Anglais Leçons


Spanish Words in English, Part II

As we saw in Part I of this series, many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language. You will find many English words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.


Many words originating from Spanish are words that we associate with cowboys or the Southwest United States, which were originally territories of Spain.


I wore a sombrero once.
Caption 63, How 2 Travelers: Rethink What You Wear On the Plane! 


In English, a sombrero refers to a very wide-brimmed hat often seen in Mexico, but in Spanish, a sombrero is any kind of hat with a brim.


Ah, yeah, what a bonanza!
Caption 12, Tom Hanks: Forrest Gump


A bonanza in English is a windfall or sudden good luck, which it can also mean in Spanish, although in Spanish it also means "fair weather."


California's central coast is a gorgeous stretch, dotted with Spanish architecture, secret gardens, and chaparral-covered mountains.
Captions 2-3, Travel + Leisure: Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara


A chaparral is a dense growth of shrubs or small trees, stemming from the Spanish word chapparo, which is a kind of evergreen oak.


The trip through the labyrinth of flooded canyons is impressive.
Caption 11, The Last Paradises: America's National Parks


A canyon is a steep valley, often with a stream or river at the bottom. This is derived from the Spanish cañon, which has the same meaning.


185 of their friends are holed up in a crumbling adobe church down on the Rio Bravo.
Captions 25-27, John Wayne: The Alamo


The word "adobe," the clay and straw bricks from which buildings are constructed in many drier climates, came to English via Spanish, but the word itself hearkens back to ancient Arabic, Coptic, and Egyptian!


They look kinda like chaps.
Caption 21, Chicago Bulls: Kid Picasso


Not to be confused with the informal British English "chap" (a "fellow"), chaps are the wide leather leggings worn by cowboys. This stems from the Mexican Spanish word of the same meaning, chaparreras.


Further Learning
See if you can find the English meaning for other words with Spanish origins which are in common usage in the Southwest United States: arroyo, bronco, buckaroo, coyote, desperado, hacienda, machete, mesa, mustang, poncho, pueblo, ranchrodeo, serape, stampede, vamoose, vaquero, and vigilante. Then look at some of the video examples above English Yabla and see how they are used in specific context.

Continuer la lecture

Spanish Words in English, Part I

Many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language, especially in the United States, whose Hispanic and Latino residents account for nearly 18% of the total population. As well as having predominantly Spanish-speaking territories such as Puerto Rico, the United States also borders the mainly Spanish-speaking Mexico. Thus you will find many words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.


Some of the most common words of Spanish origin in English are food-based: 


Yellow split peas, boiled and ground in the food processor, cilantro, habanero, garlic...
Captions 49-50, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives: Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen


The fresh herb "cilantro" is most commonly called "coriander" in British English, whereas in US English, "coriander" usually refers to the dried root of the plant and not the fresh leaves.


Habanero peppers (habeñero in Spanish) are among the hottest chilis around, rating at 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. The word "chili" (also spelled "chile" in English) is, although also a Spanish word, derived from the indigenous Nahuatl language that is still spoken by 1.7 million people in Mexico. Chili is also a kind of thick stew made from beans, tomato sauce, and chilis: 


Don't ever eat chili out of a dented can.
Caption 27, Karate Kids, USA: The Little Dragons


In the US, it's common to see canned (or "tinned" in British English) chili labeled as "chili con carne," so watch out if you are vegetarian, as con carne is Spanish for "with meat."


The good news is that I got some extra tortillas.
Caption 38, Travel + Leisure: Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara


In US and British English, as well as North American Spanish, a tortilla is a thin, round pancake made of corn meal or flour. But in Spain, a tortilla is more often a kind of egg omelette! 


Packaged foods, like chocolate and tea and salsa...
Caption 9, New York City: The Union Square Holiday Market


Come summer, this place is full of people sunbathing in bikinis, playing beach volleyball, and even dancing salsa.
Captions 24-25, World Cup 2018: A Tour of Cities and Venues


Here you see "salsa" in its two meanings as a sauce and a kind of music and dance. 


