September is for City Breaks – let’s explore some vocabulary

BLOG_City BreaksI must, first of all, apologise for my silence last week. I had a particularly heavy teaching schedule that left me with hardly any time to think let alone write a post. Unlike many people, August is always a very busy teaching month for me. I always get fully booked with my full immersion intensive courses as many dedicated people use their holiday to attend an English Language course in London. I take my hat off to them for their commitment. Although August is busy, I find it very enjoyable and rewarding. This year was no exception. I met and taught some lovely clients in August. Thank you to Andrea, Renata, Franco and Clara.

When September arrives and most people are preparing themselves for the return to work and the start of a new academic year, I go on holiday. By the way, last year I wrote a blog post about what the start of the month of September means to both children and adults in terms of starting school and returning to work.

This year my husband and I have booked to go on a 5-day city break to Rome. We leave tomorrow at the ungodly hour of 4am. We’ve decided to drive to the airport and use the airport car parking facilities. I checked online to compare the prices between booking a taxi and using the airport parking and found the latter to be cheaper. So, the alarm will be set for 3am and we will make our way to the airport at 4am in time for our check-in at 4:50am. I might have to supply my husband with some strong Espresso (coffee) to keep him awake!

We arrive in Rome at 10:20am. We have to catch the shuttle service from the airport to Rome’s main train station. From there, it’s a short taxi ride (or walk) to the hotel. Providing we’re not too exhausted, we plan to get our walking shoes on and head off out to explore this gorgeous city as soon as we have checked in and unpacked our bag.

BLOG_City Breaks_the touristI’m really looking forward to showing my husband around city. He has never been to Rome.

I don’t know about you, but what I love most about city breaks is walking around the city, taking in the sights, watching the people go about their business, taking lots of photos and sampling the local food. If there are local markets, I will make a beeline for them. I particularly like arts and crafts markets.


I am not terribly fond of visiting museums, especially if I am on a short city break. I’d much rather walk around and see the buildings from the outside. Of course, I will make an exception this time as I must visit the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

BLOG_City break_are we lost?We’ve downloaded a map of Rome. There is a great app (application) called Ulmon CityMaps2Go that my client, Sabrina introduced us to. It’s fantastic.

It gives you some super tips and it’s so easy to use. Armed with this map, each evening we will plan the following day’s itinerary while enjoying a glass of prosecco and watching the sunset! Bliss.

We plan to visit the main tourist attractions. We shall set out early in the morning with comfortable walking shoes, a ruck sack or travel bag, a bottle of water and our map. We may take a city bus tour to give us a general idea of the whole city and the main landmarks. I like those bus tours that allow you to hop on and hop off. I did that once in Barcelona and find it an excellent way of visiting the city particularly for those who are on a short city break, for example 2 or 3-day break. It saves on all that walking.

La Bella Roma Photo by Lazy Desperados

La Bella Roma
Photo by Lazy Desperados

My husband will want to stop at a few bars to sample the beers along the way. He says that these stops are for medicinal purposes and to re-charge the batteries! Yeah right! I’m looking forward to tasting some fabulous Italian food. We like to try out different restaurants that are off the beaten track and not so well known to the tourists. My husband says that as I am half-Italian and speak the language fluently, we should have no problem finding some excellent restaurants. I’m flattered by his confidence.

I haven’t been to Rome since 2002 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what changes the city has undergone in the last 12 years.

What do you like to do when you’re on a city break?

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


Key to the colours
The expressions in blue relate to city break vocabulary and the phrases in pink are expressions you can use anytime. The expressions in orange are idiomatic expressions with a link to explain what they mean.

Presentation Skills: 8 Survival Tactics To Use When Things Go Wrong During Your Presentation in English

BLOG_when things go wrongIn my last post on presentation skills, I shared 25 expressions that you could have as a bank of useful phrases to “pull out” as and when they were needed. As promised in that post, I’d like to share some survival tactics you can use for when that horrible moment when things go wrong.

In Mark Powell’s excellent resource book, Presenting in English, he says that:


“Giving a presentation in a foreign language is a challenge. Concentrate too hard on the facts and you make language mistakes. Concentrate too hard on your English and you get your facts wrong.”

