Port, harbour, dock, wharf, quay, pier, mole and jetty: fight!

431201_10151412050924434_2116400162_nDuring my trip to Canada I stayed in a coastal city – Vancouver – where I heard these words a lot. Being born and raised in a Brazilian inland city – Blumenau – the definition of those words were overlapping inside my head; I couldn’t understand their differences and neither could some native Canadians. When I asked them some would stop to think about it and start discussing with each other whether a specific place is a quay or harbour, for instance.

Now, after researching (i.e. googling) for a while, I’m here to share with you what I’ve found.

Ready?

Continue reading

Many or much? Few or little? Know what you can count.

531969_55075139Some things you can count but other ones you cannot.
That’s the reason you have to be careful when using “many” or “much”, for instance. Let me make it clear: some words can only be used with things you can relate to a quantity, i.e. a specified amount.

So you want to use indefinite quantifiers – words you put in front of a noun which are not quantities but represent “how much” it is – but you are not sure when to use them?
It’s easier than you think.

Continue reading

They’re not “f”, “s”, “d” nor “t”; they’re the “th” sounds.

th_mouth_position_YYBFor non-native English speakers these sounds might be very difficult to be learnt. There’re 2 standard sounds represented by the letters “th” in English.
And there is no way out: you can’t replace them with sounds you consider ”alike”. They’re unique sounds and once you learn them you – and others – will notice a watershed in your English pronunciation ability.

When travelling for instance, people may not understand if you pronounce “three” and “tree” the same; they might get what you’re saying from the context but still, this kind of mistake definitely affects the quality of the communication.

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Continue reading

Take control over your tongue: learn the IPA.

einstein_tongueOne thing that frustrates everybody learning a new language is pronunciation.

We get shy, think we are not able to do it, that it’s too hard, that we are dumb, yada yada yada. The reason for this is probably the social pressure we are usually subjected to. Quite often we have that friend, who speaks the language we are learning, and who may tease us for not being able to reproduce the sounds of that language properly. And the jokes are everywhere, not only in our social circles, but in the internet – obviously – as well. Here are some…

Continue reading

Assume vs presume: don’t assume it!

664535_23124841You have probably noticed that I love to watch words fighting. :P
I mean, there are so many words that look very similar and can have the same meaning in some contexts, that we just ignore their diferences. We assume their meanings.

A friend and former teacher of mine, Vicky, told me something her father says: “don’t assume, or you might be making an ass out of you and me“. Clever, eh?

So, do you really know the difference between assume and presume?
I didn’t. And I’ve just found a video that will…

Continue reading