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Got a nagging question about the English language? Ask Larissa! Post your questions in the discussion section.
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 What are the differences between historic and historical? and When can we use the both of them? - tyr

 “Historic” is an adjective that means something important or influential in history, for example “The moon landing was a historic occasion.” It was an important occasion. It would be incorrect to say, “We keep historic records” unless they are records that are important to history. You’ve probably heard TV announcers refer to “historic occasions” or perhaps you’ve visited some “historic houses” or “historic battlefields.” All of these were important or famous things in history.

 

 “Historical,” is an adjective that refers to anything from the past, important or not. We can say, “We keep historical records” because these records are from the past; they’re probably not so important. A “historical occasion” would be just some occasion in the past; it wasn’t necessarily an important occasion. “Historical documents” are just documents that record the past. You’ve probably read a “historical novel” or perhaps even a “historical romance,” which are books set in the past. There is nothing especially important about these books; if they were, they’d be “historic books.” The Gutenberg Bible would be a historic book, for example.

 

Any past event is historical, but only the most memorable and important ones are historic.


 I want to find my clients on B2B or on line, but the question is that I don’t know how to start a conversation, and how to tract their interest in my products. Could you help me out of this condition? Thankyou. Sincerly, Elaine

 

First, it’s important that you know who your target audience is.  Is it a particular age group?  A specific type of business?  A group of people with a common interest?  Determining your target market is the first part of the battle. 

 

 

Try to avoid flashy, baseless claims, as people don’t trust them, and will assume it is a scam.  For example…

 

 

Do you want to triple your business and halve your costs?  Call me and I’ll make you rich in 30 days!

 

New miracle product!!  You won’t believe your eyes!!

 

Be honest and straight and to the point.  Because of all the advertising and spam on the internet, people have short attention spans, and you need to get the important information to them in the first 5 seconds.  It’s more effective to send written information to them by email than to try to converse with them, as business people like to have time to read, think things over, and compare companies before making a decision.

 

 

Avoid small talk, polite conversation, or baseless claims.  Just state the important facts as concisely as possible.  Such as…

 

 

Good morning Mr Adams,

 

My name is Elaine and I’d like to introduce you to X Company, the city’s leading supplier of Y product.  We’ve been operating since 1995 and sell only high quality products.

95% of customers reported being satisfied, and 85% placed repeat orders.

We are fully certified with only experienced and qualified staff members.

 

Etc etc.

 

 

Good luck with your business!

 


 i fall in love a australia man.but i dont know how to express my feeling.sometimes i am too boring.and he said he hope i can make more progress.i dont know his mean.could u help me? thanks – Amy Pang

 

Being an Australian woman, I think I’m qualified to give you advice on this, Amy!

 

First of all, I don’t think it’s so important for you to learn romantic phrases to express your love for him – don’t waste too much time on that.  Most Australian men prefer you to show your love rather than talk about it.  Instead, you should focus on learning to talk about things that are interesting to him.

 

 

What do he and his friends talk about?  Are they interested in current affairs and politics?  If so, focus on this.  Each day, try to read a few articles from the newspaper.  Look up new vocabulary and write it down, then memorize the words.  What about his job?  His hobbies?  Look up articles and vocabulary lists on the internet that relate to his profession and pastimes, and as always, make a note of all vocabulary and expressions you learn and their definitions.  Of course, you must PRACTICE using this information quickly, so it stays in your brain – don’t be too afraid to try.  Ask your boyfriend to correct and help you where necessary.

 

 

Lastly, remember to do the same for YOUR interests – most men are looking for women who have their own opinions, interests and hobbies as well.  Spend time reading books, articles, and vocabulary relating to things that are important to you, so you can have interesting discussions when you’re together.

 


 My problem is how to use tense. It troubles me a lot especially when I am talking to Foreigners.  Can you help me? – Kitty

 

 Unfortunately, there is no easy way to magically use your tenses correctly!  Here is my suggestion to help you improve.

Make a list of all the tenses you want to learn, revise or improve.  Then, list them in order from easiest to hardest.  You should start with tenses you are already confident with, like simple present.  Each day, study a new tense from your list.  First read some examples of them (you can find plenty on the internet: just type ESL “simple present tense” (or whatever tense you’re focusing on).  Then, practice speaking and writing different sentences using that tense.  Try to use negatives and questions, different people and pronouns, and include the appropriate time phrases, for example…

- I eat fish every day.
- My mother loves cooking.
- Do your friends study Spanish?