Does that sound familiar?  Let’s face it, when we start panicking we stop thinking in English and slip back into our native language and then it’s a real struggle to get back on track. So what can you do to handle those moments when it looks like everything is going wrong and you start to panic?

Blog_don't panicMark says not to panic. Pause. Sort out the problem and continue. Easier said than done, I hear you say. I agree but I think the key here is to pause, take a deep breath and start again.

Mark gives 8 of the most common problems people face and shows how you can deal with them.


The headline I give you is what you’re THINKING and the answer is what you can SAY to get out of the problem.

1. I’ve got my facts wrong!

  • Sorry, what I meant is this ……….”


2. Too fast! Go back.

  • So, let’s just recap on that.


3. I’ve forgotten to say something!

  • Sorry, I should just mention one thing.


4. Too complicated! Make it simple.

  • So, basically what I’m saying is this ……


5. I’m talking nonsense!

  • Sorry, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.


6. How do you say this in English?

  • Sorry, what’s the word/expression I’m looking for? (the audience is always willing to help)


7. Wrong! Try again.

  • Let me rephrase that.

8. I’m running out of time!

  • So, just to give you the main points here.


If you learn these expressions by heart, you will be able to get out of a difficult situation automatically and, therefore, confidently.

I always say to my clients that if you have to give presentations in English, you MUST take the time to practise the presentation out loud using some of the expressions here and in my previous post. The more you practise these expressions together with your presentation, the more confident you will feel.

I hope you find these expressions helpful. Good luck with your next presentation. Let me know how it goes.

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


Source: Unit 1.6 p18 Presenting in English, Mark Powell (2002) Heinle , Cengage Learning


English Grammar Pill: How to use “unless”?

Grammar OwlA fellow teacher asked me a few weeks ago if I had written anything about the use of the conjunction “unless”, and if I hadn’t, would I be prepared to write something about it? Not one to refuse a challenge, I thought to myself: “Why not?”

Well, it took me longer than I thought to get round to researching this pesky grammar word and when I finally got down to working on it, I realised why I had delayed the process.

There are certain grammar rules and parts of speech that are used naturally and without thinking by native speakers all their lives until that moment when someone asks them how a certain word or expression is used and everything falls apart!
You begin to wonder whether you have grasped your native language at all. That moment came last night when I was trying to think of how I could explain the use of “unless” in a way that sounded clear to me let alone to anyone else.

I decided to give it a go and I sincerely hope that my explanation makes sense. So, here goes.


As mentioned above, unless is a conjunction which we use in conditional phrases. In written English, the clause that follows unless is the subordinate clause (SC) meaning that it needs a main clause (MC) to make a complete sentence. It is similar to how we use if in conditional phrases.

When unless comes before a main clause we use a comma:

  • Unless it rains, we’ll go for a picnic tomorrow.
        (SC)                      (MC)

When the main clause comes first, no comma is required:

  • They won’t come unless you invite them.
         (MC)                          (SC)

Unless is like If in that we don’t not use will/would after it. We only use the present simple tense.

  • Unless I hear from you, I’ll see you at 5pm.



Unless and if not

Ok, so unless is similar to “if …..not” and together they mean “except if”. Note: We refer to real conditional situations and NOT impossible situations.


  • If you don’t study, you will fail your exam./ Unless you study, you will fail.
  • We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s if they’re not closed on a Monday/ We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s unless they are closed on a Monday.
  • I’ll make dinner if nobody wants to/ I’ll make dinner unless someone else wants to.
  • If you don’t stop smoking, you will feel bad/ Unless you stop smoking, you will feel bad

that the sentence after unless is always a positive sentence. You cannot have a negative sentence after unless because that would make the sentence a double negative and senseless.

Example: Unless you don’t study, you will fail(????)

***Warning: Typical Error

We don’t use unless when we mean if.

Example: If you feel ill, I can drive/ Unless you feel ill, I can drive

Spoken English

When speaking, we use unless to introduce an extra thought or piece of information:

  • He didn’t even know about the crash – unless he’d heard about it on the radio.


  • A: Oh look. Neil next door’s got a new car.
    B: Unless they’ve got a visitor.


