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


English Grammar Pill: Modal Verbs (Part 2) – How to use Modal Verbs of Obligation (Necessity),Prohibition and Advice.

Taken from

Taken from

In Part 2 of my series on modal verbs, I’d like to review the functions of obligation (necessity) and prohibition. Part 1 dealt with the functions of ability and habits.

In that last post, I said that I would be splitting the series into three posts. Having researched the topic in more depth, I’ve decided that I will need four posts to cover modal verbs the way I would like. In my last post I said that I would be covering the function of permission in this part. However, I shall address that in a later post.

We use must and have to when we say that something is necessary. We can also use need to.

  • We must finish the meeting by 3pm because I have to get to the airport by 5pm.
  • You need to sign this form in two places, here and here.

In writing, must and have to have the same meaning. However, in spoken English there is a small difference.

With have to”, the situation makes something necessary, whilst with “must” the speaker personally feels that something is necessary.


  • I have to pay my credit card bill by the end of the month. (It’s the credit company’s rule)
  • You must take a break. (I’m telling you – it’s my strong advice)
  • I must stop smoking. ( I feel I need to)
  • Children have to attend school until the age of 16. (it’s the law)

BLOG_Eveyting MUST go

Question Form
To make a question we normally use “have to”. If we use “must” in a question, we can sound annoyed or irritated especially if we stress “must” in speech.

  • Do you have to work this evening?
  • Must you work this evening? I have tickets for the theatre. (I’m not happy!)

“Have got to” and “will have to” are also used for necessity. They are more informal.

  • I’ve got to finish this sales report before I leave for my holidays.
  • I will have to phone my clients tomorrow and inform them of the change in plans.

When something is not necessary and you have a choice we use “don’t have to”. We can also use “don’t need to/needn’t”.

  • You don’t have to drive the car this evening. You can catch a taxi. (you have a choice)
  • We don’t have to wear a suit on Fridays. (you have a choice)
  • You don’t need to/needn’t wait up for me tonight. I have a key.


When something is prohibited or forbidden. we use can’t, be not allowed and mustn’t.

  • You can’t park here. (those are the rules)
  • You are not allowed to smoke in the office.
  • You mustn’t enter this room. It’s strictly forbidden.

and have to have the same meaning in positive sentences but different meanings in negative sentences.

  • I have to/I must leave today (it’s necessary)
  • I don’t have to leave yet. (I have a choice)
  • I mustn’t leave now. (it’s important that I don’t)

BLOG_Obligation_climb the tree


Obligation (necessity)
We use “had to”. There is NO past form of must.

  • I had to get the sales figures for my boss before the meeting.

No Obligation
We use “didn’t have to

  • You didn’t have to get me a present. That’s very kind of you.

We use “couldn’t” or “wasn’t allowed to”

  • When I was young we weren’t allowed to watch television in the evenings.
  • I arrived at the airport after check-in had closed, so I couldn’t catch my flight.


If you want to give someone advice about what you think is best or most sensible, you use “should”, “should not (shouldn’t), “ought to” and “ought not to (oughtn’t to)

  • You work too much. You should take more breaks. (it’s my advice)
  • You haven’t been feeling well for a while. You should go to the doctor.
  • You shouldn’t leave the bicycle there. It could be stolen.

Note that the above sentences are all “soft” advice that is given.

If you want to give strong advice to someone, you use “must” or “have to”. The strong advice becomes more of a necessity.


  • You are really not well. You must/have to go to the doctor’s. (It’s necessary)
  • You have to/must practise more if you want to pass the piano exam. (It’s necessary)


Click here if you’d like to test yourself with this exercise on modal verbs of obligation. It was prepared by Perfect English Grammar.

In the next post, I will cover modal verbs of probability. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you may have on this topic.

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
Perfect English Grammar

English Grammar Pill: Modal Verbs (Part One) – How to use Modal Verbs of Ability and Habits

BLOG_Modal VerbsI told my husband last night that I was starting a new English Grammar Pill series on modal verbs and his immediate response was: “What are modal verbs?!” Once I had got over the shock of realising that my husband is a complete English grammar ignoramus, I began to wonder whether my blog should also be directed at native speakers who have forgotten basic grammar rules. One thing it did prove, though, was how native speakers of any language, particularly English, have an instinctive feel of how to use their native language but are not necessarily able to explain areas of grammar. That’s for another post altogether.

