Monthly Archives: June 2012

Seal of approval

Let’s talk about one of the lesser-known homonyms.

seal, noun

  1. pečeť – A die or signet having a raised or incised emblem used to stamp an impression on a receptive substance such as wax or lead
  2. vodoznak, značka – commercial hallmark, that authenticates, confirms, or attests.
  3. uzávěr – A device that joins two systems or elements in such a way as to prevent leakage.

This is the “seal” that prevents food from getting bad. When the seal is broken, a button pops up and you can immediately see that the bottle has been opened before.

 

There is also the other kind of seal, same pronunciation.

seal, n.

  • tuleňAny of various aquatic carnivorous mammals of the families Phocidae and Otariidae, found chiefly in the Northern Hemisphere and having a sleek, torpedo-shaped body and limbs that are modified into paddlelike flippers.

Well, I think it is one that not many people in the Czech Republic know, since we don’t have many of those seals nor the other. So you’ll be one of the few to understand this joke. Enjoy.

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Thank you, Lenka, for the tip.

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Funny (vtipné), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Vocabulary (slovíčka)

Hundreds of English-speaking movies for free

One of the more enjoyable ways of learning foreign language is the consumption of multimedia content in said language. For example, watching awesome TV series or movies. I personally recommend watching anything you watch in English with English subtitles (not Czech subtitles).  The advantage is that your brain doesn’t have to constantly switch between different languages and focuses instead on the connection between words and their meanings.

  • TED.com videos are great source of amazing and gripping speeches and lectures, all of them in English, with the subtitles, interactive transcript and translations to many languages, including Czech.

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I’m not saying that you can learn foreign language just by watching movies, far from it. But it can certainly help, plus it can serve as a great motivation and reward. Or as an easy excuse for watching movies – you are watching them to learn English, remember?

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Tools and Links (nástroje a odkazy), Video

This is going to be a hit

Let’s have a look at few idioms involving the word hit:

  • hit a home run  – to succeed with something (We felt our band hit a home run that night – it was the best performance we ever gave.)
  • hit and miss – without plan or direction (There was no plan. It was just hit and miss.)
  • hit bottom – to reach the lowest or worst point (I knew I hit the rock bottom when I couldn’t even see my own toes.)
  • hit something off – to start something (She hit off the presentation with a joke.)
  • hit it off – to be going greatly (The two of them really hit it off, didn’t they?)
  • hit the brakes – to stop (The project was a disaster so we hit the brakes before losing too much money.)
  • hit the hay – go to sleep
  • hit the ground running – be prepared, start the day energetically
  • hit the books  – to study hard (I have a test tomorrow so I better go home and hit the books.)

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Funny (vtipné), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Vocabulary (slovíčka)

How To Capitalize Words

Velká písmena v angličtině plní trochu jinou roli, než v češtině, a kapitalizace slov (capitalizing the words – psaní velkého prvního písmena) se používá mnohem častěji. Zatímco v češtině se velkými písmeny šetří, a jsou pouze na začátku vět a u prvního slova proprietálních pojmenování, v angličtině se dávají velká písmena i do nadpisů, a do všech slov názvů.

  • Czech Republic = Česká republika
  • Department of Defense = Ministerstvo obrany

This is a useful list of things that are capitalized in the English language:

  1. Names of the days of the week, names of the months of the year
    • Monday, Tuesday…
    • January, February… (but spring, fall, summer, winter)
  2. Languages
    • Czech, English, Spanish…
  3. Holidays
    • Christmas, Easter
  4. Nationalities and ethnic groups
    • American, Czech, Indian
  5. Proper names
    • Charles Bridge, Statue of Liberty, President Obama (“Mr. President” is almost always capitalized)
  6. Words derived from proper names (connection with a place)
    • Czech beer, Russian gymnast
  7. Names of distinctive historical periods
    • the Middle Ages, Industrial Revolution
  8. Religious terms
    • Jesus Christ, God, Christians, Muslims, The Old Testament, Prophet, the Last Supper
  9. Titles of movies, books or albums…
    • The Lord of the Ring, The Old Man and the Sea, Stranger Than Fiction
  10. First word in every sentence, first word after direct quotation
    • And he asked: “What are you reading?”
  11. Brand names, names of products
    • Apple, Škoda, Ford, Google (but iPad, iPhone)
  12. The pronoun I (as in I am) is always capitalized
    • My friends and I went to the city.

(source: SpaceTeacher)

Here is a list of words that are usually not capitalized:

“a,” “an,” “and,” “at,” “but,” “by,” “for,” “in,” “nor,” “of,” “on,” “or,” “so,” “the,” “to,” “up,” and “yet

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Základy angličtiny

Everyone, Every One, Everybody

These two – everyone, everybody – are almost synonymous, so I usually decide which one to use solely by intuition. However, there are some rules you (and I) should know:

  • everyone and everybody are interchangeable in almost any situation, sometimes you might feel a difference, but it is hard to put a finger on it
  • every one is very rare, sticky with one word – everyone

Subject – Verb Agreement

What is perhaps more difficult is the singularity of the words everyone or everybody. You should say:

  • Everyone has finished on time.
  • Everybody is here.

So even though it feels like you should use plural (have, are…), you are grammatically talking about one person. In American English, however, it is becoming increasingly commonplace to use they and their when referring to “everybody”:

  • Everyone has to eat their own lunch.

This is actually an controversial issue. On one hand, you should use a third person pronoun, like he, she or it. But in case of “everybody”, the genders are probably mixed, so every other version sounds weird:

  • Everyone should eat her own lunch.
  • Everyone should eat his own lunch.
  • Everyone should eat its own lunch.

So “their” is used not in a plural sense, but as an third person pronoun without a specific gender. How to solve this?

The root of this problem is that English doesn’t have a word to refer to a singular noun ofundetermined gender. As a solution, grammarians in the past have suggested that writers use just his to refer to everyone or everybody, but most now consider this solution to be sexist. Some alternate his with her; some use the phrase hisor her. But I can’t imagine most of you could comfortably utter the following sentence: “Everyone is putting a smile on his or her face.” Therefore, I don’t recommend you use this type of construction unless you want to sound like a crusty old curmudgeon.
 
Grammarians agree that there is no perfect solution to this problem.One of the suggestions is to rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem. So let’s go back to the problematic sentence we saw earlier: “Everyone is putting a smile on their face.” This one is fairly easy to rewrite: you could say, “Everyone is smiling.” Let’s make up another one: “Everyone had their hands in their pockets because it was so cold.” It wouldn’t sound so bad to write, “All the people had their hands in their pockets because it was so cold.” Just make sure your rewritten sentence fits in with the other sentences around it.

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Marketing

Three steps to a successful commercial:

  1. Draw the viewer’s attention to their small wound or scar.
  2. Rub it a bit and put a salt in it.
  3. Offer to sell them band-aid.

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  • commercial – reklama
  • scar – jizva, zranění
  • wound – rána
  • rub – poškrabat
  • band-aid – náplast

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Desert and dessert

This is a fun pair of words:

  • desert (noun) barren, desolate area, often dry and sandy (poušť)
  • dessert (noun) – sweet course or dish, e.g. an ice cream or pastry, often served after the main course (zákusek, dezert)

Please mind the spelling and the pronunciation: desert, dessert. How do you remember that the sweet dessert is spelled with two “s”? Like this:

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By the way, to make things complicated, there actually is a verb desert, meaning to leave, to abandon (dezertovat) and it is pronounced just like dessert.

Just say this sentence:

If you desert after dessert you will end up in the desert.

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Funny (vtipné), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Vocabulary (slovíčka), Základy angličtiny