Of course, nearly everybody knows this one, from the Spanish adíos:


If you didn't worship him, it was out, adios, you know, off.
Caption 76, Jimmy Carter: Interview with Anthony Hopkins


Actor Anthony Hopkins is British-born, but has lived in Southern California off and on since the 1970s, and in fact got US citizenship in the year 2000.


With that, we'll say goodbye for now! 


Further Learning
Take a look at this extensive list of Spanish words in English on Wikipedia and see if you can find some of them used in a real-world context on English Yabla

Continuer la lecture

Sports Idioms

English speakers often use phrases taken from sports as metaphors in business and everyday situations. This can be a bit difficult to understand for those who speak English as a second language, and especially so when the expressions are taken from such particularly US American sports as baseball and American football. Let's take a look today at the way some sports expressions are used in other contexts. 


I've been working on my game plan perfectly!
Caption 16, David Haye: Video Blog June 2011


A "game plan" is a general sports term that is often applied to any kind of project, and thus means the plan for implementing a project.


But yeah, we've been scoring surf...
Caption 42, Naish Kiteboarding TV: Meet Team Naish


The verb "to score" is derived from scoring a goal in sports or scoring points in a game, but in slang usage also means "to get" something that isn't just taken for granted or to get a good deal, such as "I scored a new computer for 50 dollars!" 


Been here for eight years. Tips are good, call my own shots...
Caption 12, Drivers Wanted: Pizza Delivery


A person who "calls the shots" originates from the team captain in sports, but is used to mean a person who is in charge ("Who calls the shots around here?") or has control of a situation.


Applicants often use buzzwords such as "hard-working," "motivated" or "team player."
Caption 50, Business English: Curriculum Vitae


The term "team player" comes from team sports, but in a business sense it means somebody who works well with other people, not just independently.


Here are some other commonly used sports terms you may hear in non-sports contexts: 


— to fumble This term originates from American football, and means "to drop the ball", or in a figurative sense, "to make a mistake" or "to perform poorly."


—to hit a home run This is an American baseball term, and in non-sports contexts it means "be be successful."


—in the home stretch This is a horse racing term, where it means the horse is in the last part of the racecourse between the last turn and the finish line. In other contexts it means "nearly finished" or "in the last stages" of a project.


—to jockey into position Another horse racing term, otherwise meaning "to find one's place" or "to maneuver" or "to manipulate" as a means of gaining advantage.


—to pitch The verb "to pitch" originates from American baseball, but in a business sense it means "to make a proposal" or "to try to sell" something. The noun "pitch" is often used in the business sense as a "sales pitch", which is a business proposal.


—to play ball This general sports term means, in other contexts, "to participate" or "to follow the rules."


—to play with a full deck This card game term means that somebody is well-informed or well-prepared, whereas "not playing with a full deck" suggests that somebody is mentally unstable or not intelligent.


—second stringer This American football term refers to players who are not the best on the team and are the second choice in playing on the field, usually only appearing if a "first stringer" has been injured or if winning the game is already a foregone conclusion. In business parlance, it means that the person is not the first choice to fulfill a designated task.


—to strike out Much like the American football term "to fumble", this term is from American baseball and means the batter fails to hit the ball completely or fouls out. In a non-sports context, it means "to perform poorly" or "to fail" at an assigned task.


Further Learning
Look online for the above terms used in non-sports contexts, and see if you can formulate some sentences using the terms in a similar fashion. 

Continuer la lecture

Commonly Paired Words Part II

In part 2 of this series, we look at how every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.


Progress is usually made. This phrase sounds a little odd at first, as if "progress" were something that could be "made" in a factory, but what it means is that something or someone is improving:


You've made a little progress.
Caption 69, Barack Obama: on Trump presidential victory


I'm making great progress with the parents already.
Caption 16: Movie Trailers: The Boss Baby 


Money is often described as hard-earned, meaning that it was not inherited or acquired easily otherwise, but that someone had to work hard and long for it.