If possible, get someone to check your work to make sure it is correct.

Each day, do this with a new tense, then revise all your previous tenses.  For example, if you want to study simple past tense on your second day, you might write 10 simple past sentences, and 3 or 4 simple present sentences as well – just to make sure you don’t forget!

When you get good, you might want to try using different combinations of mixed tenses, for example…

- I hate eating liver, so I told my mother I wasn’t hungry. (simple present and simple past)
- I was sick last week, so I won’t be able to take the test on Monday. (simple past and ‘will’ future)

Good luck!


 This is my first time to travel in America,and I shall arrive Boston in several hours. My friend,  Jane, asked me to go to Charlesbank Park and send a message her,then she'll come to pick up me to her house as soon as possible (She suddenly have a meeting).The problem is,this is my first trip in the US,and I even do not have a map of Boston.I would like to ask local people for help(to get the right way to there),but I don't know what to say to him or her(I'm still a minor,I did not learn too much English,and I'm too nervous to come up with how to ask them for help.).Can you tell me what I should say or do? - Mike Ajay

 

 Firstly, I’d suggest you by yourself a phrasebook – they usually have all the phrases you need as a traveler!  Here are some useful phrases to get you started.  Always say “Excuse me” to get someone’s attention before you start talking to them.

 

“This is my first time here.  Could you help me please?”

 

“I hope you can help me.  I need to find …”

 “Could you tell me where I could buy a map please?”

“Could you tell me where Charlesbank Park / tourist information / the bookstore is please?”

 “I’m looking for Charlesbank Park / tourist information / an internet café.”

“Where can I catch a bus/a taxi/the train/the subway to Charlesbank Park?”

“What is the easiest way for me to get to Charlesbank Park?”

“Where can I find a public phone to call my friend?”

 

Look for people who are not in a rush, as these people will make you feel flustered and you’ll make more mistakes.  Remember that all airports have tourist information as well, who should be able to provide you with a map!  Don’t be afraid or shy – just speak slowly and clearly.  Many people in foreign countries speak softly because they’re embarrassed about their poor English, but this won’t help you be understood.  Remember - if you’re polite and use ‘excuse me’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’, most people will be happy to help you!  

 


 Nice to "Meet" you. I will meet my new customer next week. I am wondering what kind of topics should I talk about? – Serena

 

When you meet a new customer, it’s important to choose your conversation topics wisely, particularly if this customer is an ongoing client who is likely to spend a lot of money with the company!

 

Obviously, you will talk about the products and services you will provide, and the benefits you can give to your customer, such as how you can improve their business or lifestyle.  But before you get into this, you’ll need to start with some small talk.

 

Some appropriate small-talk topics are:

  •  Sports.  “Did you catch the Crows game last night?  Talk about suspense!”
  • Weather – but not for too long, it gets boring quickly! “Wow, it’s really hot outside! I wonder when this heatwave will finish?”
  •  Family – but only in a general way, don’t get too personal.  “That’s a beautiful photo of your kids.  My wife will give birth to our first child in September.”  NOT: “You know, my son got kicked out of school last week.  I don’t know what to do about him.  It’s been so hard since my husband left.”
  •  Holidays.  “We’ve been thinking about heading to the beach for our holidays this year.  You look like a surfer, do you have any recommendations?  We went to Bali last year.”  Don’t talk about costs or how much you spent!
  • Fashion and trends. “I LOVE those shoes, where did you get them?  Green has always been my favourite colour.”  Don’t ask how much they cost!

 

 

At all times, avoid talking about religion, politics, salaries or money matters, intimate relationships, death, or your personal problems!

 


How do I know i am not speaking chinese-english? – Maggie

 

There is no easy answer to this question!  Certainly in the beginning, you will probably use a little bit of ‘Chinglish’, but here are some tips to help you break the habits.

 

  1. Communicate with native speakers, pay attention to their speech patterns and ask them to correct you.  There are many ways to find native speakers on the internet, including through the Englishtown community, and of course, Englishtown live classes!
  2. Read books in English, and watch English TV or movies, preferably with English subtitles.  Pay attention to any phrases or sentences that are different to the way you speak, and make a note of them.
  3. Purchase or borrow a book called "Common Spoken Errors of the Chinese" by Joseph and Linda Boyle.
  4. Here are a list of common ‘Chinglish’ mistakes and their corrections.

