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Some Common English Idioms, Part I

The English language, which is spoken as an official language in countries as widely ranging as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, has gathered many idioms over the centuries that are still in use today. An idiom is basically a phrase that is figurative and used to describe literal situations with words that may not be clear to a non-native speaker. Let's take a look today at a few common idioms that you may hear when you are speaking English with somebody.

 

A team of scribes with the wisdom of Solomon went the extra mile to make King James' translation all things to all men.

Captions 6-7, The History of English The King James Bible

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The idiom "to go the extra mile" means to make an extra effort at something. If you are not familiar with the Bible or the Quran, you may not know who Solomon (also written "Sulayman") was. To say someone is as "wise as Solomon" means they are very smart indeed, as King Solomon is considered by religious people to have been a very wise prophet. 

 

So it's going to be forever or it's going to go down in flames.

Captions 19-20, Taylor Swift Blank Space

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The idiom "to go down in flames" probably originates from the time of the First World War, when airplanes were first used in combat and would literally "go down in flames." Its figurative meaning is to fail suddenly and dramatically. A similar phrase, "to be shot down in flames," means to be suddenly rejected.

 

So, the expression "once in a blue moon" is a way of saying, "very, very rarely—almost never."

Captions 42-43, The Alphabet the Letter M

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The meaning of this idiom is nicely explained in the example sentence. A "blue moon" has several different meanings, but all of them mean a type of moon that is not actually blue to the eye, but only occurs every several months or years. The phrase first appeared in print in the early 1500s and has thus been in common usage for 500 years!

 

But he said he could cut us some slack.

Caption 30, Business English Difficulties with coworkers and contracts - Part 3

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The idiom "to cut somebody some slack" means to not judge someone too harshly. Some think that the phrase, which has been in use for some hundreds of years, comes from the way sailors tie a ship to a dock with ropes. To "give slack to" or "to slacken" means to loosen or allow more line or rope.

 

You can eat all my food, smash up my walls, but I draw the line...

Caption 20, A Mickey Mouse Cartoon Goofy's Grandma

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The idiom "to draw the line" means that a limit has been reached and something must stop. The ancient Romans would draw a line in the sand and order their troops not to proceed past that point. It has been used as an idiom in English for hundreds of years in a figurative sense.

 

Further Learning
Try using the above idioms in your own sentences and have another student or your teacher check your work to see if you properly understood the meanings. Thank you for using Yabla English!

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Verbos de acción en inglés

 

Los verbos en inglés que describen una acción, en lugar de una situación o un estado de ser, son el tipo más común de verbos. A diferencia de los otros tipos de verbos, tienen la característica común de terminar siempre en la letra "s" en tiempo presente en singular en tercera persona (he, she, it):

 

 

He takes a step back.

Él da un paso hacia atrás.

Subtítulo 5, David Gallo Underwater astonishments - Part 2

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I travel the world telling stories to connect cultures

Viajo por el mundo contando historias para conectar culturas

Subtítulo 4  Alison's Adventures Your Passport To the World (LONDON)

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He (subject) takes (action verb) a step (object).

I (subject) travel (action verb) the world (object).

 

Él (sujeto) da (verbo de acción) un paso (objeto).

Yo (sujeto ) viajo (verbo de acción) por el mundo (objeto).

 

Hay tres formas de oraciones en las que se puede encontrar un verbo de acción: una oración afirmativa (como en los ejemplos anteriores); una oración negativa; y una oración interrogativa, o pregunta. 

 

Para cambiar las oraciones afirmativas anteriores por oraciones negativas, agregue el verbo "to do" (hacer)  y "not", la forma declarativa de "no".

 

He does not take a step.

I do not travel the world.

 

No da un paso.

No viajo por el mundo.

 

Para cambiar la forma afirmativa por la forma interrogativa (o pregunta), añada el verbo "to do" al principio de la oración con un signo de interrogación al final:

 

Does he take a step?

Does he eat the fruit?

 

¿Da él un paso?

¿Come él la fruta?

 

Entonces, para reiterar:

 

Afirmativa: He takes a step.

Negativa: He does not take a step.

Interrogativa: Does he take a step?

 

Afirmativa: I travel the world.

Negativa: I do not travel the world.

Interrogativa: Do I travel the world?

 

Aprendizaje adicional 

 

Busca algunos vídeos en Yabla English y encuentra otros ejemplos de frases afirmativas con verbos de acción. Practica convertirlas en oraciones negativas con "to do" y "not", y en oraciones interrogativas con "to do" y un signo de interrogación al final. 

 

Estudia las otras lecciones que hemos preparado para tí. 

 

 
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El tiempo continuo

 

El tiempo continuo (o progresivo) comprende dos partes: el verbo "to be" en presente, pasado o futuro, combinado con el participio presente del verbo principal. Es una forma verbal común en el idioma inglés, en realidad más común que el tiempo simple en el idioma hablado.

