Sunday, October 30

A Halloween Story

Hi! I wrote this story for my Facebook group “1 English, 1 World.” I hope you find it scary this Halloween season. ;-)

Let’s start…

This is the story of a man named Louis. Louis works as an intern in the City Morgue of Manila.

For those who are not familiar with this word, let me explain.

The morgue is a place where the bodies of dead people are taken.  Inside the morgue, the bodies are cut up and doctors study their inside. This way the experts can learn how and when a person died.

As you can imagine, the Morgue is a very quiet and creepy place. This is because there are many dead people there, lying on tables and covered with white sheets.

There’s also something like a huge filing cabinet on one wall. But when you open the drawers, you don’t get paper out of them. You get more dead bodies, lying on long trays.

Similar to the system in many morgues in the world, each dead body is identified with a white, plastic bracelet wrapped around the left wrist. This “tag” contains information about the dead person; such as name, sex, age etc.

Finally, a morgue is usually found on the basement and the air is always kept cold to slow down the natural process of bodies rotting.

Now, the first time Louis started working as an intern, he was really scared. But not anymore. After a few months of working there, he finally got used to seeing dead bodies around him. He didn’t mind it so much anymore.

But one night when he was working late, he had one hair-raising experience…

Louis was walking very quickly down the hall, from the Morgue to the elevator that would take him upstairs. He was walking fast, almost running.

Behind him, there was the sound of footsteps following slowly.

As soon as he got to the elevator, he pressed the call button of the elevator. He pressed it many times, and he waited fearfully for the elevator to come pick him up. He was really scared.

Luckily enough, the elevator arrived very soon. Louis felt relieved because there was another passenger inside - an old woman, a grandmother wearing a cardigan, who was surprised at Louis’ actions.

He quickly entered the elevator, and even though there were the sounds of running footsteps coming towards them, he quickly pressed the close button.    

The doors of the elevator shut.

“Why…” the old woman asked Louis, “why did you do that? Why did you close the doors when somebody wanted to take the elevator?”

Louis was shaking and in a cold sweat.

“That wasn’t a person…” Louis finally said to the old woman, his face very white. “It was a little girl. I cut her open this afternoon. She was wearing a white, plastic tag on her wrist. That means she… she’s… already dead.”

“Oh,” the old woman gasped. She raised her right hand to cover her mouth. Louis looked at her.

“You mean…” the old woman said. “She was wearing a tag… like this?”

And the old woman was also wearing a white tag on her wrist.

Louis screamed. 

Monday, October 24

2 Kinds of Clauses: Noun and Adjective (Part 2)


Note: If you still haven’t read the first part of this post, kindly start with that by clicking this link:

Here are the answers to our previous exercise:

  1. I know that he is married. ==> Noun Clause

  2. I can't understand what they want. ==> Noun Clause

  3. I bought the bag that she likes. ==> Adjective Clause

  4. That fruits are healthy is a well-known fact. ==> Noun Clause

  5. I met the family who lives next door. ==> Adjective Clause

How? How do we know whether a Clause is a Noun Clause or an Adjective Clause?

Well, we can do this by looking at the role or the function that the Clause plays inside the sentence. If the Clause does the job of a Noun (if it acts like a Noun), then it’s a Noun Clause.

On the other hand, if the Clause does the job of an Adjective (if it acts like an Adjective), then it’s an Adjective Clause.

Like so:

  1. I know that he is married==> The Clause is the Object of the Verb “know.” It’s like a Noun.

  2. I can't understand what they want==> The Clause is the Object of the Verb “understand.” It’s like a Noun

  3. I bought the bag that she likes==> The Clause describes the Noun “bag.” It’s like an Adjective.

  4. That fruits are healthy is a well-known fact. ==> The Clause is the Subject of the Verb “is.” It’s like a Noun.

  5. I met the family who lives next door==> The Clause describes the Noun “family.” It’s like an Adjective.

It will take some practice before you can get used to Noun Clauses and Adjective Clauses. But through this exercise, you can see at a glance that this topic isn’t so complicated after all.

A Noun Clause is, in fact, just like a Noun. While an Adjective Clause is just like an Adjective!