From Dr Seuss.

From Dr Seuss.


Not unless
is similar to only if

  • “Shall I tell Liz what happened? Not unless she asks you (= only if she asks you)
  • Will you come shopping with me? Not unless you offer me lunch (= only if you offer me lunch)

So there you have it.
 I want to thank my fellow teacher, Tim Harrell for prompting me to write this post. I hope I was able to make sense of this rather awkward grammar point. Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like me to cover and I will do my best to research and write about it.


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


Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Longman Dictionary of English
English Grammar in Use (Intermediate) Raymond Murphy

Presentation Skills: 25 Useful Expressions you can use to make your Presentations in English flow

BLOG_Presentation 1In the last two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting and teaching a most delightful Swiss German client who is here on a two-week intensive Business English course. Andrea’s main objective during these two weeks has been to work on her presentation skills as her job now requires her to give more and more presentations in English.

So we’ve spent the last two weeks working on such things as signposting language (for example, “to move on”; “to recap”; “to summarise”; “to turn to” and so on); presentation structure; using visuals and using the voice to make an impact (for example, pauses, sentence stress and intonation).

One of the other things we’ve also worked on is creating a bank of common expressions that Andrea can learn in advance and use in any of her presentations. You can reduce the amount of thinking you have to do in a presentation by learning these expressions. Simple verbs like “make”, “take”, “give” and “do” form the basis of many of these expressions.

In this post I’d like to share 25 common expressions. The expressions are split into the four verb groups and I’ve highlighted the expression and given you an example of how to use it in a sentence.

1. We’ve made significant improvements to our invoicing system.

2. This is an area where we’re finally starting to make real progress.

3. We’ve made a major breakthrough in AIDS research.

4. Together we can make a real difference to the way people shop.

5. I’d like to make a distinction here between what I call innovative and imitative research.

6. We want our clients to make the most of the facilities we can offer them.

7. After years of research into the technology, the company is finally making an impact on the sector.

8. There’s an important point that needs to be made here.

9. They’ve really made a mess of the ordering system.

10. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you all to Infosystems.

11. It’s vitally important that we take action against illegal drug sales.

12. I’d like to take a few minutes to talk you through last quarter’s figures.

13. Of course, it’s the innovative companies that consistently take the lead in cancer research that will benefit from this.

14. It’s all too easy to think that research is all about taking initiatives.

15. Sometimes companies need to take a chance and try something new.

16. The illegal copies of DVDs have really taken a bite out of our profits.

BLOG_Presentation 2

17. I’ll begin by giving you an overview of the history of our company.

18. Before I start, I’d like to give you the background to the work we’ve been doing in the last year.

19. This graph will give you an idea of how far we’ve come in the last few years.

20. I don’t want to give you the impression that it’s all doom and gloom.

21. I could give you hundreds of examples of where this system has worked.

22. We’re extremely proud of the research our R & D team have done.

23. They have been doing some excellent work on the prototype.

24. We recently did a survey and the results were astonishing.

25. You can often do more damage to company profits by expanding too quickly.


I hope you find this bank of expressions helpful. Next time, I will share some survival tactics that you can use when presenting in English.

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


Source: Presenting in English, Mark Powell (2002) Heinle Cengage Learning

Off on a weekend bike ride? Let’s talk cycling vocabulary.

BLOG_Cycling imageMy husband goes cycling every weekend. Sometimes he goes with a friend and sometimes he goes on his own. I have noticed more and more people cycling on our roads in the last few years. Many people cycle to work and others cycle competitively or for leisure. There has also been an increase in the number of cycling clubs in our area.

This weekend London has hosted a RideLondon bike race that has seen thousands of people taking part in the bike race.

Inspired by this event, I decided to interview my husband about his journey into cycling and what it is he especially loves about the sport. I’d like to share this interview with you here.

When did you start cycling?
I took up cycling three years ago at the age of 52 as a way to lose weight and get fit. When I was a teenager, I used to cycle around my neighbourhood and really enjoyed it. However, I stopped cycling and over the years I developed severe knee problems so much so that I had two operations on both knees. I really didn’t think I would be able to cycle again.