 

Encontremos un ejemplo en Yabla English del tiempo presente continuo:

 

Halloween is coming up! -Yes, it is. -Right?

¡Halloween se acerca! -Sí, así es. -¿Correcto?

Subtítulo 25,  The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Camila Cabello at Taylor Swift's Halloween Party

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Para formar el tiempo presente continuo descrito, el tiempo presente del verbo "to be" ("es") se combina con el participio presente del verbo "to come up" (añadiendo "ing") al final del verbo. El tiempo presente continuo expresa algo que está actualmente incompleto o inacabado.

 

Y seguimos con el tiempo pasado continuo:

 

Rapunzel was tying these pieces together to make a rope.

Rapunzel estaba atando estas piezas para hacer una cuerda

Subtítulo  39, Fairy Tales Rapunzel - Part 2

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Para formar el tiempo pasado continuo del ejemplo, el tiempo pasado del verbo "to be" ("was") se combina con el participio presente del verbo "to tie". El tiempo pasado continuo expresa algo que está incompleto o inacabado en el pasado.

 

Y por último, el tiempo continuo del futuro:

 

So, Julia, this is where you will be working from.

Entonces, Julia, aquí es desde donde va a trabajar.

Subtítulo 14, Business English Starting on a new job - Part 2

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Para formar el tiempo futuro continuo anterior, el tiempo futuro del verbo "to be" ("será") se combina con el participio presente del verbo "to work". El tiempo continuo futuro expresa que algo está incompleto o inacabado que sucederá en el futuro. En este caso, el trabajo se realizará en algún momento en el futuro.

 

Aprendizaje adicional 

 

Echa un vistazo a este artículo sobre formas verbales básicas y busca en Yabla English  algunos verbos de participio presente (que terminan en -ing) y observa cómo se usan estos tiempos en el contexto cotidiano.

 

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Los tiempos simples del verbo

 

El tiempo simple, en sus formas presente, pasado y futuro, se llama "simple" porque consiste en una sola palabra,

-¿Una sola palabra?

 

Si el verbo aparece solo,  a diferencia de otros tiempos verbales como presente progresivo (present continuos): I am studying english grammar, o el  presente perfecto (present perfect): she has studied english grammar.  La forma en primera persona del tiempo presente simple es casi siempre la misma que la forma del diccionario del verbo.

 

Con el verbo "write" (escribir), por ejemplo, el presente simple en primera persona es "I write" (yo escribo).

 

 

Well, when I write songs, I sometimes will write it on a piano

Bueno, cuando escribo canciones, a veces la escribo en un piano

Caption 27, Bee and Flower Interview

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En tiempo pasado simple, la forma básica "write" cambia a "wrote". Algunos verbos básicos sólo añaden "-ed" para formar el pasado, pero muchos son irregulares, es decir, sus tres tiempos básicos (presente, pasado, futuro) son ligeramente diferentes entre ellos  y serán aprendidos de memoria

 

 

I wrote this song and I wanted it to be this alive product

Escribí esta canción y quería que fuera un producto vivo

Caption 35, Rise Up And Sing Recording the song - Part 3

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El tiempo futuro simple consiste en añadir "will" (o "shall") antes del verbo:

 

 

You know, Tammy will write a song and then record it on her laptop

Ya sabes, Tammy escribe una canción y luego la graba en su computadora portátil

Caption 92, Royalchord Interview

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Aprendizaje adicional 

 

Echa un vistazo a esta lista de verbos básicos y sus tiempos pasados simples irregulares, y busca en Yabla English, en uno de tus videos favoritos, para ver cómo se usan en contexto.

 
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Pronouncing English plurals ending in "s"

Most words in English are made plural by simply adding the letter "s" to the end. Sometimes, if the word ends with a vowel such as "y," then it changes to "ies" when plural (one baby, many babies, one country, many countries). Sometimes words ending in consonants add "-es" for the plural (one coach, many coaches).

 

I've noticed that some non-native English speakers have mother tongues that don't include a sound similar to the letter "z" as pronounced in English. This makes it very difficult for them to pronounce the "z" sound. This sound is made with the top of the tongue vibrating against the middle of the palate and makes a buzzing "zzzzzz" sound like the sound a bee makes. 

 

Most English words use this "z" pronunciation on the plural "s." If you accidentally pronounce some English plurals with the "s" sound instead of the proper "z" sound, it could lead to some misunderstandings, as there are other words in English that are spelled differently, but sound the same (they are called homophones): 

 

And they made your eyes look different.

Caption 9, Adele at the BBC When Adele wasn't Adele... but was Jenny!

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If you accidentally pronounce "eyes" with the "s" sound instead of the "z" sound, a native English speaker may misunderstand the sentence as "And they made your ice look different."  This is because "eyes" spoken falsely with the "s" pronunciation sounds exactly the same as "ice." It's a similar situation here: 

 

Oh yes, all they think of is spies, and the war, of course.

