13 minutes | Sep 12, 2016
Episode 5: Comparing the present simple with the present continuous
Let’s begin by reviewing the meaning of the present simple. The present simple is used for states, for situations that the speaker views as permanent or at least for a long time-not changing in the near future, as not being limited by a time frame- examples are I live in New Zealand, I like to eat Chinese food, I speak two languages, I work at a lawyer’s office Let’s now review the present continuous. The present continuous is used for an activity or a situation is currently in progress, it has not finished yet, it is temporary and limited in some way by time and it is happening now or in the current time period- around now. Examples are I’m staying with my parents this week. I’m cooking tea at the moment. I’m listening to a podcast right now. I’m taking a course to improve my English. Let’s spend some time comparing similar examples: I speak French (this is a state-I have the ability and can speak at any time, it’s a fact) I am speaking French with my class mate (this is something I am doing right now-it’s only temporary-when class is over, I will stop speaking with my classmate) I play basketball for my school team (general state-fact) I am playing basketball this year (viewed as more temporary- limited in time to this year) I teach guitar lessons in my spare time (this is what usually happens, my usual situation) I am teaching guitar at the high school this term (temporary-limited in time- only this term) I study English every day (a habit I do regularly) I’m taking an online course to improve my English skills (a situation in progress-I’m in the middle of the course-it hasn’t finished yet) Why do you wear glasses (state of poor eyesight) Why are you wearing glasses (moment of speech-right now-temporary situation-don’t normally wear glasses) Linda lives with her parents (permanent or no end in sight) Linda is living with her parents (temporary-till she gets a better job or gets more money to buy her own house) In this example, we have a temporary situation versus a permanent situation. If you have any questions about today's episode, go to www.esolcoach.com/5 and scroll down to the bottom of the show notes to the comments box whe
12 minutes | Sep 12, 2016
Episode 4: Is it correct to say "I'm loving it"?
You will have noticed that when you learnt the present continuous at school in from your textbook, there were a number of verbs that you were told that you must not use in the present continuous. Do you know why? There is a group of verbs in the English language that describe states or situations that we do not expect to change, a situation that we see as relatively stable. These are called stative verbs (or state verbs). Do you remember from the last episode the meaning of the present continuous? The present continuous has the meaning of temporary, unfinished, likely to change at some stage in the future (as the action must finish one day). So it makes sense that we cannot use state verbs which have the basic meaning of something permanent with the present continuous which has the basic meaning of temporary and limited in time. However, as you will find out later in this episode, there are some exceptions to this rule. Let’s look at some examples of state verbs that cannot be used in the present continuous: Senses: see, hear, smell, taste Here are some examples: Can you see that house over there? I hear a noise. Mmmm…dinner smells great. This soup tastes amazing. Thinking: believe, think, understand, suppose, realise, remember, forget, know, recognise, want, wish Here are some examples: I think I know the way to the museum but I’m not 100% sure. I believe in God. I don’t understand what you said. I suppose everyone thinks the same thing. Ah! Now I remember what I have to do. I wish I could come with you! Likes/dislikes/wants/needs: love, hate, like, dislike, want, need, prefer, admire Here are some examples: I love this sunny weather! I like going to the movies. I want to go out for dinner tonight. Measurement: contain, cost, weigh Here are some examples: This box contains fragile ornaments. Please be careful! Wow, this phone costs almost $899 This bag of flour weighs 5kg. Possession: to have (to possess), belong
14 minutes | Aug 8, 2016
Episode 3: How to express temporary situations using the present continuous
We use the present continuous for the following situations or actions situations or actions that are happening right now or around now situations or actions that are happening in the "current time period" (for example, this week, this term) a situation or an action that is temporary a situation or an action that has started but has not finished yet- the activity or situation is still in progress Read the following examples and THINK about the meaning of each sentence before you read on 1: Someone is ringing up to speak to their friend and the mum says. “Jane can’t come to the phone right now as she’s doing her homework. I’ll get her to ring you back when she’s finished.” 