Feb 052017
 

SPAM

 

Scams are flooding our telephone lines.

Spammers and hackers are flooding our internet connections and getting viruses, worms, and phishing emails into our computers and email.

Obviously these scammers and hackers have enough success that they are encouraged to scam and hack even more.

How are they so successful?

Can you recognize an attempt to hack into your computer or elicit sensitive information from you when one such email enters your inbox? How well can you PROTECT YOURSELF?

Below is second in our series on how to identify these, what to look for, so that you’re not the victim of a cyber-attack.

The spam message below is easily identifiable as a hacking attempt to infect our computers in so many ways. Being that Apple is so ubiquitous, users can easily think that this message is intended for them.

I’ve broken the hack link, of course.

See how many identifiers you can find.

See below:


Dear (Your email address here),

Please note that your account will expire in less than 48h .
It is imperative to conduct an audit of your information is present, otherwise your account will be destroyed.
Update Your Apple ID
We invite you to act fast, if you need any help you can contact our online support.

Regards,
Apple


I’m able to identify up to ten different obvious identifiers.

Enter your ideas into the “COMMENT” box below.

Let’s see how well you do. Let’s see how safe you are from spammers and scammers!!

Jan 312017
 

Scams are flooding our telephone lines.

Spammers and hackers are flooding our internet connections and getting viruses, worms, and phishing emails into our computers and email.

Obviously these scammers and hackers have enough success that they are encouraged to scam and hack even more.

How are they so successful?

Can you recognize an attempt to hack into your computer or elicit sensitive information from you when one such email enters your inbox?

We will begin a series on how to identify these, what to look for, so that you’re not the victim of a cyber-attack.

Below is one spam message that we received the other day.  It is easily identifiable as a hacking attempt to infect our computers in so many ways. I’ve omitted including the hack link, of course.

See how many identifiers you can find.

See below:
___________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Joey,

Your item has arrived at the USPS Post Office at January 23, but the courier was unable to deliver parcel to you.

Download postal receipt attached to e-mail!

 

Kind thoughts,

 

Freddie Horne,

 

USPS Support Agent.
___________________________________________________________________________________

 

 I identified at least ELEVEN errors that immediately stood out to me as an obvious attempt to infiltrate my computer.
What are they?

And the 12th obvious indication?

Please add your responses to the COMMENT box below. Let’s see if we can get all twelve.

Nov 282011
 

Heard on American Idol:  “”It’s been a year since me and Lauren Alaina have tried out now,” McCreery said. “Me and her have been together since day one and we’re gonna stay together.”

Even some of our favorite singers, such as the quote above from Scotty McCreery, Season 11 American Idol winner, are saying this.  But is it correct? Scotty’s a wonderful singer, but is his grammar correct?

The correct grammar would be “It’s been a year since Lauren Alaina and I have tried out now.  She and I have been together since day one and we’re going to stay together.”

In a list of people that includes the speaker, grammatical etiquette has the speaker always mentioned last.  This means we say(subject pronouns) she and I, he and I, and (object pronouns) to him and to me, to her and to me, and so on.

Now go enjoy Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina!

Nov 152011
 

We’ve all heard it: We’ve all heard people say “Him and me went…”.

We’ve heard people say “Her and me went…” and we’ve heard people say “Me and him went…”.

But are these correct English? Is this something you want to learn and repeat?

The truth is that it is painful to hear English spoken this way.

We’re going to break these apart into several lessons.

  • The pronouns “him” and “her” are object pronouns. They are the pronouns to use when the speaker (or writer) is referring to the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.

The problem is when people – commonly – use these pronouns when they are referring to the subject(s) of a sentence.

  • The subject pronouns are I, you, her, him, it, we, they. So it would be proper to say “He and I went to a baseball game. ” It would be proper to say “She and I went to a baseball game.”