Caption 50, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four - BBC TV Movie - Part 6

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If the last "s" in "spies" is not pronounced correctly, it will sound the same as the word "spice." There are a number of homophones that could lead people to misunderstand what you are saying if you mispronounce the plural "s," such as "tries" ("trice"), "lies" ("lice"), and "plays" ("place"). 

 

There are, however, English words ending in certain consonants where the plural "s" is indeed pronounced "s," and not "z." These are mostly words that end in "k," "p," and "t." The reason why the plural "s" cannot sound like a "z" in these words is because it tends to make these consonants sound like different consonants if you use the "z" sound: 

 

The backs are the sleek, faster-running players.

Caption 13, Rugby 101

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Now, people have literally no idea how to access water from modern taps.

Caption 55, BBC Comedy Greats Michael McIntyre on Google Earth

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Where we all share our best bits, but leave out the emotion

Caption 14, Look Up A spoken word film for an online generation

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If you try to pronounce the words highlighted above with the plural "s" pronounced incorrectly as "z," you'll see that they sound like different words: "backs" becomes "bags," "taps" becomes "tabs," and "bits" becomes "bids."

 

So remember: most English plurals ending in "s" have the "s" pronounced as a "z," except for words ending with "k," "p," and "t."  Let's call this the KPT rule!

 

Further Learning
Have a tandem partner who is a native English speaker open a dictionary at random and pick out a word for you to pronounce as a plural word. They may occasionally find plurals that don't end in "s," but this will be the exception. They can also find words for you that end with "k," "p," and "t" to test you. Try to remember the KPT rule and you should get the pronunciation right every time! 

Thanks to you all for reading this, keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at newsletter@yabla.com, and you can tweet us @yabla.

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Wishful Thinking

Many of our social activities have been reduced by the current crisis, giving us a lot more time on our own. Maybe this is a good time to think about what we wish for the future. Let's take a look today at some English sentences that use the standard phrase that begins "I wish..."

 

I wish that I could be like the cool kids.

Caption 8, Echosmith Cool Kids

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By "cool kids," they mean the kids who are more popular.

 

I wish I could find a book to live in.

Caption 11, Miley Cyrus - The Backyard Sessions Look What They've Done To My Song

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This is a poetic way of saying she wishes her life had more excitement and romance — like in a book!

 

I wish I would've had more time to travel around.

Caption 37, Ask Jimmy Carter Interview with Demi Moore

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These days, the problem is not so much having the time to travel as the fact that travel restrictions often make traveling impossible.

 

How I wish, how I wish you were here

Caption 12, David Gilmour Wish You Were Here

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Most of us are missing friends and family members who we aren't able to see because of travel restrictions. At least it's usually possible to call them or have a video chat. It's not the same as being there, but it helps!

 

I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words.

Caption 2, Twenty One Pilots Stressed Out

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The singer of the band Twenty One Pilots clearly needs to get some singing lessons and work on his lyrics!

 

I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Caption 5, Katie Melua River

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The river she wants to skate away on had better be frozen solid or she'll be swimming in her ice skates.

 

I wish it hadn't happened. But it did.

Caption 63, Matthew Modine Showreel

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As far as the crisis goes, it is still happening, but it is good to be realistic about things, as Mr. Modine advises.

 

I wish you a Merry Christmas. Goodbye!

Caption 60, Christmas in London People

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Some countries actually celebrate Christmas in July. It's also possible to say "It's like Christmas in July!" when you get a present, even though it's not a holiday or your birthday.

 

Further Learning
Make up some sentences about things that you wish for using the phrases "I wish I had...", "I wish I could...", and "I wish I was...". Find some more examples using "I wish" on Yabla English so you can get a better sense of the different contexts in which the phrase is used.

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Some Summer Words in English

Now that summer is finally here, it's a good time to improve your summer vocabulary. Let's take a look in this lesson at some of the important words you may need when heading outdoors into the sunny weather.

 

It's too sunny outside. Make sure you have your suntan lotion!

Caption 15, English with Lauren The weather - Part 1

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Suntan lotion was originally intended to help people get suntans without getting a sunburn. A "suntan" occurs when skin darkens after being exposed to bright sunshine, while a "sunburn" is when it actually turns red from too much exposure. These days we know that too much sunshine can be dangerous to your health, so it´s good to use a lotion that protects your skin. For this, you want sunscreen:

 

Protect your face. Sunscreen is really the biggest thing.

Caption 12, Katie Holmes About family, beauty and Olay

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Sunscreens are rated by SPF, which stands for "Sun Protection Factor." A sunscreen with a SPF of 15 blocks 93% of the sun's rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. Many people think that SPF 30 blocks twice as much sun as SPF 15, but this is not true. So while it is important to get a good sunscreen, the higher SPF sunscreens are often much more expensive and actually provide only a small percentage more protection. The important thing is to apply it often, especially after swimming!

