Time is Money: 12 Time Metaphors We Use in Our Daily Lives

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

It’s already 1 March!!! Where has the time gone?! One minute I was bringing the Christmas tree down, the next minute I’m making preparations for spring and Easter.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, time seems to be flying by a bit too quickly for my liking. In this day and age of instant communication where the need to respond to email, What’s App messages, Snapchat, Facebook and text messages is no longer an option but an absolute requirement. This expectation to respond immediately has meant that our days have become busier and busier so much so that 24 hours in a day are often not enough to accomplish all that we want to achieve.

Time has become a precious commodity or a limited resource both in our personal and working lives. There are in fact a lot of metaphorical expressions in English that show how valuable time is.

In this post, I’ve selected 12 expressions related to time that I found in Ian McKenzie’s book “Financial English” that are frequently used in English. I have used a business context for the examples.

1. Take time
Don’t worry. I know things haven’t been easy and that it will take a little more time for things to pick up, but things will turn around.

2. Time left
How much time have we got left to present our findings to the board?

3. Run out of time
We need a decision from the bank. We’re running out of time.

4. Spare the time
I really cannot spare more time on this project.

5. Worth the time
I don’t think this account is worth the time we’re going to need to make it viable.


6. Save time
It will save us a huge amount of time if we were to forewarn our suppliers of the changes ahead of the meeting.

7. Waste of time
We’ve had to input all the data again onto the system. It’s been a such a waste of time.

8. Spend time
Look, we’ve spent a great deal of time on this tender. We cannot afford to lose it now.

9. Allocate time
We need to allocate sufficient time on this task to ensure it gets done properly.

10. Lose time
There’s no time to lose. We need to head to the airport now.

11. Invest time
We’ve invested a lot of time on cultivating this connection. We cannot abandon it now.

12. Give time
If you could just give me more time, I promise I’ll get the figures to you by tomorrow.


Thank you for taking the time to read this post! If you liked it, please share it. And if you’d like to receive my posts automatically into your inbox, why not subscribe to my blog?

Ciao for now



Source: Financial English (Second Edition 2012), Ian Mackenzie, Cengage Learning

Writing Tips: How to Write Better Academic Papers

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Most of my clients are business people and more often than not need to work on their business writing, for example, emails, reports or proposals. However, I’ve had the occasional client who needed to work on their academic writing for their Master’s Degree or PhD. Business and academic writing have very different requirements and whilst I have more recent experience of business writing, I had to go back to my university days in order to help my clients with their academic writing needs. It was a most stimulating and challenging experience but one filled with trepidation as I wanted to make sure that I was giving my clients the best kind of support.

So, I was delighted when Robert Morris approached me recently with an offer to write for my blog and chose the subject of academic writing.  In his post, he shares some valuable online resources you could refer to as well as giving you some tips on how to write an excellent essay. I dare say that a lot of native speakers could do with following these suggestions, too. 

So without further ado, I present you Robert Morris.

There are tons of guides, manuals and instructions that ESL students can follow when they try to write essays, but they always struggle with the completion of academic content. The standardized format of academic writing and reference is not easy to master for a foreign student. Don’t worry; you can still write great papers if you use the right tools and follow specific steps that will guide you through the process.

The best essay writing online resources

Before you can start tackling the essay writing process, you should take a look at these online tools that will make the assignment simpler for you.

Rob Whyte, the founder of this website, is an English professor who teaches English conversation and composition. He is also a professional writer you can learn from. At ESLWriting.org, you’ll find useful articles and eBooks that will help you understand the concept of academic writing in English.

Explore Writing
Although this website is focused on all categories of writers, ESL students can still benefit from its resources. Besides the category of Essays, you can explore other sections of the website, such as: fiction, journalism, general writing hints, personal writing, poetry, script writing, and more.

The Easy Essay
This automated information organization program will help you create a solid base for your essay. As a result, you will create a logical piece of content based on strong arguments.

All you need to do is choose a word, and you’ll get a map of related words that will help you come up with genuine ideas on how to approach the topic. This is one of the most effective brainstorming tools you can use before starting the writing process.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

A guide to essay writing

Now that you have the right tools to support you through the process of academic writing, you can follow these tips and complete an outstanding paper:

Step 1: Think about the type of essay and choose a topic!
ESL students are usually confused by the different types of essays they have to write. Before you can start with the research process, you should understand what you are expected to write. After that, you can feel free to pick a topic that will inspire you to write the paper.

