Tag Archives: Speaking

Jealousy and Envy – what do you feel?

Jealousy and envy are two feelings that are quite similar, but the words are often used incorrectly. Let’s see what’s going on:

Jealous (verb & adjective) and jealousy (noun) describe the feeling when someone is afraid to lose something to someone else. It’s always used in negative situations.

  • I’m jealous of your success, co-worker. I should have gotten that promotion!
  • He’s a jealous partner – he won’t even allow his girlfriend to use the phone unless he can listen to the conversation too.
  • Jealousy makes normal people act in strange ways, sometimes.

‘Jealously,’ used as an adverb, is possible, but very uncommon. Use ‘in a jealous manner’ instead.

  • She watched jealously as he texted a friend. She watched in a jealous manner as he texted a friend.

Envy (noun & verb), envious (adjective), and enviously (adverb) describe the feeling when a person wants something that another person possesses. It can be positive, but is usually used in negative situations.

  • I envy your success, co-worker. I will work hard so I can get the next promotion!
  • They felt envy when they saw the lottery winner.
  • She is envious of your education – she would have enjoyed going to your university.
  • The silver medal winners watched enviously as the champions received their gold medals.

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!

What do I say?

I had a conversation with a student the other day. She wanted to learn the pronunciation for the show with horses, fighting, and lots of politics: “Game of … Chairs?”

We have all been there. We don’t know how to say a word, or we don’t know what word to use. Some will stop talking, others will reach for a translator, but the best choice, in my opinion, is to describe the word you don’t know. Native speakers do this all the time, but it seems that students of English don’t do it as much as they could.

Here are some examples. Try to guess the word I’m thinking about:

I went to the place where you learn about stuff.  <-school

Can you help me find something that will stop the water from going out of the bathtub? <-a bathtub plug

He was running, like an animal, very quickly, up the mountain. He slipped but it didn’t matter, because he continued anyway. <-scrambling

There are two things we can do to keep our conversation going:

  • Describe the missing word with a phrase. (place where you learn about stuff = school)
  • Use a synonym you know is wrong, and ask for correction. (Game of Chairs = thrones)

Try it out! I’m sure you will find that your conversations will be easier.

Every day and everyday. Are they synonyms?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no, and there are several clues we can use to help choose the right expression.

Everyday is an adjective, so it describes a noun, and it means ‘regular, normal, common.’

“My everyday shoes are made of leather.”

We cannot change this to show a different amount of time. “Everyweek, everymonth, and everyyear” are not English.

Every day is used to show a time or repetition. It means ‘each day, without a break.”

“I wear my leather shoes every day.”

We can change this to show repetition over time. “Every month, every hour, and every year” are all good expressions.

“I get a massage every month.”
“I email my boss every hour.”
“I celebrate my birthday every year.”

Now, it is time to practice your everyday English. Speak, listen, read, and write every day!”

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!”

In My View vs. From My Point Of View

In my view – this is used to describe an opinion.

  • “In my view, the plan is bad, because it will be very expensive.”

From my point of view – this is used for an opinion, but it sounds like a contrast will be made with another opinion..

  • Jennifer: From my point of view, snow is bad, because it means none of my customers will come to my golf course.
  • James: From my point of view, snow is good, because it means I will have people attend my skiing classes!

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!

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.

Stressed Out?

By moving our sentence stress, we can change the emphasis of a sentence. I heard this great example from a friend:

“I never said she stole my money” can have seven different meanings according to the stressed word.

1. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it; someone else did.

2. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it, not even once.

3. I never said she stole my money – I never said it, but perhaps I wrote it or thought it.

4. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; somebody else did.

5. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; it was a gift.

6. I never said she stole my money – She stole someone else’s money.

7. I never said she stole my money – She stole something else.

Connotation and Denotation

When we learn a new word, we learn its meaning – the denotation. We also learn spelling and pronunciation, but we should also look at the context where we use the word. You see, there are words with the same denotation, like “examination” and “quiz,” but we would never say “I’m going to the doctor’s office for a quiz!” That’s because “quiz” has connotations of school and short duration, but “examination” has connotations of science, medicine, and detail.

The difference between a good user of English and a great user of English is often their mastery of connotations, which they use to help select the best word for each context.

How to choose? Good question.

  • The first item is our emotion. What is our attitude towards our topic? Angry, respectful, happy, sad, or something else?
  • The second is the formality. Are we speaking formally? Are we writing casually?
  • The last is the topic. Is there a clear context, like business, university, romance, or creativity?

If you’re choosing connotations for a school assignment, like a test, also be sure to check the grammar – singular/plural, word forms, and count/noncount may all be reasons to eliminate multiple choices that your teacher has given you!