In the Name of Allah
In the Name of Allah
In spoken English, just saying “I disagree” is often too direct. Most English speakers use phrases that are modified to be more polite, or indirect methods to express disagreement. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to disagree without offending anyone!
“We’ll need to buy at least 10 new machines this year in order to keep up with the increased production.”
“I’m afraid I disagree. If we focus on improving the efficiency of the equipment we already have, we could avoid making new purchases.”
“Books are a thing of the past. The future is in online publications.”
“I beg to differ – a lot of people still prefer to have a book in their hands rather than read on a screen.”
“China will definitely be the dominant world power over the next century.”
“I’m not so sure about that. I just don’t think their current level of growth is sustainable.”
“If everyone took shorter showers, the world’s water shortage problems would be solved.”
“Not necessarily. Far more water is used in the production of food, for example, than for taking showers.”
“Globalization is just another way for rich countries to exploit poor countries.”
“I don’t see it that way. I think it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and in fact a lot of developing countries have benefited quite a bit.”
“I think we should completely change the packaging of our product – it really needs a more modern look.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. If we change our product’s appearance, our current customers won’t recognize it anymore.”
“This backpack is only $9 – what a bargain!”
“Yes, but it doesn’t look like it’s made of very strong material.”
One way to disagree indirectly is simply to say your own opinion. It’s common to use the words well and actually, which signal that you are going to express a contrasting opinion.
“Studying English grammar is the key to speaking correctly.”
“Well, in my opinion, it’s more important to practice listening.”
“Actually, I think Pele was better.”
Note: Use these only among close friends, because they could be offensive in a professional context.
“Titanic was Leonardo DiCaprio’s best film.”
“No way! Inception was so much better.”
“I think we should buy a new car.”
“You can’t be serious. We can’t afford that right now.”
“My English is terrible.”
“Sorry for my bad English.”
Be careful, because these two phrases are dangerous to your English learning!
If you constantly describe your English as “bad” or “terrible,” or if you say things like “I can’t speak English very well” – you will eventually begin to believe that it is true. These negative thoughts will make you less confident, and your progress in English fluency will be slower. You might even give up completely, because you believe you can’t do it.
The people who are most successful in achieving goals are those who believe they CAN do it and who make the goal part of their identity. Even if your English is not perfect, tell yourself:
“I am an English speaker. I am learning to be fluent, and I am making good progress!”
So how can you say that you’re an English learner without using words like “bad” or “terrible”?
Here are some useful phrases:
Don’t say: “My English is terrible.”
Say: “I’m working on improving my English.”
The focus of the second sentence is positive (“improving”) and it shows that you’re actively working on making your English better.
Don’t say: “Sorry for my bad English”
Say: “English isn’t my first language, so please excuse any mistakes.”
The second sentence explains that you’re not a native speaker and requests patience and understanding – without using the word “bad” to describe your English.
Don’t say: “I don’t understand.”
Say: “Could you repeat that, please?”
“Could you rephrase that, please?”
“Could you speak a little slower so that I can understand you better?”
Asking the other person to repeat means you want them to say it again using the same words.
Asking the other person to rephrase means you want them to say it again using different words.
The last sentence asks the person to speak slower, but still focuses on the positive (“understand you better“) and not the negative (“I don’t / can’t understand”).
If you say something and the other person looks confused, don’t worry – maybe that they didn’t hear you, or they weren’t paying attention. It’s also possible that they’re not yet accustomed to your accent.
To check understanding, you can ask:
“Does that make sense?”
If the other person says no, then say:
“Let me try again.”
or: “Let me clarify.”
Then say your sentence again. You can try:
There’s so much to learn in the English language that most people focus on their difficulties and think about all the things they don’t know yet. However, you can change your perspective and learn to think more positively by keeping an English success journal.
Every time you make progress or have some small “victory” in your English learning, write it down in a notebook (or in a document on your computer or cell phone).
These things can be big or small – the important part is that they show progress and improvement.
On days when you’re feeling depressed about your English, or when you don’t have much motivation, you can read your success journal to see all the wonderful progress you’ve made. This will help increase your confidence and encourage you to keep going!
