Impeding, Impending, Imposing – Why are they so similar?!

Today I want to talk about the difference between 3 very similar words: impeding, impending, and imposing. This time, it wasn’t a question from a student, but a problem that *I* had when trying to write a message to a friend! Even as a native English speaker, I couldn’t remember the difference between these words without using a dictionary (don’t laugh at me 😉 So, here it is for your quick reference:

im·pede

imˈpēd/
verb
gerund or present participle: impeding
  • delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder.
“All of this daydreaming is impeding my progress.”

im·pend

imˈpend/
verb
gerund or present participle: impending
  • be about to happen.
“Our moving date is impending.”

im·pose

[im-pohz]

  • to obtrude or thrust (oneself, one’s company, etc.) upon others.
“I don’t want to impose on your family.”  
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Tom Cruise is famous for his acting. Barack Obama is famous for his politics. It is common for celebrities to go to jail.

Using the adjectives “common,” “popular,” and “famous” are often some of the most confusing to use. I hear even the most advanced students have difficulty choosing one of these to use in conversation. Here is a way to easily remember the differences, so next time you know exactly how to describe something:

COMMON
com·mon
ˈkämən/
Occuring Often. dOne Often. Ordinary.
The letter “O” is common in the description for “common.” The letter “O” occurs often in the description for “common.”
Do you see how easy it is to remember? Now, let’s try some real-life examples:
♦ Train delays are not common in Japan.
♦ Ramen shops are common in Japan.
POPULAR
pop·u·lar
ˈpäpyələr/
liked by many PeoPle.
P‘s” are PoPular with the PeoPle learning English. Just remember- if its PoPular, many PeoPle like it.
♦ Fast Food restaurants are popular in the United States; a lot of people eat there every day.
♦ Recently, Hybrid cars have become popular. Everyone wants to own one.
FAMOUS
fa·mous
ˈfāməs/
known about (by many people).
If something is famous, is is known about by many people. The people may not like it, but they know about it. Its famOUs.
♦ England is famous for its tea and biscuits. (Many people know about its tea and biscuits. People may or may not like the tea and biscuits, but it doesn’t matter- they are famous because people know about them.)
♦ Apple is a famous computer company.
So, here is an example using all words and showing their unique meanings:
Justin Beiber was a popular pop artist. (Many people liked him.) Now, he is famous for going to jail (He is not necessarily liked for this). It is common for celebrities to go to jail. (Celebrities often go to jail.)
Now that you have an easy way to remember the meanings, what are some ways that you can use common, popular, and famous in a sentence?

How the turntables…

I usually write my daily idiom only on my English Facebook page as a short, simple way to remember them. However, today’s idiom is very easy to remember, thanks to a funny clip from one of my favorite TV shows!

IDIOM OF THE DAY

*turn the tables (on someone)*

To change a situation so that you now have an advantage over someone who previously had an advantage over you.

“Michael turned the tables on his demanding boss by bringing his successful co-workers to the office.”

Watch the following video about Michael Scott on the hit show “The Office.” In this episode, he changed jobs because of a disagreement, and wanted to show his old boss how “the tables had turned” (meaning, his boss had the advantage, but now Michael has the advantage. The tables have turned on his boss). He tries to say “How the tables have turned!” Instead, he makes a mistake:

(transcript)
“Hello.”
“Hi.”
“Michael Scott paper company to see Mr. David Wallace. I believe we’re expected. Well, well, well; how the turntables…”

As you can see, even native English speakers make mistakes with idioms! Its not so terrible, but it does make the situation a lot funnier like in this TV show. So now, maybe next time you won’t forget how to say “How the tables have turned!” like Michael did. Don’t be like Michael, learn from him mistakes. He makes a lot of them.

Tips on making “small talk”

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For the majority of my students, making “small talk,” or short conversation with strangers or co-workers, is the most difficult part about using their daily conversational English. Here are some tips that I have found useful when making small talk:

1) Talk about the weather.
This one seems to be common in most cultures. Some examples are,

  • “The weather today is beautiful, isn’t it?”
  • “I can’t believe how (hard it is raining/sunny it is/much snow is) outside!”
  • “What are they calling for* tomorrow?/They are calling for* (rain/snow/sunshine/clouds) tomorrow.”

*A main point you should remember is to use the phrase “calling for.” This is another way to say “to forecast,” or “to predict.” In American English, it is much more common to use “calling for” than “forecast” (“forecast” seems too professional or proper in some cases). Try using this next time you talk about the weather.

