Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Quick English - Bystander

A bystander is someone who, by chance, is present at some event, and sees what happened.

"After the crash, the police asked the bystanders what they saw"

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The First Conditional

As you know there are four conditionals in English, the zero, the first, the second and the third, in this lesson I would like to look at first conditional.

Lets start this lesson by considering the following:

If you study this lesson you will learn how to use the first conditional, if you learn the first conditional, your English will be better, if your English is better, you will be a student of SmartLanguageSolutions.com!

The above sentences are examples of the first conditional and as you can from the sentences the first conditional is used to express a possible condition and its possible result.

Like all conditionals the first conditional has two parts, the condition and its result.

The condition is formed by If + present simple, for example:

"If it rains..."
"If you study this lesson..."
and "If I see John..."

The result is formed by Will + the base of the verb:

"...I will stay at home"
"...you will learn how to use the first conditional"
"...I will tell him"

To complete the conditional sentences:

"If it rains, I will stay at home"
"If you study this lesson, you will learn how to use the first conditional"
"It I see John, I will tell him"

It is possible to use "shall", "can" or "may" instead of "will".

"If it rains, I shall stay at home"
"It I see John, I can tell him"
"If you leave now you may catch the bus"

When we use "may" in the result we are expressing a possibility while when we use "will" we are expressing a certainty.

Remember the first conditional is used to express a possible conditional and its possible result.

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Teaching the Planet

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Zero Conditional

In this mini lesson I want to explain the zero conditional. As you know there are a total of four conditionals used in English, and they are the zero, the first, the second, and the third conditional.
Each conditional describes a situation, either real or imagined called the condition which is followed by a result of that condition.
Each of the four conditional are defined by separate grammar rules.

In this mini lesson I want to explain the easiest of all the conditionals, and the one that is not taught in most books, this lesson is about the zero conditional.

The offices of SmartLanguageSolutions.com are near to Heathrow airport in south west London, this means sometimes planes fly over the office.
If a plane flies over the SmartLanguageSolutions.com office, we hear the noise from its engines.

In this sentence we used the zero condition to explain a fact that is always true, and this is the main use of the zero conditional.

For example:
If you heat water, it boils
If you run 10 kilometres every day, you will get fit.

Grammatically the zero conditional is constructed with:

If + a condition in the present simple, + a result in the present simple

Remember the zero conditional is used to express something that is always true.

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Preparing for the TOEFL essay.

The essay section of the TOEFL is sometimes considered to be the hardest part of the test.
However here at SmartLanguageSolutons.com we feel that with an understanding on the structure of the written exam you will find sitting the written exam a little less daunting.

For your essay you will be given a statement or situation and will be asked to take an opinion based upon the information supplied and then to write out your opinion.

It is recommended that you aim for a five paragraph essay.

Paragraph One:

In this paragraph, called your thesis statement, you state your opinion on the question provided.
You should then give three reasons in the form of headlines explaining why you have reached that opinion.

For example, the question is:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Parents are the best teachers.

The answer could take the following form:

Yes, I agree that parents are the best teachers.
Its my opinion that being a parent makes you a natural educator, the fact that you have had a child gives a vested interest in improving your child's knowledge, and being that child's parent you have a deeper understanding of what motivates the child more than anyone else.

In the above example we can see that the author agrees with the statement and then gives three reasons why they agree.

The next step is to create three new paragraphs, which are called topic paragraphs.
Each topic paragraph should be an expansion of each reason given in your thesis statement.

Paragraph two:

You take the first of your reasons and expand on it. It is recommended that you only use one argument for your each reason.

For example:

It is my opinion all parents are natural educators. Once a parent sees their child for the first time, something basic is triggered in that parents genetic make up that unlocks a lifetime passive knowledge that the parent simply wants to impart to their child....

Paragraph three:

The same as above bur for your second reason.

Paragraph four:

The same as above but for your third reason.

Paragraph Five:

This is your concluding statement.
In this you will restate your thesis statement and clearly summarize what you have stated in your three topic sentences.

For example:
I wish to end this essay by restating that it is my opinion that parents are natural educators for the reasons set out above.
Parents simply have no choice in being an educator...

Sounds simple!
Well it is, but you should take help from a tutor to learn how to construct and interlink your ideas, because a simple list of ideas is not sufficient to pass the exam.

The good news is that you can find a full list of TOEFL essay topics on the study material page on our website!

We would recommend that long before you take the TOEFL exam you read all the essay topics and perhaps prepare an essay for each one.

However you should also take some TOEFL essay lessons with one of our native speaking professional English teachers who will help change your lists to fully essays!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

In this mini English lesson I want to explain the English Idiom "put your money where your mouth is".

The first thing to note is that this idiom is not offensive and is safe to use.

The origin of this idiom is not very clear, however there are two theories and both of them are related to gambling.

The first theory states the phrase has its origin in the pubs of Ireland where people used to play gambling games while they drank, and the second theory says that the phrase has its origin in the world of poker playing.

However, in modern parlance the phrase is used in many different situations to tell someone that if they truly believe in what they are saying, then they should do more than just talk about it.

For example:
Speaker 1: "I am so upset at the plight of all the poor people living in the city"
Speaker 2: "You have been saying that for so long, why don't you put your money where your mouth is, and go and work for a charity"

In this exchange, the first speaker expresses their opinion that they are upset about the bad conditions in which some poor people the city are living.
The second speaker suggests that the first speaker has been talking about this situation for such a long time that the first speaker should really take some action rather than just taking.

To put your money where your mouth is, an English idiomatic expression used to encourage people to do more than just talk about a problem.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A Cougar is not only a cat!

In this mini English lesson I would like to talk about the phrase Cougar.

A few days ago I was driving through London and I noticed billboard for a new American TV show.
The name of the show is Cougar Town, and I thought it might be a good idea explain what is the meaning of Cougar in this context.

If you look up the standard dictionary you will find that Cougar is a wild American Mountain Lion.

However in the urban dictionary and in the title of show Cougar, is used to describe a woman who is over 40 years old who likes to date younger men, normally a man who is 32 years old or younger.

In return a man who dates a Cougar can be called either a cub or a toy boy.

The urban dictionary also tells us that an older man who dates a younger woman is normally called a Sugar Daddy, while a younger woman who dates an older man could be called either a sugar baby or a Chihuahua.

We at Smart Language Solutions, would not recommend you use any of these terms in your writing or speaking as they may be considered offensive, however we would ask you to be aware of the them so you can recognise them when you see or hear them used by others.

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Friday, 19 March 2010

Urban Slang - muppet

In the late 1950's puppet master Jim Henson created some puppet characters and called them the Muppets.
Since the 1950's the Muppets have been entertaining children and adults alike with their silly antics.

However in Brittan, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, the word muppet has become a mild term of abuse.

When using muppet as a mild term of abuse the first thing to notice is the difference in spelling, the puppets created by Jim Henson and now owed by the Disney Corporation are spelt with a capital "M", as in The Muppets, and when we call someone a muppet we spell it with a lowercase "m".

When you call someone a muppet (lower case) you are suggesting that they stupid or silly.

For example: "John its six o'clock, you were supposed to be here an hour ago, you muppet!"

Calling someone a muppet should not cause them offensive, and has even been used in street advertising, however as a learner of English, remember if you are going to call someone a muppet, be sure that they have a good sense of humour.

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