What do you think?
The two most common prepositions used after the verb “think” are “about” and “of.” They are very similar, but there is a small difference. Usually when you “think of something,” it is a brief moment – just a few seconds. It is also used for opinions. When you “think about something” you are considering it for a longer time – like a few minutes or more.
Every time I hear this song, I think of my mother. (thinking for a few seconds)
What do you think of my new haircut? (opinion)
I’m thinking about moving to a different city. (considering)
I still get angry when I think about all the rude things my sister said to me. (thinking for a few minutes or more)
Use the prepositions “over” and “through” when you need to consider a topic carefully or think about it for a longer time (hours, days, or weeks).
The preposition “ahead” is used for thinking about the future:
The preposition “back” is used for thinking about the past:
“Think up” is an expression that means to imagine, invent, or create an idea.
“Think to” is most frequently used with “myself” – when you think about something, but you don’t say it or share it with any other person. “Think to myself” is often followed by a direct statement of the thought.
“Didn’t think to” can also be used when something did not even enter your mind.
what is the difference between house and home? A house is a specific type of building. A house is a physical thing, but the word home is more of an emotional idea – it means the place where you live, and where you have a special emotional attachment – where you feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Your “home” can be a house, an apartment, or another type of structure.
In English, we often use the word “house” when talking about the building itself (for example, “I live in a small house”), and “home” with the verb “go” and the preposition “at.” For example, you can say, “I was at home last night” – or when you leave work, you can say, “Bye everyone. I’m going home.”
Should have, could have, and would have are sometimes called “modals of lost opportunity” because they describe situations when we are imagining that the past was different.
The general rule of Should, Could, and Would is:
The same general rule applies when using should have, could have, and would have for imaginary past situations.
Use should have to say that a different action was recommended in the past.
If you arrive late to English class, you can say:
“I should have left my house earlier.”
If you regret an argument, you can say:
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you yesterday. I’m sorry.”
You can also use should have / shouldn’t have to tell other people that a different action in the past would have been better. If your son fails a test, you can say:
“You should have studied. You shouldn’t have played video games all weekend.”
Use could have to talk about possibilities if something had been different in the past.
For example, someone who didn’t go to college can say:
“If I had gone to college, I could have gotten a better job.”
When talking about a gymnast who didn’t win a competition, you can say:
“She could have won the gold medal if she hadn’t fallen three times.”
Could have is often used with “if + had + past participle” (If I had gone / if she hadn’t fallen) – these “if” phrases express the imaginary past situation. However, in some cases you can use could have without the “if” phrase. Imagine you’re driving with a person who makes a dangerous maneuver on the road. You can say:
“Are you crazy? We could have gotten into an accident.”
Use would have to imagine a result (if something had been different in the past):
If you arrive late at the airport and miss your flight, you can say:
“If we had arrived earlier, we would have caught our flight.”
If you forget your umbrella, and it starts to rain, and you get wet, you can say:
“If I had brought my umbrella, I wouldn’t have gotten wet in the rain.”
Would have expresses more certainty about the result than could have:
“If I had worked harder, I could have gotten a promotion.” (maybe I’d get a promotion… but maybe not)
On a test where you need 70% to pass:
“I got a 68 on the test. If I had gotten two more points, I would have passed.”
(with the two points, passing the test is CERTAIN)
Here are some examples of using should and shouldn’t to ask for and give advice and suggestions:
“I’ve had a really bad headache for the past week.”
“That’s not good – you should go to the doctor.”
“I want to make more friends, but I don’t know how.”
“First of all, you shouldn’t spend so much time on the computer. You should go out and join a club or start playing a sport instead!”
“I had a fight with my best friend. What should I do?”
“Hmm… I think you should call her and tell her you’re sorry.”
Could and couldn’t are the past forms of can and can’t:
When I was younger, I could run a mile in 7 minutes. Now it takes me 20 minutes!
Yesterday, I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere – but this morning I found it.
Last year, he couldn’t speak English very well, but now he can.
Here’s an example of could to talk about future possibilities:
“Do you have any ideas for our publicity campaign?”