 

Going camping is another popular summer activity:

 

I mean, camping out with my family.

Caption 12, Jimmy Kimmel’s Quarantine Minilogue Home with Kids, Trump, Tom Brady & St. Patrick’s Day - Part 1

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Unfortunately, most commercial camping spots may be closed this summer because of the coronavirus. But if you are an experienced camper, you may still be able to go camping in non-commericial places in nature where camping is allowed.

 

Going to the beach is also a popular summer activity:

 

With 46 kilometers of beautiful beaches, it's the perfect spot to hit the beach.

Captions 10-11, Discover America California Holidays: Surfing and Beach Town Santa Cruz

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The phrase "to hit the beach" is just a casual way of saying "to go to the beach." With the current coronavirus travel restrictions, we may have to settle for going to a local beach at a lake this summer instead of flying to a distant beach on the ocean. Those of you who are lucky enough to live near the sea won't have this problem!

 

Building sandcastles is something that is fun to do once you've hit the beach:

 

Last Fourth of July, they skipped putting out beach chairs or building sandcastles.

Caption 36, Toxic Lake The Untold Story of Lake Okeechobee - Part 3

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But when it starts to get too hot, you may need some help cooling off: 

 

There is just something about homemade strawberry ice cream.

Caption 1, Nigella's recipes Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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Further Learning
Think of some other things you like to do in the summertime and search for the words on Yabla English so you can get a better sense of the different contexts in which the words are used.

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Greeting Friends Again

A lot of the things we used to take for granted are now seeming very special, such as when meeting up with friends again as the coronavirus lockdown starts loosening up and we begin returning to work and school. I realize this may not be happening quite yet where you live, but it will hopefully start in the coming weeks or by mid-summer at latest. 

 

There are a lot of English slang words and idioms commonly used in informal speech, so let's take a look at a few of those today. Let's start with a phrase I used in the first sentence of this lesson: 

 

Again, this assuming your opponent plays perfectly, but we'll take that for granted.

Caption 20, Numberphile Connect Four

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"To take something for granted" means that you presume something automatically, without really thinking about it. When that something is not as you expected, you are surprised.

 

Let's start with some different ways that people greet each other besides the standard "hello," "good morning," "good afternoon," and "good evening." 

 

What's up?

Caption 29, English with Annette O'Neil Ways To Say Hello

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How's it going?

Caption 30, English with Annette O'Neil Ways To Say Hello

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What's happening?

Caption 31, English with Annette O'Neil Ways To Say Hello

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All of the above questions are rhetorical, which means that people are usually not expecting you to tell them your life story or about real problems you might be having! Usually you just answer "fine," or "not much," or "I have been busy" or something simple like that. Note too that sometimes "what's up" is slurred into "'Sup," "what up," and similar variations.

 

Howdy.

Caption 46, English with Annette O'Neil Ways To Say Hello

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"Howdy" is just a colloquial or casual way of saying "hello" that originally came from the more formal question "how do you do?". You can see from the bold letters where the word came from!

 

If you haven't seen each other in a long time, you might say something like "it seems like forever" or the odd-sounding "long time no see!" This last phrase, meaning "we have not seen each other for a long time," is thought to have come from the basic English first spoken by immigrants to North America over 100 years ago.

When meeting up with your friends for the first time in a long time, please remember to keep safe according the local rules of where you live. But also remember to enjoy yourself as we begin to have more social interactions again into summer!

 

Further Learning
Watch the entire conversational video series on Yabla English by Annette O'Neil and test your comprehension using the Yabla Flash Card Game.

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The Queen's Speech

On Sunday, April 5th, 2020, Queen Elizabeth II, the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom and the 16 Commonwealth realms, gave a speech to the nation about the coronavirus crisis. In our lesson today, let's take a look at some of the English terms she used in her address.

 

I'm speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time.

Caption 2, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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The adjective "challenging" means "difficult and demanding" and is used to describe situations that test one's abilities.

 

A time of disruption in the life of our country, a disruption that has brought grief to some.

Captions 3-4, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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The noun "disruption" means a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity or process.

 

Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.

Captions 19-21, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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The verb "to tackle" is often used as a sports term in American football and soccer, but in this case means "to deal with" something.

 

...that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humored resolve, and of fellow feeling still characterize this country.

Captions 26-28, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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An "attribute," a noun, means a "quality, character, or characteristic."

 

This time, we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor.

Caption 53, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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The noun "endeavor" means a "serious determined effort" or an "activity directed toward a goal."

 

Using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.

Caption 54, COVID-19 The Queen's coronavirus address in full

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The adjective "instinctive" is used to describe something that "comes from natural instinct" or something that "arises spontaneously." The noun "compassion" is described by the American Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it" and by the British Oxford Dictionary as "sympathetic pity, and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." It's interesting that the American definition additionally includes the urge to make the suffering stop, whereas the British definition defines it only as noticing another's suffering. I think we can safely presume that the Queen was including the American definition in her use of the word!

