Tag Archives: Vocabulary

Slang: Cringe-worthy

This expression describes something that is so horrible that you feel embarrassed. The horrible thing cannot involve the person who says cringe-worthy.

Annie: Hey, did you see John insulting the boss yesterday?

Jennifer: Yes, I did. It was cringe-worthy when the boss came around the corner and heard him being rude!

Grammar Grab Bag

Progressive tenses are also called continuous tenses.

“Agree” is a verb, not an adjective. A common mistake is to say: “I am agree with you.” Just say “I agree with you.”

“Should” and “had better” are both modals used to give advice. “Had better” has a stronger meaning. “Must” is stronger than both of them, and is used for regulations, obligations, or requirements.

– James, you should park underground. (mild suggestion)

– James, you had better slow down. The road is very icy and we might have an accident! (strong suggestion)

– James, you must stop at the red light. (strong obligation or requirement)

Receptive and Productive Vocabulary

Your receptive vocabulary is made up of the words that you understand. Your productive vocabulary is made up of the words you use on a regular basis. For most people, their receptive vocabulary is much larger than their productive vocabulary.

Trying to learn vocab quickly? Start by using words that you recognize more often. Notice your favourite words, and make an effort to use synonyms instead.

Animal Sounds

It’s interesting to hear what sounds animals have in different languages. It can be useful for our English pronunciation as well. Here’s a list of some sounds that Canadian animals make. How do these sounds compare to animal sounds in your language?

  • Cow: Moo!
  • Horse: Neigh!
  • Big Dog: Woof woof! or Bark bark!
  • Small Dog: Yap yap! or Yip yip!
  • Cat: Meow!
  • Baby bird: Peep peep!
  • Rooster: Cock-a-doodle doo!
  • Hen: Buk buk buk!
  • Frog: Ribbit ribbit!
  • Snake: Hiss!
  • Crow: Caw caw!
  • Donkey: Hee haw!

I don’t know that word…

Recently, I’ve heard several students use “don’t” before “to.” This is never correct, and it is confusing! Let’s start 2016 off right.

  • I don’t to go to school. <- I don’t go to school.
  • I don’t to want pizza. <- I don’t want pizza.

I suspect that this is because of the grammar rules in their first language. Please be careful! Remember the recipe:

subject + do/does + negative + verb in base form + object.

  • I + do + not + eat + pizza.
  • She + does + not + like + opera.

People from Other Countries

I see a lot of students from around the world. They generally are happy to meet each other, learn about their differences and similarities, and work together in class. However, there often seems to be difficulty with the word “foreigner.”

It might look hard to pronounce, but here’s a secret: the ‘g’ makes no sound. Start by saying these sounds together: for in er. You got it!

Many students will say “other country people” instead of “foreigner.” Not only is the grammar incorrect, it is awkward. Remember that “foreigner” is a noun, and that “foreign” is the adjective.

Before: I met many other country people today.
After: I met many foreigners today.

Before: Are there other country people in your grammar class?
After: Are there foreign people in your grammar class?

“Foreigner” and “foreign” can be used in formal or legal situations.

Now that you can talk about them, it is time to go and meet some people who are from other countries. Good luck!

In Your Mind

These nouns all relate to different kinds of thoughts. They are similar, but each one can be used in slightly different situations.

Knowledge – noncount – This is what you learn. Grammar, for example, or how to cook, or who is the most popular singer. “My friend has a strong knowledge of soccer. She can tell you every championship winner since 1893!”

Memory – noncount – This is the biological ability to store or recall information. “I have a good memory. I know what shirt I was wearing on May 23rd, 1999.”

Memory/memories – count – these are countable thoughts about events you took part in. “I have many memories of playing with my grandparents when I was a child.” They are usually positive, but are not always positive. “My memory of school is unpleasant. I hated class!” They sound quite specific or detailed.

Experience/experiences – count – These are countable thoughts, like memories, but they could be longer in duration, or perhaps more difficult. “I had good experiences on my trip to Canada.” They can also be negative. “My trip to the South Pole was a bad experience. Too cold!” These tend to describe longer events in less detail than memories does.

Experience – noncount – The memory or knowledge of doing work at a job. “I have a lot of experience with Photoshop. I have used it for years.”

Wish/wishes – count – Something you hope can come true in the future, but you don’t expect it to come true. “I wish I could win the lottery.”

Dream/dreams – count – the pictures while you sleep OR something you hope can come true in the future. “My dream last night was crazy. I was a horse inside a train!” With the second definition: “My dream is to learn English, so I came to Canada and started studying