Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lay and Lie: Common Confusion

Lay and lie are both irregular verbs. If you memorize their forms, then you’ll avoid making common errors.

Simple present:

  • The chicken lays eggs.
  • I lie on the sofa.

Simple past:

  • The chicken laid eggs yesterday.
  • I lay on the sofa yesterday.

Present Continuous:

  • The chicken is laying eggs right now.
  • I am lying on the sofa right now.

Present Perfect:

  • The chicken has laid eggs.
  • I have lain on the sofa.

Pronunciation Grab Bag

Just a few common problems from class:

  • weigh sounds like way
  • weight sounds like wait
  • high sounds like hi
  • height rhymes with fight, not hate.
  • ant sounds like aunt.
  • sun sounds like son
  • won sounds like one.
  • Yacht rhymes with ought or bought
  • Enough rhymes with rough, not off
  • Elementary = ell a men tree. The strong syllable is MEN.
  • Hierarchy sounds like “hire are key.” The strong sound is on the “hi” of “hire.”
  • Receipt sounds like re-seat. The “p” is silent.
  • Muscles sounds like mussels. The “c” is silent.

Names in English

I had an interesting discussion with a student the other day about short names in English. To summarize, she wasn’t aware that “Dave” is short for “David,” for example. I thought I’d make a little list of some common short names that you might hear in Vancouver.

Male names:

  • Dave – David
  • Bill, Will, Willy – William
  • Charlie, Chuck – Charles
  • Ed, Eddie – Edward
  • Tom, Tommy – Thomas
  • Rob, Bob, Bobby – Robert
  • Rob – Robin
  • Sam – Samuel
  • Russ – Russell
  • Chris – Christopher, Christian
  • Larry – Lawrence
  • Pat – Patrick
  • Art – Arthur
  • Matt – Matthew
  • Al – Albert, Alphonse, Alan
  • Zach, Zack – Zachary, Zachariah
  • Alex – Alexander
  • Luke – Lucas
  • Jon, John – Jonathan
  • Mike – Michael
  • Nick, Nicky – Nicholas (note: “Nicky/Nicki” is also a female name)
  • Gabe – Gabriel
  • Rick, Ricky, Rich – Richard
  • Josh – Joshua
  • Benji, Ben – Benjamin
  • Jay – Jason
  • Ray – Raymond
  • Ron – Ronald
  • Jim, Jimmy – James
  • Henry – Hank
  • Jeff/Geoff – Jeffrey/Geoffrey
  • Tim, Timmy – Timothy
  • Brad – Bradley
  • Frank – Francis
  • Max – Maxwell, Maximilian
  • Vince, Vinnie – Vincent

Generally, male short names that end in “y” or “ie” are associated with children. For example, James and Robert might be called Jimmy and Bobby when they are young, but they might want to be called Jim and Rob when they become teenagers or young adults. This isn’t a rule, though, so it’s always best to ask what someone’s preferred name is!

Female names:

  • Steph -Stephanie
  • Em – Emily
  • Cath, Kate, Kat, Katy, Cathy – Catherine or Kathleen
  • Jen, Jenny – Jennifer
  • Pat, Patty – Patricia
  • Marge, Maggie – Margaret
  • Meg – Megan
  • Jill, Gill – Jillian, Gillian
  • Chris, Christy, Tina – Christine, Christina
  • Laurie – Lauren
  • Joy – Joyce
  • Lori – Lorraine
  • Rosie, Rose – Roseanne
  • Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza – Elizabeth
  • Fran – Frances
  • Max, Maxie – Maxine
  • Sherry – Sharon
  • Jules – Julie, Julia
  • Becca – Rebecca
  • Jess – Jessica
  • Mel, Melly – Melissa, Melanie
  • Alex – Alexandra, Alexis
  • Kim – Kimberley
  • Nat – Natalie, Natalia
  • Mandy – Amanda
  • Sue, Suzy – Susan, Suzanne

Female short names that end in “y” or “ie” do not usually have the same connotations about age as male short names do.

Of course, some people may have a short name as their legal name. If you’re not sure, you can ask the person once you get to know them. “Hey Patty, is that short for Patricia?”

Comma Rule #1

The most important thing to remember about a comma is that it doesn’t connect or join. Instead, use the comma to separate ideas. Some students imagine the sentence in their head, and wherever they pause to breather, they insert a comma into their writing. This is surprisingly easy, and it is correct most of the time!

The most common comma problem, the comma fault, causes run-on sentences. Here’s an example:

  • I like pizza, it is delicious.

Notice that the author is trying to connect two sentences with a comma. This is a comma fault. Most comma faults can be corrected by adding a conjunction:

  • I like pizza, because it is delicious.

They can also usually be corrected by replacing the comma with a period:

  • I like pizza. It is delicious.

English Gaming

Playing games in English can be not just fun. Often you’ll use your language skills too! Learning vocabulary related to the story of the game, negotiating with partners or opponents, or discussing how to play can really focus your skills. Some of my favourite games include Scrabble, Pictionary, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, 10 Days in Asia, and Taboo. Some pubs or restaurants have games you can play while you eat: Guilt & Co. in Gastown, Stormcrow on Commercial Drive, or Steel & Oak in New Westminster all have games to play. Do you know of more pubs with games? Tell me below!

Vocab Grab Bag

I heard it through the grapevine. This is an idiom that means ” I learned the information because I was gossiping.”

Coat and Quote are similar, but not the same. “Quote” starts with a /kw/ sound, but “coat” starts with only /k/.

“Software” and “hardware” are noncount. If you want to use count expressions, say “pieces of software,” “apps,” or “programs.” For “hardware,” say “computers,” “devices,” or “tablets/phones/laptops.”