“Yes, I’ve got a few ideas. I could put advertisements on Facebook and Google. We could also give out pamphlets in our neighborhood. Maybe John could even contact local TV stations.”
Note: In this case, would is often shortened to ‘d
Here are some examples of using would you like…? to make polite offers:
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“A soda would be great. Thanks!”
“Would you like to join us for dinner?”
“I’d love to, but I actually have other plans tonight.”
“Would you like to see some pictures from my vacation?”
Don’t use “to” after should, could, and would:
You shouldn’t to smoke.
You shouldn’t smoke.
We could to order pizza tonight.
We could order pizza tonight.
I would to buy a new car if I had the money.
I would buy a new car if I had the money.
Let’s begin with the word beautiful – in English, this word is mostly used for women. We use the word handsome for men. To describe beautiful women, we also have the words pretty, lovely, gorgeous, and stunning – “stunning” means extremely beautiful, like a woman who is so beautiful that she attracts a lot of attention!
Another expression to describe a woman like this is to say that “She turns heads” – implying that when she walks down the street, people turn their heads to focus their attention on her.
The words attractive, good-looking, cute, and hot can be used for both men and women. Cute is a more playful word to say a person is attractive; we often use “cute” for children and baby animals. And the word hot is a slang word that you should only use during informal conversations among friends.
The opposite of beautiful or handsome is ugly – but that’s a strong word, so most people express this idea using the negative form of one of the positive words, for example: “She’s not very attractive” or “He’s not so good-looking.”
Finally, there is the word plain – that describes a person who is ordinary-looking – not especially beautiful/handsome, but not especially ugly either.
Okay, now let’s learn some words to describe body shape and size. You already know the basic words fat and thin – but there are many other ways to say these.
A person who is fat can also be described as overweight, heavy, big, or large. The word for a person who is EXTREMELY fat is obese.
We also have the word chubby to describe fat children; husky or heavyset to describe fat men; and plump or curvy to describe fat women (the word curvy has a more positive connotation, implying that the woman has a nice, full, feminine body).
If you want to say a specific part of the body is fat, you can say it is flabby – for example, “I hate my flabby stomach.” (typically used for arms, stomach,and thighs).
The opposite of fat is thin. Some alternative words are slim, slender, skinny, lean, wiry, petite, and lanky. In general, thin, slim, and slender are more positive, whereas skinny is often used as a criticism or negative point.
The words lean and wiry mean that the person is thin AND muscular. The word petite is only used for women, and means that the woman is short AND thin. Finally, the word lanky means tall and thin.
What about a person with an athletic body? You can describe him or her as muscular, fit, strong, in good shape, or “ripped” – that’s a slang word meaning that the person has very well-defined and visible muscles .
Adjectives are words that describe the qualities of something. Some adjectives in English are gradable - that means you can have different degrees or levels of that quality. For example, the weather can be a little cold, rather cold, very cold, or extremely cold.
Extreme adjectives or non-gradable adjectives are words that mean “extremely + adjective” – for example, “freezing” means “extremely cold.” The weather can’t be “a little bit freezing” or “very freezing” – because the word “freezing” itself automatically means ”extremely cold.”
|bad||awful, terrible, horrible|
|big||huge, gigantic, giant|
|good||wonderful, fantastic, excellent|
With regular adjectives, we can use comparatives and superlatives to compare two or more things:
With extreme adjectives, we don’t use comparatives and superlatives:
With regular adjectives, we can use these adverbs:
With extreme adjectives, we CANNOT use these adverbs:
However, there are other adverbs we can use to give additional emphasis to the extreme adjective:
The words pretty and really can be used with both regular and extreme adjectives:
Another type of extreme adjective is called an “absolute” adjective.
These are words that are either “yes or no.” For example, dead - you can’t be “a little bit dead” or “very dead” – either YES, you are dead, or NO, you’re not dead.
Here’s a list of absolute adjectives and their opposites (this list is not complete; it only shows some examples):
|first||last / final|
|married||single / divorced / separated / widowed|
You might hear expressions like these in spoken English:
“That’s very true.”
