâ€™ll remember that phrasal verbs are two word verbs that have a preposition or particle as well as a verb. Some of them are separable. That means you can put an object between the verb and the preposition as well as put it after the preposition. And you probably remember that if you use an object pronoun, then it only goes between the verb and the preposition. Unfortunately, the only way to learn which verbs can be separated and which cannot is to, well, just learn them. There is a downloadable list of separable and inseparable phrasal verbs as part of this course on the website. Now we're going to listen to a short comprehension text that uses different ways to make, accept and refuse requests. As you listen, see how many requests you can hear. Then, listen again and try to find out all the phrasal verbs. Which ones seem to be separable and which not? And, don't forget: you can get the full three hours course with the comprehension test, the vocabulary lesson and test and interactive grammar explanation and test and fun online games at http://www.newenglishacademy.com/ Comprehension text Last week my friend MarianÂ came over and we worked together to paint a room. This week, another friend, Helena, isÂ helping me out too. It is Easter weekend this weekend and in Italy, that means family and friends allÂ get together for a huge meal. I want toÂ ask over a few friends for dinner on Sunday and Helena has offered to give me a hand withÂ setting up the meal. H: Well, first, have youÂ thought over the guest list? Could you give me an idea of how many people are coming? G: Sure, about 12, I guess. You know most of them. H: OK, and we'll have toÂ think up a menu, too. G: That's the big problem right there. Half of them are vegetarian. I'm ready toÂ give up! I haven't got a clue what to make for them all. You know how picky people here are about food. H: Don't worry about it. As long as there is plenty of food and wine people will be happy. Now, would you pleaseÂ turn down that awful music andÂ turn up the light? I want to work out a menu for everyone. G: Sure. Thanks for helping out like this. So weÂ talked over who was going to come and what kind of food would be best for everyone. H: One of the fun things about parties is you never know who is going to come in the end. Someone mightÂ drop in on the way to another party, and someone mightÂ drop out at the last minute, you know? Can youÂ call everyone up and check? G: Sure. Why not? We allÂ get along pretty well so last minute problems shouldn't be a hassle. But, would you mind calling a couple of them too? You know how difficult it is to speak a foreign language on the phone... H: No, sorry, I can't. First you need the practice. Second, IÂ left my phone on all day yesterday and forgot to charge it last night. IÂ used up all the battery and now it has run out, so you'll have to call everyone up yourselfâ€¦ I spent an hour calling friends. Some of them didn't answer first time but theyÂ called back later. Â Eventually IÂ put together a good list of people who said they could come to dinner. H: Well, what do you think? G: IÂ got in contact with everyone and they all said they canÂ make it on Sunday. H: That's good. Here's a few suggestions for a menu. I don't think I'veÂ left anything out.... G: OK, so we've got crostini for starters. Could you pick up the bread and stuff for that on Saturday evening H: Sorry, I can't. I'mÂ going out with friends then, but I couldÂ pick something up on the way over on Sunday. G: OK, that's a good idea. What about primo? H: Well, I thought we could have two types. One tagliatelle al ragu and the other a vegetarian gnocchi. But, would you mind making the gnocchi? G: Me? Not at all, but are you sure? I'm hopeless in the kitchen? Â H: Don't worry, we'llÂ work something out.
13 minutes | Apr 11, 2014
Pass the paint pot - Imperatives and phrasal verbs
Using imperatives to tell people to do something Hi and welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m Giles Parker and Iâ€™m your guide for this course. Today weâ€™re going to look at some really useful phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are verbs that have two words to them, always a verb and either a preposition or a particle. You hear them all the time in spoken English so it is a good idea to start learning them. Weâ€™re also going look at how to tell people what to do. This is called the imperative form and it is very useful for giving instructions and giving directions or orders. Our comprehension text today is called â€˜Pass the paint potâ€™ and features a dialogue between yours truly and a friend of mine, Marian, who helped me paint my house recently. He is just starting to learn English, so please forgive some of his pronunciation. I think he does very well. As ever, you can download the free transcript and the free guidebook with 25 different activities on how to improve your English using these podcasts from the website, www.newenglishacademy.com. Donâ€™t forget to check out the catalogue of free online English courses too. This podcast is aimed at beginner level students but there is something useful here for everyone. Grammar explanation: Here in the Green Heart of Italy, I have made lots of new friends. Some friends are local people and other friends come from foreign countries to find work here. My friend Marian comes from Slovakia. He is a stone-mason, which means he knows how to build things with stone. Marian speaks pretty good Italian, but many of the people he works for don't come from Italy and they don't speak much Italian. So, he has to speak to them in English. Often, they want to help him do his job. This means Marian has to speak to them in a mixture of Italian and English. He has to give them instructions and directions and tell them what to do and how to do it. When Marian tells someone to do something, he uses a very useful bit of grammar - the imperative form of a verb. The imperative is the verb when you tell someone to do something, when you give directions or instructions or give an order. It's very easy to use. It is also very direct and straight so it is a good idea to be polite with it.Â To tell someone to do something with the imperative just use the base form of the verb - that is, the verb withoutÂ to. You don't have to change it or add anything to it. Â So for example: Give me that nail gun. Start the compressor. If you want to tell someoneÂ not to do something, I mean, if you want to use the imperative in the negative, that is really easy too. Just addÂ Do not before the verb. To make it friendlier, or politer addÂ Please and make a contraction fromÂ Do not toÂ Don't... So for example: Don't stand there. Please don't do that. Marian always tries to be polite so he doesn't always use imperatives. Instead, he makes them into requests. This means, he asks you to do something. It is very easy to take an imperative and change it into a request. All you need is a simple modal auxiliary, such asÂ Can orÂ could and make it into a question. Â For example: Could you pass me that hammer, please? Can you put away the tools, please? When someone uses imperatives or requests, you can answer in a couple of ways. If you want to do it, you can sayÂ Sure! orÂ OK! For example: Â· Put that hammer in the box there. Sure! Â· Donâ€™t throw out that newspaper. OK. Butâ€¦if you don't want to do it then you have to find a polite way to refuse. Refusing or saying no to anything in English is not as simple as just sayingÂ No! Weâ€™ll look at how to refuse things in more detail in another lesson. Lastly, a quick word about some of the verbs in todayâ€™s lesson. Weâ€™re going to look at phrasal verbs, or two-word verbs. This means they have a preposition or a particle after the verb. Â They are very common and youâ€™ll hear them all the time in spoken English. Â And like everything in any language, there are some rules. Some phrasal verbs need an object. This means they need a something or someone to receive the action of the verb. For example: Â· You should put away the toolsÂ â€“ put away is the phrasal verb and tools is the object. You can put the object either after the verb and the particle OR between the verb and the particle. So, for example; Â· Donâ€™t turn on the radio. Â· Donâ€™t turn the radio on. Did you see where the object is? The object of both these sentences is the radio. In the first sentence it is after the phrasal verb, in the second it is between the verb and the particle. Lastly, one important rule: When the object is a pronoun, it has to go between the verb and the particle. So for example; Â· Turn the radio off. Â· Turn it off. Some phrasal verbs donâ€™t take an object so there is no problem with where to put the pronoun. As I said, phrasal verbs are really common in spoken English. There is no easy way to learn them other than by reading and listening and remembering them. You can get a list of which phrasal verbs in the vocabulary lesson in the online course on imperatives and phrasal verbs on the website. Now for some reading and listening comprehension. With the right imperatives to tell his friends and helpers what to do, Marian can build and fix houses. Last week Marian and I worked together. He is the boss so he asked or told me to do lots of different things. While you listen to the dialog try to find all the imperatives. Then, listen again and find all the requests. You can check them on the transcript. Also, check what phrases we use to sayÂ yes! when we give an order or make a request. On the transcript, use a highlighter to show the imperative and the answer. Enjoy! Thatâ€™s an imperative! Comprehension text A couple of weeks ago, Marian and I worked together to paint my house. It was a lot easier with two guys doing the work. I had painted houses before but Marian has more experience than me so he told me what to do sometimes. It all started when I asked him to help me. G: Marian,Â could youÂ take a look at the paint in my house sometime soon? Some of it is old and needs fixing. M: Sure! When is a good time for you? G: How about tomorrow morning? M: OK.Â Phone me when you are ready. G: OK.Â Can youÂ giveÂ me an estimate tomorrow too? M: Probably. Let me look at it and we'll see. I have toÂ measure the walls. G: Oh, andÂ could youÂ let me know tomorrow what things we need? M: Sure. It depends on the house, you know? Do I have toÂ prepare an invoice too? G: What? An invoice? So the next day I phoned him and he came over. Here is how it went. G: OK, this is the living room... M: Hmm...Â look at thatÂ damp patchÂ in the corner. We will have toÂ fix that. G: OK, what else? M:Â Could youÂ help me move the sofa? Thanks. OK - come here a minute. G: What's up? M: There isÂ something wrong withÂ the skirting board here. G: OK, I see. Can you fix it too? M: Sure. No problems. I'll do it later. Now,Â pass me the ladder, will you? G: Here you go. M: OK, we need toÂ put masking tapeÂ all around the doors and windows. G: Sure. Give me the tape and I'll get started over here. M:Â Pick up theÂ tool boxÂ - I think the tape is under it. G: OK, I got it. M: Right. Let's get started. YouÂ finish putting up the tape; I'll take a look at the damp patch. G: OK... We worked together and put up the masking tape. The damp patch was difficult to fix, however.Â M: OK we have a small problem here. Could youÂ hand meÂ thatÂ trowel?Â I want toÂ dig out some of the oldÂ plasterÂ here in this corner. G: Here you go. Can I do anything to help? M: Sure.Â Get the new plaster for me, please. Then put some of it on thisÂ floatÂ and pass it up to me when I'm ready. G: Right.Â Watch out for the old plaster here. Don't let it get in your eyes. It isn't good for you. M: No worries. Here we go. I finished. Now, could you hand me the float with the new plaster? Thanks. G: Sure.Â Be careful around the edges there. M: It's OK - I know what I'm doing. G: Great - that looks better already. What next? M: Well, we have to wait for it to dry before we can paint it. But we canÂ tidy up the room andÂ get ready for the first coat.... So we started tidying up the place and moving theÂ furniture. M: OK, could youÂ give me a hand with this cabinet? I want toÂ put itÂ into the middle of the room, under the light. It will be safer there. G: Got it. Gee, it's heavy - difficult to move... M:Â Don't worry - just use koshi mawashi... G: Ha ha, funny guy. What about the tools? They are everywhere... M: OK -Â put them away. The brushes,Â mixerÂ and the float go in theÂ bucket. Put the trowel and the tape back in the toolbox. Donâ€™t throw out that paint thinner â€“ it will be useful later. G: Sure. Anything else? M: Hmm... could youÂ turn on the light andÂ turn off the radio? I need perfect light and peace when I'm painting a room. G: OK, Picasso. Lights on, radio off. Right. Let's go have a coffee before we start painting. M: Good idea! After the coffee we mixed up the paint, climbed up the ladders and started painting. The first coat went on the ceiling and walls nice and smoothly and after a couple of hours we were ready to stop for the day and let the paint dry. M: OK, I think we can quit now. Letâ€™s stop here, clean up, and start again tomorrow morning. G: Alright. Iâ€™ll wash the rollers and brushes. M: OK, but donâ€™t wash them in hot water, just use cold water. And when you have finished, donâ€™t let them stay wet. Dry them on the tree outside. G: Got it. How about pay? M: Donâ
