All posts by dave

Make, Do, and Have: which is right for the interview?

Let’s keep it clear. As a worker, you will have an interview with a boss.

As a boss, you will have or do an interview with a worker.

Nobody will make interviews with anyone.

An intern will do an internship. A worker will do a job.

Nobody makes internships or jobs, except when a boss might create a completely new job from nothing. “I liked that person so much I made a job for them. They start Tuesday.”

Work is noncount. “I did a lot of work with customers,” not “I did three works with customers.”

Five Parts Of a Story

I’ve been teaching some classes in creative writing lately, and I wanted to share some of the most important details in storytelling.

Every successful story has 5 parts. They may not always be in the same order, but they are always present.

1 – Where does it happen?
2- Who is there?
3 – What is the problem?
4- Why is the problem important now?
5- How does the problem get solved?

By explaining these to your reader, they will be able to follow your story clearly. You can use them in other areas too – I learned them at the Vancouver Theater Sports League as hints for improvising actors, but they also make sense in presentations, job interviews, and other formal situations.

In The World

I see this phrase used in many essays where it doesn’t make sense.

Bad Example 1: In the world, there are many people who think pizza is delicious.
Where else would the people be? We don’t care about whether people in space like pizza or not!

Bad Example 2: Right now, there are many problems in the world.
There might be problems on Mars, but there are probably more of them on Earth. This is obvious!

When you write, avoid using “in the world” to refer to a location, unless you want it to be clear that you do not refer to space.

Good Example 1: Your English is the best in the world!
Yes! Your English is excellent – not only in your school, town, or country, but in every country. Here, “in the world” gives us a limitation that emphasizes our idea.

Good Example 2: In the world, people have to worry about gravity, but in space, everything is weightless.

When you write, be clear that you are using “in the world” to show the limits, not the location.

Stressed Out?

By moving our sentence stress, we can change the emphasis of a sentence. I heard this great example from a friend:

“I never said she stole my money” can have seven different meanings according to the stressed word.

1. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it; someone else did.

2. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it, not even once.

3. I never said she stole my money – I never said it, but perhaps I wrote it or thought it.

4. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; somebody else did.

5. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; it was a gift.

6. I never said she stole my money – She stole someone else’s money.

7. I never said she stole my money – She stole something else.

Here, There, Home and Downtown

There’s a secret I want to tell you: home, downtown, here, and there don’t need prepositions with movement verbs! Easy to remember, right?

I hear this a lot: “When I go to home, I…”  <-incorrect English makes teachers sad

Just remove the “to” and it is right: “When I go home, I…” <- correct English makes teachers happy

Here are some other examples:

  • I came to downtown -> I came downtown.
  • She flew to there. -> She flew there.
  • He rode his bike to here.  -> He rode his bike here.

Now you know. Go home, or take the train downtown, and tell your friends about it!

Six-Pack of Financial Words

Just a few words for work conversations today.

  • bankruptcy – noun – a time when a company runs out of money and can no longer pay their debts.
  • liquidation – noun – a time after bankruptcy when the company’s stuff is sold to get money to pay their debts.
  • liquid asset – noun – an asset is something that a business or person owns. A liquid asset is one that is easily sold or exchanged, like cash, gold, or certain investments.
  • fixed asset – noun – A fixed asset is not as easily sold or exchanged as a liquid asset. This group might include real estate, machinery, inventory, or contracts.
  • expenditure – noun – the money that a business needs to spend in order to do business. This might include buying supplies, paying salaries and rent, repairing machines, or advertising products.
  • revenue – noun – the money that comes into a business from doing its business activities, before expenses are paid

Yeah, right!

We say it a lot. But did you know that you might be sending the wrong meaning?

“Yeah, right” is most often used in sarcastic comments by advanced English speakers:

  • Jay: Marcelo, did you know that my test score was better than yours?
  • Marcelo: Yeah, right. You can’t beat me! I got 100% plus three bonus marks.

However, most students use it to show agreement:

  • Livia: Amy, we are meeting at Pizza Palace at 5:30 tonight, right?
  • Amy: Yeah, right. See you tonight.

The problem comes when you speak to your Canadian friends. You think you are agreeing with them, like Amy above, but they think you are being sarcastic, like Marcelo’s example. To be safe, say either “yeah!” or “right!” to show you agree. You’ll be easier to understand and people will think you are more polite.

  • Naja: Does class start tomorrow at 9:30?
  • John: Yeah. See you then!
  • Simon: Right. Don’t forget your homework!

The Vocabulary of Customer Service

Serve is not the same as service, though they are both regular verbs (serve/served/served, service/serviced/serviced).

Serve is the verb of waiters, clerks, and attendants, and it means “to help a customer.”

  • The attendant served his customers quickly and efficiently.

Service is the verb of technicians, and it means “to repair or maintain a machine.”

  • The mechanic serviced the car before the trip.

If you use the verb “service” in place of “serve,” it is incorrect.

  • The waiter serviced his guests <- never, unless the guests are robots.

Service is a noun relating to the ability of waiters, clerks, and attendants to do their jobs.

  • The service is great here. I never have to ask them to pour more coffee!

Google Documents Spellcheck

I use Google Docs in several classes. One problem that comes up a lot is the spell-checker. If my students’ Drive language isn’t English, their English spell-check won’t work. Here’s how to fix it:

With your document open in Google Docs,

Highlight all your text.

Go to the File > Language menu, and

Select English (United States).

Now you should be able to see any incorrectly-spelled English words (and, of course, correct them!)

Projections and Predictions

Both of these words are used when we discuss guesses about the future, but they are slightly different. Here’s how to make sense of them.

Projections look at the past and use that information to talk about the future. If you have a coffee every morning, you will probably have one tomorrow too. I know that having a morning coffee is one of your habits.

Predictions look at the present and use that information to talk about the future. If you are angry right now, you will probably be angry tomorrow too. I don’t know if being angry is your habit or not!

Projections sound more believable than predictions. Projections sound scientific, analytical, and data-driven, while predictions sound like magic, smart guesses, or uncertainty.

I predict that your English will be 10% better after reading this post.