“It’s the very first time…”
“This shirt is more unique than that one.”
You can use a family tree to diagram the relationships among your family members. A person who is related to you by a long series of connections can be called a distant relative.
If you’re lucky, you have a loving family or a close-knit family – these expressions refer to a family that has good relationships, where everyone loves each other and helps each other. If you were raised in a loving family, then you probably had a carefree childhood – that means you had nothing to worry about when you were young.
On the other hand, a family in which the relationships are bad or unhealthy can be called a dysfunctional family. If the children experience abuse, poverty, or problems with the law, we can say they had a troubled childhood.
Perhaps the parents went through a bitter divorce – that means a separation in which there were bad/angry feelings between the husband and wife. It’s also possible to have a messy divorce, with a prolonged legal battle involving lots of conflicts about the separation of the former couple’s assets (money and possessions). The decisions about the separation of assets are made in the divorce settlement. A family in which there are divorces or separations is sometimes called a broken home.
Sometimes the mother and father fight over custody of the children – that refers to who has the primary responsibility of caring for the kids. A judge can grant joint custody – that means the ex-husband and ex-wife share the responsibility – or sole custody to only one parent. For example, a judge might award sole custody to the mother, and the father has to pay child support – regular payments to help with expenses for the kids.
If it was a mutual divorce/separation – that means the ex-husband and ex-wife agreed to separate without fighting – then they will probably stay on good terms with each other (meaning to have a polite relationship without conflicts).
If you ask someone over, you invite the person to your house or apartment:
“My roommates and I are going to ask our English teacher over for lunch.”
If you ask someone out, you invite the person to go out for a romantic encounter:
“Bill asked me out, but I turned him down (said no). He’s just not my type.”
When a person comes over, they arrive at your house or apartment:
“Why don’t you come over to my place after class? We can work on the project together.”
To bring something over is to bring an object to the other person’s house or apartment:
“I’ll bring over my DVD collection so that we can watch some movies.”
Have over is the general word for having people visit your house/apartment:
“We’re having about 15 people over for Thanksgiving dinner.”
These phrasal verbs mean to enter a place for a short period of time:
“I just stopped by to say hi – I need to go in about ten minutes.”
Drop in means to visit unexpectedly:
“My sister always drops in while I’m in the middle of doing something important. I wish she’d call me before she came over.”
Drop off is when you take somebody in your car and then leave them in another place:
“I’m going to drop my husband off at the airport. He’s traveling to London.”
Pick up is the opposite of “drop off.” If you pick someone up, you go drive to a place and get someone into your car. Remember that you drop someone off at a place, and you pick someone up from a place.
“My husband returns from London on Thursday – I’ll pick him up from the airport around noon.”
To meet up with someone is to get together at a particular time and place:
“I’m going to meet up with some friends at the bar at 8:30.”
“We’re going to play basketball tomorrow afternoon. Do you want to join us?”
“I’ll have to take a rain check – my boyfriend and I are going to see a concert. Maybe another time!”
“I’ll take a rain check” is a response to a social invitation if you can’t go, but you hope the person asks you again in the future.
Do you know any other phrasal verbs used in socializing?what are they?
These two words can be confusing, but I’ll teach you the difference – and teach you 60 common collocations with example sentences to help you!
EXCEPTION: make the bed = putting blankets, sheets, and pillows in the correct place so that the bed looks nice and not messy.
WORK / STUDY
TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY
GENERAL GOOD OR BAD ACTIONS
EXCEPTION: Don’t say “make a question.” The correct phrase is “ask a question.”
PLANS & PROGRESS
Let’s begin by answering the question, “Where do you work?” This seems like a simple question, but there are many ways to answer it:
You’re going to learn when to use each preposition.
For example, “I work at Espresso English” or “I work for Nike.”
You can also use “for” if you work directly for a famous person: “I work for Tom Cruise. I’m his public relations manager.
I work in… (a place):
I work in… (a city/country):
I work in… (a department):
I work in… (a general area):
If you want to add more details about your work, you can say “I’m responsible for…”
After “I’m responsible for…” use the -ING form of the verb.