Don't hand over any more of your hard-earned money to these crooks.
Caption 22, Laurel & Hardy: Jitterbugs


People aren't lining up to trade their hard-earned money for your unnecessary product.
Captions 67-68, Nature Preservation: The Story of Bottled Water


When you want to take shower and use very little time in doing so, you take a quick shower. The meaning is the same as taking a "fast shower" or a "brief shower," but the standard expression uses the adjective "quick":


We have learned just for a quick shower, you just put the nozzle up there.
Captions 26-27, An apartment: in Japan


You stand there and take a quick shower.
Caption 27, An apartment: in Japan


Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

Continuer la lecture

Commonly Paired Words Part I

Every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.


Advice is usually offered or given:


What advice do you give to five-year-old girls who want to be president of the United States?
Captions 15-16, Entertainment Weekly: The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions 


If I was to give them any advice, I think it would be just go for it.
Caption 22, Naish Kiteboarding TV: Snowkiting Ragnarok


If the advice is heeded, then it is usually said to have been taken


I don't know how well I took their advice.
Caption 65, Numberphile: Connect Four


Homework, the extra studying that you do away from school, is usually done, though your parents or teacher might also ask you if you have finished your homework


But you can't do that if you don't study and do your homework.
Caption 49, Entertainment Weekly: The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions 


A risk, which describes doing something that is somehow dangerous, is something that is taken.


Our clients take big risks everyday.
Caption 25, Jump for Opportunity: Official Video


I decided to take the risk and tell her.
Caption 44, The Apartment: The Date


You could dispatch or relay an email, but the standard expression is for an email to be sent


Could you please send me an email?
Caption 51, Business English: Starting on a new job


And then finally, Eric sent me an email.
Caption 43, Rumble, The Indians Who Rocked the World: Electric Playground Interview


Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

Continuer la lecture

Using for and since

There are two essential prepositions for talking about how long something has been happening with the present perfect (or present perfect continuous) tense. For and since are often confused or used incorrectly, however, so let’s do a quick clarification!


The preposition since can only be used to reference a point in time, NOT a duration. So you can say since 2001since Septembersince last summer, or since Tuesday, but NOT since five days.


Tom and I have been working together on Rachel's English since 2012.
Caption 4, Exercises: Tongue Flexibility and the N [n] Sound


In fact, since 1969, fifteen other rare and endangered species have also been rescued from the brink.
Caption 50-51, BBC Planet Wild: Alien Animals

For, on the other hand, refers to a duration. It doesn’t matter if something has been happening for 20 minutes or for 20 years


We've been doing freestyle for a couple of weeks.
Caption 25, Kiteboarding: Sam Light Interview


I have been working at the company Phonez and More for several months now
Caption 1, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


I've been on this boat for twenty-two years.
Caption 3, Aqua Quest: Boo Boo


While for can also be used with the simple past tense or future tense, since is always a clear indicator of the present perfect or present perfect continuous (See this newsletter for more information!). 

Further Learning
On Yabla Englishfor and since can be found in most videos! There is even one video in which a famous actor actually misuses the word since, which is indicated in the captions with sic (sic erat scriptum, Latin for "thus was it written"). Can you find it?

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Conditional Sentences in English

In English, we use conditional sentences for events or occurrences that are more or less certain under particular circumstances. Often, these employ the word "if" in the first clause, and then follow with a main clause. There are four basic types of conditional sentences that describe levels of possibility, from events that are very likely to missed opportunities in the past.  


Type 0 conditional sentences state facts or universal truths. The "if" clause and the main clause simply use the present simple tense.


If you are in the Skycouch row, there are special seat belt instructions in your seat pocket.
Caption 11, Air New Zealand: An Unexpected Briefing


Type 1 conditional sentences refer to cause-and-effect links, and events that are quite certain or even definite if the condition stated in the "if" clause is fulfilled. The "if" clause is formed with "if" + simple present tense, and the main clause is uses the "will" future. 