6 minutes | Feb 10, 2014
McLanguage change - i'm lovin' it - stative verbs
Stative verbs - McLanguage change Hi and welcome to another great grammar lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your host, Giles Parker, and today weâ€™re going to learn about stative verbs, and in particular, how that famous burger chain, McDonalds has shown that grammar rules can change. This lesson is aimed at intermediate learners but anyone can learn something new from the vocabulary or the grammar, or just practice listening and reading comprehension. As usual, you can get the full online interactive comprehension, vocabulary and grammar explanations, the games and the tests at our website NewEnglishAcademy.com. Let me know if you like this lesson or any of the others by sending me an email or rating this on iTunes or Stitcher Radio. The more I know what you guys like, the better I can make lessons for you. Here in the beautiful Green Heart of Italy, I recently saw a sign of an invasion from another culture â€“ a large McDonalds sign with its golden arches next to a main road advertising a new McDrive restaurant. Iâ€™m surprised because fast-food isnâ€™t very popular here. My neighbors ask â€“ why do you want to eat fast? The next nearest McDonalds is about 50 minutesâ€™ drive away. Â McDonalds is being very brave in trying to start a restaurant here.Â Just my two centâ€™s worth, but I donâ€™t think it will succeed here. American fast-food chains moving into other cultures isnâ€™t really new news, but did you know that McDonalds has also had an effect on the English language too? This really means it is a successful business, just like that new verb â€˜to Googleâ€™. Recently McDonalds disagreed with the Oxford English dictionary about the meaning of â€˜McJobâ€™ which still means a job that doesnâ€™t pay well and that has little future. In the USA, you can have a large house that is not well built and costs too much and that your friends call a â€˜McMansionâ€™. Â You can find this in the Oxford English Dictionary too! These new words are nouns. But McDonalds, willingly or unwillingly, has also popularised a new grammar rule. Their very successful advertising slogan says â€œiâ€™m lovinâ€™ it.â€ There â€“ even my Microsoft Word underlines the slogan in red, showing there is something here with which it disagrees. Actually, there are two problems here â€“ can you guess what they are? One problem is with the punctuation. Usually, first person singular â€˜Iâ€™ is a capital letter. I know it is more fashionable with some people to use a lower-case â€˜iâ€™. Personally I donâ€™t use it and I donâ€™t recommend using it when writing something formal.Â Maybe McDonalds started using it more than 10 years ago in order to be fashionable with younger people who were also starting to use lower-case â€˜iâ€™ in texts and messages to each other. But the other problem is a grammatical problem - about the verb, â€˜to loveâ€™. Usually, this is a stative verb. A stative verb is a verb that doesnâ€™t talk about an action or something that you do. Instead, stative verbs talk about a state, or a way of being, maybe something more internal, something inside you, but not an action. Stative verbs talk about emotions, appearances, preferences, mental states, possessions, and measurements. Grammatically, you canâ€™t usually make a stative verb like â€˜to loveâ€™ into the continuous or progressive by adding â€˜to beâ€™ and â€˜ingâ€™. For most native speakers, that usually sounds very strange.Â Some people say it just isnâ€™t correct. Â McDonalds is showing us that grammar rules change and that in this case we can use a stative verb with â€˜to beâ€™ and â€˜ingâ€™. This doesnâ€™t make it active, like you are really doing it, but perhaps it gives a sense of action to an emotion, or a preference, etc. This makes the internal state more immediate, more â€˜nowâ€™. Perhaps McDonalds is using old words in new ways to give new meanings. The future is looking good for some stative verbs. Many people say theyâ€™re hating something rather than they hate it. Or, theyâ€™re thinking or feeling something rather than they think or feel it. McDonalds has certainly made a lot of money from showing that grammar rules can change.Â I wonder what other companies help change language? Maybe I should google that.
11 minutes | Dec 15, 2013
Marketing houses in Umbria - changing nouns
Modifying nouns â€“ Marketing houses in Umbria Hi and welcome to another great English lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to look at how to change or modify nouns â€“ i.e. which adjectives come before others when they describe a noun. This lesson is aimed at advanced level students but everyone can learn something from it. The comprehension text is titled â€˜Marketing houses in Umbriaâ€™ and talks about the way real-estate agents describe the beautiful old houses here when they want to sell them to buyers. As ever, check out the website New English Academy.com for all the fun interactive online games, quizzes and tests for this lesson. Also, if you like what you read and hear, donâ€™t forget to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher Radio or send me a comment on how to make this better. First Iâ€™ll talk about the grammar point and give you a few important rules on how to order or sequence adjectives before a noun. Then weâ€™ll look at compound modifiers which often use participles. Lastly weâ€™ll listen to or read (if you have the free transcript) a short text that includes examples of adjectives modifying nouns. So, first, letâ€™s talk about how to modify nouns. When I say modified, I mean that adjectives, and other nouns, give extra information about a noun â€“ they change the noun and make it more precise and accurate. But what do you do if you have two or more adjectives and nouns before the head noun? Which one should come first? Which one should come second? Hereâ€™s an example of a noun phrase with an adjective and a noun: Â· An old house OK, but letâ€™s be more specific and give more information. Â· An old farm house Did you notice where I put the noun â€˜farmâ€™? When nouns modify other nouns, they come directly before the head noun. Now we know what type of house it is, but we still want to give more information. How about this example: Â· A beautiful big old square Italian pink stone farm house. Thatâ€™s a lot of adjectives but it really gives a lot of great information. Now we know exactly what we are talking about. There is a fixed rule for the sequence of adjectives i.e. which adjectives come before others. Typically, most native English speakers will be able to give correct examples of the rule BUT they wonâ€™t be able to say what the rule is.Â They can intuit the usage but canâ€™t explain it. Sometimes, that is why non-native speakers of a language are the best teachers. You guys can often intuit the usage AND explain the rule, because you studied it. If youâ€™re a non-native teacher of English and youâ€™re listening to this, please stand up and take a bow. You guys rock! Anyway, back to modifying nouns. Look again at the example I just gave, and this time try to categorize the adjectives. What do they describe? Â· A beautiful big old square pink Italian stone farm house. Can you see seven adjectives or nouns that modify the head noun? We can give an opinion, describe the size, the age, the shape, the nationality or origin, the colour and the material. This is the usual rule for the sequence of adjectives and nouns before a head noun. 1. Opinion 2. Size 3. Age 4. Shape 5. Colour 6. Origin 7. Material So this is the general sequence. Try it out by describing the room you are in, or the place where you live, or the person you work for. As a hint for usage, I donâ€™t recommend trying to use every category â€“ you donâ€™t have to describe everything â€“ unless you are a real estate agent trying to sell a house. And, you can change the order to show what you want to emphasize. Did you notice how I read out the sequence? You can see the same thing in the transcript. I mean, each category isnâ€™t separated by a pause or a comma. Â Butâ€¦ if you do use two or more adjectives from the same category then just separate them with a comma. Lastly, letâ€™s look at compound modifiers. These are modifiers that describe a noun but that have two words in them. Usually they are joined by a hyphen, e.g. Â· A half-ruined house Â· A pre-loved car Â· A prize-winning stallion They can be noun + present participle, noun + past participle, or an adjective + past participle but they all give extra information about the head noun and act just like normal, single word adjectives.Â Very often they are collocated with the head noun â€“ that means they usually go together, for example, someone who thinks he is great is described as â€˜big-headedâ€™ not â€˜large-headedâ€™ or â€˜medium-sized-headedâ€™ if he is more modest. My only advice is that you have to learn these compound modifiers just like you learn other adjectives. You can do it! Now, on to the comprehension text. The area where I live is very rural and there are many old houses for sale. The local real estate agents want to talk them up, that is, tell people how wonderful these houses are, but the reality is that they are often falling down. The text talks about how the real estate agents use language to advertise and market these houses. Comprehension text - Marketing houses in Umbria One of the many things that is interesting about living here in the Green Heart of Italy is the real estate market. I donâ€™t mean the types of houses or the prices they sell for. I mean the ways in which houses are bought and sold. And specifically, I mean the way in which property is described and marketed to potential buyers by real estate agents. Many houses seem to be half-ruined and falling down, or at least in a state of disrepair. They are put up for sale by Italian families who no longer want them, or who can no longer afford to own them. They are bought by mostly upper middle-class European and American people who want a bit of the Italian dolce vita. The foreigners then invest 100â€™s of thousands of Euros into the property, doing it up to become a glamorous second home that they live in only 3 weeks a year. These often dilapidated piles are too expensive for the locals to buy. But, the turn-over, the movement of the homes and the subsequent repair and renovation creates a useful local construction and real estate economy. Whatâ€™s really interesting to me, though, is the way these elderly crumbling houses are described and presented in bright, hopeful, â€˜can-doâ€™ language by people who write marketing copy to sell these houses. These writers are artists in their own right. For example, a two hundred year old stone farmhouse with barely a roof and no utilities is described as â€˜pre-loved and bursting with potentialâ€™. Well yeah, I guess it has the potential to be weatherproof with electricity, sewage and water. Another lonely, gloomy two-roomed cottage in the middle of the woods is described as being â€˜delightfully isolated with options for shadeâ€™. A â€˜must-see walk-out terrace and open air bathroomâ€™ means a half-completed building without a toilet door. A â€˜charming private rustic villa with park-like grounds in need of tender love and careâ€™ could mean the building is surrounded by forest and needs a heating system and other expensive projects to make it half-way habitable. Â You sometimes wonder who is the more creative in this process of buying and selling. Certainly, once the buyer has bought one of these burnt-out buildings, she needs to be imaginative, energetic and well-funded. But you have to admire the writersâ€™ skills. These are people who can see an uninhabited pile of stones and with bright, creative wording can sell it to potential buyers. To be fair, I guess these writing skills arenâ€™t limited to Umbria. Iâ€™m sure they exist all over the world, wherever there is a buyer and a seller. Try it yourself. Choose something you want to sell. How would you talk it up and describe it?
