Choose, chose, choice

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Knowing the correct use of choose, chose, and choice is a common confusion English learners have. 

Choose - (verb) to make a choice or selection
Chose -  (verb) the past tense of choose.
Choice - (noun) the act of choosing; a selection

- Davide couldn’t choose whether to attend Harvard or Yale University. - verb
- Edoardo chose to buy a home in the countryside because he loves nature. - verb, past tense of choose
- Lisa made an excellent choice by buying an electric car. - noun

The problem may be that chose and choice sound very similar, though chose is the past verb and choice is a thing, a noun. 

- In chose, the “s” is pronounced like a “z”; Click here for the correct pronunciation of chose

The key to getting it right is memorization, so try your best and you’ll always make the correct choice

Made of, made from, made with

Thursday, January 5, 2017

How do you know which prepositions go with certain words? For example, “depend on” and “consist of” are fixed phrases. "On" always follows "depend"; "of" always follows "consist". Sometimes it's hard to remember these combinations.

Today’s post talks about make, meaning to manufacture, create or prepare. Make (past tense "made") requires three different prepositions (of, from, or with), depending on the process or materials used.

Use made of if you can identify the material used to make something (the material has not changed):

Ted’s new chair is made of oak wood.
The bride wore a wedding ring made of platinum.
The warmest sweaters are made of wool.

Use made from if the oroginal material has been changed into something completely different in the manufacturing process.

Paper is made from wood.
Wine is made from grapes.
Cheese is made from milk.

Last is made with, when there are multiple materials or ingredients used to produce something and we want to talk about one of them. (If something is made with one main material, use made from.)

Beer is made with yeast.
Nancy’s jam is made with the freshest apricots.
Lisa’s new computer is made with the fastest processor.

To sum up:
Made of = material has not changed
Made from = the material has been changed (we can’t see it anymore)
Made with = when a product is made using many elements and we describe one of them

Put in your two cents

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Are you the type of person who willingly offers opinions and suggestions? Maybe you know people like that.

An English expression that conveys a humble way of giving your opinion (sometimes without being asked for it) is to offer or put in your two cents.


- It's just my two cents but I believe the Green Bay Pakcers football team is the best in the world.
- I have an idea but I’d like to get your two cents.
- I’ll give you my two cents if you really want to know what I think.

This phrase came from the original English idiom to put in my two pennies worth which has been shortened to just my two cents.

This is a way of offering your opinion and saying it is only worth two pennies. It represents a modest way of giving your opinion because you are valuing it at only two cents.

Kitty Corner

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Are you good at giving directions? Can you accurately explain how to find locations in English? Here are some important verbs and prepositions when giving directions:

turn left
turn right
go straight ahead
go past
at the corner of
next to
on the left
on the right

Rather easy, right? You can help a lost person by giving clear directions, or maybe some kind stranger will help you one day. (How are your comprehension skills?)

One location word that is a little bit unusual, but very helpful, is kitty-corner. It has other forms too, like kitty-cornered, cater-cornered, cater-corner or catty-cornered, and they all describe the same thing: two things that are located across from each other on opposite corners; to be situated diagonally opposite.

For example: The office building is kitty-corner from the movie theater.

Did you think this post was about kittens? ;) 

How many words make you fluent in a language?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Have you ever wondered about how many words you need to know to reach fluency? Perhaps these numbers will motivate you.

From Helen Doron's Early English for Children "How many words to be fluent in English" (…):

You can get by in most basic situations with about 500-1000 words, but fluency also has to do with how well you use what you know. Both quantity AND quality are important. Good pronunciation and proper grammar count for a lot, so a good basis in English language learning will carry you far.

A large vocabulary is important to be able to really enjoy a language. But how many words do you actually need to know?

- 'Crawl' level: 400-500 words, about 150 phrases. You can make yourself somewhat understood and understand slow speech.
- Mini level: 800-1000 words and 300 phrases. Now you can speak relatively well and unstrained, and can read newspapers and books with the aid of a dictionary.
- Midi level: 1500-2000 words and more than 300 phrases. What you need for day to day conversations. During the course of one day you need approximately this amount of vocabulary, and you can take part in serious discussions and understand what is being said at normal speed.
- 3000-4000 words: Sufficient for reading newspapers and magazines fluently.
- 8000 words: All you ever need. More words are not necessary in order to communicate freely and read all types of literature.

Make a splash!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The word splash is associated with water. Rain splashes on my windshield, children splash each other in the swimming pool, you splash water on your face, etc.

To splash is to move water around energetically, causing it to fly around noisily. You get many things wet by splashing.

There is also an English expression (a dry way of splashing), which is to make a splash. When you make a splash, you do or say something to attract a great deal of attention. It’s an informal way to talk about getting noticed or making an impression.

  • The unknown painter made a splash in the artistic community with his abstract designs.
  • Lorenzo’s original presentation made a splash with our most important client.
  • The Beatles made a big splash during their first visit to the U.S. in 1964.

Making a splash always involves excitement so I hope someone makes a splash in your life soon!

Dear John letters

Monday, August 8, 2016

There is a famous quote that says, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," which means that separation intensifies love. Unfortunately this isn’t true for everyone because of the Dear John letter. 

A Dear John letter is a letter (or maybe an email nowadays) from a woman to a man (or vice versa), breaking off (terminating) a romantic relationship. Dear John letters are typically sent to servicemen or soldiers overseas by a wife or girlfriend, usually because they have found someone else. Rather cruel, isn’t it?

A romantic letter might contain affectionate language, such as Dearest John, Darling, or Dear Johnny, but if a serviceman received a letter beginning with an abrupt Dear John, the receiver would instantly know its purpose. Bad news.

Why John? It’s not sure how the name John was used. It was a popular name during World War ll (when Dear John letters started becoming a fact of life). Another reason may be that John is a name commonly used  when referring to any unidentified man (like John Doe).

These days you don't have to be in the service to receive a Dear John letter. Perhaps nowadays people end relationships with texts, which are just as heartless. Do you do something similar in your country to end a personal relationship? I hope you practice something more compassionate than sending a Dear John (or Dear Jane) letter.