Wednesday, 16 September 2009

English Idiom – Packed in Like Sardines

This idiom is used across the English speaking world.
Packed in like sardines, is used to describe the situation when a place is very crowded.

“The night club was so full everyone was packed in like sardines.”

The idiom is sometimes spoken as “packed like sardines”

“The night club was so full everyone was packed like sardines”

Learn more English online and interactive with our professional teachers at we look forward to meeting you soon.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Idiom of the day - Jam Tomorrow

This idiom is used to describe the situation when people promise good things for the future that will never come.

- “Don't worry everything will be fine because we are going to win the lottery tomorrow”
- “Be seriously will you, you always promised jam tomorrow”

Be very careful when using this idiom as it is specific to the north of England! While it might be known in all parts of England it is not widely known in other English-speaking countries.

It is very important when learning English to use the assistance of a professional native speaking English teacher, the kind of teacher you can find at the online English school

Monday, 24 August 2009

Idiom of the day – Paddle your own canoe

To paddle your own canoe is used to describe when someone does something without the help of others.

“John, if you want to open your own business you are going to have to paddle your own canoe, I don’t think anyone will help you.”

The idiom “paddle your own canoe” is an American English idiom, English speakers in the UK, Ireland, Australia, & New Zealand don’t use this idiom as part of their language! In fact some people may not fully understand its meaning!

This is why it is so important to learn English from a professional native speaking teacher, the kind of teacher you find at

Friday, 21 August 2009

Slang of the week – Sloth Cloth

A sloth cloth is a slang word used to an old tee-shirt worn while hanging around your home.
It is also a tongue twister! Try saying repeatedly and fast.

“I knocked on my friends door and when he answered it I was shocked to see him wearing a food stained sloth cloth”

Be careful when studding English slang, using slang incorrectly can cause a lot of problems, always check slang with your native speaking professional English teacher at

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

IELTS – Speaking Module

The IELTS speaking test is about 10 to 15 minutes long, and has three parts.

The test is a one to one interview, just you and the examiner.

Part one
The examiner will ask you about something familiar such you, your family, country and so on.
We recommend that you use this part of the test to relax and get over any nerves you may have.
Listen to the examiner, and only answer the questions that you are asked.

Part two

You will have to talk for about 2 to 4 minutes. The examiner will give you a topic and one minute to prepare a small talk. The topic the examiner will give you will be based on your personal experience.
We suggest that you don’t just list off the words in the question that that examiner has given you.

Part three
This section is a two way discussion, not a question and answer. The examiner will ask you questions broadly linked to the topic you spoke about. You should give long coherent answers. Give reasons for your answers!

There are many self teach books for the IELTS which are very good. However you will need the input of a professional native speaking English teacher who can help you with your speaking and listening.
Smart Language Solutions ( is the online language school who can help you.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Word – Ahead

Ahead is an adverb, and has a number of meanings.

In English we use ahead to describe the position of being in the front:
John is ahead in the race at the moment (John is leading the race)

Move something to a different time in the future:
We need to move the start time ahead by a day from Monday to Tuesday.

To move in a forward direction:
The queue moved ahead slowly

When learning a new word it’s important to check all the meanings of the word. Above are just a few of the meanings of “ahead”!
Learning English is fun, but it is best to learn with professional native English speaking teachers.
You can learn English online at

Monday, 17 August 2009

Phrasal Verb – Make Up

Make Up is used in English to describe the situation when people reconcile.

John and Mary have been friends for a long time, but they had a row last week, I really think they should make up.

Of course the phrasal verb Make Up has more than one meaning and you should be careful when using it, in fact it best to learn English from a professional native speaking English teacher, which you can do at Smart Language Solutions.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Some Mispronounced words

Some Mispronounced words

In English we do not have a system of accenting our vowels. This can lead to problems when pronouncing words.

Here are some words that are commonly mispronounced:

Utmost – mispronounced as – Upmost

Wasn’t – mispronounced as – wadn’t

Yolk – mispronounced as – yoke

Suite – mispronounced as – suit

Nuclear – mispronounced as – nuclar

Close – mispronounced as – clothes

Be careful when learning new words! Its good to learn English with a professional native speaking teacher. You can do that with Smart Language Solutions

Learn English on line at

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Slang Word – Dohment

Dohment is the moment you realise you did something stupid in the past.
“Oh my, I just realised I booked my flight for the wrong day, I will have to rebook”

In standard English a dohment, can also be called the moment when something “dawns on you” or when “the penny drops”.

Dohment is a combination of the words Doh and moment.
Doh is the phrase used by the cartoon character “Homer Simpson” when he makes a mistake.

Be careful when using slang, if you are not sure, don’t use it.
Take lessons with professional native English speaking teachers at Smart Language Solutions.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Phrasal Verb – Name After

This phrasal verb describes when a child is given the same name of someone in their family or some other famous person, even songs!

“My name is George, I was named after my father who is also called George.”