It would be proper to say “Mark invited him and me to the baseball game” and it would be proper to say “Mark invited her and me to the baseball game.”  (Using the plural object pronoun, it would be proper, in these cases, to say “Mark invited us to the baseball game.”)

TRY IT #1: So let’s say English grammar isn’t your cup of tea and you don’t really understand object pronouns. So let’s take the sentence “Mark invited her and me to the baseball game” and let’s play around with it. Let’s begin, “Mark sent an email to…….” and fill in the blank.

Your choices are (choose two):

1) him and me
2) he and I
3) her and me
4) she and I

A substitution like we just did above will help you to understand when to use an object pronoun.

The correct choices are 1)  him and me, and 3) her and me.
Rationalle:  We need an OBJECT PRONOUN to complete the preposition “to”.

TRY IT #2: Let’s begin, “……  sent an invitation to Mark.” and fill in the blank.

Your choices are (choose two):

1) She and I
2) Him and me
3) Her and me
4) He and I

The correct choices are 1)  She and I, and 4) He and I.
Rationalle:  We need  SUBJECT PRONOUNS  to indicate who is doing the action.

Next week you and I will discuss “me and her” or “me and him”.

***

 

Jun 022011
 

This is my “in my dreams” interview with Rafael Nadal, one of the world’s greatest tennis players, from Mallorca, Spain.

**

Rafa, first I want to say that I love watching you play.  You are my favorite tennis player.

Thank you very much.

I have always loved watching the Spanish tennis players, including the great Manuel Orantes.

That’s the true.

That’s the truth.

Yes, that’s the true.

That’s the truth. It should be a noun, truthThe truth. “True” is an adjective, as in “That’s true.”

Thank you very much.  That’s true.

Rafa, I saw you play at the US Open in 2010. It was thrilling to watch you play.

I played my best match at a very very important moment.  Always I try very hard.

I always try very hard.

Yes, you do.

I mean – the word order: First “I” then “always”, as in “I always try very hard” and “You always try very hard.”

Thank you very much.

Rafa, what is the key to success in your sport? What is the key to your greatness?

Important thing is be healthy, be in the right position mentally.  I’m always improving.  If you lose something in one part, you have to improve something in another part.

Yes, the important thing is to be healthy, and to be in the right position mentally.

Rafa, you are an inspiration to people all over the world. People love you not only for your successes on the tennis court but also for who you are as a person.  Good luck tomorrow in the French Open.  I will be rooting for you. 

It will be a very difficult match for me.  Thank you for all of your support.

Vamos Rafa!

 

**

Feb 102011
 

Is the name of the holiday President’s Day or Presidents’ Day? Or is it Presidents’ Day?

One of the most misunderstood aspects of proper English grammar is the use of the apostrophe for plural possessives.

Let’s explore this in regards to the holiday that honors America’s Presidents – and that we celebrate each year on the 3rd Monday of February.

First, many people celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, February 14, although it was never a Federal holiday.

George Washington’s Birthday, which is officially on February 22nd, became a Federal holiday. However, the Federal holiday “Washington’s Birthday” takes place a little earlier, on the 3rd Monday in February.

Soon a decision was made to combine the birthday celebrations for our Presidents, so an unofficial holiday developed.

Since the holiday is not official, there is no official name for the day.  Sometimes it is written as the plural possessive Presidents’ Day and sometimes it is written as a plural noun, Presidents Day. Most of the time, however, it is written as the plural possessive Presidents’ Day – the Day belonging to the Presidents. I personally prefer this latter name.

To create the plural possessive, we do the following:

First, we add ~s to the noun (President –>Presidents). This makes it plural.

Then we add the apostrophe to that:  Presidents –> Presidents’

Then we add the noun “Day”.

On the unofficial holiday of Presidents’ Day, we remember the Father of Our Country, George Washington, and our 14th President, Abraham Lincoln, who established the unity of the United State of America, and the right of all men to be free.


