Entries Tagged as 'Vocabulary'

Ways to ask someone about their job

Here are some phrases you can ask someone about their job:

So, what do you do?

So, what do you do for a living?

Where do you work?

Do you work nearby?  Is your job close?

How do you get to work? (Do you drive to work or take the train/bus/public transportation?)

How long have you been … (a therapist, in the hotel industry)?

You can respond by:

  • smiling, nodding, agreeing
  • saying you know someone in the same (or a similar) industry or company
  • mentioning anything you have in common

Avoid talking about the following because they are too personal:

  • salary
  • level of expertise
  • training
  • awards
  • qualifications


Your vs. You’re

It never hurts to review this topic:

your = possessive adjective

you’re = you are

Use your before a noun when the noun belongs to the person you are speaking to (possessive).  For example:  Did you bring your coat? Are all of your documents in this file? Did you call your mother?

Use you’re when you mean “you are”.  For example: You’re not leaving without a hug.  Did you say you’re riding with us?

Test yourself!  Are the following correct or incorrect?

  1. Your having dinner at our house.
  2. Your baby is so cute.
  3. You’re pregnant.
  4. Your the father!


  1. incorrect
  2. incorrect
  3. correct
  4. incorrect

Monday Morning Quarterback – Repost

This was the original post from Feb. 1, 2009:

The expression Monday Morning Quarterback describes a person who says that they would have done something differently and better than what someone else did.  The term originates from Sunday being the day when most football games are played, and people talking the next day about how they would have done better plays, made better calls, etc., than the actual quarterback.

Although the term originated in football, it isn’t exclusively used when referring to it.  You may e a Monday Morning Quarterback when referring to how a colleague’s presentation should have been given (“I would have used a blue background on the PowerPoint”), or what a friend should have done at the party last weekend (“I would have asked for her number”).

Tomorrow when you are talking to your colleagues about tonight’s Super Bowl, please note the grammar pattern typically used by Monday Morning Quarterbacks:

modal auxiliary (should or would work best) + have  + past participle of the action you would have done better.

Conversation Tips: American Football

Here are some open-ended questions you can ask Americans about football:

  • Who’s your favorite team?
  • Where are they from?
  • Why do you like them?/Are you from that area?
  • Do they have a good defense/offense?
  • Who is their quarterback?
  • What is the goal/objective of the game?
  • Who is playing in the Superbowl?
  • Who do you think will win?

ESL phrases to use while playing games

Now that the holidays are over, is it all work and no play?   Well, take a break to learn about some fun expressions to use the next time you play games:

  • You’re it.  (It, here, means the person whose turn it is)
  • Who’s it?
  • It’s your turn. (It, here, is just the subject of the sentence)
  • It’s your go.
  • It’s my turn.
  • It’s my go.
  • Let’s take turns.
  • Whose turn is it?
  • Whose go is it?

When you’re playing tag, there are many people in a group, and one person, “it”, has to chase everyone until they are caught. Can you think of equivalent games that are played in your country?  Here are some we played when we were kids:

  • hide and seek
  • red-light green-light
  • duck duck goose
  • tag
  • freeze tag

Small talk while playing games is a great way to pick up on these phrases and more.

Less and Fewer – Quantity Activity

Another activity is available from the AllEnglish collection for you to use in practice or in your classrooms.

Less or Fewer

Here’s a hint:  less is used with non-count nouns; fewer is used with count nouns.  They both mean a lower quantity.

This is free to use.  Just remember to credit AllEnglish as the reference.

Stand Your Ground – idiom

To stand your ground means that you won’t change your opinion on the topic which you are discussing.  You can use this expression in various ways.

  • I stood my ground during the debate because I was well prepared.
  • She is standing her ground and will not relent.
  • If you are confronted, you should stand your ground because you have all of the facts.

What’s the difference between warning and caution?

A warning refers to something dangerous and serious – something you should avoid.

  • Warning:  Beware of Dog = don’t enter this gate because there is a dog behind it that will hurt you.

A caution is a suggestion to take extra care.

  • Caution: This floor is slippery. = be extra careful when walking near this area because you might slip.

If used in casual speech between friends, these words are sometimes used as synonyms.

Take this advice as a word of caution: this man will break your heart.

6 weeks later:

I told you he would hurt you.  You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

5 Activities to Learn New Nouns

There are several ways to learn new vocabulary, but today I’ll discuss 5 ways to learn more nouns.

  1. Group nouns into categories:  list nouns at the beach, nouns at the department store, or nouns in the car. Compete with your friends or classmates to list as many nouns in each category.  Challenge yourselves by making spelling count for higher points.
  2. If you know some basic nouns, start challenging yourself to learn new words that surround the basic word.  You know the word computer, so you probably also know keyboard, monitor, mouse, and mouse pad.  What about control panel, pixel, resolution, scroll button, tab, memory, hard drive, port, keystroke, or character?  Really look closely at things and see if you can name everything about them.
  3. Play a guessing game where you try to describe a noun without using the name of the noun itself.  For example, if you’re thinking of the word “table”, describe it’s characteristics.  It has legs, a top, and matching chairs.  If you’re trying to describe  a coat, you can say it has long sleeves, buttons or a zipper, pockets, and a lining.
  4. You can get a lot of exposure to nouns by examining your food, going grocery shopping, or preparing  a meal.  Read labels on your food to learn about vitamins, calories, ingredients, and preparation ideas.  When you need someone to pass you the ladle, the spatula, or a serving spoon, you need to know the name of it to get the right one!
  5. Find a hobby.  You don’t actually have to do the hobby to learn nouns from it.  Pretend like you’re going to become a fly fisher, scrapbooker or a chocolatier.  Do research.  Find out what supplies you will need.  You might come across some words that apply to a world that extends beyond the scope of the hobby.


African Safari Animals Coloring Pages

Here’s a link to a website with PDFs of animals you can learn about, print out, and color by Jan Brett.