I have had many requests from various learners to cover this tricky area of grammar, so I’ve decided that it would be a good idea to write about with this topic. Let me start with an introduction.




What are modal verbs?
Modal verbs are known as auxiliary (helper) verbs. They are used with other main verbs. The verb that follows is an infinitive without to.
Example: Sorry, I must go now. (NOT I must to go now)

The modal verbs are can, could, will, would, may, might, must, ought to, shall and should.

  • Two modal verbs cannot be put together.
  • They only have one form, so there is no -s in the third person singular and no form with -ing and -ed.

Questions are made by putting the modal in front of the subject (Can I…?, Should we….?) whilst negatives are made by putting not immediately after the modal (I cannot, I should not, He will not). The negatives can be contracted (I can’t, I shouldn’t, he won’t) in spoken English and informal written English.

What are their functions?
Modal verbs can be divided in the following functions:

  • Probabilitywhen we want to say how sure we are that something happened / is happening / will happen. They are known as ‘modals of deduction’ or ‘speculation’ or ‘certainty’ or ‘probability’.
  • Abilityto talk about skills
  • Obligation (Necessity) - to talk about things that are necessary or unnecessary
  • Adviceto give advice and make recommendations
  • Permissionto give or ask for permission
  • Habitsto talk about things we usually do or did in the past
  • Making requests or offers –  asking for something or offering to do something
BLOG _ MOdal verbs Functions


There are too many functions to cover in one post, so I propose to split the functions into three posts.

In today’s post, I’d like to address the functions of ability (present and past) and habits and how to use them correctly.


Photo: Chris Madden

Photo: Chris Madden

Ability can refer to:
General ability - once you have learned something you can do it any time you want, like being able to read or swim or speak a language

Specific ability - something that you can or can’t do in one particular situation. For example, being able to repair something, or find something you are looking for.

Depending on what ability we’re referring to will determine what modal verb you use. The difference is more relevant for past ability rather than present ability,

Present Ability
We use can or can’t (cannot in formal writing) to talk about a skill and ability we either have or don’t have.

  • Can you deliver the parcels by Friday? No, I can’t.
  • I can’t speak German.
  • I can’t play the piano.
  • I can run 10km in 40 minutes.

We sometimes use be able to/unable to instead of can/cannot. This is common in writing.

  • They are able to deliver the goods next week.
  • I am unable to start my car.

When we talk about general past ability (not a specific ability) we use could/could not

  • In my twenties, I could play football very well.(but I cannot now)
  • Last year I couldn’t run 10k, but now I can run a half marathon!

If we talk about specific ability in the past we normally use was/were able to, managed to rather than could

  • I was able to/managed to install the new app onto my computer.
  • He managed to arrange the car hire for our holiday.

In questions and negative sentences we can use could, was/were able to, and managed to.

  • They couldn’t/weren’t able to hear the guide.
  • Could you/Were you able to/did you manage to talk to your boss today?
  • Sorry, I couldn’t/wasn’t able/didn’t manage to finish the sales report yesterday.

Click here if you’d like to try a modal verb of ability exercise prepared by Perfect English Grammar.

We can use will and would to talk about habits or things we usually do, or did in the past.

  • When I lived in the country, I would often go for long walks in the hills near my cottage.
  • Alison will always be late!

In the next post, I will cover modal verbs of obligation (necessity) and permission. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you may have on this post.

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
Perfect English Grammar

NB: There are three typing mistakes in the table that were brought to my attention by my readers: ‘advince’ should be advice; ‘coul’could and ‘sugestion’ should be suggestion. I didn’t prepare this table so I apologise on behalf of the author and thank my readers for spotting the errors.

