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Fun to learn - IDIOMS and EXPRESSIONS



English is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world. English has become a requirement in professions such as medicine, and computing. Research in many fields is now published in English. Many university textbooks are only available in English.


English is becoming the language for international communication. Unfortunately, this means that the best jobs and the best opportunities will go to those who speak English fluently.


Imagine your World with EnglishLearning the English language is a skill. English can be broken down into small pieces and each area mastered. There is nothing mysterious about it.

It is, though, very difficult to master a language without the help of skilled teachers.

We can help you improve.


We offer excellent free options: FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest, Blogs, and Free teaching (stories with learning links, plus more).

 – Imagine your World with English –


Like many languages, English has many levels of formality

For example, when you ask about something (a noun), you can say. . .

Do you want some more coffee? (very informal)

Would you like some more coffee? (more polite)

Can I offer you some more coffee? (more formal and polite)

Would you care for some more coffee? (most formal and polite)

When you ask about an action (a verb), you can say . . .

Do you want to dance? (very informal)

Would you like to dance? (more polite)

Would you care to dance? (most formal and polite)

(Notice that when you use a verb, you must use care to and not care for.)

It’s good to understand that these questions all mean the same thing. However, different words are required depending on how well you know the person to whom you are speaking.


We all have the same amount of time

All cultures have the same number of hours in the day, but each culture views time differently. Did you know that North Americans think that time is almost as important as money? Sometimes we would rather have time for a holiday instead of the money for working those hours. We value time very highly.

Because of this, when you plan to spend a lot of time talking to someone either in person or on the phone, it is considered polite to ask if they have time to talk. This is especially true of someone in authority (such as your boss, your teacher or professor, doctor, etc.) or someone you are dealing with in business.



A syllable is a part of a word that contains a vowel SOUND

Don’t confuse the vowel sounds with the number of vowels in a word. For example, heat contains two vowels, but only one vowel sound. It has only one syllable.

Create contains three vowels, but we only hear two, so it has two syllables (cre / ate).

It is important to know which syllable in a word is stressed. To stress the wrong syllable will make the word unintelligible or give it a different meaning. Some words change from nouns to verbs just by stressing a different syllable.


CONtract is a noun meaning a written agreement.

ConTRACT is a verb meaning to make smaller.

OBject is a noun referring to anything we can see or feel.

ObJECT is a verb meaning to disagree with.

PREsent is a noun meaning a gift.

PreSENT is a verb meaning to give.

When you look up words in your English dictionary, be sure to check the stress in the word. It is just as important as the pronunciation of the letters.


There are many ways to add emphasis to your words in English

One way is simply to add words and phrases to the sentence such as especially, always, particularly, in addition, etc.


  • I like to work outside, particularly in the fall.
  • I especially like to work outside in the fall.

Another way is to repeat words or phrases to create emphasis.


  • That ride made me sick. It just kept going around and around.
  • I have told the kids over and over to call home if they are going to be late.

A third way is through the use of do or did as an auxiliary verb in a positive sentence. When put it in front of a base verb, it emphasizes the action of the verb. Sometimes it is used to emphasize the opposite of what a person believes.


A: I don’t think John went to the movies.

B: Yes, I think he did go.

This is stronger than, “Yes, I think he went.”


There are many ways to talk about emotions in English

One of the more powerful emotions is anger.

There are many phrasal verbs and idioms that mean to become or make someone angry.

Blow up means to suddenly become very angry.

Fed up means to be frustrated and angry with someone.

We can drive someone crazy, which means that we are causing someone to become angry or frustrated.

If we lose it or hit the roof, it means we are very angry.

We hope that learning all these phrasal verbs is not frustrating you and that we are not “driving you crazy” with all these definitions!


That which does not kill us makes us stronger – Friedrich Nietzsch

Sometimes the above quote is changed a little in English, and we say:

What does not destroy us makes us stronger

If you have friends in Edmonton, or you follow us on facebook, you may have heard that spring is making an unusual entry here. We are getting snow! Snow! And more snow! The news announcer just said we will probably have the biggest snowfall we have had since winter started – approximately 20 cm!

At a time like this, many of us ask ourselves, “Why do I live in a city where the weather is so extreme?” I can tell you one of the reasons I live here.

I live here because I believe the above quote is true.

Living and working in a country with a lot of snow can be challenging. Driving, for example, is difficult and dangerous. It makes even simple tasks like pushing a grocery cart difficult.

So why do I live in Canada? Part of the reason is because I believe that winter makes me, in some small way, a stronger person.