Cycling in London

Cycling in London

So what made the difference?
An electric bike. I was advised by my personal trainer to get an electric bike. The bike is pedal assist which means that it helps you tackle difficult hills without your own power. With an electric bike, you pedal normally and when you have too much of an ascent, you can engage the pedal assist and it boosts your pedalling power.

For me it was wonderful as it took the pressure off my knees and I was able to cycle again.

The electric bike has a battery at the back which is very heavy. You need take into account the battery life as the last thing you want is to be miles away from home, run out of battery and have to pedal back an extremely heavy bike. They are normally 15kg heavier than a regular bike!

Wow! That is heavy! How long was it before you moved from the electric bike to a ‘normal’ bike?
After about 18 to 20 months. I had built enough muscles in my knees and felt strong enough to move to a fast road bike which is the bike below the racing bike.

Could you tell me what are the different bikes on the road?
There are the road bicycles that are used everyday on paved roads, the mountain bikes are used for on and off road cycling and can handle rough terrain.
There is the fast road bike which is what I have. The wheels of a fast road bike are slightly thicker than a racing bike that you would see on the Tour de France, and because they are wider the bike would go at a slower speed than a racing bike, say around 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour) slower which is quite significant.

You don’t realise how significant the speed is until you are cycling flat out with your fast road bike and you see the racing bikes whizzing past you at speed, you realise how fast their bikes can go.



What equipment do you need on your cycle rides in terms of clothing and accessories?
You must wear a helmet. It’s essential. I would also recommend wearing protective racing glasses or goggles. The glasses will protect your eyes from insects such as wasps and bees. It would be extremely dangerous if a wasp or bee stung you so glasses are vital.

Protective gloves are important as well. If you are unfortunate enough to come off your bike, the chances are that you will fall on your hands as they will try to break your fall. Landing on your palms will cause the skin to tear so wearing protective gloves with padding over the palm would be advisable.

In terms of clothing, I wear lycra shorts with padding that will give me some cushion on the saddle of the bike. I wear a jersey that has three pockets on the back which you can use to keep your phone, keys and puncture equipment and a new inner tube.

You need to take your pump in case of a puncture and last but not least, you must have back and front lights. Regardless of whether it is day or night, you should always have your lights on and preferably red and flashing so that you are visible to motorists. You should also wear brightly-coloured clothing.

Thank you for these tips. Now to the most important question. What do you love most about cycling?
I have quite a stressful job in a tough industry, but when I get on to my bike and head off I leave all that stress behind.

I feel free and relaxed. The tension goes from my shoulders and neck and even though I need to be vigilant on the roads avoiding potholes, other objects on the road and approaching vehicles I am still able to daydream about all sorts of things.

The other thing I absolutely love is discovering for the first the most incredible things along roads that I’ve driven on for years but failed to notice when I was in a car. Suddenly, on my bicycle I actually notice things that I never knew were there like beautiful houses, majestic trees, breathtaking views and lush fields.

BLOG_cycling in the countryside

Photo: Roughguides

I once came across a deer on a quiet country road. It was eating grass in a field. It didn’t hear me as I was on my bicycle. Had I been in my car it would have heard the engine and run off. Instead, I was able to get quite close to it before it realised I was there and ran off. You get to see rabbits, foxes, pheasants and other wildlife. You’re not a car and therefore not a threat to them.

I sometimes go cycling with a friend and the company is great as we have chats and catch up on each other’s news. We also help each other by encouraging each other especially on the difficult climbs. Sometimes it’s good to have some company but it’s also good to be on one’s own as it allows you to be with your own thoughts.

After the cycle, you feel exhausted but very good. I have an app that I use to record my times and distances. After each cycle ride, I check my app and look back at what I’ve done and it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

What has cycling given you?
It has given me good health; made me look and feel younger; allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation and love of the countryside and it has helped me to relax.

What is next on your cycling journey?
I’d like to do the London to Brighton bike ride which is a 54 mile (87 km) ride next year. Hopefully, if I train well I can cycle there and back in the day!

That would be wonderful. Good luck with that and thank you very much for talking to me.

Happy cycling!