How to translate Barbadian (Bajan) English into Standard English

Blog_Bajan dialect words

I have just returned from the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados having spent two splendid weeks with my sister and her family. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my brother-in-law is Barbadian (Bajan) and we decided to join him and my sister on their annual holiday there.

We had a magical time visiting the sandiest beaches, swimming in the most crystal blue seas I’ve ever seen and best of all, swimming with sea turtles! That’s another item ticked off my bucket list.

Barbados is an English-speaking island. Its history is deeply entrenched with that of Britain. Since the arrival of English settlers in 1627, Barbados was under English and then British governance until its independence in 1966 when it became a member of the Commonwealth. Barbados was extremely important and profitable to the English particularly from the 1640s when it became a major sugar cane producer. That industry, of course, introduced African slaves that were needed to work on the sugar cane plantations.

I am Bajan in Bajan Dialect

I am Bajan in Bajan Dialect

The slaves were forced to learn English and together with their own African languages they created the Bajan language as a way of communicating without being understood by their slave masters. The word “Bajan” is short for “Barbadian” (bar-bayyd-ian), the official term to describe the people and things from Barbados. Native Barbadians refer to themselves as Bajans.

Bajan English is widely spoken by Barbadians amongst themselves even though Standard English is taught and used throughout the island. It was whilst I was in the supermarkets, on the beach and restaurants that I would overhear Bajans chatting, and I have to say that I couldn’t understand a word! However, I was intrigued to learn more and so I asked my family and friends and they introduced me to this website and book by E. Jerome Davis where I found some common Bajan expressions and observations that I’d like to share with you here.

“To Be” Not Used
In Bajan English, the verb to be is not used, so you will often hear these sort of expressions:
He tall (He is tall); I coming (I am coming); The sun hot (the sun is hot); I hungry (I am hungry)

The Subject Pronouns (I, you, he/she, we, they) are over-used
call she (call her); we house (our house); he book (his book)

No Past Tense
I tell he so (I told him so); I see she yesterday (I saw her yesterday)

Blog_Bajan English

Pronunciation -No “th’ sound
Dis – this; Dat – that; Dese – these; Dis – this; Ting – thing; Tanks – thanks

Other words
Muh – my;  nuff /nʌf/- a lot;  gine /gin/- going;  wuh /wʌ/ – what;  in – do not;  brek /brek/ – break /breik/;  leh – let

10 Most Common Expressions You’ll Hear

1. I in got none – I do not have any

2. Wuh part you is? – Where are you?

3. Wuh you want? – What do you want?

4. I in know – I do not know.

5. Stan day – Stand there

6. Weh you gine? – Where are you going?

7. Dah in mine – That is not mine

8. He got nuff money – He has a lot of money

9. Who wun dah is? – Whose is that?

10. Skin out the bag – Empty the bag.

The English Language may be widely spoken around the world, but what I also love about it is how people over the centuries have adapted and mixed the language with their own flavours, thereby creating their own form of communication that is as rich and colourful.

If you’d like to know more about Barbados and the Bajan dialect, take a look at these sources. They were immensely helpful in creating this post:


From Bajan to Standard English by E. Jerome Davis

Barbados Pocket Guide - A dictionary of Bajan Words

Do you have experience of other dialects that derive from the English Language?

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


How to talk about and follow a tennis match in English- Some Vocabulary

Blog_Anyone for tennis?With all the excitement of the FIFA World Cup 2014, you may have not noticed that we’re in the middle of Wimbledon 2014. It won’t have escaped tennis lovers’ notice, however, who will have been enjoying one of the Grand Slam Tournaments of the year here in Wimbledon, London. 

Together with Royal AscotHenley Royal Regatta, and The Ashes, Wimbledon is one of the regular summer events we have in London. When you think of Wimbledon, you picture strawberries and cream, great tennis and the reliable British weather!

BLog_Tennis Images 2I have many clients who enjoy watching tennis. Some of them stayed with me during the  Wimbledon season and found it hard to follow the television commentary or to simply discuss a match in English with my husband, a tennis lover. They didn’t have the tennis vocabulary in English.

So I thought I’d dedicate this post to all my clients and English Language learners who share a love for tennis by sharing a list of 10 key words you’ll need to follow and discuss a match in English.