“My name is Nikita, I was named after that Elton John song from the 80’s, I’m a girl and my parents didn’t know Nikita was a boys name!”

Its very important to learn English correctly! The best way is with a professional native English speaker.
Learn English online with Smart Language Solutions.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Question Tags

In English when we want to continue a conversation we can put a question tag at the end of a sentence.
The purpose of the question tag is to invite the person who we are talking to reply to us.
“You agree with me, don’t you?”

Question tags are easy to construct, if the base sentence is positive, then the question tag is negative and if the base sentence is negative then the question tag is positive.

We construct the question tag using the auxiliary verb from the base sentence and invert it:

It isn’t a nice day, is it?
You have my pen, haven’t you?

If there is no auxiliary verb in the base sentence then use do/does/did:
The school closes at 5PM, doesn’t it?
You eat meat, don’t you?

Remember when learning English, it’s very important to take lessons with a professional native speaker teacher.
Join us online to learn English in small groups or one to one with Smart Language Solutions.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

In English we class our nouns into countable and uncountable.

Countable nouns are nouns we can physically count:
5 Apples
2 People
7 Books

Uncountable Nouns are nouns we can’t physically count:

Money is an uncountable noun!

Some and Any

We use some in positive sentences with uncountable and plural nouns:
There is some water in the pool
There are some apples in the kitchen

We also use some when we ask for and offer things:
Can I have some rice please?
Would you like some books to take home?

We use any in questions and negative sentences with uncountable and plural nouns:
Is there any electricity in the house?
There aren’t any people at the party.

How much/many

We use how much with uncountable nouns:
How much rice is in the pot?

We use how many with countable nouns:
How many people were at the party?

Learn more English as a foreign language at smart language solutions

Friday, 7 August 2009

IELTS Listening section

If you are taking the IELTS, the first task of the day is the 30 minute listening test.

There are four parts to the listening test.

Part One: this will be a conversation between two people, the theme of the conversation will either be a social or semi official format.

Part Two: this will be a talk by a single speaker and it will be a non academic situation.

Part Three: this will be a conversation between a number of people, the theme will be academic or course related.

Part Four: this will be a university type lecture.

Before the recordings you will have a chance to see the ten questions for each recording, each recording is then played one time only.

So the key to passing the listening test is:

Read the questions and understand them.
As you listen to the recording make notes on the answer sheet about each question.
Then take the full ten minutes after the listening to transfer your notes onto the answer sheet!

As practice try listening to UK, US, and Irish talk radio online, these are great sources to “tune” your ear to native speakers.

Here are some stations:

Air America:

Of course its very important to work with a professional English teacher who will support you in your learning.
That’s why we suggest you contact us at and we will support you in your learning.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Pronouncing Regular Past Tense Verbs

To review, we all know that to form the written regular past tense we must do the following.

If the verb ends in “e” add “d”
Live = Lived

If the verb ends in a consonant + “y” change the “y” to “i” and then add “ed”
Cry = Cried

If the verbs ends in a vowel and a consonant (except) “w” or “y”) then double the consonant and add “ed”
Stop = Stopped

For all other ending add “ed”
Fill = Filled

However, the sound made when we pronounce the regular past tense is not just “d”.
A lot of English learners don’t realise that there are three distinct sounds used in English for regular past tense verbs, and they are “d”, “id” and “t”.

Listened has the “d” sound at the end

Boasted has the “id” sound at the end

Laughed has the “t” sound at the end

To find out which regular past tense verbs have which sound at the end is best done by learning English with a professional native speaker English teacher!

Learn more English for free at and click free stuff!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Tip of the weekend: “Using slang”

As a non native speaker, it is not a good idea to use slang.
There are so many different slang words used in different parts of the English speaking world, that even for native speakers it is hard to keep up to date with the latest slang.
Slang used incorrectly sounds really bad, so unless your 150% sure of how to use the slang phrase, don’t!

Dave @ SLS

Phrasal Verb of the weekend: “Jack up”

To raise prices, very quickly and to a very high level.

“After the team won the championship they jacked up the ticket prices for next year”

Dave @ SLS

Idiom of the weekend: “Back seat driver”

A back seat driver is a person who criticize from the sidelines. It originates from the situation where someone gives unwanted advice from the back seat of a vehicle to the driver. The idiom can be used in other circumstances other than someone giving advice from the back seat of the car.

“John is such a back seat driver, he is always shouting at the team coach from the sideline”

Dave @ SLS

Word of the weekend: “Understeer”

Understeer as a noun:
This is when a car or other vehicle is unable to turn sharply and the front wheels move to the outside of turn.
“This car suffers from a lot of Understeer”

Understeer as a verb:
To describe the act of Understeer.
“I was driving home when the car understeered”

Dave @ SLS

Tip of the day: “Indefinite Articles”

There are two indefinite article, “a” or “an”, we put them before noun. “A” is used before a noun that begins with a consonant sound, and “an” is used before a noun that begins with a vowel sound.