You might have noticed that 3 Clauses start with the Pronounthat” (#1, 3, and 4). Two of them are Noun Clauses (#1 and 4) while one (#3) is an Adjective Clause.

This means that a Clause that starts with the word “that” can be either a Noun Clause or an Adjective Clause. Like I said, it depends on what role or function the Clause plays inside the sentence.

However, a Clause that starts with the word “what” (only #2) cannot be used as an Adjective Clause.

This example is wrong:

I like the bag what you gave me. = X

Why? Why is this sentence wrong and impossible?

Because, in fact, there are two Nouns inside this sentence:

I like the bag  +  what you gave me.

Noun   +    Noun Clause

This is why we have to change the sentence. Just remove one of the two Nouns; either will be Ok:

I like the bag. = Ok

-- or –

I like what you gave me. = Ok

Lastly, you can also change the Noun Clause into an Adjective Clause:

I like the bag + that you gave me. = Ok

                                      Noun + Adjective Clause

Please remember this important thing because our example sentence is a common mistake made by learners.

In summary, the “that” Clause can be either a Noun Clause or an Adjective Clause, but the “what” Clause can only be a Noun Clause.

Hope you learned something!

Keep on learning !

Friday, October 21



Episode 1


Expression: “Don’t get me wrong.

Quick Explanation: Please don’t misunderstand me/ don’t misunderstand my meaning

Example Dialogues:

A: What do you think about my new girlfriend?

B: Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s really cute and funny, but her fashion’s a bit strange.

A: Aren’t you coming to my party?

B: Don’t get me wrong, I’d really love to, but I have to be somewhere else tonight.   

A: Don’t you like my gift? You don’t look too happy.

B: Don’t get me wrong - I really appreciate this - but it’s a bit too expensive.


Expression:I’m not a big fan of +someone/something

Quick Explanation: I don’t like someone/something so much

Example Dialogues:

A: Hey, do you wanna watch Brad Pitt’s new movie with me?

B: Sorry, I’m not a big fan of Brad Pitt.

A: Wanna go bowling tonight?

B: Sorry, I’m not a big fan of bowling.

A: How often do you cook?

B: To be honest, I’m not a big fan of cooking.


Expression: You can say that again.

Quick Explanation: I completely agree with you.

Example Dialogues:

X A: This pasta’s really good!

B: You can say that again.

A: This pasta’s really good. X

üA: James’ girlfriend is really sexy!

B: You can say that again.

üA: Brrr. It’s freezing outside! (very cold)

B: You can say that again.


Expression: How do you find + someone/ something?

Quick Explanation: What do you think about someone/ something?

Example Dialogues:

X A: How do you find this restaurant?

B: I used a map. X

üA: How do you find our new boss?

B: I think she’s really nice.

üA: How did you find the movie?

B: It was awesome!!


Expression: Can I take a rain check? / I’ll take a rain check

Quick Explanation: I’m sorry I can’t, but I’d like to do that some other time

Example Dialogues:

A: There’s a new cafe near the station. Wanna check it out?

B: Umm, can I take a rain check?

A: Wanna play tennis with us?

B: I’ll take a rain check, if that’s all right. I’ve got a lot of homework tonight!

Wednesday, October 19

The BIG Question: "A" or "The"?

image courtesy of stock.xchng

This is Part Two of my lecture about Articles.

If you had missed Part One, called "Articles: The Devils of English"), please click this link to visit that first:

Part One of the ARTICLES

As you know, the topic of Articles, if not the most difficult, is one of the most difficult in English. 

I cannot teach everything about them in one day (let alone 15 minutes of video!). 

But I tried to discuss the basic rules that every serious learner of English needs to know. 

In any case, the most basic are also the most crucial. 

So, Good luck!! Please watch and learn from this video, though incomplete: 

P.S. In all likelihood, this will be the last of my video classes. 

After this, I will start making audio files which are better for both Speaking and Listening practice. 

These files will be very easy to download to your iPod or Mp3 players

Stay tuned! 

Keep on learning !