1. Acea winning serve which the receiver fails to touch with his or her racket.
Ex: Andy Murray won the match thanks to having served 10 aces.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Backhand -   a stroke in which the ball struck on the opposite side of the body to the racquet hand.  
Ex: If your opponent is right-handed and has a weak backhand, you must hit the ball to his/her left if you can.

Betty Boop_tennis

3. Break Point - a point which will result in a break of service if it’s won by the receiver.  Ex: Federer has break point. He is 30-40 up. If he wins the point, he wins the championship.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

4. Deuce a score of 40 – 40, after which a player must win two consecutive points to win the game.
Ex: It’s deuce on Nadal’s serve. He is two points from victory.


5Double Fault - two faults served in a row, resulting in the server losing the point.
Ex: After serving a fault, my second serve was slower to avoid a double fault.


6. Drop Shot a gentle shot that just drops over the net.  
Ex: Serena played a perfect drop shot that took her opponent by complete surprise.

Blog_Tennis Images
Forehand - a shot hit from the racket-arm side of the body.  

Ex: Nadal has a very strong forehand, so it is best to play to his backhand.


8. Groundstroke - a shot hit from the back court after the ball has bounced.
Ex: Djokovic is hitting fantastic groundstrokes and has got his opponent on the run.


9. Rally - a long series of shots  
Ex: The longest rally in the match went on for 22 shots before Federer put it away with a perfect volley.

                                                                                                                        10. Volley - a shot on which the ball is hit before it bounces.
Ex: Volleys can be hard to control, so you need to have a strong wrist.

Did you know?

The zero in tennis (only) scores is known as love.  It comes from the French word “oeuf”, meaning egg. It was used because the egg’s round shape resembles the figure zero (0).

Tennis Idioms
 used in everyday life:

the ball is in your court - it’s your decision or responsibility to do something
Ex: I’ve done all I can. The ball is in their court now.
get into the swing  – to be comfortable doing something after some time
Ex: It will probably take me a month in the job before I get into the swing of things.


Do you play tennis? Do you enjoy watching tennis? Are you watching Wimbledon 2014? Who would you like to see win this year?

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

Ciao for now


Source: English Club

English Writing Skills (Punctuation) – How to use the dash, semicolon and colon in sentences

Blog_Writing Skills_ImageI have recently received some enquiries from new clients asking me to help them with their writing skills in English.

This gave me an idea of starting a new series entitled English Writing Skills. In this series I will explore the different techniques that are required to produce good writing both in academia and business. The areas I plan to cover will vary from developing arguments through the use of linkers, punctuation, spelling and correct register (formal versus informal).

If there are any aspects of writing that you’d like me to write about, please do let me know and I will happily add it to the series.

In this first post of the series, I have decided to examine three punctuation symbols that are used in writing but are often confused and consequently ignored by many people – the dash (-), semicolon (;) and colon (:).

I found this extremely helpful and informative infographic prepared by Grammar Net. According to Grammar Net: “ Dashes, semicolons and colons are potent punctuation. They add clarity, call attention to sentence elements and improve the “flow,” but they also add drama and are destructive if over-used.”

This infographic provides a clear explanation of how to use these symbols. Let me know what you think. The infographic refers to period as a punctuation symbol. “Period” is American English. “Full Stop” is British English.
[Infographic provided by]

If you’d like more information on how to use that pesky semicolon, take a look at this brilliant and beautifully illustrated explanation by The Oatmeal.

Ciao for now


PS 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.

Money, Money, Money – 8 English Idioms to talk about Money

In my last post, I told you that I was flying off to Barbados for a fortnight (two weeks). As you read this post, I am probably sunning myself at the beach or by the pool in our friends’ home. Ok, ok, I’ll stop bragging (showing off) and get to the point of today’s post.

One of the things we need to have when we go on holiday is money, of course. As I was thinking of how much to take with us and in what currency, I thought of all those wonderful idioms we have connected with the theme of money.