16 minutes | Dec 8, 2013
We didn't understand the culture - simple past
Simple past regular verbs â€“ beginners Hi and welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your host Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to look at one of the few nice and predictable things in English grammar â€“ the simple past for regular verbs. Simple past regular is so regular, even new verbs, like â€˜to googleâ€™ follow the rules! Our comprehension text is about two cross-cultural problems when people from one culture visited another culture. This lesson is aimed at beginner learners of English but there is something here for everyone. Check out the website, New English Academy.com for the interactive online grammar and vocabulary learning games, comprehension tests and pronunciation practice for simple past regular verbs. And, if you like what you hear, please add a comment or a review on iTunes or Stitcher Radio or send me an email and let me know how I can improve this. First Iâ€™ll talk about the meaning of the simple past, then look at the rules for spelling for the affirmative and negative, then how to make yes/no questions and finally weâ€™ll find out which wh questions take â€˜didâ€™ and which donâ€™t. Phew, that seems like a lot but it is all worth it. Iâ€™ll save irregular verbs like â€˜doâ€™, â€˜goâ€™ and â€˜beâ€™ etc for another lesson. You can guess that the simple past talks about â€“ yep! - the past, so that is things before now. But what kind of things and what kind of past does it talk about? Well, the simple past talks about things that have finished, that are complete, over with. It is used to tell stories. Also, very importantly, we usually know WHEN specifically, not just before now, because there is often a time marker like, â€˜last monthâ€™ or â€™10 years agoâ€™ or â€˜in Marchâ€™ or â€˜in 1989â€™, or â€˜yesterdayâ€™ etc as part of the statement. If there isnâ€™t a time marker in the statement, then we have already said the WHEN before or we know that the listener already knows what we are talking about. Simple past regular verbs are easy to form â€“ which makes life easier for English learners. All you have to do is add â€˜-dâ€™, â€˜-edâ€™ or â€˜-iedâ€™ to the end of the base form of the verb. They donâ€™t change with the person. How do you know when to add â€˜-dâ€™, â€˜-edâ€™ or â€˜-iedâ€™? Check how the verb ends AND check if the last vowel is stressed or not. Letâ€™s start with the easy rules first. Â· If a verb ends with a consonant e.g. k, p, or n, etc, then just add â€“ed. o Last year I worked in Perugia. o I watched a fine game of rugby yesterday. Did you notice all the time markers? They are very useful and really help us. English speakers get kind of uncomfortable when they donâ€™t know WHEN something is happening. They donâ€™t like vague time and usually try to be very specific about WHEN, oh, and WHO. Back to the rules. Â· If a verb ends with an e, then just add â€“d. o I really like living in Italy but I also liked living in Japan. o I hope the economy improves, but I hoped that last year too. Â· If a verb ends in a vowel (a, e, or o) AND a y, then just add â€“ed to the y. o I stayed in Japan for 16 years. o I really enjoyed my time there. Â· If a verb ends in a consonant and y then change the y to â€“ied. o I tried to speak Japanese every day. o I studied at a language school for a while. Â· It is also important to check how the verb sounds. If a verb ends in a vowel which is stressed and one consonant, then double the consonant and add â€“ed. o I stopped living there over ten years ago. o I planned to move to America. Â· If a verb ends in two vowels and a consonant then donâ€™t double the consonant; just add â€“ed. o The weather was bad last week. It rained for days. o I shouted at my daughter after she came home very late last night. Â· If a verb ends in two consonants, donâ€™t double the last consonant, just add â€“ed. o I wanted to be an explorer when I was a kid. o The teachers never helped me do this. Â· Lastly, watch out for those tricky Brits. British speakers of English double the last consonant in verbs that end in l such as travel which becomes travelled, cancel â€“ cancelled, excel â€“ excelled. Can you think of other verbs that end in l? So, to summarize the rules so far â€“ make sure you show WHEN something happened with a time marker. Make sure you are talking about something that is finished. Check the spelling and pronunciation of the verb. You can get more information and practice on how to pronounce the verb endings in the online lesson Now, how about making negatives? This is another of those rare moments when English is easy. Just add â€˜did notâ€™ or â€˜didnâ€™tâ€™ to the base form of the verb. You donâ€™t have to change the verb, you donâ€™t have to show the number, the base form stays the same. The WHEN is in â€˜didnâ€™t. For example, Â· I didnâ€™t live in New York when I lived in America. Â· I didnâ€™t study at all last week. Donâ€™t forget to emphasize the first syllable of â€˜didnâ€™tâ€™ just to make sure people know it is negative. How about yes/no questions? Again, use â€˜didâ€™ and move the subject. Donâ€™t change the verb. Why? Because the time is shown in â€˜didâ€™! Brilliant! Well done, English! Look at these examples. Â· Did you open the window? Â· Did you start the car OK? Do you remember how to pronounce yes/no questions? Listen to my voice â€“ did you get it? The intonation rises up at the end. Remember, the grammar AND the intonation help you transfer your meaning to the other person. If you want to emphasize the time of your answer just repeat the â€˜didâ€™. For example; Â· Did you start the car OK this morning? Yes, I did thanks. Â· Did you open the window? No, I didnâ€™t. What about wh questions. Well, for regular verbs, use â€˜didâ€™ UNLESS the question is WHO or WHAT and the answer is about the subject. Check out these examples. Â· Who arrived this morning? Â· When did you arrive? Â· Where did you live before? Â· What happened yesterday? Â· Why did you cook that? Â· How did you manage to do that? Did you see the differences? So, Wh questions take â€˜didâ€™ EXCEPT WHO and WHAT. Instead, just put the simple past form of the verb after WHO or WHAT. Finally I wanted to show you that these rules work well with new words too. For example, the internet services company, Google, is so good at what it does that it has become a verb. Isnâ€™t that incredible? So when people look for something online, they often â€˜googleâ€™ it. A quick test â€“ is â€˜to googleâ€™ a regular English verb? It seems to be â€“ try it in the simple past: Â· I googled fishing gear yesterday and came up with a whole bunch of different websites. Â· Why did you google that? Â· I didnâ€™t google sea-fishing things though. Try it with other tests â€“ how do you use â€˜to googleâ€™ in the future, or with modal auxiliaries? It seems to be regular â€“ just like other regular verbs that end in e, just add â€“d. That is one of the nice things about English and I bet most other languages too. When you have a rule you can use it to test things you donâ€™t know. While you are learning English, always use the rules you know to test the evidence and maybe then you can predict how the language works. It will give you more confidence and help you so much as you learn. In the end you will become more in control of your learning, which is so important. And a quick warning â€“ watch out for some speakers of American English who sometimes use the simple past for when they mean the present perfect, e.g. â€˜Did you eat yet?â€™ â€˜Yeah, I ate already.â€™ These tenses have completely different meanings but some speakers will use to mean the other. Check out the online lesson on the website for more information on the present perfect. OK, enough of my rant. Now weâ€™re going to listen to or read the comprehension text which talks about how people from one culture had a couple of small problems while they visited another culture. As always look out for examples of the grammar point. Comprehension text: We didnâ€™t understand the other culture These two stories about people who had small problems in other cultures come from a great book called â€˜Intercultural Interactionsâ€™ by Richard Brislin. North Americans ordering food in a South American restaurant A few years ago, two Americans, Candy and Ron visited their friends Juliana and Gustavo in Porto Alegre, Brazil. One evening, Juliana and Gustavo invited their guests to a nice restaurant in town. When they all arrived, the waitress showed them to their table. Then, she put just one menu in the middle of the table. The Americans were very surprised at this, but their Brazilian friends were not at all worried. Ron called the waitress back and asked her why she had put just the one menu on the table for all of them. The waitress replied that the menus were all the same so it wouldnâ€™t be a problem and went back to the kitchen. Candy and Ron were confused by this but Juliana and Gustavo were relaxed and enjoying themselves. Everyone looked at the menu together. The North Americans tried to remember their own choices and complained to each other about how rude the waitress was. The Brazilians accepted the situation and decided what they wanted together. Why were the Americans unhappy? Why were the Brazilians comfortable? Well, Candy and Ron expected to get a menu each, like they did at home in
11 minutes | Nov 28, 2013
Getting what you want - asking permission
Modal auxiliaries for permission - Getting what you want Hi there! Welcome to another fun lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide, Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to look at how modal auxiliaries for permission can help you get what you want.Â The comprehension text talks about a couple of examples of when someone asked for permission in the wrong way and didnâ€™t get what they wanted. This lesson is aimed at intermediate students but as usual there is something here for everyone. Donâ€™t forget to check out our interactive online lessons that go with this podcast at the website newenglishacademy.com. Let us know if you like this by leaving comments and a rating on iTunes or wherever else you downloaded this podcast. Your input helps this get better. By now, you already know that modals, or helping verbs, help us show things like ability, certainty or permission. Permission means if it is OK to do something, or not OK to do something. Modals also help us be polite to other people. They show the level of formality â€“ that is, how polite we need to be - in a situation.Â Politeness in any language is important and while you sometimes want to be cool and relaxed, you also want to be appropriate. That means you want to use the right language for the situation.Â Modals for permission will help you do this. When you want to ask permission, the general rule is; modal auxiliary + subject + base form of the verb and maybe please. For example: Â· Can I leave the room for a minute? Â· Could I leave the room for a minute? Â· May I leave the room for a minute? Can is more informal, that means relaxed, while could and may are more polite and more formal. Did you hear how I asked for permission? My intonation went up at the end. As a yes/no question that is what usually happens. If you want to be more polite you can add please to either the beginning or the end of a question or between the subject and the verb. For example: Â· Please can I leave the room? Try it with the other positions too. When you want to give permission, you can say, Yes, you can; or Yes, you may. Or, you can be more relaxed and informal and say Sure; go ahead; of course. But, donâ€™t say Yes, you could. When you want to refuse or not give permission, you still have to be polite. In English, weâ€™re kind of constipated about a lot of things including when you are refusing something. You have to apologize for not giving permission. And you should really give a reason why you refuse, too. People might think you are rude and impolite and perhaps too direct if you donâ€™t apologize and give a reason. And donâ€™t forget to use the modal as a negative in the response! So, for example; Â· Can I leave the room? Â· No, Iâ€™m sorry, you canâ€™t. You have to stay and finish this meeting with the rest of us. Â· May I borrow the car tonight? Â· No, sorry, you may not. I need it myself. When you refuse permission, donâ€™t contract may + not. If you think that what you are asking for will cause a problem for the other person, you can be even more polite but the answers are back to front. You can use Do you mind if +subject + verb, or Would you mind if + subject + verb. These forms are very polite and useful. But watch out for the responses! For example; Â· Do you mind if I leave early today? Â· No, of course not. Â· Would you mind if I borrowed this book? Â· No, not at all, go ahead. Look at the responses â€“ they start with No. Look at the question again â€“ they ask if someone minds or has a problem with this. So when youâ€™re giving permission the answer is No, I donâ€™t mind even though you mean Yes, itâ€™s OK. How about refusing permission? Check out this example: Â· Mum, do you mind if I stay out late tonight? Â· Yes, I do! You have exams tomorrow and you need to rest. In answering the request for permission, mum says yes but means No. English is fun, isnâ€™t it! Lastly, requesting permission is a really nice way to offer help to someone. For example, in a shop an assistant says: Â· Can I help you? Â· Thanks, Iâ€™m looking for something for my niece. So to summarize, modal auxiliaries such as can, could and may + subject + verb said in a rising intonation ask for permission to do something. They show politeness with can being more informal and may being more polite.Â When you refuse permission donâ€™t forget to apologize for this and give a reason why you refuse. When you want to be very polite use Do you mind if + subject + verb and watch out for the response â€“ it is No, I donâ€™t mind for yes. OK â€“ now weâ€™re going to look at a couple of examples where someone used a modal auxiliary and didnâ€™t get what she wanted. As always, listen or read and check how many examples of this grammar focus you can find. Good luck! Comprehension Text: Getting what you want Some American grade school teachers (and other cruel people) often make a joke when someone wants to use the restroom. Imagine the scene: In an elementary school maths lesson, 6 year old Javier wants to go to the bathroom really quickly. Following the rules of the classroom, he puts up his hand and asks â€œPlease Miss, can I use the washroom?â€ But the teacher isnâ€™t in a good mood and replies to desperate Javier, â€œI donâ€™t know. Can you use the washroom? Can you go on your own? Are you old enough? Donâ€™t you want someone to go with you?â€ The teacher thinks she is being funny, as do some of the other kids in the class probably, but poor Javier is embarrassed and confused - the same as some of the other kids. What is the teacher trying to make a joke of here? Javier appropriately said â€˜Can I use the washroom?â€™ He was asking for permission, asking to be allowed to do something. But the teacher pretended Javier was asking about his ability to do something. Ha haâ€¦very good joke, teacher! This little word can has a couple of different meanings, and can (ha!) be the difference between you getting to the bathroom in time and you being embarrassed in front of the other kids and hating maths. In grammatical language, can and other little words that show politeness, or ability, or certainty, etc, are called modal auxiliaries. They change the colour or tone of the main verb. They help you do what you want to do. You want to go to the bathroom? Try â€˜May I go to the bathroom?â€™ No chance for a joke response from the teacher there. Another little story from a cross-cultural perspective shows how modal auxiliaries can help you get what you want. Mrs Penelope Farnham enjoys her work as the receptionist in the library of a busy pre-university English language school in Australia. She likes meeting and working with the students who come from all over the world. She often has to answer questions and lend out books. However, she does get a bit frustrated sometimes when a student is too direct and doesnâ€™t mind her pâ€™s and qâ€˜s.Â Politeness is very important to Mrs Farnham and she likes to be treated with respect by everyone but it doesnâ€™t always happen. Â The other day a student wanted to borrow some materials to help her apply to a university. However, the student didnâ€™t exactly ask politely for permission to borrow the books. She said â€˜You can lend me these, yeah? And this and this? Iâ€™ll bring them back when Iâ€™m done.â€™ Well, Mrs Farnham wasnâ€™t too happy with the way the student asked for the books. It wasnâ€™t really asking for permission, more like checking something was correct or not and so she replied that unfortunately those particular books were not for lending at this moment in time. The student left feeling frustrated, without getting the information she wanted. Mrs Farnham also went home feeling frustrated. She wanted to help the student but she wanted a bit of respect too. All this because a student didnâ€™t yet know how to use modal auxiliaries to be polite. What would you say to get permission to borrow the books?
