Stative Verbs 3: I trust you, but ….

  In the previous two posts, we studied two kinds of stative verbs. ‘Stative’ means ‘about states’ or unchanging conditions. Let’s move on to another kind. Look at the following 10 verbs, then answer the three questions which follow. 1 Run 2 Talk …

Stative Verbs 2: Who do they belong to?

  In the previous post, we studied one kind of stative verb. ‘Stative’ means ‘about states’ or unchanging conditions. Let’s move on to another kind. Look at the following 10 verbs, then answer the three questions which follow. 1 Buy 2 Have …

Vocabulary: So, What’s a ‘Molotov Cocktail’?

  You may know that there have been violent protests in America for months now. You might also know from a previous post (where I used the word ‘self-centred’) about what I think of the people doing these protests – but that’s another story. What I’d like to do in this post is consider the strange word ‘Molotov Cocktail’ – because the protestors in America are using them quite regularly. So what is it? An interesting alcoholic drink? Ahhh …. not exactly. A Molotov Cocktail a weapon, and it is based on the simplest parts: a bottle, a rag, and some petrol (or gasoline, as the Americans say). Here’s how you make one. Step 1: you fill a bottle with petrol. …

Vocabulary: Some ‘Self’ Words [Part II]

In the last post, I looked at words in the form ‘self-…..’ – for example, ‘self-centered. That little line ‘-’ in the middle of the word is called a ‘hyphen’, and joins two words into one bigger one – that is, the words are ‘hyphenated’. In the case of ‘self-centred’, you could also call it a ‘compound adjective’. These ‘self’ words are, in fact, most often used as adjectives. Below is a list of 10 of the more common ‘self’ words. Are they good (G) or bad (B) in meaning? Adjectives 1 Self-pitying …

Vocabulary: Some ‘Self’ Words [Part I]

In the last post, I looked at the English verbs ‘do’ and ‘make’, and the idea of collocation (= putting the right words together). Let’s change the topic to some vocabulary work. English has hundreds of words in the form ‘self-…..’. For example: self-centred. A self-centred person thinks the whole world turns around them. I would say many of the current protestors pulling down statues in America are just like that: stupid people trying to be the centre of something, believing that their views must be right, and therefore they have a right to cause destruction. By the way, that little line ‘-’ in the middle of the adjective is called a ‘hyphen’, and joins two words into one bigger one. These ‘self’ words are most often used as adjectives. Below is a list of 10 of the most common ‘self’ words. Are they good (G), bad (B) or neutral…

Chinglish 4 (Part II): ‘make’ and ‘do’

In the last post, I looked at the English verbs ‘do’ and ‘make’. Say in Chinese: ‘do something’ ‘make a cake’ … and you will notice you are using the same verb (sounding a bit like ‘dwoor’). Yet in English there are two verbs. …

Chinglish 4 (Part I): ‘make’ & ‘do’

In the last post, I looked at (what I call) a ‘Chinglish’ Verb. So, what’s a Chinglish Verb? It’s a verb in Chinese which has two verbs in English. Yes, English often makes it complicated by having two verbs for something which in Chinese is just one verb. This leads to ‘Chinglish’ mistakes. Now, let’s look at:    do     &      make. In Chinese, a single verb (sounding like ‘dwoor’) is often used. Say in Chinese: …

Chinglish 3: ‘live’ & ‘stay’

In the last post, I looked at (what I call) a ‘Chinglish’ Verb. So, what’s a Chinglish Verb? It’s a verb in Chinese which has two verbs in English. Yes, English often makes it complicated by having two verbs for something which in Chinese is just one verb. This leads to ‘Chinglish’ mistakes. Now, let’s look at:    live     &   stay. In Chinese, a single verb (sounding like ‘ju’) is used. In class, I often hear incorrect (‘Chinglish’) sentences such as: …

Chinglish 2: ‘Understand’ & ‘Realise’

In the last post, I looked at (what I call) a ‘Chinglish Verb’. So, what’s a Chinglish Verb? It’s a verb in Chinese which has two verbs in English. Yes, English often makes it complicated by having two verbs for something which in Chinese is just one verb. This leads to ‘Chinglish’ mistakes. Now, let’s look at:     understand    &    realise. In Chinese, a single verb (sounding like ‘li-ow jie’) is used. In class, I often hear incorrect (‘Chinglish’) sentences such as: 1. I can never realise what they mean. …

Chinglish 1: make/let [Sth./Sb.] [Verb]

In the last few posts, I’ve looked at some tricky pairs of words. I’ll continue to do this, but now I’ll look at the ones which are two verbs in English, but one verb in Chinese. Yes, English often makes it complicated by having two verbs for something which in Chinese is just one verb. This often leads to ‘Chinglish’ mistakes. Now, let’s look at: … make [st.] [verb] & … let [sth.] [verb]. In Chinese, a single verb (sounding like ‘rung’) is used. In class, I often hear incorrect (‘Chinglish’) sentences such as: 1. This can let countries become a mess. …

Historic & Historical: Another Tricky Pair of Words

In the last three posts, I looked at tricky pairs of verbs: to irritate/aggravate, to lend/borrow, and to imply/infer. Now, I will do this again, but with some adjectives. Here’s a very tricky pair: historic   &     historical. There IS a difference, but (again) even native speakers of English might not know it. Which adjective – historic or historical – goes in the following gaps. 1. To know more about my dead grandfather, I need to do some _______ research. …

Dogs versus Cats: Imply & Infer

In my last post, I wrote about the verbs to ‘lend’ and to ‘borrow’. These aren’t too hard (yet people still make mistakes with them). But here’s a harder couple of verbs: to ‘imply’ and ‘infer’. As with lend and borrow, these verbs have direction involved in them. Let’s say that one of the dogs in the above picture is speaking aloud to a crowd of animals, which includes some big cats (e.g. lions). The dog up front says, ‘The average cat works for himself, whereas us dogs fully understand the importance of teamwork.’ One of the big cats in the audience might immediately think, ‘Hey, us lions cooperate when we hunt; we know all about teamwork.’ So,this cat says to this dog up front, …

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

The title to this post is a famous line from Shakespeare’s play: Julius Caesar. The Roman leader, Julius Caesar, is murdered (as shown in the above picture), and afterwards Mark Antony tries to speak to the angry crowd, beginning with these famous words. But it reminds me of a problem I often hear in class regarding: to lend and to borrow something (usually money). Students often mix these words up, making wrong sentences such as: He lent the money from the bank. I can borrow it to you, if you want. Can I lend some money?   The trouble is that, in Chinese, you basically say the same for both: ‘jie chen’. In English, however, I … …

‘Irritate’ versus ‘Aggravate’: there IS a Difference

  I was reading the online news today, when I came across the following sentence. ‘The fact that Floyd was in handcuffs aggravates the circumstances.’ This sentence made me think about the difference between: ‘irritate’ and ‘aggravate’. The second word is used correctly in the above sentence, but many native speakers of English often mix up these words, using them interchangeably. Look at the above picture of the cat. Does this animal look ‘irritated’ or ‘aggravated’? Answer: it looks irritated. ‘Irritate’ means to cause a bad reaction, to disturb, to annoy. ‘Aggravate’ means to make something worse. So, for example, you … …