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Monday, May 21, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

10 typical mistakes made by German speakers who are learning English

10 typical mistakes made by German speakers who are learning English 

(The ideas from this post were also featured in one of my podcasts. You can listen to it here.) 
I teach students with a variety of native languages but most of my students are German speakers. There are some errors that I come across regularly and I’m going to post them here so that other German speakers can avoid making the same mistakes.
If I ask my German-speaking students why they haven’t done their homework, they won’t follow the German grammar rules and reply “because I very much to do had and unfortunately no time had, my homework to do!” However, it’s natural that our native language influences our thought processes at times and this causes us to translate expressions literally or to express things in a way which isn’t right in the language that we are trying to learn.

Things that you shouldn’t say 

1. In the near of 

We can’t use this expression in English. It’s enough to say:
“I live near London”
“the station is near the library” 

2. For three years (if you mean “vor drei Jahren”) 

“For three years” means that something has been going on for three years. The duration was three years.
I have been learning Turkish for three years. I began this activity three years ago and I am still learning Turkish.
I lived in London for eight years. We know that this is an action that has finished because we have the word “lived” in the sentence. So I moved to London, stayed there for eight years and now I live somewhere else.
“Vor drei Jahren” = three years ago. 

3. In our English class we were five 

“When I was five = als ich fünf war but this isn’t what we are talking about here.
There were five people in our English class.
We won’t all fit around that small table. There are five of us.
But avoid “we were/are + a number”.

4. I feel myself happy 

When describing how you feel, don’t make the verb reflexive. I feel happy/sad/tired etc.

5. The dog of my friend 

In English, the ‘ has several functions and one of them is to show possession:
My friend’s dog.
My sister’s birthday.
My friend’s uncle’s cat!

6. If I would have enough money 

Perhaps I will write some other posts which look at conditional sentences in more detail but “would” does not belong in the part of the sentence which gives the condition. Depending on what you want to say, there are various ways in which we can write this sentence, but “if I would have” is not one of them.
If I have enough money, I will go on holiday.
If I had enough money, I would go on holiday.
If I had had enough money, I would have gone on holiday.

7. She slammed the door angry 

In German, we don’t have to think about adjectives and adverbs but in English, using an adjective where you need an adverb is wrong.
Adjectives describe nouns: his singing was loud.
Adverbs describe verbs: he was singing loudly.
Our sentence needs an adverb because it is describing how she slammed the door. She slammed the door angrily.

8. I was in the bus 

I know it sounds illogical that whilst we can be in the car, we have to be on the bus or on the train. After all, we don’t sit on the roof and ride on top of them! However as a general rule, “on” is used for many larger forms of transport:
On the bus
On the train
On the plane/aeroplane.

9. BR, KR etc 

It’s not a case of avoiding abbreviations – we just don’t write these things! When I saw this for the first time, I had to ask what it meant. If you mean “kind regards”, you have to write “kind regards” if you want your English speaking reader to understand you. 

10. How does it look like? 

How does it look?
This is usually used if someone wants to know whether or not something looks ok. Maybe I’m trying on a dress in the shop and I ask a friend “how does it look?” What I really mean is “does it look good on me/do you like it/shall I buy it?”
What does it look like?
This is used when you want somebody to describe something to you. What shape is it? What colour is it? How big is it? You want to know about its appearance.

Can you think of any more? 

I finished my list when I got to number 10 but if you have any more ideas, you can write them in the comments section!
As this post was so popular, I decided to write another one and look at 10 more mistakes. You can find the second post in the series here. 
If you would like help to make sure that you are not making these or other mistakes, I offer one-to-one English lessons online.