 

 

  

There are many more that you can find on the internet if you do a search.  Good luck!

 

 


 I would like to ask you what does the word "little package " mean? I read it from one of oral English book which explained that it means "little kid". – Violet

 

This phrase definitely depends on the context!  It could mean a small box or parcel that is delivered to your house.  It is also sometimes used as slang to refer to a baby, particularly before it is born, or just after it is born. 

 

There is a common expression in English that says; “The best things come in small packages”, although the origin of this is thought to be a doctor delivering a baby.

 

 

The phrase is sometimes used in marketing campaigns to highlight the benefits of a small-sized product.  Here are some examples I found:

 

Big Tech in a Little Package: Sifteo's Hands-on Game Cubes

Big Luxury, Little Package: Mini Cooper from BMW

Charm in a Little Package: a four room holiday resort

Streamlight Stylus LED: little package, big light


some people meet their friends,I usually heard most people asked:"are you ok?".I don't know this greeting way is good or bad,and why? I think it is not impolit. – Stephen

 

There are many ways to greet our friends, but usually “Are you ok?” is only used when you are concerned for the person.  For example, if the person has been sick, or looks unwell, or has just fallen on the ground!  Some better ways to make a general greeting and casual inquiry are as follows:

“How are you?”

“How have you been?”

“How’s life treating you?”

“How’s it going?”

“How is everything?”

 

It’s important to note that when we make these greetings, we don’t pronounce them formally.  Instead, they should sound as follows…

 

 

“How are ya?”

 

“How’ve ya been?”

“How’s life treatanya?”

“Howzit goin?”

“How is everything?” (this one usually sounds normal!)


I would like to ask for permission to attend an end of year PA workshop , but my boss is on leave. How should i write to my boss. many thanks – Anonymous

 
If you do have to write this letter to your boss now, during his leave, you should start by apologizing for interrupting his holidays!  You could start like this…
 
Dear …,

First, let me apologize for interrupting your leave!  I hope you’re enjoying your holidays and this letter doesn’t inconvenience you too much.
 
Then, introduce the topic and explain why the PA workshop is important to you, and how it would be of benefit to him.
 
As you may be aware, there is a PA Workshop at the end of the year.  I think that my attendance could be of great benefit to us, and to the company.  It would help to improve my ability to communicate with other members of the company, as well as increasing my productivity and efficiency in the office.  As a result of this, you would be able to perform your job more effectively, and our entire department would reap the benefits.
 
Afterwards, address his potential doubts.
 
I realise the course is quite expensive, but I feel that we will see that money returned with a reduction in outsourcing costs as a result of my improved efficiency.  If you read the brochure I have attached, you will see that 90% of graduates show a marked improvement in job performance resulting in the satisfaction of their superiors.
 
Finally, finish it off in a positive and professional way.
 
I look forward to your response.  If you require more information, please advise me and I will make inquries.

Yours sincerely,
Joe Bloggs
 

 


I can't even walk down the street without being continually pestered for money. what does this sentence mean?? – Andy
 
This sentences means that when the writer is out in public, people are always asking him to give them money – probably beggars, homeless people, or perhaps people trying to sell him things! 
 


My English teacher want me to find out some questions. What do "medium school" and "secondary school" mean in the USA? How to define and explain them? Thank you for answer my questions. – Jenny

 
In the USA there are three levels of basic schooling – elementary school (sometimes called primary school), middle school (sometimes called junior high school), and high school (sometimes called secondary school).  They are generally as follows:
 
Elementary School: Kindergarten, then 1st grade to 5th grade.  Students usually graduate at 11 years old.
 
Middle School: 6th grade to 8th grade.  
 
High School: 9th grade to 12th grade.  Students usually graduate at 18 years old.
 
Remember that the ages of students in these grades can differ slightly from area to area.  


I applied the visiting scholar, and i do not know how to write an application letter to a foreign university or college. Would you help me? – Judy

 
The letter of application to study in a foreign university should include the following things:
1. Why you have chosen the particular field of study.
2. Why you have chosen the particular school.
3. Your qualities, traits, educational background, interests, goals, and any other information that shows you are a good applicant for the school.
 
Here is an example letter:
 
Dear Sir/Madam,
 
I am a business graduate of the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.  Although this university has given me a strong knowledge of business practice, I have an ambition to strengthen my knowledge and broaden my horizons with higher studies in a developed country. 
 