People say that “Money makes the world go round“, “Money talks” or as the Beatles sang “Money can’t buy me love“. Whatever we think of money, it’s important in our lives.

There are so many money expressions and idioms in the English Language that I could dedicate at least 5 posts to the topic. In this post, however, I want to share 8 money idioms.

Once again I have the pleasure of sharing this colourful infographic prepared by Kaplan International. You can find this infographic on the Kaplan website. I love the creative and humorous way the idioms are shown here.

money idiomsKaplan International English

Here is what they mean and how you could use them in a sentence:

1. Balance the books: to add up all the credits and debits of an account
“Thomas is in charge of balancing the books at the end of each quarter for the business”

2. Bring home the bacon: to earn money to support the family
James does overtime so that he can bring home the bacon.”

3. Go Dutch: splitting (sharing) the bill equally
“Matthew and Hazel always go dutch when they eat out.

4. Gravy train: A job that pays a lot of money for very little effort
“Ian earns a fortune for three hours’ work a day. He’s really on the gravy train!”

5. Nest egg: Money that has been saved up over a period of time
“Over the years Leo has been very disciplined and saved every month. He now has a big nest egg on which he can retire.”

6. Cook the books: dishonest accounting
“The financial world has seen many business that have cooked the books to make their businesses attractive to potential investors.”

7. Golden handshake: A payment to a departing employee (normally the top executives)
“As CEO, Ross was given a golden handshake when he agreed to leave the company.”

8. Cheapskate: A person who does not like to spend money on people (This is not used as a compliment)
“Thomas did not want to spend $5 on flowers for his mother. What a cheapskate!”

And finally, here are Liza Minelli and Joel Grey in the film ‘Cabaret‘ singing “Money Makes the World Go Round”

Ciao for now


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Flying Off on Holiday Soon? You Might Find this Preparation Vocabulary Useful.

Blog_Well-Traveled SuitcaseDavid and I are flying off on holiday on Sunday for two weeks. We’re so excited especially as we will be seeing my sister and her family. I haven’t seen them for nearly two years as they live in USA. My brother in law is from Barbados and that’s where we will be meeting up!!! We’ve never been to Barbados so our excitement is increasing by the day.

A few days before
I don’t know about you but the few days leading up to a holiday are always hectic. There’s so much to think about and remember.

  • What to pack? Will the clothes all fit?
  • What luggage to take – a large or medium-sized suitcase?
  • What is the maximum weight we can take for each passenger?
  • Are we both going to carry cabin/hand luggage on board the aircraft?
  • Should we order a taxi or drive to the airport and use the long stay car park?
  • Can we/ should we check in online?
  • Do we need to print off our boarding passes beforehand?
  • Should we change our money to the local currency before getting to our destination or could we simply withdraw money when we’re there from the ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines)?

On the day of departure
There is always the mad rush to the airport as we close the house up while the taxi waits for us. Most airlines require you to arrive at the airport 2 hours before departure time. If you have an early flight like 0650 and you need to check in at 0450, that is no fun at all. Luckily our flight is at 1040 so our check-in time is at a civilised hour.

A lot of airlines now have e-tickets rather than paper tickets so all you need is to show the booking reference when you arrive at the check- in desk. In a lot of cases you can check in online which means that when you get to the airport you simply check in your hold luggage (not to be confused with hand luggage).

You have to ensure that your hand or cabin luggage fits the size requirements of the airline, otherwise the airline will not allow you to take the luggage on board. You will have to check it in as hold luggage instead which can be a nuisance especially if you don’t have a lock for the bag.

Blog_airport securityMany airlines now allow you to select your seats from their website. You can choose an aisle, window or middle seat. My husband prefers an aisle seat which always means that I end up in the middle seat. This is always the case with the long-haul flights where the aircraft seating is divided in rows of three – four – three. I prefer the window seat as it allows me to curl up against the window and sleep. Alas, he always wins because he is very tall and needs to get up to stretch his legs during the flight.
My husband would prefer it even more if we could secure the emergency exit seats where the legroom is much more generous. However, in order to get those seats we need to arrive at the airport extra early and book them at the check- in counter.