 

Further Learning
Watch the entire video of the Queen's address on Yabla English and test your comprehension using the Yabla Flash Card Game.

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American English: Cowboy Slang

Yee hah, partners! There are a lot of common slang usages in American English that come from the Wild West cowboy days. I am pretty familiar with them as I grew up in Idaho, one of the most rural states in the USA.

 

Howdy, Yabla friends. Much of America's history is pioneer history.

Captions 1-2, Traveling with Annette Deadwood

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"Howdy" comes from shortening "How do you do," and though it originally came from England, it's still commonly used in the American West instead of "hello."

 

Giddyup! If the supply doesn't meet the demand.

Giddyup! If you are tired of playing a losing hand.

Captions 21-23, Damn Glad Giddyup!

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"Giddyup," also written as "giddyap" and "giddy up", is an expression that comes from a command given to a horse to go faster. It's still used today to mean "let's go" or "hurry up." 

 

This is called a saloon.

Caption 26, Tumbili Boat Tour--Inside

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A saloon is, as used in British English in the video above, a "salon" or "dining room." It's important to distinguish between British and American English, because in cowboy slang, a saloon is a bar! You'll see "saloon" written on the sign of nearly every bar shown in Old West films.

 

Who's that old dude? -Oh, that's JJ, our grandpa.

Caption 12, Karate Kids, USA The Little Dragons - Part 1

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"Dude" is still commonly used used to mean "man," as in the above video. But to call someone a "dude" in cowboy slang is a sort of insulting term for somebody from the city who is not familiar with country life. Luxury hotels that have ranches and include horseback riding among available activities are called "dude ranches."

 

Further Learning
Watch the video on Yabla English about Annette's visit to the Wild West town of Deadwood. Then see if you can find out the meanings of some other cowboy expressions such as "city slicker," "tenderfoot," "pony up," "in cahoots," and "yonder."

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Happy Valentine's Day!

You may know Valentine's Day from where you grew up, or you may know very little about it as it's not celebrated in every country. This holiday started off as a celebration for several Christian saints named Valentine, but most people know it as a day that celebrates romantic love. In predominantly English-speaking countries, Valentine's Day is typically celebrated by giving your loved one a Valentine's card, flowers, or chocolates, the latter preferably in a heart-shaped box. In the United States and the United Kingdom, it takes place on February 14th every year, but is not an official public holiday.

 

Loneliness. The looming spectre of Valentine's Day fast approaching.

Loneliness. The looming spectre of Valentine's Day fast approaching.

Caption 1, How I Met Your Mother Desperation Day

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The theme of this video is how people feel anxious if they don't have a date for Valentine's Day. For people who are single but wish they weren't, Valentine's Day is often a sad reminder to them of that fact.

 

Oh, great. Happy Valentine's Day. -You too.

Oh, great. Happy Valentine's Day. -You too.

Caption 10, Movie Trailers Valentine's Day

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It's polite to wish friends and co-workers a Happy Valentine's day, but of course you have to be sure the context is right, lest it be misinterpreted!

 

Valentine's Day is about love. It's about romance. It's about... Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is about love. It's about romance. It's about... Valentine's Day.

Captions 14-15, Movie Trailers Valentine's Day

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This comment takes the slighty cynical view that Valentine's Day may be more about commerce than love.

 

I

It's my fault that I'm alone on Valentine's Day. My closest relationship is with my Blackberry.

It's my fault that I'm alone on Valentine's Day. My closest relationship is with my Blackberry.

Caption 16, Movie Trailers Valentine's Day

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Maybe less time staring at your digital device and more time focusing on those you love is good advice for most everyone! 

 

Further Learning
Look for more videos relating to this holiday and love on Yabla English to improve your romantic outlook (and your English) on Febuary 14th. Happy Valentine's Day from Yabla!

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Into the New Year!

It's another new year — and this time around, it's a new decade as well! Let's take a look at some examples relating to New Year in Yabla videos:

 

New Year's Day is on January first or on the first of January.

Caption 39, Sigrid explains Numbers - Part 3

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Uh, my New Year's resolution is to just, like, keep going at the gym

Caption 7, Ashley Tisdale Happy New Year!

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

A "New Year's resolution" is a promise you make to yourself about something you want to do in the New Year, usually something expressing a wish to somehow be a better person. 

 

On the twelfth day after Christmas, we have to take down all the decorations and the tree, or else it's bad luck for the New Year.

Captions 47-48, Christmas traditions in the UK

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Depending on people's beliefs, the Twelfth Night fell on either January 5th or January 6th this year, so you'd best have your Christmas tree taken down by now!

 

On New Year's Eve we checked out the rings of Saturn.

Caption 15, Jason Mraz Tour of studio

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Looking through a telescope at the stars is not a traditional pastime on New Year's Eve, but perhaps it should be...