I plan to create an innovative global business that will revolutionize the way people communicate and produce.  It is well known that the MBA Program at the University of Adelaide produces knowledgeable and well rounded graduates who are prepared for the business world.   I strongly believe that through the this program, I can gain the skills and knowledge to realize my business dreams.  I believe I can strengthen my expertise in leadership, negotiation, professional integrity and social responsibility, so that I can become a more effective and responsible business manager in the future.  I look forward to being given the opportunity to hone my existing skills in Australia, and ultimately use these skills to improve professional practices and business skills in my homeland.
 
I completed my business degree with honors, with my strengths in Economics, Marketing and International Trade.  During this time I was the Student Council President, and worked part-time as an assistant manager at a book store.  I also started a volunteer program with 3 other students that provided free managerial support to failing local businesses, and organized sponsorship grants for socially responsible companies that needed assistance. 
 
I look forward to obtaining the distinct advantage of Adelaide University’s program and remarkable faculty members. I hope you will take a favorable decision regarding my application for admission.
 
Anoop Saha
Business Student, University of Dhaka
 
----
 
Good luck with your application and studies!
 


I want to improve English by English songs.  Can you please advice best English songs?  Thanks a lot! Best Regards, Wendy

 
Here is a list of songs that can help you with specific grammar issues:
 “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley – present tenses
“We are the Champions” by Queen – past tenses
“I Will Be” by Avril Lavigne and “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers – future tenses
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” by  Pete Seeger – present perfect tense
“Goodbye my Lover” by James Blunt – past perfect tense
“Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega – present continuous tense
“I Don't Want To Talk About It” by Rod Stewart – first conditional
"If I Were a Boy" by Beyonce Knowles –second conditional
“Thank God I’m Not the One” by The Afters – third conditional
“With a Little Help from my Friends” by The Beatles – modal verbs
“A Few More Rednecks” by Charlie Daniels – few/little/a few/a little
“Waters of March” by Tom Jobim – definite and indefinite articles, countable/uncountable nouns
 
Apart from that, the best songs to learn with are the ones you like and enjoy!  This will give you the most enjoyment and motivation to continue learning and improving your English.  You can find the lyrics to any song on the internet by typing (for example): lyrics “If I were a boy” beyonce.  But be careful: sometimes song lyrics are not always grammatically correct, and even use words that don’t exist!
 


While I was watching "Brothers and Sisters", which is American soap opera from ABC, I got a question of "ballot tampering. Here is the lines.
--> We're discussing ballot tampering in the swing states. You better watch it.

What is ballot tampering? Someone said it is any type of activities for electioneering. But when I serched it on line, mostly it had negative meaning. And all the time there was an article about black box voting as a related news.

So what is correct meaning? Is there anyone who can tell me the clear definition of ballot tampering? - Esme
 
‘Ballot tampering’ does have a negative meaning!  It refers to deliberate incorrect counting of votes, or changing the correct results of an election.  Congratulations on using the medium of television to improve your English understanding!


 

What is the differences between a bit of and a little? – Tyr

 

The only difference between these quantifiers is the formality.  With friends or family, we might say “Can I have a bit more honey/butter/syrup?”, whereas if we were writing a request letter at work, it would probably say “We need a little more time/paper/printer ink/money to complete this project.”  Both are used only with uncountable nouns.

 

We can use ‘some’, ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’ with uncountable nouns, or plural countable nouns.  “There were some/a lot of people at the party” or “There was some/a lot of food at the party”. 

 

Quantifiers such as ‘a bunch of’, ‘a few’ or ‘several’ can only be used with plural countable nouns.   “We’ve got a bunch of reports to finish”, “We’ve got a few hours left to do them”, and, “There’s several people calling wanting to know where the reports are.”

 

I hope that helps you with some of your English problems, and gives you a little clarity!

 


i want someone explaine how 2 begine 2 teach a grammer specially 4 a little girls the grammer is PAST SIMPLE......plz hury up – EMI

 

The first rule is to use a topic and vocabulary that is interesting to the student.  For very young students it’s especially important to use subjects that keep their interest, so design a text that uses heavy use of simple past and is about something that is interesting to them.  For example, another little girl!  Start with regular verbs.

Last year, Carol liked Westlife, but now she likes The Jonas Brothers.
She listened to The Jonas Brothers yesterday.
Carol and her friends talk about music every day.

Have your student identify which verbs are present and which are past.

Then, write a cloze and have the student choose the correct verb.