Monday, October 17

Do I (Really) Need Grammar?

image courtesy of stock.xchng

More and more people the world over are realizing the practicality of English, and they are making efforts to learn the language.

All of them are asking the same question: Do I need grammar?

Grammar: The Bad Guy of English

In the whole history of English learning, grammar has always been a bad guy. Nobody likes it and everybody tries to avoid it. Even teachers.

Personally, you might say that you don’t hate grammar. But you don’t particularly like it either. Am I right?

And this is a sad thing because grammar is a really basic part of English. If you ask me how important it is, it ranks No. 1 with Vocabulary.

In other words, it’s one of the foundations of your English skill. Or like the legs of the chair you are sitting on. If somebody suddenly removed the legs of your chair, you’d fall on your ass, right?

But grammar has a bad image in our minds only because of a traditional way of thinking.

Let me explain…

When a teacher teaches grammar following the old style, it’s always dry and boring. It always makes you feel sleepy.

Sounds familiar? (It’s the same story everywhere in the world. Both in your country and mine.)

This is because when a teacher teaches using the traditional way (full of explanations and with very little participation from students), the teacher is in fact teaching how to teach grammar but they are not teaching real grammar.

Think about it. Try to remember all the grammar lessons that you took in the past. Now, try to answer these questions:

    1.  Can you remember only rules and explanations?

    2.  Is it hard for you to make your own example sentences?

    3.  Does grammar make you afraid to make a mistake?

If you answer “Yes” to any one of my questions, then it’s true: You, my friend, have learned how to become a teacher, but you have not learned how to speak English.

Learning how to explain grammar like a teacher isn’t really a bad skill to learn, but then again you just wanna be a fluent speaker of English, right? That’s what your original goal is.

This is the real reason why, during your grammar lessons in the past, you felt really bored. You couldn’t explain it exactly but you could feel that your classes were useless to you and you didn’t need them. So you felt bad about grammar.

Because of this wrong way of teaching, you’ve got the wrong picture of grammar inside your head. You thought that what you were studying was grammar but, as a matter of fact, no, it wasn't.

At this point, you must learn to make grammar your friend. If you do the opposite and make grammar your enemy, then, you’re dead.

To put it simply, you can run and hide from grammar but you can never escape it. Sooner or later, grammar will find you.

Dynamic Grammar: Grammar in Speaking/ Grammar for Real Situations

What both students and teachers should do is to try and break away from the traditional method of teaching and learning - which is full of lengthy, empty explanations.

Rather than explanations, there should be more direct examples and drills. This is the only way you – the student – can be sure that you are really learning something. When you are able to make your own examples and practice your own English. When you are able to make your own sentences and not just listen to your teacher giving a lifeless lecture.

Less explanation, more practice.

Grammar shouldn’t be only theory. It should be both theory and practice.

Right now, your idea of grammar is like a dead theory not connected to real life – something that you might or might not need. This is bad. Grammar shouldn't be dead but should be a very active part of your life.

Grammar is inside every sentence you make, in every place you go. It’s there every time you open your mouth and every time you pick up your pen or listen to a voice on TV.

Grammar is not only knowledge inside a dusty textbook.

What You Need to Do

Before anything else, as a student you have to learn to think of grammar as your friend and not your enemy. It’s definitely not a monster that you should be afraid of. You should stop avoiding grammar because of a bad impression.

If you can make grammar your friend, then it will be the best friend you’ll ever find. Grammar will never leave you. And it’ll always be there when you need it. It’ll help improve your English - every step of the way.

Grammar is not a jail or a strict military general that always shouts at you and limits you. It doesn’t limit your ability to make sentences. Instead, think of grammar as a very practical tool. It simply guides you and it doesn’t hold you back.

Because speaking English is matter of making and keeping habits, grammar will be there to make sure you don’t make a bad habit deep. Bad habits will be almost impossible to break in the future.

Grammar will help you avoid making the same mistake over and over. It can make the strong points of your sentence stronger, while it tries to make the weak and bad points go away.

If you see the real face of grammar and you are able to utilize grammar the right way, eventually, you’ll be able to speak in the proper way, the way that most people can understand – everywhere in the world. 

Keep on learning !

Any Questions?

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