For the original article, please visit here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Leopards, a Bearcat & Penguin with Jack Hanna


Binturong- a tree-dwelling Asian civet with a coarse blackish coat and a muscular prehensile tail (a bearcat)
To take down= to defeat
To put out= to quench
Trouta chiefly freshwater fish of the salmon family, found in both Eurasia and North America and highly valued as food
Echidnaa spiny insectivorous egg-laying mammal with a long snout and claws, native to Australia and New Guinea
A prickle= a spike

#1 Watch the program and number the animals in the order they appear.
        Black footed penguin 

#2 Watch the program for the second time and answer the questions.
1.     How old are the leopards?
2.    How many of them are left in the world?
3.    Where is the binturong from? What is special about it?
4.    How many species of penguins exist?
5.    Where is the black footed penguin from?
6.    What does “monogamous” mean?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What Is a Question?

This question may seem obvious (clear), but it’s good to review. There are generally three types of sentences: statements, commands and questions.

Statements are sentences that state (tell) information:
  • I like dogs.
  • My aunt lives in Bulgaria.
  • Cows have four legs.
Commands are sentences that give orders (tell people to do actions). This is also sometimes called the “imperative.”
  • Be quiet!
  • Please open the window.
  • First, put a spoonful of butter into a hot pan.
Questions are sentences that ask for information. Today we’ll look at three types of questions: (1) “yes/no” questions, (2) “wh-” questions and (3) “tag” questions. For each type, we’ll see many example questions in different tenses.

English Grammar Words to Know for Asking Questions

I’ll try to keep this post as simple as possible, but there are a few words you should know to help you better understand this post. If you already know these words, you can skip ahead to the next section!


verb is an action word. It’s usually the most important part of any sentence because it tells you what is happening. For this post, you should know two types of verbs: main verbs and auxiliary verbs.
  • Main verb: The main verb is the “action” word in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “Bobby eats a salad,” the word “eats” is the main verb. If a sentence only has one verb, you can simply call it the “verb.”
  • Auxiliary verb: Auxiliary verbs are verbs that are used together with a main verb. Auxiliary verbs are usually some form of words like “be,” “have” or “do,” but also modal verbs like “can” or “will.” An auxiliary verb is also sometimes called a “helping verb” or just “auxiliary.” For example, in the sentence “Bobby doesn’t eat fish,” the word “doesn’t” is the auxiliary and the word “eat” is the main verb.


noun is a person, place, thing or idea. Depending on how you use nouns, they can also have different names:
  • Subject: The subject is a noun that “does” an action. For example, in “Bobby eats a salad,” the subject is “Bobby” because Bobby is the person doing the action.
  • Object: The object is a noun that “receives” an action. In the example above, the object is “a salad,” because it’s receiving the action.


When talking about grammar, “tense” indicates when actions happen. There are three basic tenses: pastpresent and future. Each of those tenses can be simple, perfect or continuous (also called “progressive”).
  • Simple tenses: Simple tenses use the most basic forms of verbs: “Doctor Smith treats patients.”
  • Perfect tenses: Perfect tenses use some form of the auxiliary verb “to have” plus the past participle form of the verb: “Doctor Smith has treated 200 patients this year.”
  • Continuous tenses: Continuous tenses use some form of the verb “to be” plus a verb that ends with “-ing”: “Doctor Smith is treating a patient.”
That should be enough basic vocabulary to help you understand this article, so let’s start by looking at our first type of question.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Often, learning a language means truly understanding its origins and where it comes from.

The below text is taken from Omniglot: The Online Encyclopedia of of Writing Systems & Langauges.

English is a West Germanic language related to Scots, Dutch, Frisian and German. It has a significant amount of vocabulary from Old Norse, Norman French, Latin and Greek, and loanwords from many other languages.

There are about 1.2 billion speakers of English. Some 350 million people speak English as a native language, and a further 850 million speak it as a second or foreign language. Countries where English is widely spoken include: the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Malta, Cyprus, Barbados, Marshall Islands, Jamaica, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Palau, Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Suriname, Vanuatu, Anitgua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Cayman Islands, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Belize, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Austria, Germany, Finland, Switzerland and Belgium [source].

Modern English Alphabet

For the full article please visit here.


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Word of the Month


(adj): Sacred, divine, blessed.

Holiday: a holy or festive day; a day off, vacation (also sacred)

Expressions: Holy Cow! Literally true in India.

Ex: Holly Mackerel! Delicious, healthy and full of mercury.

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