16 minutes | Nov 17, 2013
Haiku: Doing more with less - adverbial phrases
Adverbial phrases Hi there! Welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your host, Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to focus on how to be really efficient when youâ€™re speaking, simply by shortening adverb clauses down to adverbial phrases. This lesson is aimed at advanced level students but donâ€™t worry if you donâ€™t think youâ€™re advanced, have a go and see what you can pick up from it. The comprehension text is titled â€˜Haiku: Doing more with less.â€™ First Iâ€™m going to talk about the grammar point. Then weâ€™ll listen to the grammar in context in the comprehension text. Donâ€™t forget, you can download the transcript and get access to the great online interactive games and tests for this lesson at our website, New English Academy.com. I guess the main point of all communication is for us to help the other guy to understand us. To help people understand us, it is a good idea to be really efficient. That means we should try to use fewer words but still show our meaning. One way of doing this is by shortening clauses to make shorter phrases that still say what we want to say, but with fewer words. Brilliant! And that, by the way, is also why our comprehension topic is Haiku poetry, because Haiku uses very few words to get a huge image across to the other guy. But more on Haiku in a bit. First, let me start by going over some basic grammar to refresh your memory. You know how adverbs give more information about the verb, like information about the time it happened, or the place it happened, or the way it happened? And you know how a clause is a group of words that has a subject and a verb? Â We can see the when, where, how and why in a clause because adverb clauses use conjunctions, like after, or before, or since, or as, etc. Well, a phrase has the same meaning and power as a clause BUT is shorter because there isnâ€™t an explicit subject or a proper verb. Instead a phrase has an implicit subject and a verb in the present or past participle form, that is, a verb ending in â€˜ingâ€™. An example of an adverb clause is: Â· When you are eating, it is polite to keep your mouth closed. Did you hear the adverb clause? It is â€œWhen you are eatingâ€¦â€ This one talks about time. Now, letâ€™s shorten it to make an adverb phrase: Â· When eating, it is polite to keep your mouth closed. There is no explicit subject now, so it becomes a phrase instead of a clause. Also did you hear how we took out the be verb too? That is another way to shorten clauses to phrases â€“ drop the be verb if it is part of the main verb in the clause. OK, now how about this pair? Â· After he heard the forecast, he picked up his umbrella. Â· After hearing the forecast he picked up his umbrella. The adverb clause â€œAfter he heard the forecastâ€¦â€ is shortened to â€œAfter hearing the forecastâ€¦â€ What happened to the verb? It got changed from past simple to a present participle. So â€œAfter he heardâ€ becomes â€œAfter hearingâ€. Â To make phrases, change the verb into a participle. How about making negatives? Easy! Just put not or never before the participle. So for example: Â· After he hadnâ€™t written to his girlfriend for several months he suddenly phoned her. Which becomes: Â· After not writing to his girlfriend for several months, he suddenly phoned her. So, generally, using fewer words to get your meaning across is what we want to aim for. But we can go even further and be really, really efficient by shortening adverb clauses all the way down to adverbial phrases. They have the same meaning and power but much fewer words. For example a sentence with an adverb clause; Â· While I was browsing in a bookshop, I met an old friend. Becomes Â· Browsing in a bookshop, I met an old friend. Or another example; Â· When she saw me, she smiled. Becomes Â· Seeing me, she smiled. Isnâ€™t that brilliant? The same meaning, the same message, but much fewer words â€“ that makes communication more efficient. What about the be verb? There are always problems with the be verb. OK, if an adverb clause has a form of the be verb in it, just change it to being. So, for example: Â· Because they were such good friends they hugged each other. Becomes: Â· Being such old friends, they hugged each other. For negatives, just put not or never in front of the participle being. OK, still with me? Weâ€™re on the home stretch now. What about for passive constructions? Can we reduce adverb clauses to make really efficient adverbial phrases in passive constructions? Yep, you bet we can! Just drop the conjunction, the subject and all the auxiliaries. So, for example: Â· Because it was built to look like a cafÃ©, the bookshop attracted a variety of customers. Becomes: Â· Built to look like a cafÃ©, the bookshop attracted a variety of customers. One set of conjunctions, those that talk about the reason something happens, for example, because, as and since get dropped like other conjunctions to give the same meaning. ANDâ€¦ when the clause has one of these conjunctions and a form of the be verb then the be verb gets changed to the participle, being in the adverbial phrase. This makes life so much less complicated, when you get the hang of of it. So, for example, a normal, boring sentence with an adverb clause says: Â· Because she was happy to see me, she ran across the shop. But drop the conjunction and the subject, change the be verb to being and we get: Â· Being happy to see me, she ran across the shop. So, to summarize, the rules for being really efficient in your communication by changing adverb clauses and shortening them to adverbial phrases are: 1. Make sure the original clauses both have the same subject. 2. Drop the subject pronoun in the adverb clause to make an adverb phrase. 3. Change the verb in the adverb clause into a present participle or past participle in the adverb phrase 4. Keep the conjunction if you really want to focus on time, manner or place. 5. But, drop the conjunction to make the adverb phrase even shorter, into a really efficient adverbial phrase. OK, thanks for hanging in there â€“ I know this was a tough one. But, it is all about how we can use grammar to help people understand us. And shortening adverb clauses down to adverbial phrases is one really useful way to use fewer words to say the same thing. That is why our topic is a type of Japanese poetry called haiku, which gets a huge effect but with very few words. Maybe I should learn from it â€“ how can I get ideas about grammar across to you in fewer words? Donâ€™t forget, you can get more information and practice activities and tests for this lesson and others on the website, New English Academy.com. OK, now listen to the text and see if you can spot any adverbial phrases. Good luck! Comprehension Text - Haiku: Doing more with less Mon shime ni/ dete kiite oru/ kawazu kana â€“ Coming out to close the gate; ah, frogs! The compact culture of Japan sometimes finds ways to do more with less. Here, in this little 17 sound poem or haiku a person steps out of their house on a warm summerâ€™s evening, to shut the garden gate for the night. However she becomes mesmerized by the voices of frogs calling. For me, this little poem has a large effect. Â I can feel the humidity of the evening. I know the quiet routine of closing the garden and yes, I can understand the pleasing, jarring shock of standing still at the gate, not closing it but instead focused on hearing the sounds of the night. I donâ€™t know, but I think the poet is trying to tell me that she is happy to become aware of other things happening outside her routine. All this in just a little 17 sound haiku. Hereâ€™s another example: harusame ya/ kasa sashite miru/ ezoshiya â€“ Spring rain. Beneath an umbrella, browsing, a picture bookshop. I get a sense of soft weather, but taking time to look at books you might want to buy that are displayed even underneath the awnings of a small, interesting bookshop. I also feel like this person is enjoying her solitude. What do you get from this haiku? I donâ€™t know if it is the shortest poetry in the world, but it is certainly efficient. In two or three short phrases, haiku usually takes the poetâ€™s subjective experience of a common or mundane sight, sound, sensation, etc and adds a contrasting image. This juxtaposition at first seems unconnected to the previous phrase but we are supposed to make a leap of intuition or imagination and make our own conclusion. Obviously this is easier to do with some haiku than others. Kakemeguru/ yume ya yake no no/ kaze no oto â€“ Wandering dreams! Burnt fields, the sound of the wind. I feel strangely uncomfortable with this one. Wandering dreams makes me feel like Iâ€™m not in control of something, that the world round me is meaningless and insubstantial. Then the next image of the burned fields, like after harvest in autumn, says the world is black and smoky and dying. Add to this the sound of the wind over these fields and I have a definite impression of gloom and despair. Not a very happy poem at all. Â Is the poet saying that life is hard and meaningless? Haiku poets know that their words cannot sufficiently convey the whole experience so they are often vague about the subject and the logical connections between the images and ideas. This makes the reader ask questions and fill in the gaps herself. Perhaps the poems are a bit like a picture that deliberately leaves out sharp or clear lines but forces the viewer to add colours and shapes herself. In this way, the poem becomes a combination of the poetâ€™s writing and the readerâ€™s imagination. This can become a starting point for the readerâ€™s own medita
4 minutes | Nov 10, 2013
The bucket list - present perfect
Present perfect with 'already' & 'yet' Hi there! Welcome to another lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide, Giles Parker. Today weâ€™ll be focusing on how to use the present perfect with already and yet. This lesson is aimed at intermediate level learners but donâ€™t worry if you arenâ€™t at that level. There is something for everyone here. The comprehension text talks about a modern phenomenon, a â€˜bucket listâ€™ which seems to be increasingly fashionable these days. First Iâ€™m going to talk about how to use and make present perfect with already and yet, then weâ€™ll listen to (or read, if you like) the comprehension text. As always, you can get more online activities, games and tests that focus on this lesson and others at our website, New English Academy.com. You probably know what the present perfect tense does â€“ that is, it talks about past actions that are still true or important now, and they might still be important in the future too. You know that present perfect is different from simple past because simple past talks about completed or finished actions that are not important or relevant now and that we usually know a particular time when the simple past happened but with present perfect time is not so important. But did you know that we can give lots more information and detail about the past with present perfect if we use little adverbs such as already, yet, since or for? Weâ€™ll look at since and for in another lesson. For today, letâ€™s just concentrate on already and yet. We use present perfect with already to show something that has happened before now but weâ€™re not interested in when. e.g. Â· Iâ€™ve already seen that movie. Did you notice how we make clauses with present perfect and already? First, make sure you have the correct form of have to go with the subject. Then, use the correct past participle of the verb. Lastly, just put already between have and the past participle. Andâ€¦did you notice the contraction? Drop the ha in have and put in an apostrophe to make your English much more natural. I know English doesnâ€™t really help us because there are so many different rules for participles. In my humble opinion, the only way to learn them is to just hit the books â€“ read or listen to as much English as you can and learn the participles. Good grammar books have appendices with common and irregular participles so you can always study that way too. OK, now, how about negative statements in the present perfect? Easy! This is when we use yet! This means something that hasnâ€™t happened before now, e.g. Â· I havenâ€™t seen that movie yet. This kind of means that even though it hasnâ€™t happened before now, there is still a good chance it might happen later, in the future. Yet usually goes at the end of a negative statement, but it can also go between havenâ€™t and the past participle, e.g. Â· I havenâ€™t yet seen that movie. When we want to make Yes/No questions in the present perfect we also mostly use yet. Just turn have and the subject around and put yet at the end. For example; Â· Have you seen that movie yet? But if you want to show you are surprised that something has happened before now, like it was unexpected, then you can use already; e.g. Â· Have you seen that movie already? It only came out yesterday! With Wh-questions things get a bit interesting.