Step 2: Locate resources
Depending on the type of essay you are working on, you will need to look for resources to support the discussion. If you are writing a personal essay, you can feel free to skip this step. The discussion of all other types of academic content should be supported by relevant facts.

Step 3: Work on the structure
If you want to write a successful paper, you need to create an outline and stick to the planned structure. This step will help you move from one paragraph to another without trying to think of new arguments along the way.

Step 4: Start writing
Stick to the outline you’ve created and elaborate each point with clean, readable sentences. Don’t be afraid to reorganize the arguments if that would result with a better logical flow.

Step 5: Reference!
This is one of the hardest aspects of the academic writing process, mainly because it’s based on strict rules that don’t allow you to improvise.

Step 6: Bring it to perfection.
The spelling, grammar, and structure of your essay should be flawless. Make sure to check the content several times and correct all mistakes. This is an important step that will increase the overall quality of your essay.


The tools and tips listed above will help you tackle the challenge of academic writing with ease. As an ESL student, you are facing difficulties that require a more efficient approach. Don’t overlook the important stages of the process, and remember that you can surpass any obstacle when you rely on the right tool.


Robert is a professional essay writer at custom writing service NinjaEssays, loves reading, learning and painting. You can follow NinjaEssays on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Thanks very much for this post, Robert. I hope you find the tips and suggestions Robert has shared here helpful. I will certainly be checking out the online tools.

If you found this post helpful, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to get my posts directly into your inbox.

Ciao for now


Gong Xi Fai Chai! Let’s Practise English Personality Adjectives with the Chinese Zodiac.

BLOG_New Year

First of all, I’d like to wish all my Chinese readers a warm Gong Xi Fai Chai /gong zee fah chai/ (Happy New Year). Listen to the correct pronunciation here.

Today marks the beginning of the new lunar year in the Chinese calendar. Over the next few days, Chinese around the world will be celebrating with their families with sumptuous feasts and events like the dragon or lion dance. In fact, the great migration has already started with millions travelling back to their families.

It is also the Year of the Goat or Sheep. The Chinese Zodiac has always been a source of fascination for me. Growing up in Malaysia where the second largest ethnic group is Chinese we took part in Chinese New Year festivities with great enthusiasm.

We also took our zodiacal signs and their associated personality traits very seriously. As I was thinking about the year of the goat and the other zodiacal signs, I thought that the personality traits would be a great way of introducing you to English personality adjectives whilst at the same time introducing you to the Chinese zodiac.

So, without further ado, let’s start. There are 12 zodiac signs in the Chinese horoscope. Each sign relates to an animal and to the lunar year in which you were born. The Chinese believe the animal ruling your birth year has a profound influence on your personality and destiny.

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac are in the following order Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep/Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar/Pig. Each sign corresponds to a year and is repeated in 12-year cycles.

You can determine your sign by referring to the year of your birth and matching it to the chart below:

BLOG_Chinese Zodiac years

Each sign has positive and negative traits.

RAT - Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic, sociable. Can be selfish, ruthless, controlling, scheming

OX –  Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined. Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, demanding, rigid

TIGER – Enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence, charismatic. Can be restless, clumsy, hot-tempered, impatient.

RABBIT -Trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers. Can be moody, shy, lazy, opportunistic.

DRAGON – Lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic. Can be arrogant, violent, brash,controlling.

SNAKE Philosophical, organized, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive. Can be a loner, bad communicator, possessive, distrustful.

Photo: Wikipedia

HORSE – Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, strong. Can be fickle, rude, gullible, stubborn.

SHEEP/GOAT -Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm. Can be moody, a worrier (noun), a complainer (noun), and or too soft.

MONKEY Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart. Can be vain, clumsy, trickster, snobbish.

ROOSTER – Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident. Can be critical, egotistical, rough, opinionated. 

DOG – Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart. Can be lazy, cold, stubborn, quarrelsome.

BOAR/PIG – Honourable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable. Can be naive, gullible, materialistic, clingy.

So there you have it. Do you recognise these personality traits in yourself? More importantly, can you think of other adjectives, both positive and negative, that would describe yourself that aren’t mentioned above?

If you’d like more information on the Chinese Zodiac signs, take a look at this source.

That’s all folks. I hope you have fun exploring the Chinese zodiac and studying the above adjectives.