So, if you observe these writing rules, your letter will be easy to read,
Caption 12, Business English: Cover letter


If they are too late, they will miss their ride.
Caption 26, Nature & Wildlife: Wild Sharks


Type 2 conditional sentences refer to events that are less possible or likely, often hypothetical. The "if" clause uses the simple past, which actually creates the subjunctive mood, while the main clause contains "would" + the infinitive (together sometimes referred to as conditional I tense).


If you gave me a chance, I would take it.
Caption 14, Clean Bandit: Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)


If I had the vocal capacity, I would sing this from every mountain top.
Caption 37, Jamila Lyiscot's TED talk: 3 ways to speak English


Type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about possibilities or events that never came to be. The "if" clause contains the past perfect, while the main clause includes "would have" + past participle (sometimes in combination referred to as the conditional II tense). 


Unfortunately, if we had signed the contract last week, we would have been able to make some concessions.
Caption 24-25, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


It is worth mentioning that you may often see "mixed types" of the conditional, in which a missed opportunity in the past (expressed using the participle) is portrayed as still affecting the present. Take a look at the following sentence. It is clear that Chuck did not crash his motorcycle, yet the main clause is still being expressed as if it were part of a type two conditional sentence.


If Chuck had crashed it, we would be out.
Caption 65, Motorcycle Masters: Birmingham Alabama


Further Learning
Whenever you see a sentences with "if" on Yabla English, try to identify which type of conditional sentence it might be related to. Make up 3 or 4 sentences related to your plans for the week or anything you didn't get to do over the weekend. For example, "If Anna had wanted to go to the cinema, I would have gone with her," or "If I can get the afternoon off tomorrow, I will go to the cinema."

Continuer la lecture

How to Communicate What Other People Said

When you want to discuss something that somebody has said, it is called "reported speech" or "indirect speech," as opposed to quoting somebody directly. 


Imagine you are at work, for instance, and a supplier named Daniel tells you "Most of our new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but I can cut you some slack." This means that Daniel will have to charge your company more money, but he can "cut some slack," meaning he can make the increase not so large for your company. When your boss asks you what Daniel said, you would use "reported speech" to tell him: 


Daniel said most of their new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but he said he could cut us some slack. 
Captions 29-30, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


Note the difference in how the speaker changes from first person "our" and "I" to third person "their" and "he":


Direct speech: Daniel said, "Most of our new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but I can cut you some slack."


Indirect speech: Daniel said most of their new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but he said he could cut us some slack. 


Note that indirect speech eliminates the need for quotation marks. Another primary feature of indirect speech is using a phrase such as "he said," "she said," etc. followed by a description of what the person said. Here is a sample of other verbs you can use to report what somebody said: 


—to tell: 


They told me I was going to lose the fight.
Caption 9, Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights


—to state:


A spokesman for the Ministry of Plenty stated last night that it will be necessary to reduce the chocolate ration to 20 grams in April.
Captions 10-11, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four BBC TV Movie


—to mention: 


You mentioned you're single.
Caption 10, Conan: Alice Eve Explains Differences Between American & UK Dating


–to confess: 


You've confessed to assassination, to distribution of seditious pamphlets, to religion, to embezzlement of Party funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage, and murder.
Captions 28-31, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie


—to claim


They claimed to be weavers of a rare and especially beautiful and precious cloth.
Caption 24, Fairy Tales: The Emperor's New Clothes


Further Learning
Try taking the sample sentences above and reconstructing the direct speech. For example, "He told me he'd come to demolish the house." Change that into "He said, 'I've come to demolish the house.'" Now try it with the other examples!


If you are learning English in a small group, have one person state something as direct speech and another person then report what that person said. If John says "I speak the best English in the class," then Jenny can say "John claims to speak the best English in the class." 


You can also go to Yabla English and find other examples of indirect speech based on the verbs listed above.