 

The second part of Brick Lane is a party atmosphere, for younger people and the younger generation to celebrate, and they're very famous for their New Year's parties.

Captions 24-26, London Brick Lane

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And it's where people gather for the New Year's celebrations.

Caption 7, London City Sights

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The place in the second caption is London's Trafalgar Square, so a couple of suggestions here if your next New Year's Eve is going to be celebrated in the UK!

 

Further Learning
Look for more videos relating to New Year's day on Yabla English to improve your English in this context!

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Homonyms in English - Part II

In English, there are many words that sound and are spelled the same but have different meanings. These are called homonyms. It may sound confusing, but in this second lesson in the series (the first lesson was back in October), we'll look at some examples to help clarify the differences so that mixing them up can be avoided!

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A good example of a homonym is the different meanings of the noun "bat":

 

And they'd go in. Skill Cole had a baseball bat. You know they don't play baseball

And they'd go in. Skill Cole had a baseball bat. You know they don't play baseball

Caption 28, The Wailers talk about the early days with Bob Marley

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Well, he'd tell you it was because of that time a bat flew through his window,

Well, he'd tell you it was because of that time a bat flew through his window,

Caption 37, Pop Psych Batman Goes To Therapy

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Thus "bat" can mean the large wooden stick used in the game of baseball, as well as the flying mammalian species for whom the superhero Batman is named.

 

I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn't have picked this little tree.

I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn't have picked this little tree.

Caption 3, A Charlie Brown Christmas True Meaning

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Turn left and carry on going until you reach Brushfield Street and turn right down it.

Turn left and carry on going until you reach Brushfield Street and turn right down it.

Captions 26-27, Giving directions with Lauren and Matt

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In the above, you can see that "right" can mean either "correct" or the direction that is the opposite of "left."

 

we're putting out special little clips that aren't in the film

we're putting out special little clips that aren't in the film

Caption 28, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World Electric Playground Interview - Part 3

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Fill a glass with water and challenge your friends to float a paper clip on top of the liquid. Every time they place something into the glass,

Fill a glass with water and challenge your friends to float a paper clip on top of the liquid. Every time they place something into the glass,

Captions 9-10, Richard Wiseman 10 bets you will always win

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A "clip" can be a segment of film or video footage, or the small metal object used to hold papers together.

 

Let's start with the letter "r".

Let's start with the letter "r".

Caption 18, British vs American English Pronunciation Lesson - Part 1

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We're going to explore how to write a successful cover letter.

We're going to explore how to write a successful cover letter.

Caption 2, Business English Cover letter - Part 1

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The noun "letter" can thus be referring either to the alphabet or to the piece of paper you write upon to send in the mail.

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Further Learning
To find more instances of homonyms like these, have a look at Yabla English and see if you can find more examples in a real-world context.

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The Past Perfect

You may have a good grasp of the present perfect tense, and have also read our previous newsletter on the past continuous tense. This week, however, we are going to talk about the past perfect, also known as the pluperfect.

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Similar to the past continuous (was/were + verb in -ing form), the past perfect is very helpful when we are putting events that occurred in the past in chronological order. It is formed with had + past participle, so, for example, to give becomes had given, to go becomes had gone, and to write becomes had written.

 

The King asked her what had given her such a fright.

Caption 42, Fairy Tales: The Frog King

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From the sentence above, we know that whatever scared the princess occurred before the king asked her about it. And unlike the phrase what was giving her such a fright, the phrase what had given her such a fright with the past perfect tells us that the action is finished, in other words she is no longer scared.

 

Now look at the example below, in which a reporter asks Prince Harry a question about Meghan Markle:

 

So, how much did you, Prince Harry, know about Meghan? Had you seen her on TV?

Captions 68-69, BBC News: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

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The construction had + past participle informs us that the reporter is asking about something that happened before Harry and Meghan met. Additionally, while using the simple past (did you see) would refer to watching Meghan on TV on a regular basis, the past perfect (had you seen) asks whether it ever happened in Harry's life, even one time.

Take a look at two more examples and determine which action occurred first. Note the contraction he'd in the second example, which is a combination of he and had rather than he and would

 

After everyone had gone, she was alone in the house.

Caption 29, Fairy Tales: Cinderella

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In his new role, he visited many EU countries he'd previously condemned.

Caption 43, Boris Johnson: The UK's New Controversial Prime Minister

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Further Learning
In addition to keeping your eye out for more examples of the past perfect on Yabla English, you can make a list of verbs in their infinitive form and make sure you know the past participle of each one. Refer to our previous lesson on expressing the conditional in English, which covers the use of the past perfect in the creation of Conditional III.   

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¿Verbo, sustantivo o adjetivo?