In conversational English, the question “Where do you work?” is commonly phrased as “What do you do?” or “What do you do for a living?”
How do you answer this question if you don’t have a job?
You can say “I’m unemployed” - or, more indirectly, “I’m between jobs at the moment.”
If you work for yourself, you can say “I’m self-employed.” If you have your own company, you can say, “I own a small business,” or more specifically, “I own a restaurant” or “I own a graphic design company.”
When you are officially accepted into a new job at a company, you are hired by the company. For example, “I was hired by an insurance company just two weeks after graduating from college.” When you’re hired, you become an employee of the company. The company becomes your employer. The other employees in the company are your colleagues or coworkers. The person above you who is responsible for your work is your boss or supervisor.
As an employee of the company, you earn a salary - money you receive regularly for your work. Don’t make the mistake of saying “win a salary” or “get a salary” – the correct verb is “earn.” If you’re good at your job, you might get a pay raise (or a raise) – an increase in your salary. You could also get a promotion - an increase in importance and authority. At the end of the year, some companies give their employees a bonus - extra money for work well done.
The opposite of “hire” is fire - when your company forces you to leave your job. For example, “Peter was fired because he never came to work on time.” Usually if someone is fired, it’s because they did something bad. If an employee loses his or her job because of a neutral reason, like the company reducing its size, then we say the employee was laid off. For example, “Donna was laid off when her company started having financial problems.”
If you decide to leave your job, there are three verbs you can use:
“Quit” is informal, “resign” is formal, and “leave” can be formal or informal.
When an old person decides to stop working, the verb for this is retire. In most countries, people retire around age 65.
Let’s listen to an informal telephone conversation, after Ryan gets home from work.
Ryan: Hi Linda, it’s Ryan. How’s it going?
Linda: Pretty good, thanks. How about you?
Ryan: I’m fine. Sure glad it’s Friday. Hey, is Peter there?
Linda: Yeah, hold on, I’ll get him. Peter! Ryan’s on the phone.
Peter: Hey Ryan, what’s up?
Ryan: Not much. Are you up for going fishing this weekend?
Peter: What? There’s a lot of background noise – I can barely hear you.
Ryan: Sorry about that – I’m at the train station. I was wondering if you wanted to go fishing this weekend. I’m heading up to Mountain Lake with some friends early tomorrow morning.
Peter: Uh, hang on a sec, let me just check with my wife to make sure we have no other plans.
Peter: Okay, she’s given me the green light!
Ryan: Sweet! We’ll pick you up at 6 tomorrow morning, is that OK?
Peter: Yup. Do you need directions to my place?
Ryan: Uh, you still living on Willow Street, near the community center?
Peter: Yeah, that’s right. The yellow house, number 30.
Ryan: Gotcha. I know how to get there.
Peter: All right – see you tomorrow, then.
Ryan: Take care.
Telephone English Phrases – Informal Conversation
Let’s learn some of the different phrases used in an informal telephone conversation. In informal phone calls, most people answer the phone by saying “Hello?” and the introduction is also different:
We see two different greetings in this conversation: “How’s it going?” and “What’s up?” These greetings require different answers. You can answer “How’s it going?” (or the similar question “How are you doing?”) with:
And the typical answers to “What’s up?” are:
The phrase “How about you?” is used to ask the same question to the other person. Notice that it is spoken like this: “Howbout you?”
In the formal conversation, Ryan used the phrase “May I speak with…” – but in an informal conversation, you can use these phrases:
If the person is not available, some informal responses are:
This conversation also contains some expressions for asking someone to wait:
The formal equivalent of these phrases would be “One moment please” or “Please hold.”
At one point, Peter can’t hear or understand Ryan. Here are some phrases to use if you’re having difficulty hearing the other person on the phone.
If the bad connection causes the call to fail, you can call the other person back and say this:
“Cut off” is a phrasal verb that means the call failed or disconnected.
Towards the end of the conversation, Ryan uses the phrase “Gotcha” - this is a very informal phrase that means “I understand.” Another option is “Got it.” or “Right.”
Now you know the basic telephone vocabulary. In the next part of the lesson, you’re going to hear some conversations to learn some useful English phrases for talking on the phone.