Continuer la lecture

Variations of "to run"

The Oxford English dictionary defines "to run" as to "move at a speed faster than a walk, never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time." There are a lot of other meanings and idiomatic uses of "to run," however, which are commonly used and with which you should make yourself familiar. 


We will have young people to run the island.
Caption 48, Bishop Stanley: Island Cherries


Here "to run" means "to operate," in the sense of "to run a business." 


No, I'm not going to run for president.
Caption 46, Entertainment Weekly: The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions


If you "run" for a political position, it means you are campaigning to win an election.


When your oil is running out, could you imagine doing the next film.
Caption 62, Fast & Furious 5: Opening night in Cologne


The phrase "to run out" of something means your supply is getting low.


But President Bush's team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running.
Captions 19-21, Barack Obama: On Trump presidential victory


The phrase "to hit the ground running" is a metaphor that means "to take immediate action." Here you can see another metaphor using "run", albeit here as a noun:


Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.
Captions 1-2, Led Zeppelin: Stairway to Heaven


The phrase "in the long run" means "eventually" or "after a long period of time."


Further Learning
Go to this page and learn some other uses of the verb "to run," as well as searching for the term "run" on Yabla English.

Continuer la lecture

Making Phone Calls in English

Making a phone call in a language that is not your mother tongue can be quite nerve-racking! For this month's newsletter, we'll look some phrases that are commonly used in both formal and informal phone conversations.


People generally answer the phone “Hello?” on their private line, with “[Last name] residence” on a family home phone number, or more formally by using the word “speaking.”


Hi, this is the Irish Press, Daniel speaking.
Caption 44, Business English: Starting on a new job


When you make a call, you will first need to introduce yourself. 


Hello, this is Daniel. -Hi Daniel, this is Julia from Phonez and More.
Caption 10, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


Uh, hi, Jonathan. It's Julia Smith for the marketing department interview.
Caption 7, Business English: The job interview


You might then need to ask if the person you want to speak to is available. The informal version is “Is [name] there?”, but for formal calls it’s better to use the following:


May I please speak to Daniel in advertising sales?
Caption 9, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


Sometimes you might want to state the purpose of your call right away, so that the person answering can re-direct your call to someone who can help you.


Hi, I'm calling about an apartment that I saw listed on Craig's List?
Caption 33, Jessica and Lizhow much and how many


The formal way to conclude a phone conversation might involve thanking the person or setting up a next time to talk. 


Have a good day and I'll talk to you soon. 'Bye. -Goodbye.
Caption 56, Business English: Difficulties with coworkers and contracts


Of course, between friends, even if they are cartoon characters, much more informal goodbyes are possible: 


I'll talk to ya later, Mick. I gotta go.
Caption 32, A Mickey Mouse Cartoon: Goofy's Grandma


Further Learning
Watch the business English videos linked above on Yabla English to hear the sentences in the full context of a formal conversation. This helpful webpage provides additional telephone conversations with both audio and a transcription available.

Continuer la lecture

Traveling by Train in English

Last month we discussed terms relating to air travel, so this month we'll review some of the basic words related to train travel. Trains are not as commonly used in the United States as they used to be, but there are still a number of regular passenger trains running, especially on the the East Coast. In the United Kingdom, trains are still a standard mode of transportation, of course, as they are in the rest of Europe.


Firstly, the vehicle that you use to travel with: 


We have many people coming on the train from Manhattan.
Caption 24, Surfshop in Long Beach: Long Island


In the above example, the "train" referred to is probably the subway. New Yorkers often refer to the subway as "the train," unlike Londoners who refer to their local trains as "the tube."


Next, the place you leave from:


We will pick you up at the train station.
Caption 49, The apartment: Maggie's visit


Then the action you carry out on the train:


… and then taking the train down to Basel, Switzerland.
Caption 11, Sigrid : An American in Italy


You can "take a train" or "ride on a train" or "travel by train," among several possibilities. 