 

Cada vez que veas lo que parece ser un verbo en inglés terminado en -ing, tienes que tener cuidado de cómo interpretas la oración, ya que puede ser que este aparente verbo sea en realidad un sustantivo o un adjetivo. En inglés, los gerundios y los participios presentes se forman añadiendo “-ing” a la forma infinitiva del verbo ("to surf" se convierte en "surfing"), o para los verbos que terminan en “-e”, se elimina la “-e” y se añade “-ing” ("to love" se convierte en "loving"). Un gerundio es un verbo que actúa como sustantivo en una oración. Un participio presente es un verbo que se usa para hacer una frase verbal o un adjetivo.

 

Por lo tanto, un verbo inglés que termina en “-ing” puede ser sustantivo (gerundio), un adjetivo (formado por un participio presente) o un verbo (un participio presente). Todo esto suena un poco complicado, pero si miras algunos ejemplos, es bastante fácil notar la diferencia.

 

 

Waves in the morning, 'cause I've always been like a... I've always loved surfing,

Olas en la mañana, porque siempre he sido como un... siempre me ha encantado surfear,

Subtítulo 19, Kiteboarding Rider Profile - Tom Court

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¿Qué es lo que le gusta? Le encanta el surf. En el ejemplo anterior, el sujeto de la oración es "I" (yo), y el objeto de la oración es "surfing" (surfear). Ya que puedes hacer un sustantivo de "the surfing" como se usa aquí, es un gerundio.

 

 

watch a couple of surfing videos and take out a strapless board or...

ver un par de vídeos de surf y sacar una tabla sin tirantes o...

Subtítulo 26, Kiteboarding Sam Light Interview

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¿Qué clase de videos está viendo? Videos de surf. Aquí está claro que "surfing" en inglés es un adjetivo que está modificando el sustantivo "videos".

 

 

And the four of us have just been cruising around, surfing different spots,

Y nosotros cuatro simplemente hemos estado navegando por ahí, haciendo surf en puntos diferentes,

Subtítulo 10, Naish SUP Aloha Big Island!

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¿Qué han estado haciendo? Han estado surfeando. En este último ejemplo, al emparejar los verbos, se obtiene "have been surfing". Este es el verbo "to surf" en su forma de verbo participio presente.

 

 

Aprendizaje adicional

 

Escribe algunos de tus verbos favoritos, añade “-ing” siguiendo las reglas anteriores, y busca en Yabla English para verlos usados en un contexto real como gerundio, adjetivo o verbo de participio presente.

 

(Versión en español de: Antonio Fuentes)

 

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Gramática inglesa: pronombres

I really am passionate about this

Realmente me apasiona esto

Subtítulo 24, Business English The job interview - Part 2

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Great! Well, we are very excited to have you with us!

¡Estupendo! ¡Bueno, estamos muy contentos de tenerla con nosotros!

Subtítulo  16, Business English Starting on a new job - Part 1

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El pronombre "You" de la segunda persona puede ser singular o plural y generalmente se refiere a la persona o personas a las que se dirige.

 

 

What will you have for lunch?

¿Qué vas a tomar de almuerzo?

Subtítulo 23, Caralie and Annie Get to know each other - Part 1

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El pronombre de tercera persona se refiere a alguien distinto de la persona a la que tú estás hablando, y es "he" (hombre) o "she" (mujer) o "it" (objeto) en singular, "they" en plural:

 

 

Meanwhile, uh, Taylor Swift, she is elegant and we wish her luck this weekend

Mientras tanto, eh, Taylor Swift, ella es elegante y le deseamos suerte este fin de semana.

Subtítulo 32, Taylor Swift Prom Party

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And when British scientists first saw a platypus, they thought it was a hoax.

Y cuando los científicos británicos vieron un ornitorrinco por primera vez, creyeron que era un fraude.

Subtítulo 7, Soccer World Cup Australia

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Aprendizaje adicional

 

Lea el artículo sobre el pronombre personal en Inglés en tu lengua materna para ayudarte a entender lo básico. Escribe una frase sencilla en tu lengua materna para cada uno de los pronombres personales y tradúcelos al inglés. Busca algunos pronombres personales en Yabla English y ve diferentes ejemplos y cómo se usan según el contexto. 

 

(Versión en español: Antonio Fuentes)

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El verbo inglés to be (ser)

El verbo "to be" forma parte, en su forma infinitiva, de una de las líneas más famosas de la literatura mundial:

 

To be, or not to be, that is the question. (Ser, o no ser, esa es la cuestión)

“Hamlet “ de William Shakespeare

 

La mayoría de los verbos describen la acción, pero "ser" describe un estado del ser: cómo o qué eres o cómo es alguien. La conjugación en tiempo presente de "to be" es: I am (yo soy); he, she, o it is (él, ella, eso es); you are; they are; and we are (tú eres, vosotros sois, ustedes son, ellos/as son, nosotros/as somos)

 

"To be" puede describir tu nombre y tu profesión:

 

Hello, Yabla students! My name is Jack Thomas, uh, I'm... a finance student here.