Â You use already for Wh-questions that include an affirmative statement, and yet for questions that include a negative. For example; Â· Which movies have you already seen? Â· Which movies havenâ€™t you seen yet? And now as usual, the warnings. Try not to use past time expressions like last week, yesterday, last month with already; e.g. Â· Iâ€™ve already seen that movie last month. While some native speakers of English might use it, it isnâ€™t normal or â€˜correctâ€™ grammar. They should be saying Â· I saw it last month. Thatâ€™s one of the differences between present perfect and simple past. Simple past show a particular time. Also, some speakers of English often donâ€™t bother to use the present perfect at all, even though they want to show the same meaning. Instead they use the simple past with already or yet to mean the same thing; e.g. Â· Did you eat yet? Â· Yeah, I ate already. This could be a kind of dialect, or the language changing to become less complicated. Youâ€™ll hear and read it sometimes, so please donâ€™t be surprised. So, to summarize, present perfect with already or yet talks about things that have happened before now. When isnâ€™t so important, and there is an implication that they could still continue to happen. Use already for affirmative statements and Wh-questions and yet for negative statements and Wh-questions and for Yes/No questions. Now, on to the comprehension text. This is about recent social phenomenon called the Bucket List. As you listen or read, try to check for the present perfect phrases that use already and yet. If you want to practice your comprehension and grammar more, donâ€™t forget to check out the online activities at NewEnglishAcademy.com Enjoy! The Bucket List Every culture has themes that strike a chord and make some people feel good, or strike a nerve and make them feel uncomfortable. In the aging, baby-boomer society of the US and Europe it has become popular to talk about your â€˜bucket listâ€™. This is a list of important things you havenâ€™t done yet but want to do before you die, or kick the bucket. This theme is partially or totally reflected in at least four popular recent movies and cartoons: Joe vs. The Volcano, Up, The Simpsons episode One Fish, Two Fish and of course The Bucket List. Â Â These are feel-good movies about life and mortality. They say we are going to die, so maybe we should take control of our lives and do some of the wonderful, exciting things we havenâ€™t done yet. In The Bucket List, the two main characters decide to travel around the world together. They havenâ€™t been sky-diving yet, so off they go. One of them hasnâ€™t driven a Shelby Mustang yet so this they do. They havenâ€™t enjoyed the beauty of the Taj Mahal in India yet or ridden motorcycles on the Great Wall of China. They havenâ€™t been on a lion safari in Africa yet or visited the Great Pyramid in Egypt. These are all things they have wanted to do and we watch as they do them. But there are other, less-expensive things to do on the bucket lists of these old men. One of them wants to laugh until he cries, which he ends up doing. The other wants to kiss the most beautiful girl in the world which he decides is his granddaughter. He hasnâ€™t witnessed anything majestic but that gets crossed off his list when his ashes are placed on Mt Everest. In the Simpsons, terminally-ill Homer decides he must suddenly be a better father to his children, which he hasnâ€™t done yet, by teaching his 8 year old son about the 3 stages of lifeÂ - I didnâ€™t do it; Cover for me; and Yes, Boss! He actually listens to his daughter play the saxophone which he has never done before. But, thankfully, all this sincerity gets blown in the end where we see that the healed Homer has learned nothing from his experience. Â I googled â€˜bucket listâ€™ just to see what came up on the internet. Â I have a feeling the bucket list theme is popular with adventure holiday tour companies. Most of the bucket lists I looked at were about doing things, not about being or becoming things. In our bucket lists maybe we could also include normal, everyday things we have already done or become that we still feel proud of. Would you put â€˜raise a lovely familyâ€™ on your bucket list and then cross it off as something you have already done? How about â€˜Be true to myselfâ€™, or â€˜Look after the world around meâ€™? These are incredible things that we do all our lives but I think they should still be on our bucket lists, just so that we can think about crossing them off when we kick the bucket. And the best thing is, you donâ€™t have to pay a ton of money to achieve them.
9 minutes | Nov 3, 2013
Planning a surprise party - 'will' & 'going to'
'Will' vs 'going to' Hi and welcome to another lesson from New English Academy. Today weâ€™re going to look at the differences between will and going to. This lesson is aimed at beginner students but if you are more advanced you might still find something useful too. First, Iâ€™m going to talk about what going to and will really mean. Then weâ€™re going to hear them in context in a short story. As always, donâ€™t forget to check out our website, New English Academy.com for all the fun online activities that go with this lesson. You probably know that going to and will both talk about the future, therefore they are similar. But what are the differences? Why do we choose to use one and not the other? Some people might say OK, well, one is more relaxed than the other, or one is more formal than the other, but beware! That isnâ€™t really the truth, and if you believe that then you are stopping yourself from being as accurate as you could be. Let me tell you more. They both talk about the future, but the similarity kind of stops there. What kind of future do they talk about? Woah! Is the type of future important? It sure is! And, what kind of present does the future come from? No! Does that mean going to and will actually have important subtle differences and tell us about the present too? Yep â€“ you bet! Lots of important, different information â€“ and we make unconscious choices about which one to use. So what are the different meanings for going to and will? To be going to do something Â· talks about the future â€“ OK, thatâ€™s easy; Â· makes predictions based on current evidence â€“ that means talks about the future because we can see something true now, right this moment; Â· talks about plans for the future â€“ BUTâ€¦.these plans were made before now, this is a basic difference between the two â€“ keep that in mind! On the other hand, will talks about the future in different ways to going to. For example, will Â· talks about the future â€“ OK, we understand that; Â· makes predictions about the future BUT WITHOUT any current evidence â€“ thatâ€™s an important difference; Â· makes promises â€“ often to reassure people; Â· makes sudden decisions â€“ based on the situation right now we can decide about the future; Â· offers help or asks for help -Â because it talks about the future without a plan. So you can see that will is also linked to the present but in a sudden, unplanned way instead of going to which tells us more about the past and the present. OK, so how do we make them? Will is easy â€“ just put it before the verb, for example: Â· Is that the phone? Iâ€™ll get it. Did you notice the contraction? Will drops the w & i and leaves just the ll after the subject. The negative is easy too â€“ wonâ€™t, which is the contraction of will not. For example: Â· Iâ€™ll do anything for love, but I wonâ€™t do that. For questions, either turn the subject and will around, e.g. Â· Will you still love me tomorrow? Or put a wh question in front of it, e.g. Â· When will I see you again? To make going to donâ€™t forget to put the right form of to be in front of the verb, for example: Â· Iâ€™m going to take two weeks. Â Iâ€™m going to have a fine vacation. Did you notice the pronunciation here? To be going to often gets contracted down to to be + gonna, which is fine when youâ€™re talking with people, but please be careful when you are writing it.Â Use it in emails and messages to friends and family. I donâ€™t recommend it in more formal writing like in business mails or college work. How do you make the negative for going to? Just put not between to be and going to, e.g. Â· Weâ€™re not going to take it anymore. To make yes/no questions, just turn the subject and to be around, e.g. Â· Are you going to call me later? OK, to summarize, there are big differences between to be going to and will. Going to talks about futures based on plans and current evidence now. Will talks about unplanned futures or futures with no evidence now; makes offers and promises; gives assurance and makes decisions right now about the future. Pretty interesting, huh! OK, now listen to the text which has a few examples of will and going to in context. The first time, try to listen for just the main idea. Donâ€™t worry about all the details; just focus on the most important idea.Â And donâ€™t forget, you can get all the online activities for this lesson on the website, New English Academy.com. Here we go! Planning a surprise party Today is Wednesday and two friends are planning a surprise birthday party for this weekend. Tomas and Keiko started putting together a party for their best-friend Angela two weeks ago. They have already talked about what they are going to do but still need to decide a few things.Â For example, they still need to go shopping so they are going to get the food on Friday night from Safeway and prepare some of it early. Tomas is going to buy the vegetables and dips while Keiko is going to pick up wine and beer. They havenâ€™t decided about decorating the room yet. Tomas says heâ€™ll spend Saturday morning putting things away and tidying up if Keiko will make some decorations. Keiko doesnâ€™t have any paper or glue but she says sheâ€™ll get some from the store on the way back from work on Friday. She wonâ€™t forget, she promises. Tomas tells her not to go to the shop on Blake and 5th. He had a bad time there once with a rude clerk and he wonâ€™t ever go there again. Keiko reassures him and says OK, she wonâ€™t go either. Tomas knows Keiko will be busy Saturday morning so he says heâ€™ll check in with friends to make sure theyâ€™ll come, when he gets some time. It is going to be a barbecue so they are both worried about the weather. Right now, the forecast on TV is good but theyâ€™ll bring the party inside if the weather looks like rain. Theyâ€™re fairly certain that Angela will be happy with the surprise party. She has a lot of friends and theyâ€™ll probably all turn up, which will make for a noisy, fun party with music, good food, dancing and great conversation. Itâ€™s always fun when people get together. Tomas and Keiko have made a lot of plans for the party and they are going to have a great time. Â
8 minutes | Oct 29, 2013
Preparing for a marathon - gerunds
Gerunds as subject and object Hi there! Welcome to another fun lesson with New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide, Giles Parker. Today, weâ€™re going to look at how we can use gerunds as subjects and objects in a sentence and Iâ€™ll talk about that first. Then weâ€™ll listen to or read the comprehension text which is called â€˜Preparing for a Marathonâ€™ and yep! You guessed it! It talks about things we can do when weâ€™re training and getting ready to run a marathon. This lesson is aimed at intermediate level learners but the language is natural and there is something for everyone here. Donâ€™t forget to check out the great online activities, tests and games that go with this podcast at the website, New English Academy.com. First, a quick chat about using gerunds as subjects and objects. I guess by now you already know what a noun is. A noun shows a person, place, thing or idea and can be the subject or object of a sentence. So, for example: Â· The London Marathon is a very popular race. You can see that London, marathon and race are nouns. But what about when you want to talk about an action in the same way as you normally use a noun? For example: Â· Running the London Marathon is difficult but fun. You can see that running looks like it is the progressive form of the verb to run but, here, it is acting like it is a noun.