Oct 242010
 

An interesting debate took place among English faculty at the college where I used to teach.  We faculty were looking at one of the students’ essays in my Easy Writer software and the following sentence created a stir among us:

There is just one day in a person’s life when he celebrates with a big wedding.”

We faculty looked at this sentence and each one had a different idea about how to edit it.

One faculty member, me, wanted to keep it as is.

Another suggested the following:

There is just one day in a person’s life when he or she celebrates with a big wedding.”

Another person suggested this:

There is just one day in a person’s life when they celebrate with a big wedding.

Somebody asked whether it was a male or female writing this essay; if it was a female, then the sentence should read as follows:

There is just one day in a person’s life when she celebrates with a big wedding.

But in my opinion this is incorrect because it implies that all people are female, and that only women get married!

There has been a debate in English circles about what pronoun reference (he? she? they? he or she?) to use with the noun “a person” or the pronoun “everybody“. Some English teachers will become very upset when the general pronoun “he” is used.  Now and then you’ll notice a writer has avoided choosing a gender (the male “he” or the female “she“) by choosing the plural pronoun “they“.  But we know that the pronoun must agree in “number” with its noun or pronoun antecedent, and that because “a person” is singular and “everybody” is singular, the plural pronoun “they is incorrect.

I’ve seen some students write “he/she”, which is even worse and you will never find this in professional writing.

Call me sexist, call me conservative, call me old-fashioned, but our language has used “he” as a pronoun reference for “a person” and for “everybody” for ages, and frankly what’s more important to me is how people are treated, not what pronoun reference we use in writing. As long as English used “he” as a general reference and people were not confused about it, I don’t see why we should start becoming confused now!

Besides, now we can argue about which gender, male or female, should be listed first:  Should you write “he or she” or “she or he”?

So what should you use when writing? I’m recommending that you use the good old “neutral pronoun “he” in an essay – unless you have a professor who really objects.

And what about our Easy Writer software? Well, it will accept “he or she” and it will also accept “he”.   It’s very accepting!

Oct 052010
 

Today I opened my AOL mail account and this example of bad grammar went off in my ears like a car backfiring. We hear it so often that people barely understand that it is entirely grammatically incorrect.

What’s wrong with the ubiquitous “You’ve got mail“?  This phrase is used in my own AOL account and shared by the blockbuster movie of the same name (which features this email relationship).

Even the most grammatically correct of us say “You’ve got to see this” but this is admittedly BAD GRAMMAR.

Let’s look at this verb by verb, beginning with the verb “(to) have“.

  • The simple present tense of this verb would be “You have mail. (Come pick it up.)”
  • The present perfect tense of this verb would be “You’ve gotten mail. (Why haven’t you opened it?)”

Let’s look at the verb “(to) get“.

  • The simple present tense of this verb would be “You get mail (every day except Sundays).”
  • The simple past tense would be “You got mail (yesterday).”
  • The present perfect tense would be “You have gotten mail* (every day for the last 2 months. Why haven’t I?”  * or “You’ve gotten mail…”)

So there is no such correct verb form for “You’ve Got Mail” at all! And yet we hear this composite of verb forms  everywhere.

A word of advice: Avoid saying it! Instead of “You’ve Got Mail”, say You Have Mail.” And instead of saying “You’ve got to hear this,” say “You have to hear this.

And if you are going to use it occasionally in conversation, be aware that it is not correct English and be able to use correct grammar when socially necessary. Speaking with bad grammar might mean you don’t get the job you are looking for, and more.  And certainly never use it in writing. Unless, of course, you want to write copy for advertisements.

Stay tuned for a future podcast, where we discuss the advertising slogan, “Got Milk?” and why that too is grammatically incorrect.

Jul 292010
 

The next question, “How do I know if a noun is countable or uncountable?”, is similarly not easy to answer!

We’re speaking about English, remember?

It’s time to take out our dictionaries – hard-bound, soft-bound, or electronic. We will be using an online version, from Longman’s Dictionary of American English.