2) Talk about the latest news
Here are some ways to bring up a topic:

  • “Did you hear about….”
  • “I can’t believe the news about….”
  • “What do you think about….”(used often for discussing opinion)
  • “Did you see….” (used often for news stories on TV)

3) Talk about something you have in common.
If you are talking to your co-worker, this is a great chance to talk about things you have in common. Some examples are:

  • “What do you think about the new (item in the office)”
  • “I love your shoes! Where did you get them?”
  • “Did you watch the game last night? What did you think?” (for talking about sports)
  • “Have you eaten at any good restaurants lately?”

The list could go on and on! I’ll update it again soon, but for now, try to use these phrases next time you’re making small talk! You might even be surprised that you’re talking too much at work!

I’d be happy to answer any questions, and leave your own tips if you have them!

Connected Speech

connectedspeech

What is connected speech?

Simply put, connected speech is when a speaker puts words or sounds together in a sentence such as “gonna” (going to) or “wanna” (want to). Usually, this is not understood at all by the English learner!!

Have you ever heard something like “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?” What does this mean??
When the native English speaker says things like this ^, it is usually just to make their speech easier and more efficient. In fact, the main goal of a native speaker is usually not to be correct, but to be efficient. So, when you are trying to speak perfectly, remember that even native speakers don’t always sound perfect! Elemental English discusses this topic here. 

So, let me explain the sentence “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?”

Correctly written, it is “I am going to the store, do you want to come?”

“Going to” changes to “gonna,” “to the” changes to “ta tha,” “you” changes to “ya,” and “want to” changes to wanna.” Of course, this is not correct English and should never be in writing… However, if you want to better understand native speakers, I would recommend practicing listening for these connected words.

Below is a great example of connected speech in a scene from the classic movie “Remember the Titans.” Watch the video and see if you can understand what they’re saying. If it is difficult, try reading the text below and notice the connected speech. Does it make sense this time? Great!

Bertier: Aight man. Listen, I’m Gerry, you’re Julius. Let’s just get some particulars and get this over with, alright?

Big Ju: Particulars? Man, no matter what I tell you, you ain’t never gonna know nothin about me.

Bertier: Hey- Listen, I ain’t running any more of these three-a- days, okay?

Big Ju: Well, what I’ve got to say, you really don’t wanna hear ‘cuz honesty ain’t too high upon your people’s priorities list, right?

Bertier: Honesty? You want honesty? Alright, honestly, I think you’re nothing. Nothing but a pure waste of God-given talent. You don’t listen to nobody, man! Not even Doc or Boone! Shiver push on the line everytime and you blow right past ’em! Push ’em, pull ’em, do something! You run over everybody in this league, and everytime you do you leave one of your teammates hanging out to dry, me in particular!

Big Ju: Why should I give a hoot about you, huh? Or anybody else out there? You wanna talk about the ways you’re the captain?

Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: Captains supposed to be the leader, right? Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: You got a job?

Bertier: I have a job.

Big Ju: You been doing your job?

Bertier: I’ve been doing my job.

Big Ju: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? ‘Cause they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays. Yourself included. I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team? No, no, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna look out for myself and I’m gonn get mine.

Bertier: See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard. Big Ju: Attitude reflects leadership, captain.

Much or Many?

much and many

Much” and “many” are used so many times in English! It takes much effort to learn the difference between them. Students should spend a lot of time studying if they want to speak fluent English.

There are many great websites that help with this subject. Here are some resources that you can use to learn more:
http://englishlanguagehelp.info/esl/much-vs-many/
http://stickyball.net/esl-grammar.html?id=394

And here is a quiz for practice.

Do you feel confident with using “much” and “many?” Try to describe the following words using either “much” or “many” for practice:

_______ cars
_______ books
_______ rain
_______ snow
_______ love
_______ coffee
_______ people
_______ groups
_______ time
_______ English!

How did you do? If you are still having trouble, try the websites to learn more. I wish you much luck and many good answers!

It’s *only* English… How many accents could there be?

While English has become the most widely used language in the world, the definition of “Standard English” is not always so clear.

This video is one of my favorites for helping English students see the variations between accents and dialects in spoken English. Surprisingly, English accents vary greatly; and if a student has learned American English in school, for example, he/she could have a very hard time understanding someone speaking Australian English.

Because listening to various English accents is “easier said than done,” I recommend learning the fun way- with movies! Here is a great website that can help you learn all kinds of English accents by watching movie trailers and clips. Watch and re-watch until you can understand, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or look up some of the phrases being said. Also, I would advise taking on one accent at a time until you can better understand it, then moving on to the next one. Good luck, and don’t give up!