Â Another example: Â· Setting small goals for yourself will help you when you train for a marathon. Do you see how these action words are acting like nouns? When verbs do that, they are called gerunds and they are useful to know about because we use and see them all the time in English. To make a gerund, just take the base form of the verb and add â€“ingÂ. Easy! Sometimes learning English is just no problem. To make a negative statement just put not in front of the gerund, like this: Â· Not stretching before a workout might make it more difficult for you to exercise. When gerunds are the subject of the sentence they are followed by a verb in the 3rd person singular. This verb can show time, of course. For example: Â· Running as really difficult when I started but I got used to it. Gerunds can also be the objects of sentences after certain verbs, for example: Â· He started training 3 months before the race. Â· He quit smoking and drinking as part of his training. You can find a list of which verbs regularly go with gerunds in the resources section in the online lesson. Lastly, some gerunds are regularly used with go to talk about activities or hobbies, for example: Â· He goes jogging every morning. Â· Last Saturday he went dancing with some friends. So, to sum up, gerunds are action words that we use as nouns. To make them, just take the base form of the verb and add â€“ing. To make negatives, just put not before the gerund. Some verbs regularly go with a gerund, and some activities and hobbies are go + a gerund. Donâ€™t forget! Gerunds are not the progressive form of the verb â€“ gerunds donâ€™t show the time â€“ the following verb does. There are some other things about how gerunds work with infinitives and prepositions which weâ€™ll cover in another lesson. Now, on to the comprehension text! Comprehension text - Preparing for a marathon Running a marathon is a common way to raise money and awareness for different charities. A friend of mine is preparing to run a major marathon in Rotterdam this year.Â Itâ€™s a popular international course with more than 22,000 participants. Watching along the streets will be another 900,000 spectators all supporting and encouraging the runners. Â It will be quite the party. My friend is already well into his training. Heâ€™s very determined. Not finishing is not an option for him. From what I know of him he has never had trouble with seeing things through to the end. He has some advice for anyone who is considering taking up running to raise money. First of all, focus on the common sense things you can change, like quitting smoking, sleeping properly, eating sensibly, and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink. These are all basic things you have to do to get fit enough to run a marathon. He says try starting slowly and building up your endurance. Attempting to run the whole course right from the get-go is just ludicrous. You have to work up to it. Consider running as part of your daily routine. Think about getting up early and going for a jog first thing in the morning â€“ itâ€™s a beautiful time of day and you see different things then, he says. He advises not skipping out on the warm up. Proper stretching before and after a run is very important. In fact, if you have the time, he also recommends taking up yoga or Tâ€™ai Chi. These are great ways of developing suppleness and strength. And, donâ€™t put off or postpone your training. Try to run as regularly as you can. All these physical techniques will help with your running. But my friend says there are also other things that good runners do in preparing for a marathon â€“ there is a whole list of mental training that goes with the physical development.Â For example, setting small goals for yourself in different ways and working towards them in increments really pays off. Rewarding yourself for each improvement is another strategy. Not feeling down when you have slow days is important too. Everyone has doubts but maintaining perspective and not worrying too much will help with the training. Always think about finishing and how it will feel. What will breaking through the tape at the end of the course be like? Imagine yourself coming down the last stretch to the finishing line â€“ apparently image training will help you develop as a runner. Training for and running in a marathon is often the hardest thing a lot have people have ever done. But, finishing the race and feeling proud of yourself is one of the best feelings some people can ever have. Coming in first, or second or even in the top 100 is not the issue here. Just participating and completing the course is the most important point. That and knowing that all your hard work goes to a good cause â€“ a charity that helps other people in need. Â
11 minutes | Oct 29, 2013
The Guinness Book of records - superlative adjectives
Superlative adjectives Hi there, and welcome to another great lesson with New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to focus on superlative adjectives. The comprehension text is about some of the strangest world records in the Guinness Book of Records. This lesson is aimed at beginners but anyone can find something new and interesting here. First weâ€™ll talk about how to make and use superlative adjectives then weâ€™ll listen to, or read if you want, the comprehension text. As always, donâ€™t forget to check out the great online games and learning activities that go with this lesson on our website at New English Academy.com. First, a little chat about superlative adjectives. You know how adjectives give more information about nouns, how they describe something, make it more interesting? Well superlative adjectives talk about the one thing in its group that is the most â€˜whateverâ€™ in its group. For example: Â· I live in a house. Letâ€™s add an adjective; Â· I live in a nice house Now letâ€™s make it a superlative adjective; Â· I live in the nicest house in the village. Did you see where the adjective goes? Thatâ€™s right, just put it before the noun. And, did you see what happened to the superlative? Because it is the most â€˜whateverâ€™, you put the before it. Did you also notice that I added a little prepositional phrase after the noun? We have to say what group the noun belongs to when we use superlative adjectives, because after all we are saying something is the most â€˜whateverâ€™ in a group. So, to summarize, the adjective goes in front of the noun, add the and a prepositional phrase to say what the group is. Superlative adjectives change depending on how many syllables there are. You know what a syllable is, right? A sound unit. So an adjective like nice has just one syllable, but an adjective like beautiful has three syllables. With short adjectives just add â€“est to the end of the adjective. For example; Â· This is the nicest place I have ever been. Â· Heâ€™s the tallest guy in our office. Â· These are the cheapest shoes in the shop. Some adjectives have two or more syllables â€“ long adjectives. For most of these adjectives, just put the most in front of the adjective. For example; Â· Sheâ€™s the most beautiful woman I have ever met. Â· These are the most expensive shoes in the shop. Typically, because this is language learning and nothing is ever completely easy, there are a couple of irregular or problem forms. First, if a two syllable adjective ends in y we drop the y and add iest, for example; Â· You think that is funny? Now, this is the funniest thing ever. Â· That guy isnâ€™t just creepy, heâ€™s the creepiest guy in the building. See how we always put the and a phrase afterwards to say what the group is? There are three irregular adjectives â€“ good, bad, and far. The superlative forms for these are the best, and the worst and the farthest. For example: Â· Iâ€™ve had good pizza before but this one was the best Iâ€™ve ever had. Â· Bad day at the office? Man, it was the worst day ever. And now the problem adjectivesâ€¦ remember how short adjectives usually take â€“est on the end? Well, fun is causing problems. The grammar books tell you (and I donâ€™t know why) that we shouldnâ€™t add -est but should add the most. For example; Â· Thank you. That was the most fun thing Iâ€™ve done in ages. Butâ€¦.there are a lot of people out there who want to keep the rules all regular and instead put â€“est on the end of fun, for example: Â· Thank you. That was the funnest thing Iâ€™ve done in ages. There â€“ even my Microsoft Word has underlined funnest in red because it thinks it is wrong. But youâ€™ll hear it all around you. The same goes for stupid. A two syllable adjective, so the textbooks say it should be the most stupid but the reality is people say the stupidest. I think grammar textbooks and teachers have to catch up with reality and teach language as people speak it, not as they think it should be spoken. Now, on to the comprehension text which is about different world records, not just normal world records like the tallest man or the heaviest baby but some of the strangest, weirdest records. List, or read, and see how many superlative adjectives you can find in the text. Good luck! The Guinness Book of Records A new world record was broken recently. The smallest man in the world is now Chandra Bahadur Dangi from Nepal. Â This, and other world records are checked and recorded by the Guinness Book of Records in the UK. If you visit the website, buy the book or even watch the TV show as I did as a kid 100 years ago, you can learn some of the most incredible things. Not just the important measurements and statistics, but how really strange some people are. It seems a contradiction but the Guinness Book of Records has many common or normal records. For instance, the tallest living man in the world is Sultan Kosen from Turkey. He is an amazing 2.43m tall. The fastest boat in the world is the Spirit of Australia with a record of 555kmh. The heaviest baby ever recorded was 10.8kg in 1879 in Ohio, America. Wow! But, these are all â€˜averageâ€™ records. Guinness also records some of the weirdest, most wonderful records you can imagine. And Iâ€™m impressed by two things: 1) that the person (or people) are strong enough, clever enough, dedicated enough, etc, to do this wonderful and weird thing, and 2) that they actually WANT to do it. Iâ€™ll give you some examples. The fastest time to enter a suitcase - I donâ€™t mean just to open a suitcase, but to actually open and get into a suitcase and then close it. The fastest time is 5.43 seconds, held by Leslie Tipton.Â But â€“ why? Why measure how fast you can get into a suitcase? Or how about the longest distance travelled, keeping a table lifted with your teeth? Apparently the longest distance, etc., was achieved by Georges Christen who walked 11 m with a 12 kg table in his teeth while a 50 kg woman sat on it. Thatâ€™s just crazy! Andâ€¦Thailand is home to the record for living with scorpions the longest. Kanchana Ketkaew lived in a small glass room with over 5000 scorpions for 33 days and nights. Why? Â The UK is home to the loudest purr made by a pet cat. Hurrah! That is important! Apparently, the cat, Smokey reached 67.7 dB. Maybe thatâ€™s the cutest record. Smokey was so relaxed because it had been brushed, stroked, and fed slices of ham. Well, I might purr loudly too then. The most plates broken with one finger in one minute is 102 by Fan Weipeng in China and the most needles put into a head is 2009 by Wei Shengu also from China. I donâ€™t get it. Why do people want to do these things? I donâ€™t know what the most bizarre record is but maybe the â€˜funnestâ€™, most entertaining record is for human mattress dominoes, where a group of people, each person tied to a mattress, stand up like a long line of dominoes, and then slowly fall over, one by one. The record for the largest human mattress dominoes was for 850 people in New Orleans, America this year. Sounds like brilliant fun! I could go on and on about the craziness but this would become the most boring grammar podcast instead of the most interesting, so Iâ€™ll stop now. Â
15 minutes | Oct 29, 2013
Dangerous Smartphones - passive voice