After the check- in clerk has gone through the necessary security questions about who packed your bag and if you have any dangerous objects in your luggage, he or she prints off a boarding pass which will give you the boarding time and gate from which to board.

Blog_Sorry I'm late

If you’re leaving from a UK airport, going through security can be a long process particularly in the summer. However once you’re through security, Duty Free Shopping awaits you!!!!  That’s always my favourite part of the day of departure (other than arriving at my destination of course!). I love trying out the different fragrances on offer.

David, in the meantime, will stand in front of the Departures Board waiting for our flight to be called. As soon as it is, he insists that we head for the boarding gate immediately. Once at the gate and passports and boarding passes have been checked, he waits impatiently for us to board the plane. Once on board and the hand luggage is safely stowed away in the overhead locker, he is happy and ready to enjoy his flight!

Blog_Airline_Boarding Pass

That’s it!
I want to thank my fellow trainer, Vicki Hollett for giving me the idea for this post. Her fabulous new video on Airport Check-in gives you the language you need to help you understand the questions that you could be asked at check-in.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this song aptly entitled “Whoa! I’m Going to Barbados”. It was released in 1975 by a group called Typically Tropical. It captures perfectly how I feel.

Even though I will be on holiday, I plan to continue writing my blog so don’t go away!!!!

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Ciao for now


English Skills: 14 Ways of Giving Your Opinion life we’re often asked to give our opinion, or in some cases, we give our opinion even if it hasn’t been asked for!

Sometimes we can be very direct with our opinion and it won’t upset the other person. However, more often than not we need to be careful how we share our thoughts so as not to offend or hurt the other person’s feelings. This can be especially true in business where cultural differences can have a detrimental effect on business dealings.

The British are especially careful when giving their opinion (in business, that is). They often don’t want to cause offence and consequently, will start their sentences using certain expressions to soften the blow. A number of my clients have said that the British are very polite and considerate in their dealings with colleagues and clients. So much so, that the British way of doing business is often admired.

In this post, I’d like to share with your some common expressions we have of giving one’s opinion. I have used Liz Potter’s excellent article for Macmillan Dictionary’s blog as the main structure and made some changes to it.

1. I think
This is the most common and general way of giving an opinion. You can use it both informally and formally

  •  I think if you offer a consistently good service to your clients, they will keep coming back to you.

2. I reckon
This is a more informal way of giving your opinion:

  • I reckon it will be much faster to get to London by train.

3. In my opinion (4) In my view:
These expressions are more formal and are often used when talking about important issues

  • In my view, they made a huge mistake in not selling the company when they had the chance.
  • In my opinion, the Bank of England should not raise interest rates this year.


5. It seems to me (6All things considered:
When you’ve thought about a situation carefully you could use either of these two expressions

  • It seems to me that they are spending more money than they need to to attract new talent into the company.
  • All things considered, I think we made a wise choice in recruiting James.

Blog_This is a list of who asked for your opinion7. If you ask me
This is used when your opinion is critical. Sometimes, people say this even when their opinion hasn’t been asked for! – “If you ask me,…..” “But I didn’t ask you….!”

  • If you ask me, she has spoilt her children far too much.

8. To be honest (9To tell you the truth (10To be frank
All three expressions are a way of giving your opinion when you know that people may not like what you have to say

  • To tell you the truth, your father was right when he said that you undersold the company.
  • To be honest, I preferred it when you were blonde.
  • To be frank, I thought her acting was simply terrible.

11. Frankly speaking
You would use this expression to give your opinion in a more familiar and forthright way.

  • Frankly speaking, I don’t know what she sees in him.


12. Personally

This is used to emphasize that you are giving your own opinion

  • Personally, I think the CEO should apologize for his appalling behaviour at the shareholders’ meeting.

13. To my mind (14As far as I’m concerned
When you realise that other people may not agree with you you would use either of these expressions:

  • To my mind, private education is better than state education.
  • As far as I’m concerned, tennis is a much more interesting sport than football.

So there you have it! You have 14 ways to give your opinion in English. Which expressions are you likely to use?

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Ciao for now


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