We’ll begin with an easy noun:  the noun, advice. You can click on the hyperlink or you can see below:

This noun has one definition, and right away the dictionary listing says [uncountable].

That was easy.  So now we know that this noun has NO plural form and that the verb we use should be in a singular form. We also know to NOT use an article (a and an) before this noun.

So how do we count this noun, then? How do we quantify it?  Look at the example “a piece/word of advice“.  This would be the standard way of counting items of advice.

Just yesterday a friend offered me some advice that I did not solicit. I said to her, “Did I ask you for advice?” She said “No” and that part of the conversation ended, and the topic was changed.  Thus, grammatically, you see there was no article (a or an) used before the noun, which is correct for an uncountable noun.

Be sure, with looking up any word, in particular a noncountable noun, to see if the dictionary gives you any suggestions for how to quantify this noun.

We’ll stop here for today, at this easy place.

But there are many nouns that have both a countable and an uncountable form, such as the noun “change”! What about those?  In our next blog post, we will answer the question, “How (Do We Know) If a Noun Has a Countable and an Uncountable Form?”

Jul 252010
 

You wanted an easy answer, didn’t you!  Sorry, I can’t give it to you!  You’re learning English!

Let’s say you are learning a new word.  A new noun.  The reasonable thing to assume that it is a regular noun, and that it is a countable noun and has a plural form.  As a rule, the plural form of a noun is constructed by adding an ~s or ~es to the singular form.

In most cases, that would work. But that’s where you may get into Grammar Trouble-ville.

So let’s do some research.  Let’s  look up a new word in a dictionary.

I looked up the word “man”  in my beloved little Webster’s Dictionary that I’ve had since I was a child.  It indicated man. n.; pl. MEN .  I next turned to my Longman Dictionary of American English that I’ve just taken off of the shelf for this purpose.  Right after the main word “man” was a note indicating its part of speech:  “n”  (for noun) and then “men”. So we’re good in both dictionaries, right from the beginning.  We learn the plural form for the noun man is men.

Now I tried this on an online Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English .  Go ahead; click on “man 1 noun”.

Right here it says “man plural men“. That’s it! This is a countable noun that has an irregular plural form.

I next tried the common (singular) noun “person“.  My little Webster’s Dictionary didn’t say anything about its plural form (“people”).  Might this mean that the plural of person is persons?  My Longman Dictionary of American English (very helpful for learners of English) had, after all the definitions, at the very end of the entry, a “USAGE” note:  “The usual plural of person is people.”  You see, there is a plural form of person: persons, but its meaning is not our standard one:  We would not say “I saw many persons in the park.”  The form persons tends to be legalistic and mathematical.

I tried Longman’s  online dictionary
This tells us “person [countable].  Now it gives us the first “1” common definition:  MALE PERSON [countable}. So now we know we can say “There were many people looking for work.”

Let’s scroll down a little further, to definition #4:


“4
plural persons” And we see this has a different meaning and use, as I wrote above, a more formal use.

So let’s practice and look up the word “woman“:  We find woman n women. That tells us the singular is woman, the word is a noun, and the plural is women.

As a rule, the plural form of a noun is constructed by adding an ~s or ~es to the singular form.

How about working this backwards !

Let’s look up “women“. In a hard copy dictionary, we see nothing there!  Dictionaries will not list the plural form of a word in its listings. So if this occurs to you, then you will have to figure out what its singular form is.  Either put on your thinking cap, or consult a grammar book.

Or look online: and there it is!

Now suppose you look up the word “change” – referring to the coins such as quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies.  The next question here is – how do you even know IF a word has a plural form? We have many words in English that do not have a plural form! Nouns such as these are referred to in a number of ways: non-count nouns, non-countable nouns, uncountable nounsWhatever you call then, you will need to know if the noun even has a plural form.

Stay tuned for our next blog post: How to Know if a Noun is Countable or Noncountable!