The passive voice for reports Hi and welcome to another great lesson from New English Academy. Iâ€™m your guide, Giles Parker, and today weâ€™re going to look at the controversial usage of the passive voice. The comprehension text looks at a report by the BBC last year that described UK Health Protection Agency advice on the use of Smartphones. This lesson is aimed at more advanced learners but if you arenâ€™t advanced donâ€™t worry. Hang in there â€“ you will find something useful for you. As always, you can get the interactive lessons online by subscribing at our website, New English Academy.com. First, letâ€™s talk about the passive voice. I said it was controversial. That means that people are not sure whether it is a good or useful thing to use. For example, I can use this MS Word software to automatically check for passive constructions so I can delete them. Why should I want to delete them? They are just another part of grammar, arenâ€™t they? Well, letâ€™s find out. You probably know by now that the passive voice is different from the active voice. You know that the active voice says WHO did WHAT and WHEN, nice and straightforward. The subject, or the actor or the agent is at the front of the phrase. That is where our focus is â€“ it says what is most important. For example: Â· The BBC published a report about Smartphones. You can see that the subject is The BBC and that it is the actor of the verb published, and that the result or object of the verb is a report about Smartphones. The passive voice takes this sequence and turns it all around. In the passive voice the object that is acted upon moves to the front and becomes the subject and therefore is most important. So, if we make our example in the passive, we get: Â· A report about Smartphones was published by the BBC. Here are a couple more examples of active sentences becoming passive. Active: The Health Agency conducted scientific studies. Passive: Scientific studies were conducted by the Health Agency. Active: They havenâ€™t found any bad effects yet. Passive: No bad effects have been found yet by them. Do you see how the focus or the emphasis changes from WHO did WHAT? to WHAT is the result? The object becomes the subject â€“ this is a very important change, as we shall see. So the word order changes, but did you also see how the verb changes? What happens when you make a passive form of an active verb? Well, you just add the correct form of to be and change the verb into the past participle. Hereâ€™s another example: Active: I changed this sentence. Passive: This sentence has been/was changed by me. Most verbs end in â€“ed in the past participle but as usual there are exceptions. Like active verbs, passive verbs can be used to talk about the present, past and future. The only thing that changes when you want to change tense is the to be form. If you want to make a negative passive sentence, just add not after the verb. For example: Â· Bad effects of using Smartphones havenâ€™t been found yet. If you want to describe an action that hasnâ€™t finished just change the to be verb to the progressive form. E.g.; Â· Scientific studies are being conducted. So, to summarize so far, you can spot passive sentences just by asking a couple of simple questions. 1. What is at the front of the sentence â€“ the subject of the verb or the object of the verb? 2. Is there a form of to be + a verb (past participle) in the sentence? 3. Does the sentence show the actor of the verb using by â€“ or even, is the actor missing? When do you want to use the passive voice instead of the active voice? The passive voice is used (ahem) when: 1. You donâ€™t know who the actor is. E.g.; o The validity of the report has been questioned. (But I donâ€™t know who questioned it.) 2. You know who the actor is but it isnâ€™t important right now. E.g.; o It was pointed out that rates of cancer should be monitored. (Who pointed this out is not important.) 3. You actually want to be vague about who the actor is. E.g.; o Mistakes were made. (I know who made the mistakes but they wouldnâ€™t like it if I told you.) 4. You really want to emphasize the result of the action. E.g.; o These mistakes should not be repeated. (These mistakes, not others.) 5. You are writing in a special area e.g. science reports. E.g.; o No conclusive links to infertility were found. (We write this way sometimes in science reports.) 6. You donâ€™t actually know too much detail about what you are talking about. E.g.; o Some egos had been pricked. (But I donâ€™t know whose and Iâ€™m not going to find out, OK?) A couple of warnings â€“ We shouldnâ€™t use passives in instructions. E.g.; Â· Part A should be attached to Part B. Instead, we can be more direct here and use the imperative. E.g.; Â· Attach Part A to Part B. And we shouldnâ€™t use passive constructions that begin with Itâ€¦. E.g.; Â· It has been noted that someone has written graffiti on the lavatory door again. Sentences that start with Itâ€¦ donâ€™t clarify or tell us anything. They just have extra meaningless words. We all want to know WHO noted it! So why is this all controversial? Why does MS Word have a grammar checker that will look for passive constructions in your writing? What could possibly be wrong with passive sentences? Well, look at them again â€“ we canâ€™t see who the actor or the agent is. In English, it is usually very important to know WHO did WHAT and WHEN. Weâ€™re kind of explicit, almost constipated about this. Passive sentences can hide the WHO. They can make communication vague or confusing. They can disguise problems. They can let the person who is responsible escape from taking responsibility. In this way, sometimes passive sentences actually lack credibility â€“ sometimes we find it hard to actually believe the person who is using them. English language, and this plays out in the culture too, expects high levels of responsibility, clarity and precision. The passive allows us to be less clear and less precise. Maybe we should ask ourselves why exactly we donâ€™t want to be clear or precise. To conclude, when using the passive, donâ€™t forget to make the object the subject of the verb, use a form of to be + a past participle. But perhaps most importantly, check why you or another writer or speaker is using the passive. There are other things to learn about the passive like how to use them with modals and causatives and weâ€™ll look at them in later lessons. Now weâ€™re going to listen to or read the comprehension text. As usual, donâ€™t forget to look for examples of todayâ€™s grammar focus in the text. Â Comprehension text: Dangerous Smartphones Are you listening to this podcast on a Smartphone? If you are, you might want to hold it away from your head by about an inch or more. Iâ€™m not trying to scare you. The good news is that according to a news report on the UKâ€™s BBC website last April you are in no danger of cancer caused by the radio waves from your phone. For the moment, there is still no firm evidence to show that mobile phones damage your health. But, UK Health Protection Agency advice on mobile phone use by kids is unchanged, and it is still recommended that excessive use by kids be discouraged. The BBC news report is based on a major review by the Health Protection Agency in the UK. Hundreds of scientific studies into the effects of mobile phone use were investigated by HPA scientists. No conclusive links to the increased risk of cancer, decreased brain function or infertility were found.Â The effects of low-level radio-frequencies were specifically investigated but no deleterious effects were discovered. Brain cancers are not (it seems) caused by exposure to radio frequency. However, the HPA was cautious in its conclusion. The results were said to be â€œrelatively reassuringâ€.Â But it was also pointed out that rates of brain tumour and other cancers should continue to be monitored. Furthermore, it was noted that the long term effects of something that hasnâ€™t been around for very long canâ€™t easily be discovered. More research is needed on the effect of radio frequency on brain activity, and perhaps on links with childrenâ€™s behavioural problems. Well, Iâ€™ll take that as a vote for continued use with moderation â€“ like so many other fun things in life. The best thing about this news report, though, is the bun fight it has caused in the Comments Section immediately beneath the report. It was early afternoon on the day the article was posted when I first read it and already 349 comments had been posted. I doubt that any records have been broken there, but it all makes for entertaining reading. Along the way, the validity of the research had been questioned, various dire conclusions had been asserted, soap-boxes had been thumped and egos had been pricked. Â I have learned a lot more than the original content of the article, which was dry and to the point. I have been reminded that everyone has an opinion on everything; that maybe, in my humble opinion, some people have too much free-time; and that a sense of humour and a sense of respect make communicating opinions much easier.Â What do you think?
10 minutes | Oct 27, 2013
Guys used to wear hats - 'used to'
'used to' for past habits The text is called â€˜Guys used to wear hatsâ€™ and this talks about â€“ yep, you guessed it â€“ how people used to wear hats once upon a time, but it seems this is no longer true. But first letâ€™s talk about the grammar, used to. You know how the past tense talks about a finished or competed action that we also know when it happened, like I ate cereal for breakfast? Well, used to talks about past routines or past habits or past situations that were regular but that donâ€™t happen anymore now. So,â€™ I used to wear short pants when I went to school (but I donâ€™t anymore)â€™. Or â€˜I used to work out every Saturday (but I donâ€™t anymore)â€™. Used to shows the difference between the past and the present, saying that something was regular but it stopped. You can make this clearer by adding a negative phrase like â€˜I donâ€™t nowâ€™, or â€˜I donâ€™t anymoreâ€™. Â You can also use it to talk about states that are no longer true, like â€˜I used to be fat but then I went on this great exercise programâ€™. To make it is pretty simple â€“ just add used to in front of the base form of the verb like this â€“ â€˜I used to love herâ€™. To make the negative, just put didnâ€™t in front of used to, like â€˜I didnâ€™t used to love herâ€™ what does this mean? It means I do now! You can also use never instead of didnâ€™t for the same meaning, so â€˜I never used to love herâ€™. A quick warning about spelling for negatives â€“ the past in used to is ed, in the negative it loses the d and the past is shown in the didnâ€™t, so negatives with didnâ€™t lose the d. Butâ€¦with never, used to keeps the d. Why is that? Because it still shows the past. To make questions just put did in front of used to, so â€˜When you were a kid, did you use to play with the other kids or stay at home?â€™ One interesting point (well, for saddoes like me, anyway) is that you can use would instead of used to for nearly exactly the same things except for one exception. So for example, you can say â€˜I would wear shorts to schoolâ€™. But the problem is that you can only use would when it is a regular, repetitive action, NOT a state. Huh??? Whatâ€™s the difference? Well, we can say â€˜I used toâ€™ or â€˜I wouldâ€™ or â€˜Iâ€™d wear shortsâ€™ because it is an action. But what about a state? We canâ€™t use would here. Try this one â€“ â€˜I used to be happy before I met youâ€™, then change it with would. â€˜I would be happy before I met you.â€™ Nope, it doesnâ€™t work. So, would can be used in most places where used to can be used except for state of being. Gotta love all the little exceptions in English. OK, so to summarize, we can use used to to talk about routines and habits that are no longer true. Watch out for the spelling in the negative and the question form as it drops the d. Lastly, watch out you donâ€™t confuse it with two verbs that sound similar but have different meanings. These are, get used to doing something, and be used to doing something. Now, on to the comprehension text. This little text talks about how in the past people had a regular habit of wearing hats but now â€“ yep â€“ just look around you, they donâ€™t seem to wear hats so much. Now, why is that? Listen to the text and find out. And donâ€™t forget to download the transcript from our website, New English Academy.com and check out the great online learning activities and games and tests. Guys used to wear hats There was a neat little article on NPR the other day about how, in the past, men always used to wear hats, but now they donâ€™t. I know my grandfather had some ideas about fashion and what men should wear. For example, he thought gentlemen shouldnâ€™t show their braces (the elastic things that hold your pants up) in public. And he especially felt that going out without a hat was like walking around in the nude. People used to think that way, once upon a time. If you look at old movies and pictures of until about 40 years ago, you can see that guys always used to wear hats. People used to have hats for different occasions, so you had a collection. For example, you used to have a going-to-church-type hat, a going-to-work-type hat, a working-in-the-garden-type hat, etc. In fact, there even used to be a TV commercial in the UK for beer where a middle-aged wife wants to know where her husband has gone so she looks at the hat rack by the front door. His fishing hat is missing so she assumes he has gone fishing. The commercial ends of course with our hero sitting in a pub, drinking his favourite beer and wearing his fishing hat! The NPR article gave various reasons for why hats used to be popular and why men no longer wear them. Obviously, they keep your head warm and dry and protect you from the sun. And that was fine when people used to spend a lot of time outdoors, either travelling to work or working outside. But nowadays people drive to work, and it is pointless and even uncomfortable to wear a hat in your car. I guess people donâ€™t go outside as much as they used to. Also, we have good sun-glasses now to protect our eyes. Another reason why men donâ€™t wear hats so much these days is that hair-style is more important than it used to be. Wearing a hat gives you hat-head, where your hair is all mussed up. Lastly, a hat is an extra thing to carry around, something else to worry about when we donâ€™t need extra hassle. Often things these days are designed to be functional but pocket-sized. I havenâ€™t seen a good-looking hat you can get in your pocket yet. The only guys I see who still regularly wear hats are blue-collar American men, with their bill-caps or baseball caps. They wear them wherever they are, outside, when they are driving, or indoors. At sports events they all stand up and remove their caps and place them over their hearts when they hear the national anthem.Â They each probably have just the one cap which they wear day in, day out. Perhaps like my grandfather they feel naked if they go out without their cap. Â I have to wonder, how will our world change? What do we take for granted now that will disappear in the future? Will our grandchildren look at movies and pictures of us now and talk about what we used to do that they donâ€™t do anymore? What will change, do you think?Â
