Oct 032017
 

Donald Trump promises many things. He promises many more things than he actually delivers on. But people love promises, and his prolific use of future time expressions makes an English lesson on talking about the future very bountiful.

Let’s follow just a few of Donald Trump’s promises since he took office and pay close attention to his adverbs of time.

“Donald Trump: “And the clock starts ticking. But here you have two people calling saying, “Can we negotiate?” I say yes and I have to wait for a hundred days. I don’t know what a hundred days is going to be like. What’s it going to be like?. . .”

SOON:
(The hyperlinks go to audio of the speech.)

Beginning construction of a great, great wall soon  7 months ago

The wall will get built soon  5 months ago

The wall will happen very soon  19 days ago

We’re going to have the final choices about the border wall done soon  11 days ago

Announcing very, very big infrastructure projects soon  6 months ago

A very big infrastructure plan is going to come soon  6 months ago

We’ll be making big investments in repairing our badly depleted infrastructure soon  5 months ago

Announcing very, very big infrastructure projects soon   6 months ago

The U.S. Navy will have the finest equipment in the world soon   7 months ago

American workers will be respected again soon   6 months ago

America will be back soon 6 months ago

The U.S. will be stronger than it has ever been soon 6 months ago

NATO will be fair to the U.S. soon  4 months ago

Crucial legislation will be considered soon   3 months ago

Our country will come together as one soon   1 month ago

ADVERB + SOON

Steel companies will be great very soon   5 months ago

You will be saying Merry Christmas again very soon   2 months ago

Starting negotiations with Mexico about who will pay for the wall relatively soon  8 months ago

We’re going to start building the wall very soon  7 months ago

We’re going to be doing tax policies very soon  8 months ago

We’re going to have tax reform at some point very soon  5 months ago

We’re going to be announcing a tax plan very soon  5 months ago

The New York Times will be online-only pretty soon   5 months ago

Men and women in uniform will have the latest and most cutting edge systems in their arsenal very, very soon   7 months ago

A commitment to rebuilding the depleted infrastructure of the United States very soon   2 months ago

Announcing a signature infrastructure project beyond roads and bridges very soon  6 months ago

We will start building the wall soon, very soon  7 months ago

MS-13 will be gone from America’s streets very soon   4 months ago

We’ll have the electrical grid problem solved relatively soon   8 months ago

An infrastructure plan will come a hundred percent very soon  5 months ago

Announcing a signature infrastructure project beyond roads and bridges very soon   6 months ago

The menace of rising crime and the threat of deadly terror will get better very soon   7 months ago

We’ll have the electrical grid problem solved relatively soon  8 months ago

AS SOON AS

Construction begins on the wall as soon as we can; as soon as we can physically do it  8 months ago

We’re going to be doing some trade deals as soon as we get the health care finished   6 months ago

 

SOON/SOONER/SOONEST

The administration will file an infrastructure plan over the next two or three weeks, maybe sooner  5 months ago

EVENTUALLY

The wall will be brand new eventually  19 days ago

We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare eventually   11 days ago

We will win on health care reform eventually   9 days ago

Eventually, we’ll win on health care reform, whether it’s now or later   9 days ago

 

LATER

The wall will come later   19 days ago

 

AHEAD OF SCHEDULE and WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

We’re going to have a wall ahead of schedule  7 months ago

The wall is way ahead of schedule   6 months ago

 

OTHER

We’re going to be submitting a tax bill in the very near future   2 months ago

We’re going to go get into great detail on tax reform over the next two weeks   27 days ago

We’ll be submitting an infrastructure bill in the not-very-distant future   2 months ago

Very interesting items will come to the forefront about alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower over the next two weeks   6 months ago

He will release his tax returns at some point   4 months ago

The North Korean problem will be solved at some point   4 months ago

The Senate is going to be forced to make a deal on Obamacare repeal at some point   13 days ago

Planning is starting on the wall immediately   8 months ago

We have to take care of the American people immediately   8 months ago

American workers will have the training to lead us into the future immediately   1 month ago

We’re going to be making a decision about the Paris Accord over the next two weeks   5 months ago

 

And my personal favorite:

Eventually, we’ll win, whether it’s now or later…”
Which is your personal favorite?

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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.

Dec 132012
 

Many native speakers of English also don’t have a good sense of what it is exactly they’re saying.  The sign below, that I saw recently at our local gym and sports club, displays a good example of this.  It shows what happens when somebody writes what he thinks he’s hearing. If this can happen to native speakers, it can happen all the more so to learners of English.

Find the big error.  Then look below the image.

lost in found

Have you ever LOST something? And have you ever then FOUND it?   The expression is “lost AND found”, not lost “in” found.

Because “and” often sounds like n –> lost and found sounds like lost n found, somebody then thinks the expression is “lost in found”. But that belies the logic of the expression: lost, and then hopefully found.

If you ever lose something, ask, “Do you have a lost and found here?”

Send us other examples of expressions that you think have been misrepresented in writing. They’re out there, just waiting for you!

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Oct 242011
 

“English is my worst subject.”  True or False?

Whenever I tell people I’m an English teacher, they say “Uh oh… English was my worst subject in school.” Now what did they mean by this? These are people who are native speakers of English! So how could English have been their worst subject in school?

I put this, “Why was English your worst subject?”, into the search bar. One person said he didn’t like English because he was always asked to write his opinion of things and then told that he was wrong.

Have you ever had this experience?

In writing, we must present our ideas in a clear and orderly fashion. We must take ideas and support them with facts or real-life experience.  Sometimes when students write essays, we teachers are not telling our students that their opinions are wrong, but that they have not properly supported and developed their ideas.  At the same time,  much attention in writing classes is paid to the question: Is this a fact or an opinion? Some people confuse a fact with an opinion, but this can be remedied with proper training.

So if you are an ESL student or a native English speaker, in fact no matter what language you write in, your writing should reflect a logical flow of ideas that the readers can follow.   Learning to write clearly in this manner can be a really beautiful experience that can open up a whole new world to the writer.

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 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!

Feb 112010
 

Click on the “play” button.

Wait a minute for the video to upload. Then relax.  Here we are, sitting by the bank of the Charles River, upriver from Boston.

Can you relax?

What do you observe? What is happening?

[flv:http://www.eslhelpdesk.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/charles_river.swf 480 360]

Write your thoughts below. In most cases, you will be using the present continuous (also known as present progressive) verb tense.

Jan 072010
 

Hello!

Here is an excellent question received from a viewer.  Because we did not have your email address, we could not respond to you personally via email. However, there’s a bright side to that because we will answer your question on the blog for all to see!

The question was:  “Shouldn’t it me 24:7 and not 24/7?” The question is about how we write this expression, “twenty-four (24) seven (7)”.

First, let’s review what this representation represents, for those who don’t know: It refers to twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We can also say twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.

The expression 24/7 is the way we write “twenty-four seven”. The forward slash / is commonly used to indicate “per”. Thus, we abbreviate “twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven (7) days per week” as “24/7”.

To us, 24:7 is a ratio or a division problem: 24 divided by 7.

I hope this helps!

Thanks for your question.

The ESL Help Desk!

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!

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