Next are the lengths of steel upon which trains travel:


When train tracks intersect or meet, it's often called a "junction."
Caption 26: The Alphabet: the Letter J


A junction is also called a "crossing." Train tracks are also called "rails," hence another term for trains in general: 


We'll have to go to the railroad.
Caption 83, The New 3 Stooges: Hairbrained Barbers


When you travel by train, you may not always have a ticket reservation and may need to buy a ticket at the train station. To find out when your train leaves, you will need to look at a schedule: 


If we have a variation in a schedule, it means the schedule changes.
Caption 33, The Alphabet: the Letter V


A train schedule is also called a timetable: 


There is no need for a precise timetable today.
Caption 57, Brexit: David Cameron resigns as UK votes to leave


With a train schedule or train timetable you can be certain of catching the right train at the right time! Only history will show, however, if with Brexit, Great Britain has indeed "missed the train." This expression can also be used metaphorically!


Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of words relating to train travel in English, and then go to Yabla English to find other examples of train travel words used in a real-world context. Note in the above link the use of British English terms "single ticket" and "return ticket." In US English, a "single ticket" is a "one-way ticket" and a "return ticket" is a "round-trip ticket."

Continuer la lecture

Traveling by Air in English

Before you travel by air for vacation or perhaps to visit a friend, it might be wise to review some of the basic words related to air travel. Firstly, the place you leave from:


I'm off to the airport! -Have a nice trip.
Caption 88, Jimmy Carter: Another interview with Sharon Stone


Then the vehicle that you use to travel with: 


In an airplane, there's always a front exit and sometimes there's a rear exit
Caption 58, The Alphabet: the Letter R


Then the action you carry out on the airplane:


But most of us can't just fly off to faraway places. Well, no flying is necessary when you've got Yabla.
Captions 7-8, Yabla Languages: Introduction to Yabla


The verb "to fly," can mean to travel by airplane, and though you may not need to fly to learn a foreign language, it helps sometimes getting to you destination!


As we prepare for take-off, please relax and enjoy the flight.
Caption 89, Delta's Holiday: In-Flight Safety Video


"Take-off" is when the airplane leaves the ground and takes to the air. In English, you say you are "catching a flight" to mean you are going to travel on an airplane.


Please power off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing.
Caption 51, Air New Zealand: An Unexpected Briefing


"Landing" is, of course, the opposite of "takeoff" (note too that "take-off" may be spelled with or without a hyphen). "Electronic devices" include cellular phones, tablets, and laptop computers. 


Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of travel words in English, and then go to  Yabla English to find other examples of travel words used in a real-world context.

Continuer la lecture

English idioms with the verb "to make"

An idiom is an expression that uses words to create a meaning that may not be immediately clear from the words used. Usually idioms derive from some kind of cultural context, and like many languages, English has a lot of idiomatic expressions. Today we're going to look at some idioms that use the verb "to make."


But the Magnus Effect is making a comeback.
Caption 43, Science: Surprising Applications of the Magnus Effect


The phrase "making a comeback" means for somebody who was once well-known and successful, but who had in the meantime become forgotten or less successful, to be in the process or regaining their lost fame or success. 


We've made our way gradually down the country.
Caption 20, World Cup 2015: New Zealand getting the word out


To "make your way" is to start going somewhere.


They laughed about his big feet and made fun of his plump, grey body.
Captions 37-38, Fairy Tales: The Ugly Duckling


To "make fun" of something or somebody is to ridicule it or them.


You just make more waves.
Caption 70, Prince Ea: I Am NOT Black, You are NOT White


To "make waves" is to cause trouble or have a strong effect on something.


Further Learning
Here's a list of some more idioms with the verb "to make": make a beeline, make a clean sweep, make ends meet, make a face, make a fuss, make a fool out of, make a go of it, make a killing, make a living, make a name for, make a point, make a run for it, make a scene, make a stink, make an example of, make an exception, make arrangements, make good on, make light of, make mischief, make sense, make short work of, make someone tick, make something up, make the grade. 