11 minutes | Oct 20, 2013
My friends make me fat - frequency adverbs
Frequency adverbs Hi, welcome to another lesson from New English Academy. My nameâ€™s Giles Parker and today weâ€™re going to be looking at frequency adverbs. The title of the listening and reading text is â€˜My friends make me fatâ€™. The grammar is aimed at beginners but the language is natural so it can be used by any level. Donâ€™t forget, you can download the transcript and access great online games and activities at the website too. First, Iâ€™m going to talk about frequency adverbs, then weâ€™ll listen to them or read them, if you like, in context in the comprehension text. When you want to say how often something happens, or how many times a day or a week or a month, etc, something happens, you can use frequency adverbs. Maybe you remember how adverbs kind of give extra information about the verb â€“ they describe how the verb happens. Well, frequency adverbs describe how often the verb happens. So; Â· 100% of the time use always Â· 60-75% of the time use often, usually, frequently or regularly Â· 50% of the time use sometimes means Â· 15-30% of the time use rarely, infrequently, hardly ever or not often Â· 0% of the time use never When you use frequency adverbs, donâ€™t forget they usually come before the verb, just like in this sentence just now. So for example, you can say; Â· I always catch the bus to work. But, as is often the case in English there are exceptions. Usually and sometimes are frequency adverbs that can go before the verb OR after the verb. For example; Â· I sometimes catch the bus to work. Or, Â· I catch the bus to work, sometimes.Â Try it with usually, too. But donâ€™t forget, frequency adverbs come after the verb be, so for example; Â· That guy, heâ€™s always late to work on Mondays. When you want to ask about frequency, just ask either â€˜How often do you do something?â€™, or â€˜Do you ever do something?â€™ When you want to make the negative, put it before the frequency adverb, which of course comes before the verb. So for example; Â· I donâ€™t usually take the bus to work. Or Â· I donâ€™t often write to mum. Using negatives with frequency adverbs that are themselves kind of negative, i.e. less than 50% is a bit odd. For example, people donâ€™t usually say Â· I donâ€™t rarely do this. OK, to summarise, 1) frequency adverbs say how often or what percentage of the time the verb happens. 2) the adverb usually comes before the verb except forâ€¦.usually and sometimes which can also come after the verb. And 3) frequency adverbs come after the be verb. So, on to the text. The topic is about how sometimes our friends have a big effect on our health â€“ sometimes it is a good effect, but often it is a bad effect. Listen to the text and try to find all the examples of frequency adverbs. Donâ€™t forget to download the transcript at our website, New English Academy .com and check out the games, tests and great online learning activities. Comprehension text â€“ My friends make me fat There is a lot of concern in the world about our health. Questionnaires and information about what we eat, how we exercise and how we feel jump out at us from newspapers and magazines, TV shows and the Internet. These infomercials often give us information about how we are unhealthy, and what we can do to be healthier. They also often want to sell us a product â€“ something we can pay for that will make us healthier. The usual reasons we are not healthy are that we hardly ever exercise, or we often eat fast-food. Maybe we sometimes skip breakfast during the week. Or we never drink enough water during the day but usually drink soft-drinks or sodas that are full of sugar. These infomercials often ask a few basic questions to help you see your problem. Hereâ€™s an example. Answer the following questions with one of these answers: Never, hardly ever; sometimes; often; usually and always. If the question asks â€œHow often do youâ€¦â€ then answer with either: every day; five times a week; three times a week; once a week; or never. Question 1: Do you eat breakfast every day? Question 2: Do you eat fruit and vegetables every day? Question 3: Do you drink soft drinks or sodas every day? Question 4: Do you smoke every day? Question 5: Do you drink alcohol? Question 6: How often do you eat fast-food, snacks or micro-wave TV dinners? Question 7: How often do you exercise a week? Question 8: How often do you walk a week? Question 9: Do you sleep well every night? Question 10: Do you look forward to going to work every day? Question 11: How often do have quiet time for yourself? Question 12: How often do you hang out with your friends? The last question is a surprising question. This is because our friends often influence how we live. They sometimes influence what and how we eat, and if we get any exercise at all. So if our friends are not very healthy, then there is a good chance we wonâ€™t be very healthy either. On the other hand, if our friends eat well and exercise regularly then there is a chance we will too. A typically unhealthy person has friends who donâ€™t often exercise, who rarely walk anywhere, who usually prefer to drink caffeine or soft drinks than to drink water. Maybe they hang out together in front of the TV three or four times a week and eat snacks because it is easier and cheaper than cooking a proper balanced meal. Maybe they are often slightly stressed out at work and at home. Maybe they usually spend more time looking after their family at home and rarely spend time looking after themselves. On the other hand, your healthy friends will encourage you to go for a walk or to join them in some kind of exercise. Theyâ€™ll often suggest you eat a bit more fruit, or try the salad instead of the bag of chips a few times a week. Theyâ€™ll usually tell you that you need to take time for yourself to just relax and unwind from the day. Â Even though our friends can help us be healthier the decision to be healthy is ours. And often what happens is that we donâ€™t make the right choice or we donâ€™t stick to our guns. Instead we continue with our usual bad old habits. Having healthy friends might not be enough. Sometimes we need to just bite the bullet and take control of our lives ourselves.Â
8 minutes | Oct 14, 2013
Buyers remorse - expressing regret
Modal auxiliaries for regret Hi welcome to New English Academy. My nameâ€™s Giles Parker and I am your host for this podcast. Today weâ€™re going to focus on 3 different modal auxiliaries to express regret. The listening text is called â€˜Buyerâ€™s Remorseâ€™. Iâ€™ll tell you more about that in a bit. This lesson is aimed at advanced level students but anyone can try it. First, Iâ€™ll explain about the grammar point then you can practice your listening and reading. Donâ€™t forget to check out the website New English Academy.com for more great interactive online English learning activities. Modal auxiliaries, or helping verbs, if you like, are words that add extra colour and dimensions to verbs. You know how in English verbs always show us who did what and when, well modal auxiliaries give extra information and detail to the verb. So they say who did what but give extra information about the ability of someone to do something by using can or could or about the possibility of something by using may or might, or the obligation of something by using must. Sometimes you want to talk about the past, about something that happened, but you donâ€™t feel good about what happened. In fact you feel pretty bad about it. You want the past to be different so the present can be different too. This kind of feeling is regret â€“ you regret doing something, or you regret not doing something when something bad happened that you donâ€™t like. We can use some really useful modal auxiliaries to show this extra colour, to express regret.Â When you feel there is some kind of reason or obligation that something did or didnâ€™t happen, like when you know what is best to do but you donâ€™t do it, then you can use should have + verb (pp). This is regret plus a sense of obligation. For example â€“ Â· You should have told me you were going to come today â€“ you shouldnâ€™t have stayed quiet about it. Be careful with the pronunciation and writing â€“ should have can be reduced to shouldâ€™ve or shoulda, but please donâ€™t write should of. Thatâ€™s just not correct English. Another kind of regret is when you feel bad that you didnâ€™t have the power or the ability to do something â€“ regret plus a sense of ability. Use, could have + verb (pp) to show you regret not being able to do something. For example, Â· I could have gone anywhere. I couldnâ€™t have stayed in one place. Again check your pronunciation and writing â€“ itâ€™s OK to say couldâ€™ve or coulda, but NOT good English to write could of. Many native speakers will write it but perhaps they need to take lessons with New English Academy! The last kind of regret weâ€™re going to practice today is when you regret something and wish that it could be different â€“ you have a desire for change, which of course is impossible â€“ we canâ€™t change the past. When you wish the past was different you use wish + had + verb (pp). For example â€“ Â· I wish Iâ€™d listened to what my mother saidâ€¦I wish I hadnâ€™t blown her off like that. Be careful with speakers of American English â€“ theyâ€™ll often say â€œI wish I would haveâ€¦â€, or â€œI wish I wouldaâ€¦â€ instead of Â â€œI wish I hadâ€¦â€ OK, so just to summarize todayâ€™s grammar point, 1) you can use shouldâ€™ve to express regret and a sense of obligation that you knew what it would be best to do but didnâ€™t do it. 2) you can use couldâ€™ve to express regret about a lack of ability to do something, and 3) you can use I wish I had, or wouldâ€™ve or woulda to express regret and a desire for impossible change. I hope you noticed that all these modals need the verb in the past participle â€“ thatâ€™s kind of why it is more for advancedÂ learners than others. You need to learn the past participles â€“ there is no easy way around that one, sorry guys! Youâ€™re going to hear (and read) examples of these modal auxiliaries in the text. Try to see what the contexts are. The text talks about buyerâ€™s remorse, which is kind of another way of saying buyerâ€™s regret, you know, what you feel something when you buy something and then have doubts about it. The vocabulary that is underlined in the transcript is explained in more detail with pronunciation practice on the website, New English Academy.com. You can also find great online activities, games and tests there too. Here we go with the text. Comprehension text - Buyerâ€™s remorse You know how it is. Youâ€™ve been out shopping and you have made an impulse buy. Now, back at home, you are looking at your new purchase and second guessing yourself. Did you pay too much? Should you have shopped around a bit more? Couldnâ€™t you have waited until the sales? You shouldnâ€™t have listened to that clever salesmanâ€¦but now, you have a new, expensive item, and maybe a small sense of regret that you bought it. Welcome to buyerâ€™s remorse! It is too easy to make a snap decision, either online or in the shops. After all, this is what sales-people and websites are oriented to do. They donâ€™t want you to think too long or hard about your purchase. They want you to hand over the money ASAP so they can get on with selling to another person. They donâ€™t think about your small moment of self-doubt when you get home with your new high-end computer, Italian brand-name handbag or time-share in a condo somewhere by the sea. This is the moment when you wonder what else you could have done with that money â€“ the opportunity cost. This is when you think about how you really should have used it, like saving for your kidâ€™s education. Well, maybe you wouldnâ€™t have bought that American pony car if you hadnâ€™t gone to the garage for an oil change for your Nissan Micra. Maybe you wouldnâ€™t have paid for a yearâ€™s worth of tennis classes at the gym if the instructor hadnâ€™t been so cute. And maybe you shouldnâ€™t have bought that dress because now you think youâ€™ll never be thin enough to wear it. But, what are you going to do? There are ways to fend off buyerâ€™s remorse. Common sense says try just being more self-confident. Â You could plan ahead, or stick to a budget. You could do due diligence and scout the market first. You could even just quit making impulse buys. But hey! Whereâ€™s the fun in all that? Buyerâ€™s remorse is only brief. Once you slide back into that Mustang, or step out your door with your new glamorous Gucci bag then you realize why you bought it in the first place. And you think maybe you should have got it earlierâ€¦ Â
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