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



10 Quotes by Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book

BLOG_Kipling_The Jungle BookThis year is the centenary of the First World War (1914 – 1918) and throughout the year, there are different events being organised around the UK to commemorate one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

The BBC has put together a number of documentaries, TV and radio dramas around what is also known as the Great War. Tomorrow (4 August) marks the day Great Britain declared war on Germany.

So, you may ask what has Rudyard Kipling got to do with the First World War? Apart from being one of the most popular writers in England in the late 19th century and 20th century in both prose and poetry, he was also a staunch supporter of the British Empire. Indeed, in the 21st century he is considered the authentic voice of the life and character of the British Empire.

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, he played a fundamental role in gathering support for the war effort and encouraging young men to join the military. So entrenched was his belief in the war and Britain’s role in it, he sent his own son who had extremely bad eyesight to war with tragic consequences. It was watching the film about his son, “My Boy Jack” last week that got me thinking of Rudyard Kipling and his literary legacy.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Born and brought up in India, most of Rudyard Kipling’s stories were about British soldiers in India.

His most famous works include, The Jungle Book, the story of a boy, Mowgli, who was raised by a pack of wolves in India; Kim about an orphaned Irish boy living in India and the Just So stories, a collection of fantastic stories for children. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

In today’s post, I’d like to remember Rudyard Kipling through his literature. I’d like to share with you 10 of his quotes that resonate with me. They appeared in his literary works and speeches.

1. “There is no sin so great as ignorance. Remember this.” (Kim)

2. “Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.” 

3. “He travels the fastest who travels alone.” 

4. “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” 

5. “I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble”

BLOG_Kipling_Just So Stories

6. “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 

7“We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.” 

8. “Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.” 

9. “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.” 

10“This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.” (Kim)

Have you read any of Rudyard Kipling’s stories? What is/are your favourite?

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Ciao for now


Are you “all ears”? Then let’s take a look at these 8 body idioms in English.

It’s been over a month since I last posted anything on idioms and I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms! Did you have the same feeling?

So to prevent any anxiety issues on this bright, sunny Friday morning, I have real pleasure in sharing this colourful infographic on 8 body idioms creatively prepared by Kaplan International. You can find this infographic on the Kaplan website.

body idiomsKaplan International English

The English language has many idioms connected to the body, for example, to cost an arm and a leg; on the tip of the tongue; to stick one’s neck out and so on. I plan to dedicate a future post on these idioms.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the above idioms are used in a sentence.

1. All Ears – this is used when you’re ready and waiting for someone to explain something to you.

  • “Ok, Jack. Tell us about how the meeting went. We’re all ears.”

2. The Cold Shoulder – used when you ignore someone or don’t pay them any attention

  • “I don’t know what I’ve done. Ever since I got back from the party, Gillian has given me the cold shoulder

3. Itchy feet – someone who has itchy feet has a strong impulse to travel or to do something different

  • It’s always the same with Angela. After three years with a company she gets itchy feet and has to move on.

4. The long arm of the law – the far-reaching powers of the authorities

  • “Tony was eventually caught. He couldn’t escape the long arm of the law.”

5. Old Hand – someone who has done a job or activity for a long time and who does it very well

  • James is an old hand in making air fix models. He has been doing it since he was seven years old.

6. Sweet Tooth – someone who loves to eat sweet things

  • I simply cannot resist desserts. I have always had a sweet tooth.

7. Elbow Room – Enough space to move or work in.

  • “I have absolutely NO elbow room in this kitchen!”

8. Eye-catching – attracts attention

  • Jessica looks particularly eye-catching in that dress”.

The key to understanding idioms and, more importantly, using them correctly is to see them in context. And the only way learners can do this is to read and listen to English as much as possible. You will not always use the idiom in the correct context but over time and with practice it will get easier. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes.

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Ciao for now.


English Skills: 11 Ways of offering something to someone

BLOG_How about a nice cup of tea?In our normal exchanges with people we find ourselves offering something to them or they offering something to us. In any language we have certain expressions that we can use to do just that and it’s always useful to learn these set phrases so that you can use them and you can understand what people are asking you.