2: My son’s playing rugby this year. He loves it. 3: The company is expanding into new areas. In all of these examples, the present continuous is being used for two main reasons. One, the action is happening around the time of speaking or connected to the current time period AND the action is temporary or unfinished. Let’s unpack this a bit more. We could also say that it describes an activity in progress In the first example…at the time of speaking, Jane is doing homework and it’s unfinished, a temporary situation In the second example…The son isn’t playing rugby right at the time of speaking, rather it is happening in the current time period of this year and it is also unfinished. The rugby season hasn’t finished yet. In the third example, we know that it is happening around a current time period but it is probably a large time period like this year and it is unfinished. The company is still expanding-it hasn’t stopped. We also use it for current trends for the same reason. For example, many people are becoming vegetarian, or Lots of people are using smart phones- these are current trends- situations that are changing (and haven’t finished changing). In these examples there is no feeling of it being temporary though- just a sense of being unfinished and it’s currently happening. Common time expressions used with the present continuous At the time of speaking: Right now ("I’m talking on the phone right now. Can you ask me later?") At the moment ("I’m cooking tea at the moment. I
11 minutes | Aug 8, 2016
Episode 2: How to describe general situations using the present simple
We use the present simple for general actions, events and situations that we think will stay the same indefinitely (we do not know when the situation could change). We use the present simple to describe something that is true in general. Read the following examples and think about the meaning of each sentence: I have two children. The speaker is stating a a general fact. We would never say I am having two children. She lives in Canada. The speaker is describing a fairly permanent situation. The speaker obviously views the situation as going to remain the same for a long time. On Christmas day, we exchange presents. The speaker is describing a custom. A custom is a routine or action that we always do at holidays and it does not change. Policemen and policewomen wear a uniform. The speaker is describing a general fact. When we talk about occupations, we often use the present simple as we are describing what a person who does that job generally does. In New Zealand, children start school when they turn five. The speaker is describing a general fact about children in New Zealand. Whenever we state general facts about a particular country or people, we use the present simple. The shop opens at 8:30am. The speaker is describing a general fact. The opening time of the shop does not change. To illustrate the use of the present simple for general situations, listen to the following text. In New Zealand, many children attend kindergarten for a year or two before they start school. They typically start school when they turn five. Children stay at primary school for six years. This is called Year 1 to Year 6. When children are in Year 7 and 8, they attend intermediate. Then once they start Year 9, they go to high school (also commonly known as college). High school students can leave school after they turn sixteen. However, many students stay to complete high school and then go on to university. Go to www.esolcoach.com/2 for all the information on today's podcast!
12 minutes | Aug 8, 2016
Episode 1: How to talk about our normal routines and habits using the present simple
We use the present simple for describing habits. A habit is something a person does over and over again. We often talk about good habits and bad habits. Can you think of a good habit that you have? What about a bad habit? A good habit might be that you review new words every night before bed. A bad habit might be that you always have to eat something sweet for morning tea. We also use the present simple for routines. Routines are things you do regularly. We often talk about morning routines, daily routines or weekly routines. Routines and habits are quite similar. A routine usually involves a list of things that we do. So a morning routine consists of every morning I get up, have a shower and then have a coffee. A weekly routine might list all the regular activities we have during a week. A habit is something that you do over and over and there is the feeling that you couldn’t easily stop doing the habit. For example, I drink 3 cups of coffee a day. I bite my nails when I’m nervous. I listen to music when I go for a run. Why do we use the present simple for routines and habits? We use the present simple because the basic meaning of the present simple is that of permanence. There is no time limit on the situation or action. There is the feeling that this particular action could go on and on with no end. Habits and routines can be hard to break particularly bad habits because there is this sense of permanence- that it will always be this way. Read the following four examples and think about the meaning of each sentence: She plays golf on Sundays I go to the gym three times a week He smokes a packet of cigarettes a day She bites her nails There are adverbs of frequency that we usually use with the present simple. These include: always, usually, often, sometimes, seldom, rarely, hardly ever, never. We also use expressions of repeated time such as: on Tuesdays, in the Summer, twice a week, once a year. Short story “Would you like me to tell you about my weekly routine? Well, once a month on a Monday I attend this craft group with some of my friends. It’s so much fun. We make all sorts of different things. Then on Tuesdays, I take my son to soccer practice.