Ciao for now.


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After Mardis Gras (Shrove Tuesday) It’s Time For Reflection During Lent – Some Vocabulary

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I am in Milan, Italy at the moment. My trip was a last minute arrangement. My mother fell and broke her wrist – ouch! After a 10-day stay in hospital ( a rather fraught (tense) experience) which included an operation to have a titanium plate inserted, she returned home late last week. I decided to fly over so that I could help my mother as and when she needed. I am glad that I am a teacher as my nursing skills are severely lacking!! Luckily, my mother is extremely independent and is recovering remarkably well.

The remarkable patient

The remarkable patient

Mum's bionic hand

Mum’s bionic hand

Yesterday, we went to the hospital to have her dressing changed. I got to see the metal stitches that she was given.She looks like she has a bionic arm!

Despite her broken wrist, my mother and I have been to the cinema and even the theatre. As I write this post, she’s taking her English class at the centre where she volunteers as an English Language teacher! What a Mum!


Whilst in Milan, I am also taking the opportunity to catch up with some clients, friends and to visit some new places. The city has been very busy getting ready for the Expo which will take place between May and October this year. There has been a lot of building work around certain key areas.

Yesterday I visited Eataly which is an organisation that celebrates all the food that Italy has to offer the world. It was a real feast for the eyes.


This week is also the end of carnival week that culminated yesterday with Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday) or Shrove Tuesday as it’s known in the UK. To Christians around the world, Mardis Gras represents the last chance for a great show of colour, raucous behaviour and excess of food and wine before the start of the 40-day abstinence for Lent.

Here in Italy, the Venice Carnival is world-famous. However there are also lesser known carnivals like the one in Rome. In terms of food, we eat “chiacchiere” which are delicious, crunchy and positively moreish. We also eat “tortelli” although I prefer the former. In the UK,  Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day.

Le Chiacchiere - crunchy and so moreish!!

Le Chiacchiere – crunchy and so moreish!!

From today (Ash Wednesday), all excesses are put to one side and we begin the 40-day abstinence for Lent. “The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.” (Wikipedia).  In the Christian world, this takes on many forms such as fasting on certain days, avoiding certain food types like dairy products, meat and alcohol. In today’s more secular society, some people choose to give up a luxury product or favourite item like chocolate or alcohol.

Me? I haven’t decided yet. In Milan, we follow the Ambrosian Rite after St Ambrose (the patron saint of Milan) and that means that carnival ends four days later on Fat Saturday (sabato grasso). This also means that I have four more days to enjoy all the goodies on offer and have more time to decide what to give up for Lent. For as the saying goes….when in Rome (Milan), do as the Romans (Milanese) do!

So cheers!

For the Christians among you, practising or non-practising, are you giving anything up for Lent?

If you liked this post please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Shakespeare in Love – 14 Love Quotes from Shakespeare that you could use for Valentine’s Day

Photo: Pixabay

Juliet’s Balcony in Verona Photo: Pixabay

We’re less than a week away from Valentine’s Day and love it or loathe (hate) it, many couples and would be couples will be celebrating the day in some form or other. (My next post will talk about these different ways).

Last year I shared 10 love idioms that you could use with your loved ones. This year I’d like to share with you 14 (for 14 February!) love quotes that Shakespeare penned (wrote) in his plays. Shakespeare is the most quoted English writer and many of his quotes have become part of the English Language. In fact, I shared some of those expressions in this post.



I found the following quotes from this wonderful site called No Sweat Shakespeare. They shared 50 Shakespeare Love Quotes and I’ve chosen 14 of my favourite.
I love the words used not only for the emotion expressed but also because the words can be easily translated into modern English.

Let me know if you agree with me.

1.“If music be the food of love, play on”
Twelfth Night – Act 1, Scene 1


2. “The course of true love never did run smooth”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act 1, Scene 2


3. “She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won”
Henry VI Part 1 – Act 5, Scene 2


4. “I love you more than words can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty”
King Lear – Act 1, scene 1

5. “The sight of lovers feedeth those in love”
As You Like It – Act 3, Scene 4

6“I would not wish any companion in the world but you”
The Tempest – Act 3, Scene 1


7. “For where thou art, there is the world itself, And where thou art not, desolation”
Henry IV Part 2 – Act 3, Scene 2


8. “I humbly do beseech of your pardon, For too much loving you”
Othello – Act 3, Scene 3


9. “Speak low if you speak love”
Much Ado About Nothing – Act 2, Scene 1


10. “Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my heart fly at your service”
The Tempest – Act 3, Scene 1


11. “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”
As You Like It – Act 3, Scene 5


12. “Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs”
Romeo & Juliet – Act 1, Scene 1


13. “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better”
Twelfth night – Act 3, Scene 1

14. “Her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love”
Antony & Cleopatra – Act 3, Scene 5

Have these quotes inspired you to write your own message of love for your loved one? I hope so!