Carol listens/listened to music each night.  Her friends like/liked popular music.  Yesterday at school, they talk/talked about their favourite bands.

You could prepare a listening exercise with a similar script, and have the students answer true/false comprehension questions, such as… Carol and her friends like Westlife T/F.  At a low level, error correction can be useful too – you can write a passage with some incorrect verb tenses and have students identify and correct them.

Finally, have your students write their own sentences about a related topic.

Remember, before you teach simple past, you should teach time phrases that are related, such as Yesterday, This morning, Last week, and last year.

Good luck!


there is a foreign man told me he is hurt i want to care for him but i do not know what can i say !!can you please help me – anonymous
 
It’s so kind that you want to help someone and it’s a terrible feeling that you can’t do it because you don’t know what to say. 
 
Some phrases and sentences that you could be useful are: If the situation doesn’t seem too serious: ‘Can I get something from the pharmacy/chemist for you?’ In a more serious situation: ‘Would you like me to call a doctor for you?’ In a much more serious situation or when it is at a time or day when pharmacies or doctors are closed: ‘Would you like me to take you to hospital/the medical centre?’ ‘Can you tell me or show me where it hurts/you hurt?’ ‘Can you tell me what happened?’ ‘Have you had this problem before? If you have, we’ll need to tell the doctor.’ ‘The doctor will need to know if you are taking any medication/medicines.’ ‘Do you need me to call anyone for you? I can call your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend/mother/father/son/daughter etc if you give me their telephone number.’ ‘Would you like me to speak to the doctor and nurses for you?’ ‘Do you have medical/travel insurance?’ 
 
If they have to go into hospital and stay there, they’d really appreciate you explaining how the hospital system works in your country – try to look up the words and make sentences to describe this in English. Ask them if they want a private room or are happy to be in a public ward with other people etc. In some countries food isn’t provided in the hospitals and in other countries it is. Tell them what the situation is in your country. Tell them whether they will have to pay for treatment or if the invoices can be sent directly to their medical/travel insurance company. 
 


English is my major. My current job has little to do with it, and I do not want get access to English learning after work due to deep tiredness, thus I feel an obvious drop in English level. It seems not to be my advantage any more. Would you please give me some advice on how to solve such problem? Thank you very much! – anonymous

 

This is a really tricky/difficult question. I think you have realised that if you don’t use and practise a language then you forget it - we say ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it! We also have the saying ‘practice makes perfect’. I understand that it is problematical when you aren’t using English in your work or daily life to maintain a high standard and also that it is difficult to concentrate and learn when you are tired after work.

 

The only advice that I can give you is that you approach and use English in a way that you find fun and entertaining. In this way you’ll enjoy your time practising and using it, and then you, hopefully, won’t notice that you are tired. So I’m not going to suggest courses or exercises. I don’t know what your interests are but hopefully something in my list will be something you enjoy doing: listen to music in English and try to understand the lyrics and sing along; watch TV or movies in English with subtitles in your own language if you can (or vice versa); do crosswords, Sudoku games or puzzles in English.

 

You can try your hand at the puzzles over at Word Puzzles.


How are you doing!I have got some problems with these phrases: Here you are, There you are, Here we go, There we go. Could you explain it to me, please. Cheers – anonymous
 
The difference in meaning between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is typically that ‘here’ is usually used when we talk about something close or near to us and ‘there’ when we talk about something that is more distant or further away. Using ‘Here you are’ means that you are close to the speaker and ‘there you are’ means you are further away. You can also say things like ‘The keys are here’ meaning near the speaker or ‘the keys are there next to the kettle’ which tells us that the speaker isn’t standing near to the kettle. 
 
The phrases ‘here we go’ and ‘there we go’ tend to be quite informal. ‘Here we go’ is often used when we start off doing something or going somewhere e.g. When setting off on a journey: ‘Here we go – off on our holidays at last!’ It can also be used when you are going to do something scary e.g. Before a bungee jump: ‘Here we go – taking our life in our hands!’ Read these examples giving more contexts and different meanings: Before an injection that a child is frightened of: ‘It is just a little prick and won’t hurt you.
 
Here we go…’ After the injection: ‘There we go, it didn’t hurt much, did it?’ ‘Can you give me the keys for the car please?’ ‘Sure, here you go.’ When someone thinks they can’t do something and they are encouraged and persuaded they can: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever pass my driving test.’ After passing it, their friends say ‘There you go, you did it.’
 



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