Formal Telephone Conversation
Helen: Midtown Computer Solutions, Helen speaking. How can I help you?
Ryan: Hello, this is Ryan Bardos. May I speak with Natalie Jones, please?
Helen: One moment please – I’ll put you through.
Helen: Mr. Bardos? I’m sorry, Natalie’s in a meeting at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?
Ryan: Yes, could you ask her to call me back as soon as possible? It’s pretty urgent.
Helen: Of course. Does she have your number?
Ryan: She has my office number, but let me also give you my cell – it’s 472-555-8901.
Helen: Let me read that back to you – 472-555-8901.
Ryan: That’s right.
Helen: And could you spell your last name for me?
Ryan: B as in Boston – A – R – D as in dog – O – S as in September
Helen: Okay, Mr. Bardos. I’ll give her the message.
Ryan: Thanks a lot. Bye.
Now let’s listen to the second part of the conversation, when Natalie calls Ryan back.
Natalie: Hi, Ryan, this is Natalie returning your call.
Ryan: Hi Natalie, thanks for getting back to me. I was calling about the shipment of keyboards for our office – we haven’t gotten them yet.
Natalie: Oh, that’s not good – they were supposed to be delivered three days ago.
Ryan: Exactly, and we have a new group of employees starting on Monday, so we really need those keyboards as soon as possible.
Natalie: Okay, I’ll look into it right away – if necessary, we can send you an emergency overnight shipment.
Ryan: Thanks, Natalie, I appreciate it.
Natalie: No problem, Ryan. I’ll call you back a little later, as soon as I have more information.
Ryan: Sounds good – talk to you soon.
Telephone English Phrases – Formal Conversation
From these conversations, we can learn phrases for beginning a phone call, taking and leaving messages, checking and clarifying information, and finishing a phone call.
BEGINNING A CALL
When Helen answers the phone, she says, “Midtown Computer Solutions, Helen speaking. How can I help you?” This is a common way for a receptionist at a company or organization to answer the phone. Here are a couple alternatives:
To introduce yourself, you can say: “Hello, this is…” and if you want, you can add your company name:
Then, ask to speak to somebody by using the phrases:
You can also add the phrase “I’m calling about…” or “I’m calling to…” in order to give a reason for your call. Use “I’m calling about…” to introduce a topic, and “I’m calling to…” to introduce an action:
To connect or transfer the call, the receptionist says, “One moment please – I’ll put you through.” A few other phrases for transferring a call are:
TAKING / LEAVING MESSAGES
Unfortunately the person Ryan wants to speak to is not available, and the receptionist says “I’m sorry, Natalie’s in a meeting at the moment.” Here are some additional phrases to use when another person can’t answer a telephone call:
Then, there are two common phrases that are used for offering to take a message:
If you don’t want to leave a message, you can say: “No thanks, I’ll call back later.”
There are two polite ways to leave a message. You can make a statement starting with “Please” or a question starting with “Could you…” – usually followed by the verbs ask, tell, or remind and then “him” (if the message is for a man) or “her” (if the message is for a woman).
While taking the message, the receptionist used two phrases for checking and confirming information:
The verb “spell” means to say the letters of the word. Ryan replies:
It’s common to use phrases like “B as in Boston” and “S as in September” with letters that can be frequently confused with others, such as B and D, S and F, or M and N.
FINISHING A CALL
When you want to finish the conversation, you can use “signal phrases” – these are phrases indicating that the conversation is coming to an end:
If you want to promise future contact, you can use one of the phrases from the second conversation:
Then you can finish the conversation with one of these “final phrases”:
Response: “You too. Bye.”
There are different types of phones:
When someone calls you, the phone makes a sound – we say the phone is ringing. If you’re available, you pick up the telephone or answer the telephone, in order to talk to the person.
If there’s nobody to answer the phone, then the caller will have to leave a message on an answering machine or voice mail. Later, you can call back or return the call.
When you want to make a phone call, you start by dialing the number. Let’s imagine that you call your friend, but she’s already on the phone with someone else. You’ll hear a busy signal – a beeping sound that tells you the other person is currently using the phone.