If you liked this post please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


My Journey So Far -“What’s Your Story” Blog Challenge with a Human Touch

Vicky Loras is an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) educator whom I hold in the highest esteem. Not only is she an excellent teacher, she is extremely generous with her time   and takes huge pleasure in sharing her knowledge with her colleagues in the ELT (English Language Teaching) community.

In 2011, she launched the “What’s Your Story” Blog Challenge where she encouraged her colleagues to write and share their story. We could write aboutanything you consider important in your life or career, that has helped shape you as a person or educator.” The challenge is up and running again, and I’ve decided to rise to this challenge and share with you my story of how I became an English Language Teacher. So here goes.

Photo: Long Journey Home by Phil Richards/Flickr

Photo: Long Journey Home by Phil Richards/Flickr

A long time ago in another universe….
When I graduated from Southampton University with a degree in Politics and International Studies, I stumbled into the world of insurance and financial services. I’d like to say that it had always been my ambition to be a life assurance salesperson (!) but I would be lying. The truth is, it was the first job I secured and not really knowing what I wanted to do I thought I’d give things a go.

Well, this “let’s give it a go” attitude lasted 20 years. During that time, I changed sectors within the financial services industry from insurance, private client stockbroking, investment management and wealth management. It was a good career in that it allowed me to earn some good money, go on lovely holidays, live well and be financially independent – the latter being important to me.

However, throughout that time I lacked the motivation to develop professionally. I didn’t want to learn more. For me, my career was a job – a means to a good lifestyle. Nothing more. Deep down , I had no passion, motivation or ambition to do better. In a nutshell, I was BORED, but unwilling, or perhaps lacked the courage, to change.

The life-changing event…
Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2007. After eighteen months of various operations, a gruelling course of chemotherapy and suffering various complications, I returned to work in February 2009. By then, the credit crunch had taken its hold of the financial markets and the atmosphere back at work was extremely tense. We knew we were going to lose our jobs. We all sat around and started discussing our options.

I remember one of my colleagues asking me what I might do if we were made redundant. My immediate response without thinking was: “Oh, I’ll just go off and teach Italian!”. Where on earth did that come from?! I had never ever thought of being a teacher, so why now? To this day, I still don’t know what made me say that.

All I knew for sure was that I did NOT want to remain in the world of finance. I had had enough of the people, the industry and the way companies treated you.The problem was that I couldn’t picture myself in another role.

After 18 months of ill health, I knew EXACTLY what I did NOT want. It’s a cliché, but when you’ve been through a serious illness you realise how precious time is and the idea of wasting it becomes unbearable.
However, the challenge was deciding what I did want to do. After 20 years doing the same thing, what are you good for? You are that much older. It will be difficult to learn something new and who would employ you at the tender age of 40 something?

Anyway back to teaching Italian. I started looking into this and soon realised that the market for Italian Language teachers was rather limited and to be honest, my level of Italian wasn’t good enough (in my opinion) to teach higher level learners.

I went on holiday and met a lady – a university professor of Linguistics- who suggested that with my background in business and finance, I would be a good fit as a Business English teacher. She said that the EFL market was huge and that there was always demand for teachers. She recommended that I take the necessary qualifications and explore this possible career.

The Decision
So following my usual “let’s give it a go” approach, I decided to embark on this career. I researched the schools where to take my CELTA and opted for International House in London. I must have been one of the oldest students there! Everyone was fresh out of university, with great plans to travel and with fresh, young minds. I felt OLD! Nevertheless, I persevered and qualified.

I decided very quickly what I wanted to do. Contrary to what all my tutors advised me, I decided to go straight into 1-1 teaching (no group classes for me!), teach adults and concentrate on Business English. I didn’t want to lose 20 years of whatever experience I’d gained. After all, I did enjoy the world of business and meeting different people. The freelance option was far more attractive than being employed by a school. My need to be independent  and free to do what I wanted and when I wanted was too strong to be ignored. If my illness had taught me anything it was that if I couldn’t control what happened to my body, I was going to do my utmost to control this new career.

