Entries Tagged as 'Useful Information'

Passive Voice: Why do we use it? and other questions

I’ve been teaching the passive voice to one of my students for a few weeks.  I thought that others could benefit from some of the questions she has about the passive voice.

1. Why do we use the passive?

The passive voice is used when the subject is not the doer of the action. In active verb forms, the doer of the action is the subject.  In the passive, the doer is not the subject.

2. What does doer mean?

A doer is the person or thing who does.  It comes from the verb to do.  It’s like changing the verb to dance to dancer, the person who dances. Now, reread the answer to #1.

3. What is the difference between the past and the passive?

The past is a verb tense referring to an action that takes place in the past.  The passive is not a verb tense at all.  The passive can take the form of any verb tense.

There are many questions about the passive, I’m sure.  I will post some more in the near future.  If you have any questions about the passive or anything English or language related, leave a comment and I will respond.

Out of the Blue

I’m making some updates to my website for better navigation and easier access to ESL activities and tutoring services.  For now, the links are bright blue, but I’m working on making them a little less bright.

Thank you for your patience as I continue to improve your experience on my sites!

Awesome Resume Writing Tips

I’d much rather be gardening and planting that writing this post, or a resume for that matter.  Just as you may have just graduated and need to leave the nest, or lost your job and need to work hard to keep your nest egg, from wherever you are coming into the job market, it’s important to keep updating your resume.

I recommend the following:

  1. Resumes are like gardens that need constant tending.  Don’t let the weeds grow.  What might have been relevant experience 5 or 6 years ago might need rewording.
  2. Add annuals to your garden of experience.  Don’t lie, and don’t embellish, but what might have seemed like a one-time project can really add depth to your job description.  It’s not always about how long you did a job, but how successful your performance was.
  3. Be trendy.  Documents are like fashion…the trends change.  Don’t just update the content (what you have done/are doing);  make sure your style, font, and organization of information is in line with modern resume styles.  This is especially true if you have been in one place for a long time and are looking for something new.  It’s also important if you are older and looking to compete with a younger generation.
  4. Use the most accessible format for your document.  For example, I once sent a document in a PDF to New Mexico and was told to reformat it in Word because they “didn’t have that program.”  If you’re sending your resume to a different country, the standards for formatting might be more behind or more advanced than yours.   It might be worth looking into.
  5. Edit!  Please edit.  If u leaf at two you’re spill check, yule bee sari.

To the guy who inspired me to write this, and you know who you are, keep your spirits up!  The right job is right around the corner!

Blog Updates

I’ve been making some updates to my blog. For instance, if you want to follow me on Twitter or contact me for tutoring or conversation practice through Skype, both buttons are working now! If you try to use them and they don’t work, please let me know.

Also, I’ll be uploading some new English tutorial videos to my Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/user/ALLENGLISHLLC), which you can subscribe to by clicking the link on the right menu.

As always, thank you for visiting!

List of US Holidays 2011

The new year is fast approaching, so it’s time to buy your calendars and start filling out the days when you’re out of school!  Here is this year’s list of US Holidays from this website.  Check the website for details, as some of the dates here are not the actual date of the holiday;  rather, they indicate which days observe that holiday.

Friday, December 31, 2010* New Year’s Day

Monday, January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, February 21** Washington’s Birthday

Monday, May 30 Memorial Day

Monday, July 4 Independence Day

Monday, September 5 Labor Day

Monday, October 10 Columbus Day

Friday, November 11 Veterans Day

Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day

Monday, December 26*** Christmas Day

Puzzling Plurals: Daylight Saving and other Savings

Sources on the internet state, and I agree, that the standard is to call it Daylight Saving Time (no -s on saving)

I recommend just remembering this, but some people like rules, so here’s my attempt:

Consistent with the rule that nouns that function as adjectives are never plural (except the word sport, as in sports bar, or sports team),  if you put the gerund (noun) saving in front of the word time, there is no need for an -s ending on saving.

Click here for an activity to practice this rule.

However, the rule is challenged when you use the word saving to modify bond or account, which become savings bond and savings account.

In marketing and consumer materials, the word savings is used as a plural noun as seen in these examples: “Storewide Savings” and “Mega Sale Savings“.

Incidentally, in 2010 in the United States (but not all states), Daylight Saving Time begins on November 7, 2010 at 2:00 am.

English Ears

When you’re learning a new language, situations where you can practice are all around:

  • joining a conversation group
  • running errands
  • going shopping
  • talking to other parents at the park

However, you don’t always participate in English when you have the opportunity, do you?  It is really easy not to listen.  Isn’t that why you use earphones?  Or maybe you close your English ears and plan your day in your familiar language.  Your native language is helpful when trying to understand a new concept.   It’s also good for cheering up if you’re homesick.

However, if you intentionally ignore the English around you, you’re closing the part of your mind that actively learns.  Then, you miss the easiest opportunities to learn, which don’t even require speaking!

If you don’t believe me, just start paying attention to how often you close your English ears.  How many opportunities are you missing per week?  Per day?  More than one per day is too many.

You can keep your ears open in the car – listening to the radio, news, or music…or while shopping – listening to the people around you.  At the grocery store, listen to how the guy in front of you orders his sliced turkey or fillet of fish.

So, why not start now?  If opportunity knocks, you’re English ears should hear it!

4th of July Fireworks in Richmond, VA

The activities are family/child oriented, and there is usually a wide variety of things to do and see.  You can show up early for the party, or you can just attend the fireworks display (which is what I usually do).

This is a good list of fireworks locations in Richmond to find a display near you.  In case the link breaks:

  • DOGWOOD DELL: July 4th at 5 p.m. –  Byrd Park Carillon area – free.
  • FIREWORKS AT THE DIAMOND: Fireworks: July 1st, 3rd, and July 4th. Game at 7 p.m., fireworks after.  You can watch the fireworks without going to the game.
  • BRANDERMILL FIREWORKS: July 3rd –  Fireworks  – Sunday Park at the Swift Creek Mill Reservoir: 9:15 p.m.  Free.
  • THEME PARK FIREWORKS: Kings Dominion – July 3 and July 4. Busch Gardens – July 2 through July 4.
  • POWHATAN FIREWORKS: Hugenot Fire Department – July 3rd. Gates open at 5 p.m.
  • CHESTERFIELD FIREWORKS: July 4th – Gates open at 5 p.m., fireworks after dark.
  • FORT LEE FIREWORKS: July 4 –  Gates open at 2 p.m. Fireworks: around 9:35 p.m.
  • COLONIAL HEIGHTS FIREWORKS: July 4 at 9:15 p.m.
  • RACETRACK FIREWORKS: July 4th.

For fireworks information near Midlothian, try this link.

Richmond.com also has a detailed list which tells more of what to expect.


What to say when someone sneezes…

Are you one of the few people who hasn’t seen this video yet? If so, take a look…it’s worth it.

You have to agree it’s adorable, but did you feel a little uncomfortable with the awkward silence afterward?

You’re not alone.  Many cultures have some expression they say after someone sneezes. Here are some that we say in the United States…

  • Bless you (informal)
  • God bless you (formal)
  • Gesundheit (yes, I know it’s not English, but we still say it)

or combine one of these phrases with the polite offer…

  • Would you like a tissue?

Here’s a video of Seinfeld and his friends talking about the right thing to do when someone sneezes.  If you really want to make someone feel better after they sneeze, listen to what Seinfeld says about it…