What does not destroy us makes us stronger

Recently, a friend forwarded some beautiful photos to me.The subject line of the email was SNOW QUILTS. That got my curiosity up! What on earth, I wondered, is a snow quilt? I imagined thick, warm winter blankets, covered in beautiful patterns that looked like snowflakes.

When I scrolled down the email, I was amazed at the beautiful photos that followed.

The photos were impressive, and the story inspired me.

It was a story about man named Simon Beck whose feet were in pain and who could no longer run.

He took his hardship and made something beautiful and unique out of it.

The story made me think of many of you, our students and online friends who are working to learn a new language.

We learn new languages because we want more in life

Some of you have to overcome difficult circumstances – like Simon Beck in the story.

Mr. Beck spends days alone in the snow creating snow quilts.

His hard work pays off. He creates something very beautiful, and he has become recognized around the world for his perseverance and talent.

Interestingly, his patterns are most beautiful from a distance.

Keeping the big picture in view is important

His story reminds us that it isn’t challenges that shape our character; it’s what we do with them.

See more photos of Simon Beck’s work

What about you? What (or who) inspires you to overcome difficulties?


911 - ambulance

Spelling is a difficult area to master in English.

You might identify with the man in this joke.

John’s wife fell down the stairs and was in terrible pain, so he called 911.

The 911 operator said that they would send an ambulance right away.

“What’s your address?” the operator asked.

“38 Eucalyptus Drive,” John replied.

The operator asked, “Can you spell that for me?”

There was a long pause and finally John said, “How ‘bout I carry my wife over to Oak Street and you pick her up there?”


english pronunciation on line PORCH

A new immigrant to Canada decided that he wanted to earn some extra money. He went into a nice neighbourhood and rang the doorbell of a large home.

“Do you need any work done?” he asked. “I am willing to do any kind of work.”

The homeowner said, “Well, our porch needs painting. I’ll pay you $100 if you paint the porch. What do you think? Do you know how to paint?”

“Oh, sure,” said the immigrant. “I was a painter in my home country. I’m a good painter. “You’ve got a deal.

“Here’s a can of paint so you can get started,” said the homeowner.

The homeowner went inside and told his wife. His wife was angry with him.

“Our porch is huge. That was unfair of you to offer him only $100. That poor man; you took advantage of him. It will take him a week to paint our porch. “

“Maybe so, but he agreed to do it for $100.”

“Did he know how big the porch was when he agreed?” his wife asked.

“He must have known. He was standing on it.”

So the wife decided everything was okay, and that her husband hadn’t, after all, taken advantage of the man.

Two hours later the doorbell rang again. The homeowner answered it, and there was the man with the empty can of paint.

“Finished,” he said.

“So soon?” asked the homeowner, feeling very pleased with his good bargain. As he paid the $100 he asked, “Did you have enough paint? It’s a big porch.”

“Oh sure!” replied the newcomer. “Lots. Thank you for the work.”

“Oh, and by the way,” he said, as he turned to leave, “That’s not a Porch. That’s a Ferrari.”



Understanding humour in a different culture can be challenging.

There is a type of joke in English called a Good News/Bad News joke.

As is typical with most western jokes, the ending is unexpected.

The pattern of a Good News/Bad News joke is always similar. The first person says, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

The second person in the joke chooses either the good or the bad news, gets the information, and then says, “Okay, what’s the (other) news?”.

We think the joke is funny if the ending surprises us.

Here’s a good news/bad news joke for you.

A man got a phone call from his doctor.

“I have good news and bad news,” said the doctor. “Which do you want to hear first?”

“Give me the good news first,” said the man.

“You have 24 hours to live,” said the doctor.

“That’s terrible!” exclaimed the man. “That’s the good news?! Nothing could possibly be worse than that! Go ahead; give me the bad news.”

The doctor replied, “I’ve been trying to phone you since yesterday.”



The other evening in class, one of our students asked about the difference between “Do you have time?” and “Do you have the time?”.

It’s a great question! The two expressions are similar, but they have completely different meanings.

Do you have the time?

This means, “What time is it?”

Conversation example:

Angela (to Zoe): I think we should leave soon. What time is it?

Zoe: I’m not sure. I think it’s about five o’clock.

Angela (to Steve): Excuse me Steve, do you have the time?

Steve: It’s 5:45.

Zoe: Oh! We’d better hurry! If we don’t leave now, we’ll be late!

Do you have time?

This means, “Do you have enough time?” to do something specific.

Conversation example:

Sid: I heard you saying that you read the online STORIES for extra practice. Do you like them?

Steve: Yes, I find them very helpful. Do you have time to practice every day? That’s the best way to benefit from them.