In English we have a number of expressions which I would like to share with you here in my fifth post in my English Skills series. The examples I’ve shared here can also be found in Macmillan Dictionary’s Blog post by Liz Potter. I have used their post as a starting point and made my own comments.

"Would you like a glass of wine, I believe George has just made some...."1. Would you like…?
This expression is the most common way of offering something to someone, or inviting them to do something.

  • Would you like a magazine to read while you’re waiting?

These three words are very often spoken fast and can be easily misunderstood. In everyday connected speech, this is what you’ll most probably hear:

  • /Wuʤju:/ like a magazine to read while you’re waiting?”


2. Do you want…?
You can also use this expression which is more informal to offer something to someone:

Do you want another coffee?’ 

3. Would you care for…?
This is a very formal way of asking someone if they would like something. You will often hear this expression in hotels and restaurants:

Would you care for dessert, madam?’ 
Would you care for a glass of champagne, sir?”

BLOG_Fancy a pint?4. (Do you) fancy…? (British English) 
This expression is very often used in the UK. It’s informal and is used to ask someone if they would like something.

Do you fancy chicken or beef for dinner?”
Fancy a sandwich?”

5. How about…?
This is another informal way of asking someone if they would like something:

How about going for a walk?’ 


6. Who wants…? (7) Who would like……? (8) Who fancies….?
This is used when offering something to a group of people.

Who wants an ice cream?
Who would like something to drink?
Who fancies going to the cinema tonight?

9. Can I get you…? 
This expression is used especially when offering someone food or drink, although it can be used in other situation as well:

Can I get you anything?’
Can I get you a cushion’?

BLOG_Can I get you anything else

10. What will you have? and (11) What can I get you? 
These two expressions are used when asking someone what they would like, especially in a restaurant, bar or café:

‘It’s my turn to get the drinksWhat will you have?’
Good afternoon, madam. What can I get you?

Have I missed any expressions out? Do let me know.

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Ciao for now


Off to the beach this summer? Then you’ll need some beach vocabulary

BLOG_beach holiday 2The school holidays have started here in the UK and this weekend will see many families fly off to sunnier countries to catch some of those rays and to luxuriate in warm sea waters.

Having just returned from an idyllic two weeks in Barbados with its white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters, I can totally empathise with the excitement that will be felt across households as families pack their suitcases remembering to take with them their swimsuitstrunks for boys and men; bikinis, tankinis, one-piece swimsuits for girls and women; their beach towels; shorts;T-shirts; light summer dresses; sparkly sandals; flip flops; sunglasses (or shades) and many more items.

BLOG_SunburnOf course, we mustn’t forget to take our suntan or sunscreen lotions with us. Years ago, people used to go on a beach holiday and not bother with sun protection. They would lie in the sun for hours on sun loungers and by the end of the day some of them would look like the colour of lobsters (bright red) or worse still, suffer from sunstroke. It’s good to know that with all the publicity about the real dangers of skin cancer, more people are using sun protection. Depending on the colour of your skin, you will decide on the level of protection (sun protection factor SPF) that you need. For example, SPF 50+ gives you maximum protection against the sun whilst SPF15+ the least protection. I remember years ago you could get SPF 4+ which in my opinion hardly gave you any protection.

So armed with sun protection, swimsuits, beach towels and all the right clothes for a beach holiday, what are you going to do?

Are you the sort of person who likes to lie by the beach on a sun lounger or towel soaking up the sunshine (sunbathing) whilst listening to music or reading the latest summer novel?

My idea of heaven.

A beach library – my idea of heaven.

Or are you the sporty kind who enjoys swimming, doing water sports like kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, boogie boarding, surfing, jet skiing?

Blog_boogie boarding

Boogie boarding

I like a mixture of sunbathing and swimming. I will occasionally do some snorkelling. I normally borrow someone’s mask, snorkel and fins. I did some snorkelling in Barbados and got to see some of the most colourful fish I’d ever seen. We also bought some “noodles” which are a kind of floater that allowed us to float in the sea and enjoy being in the water whilst chatting. The floaters also made it a lot easier to stay in the water for longer as we didn’t have to keep swimming. It was heavenly.