Hola, estudiantes de Yabla. Mi nombre es Jack Thomas. Eh, soy... un estudiante de finanzas aquí.

Subtítulo 1,   An American in London

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Puedes describir cómo te sientes:

 

 

Excited: "I've never been to New York before, and I am so excited to go!"

Emocionada: "¡Nunca antes he estado en Nueva York, y estoy tan emocionada de ir!"

Subtítulo 16, English with Lauren Emotions - Part 1

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Si la frase es una negación, la palabra "not" aparece después del verbo:

 

 

I am not a lawyer,

No soy un abogado,

Subtítulo 15, English common phrases - Part 2

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En la primera persona singular, "I am" (yo soy) a menudo usa la contracción   "I´m"; "he is," "she is," or "it is" (él es, ella es, eso es) cambia a  "he's," "she's," or "it's"; "you are" (segunda persona singular o plural) cambia a  "you're"; y "they are" (ellos/as son) a "they're" así como "we are" (nosotros/as somos) a "we're":

 

 

Today we're at the top of the Empire State Building,

Hoy estamos en lo más alto del Empire State Building,

Subtítulo 3, English for Beginners Letters and Numbers

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See how we're part of the global economy?

¿Ves cómo somos parte de la economía global?

Subtítulo 13, Dissolve inc. Generic Brand Video

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Aprendizaje adicional

 

Vea algunos videos en Yabla English y encuentra otros ejemplos del verbo "to be" usado en contexto en conversaciones reales.

 

(Versión en español de: Antonio Fuentes)

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Nouns (los sustantivos): la formación del plural- segunda parte

En la lección anterior sobre "Sustantivos: La formación del plural", vimos la formación del plural en inglés y sus diferentes excepciones. Recuerda que el plural de los sustantivos regulares se forma agregando una “-s” al final de la palabra, por ejemplo, pen: pen(pluma: plumas). Esta regla general es seguida por algunos casos especiales que podemos reconocer de la última letra de la palabra.

 

He aquí algunos ejemplos de sustantivos que forman el plural de manera irregular:

 

man: men (hombres)

woman: women (mujeres)

child: children (niños)

foot: feet (pies)

ox: oxen (bueyes)

 

Italian men are attractive. -Yeah! They are!

Los hombres italianos son atractivos. -¡Sí! ¡Lo son!

Subtítulo, Two Canadian girls in Venice

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This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall,

Este es el significado de nuestra libertad y nuestras creencias, la razón por la que muchos hombres, mujeres y niños de todas las razas y religiones pueden unirse a celebrar en este lugar magnífico...

Subtítulo 74-76, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day Obama's Speech - Part 3

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Podrás haber notado que "woman" no sólo tiene un plural irregular, sino que también cambia su pronunciación. "Woman" ['wʊmən] se convierte en "women" ['wɪmɪn] en plural. Descubra aquí la pronunciación correcta de las woman y de las women.

 

Or, "It's cold. My hair's all over the place and my feet are wet".

O: "Hace frío. Mi pelo está todo despeinado y mis pies están húmedos."

Subtítulo 31, English common phrases - Part 1

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Algunos sustantivos permanecen sin cambios en plural. Estos son a menudo nombres de animales:

 

deer (ciervo, ciervos)

fish (pez, peces)

sheep (oveja, ovejas)

 

These fishes are an ace investment. Once people see these little beauties, I'll be rollin' in the dough.

Estos peces son una inversión superior. Una vez que la gente vea estas pequeñas bellezas, estaré rodando en la pasta.Captions

Subtítulo 13-14, Dream to Believe aka Flying - Part 7

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En conclusión, recordemos que los sustantivos regulares forman el plural añadiendo una "s" al final de la palabra, pero es necesario distinguir las diferentes maneras de pronunciar esta "s".

 

Hay tres maneras diferentes: [s], el sonido viene de la boca (por ejemplo, gatos); [z] es un sonido vibrato y viene de la garganta (por ejemplo, perros); y finalmente[əs] que tiene un sonido similar al "iz" (por ejemplo, platos).

 

Pero, ¿cómo sabemos qué sonido es correcto si nos encontramos frente a un plural regular que termina en "-s"?

 

Sigrid, en el vídeo El alfabeto: la letra S, te ayudará a responder a esta pregunta. Mientras tanto, trata de memorizar estas reglas: cuando la palabra termina en "p”, “t”, “ k”, “ f”, “th”, la "s" se pronuncia como [s]; cuando la palabra termina en "b”, “d”, “g”, “v”, “th”, “m”, “n”, “ng”, “l”, “r", el sonido de la "s" corresponde a [z]; con las palabras terminadas en "s”, “z”, “sh”, “sian”, “ch”, “j", el sonido de la "s" será [əs].

 

Sigue revisando nuestras ediciones y recuerda ejercitarse a diario buscando palabras y formando oraciones en las que apliques lo aprendido.

(Versión en español: Antonio Fuentes)

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