A car
An umbrella

Dave @ SLS

Phrasal verb of the day: “Nod Off”

This means to fall asleep, usually unintentionally.
“The race was so boring I nodded off halfway through”

Dave @ SLS

Idiom of the day: “A Slap on the Wrist”

Idiom of the day: “A Slap on the Wrist”
A slap on the wrist describes a very mild punishment, however it does not mean a physical punishment.
“John has been late to work everyday this month, the boss told him off, I think he got away with a slap on the wrist”

Dave @ SLS

Word of the day: Pain

Pain is a noun.

Pain describes the feeling of physical suffering or distress, it can be caused by injury, or illness.
“After I cut my hand the pain was really terrible”

Dave @ SLS

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Writing tip of the day: Capitalize that

We use capital letters in English when we write a name

His name is John

If a person has a title we capitalize the title too!

His name is King John.

However if we write about a title in general we don’t capitalize it.

Do you know the name of that king?

Click here to read more.

Dave @ SLS

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Phrasal verb of the day: Hang Around

This phrasal verb describes when we stay somewhere for fun.

“The kids are always hanging around in the park”

Click here for more information about this phrasal verb

Dave @ SLS

Idiom of the day: “He lost his head

This idiom means to be angry and overcome by emotions.

“John lost his head when I told him that he was not allowed to go”

Click here for more information on this idiom.

Dave @ SLS

Word of the day: Café

Café is a noun.

A café is a small and informal place selling refreshments.

“Lets meet for a coffee at the café and catch up”

Click here to see more information about this word.

Dave @ SLS

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Word: Suspend

This is a regular verb.

Suspend, has a number of meaning, however in this post I want to look at two of its most popular uses.

To temporarily remove someone from their position or stop a service.
John was suspended from school for a week.
I was late this morning when the train service was suspended.

To hang an object over an open space.
The artist suspended the sculpture between the two buildings.

Dave @ SLS

Idiom: “To add Fuel To The Fire

This idiom is used to describe when we make an already bad situation worse.

“John, stop arguing you are only adding fuel to the fire!”

Dave @ SLS

Phrasal verb: “Make Up with”

"To make up with someone" means to re-establish a relationship with someone.

“John and Mary had a big argument last night, but they made up with each other this morning”.

Dave @ SLS

Writing tip: Yours Faithfully or Yours Sincerely.

When writing a business letter, there are a number of different endings that you can use. However we suggest that you use either "Yours Faithfully" or "Yours Sincerely".

When you know the name of the person you are writing to then use "Yours Sincerely".
When you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to the you use "Yours Faithfully".

Dear Mr. Smith,
Please find attached …..
Yours Sincerely

Dear Sirs,
Please find attached ….
Yours Faithfully

Yours Faithfully

Dave @ SLS

Grammar tip: Zero Conditional

The zero conditional is used to describe the result of something that is always true.

“If you heat ice it melts.”

Dave English - Teaching English online

Phrasal verb: “to pan out”

“To pan out” it means to be successful at something or for something to turn out well.

“At the start of the game it looked like we would loose, but in the end it all panned out well for us”.

Dave English - Online English teacher

Idiom: “ A Chip On Your Shoulder

This is idiom means to be upset about something that happened in the past.

“John has a chip on his shoulder because Mary was promoted over him”

Dave English

Click here to learn English online

Word: Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur is a noun.

An Entrepreneur is a person who starts, organizes and manages a business with considerable initiative and risk.

Richard Branson is a well known British Entrepreneur.


Word: Lid

Lid is a noun.

It is a removable top or cover for the opening of a jar or pot. “Can you put the lid on the pot, it will boil quicker”

It is also used to describe the maximum money that someone is willing to spend. “The spending lid on this project is £20,000”

In slang lid is a hat or helmet. “If your riding your motorbike, you must wear your lid”

Dave English

Idiom: “Put a lid on it

This idiom is used to when we want to express a way to stop spending from increasing.

“This project is too expensive we need to put a lid on the spending”

It can also be used to tell someone to stop complaining.

“John, put a lid on it, we know you are not happy”

Dave English

Phrasal verb: “to luck out”

To luck out is an phrasal verb used mostly in in America English. It is used to describe when someone is unexpectedly lucky.

“I got up late today but I lucked out when get to the office before my boss”

Dave English

Grammar tip of the day: Present Continuous as future

We all know that present continuous is used to describe an action happening now or around now, however it can also be used to express a plan in the near future.

“I am meeting John at home tonight”

We use the present continuous construction with a future time point.

Dave English

Half Mast v Half Staff

Half Mast is an expression used in British English, Half Staff is an expression used in American English.

The expression describes the situation when a flag is flying halfway up a flagpole. It is done in most countries as a symbol of mourning.

UK: “They flew the flag at half mast at Buckingham Place when Princess Diana died.”

US: “They flew the flag at half staff at the White House when President Kennedy was killed.”

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