See if you can figure out what they mean and do a search for other idioms on Yabla English to find other examples used in a real-world context.

Continuer la lecture

Some More English Slang

In the last lesson, we went through some examples of English slang, and this time we can continue on that topic. Wikipedia describes slang as referring "to words, phrases and uses that are regarded as very informal and often restricted to special context or peculiar to a specified profession class and the like." 


If you over-ask, you're going to be immediately dismissed.
Caption 25, Job Hunting: How to Answer the Salary Question


There are many proper English words that use "over" as a prefix, such as "overeat," "overwork," and "overheat," but "overask" is not one of them! In this case, since it's not a proper word, a hyphen (-) was used to separate "over" from "ask", and it means "to ask too many questions." You can place "over" before practically any English verb, but if you aren't sure if it's a proper word or not, you are better off saying "We walked too much" rather than something like "We over-walked." 


Well, I kind of invited us in for a little look-see.
Caption 31: Karate Kids, USA: The Little Dragons


This is a case of several proper verbs being turned into an informal noun: "to take a look and see" has thus been shortened to "take a look-see." According to the Oxford Dictionary, the phrase originated in either pidgin English (pidgin languages being those that have developed between two peoples who do not share a native language) or as an imitation of pidgin English.


Interesting cultural differences in math-speak...
Caption 11, Numberphile: The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake


In informal English, it is fairly common to use the suffix "-speak" applied to any topic that has its own special terminology. For instance, difficult grammar terms could be referred to "grammar-speak" or somebody working on computer programming could be said to use "tech-speak." 


But I've got a shockeroo.
Caption 6, Schoolhouse Rock: Them Not-So-Dry Bones


In the above example, a "shocker" is a person or thing that shocks, and here they have just added "-oo" to add emphasis to the word. Adding vowels to the end of words to give emphasis has a long tradition in English, and can be seen in such examples as "righto" instead of "right," or "coolio" instead of "cool." It's not advisable to randomly add vowels to a word to make it sound more slang, however, these are specifics that must be learned and used, like all slang words, in the appropriate context! 


Further Learning
Do a search for "slang" on Yabla English and find other examples of slang words used in a real-world context. 

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Some Examples of Slang in English

There is a long history of slang usage in the English language, and you can find some examples of English slang on Yabla too! Slang is sometimes often regional—many slang words used in the United Kingdom would not be readily understood in the United States and vice-versa—but slang is also cultural, for instance people of certain cultural heritages often use slang that is different from what you might hear among people with different ethnic or cultural heritages. Some slang is, of course, very vulgar and not acceptable in polite company, but there are many slang words and phrases that are common and acceptable in everyday speech. 


My personal style, I guess, would be edgy, boho,  fun, flirty.
Caption 6, Demi Lovato: Seventeen Magazine


The adverb and adjective "boho" is short for "bohemian", which when written lower case does not mean somebody from the Czech region of Bohemia, but rather describes an unconventional lifestyle as often lived by artists and writers. 


Oh, ta! Ah, yes, I'm very proud of my kiddies.    
Caption 57, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie


This is an example of British English slang that may not be readily understood among speaker of US English: "ta" is commonly used in the United Kingdom for "thank you". The word "kiddies" is not slang, but is an informal version of "kids" (children).


Robust and secure, so our swag is on blast.
Caption 57, Java: The "Java Life" Rap Music Video


Here is a slang word with an urban origin often found in rap music: "swag" probably came from the verb "to swagger," which means "to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air" or "to boast or brag noisily," but as a slang word has come to mean "style." The phrase "on blast" is a slang usage too meaning "loud," therefore "swag is on blast" means they are "showing their style." 


He has just been released from the pokey.
Caption 3, The Pop Topic Minute: Christina, Lady Gaga and Lindsay


The noun "pokey" is slang for "jail," and may have originated from the term "poorhouse," which was a kind of prison that existed until the 20th century for people who were too poor to pay their debts. Some other slang words for "jail" are  "clink," "cooler," "pen," and "slammer." The adjective "poky," on the other hand, is an informal word for "slow" (such as a "poky car") or small (such as a "poky room"). 