I am now into my sixth year as an English Language Trainer and what can I say about this career other than I simply LOVE it! I have never lived so keenly and passionately as I have done these last five years. Every new experience is different and exciting. I have learned more in these five years than I ever did in finance. I have met the most wonderful  and amazing clients, some of whom have become lifelong friends. They have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them. I have created a special and invaluable Personal Learning Network (PLN) with my EFL colleagues around the world through social media and through whom I have learned and continue to learn incredible things. I’ve discovered the wonders of blogging through which I have also met new clients and teachers. Through blogging I have discovered my passion for writing which I didn’t know I possessed. Through teaching I have rediscovered my love for learning.

Notwithstanding the incredible things that my career change and teaching have given me, I couldn’t have achieved any of it without my husband’s love and support. My husband was my rock during my illness and gave me the self confidence I’d always lacked before meeting him to believe in myself and my ability to do anything. Thank you, sweetheart.

So there you have it. My story so far. With a bit of luck, I will keep going, keep developing professionally and fingers crossed, keep living this life as passionately and keenly as I do now.

Thank you for reading.


Improve Your English by Watching Friends – 3 Steps on How to Actively Watch TV Shows

GuestPostI am delighted to introduce you to Paul Mains who has written this post. Paul approached me a couple of weeks ago offering to write a piece for my blog. He offered me a choice of topics and I was immediately drawn to the above topic.

Many learners watch films and follow TV series in English.  However, many often feel guilty and think that they should be doing something more worthwhile to work on their English. In this post, Paul proves how you can improve your English Language Skills whilst watching your favourite TV show.

NB: Paul is an American teacher and his post uses American English spelling instead of British English spelling.


Given the widespread availability of episodes from popular TV series on YouTube and Netflix, it’s likely that you’ve probably seen some English-language TV shows. That’s great! For several reasons, watching English TV series is one of the best ways to improve your English language skills. In addition to showing you the language that people really use in everyday life, TV shows are are great entertainment, which helps with your motivation. You’ll feel much more inspired to learn English when you can do so by watching your favorite shows!

While sitting back, relaxing, and watching TV is a good way to expose yourself to the English language, this kind of passive watching won’t help you improve your English nearly as much as if you put a little effort into it. Indeed, by actively watching TV series, you can gain an incredible amount of useful vocabulary, common expressions, and even grammar points — without ever opening a textbook.


To illustrate how to actively watch a TV show, I’ll be using a short clip from the popular series Friends, which you can view on YouTube by clicking on this link.


Image via NBC / Wikipedia

Step 1: Write It Down

Nothing makes the words stick in your memory like actually writing down what the characters are saying. Often times, being able to see what the characters say will help you follow the dialogue better, as well as help you memorize certain phrases for your own future use.

For beginners, try watching the episode with English subtitles (available on Netflix and YouTube), and using them as a guide when you don’t catch everything that the characters are saying. However, one of the hidden benefits of TV being available on the Internet is that you can quickly and easily rewind a given scene as many times as you’d like! Therefore, if you don’t understand something, you can listen to it again and again until you have your a-ha! moment, and everything becomes clear.

Once you’ve written down some dialogue, you’re ready to get to the meat of active listening: the analysis.


Step 2: Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

Are you ready for some active listening? Click the link above to get started! This time, I’ll write down the dialogue for you, and we’ll analyze together. You’ll discover that we can already learn a great deal from just the first ten seconds of the scene:

 Ross: Come on, you guys, we’re sorry! Our subway broke down!

Chandler: That’s a lie! You went to the game — I can see Joey’s hand!

Ross: For the love of God, take it off!


In this three small lines of dialogue, we can already see two useful and common phrasal verbs: break down and take (something) off. The phrasal verb break down is used to when machines or vehicles stop working properly — like Ross’s subway, which caused him to be late. And to take something off means to remove an article of clothing. In this case, Ross is telling Joey to take off his foam hand, which are sold at baseball games.

We also see a colloquial expression, for the love of God. This phrase is used when you are exasperated or frustrated, and you’re pleading with somebody. For example, you might say to the characters on Friends, For the love of God, speak more slowly!”