Sometimes, when you call a company, they put you on hold. This is when you wait for your call to be answered – usually while listening to music.
Finally, when you’re finished with the conversation, you hang up.
After verbs ending in T and D sounds
After verbs ending in S, X, K, P, F, SH, and CH sounds
In all other verbs
Have you ever noticed some English words with hyphens between them? For example:
These are called compound adjectives – meaning an adjective that has two or more words.
In this lesson, you’re going to learn some of the most compound adjectives with example sentences.
Don’t use -s at the end of compound adjectives with numbers:
Use a hyphen when the compound adjective comes BEFORE the noun it modifies, but not when it comes AFTER the noun.
This is a world-famous museum.
This museum is world famous.
We walked into a brightly-lit room.
We walked into a room that was brightly lit.
It was quite a thought-provoking book.
The book was quite thought provoking.
Dickinson wrote often of death and immortality (usually related to one’s soul living forever, never dying), but her poetry wasn’t always about such deep (serious) topics. Here’s one of her more inspiring (causing positive thoughts and enthusiasm) poems:
If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Dickinson begins by saying that “If I can stop (prevent) one heart from breaking.” To break one’s heart is to become very sad, often because someone has died or left you. (Okay, okay, so this poem talks about death, too, but it gets happier in a minute (soon).)
Dickinson says that if she can stop someone’s heart from breaking, “I shall not live in vain.” Something done in vain is done without any good coming out of it, without being successful. But if she can prevent someone from becoming sad, then her life will not be in vain – her life will have meaning.
She continues with this theme: “If I can ease one life the aching.” To ease is to make something that is painful less painful, to help someone feel less pain. Aching here means basically pain, usually related to losing or being without someone. So if the person speaking in this poem can help ease someone’s pain, then (again) we learn that she “shall not (will not) live in vain.”
Dickinson adds two more images here: “Or cool one pain” and “Or help one fainting robin/Unto his nest again.” To cool one’s pain would be similar to ease it, to make it less painful. A robin is a small bird (see photo). To faint usually means to fall down due to some temporary illness (sickness) or, more specifically, lack of (not having enough) oxygen.
We would not normally think of robins as “fainting,” but apparently it can happen. Anyway, this robin can faint, and Dickinson says that if she can help the poor bird “Unto his nest again,” she will not have lived in vain. A nest is a bird’s home (see photo), so to help one “unto” his nest would be to help the bird back into his nest, so he is safe.
Dickinson is telling us, I think, that in helping other people who need help, we can give our own lives meaning. As we approach (get nearer to) the holiday season, that’s a good thought for all of us to keep in mind (remember).
P.S:This post is taken from www.eslpod.com.
Vocabulary learning is one of the important parts of language learning, however a lot of language learners do not clearly know how they should do it and what they should learn about a new word.I have already talked about the pieces of information which should be learned about a word (in postings90-4,90-5,90-6,90-7 ). In this posting ,I am going to talk about antonyms(words with almost opposite meanings) and synonyms(words with almost same meanings).
Most of the teachers while teaching new words bombard the students with synonyms or antonyms of new words.Doing this, they try to improve vocabulary knowledge of students.Teachers believe that if they give synonyms and antonyms of new words they will be automatically learned beside new words.Likewise,students are interested in learning synonyms and antonyms of new words and usually insist teachers to give them antonyms ans synonyms of new words .Is this a right approach?Do learning antonyms and synonyms help?What does research say?
on vocabulary learning shows that giving synonyms and antonyms while
teaching new words makes the job more difficult for students, specially
giving synonyms and antonyms which themselves are not familiar.It seems
that learning antonyms and synonyms besides new words overloads
students' memory.Therefore it is not a good idea to make the already
difficult process of vocabulary learning more difficult by giving more
new words(synonyms and antonyms).
In sum,learning synonyms and antonyms of new words do not seem very helpful.Instead, teachers and students alike should focus on learning collocations(for more information please go to posting 90-76) of new words which can improve accuracy and fluency of students much better.
What do you think?Do you think learning synonyms an antonyms is helpful?