Some people enjoy walking along the beach. I especially like sandy beaches. I am not so fond of pebbly or rocky beaches as it is much harder to walk on them. If I do have to walk on those beaches I use special swim shoes. What can I tell you, I have sensitive feet!

Blog_beach accessoriesDavid, my husband, loves building sandcastles in the sand. He can spend hours creating such masterpieces as a giant hand, a dolphin, a racing car. He often gets an appreciative audience of young children looking on as he works. The children are often armed with their buckets and spades and always keen to give him a helping hand.


BLOG_Cocktails at sunsetOne of the highlights of any beach holiday, though, must be sipping a cocktail (my favourite is a mojito /mohito/) at a beach bar whilst watching the sunset. Bliss.

That’s it, I’m booking my next beach holiday right now.


Are you having a beach holiday this summer? What do you like to do when you’re at the beach?

If you liked this post, 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 Grammar Pill: Modal Verbs (Part 3) – How to use Modals of Probability (Deduction)

In this final part of my modal verbs series, I’d like to address modals of probability (or deduction). We use modals to talk about the chance or probability that something will or will not happen in the future. We call them degrees of probability.

Blog_Modal Verbs of deduction

Source: The EFL SMART Blog

The table below gives you an overview which I will develop.

100% CERTAINTY Will, be certain to
95 – 100% DEDUCTION Must, can’t
80% EXPECTATION Should, shouldn’t, ought to, ought not to, be likely to, be unlikely to
30 -70% UNCERTAINTY May, may not, might, might not, could

When we are certain that something will happen we use will and be certain to.

  • I will present the document at the next AGM.
  • They are certain to introduce the new prototype now that they have had approval.

When we are certain that something will NOT happen, we use won’t

  • I’m sorry, James is on holiday. He won’t be back until the end of the month.

If we want to show that something is certain because it is logical form the evidence we use must or can’t. This is called “deduction”. Note that can’t is used and not mustn’t.

  • Carl is not answering? He must be home. I only just spoke to him on the home phone number.
  • Jessica is not answering her phone. She must be out.
  • Cecile can’t have arrived home already. She left the office two minutes ago. (The journey from the office to her house takes 20 minutes)


Source: The English Blog

Source: The English Blog

When we expect something to happen we use should, ought to, be likely to

  • The flight should arrive on time this evening
  • Our profits are likely to improve this year
  • It ought to be a better year for us now that we have made the structural changes.
    (NOTE: “ought to” is used formally and is not as natural in spoken English as “should” or “be likely to”.)

If we don’t expect something to happen, we shouldn’t, ought not to, be unlikely to

  • I have all the information I need, so preparing the report shouldn’t take long.
  • She hasn’t responded to my calls today so the meeting is unlikely to happen today.
  • There ought not to be a problem anymore with the server as IT have been working on it all day.

May, might or could are normally used for when we are uncertain that something will happen. The meaning is “perhaps” or “maybe”.


  • I might be able to fit you in for a lesson next week.
  • I may have to change the booking at the last minute.
  • It could take a while to find a taxi at this hour.


Blog_Modals of deduction_teacherThe negative forms are may not or might not. “Could not is not used with this meaning.  It’s used with past ability. (See Part 1 of this series)

  • I have a suggestion that you may not/ might not agree with.
  • You may not want to go out this afternoon if it rains.



Structure: Modal verb + have + past participle

  • You’ll have seen the papers recently. We’re all over the news. (Certainty)


  • There was no answer from her phone. She must have been in a meeting. (Deduction)
  • The fridge was full yesterday. They can’t have eaten all the food. (Deduction)
  • They should have been here by now. I hope there isn’t a problem. (Expectation)
  • We’re only five minutes late. The meeting might not have started yet. (Uncertainty)
  • You won’t have seen the latest edition yet. It’s not out. (Certainty)


And there you have it. For more practice on modals of deduction, take a look at this excellent blog post by fellow teacher David Mainwood of The EFL SMART Blog.

Click on Part 1 & Part 2 if you missed them. I hope you found the series on modal verbs a useful refresher.

If you liked this post 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.


Business Grammar Builder, Paul Emmerson (Macmillan) 2010


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