The original cast of Friends. Image via David Shankbone / Wikipedia

The original cast of Friends. Image via David Shankbone / Wikipedia

Later in the scene, Rachel suggests that they eat a dish that Monica had put into the oven earlier that day (start at 0:43 or click here):

 Monica: You touch that and you’ll be sorry!

Chandler: I’d listen to her. The vein is bigger than I’ve ever seen it!

First, we can see that Monica is angry. In this scene, she’s using expressions — You’ll be sorry! – that are popular for making threats. “You’ll be sorry!” is a synonym of another common expression when threatening somebody: “You’ll regret it!”

If you’re listening closely, you’ll notice that Chandler says, “I’d listen to her”, which contains a contracted version of the modal would. This is an excellent example of using would to give advice. When Chandler says, “I’d listen to her,” he’s really using a second conditional construction like the following: “If I were you, I’d listen to her.” However, in spoken English, it’s not necessary to include “If I were you”.

Finally, when Chandler talks about Monica’s vein (which presumably appears due to her anger), he provides a great instance of the present perfect tense in action. By combining the present perfect (I have seen) with the adverb of time (ever), he emphasizes the fact that, in that moment, Monica’s vein is bigger than it has been at any other moment in time. Scary!



The set of Central Perk, where many Friends episodes were filmed. Image via Marcin Wichary / flickr

At the end of the scene, Joey tries to make amends by apologizing to Monica and Chandler (start at 2:01 or click here):

Joey: Hey listen, guys, we feel really terrible.

Chandler: He’s doing that weird eye contact thing. Don’t look at him!

Joey: C’mon, guys! We want you to know we’re very, very sorry. Right guys?


Here, Joey is making an apology, and uses some very common language to express regret: We feel terrible and We’re very sorry. You’ll often hear people say these phrases when they are apologizing for something.

Something else you’ll notice is that Joey uses the word guys to refer to all of his friends — even Monica and Rachel, who are women. English does not have an official second-person plural pronoun, so English speakers have to get creative. In many dialects of English, “guys” is used to refer to a group of people in the second person, regardless of their gender. For instance, on a Friday evening, you might ask your friends, “Hey guys, what are we doing tonight?”

I want to make one final point about pronunciation. Chandler tells Monica to not look at Joey: “Don’t look at him! Don’t look at him!” However, in spoken English, the pronunciation of at him gets shortened — Chandler omits the “h” and “i” sounds, and ends up saying something that sounds like, “Don’t look at’m!” This type of word reduction is exceedingly common in casual spoken English.


Step 3: Use the Language in Real Life

In just a two-minute clip, we’ve learned about verb tenses, modals, phrasal verbs, personal pronouns, making threats, expressing regret, and some popular colloquial expressions. Not bad, eh?

Indeed, we’ve put a lot of work into analyzing a scene from Friends, and it’s time to reap the benefits! Now that you have your new vocabulary and grammar points written down in front of you, it’s time to use them with your English-speaking friends. If you’re giving advice to a friend, try using the modal would to tell them what you’d do if you were in their place. Try talking about the best movies that you’ve ever seen, or the most interesting places that you’ve ever visited. By actually engaging with the language that you learn in TV shows, you’ll be sure to memorize it. Actively watch an episode of TV each day, and observe how quickly your English will progress!

Finally, don’t forget to monitor your progress. Learning a language is a very long and slow process, and as such, it’s hard to appreciate the progress that you make. Try taking an English listening test after finishing a season of an English-language TV show — you’ll be surprised at how much your comprehension will improve.


What are your favorite English-language TV shows? Do you have any other tips for actively watching TV series or movies?


BLOG_paul photo_thumbnailPaul is a New York-based expat who lives and teaches English in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language tutoring service offering personalized course packages to individuals and groups. Check out their free English level tests and other resources on their website. Feel free to contact paul@languagetrainers.com with any questions.


Thank you, Paul for these invaluable tips. I look forward to your further contributions.

If you liked this post, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive future posts directly via email.

Ciao for now


“I Have a Dream” – 12 Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. It is an official holiday to celebrate and honour the life and work of one of the leading figures in the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the US.

On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King delivered the outstanding “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial in Washington. It would be a defining moment in civil rights history in America and the world. You can read a transcript of the speech here. For a more comprehensive and interactive experience, you can explore The Guardian’s excellent piece here.

To celebrate this day, I would like to share 12 of Dr King’s quotes that have made a real impact on me. His stirring words and writings remain as relevant and inspiring today as they were when he lived.

1. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

2. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

3. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

4. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

5. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

6. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman in Flickr

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman in Flickr

7. “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

8. “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood”

9. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

10. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

11. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

12. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

A few years ago I went to the see a play entitled “The Mountaintop”. It was based on Martin Luther King’s final night before his assassination in 1968. It was a wonderful play because it depicted King not as a saint but a good man, passionate about a cause but still very human with the same flaws as all of us. The play was extremely successful and had excellent reviews (read one here).

And that’s what fascinates me about people like Dr King – beyond their inspirational work, they are people like you and me. The only difference is that they are not willing to stand in silence whist injustices happen around them.

The world has still much to do to realise Dr King’s vision. The important thing is that we continue his legacy around the globe.

I wish all my American family and readers a Happy Martin Luther King Day.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


English Collocation Series: 12 Verbs that Collocate with “Plan”

Photo Credit: Right Brain Planning by Teresa Robinson

Photo Credit: Right Brain Planning by Teresa Robinson

It’s that time of year when businesses are busy planning the year ahead. Some businesses can look forward to some good news over the next few months, whilst others are in the middle of making some difficult decisions.

A number of my clients are in this very position at present. As I was discussing their business plans for 2015 with them and I was sharing  some new vocabulary, it occurred to me that we have many verbs that are  frequently used to collocate with the word “plan”. And as I don’t want you, my readers to feel left out, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to list these verbs here. The examples I’m going to give are related to the business world. So here goes..

1. Abandon
Sometimes, with the best will in the world you need to abandon a plan you have been working on. This could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps the plan is too costly, it is no longer needed or you simply don’t have the time to do it, for example, a plan to sail around the world.

2. Cancel
Similarly, you may have to cancel your plan to merge your business with a competitor. Perhaps there were too many differences between the two businesses that could not be solved.

3. Devise
As a business you are losing market share to a competitor. You get together with your team and try and devise a plan on how you can regain your position in the market.

4. Formulate
Having discussed matters over a number of days or weeks, you and your marketing team have now formulated a plan on how you are going to win back market share.

5. Implement
So, now that you have formulated the plan, it’s very important that you choose the right people to implement the plan to ensure its success.

6. Make
The most frequently used verb with the word plan. I don’t know about you, but I am forever making plans for my business. Some plans work, others don’t.

7. Oppose
Much as you would like people to agree with you, there are always going to be moments when people, clients or colleagues, oppose your plans, especially if they are unpopular plans like a pay cut or higher prices!

Photo Credit: Cayobo

Photo Credit: Cayobo

8. Outline
You may have a great idea for a project and in most cases you will need to call a meeting so that you can outline your proposed plan.

9. Scrap
Sometimes, we have to scrap plans especially if they end up being too expensive or unpopular with clients or shareholders.

10. Shelve
Or perhaps, it’s not the right time for this plan so you may decide to shelve it for the present time. When things are better, you may go back to it and use it.

11. Unveil
When governments need to inform people of their plans, they often hold a press conference to unveil these plans.

12. Work Out
In these difficult, economic times, many businesses are working out their business plans for 2015.

Do you run a business? What is your business plan for 2015? Have they been implemented yet?

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


STOP PRESS: Voting has started for the Best Blog in the Love English Awards 2014

Macmillan-Dictionary-Love-English-Awards-2014In early November, I wrote to you to inform you that the nominations had started to find the Best Blog about the English Language in Macmillan’s prestigious Love English Awards. You can see the post here.

Thank you to all of you for nominating me. I am delighted to say that I was chosen to be part of the nominees.

The crucial time has come
The time has now come to start VOTING for who you think should be 2014’s winner. If you think that this blog, English with a Twist deserves to win, I’d be absolutely thrilled if you would cast your vote on the Macmillan website. It is one vote per IP address.

vote for us_love english2Vote for your favourite blog, website or Facebook Page

You can also access the website by clicking the VOTE for US icon that is on the top of the right hand side of this blog. For those of you reading this on a tablet, you will probably not see this bar so you will need to click on the link here.

I have also been nominated for best Facebook Page. If you follow my page and like the content, why not vote for my page, too?!!! Oh, am I too greedy? For those of you not familiar with my page, here is a sneak preview of the page.


No pressure, of course! However, if you can please show your love and help me win!!!

A huge thank you and grazie.



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