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 162011

Native Americans.

Thanksgiving is coming, but do these turkeys care?

And who said that turkeys can’t fly?

In our neighborhood, in our city, wild turkeys roam the streets in flocks of eight to twelve turkeys. They walk slowly, and stop at each home and peck the ground to see if they can find food.

They abound in the autumn, but we see them also in the summer and even in the spring. They live in the woods nearby, and come out during the day.

When they open their wings to fly up or to fly back down, they are powerful flyers.

In our neighborhood, turkeys are a protected species and are native to North America.  People who are driving  their cars slow down to watch, or to let them pass.

wild turkey on my gate

Happy Thanksgiving!!Happy Thanksgiving!

Jan 162011

First of all, the holiday is “Martin Luther King Day” but the person we honor isn’t Martin Luther King but his son, Martin Luther King, Jr.

What does the “Jr.” after somebody’s name mean? What does it stand for? The “Jr.” stands for the word “Junior”, which is the appellation used when a son takes on his father’s name.

So who was Martin Luther King, Jr. (Junior)?

I grew up when racial segregation was still legal in many parts of the United States.  Though it wasn’t a part of the culture in the state where I grew up, it was a big part of the culture in many other states, particularly in the southern states.

In the 1960’s I started hearing about integration, referring to racial integration. We learned that in many states there were many public places where blacks could not enter, or if they could enter they had to sit separately from whites.  We learned that there were schools and colleges where blacks could not attend.  We learned of laws in many states where a black person and a white person could not marry.  We learned that many blacks were not allowed to vote in municipal, statewide or federal elections.

When we look around us now, in the United States, we see a very different country.  And much of that is due to the efforts and inspiration of one man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a politician; he was not an elected official. But he was a strong person, and he had strong ideals, and he was able to influence politicians and to gain the confidence of blacks and whites of all ages who believed in racial equality and equal opportunity for people of all races and who were willing to stand up for those ideals in a peaceful manner. He was able to bring people together and elevate a nation.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we celebrate those ideals and the power of one person to change a nation for the better.

Oct 192010

Is it difficult for you to find your way around the computer keyboard in English?

This blog post is Part Two of our look at the English language keyboard used here in the United States. Today we’ll look at the right side of the main cluster of keys. (Click here for Part 1.)

First on the top row we have the backspace key.

The backspace key deletes what you’ve typed, one keystroke at a time.
one stroke at a time
one stroke at a tim
one stroke at a ti
one stroke at a t

and so on.

Next we have the back slash ( \ ) key. You use this key when you are designating file locations on your computer: c:\myeslblog\thekeyboard.doc  or c:\myeslblog\thekeyboard.pdf.

Beneath the backslash key, you have the Enter key. When you use the Enter key alone, it returns you two lines down (i.e. double space).

like this.

and this.

When you use the Enter key and the Shift key at the same time, it returns you one line down.
like this.
or this.

On the bottom row you have the Shift key, again, just like on the right side of the keyboard.  The shift key, again, creates CAPITAL LETTERS or, in terms of the top row of the keyboard, &)&&((#$@%^%&+_), the symbols on the tops of the keys.

Below is a review of the vocabulary used in this blog post:

Now I’ll list our vocabulary:

(to) backspace, the backspace key

backslash      \

(to) enter/to hit the enter key

(to) shift/(to) hit the shift key

(to) return

(to) hit the shift key

So that’s PART TWO of today’s lesson, Navigating the Computer Keyboard in English!

We will complete the keyboard in subsequent lessons. Continue reading »

Sep 222009

It’s really nice to know that people want to know how to begin a letter. First, it’s nice to know that in this world of telephones, there is a real interest in writing!  It’s also great to know that our readers want to be polite, socially acceptable, and grammatically correct!

Here’s a request I received from a reader recently:

Please tell me about some phrase begging of the letter Like ( I hope find you in the best of health or I hope find well ect…

My question back is – to whom would you be writing? To a friend?  To a business associate?  To a relative or parent?  This will help me come up with some beginnings based on the social relationship.  There are more formal and less formal ways to ask this question.

Let’s look at the two openings you suggested:

I hope this letter finds you well” is a very polite opening, and one that indicates good manners.  It also would be sent to somebody whom you already know.  Your variant would be “I hope this letter finds you in the best of health.”  Of course, as I indicated, this is a polite opening, and written to somebody whom you already know, so you want to use it appropriately.  You also want to use this with someone who will appreciate the fine language.

If you want to write a letter to somebody you do not know, let me know and we can broaden the conversation and come up with some other appropriate openings.

Thank you for your question; it is a very good one!


Jul 152009

Here’s an interesting question that one of our readers posed. The question elicits thought.  We’d be interested in your comments and thoughts.

in china the english teacher always teach englisn grammar , instead of english students all bore of english lesson. but i think englisn is not a knowledge , it is a tool ,we can ues it to make our life, to do our business,to trip globe. is this right? please send your opinion to me by email. my email adress is  thank you.

We responded this way:


Thanks for writing to us!

I have enjoyed reading your comment. Is English “knowledge”?  Knowing a language or acquiring the ability to communicate in a given language  is definitely a valuable skill and asset.   It’s an intangible asset, something that others cannot take away from you.  Sure, people who are away from their native countries for a long time lose the ability to speak and think quickly in their first language, and they aren’t able to keep up with the growing body of vocabulary. But once you have a language, it’s yours to keep.  At the same time, what is the purpose of this knowledge?  It’s purpose is to enable communication. To this extent, it is a tool, and an important one for human relationships.

Many “language” teachers take language apart and just focus on the rules or on the structure of language, i.e. on grammar. They never put the pieces back together again and create a language. You want your teacher to focus on language as a means of communication.  You want to be able to read and understand books and stories, to listen and talk and more.  Knowing the rules of grammar and don’t know how to communicate, it is not of any practical use. You’re right; if you are not reading stories and communicating with others, it’s boring. It’s like having the pieces of a car in your garage all taken apart. The car won’t get you anywhere.

And as a means of communication, it is valid in so many situations, as you indicated, for pleasure, for business, to be able to read great literature or the newspapers of other cultures. Sometimes a husband and a wife have a
different first language and so they need to be able to learn each other’s language, too.

I hope that you’ll find lots of ways to make English enjoyable, just as Chinese is a language that is both useful to you and allows for pleasure, entertainment, and the acquisition of knowledge.

Thanks for your interesting questions. We’re sorry you’re bored by your teacher’s style of teaching; hopefully you can enjoy all the benefits of knowing English –  to enjoy reading interesting English books and articles, to understand the lyrics to music, to do business in English, and even enjoy the thrill of traveling around the globe and interacting with English speakers in English (just like you’re communicating with us through this website)!

All the best,

The ESL Help! Desk

Jun 162009

Hello, Learners of English!

For a long time we had comment fields and our fans were typing their comments into that field and hopefully including their email addresses so that we could get back to them.

Many times we did not receive an email address to which to respond.

We have now changed that procedure. Asking you to submit your questions and comments via the blog serves two purposes: First, the amount of spam we receive is reduced (by WordPress’s wonderful plugins) and second, we receive your email address in all cases. In the past, we would receive up to 400 spam messages a week.  WordPress will provide a firewall for us so that we will receive the comments we want – yours – and now those of unscrupulous spammers.

Asking you to submit your questions via the blog is a wonderful solution.

So thank you for taking the time to read our blog.