Category Archives: Vancouver

Drinking and sneezing

I had a great question the other day. “When do I say ‘cheers!’ and when do I say ‘bless you? Here’s how to use these expressions to fit in with Canadians.

“Cheers!” Use this at the table, in the pub, or at the bar, when you’re starting a drink. Lift your glass, or touch it to a friend’s class, and say “Cheers!” It means “Good health!”

“Bless you!” Use this after a friend sneezes. Don’t say it after you sneeze, though – that would be strange!

Secret Bus Shortcuts

Recently, I’ve been teaching a group of students who have just arrived in Vancouver. They want to see our city, but they don’t know much about where the buses go. Here’s a little breakdown of bus numbers and what they mean.

Routes 1-100 all travel in Vancouver city.
Routes 101 – 149 (&155) all travel in Burnaby or New Westminster.
Routes 150 – 199 (except 155) all travel in Coquitlam, Port Moody, or Port Coquitlam.
Routes 200 – 249 all travel in North Vancouver.
Routes 250 – 299 all travel in West Vancouver.
Routes 300 – 399 all travel in Surrey, North Delta, or White Rock.
Routes 400 – 490 all travel in Richmond.
Routes 500 – 599 all travel in Langley.
Routes 600 – 699 all travel in South Delta.
Routes 700 – 799 all travel in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
Routes 800 – 899 are for high school students only.

Routes starting with a C, like C5, use minibuses and have very short routes. They are also called “Community Shuttles.”

Routes starting with an N, like N9, are late-night buses. They run from 1:30am to 4:00am.

Some Vancouver routes, like 4, 9, 41, and 49, travel mostly on their avenues: 49 UBC goes on 49th Avenue, for example.

Happy traveling, and I hope you find your way around Vancouver easily!

So far….

This expression means “until now.” Use it to talk about a situation that is not yet finished, as in: “So far, school has been easy. We have only three weeks left in the semester, so I hope the test isn’t too hard!”

There is an expression where we use this phrase: “so far, so good.” This means “until now, everything is ok.”
“Hey, Carla, how is your marketing campaign going?”
“So far, so good, Dave. I hope we can increase our sales every week until Christmas!”

Top Five Vocab Mistakes on Your Resume:

1. Talking about your personality. Phrases like “motivated,” “sociable,” and “good at working on a team” are better put in your cover letter. The resumé should focus on your accomplishments, where the cover letter makes connections between you and the job you want.

2. “Responsible” or “responsibility.” While these words may be true, they are not clear. As an example: “responsible for hiring new employees.” Does this mean that you actually interviewed and decided who to hire, or does it mean that you told someone else to interview and make the decision? Replace them with a more specific word – in our examples, we could say “hired new workers” or “oversaw the hiring process.”

3. Using abbreviations after a name. An example: “Technical University of Canada South, Vancouver (TUCSV).” If this is the only mention of this university, you don’t need to waste space with the abbreviation.

4. Advertising. Some people like to add marketing information about their university or company: “Canada Collegiate School (the leading technical university in Canada).” The boss isn’t trying to decide on a university, and the quality of the school doesn’t necessarily transfer to the students at that university! If you need to describe your university or company, keep the details brief and factual. A better example: “QWERTY UIOP Technologies (computer manufacturer),” or “Canada Collegiate School (technical university.)” Make sure the boss gets excited about you, not your schools or companies.

5. Using “et cetera,” “and so on,” or other expressions. If you’re going to give a list, give the whole list. If you are giving just a few examples, tell the boss that.
“Completed projects with computers, models, presentations, et cetera.” becomes “Completed projects with computers, including models, presentations, and presentations.”

Keep the boss interested by using your best vocab and expressions. The resumé is a marketing document – it advertises you, the worker – and so it should be interesting to read. Good luck!

Trip and Travel Woes

Trip and Travel

These words, when used to describe journeys or voyages, are basically synonyms, but there are some differences in their connotations and grammar.

Trip is a count noun, and it is also a verb meaning “to fall over.”  A trip could be a short or long distance, and it could take a short or long time. We use it to talk about the whole voyage or journey. We usually use it with the verbs plan, take, or go on.

  • I planned a trip to Egypt to see the pyramids. (emphasizing the whole time away or the complete voyage)
  • I took many trips in Vancouver: I went to Whistler, Deep Cove, and Stanley Park. (emphasizing the number of adventures)
  • She went on a trip last week, so she wasn’t in school.

Travel is usually a non-count noun and a verb with a similar meaning. In contrast, however, it is always a long time and a long distance.

  • Last year, I traveled to 6 countries.
  • My travel took three months.

If we use it to describe a short journey, we are comparing it to a long journey. This might be a joke, or to show how unhappy we are with it.

  • I have to travel to Kitsilano every day from Granville Street. I hate my homestay!
  • Please bring me the remote control. I am sick, and I don’t want to travel to the other sofa to get it.

Funny English!

There are two joke types that came up in conversations at work today: “Knock knock” jokes and “Roses are red…” jokes. These both have a specific format, so let’s learn how to be funny in English!

Knock knock jokes need two people to participate.

Person A: Knock knock!

Person B:Who’s there?

Person A: [name]

Person B: [name] who?

Person A: [joke with name!]

Person A: Knock knock?

Person B: Who’s there?

Person A: Isabel.

Person B: Isabel who?

Person A: Isabel necessary on a bicycle? (Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?)

The best knock-knock jokes have a pun (a joke made from the sound of a word, not the meaning) that involves the name.

“Roses are Red” jokes are based upon a poem structure. The first two lines are always the same:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

After this, you add two more lines about something funny. The rhythm and the rhyme should match the first two lines.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

We put the joke together like this:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

Most Canadians will be familiar with these kinds of jokes. Ask your homestay family or your Canadian friends to tell you some and post them here!

Make, Do, and Have: which is right for the interview?

Let’s keep it clear. As a worker, you will have an interview with a boss.

As a boss, you will have or do an interview with a worker.

Nobody will make interviews with anyone.

An intern will do an internship. A worker will do a job.

Nobody makes internships or jobs, except when a boss might create a completely new job from nothing. “I liked that person so much I made a job for them. They start Tuesday.”

Work is noncount. “I did a lot of work with customers,” not “I did three works with customers.”

Five Parts Of a Story

I’ve been teaching some classes in creative writing lately, and I wanted to share some of the most important details in storytelling.

Every successful story has 5 parts. They may not always be in the same order, but they are always present.

1 – Where does it happen?
2- Who is there?
3 – What is the problem?
4- Why is the problem important now?
5- How does the problem get solved?

By explaining these to your reader, they will be able to follow your story clearly. You can use them in other areas too – I learned them at the Vancouver Theater Sports League as hints for improvising actors, but they also make sense in presentations, job interviews, and other formal situations.

Six-Pack of Financial Words

Just a few words for work conversations today.

  • bankruptcy – noun – a time when a company runs out of money and can no longer pay their debts.
  • liquidation – noun – a time after bankruptcy when the company’s stuff is sold to get money to pay their debts.
  • liquid asset – noun – an asset is something that a business or person owns. A liquid asset is one that is easily sold or exchanged, like cash, gold, or certain investments.
  • fixed asset – noun – A fixed asset is not as easily sold or exchanged as a liquid asset. This group might include real estate, machinery, inventory, or contracts.
  • expenditure – noun – the money that a business needs to spend in order to do business. This might include buying supplies, paying salaries and rent, repairing machines, or advertising products.
  • revenue – noun – the money that comes into a business from doing its business activities, before expenses are paid