Further Learning
Do a search for "slang" on Yabla English and find other examples of slang words used in a real-world context. You can also read this Wikipedia article about slang and go to the links to learn about different kinds of slang in English.

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Happy New Year from Yabla English!

In English-speaking countries and communities, friends, family members, and even complete strangers are greeting each other today with the phrase “Happy New Year!” 


A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Caption 9-10, Bon Jovi: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)


Of course, the celebrations began last night, which is known as New Year’s Eve. It is common for people to attend parties to “ring in the New Year” together. Shortly before midnight they engage in a countdown to the new year, often counting off the last ten seconds aloud together. Adults will toast with champagne or sparkling wine. If children are still awake, they may be given sparkling apple cider.


On New Year's Eve we checked out the rings of Saturn.
Caption 15, Jason Mraz: Tour of studio


One year to go, countdown to kick-off.
Caption 1, FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015: Meet the New Zealand 2015 host city


By today, many people will have already made a “New Year’s resolution,” which is a promise to do or not do something in the new year. Typical new year’s resolutions relate to learning a new skill (or perhaps a new language!), something related to health and exercise, or getting rid of a bad habit. 


My New Year's resolution is to just keep going at the gym.
Caption 7, Ashley Tisdale: Happy New Year!


Further Learning
For more information, read this article, which provides some interesting facts about the history and traditions of New Year’s Eve. 

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The Past Continuous

You likely know the present continuous ("I am sitting at the table," "He is going to the grocery store"), but how familiar are you with the past continuous? 


The past continuous is often used to set the scene and provide context when talking about the past:


I was working in the theater in England.
Caption 13, Donald Sutherland: talks career and Hollywood


A very typical structure with the past continuous and simple past tenses together occurs when one action or event in the past interrupts another action that is already in progress. 


There she encountered an old woman who was sitting at a spinning wheel.
Caption 32, Fairy Tales: Sleeping Beauty


In this example, it is clear that the woman already began doing what she was doing ("sitting at a spinning wheel") before Sleeping Beauty entered the room. In each of the following examples, one action was already happening when the other occurred:


But when the Princess opened her eyes the next morning, she was surprised that a good-looking prince was standing there.
Caption 26-27, Fairy Tales: The Frog King


I'm sorry, I was eating chips. What did you say?
Caption 12, The Ellen Show: Ellen Inspired Adele’s New Song


Further Learning
To get more context for the phrases, watch the videos above on Yabla English. Make sure you understand which action came first. For a thorough description with more examples, you can also refer to this page

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To borrow and to lend

In English, the verb to borrow means to take or use something that belongs to someone else for a short period of time. The verb to lend is to give something to a person for a short period of time. These two words often get mixed up by non-native speakers, so let's look at some examples. 


In the following example, Valentino lends the clothes and Sharon Stone borrows the clothes. In the end, she has to give them back.


So Valentino, the designer, lends me clothes to wear for appearances.
Caption 64, Jimmy Carter: Another interview with Sharon Stone


The phrase "lend a hand" means "to help out."


I would not lend a hand
Caption 5,  Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight 


In the following sentence, Richard Wiseman tells you to use your friend's money to play a trick on them.


Borrow a note from a friend. 
Caption 49, Richard Wiseman: 10 bets you will always win


Of course, some people keep things for longer than they should...


You are so welcome to borrow her for the next ten years or so.
Caption 5, Selena Gomez: Ramona And Beezus 


So now you know that saying "Johnny borrowed me ten dollars" is completely wrong! You have to say either "Johnny lent me ten dollars" or "I borrowed ten dollars from Johnny."


Further Learning
Write some sentences that begin with "I recently borrowed..." and "I recently lent..." Re-write the sentences above from Yabla English so that they use the other verb and remembering to change the subject and object of the sentence accordingly. 

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