Tuesday, January 29

Optimist, Pessimist, Cynic, etc.

Once again our topic is how to describe people’s personalities. Today, we can even focus on talking about your own personality.

As we all know, there’s plenty of Vocabulary to describe one’s type of character. Here are 5 pairs of expressions:

  1. Thinker vs. Doer

  2. Optimist vs. Pessimist

  3. Realist vs. Dreamer

  4. Cynic vs. Romantic

  5. Leader vs. Follower

Thinker or Doer?

First, “thinker” and “doer.” 

These two types have been placed against each other since the beginning of time. This is why you have the very popular sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin in the Musée Rodin in Paris:

all images courtesy of stock.xchng

It is said that man is a Thinker. Among all the animals in the world, man has the highest capacity for deep thought --  contemplating himself, his place in the world, and his actions before they take form.

So much so that, sometimes, thinking prevents the impulse for action. And the two sides (thought and action) often clash with each other.

Are you a Thinker or a Doer?

Are you the type of person who plans and thinks long and hard before you do something? Do you sometimes fail to act because you think too much?

If so, you are a Thinker.

Do you follow your feelings and act on them? Do you let your actions speak louder than your words? Do you act in time to save the day and sometimes do things rashly?

If so, you are a Doer.

The separation between Thinker and Doer has haunted man countless times. There's Karl Marx and his idea of theory vs. practice. Then there's Che Guevara who is a youthful icon of the Doer.

But whatever you believe in, a healthy balance of the two is important. And I think most of us will agree that one cannot exist without the other.

Optimist vs. Pessimist

Here’s our next set of expressions:

Optimist (Noun / person)

Pessimist (Noun / person)

Optimism (Noun / tendency)

Pessimism (Noun / tendency)

Optimistic (Adjective)

Pessimistic (Adjective)


Q: Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

A: I’m an optimist / I’m pessimist.

Q: Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

A: I’m optimistic / I’m pessimistic.

Q: Do you have a sense of optimism or pessimism?

A:  I have a sense of optimism / pessimism.

An optimist is a “positive-thinker.” On the other hand, a pessimist is a “negative-thinker.”

Positive-thinkers are hopeful and expect that good things will (always) happen. Negative-thinkers believe that the worst thing will happen in every situation.

Are you a positive-thinker or a negative-thinker? Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

This question is kind of important because our parents always taught us to “Always think positive!

For me, our state of mind also affects the people and things around us. So if we are positive, our situation will also become positive.

Lastly, a common expression or idiom is:

Is the glass half empty or half full?

A glass that is filled 50% with water can be seen by optimists as “half full” and by pessimists as “half empty.” In the same way, some situations in life can be seen either way. So, it depends on the individual how he or she sees the situation.

How about you? What do you think? Is the glass half-empty of half-full? 

Realist vs. Dreamer

A realist is a practical-minded person. He or she is a person who can accept that things are not always perfect and tries to deal with problems or difficult situations in a very practical way.

A dreamer is also called an idealist. Another expression used with people like these is “living in an ivory tower.” Because an ivory tower is believed to be a place or situation that’s separate from practical matters and the ordinary and unpleasant things that happen in life.

Just imagine Rapunzel up in the tower. And many other similar princesses guarded by a fierce, fire-breathing dragon.

Or, Queen Marie Antoinette supposedly shouting to the hungry, rebelling farmers of Paris:

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

Let them eat cake!

You can also think about the line in the very popular song “Imagine” by John Lennon:

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one.

This line is about the idealistic belief that Lennon and some young people of his time shared. Equality among all people in the world, no rich or poor people, no religion or war etc.

As you can imagine, it’s not an easy thing to make happen or come true. This is why the title of the song is “Imagine.”

Are you a Realist or a Dreamer?

Cynic vs. Romantic

The No.1 Cynic in all literature and in the minds of most people is the character Mercutio, a close friend of Romeo in Shakespeare’s classic play “Romeo and Juliet.”

In the play, Mercutio’s view of love is cynical. He is the absolute anti-romantic character. For him, if you dream of something better, your dream will betray you in the end.

He is also a woman-hater and completely doesn’t believe in love. He is both wise and careless.

Romeo, on the other hand, is the opposite. He has a beautiful and romantic view of life. And his image of love is pure, spiritual, and deep.

According to the dictionary, a cynic believes that other people care only about themselves and are not sincere or honest.

A romantic, on the other hand, believes that things are better or more exciting than they actually are.

So, which one are you?

Leader vs. Follower

Lastly, we have the concepts of “leader” and “follower.” Especially in this age of social networking, with the ever increasing popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, the world is increasingly divided between two camps: (1) leader and (2) follower.

If you are not this one, then you are the other.

As you might already know, a leader is a person who has the ability and confidence to lead other people. He sets a good example for others to follow and he attracts others like a magnet.

A follower is one of the people who is led by the leader.

In other words, a leader leads while a follower follows.

But, even though a follower is a member of a group that does what the leader asks or requests them to do, that doesn’t mean that a follower is only that. As you can imagine, a group or organization will be nothing without its members. In the same way, a leader will be nothing without his or her followers.

So, if you are one, you should have a lot of pride in being a follower.

Like with most of the pairs of words that we mentioned in this lesson, one side can’t survive without the other. In fact, there’s a very practical saying that goes:

A good leader is also a good follower.

Hope You Learned Something! 
Keep on learning !

Saturday, January 26

As, For, Since

I’m sure you’re familiar with the three words above. They’re all very commonly used in English.

But did you know that they have more than one meaning? Do you know all their different meanings?

First, let’s talk about the most common ones.

Time Expressions

All three words above are used to talk about time.

Let’s talk about “for” and “since.”

For” and “since” are Prepositions.  You can see these two words most often together with the Present Perfect Tense (Have P.P.) This is because they both talk about duration. A duration means the period of time that an action is done or an event happens.

For example,

I read a book for a while.

I’ve known her since high school.

But as you might notice, even though they both talk about a time span (period), they’re not exactly the same.

Why? What’s the difference between them?

For + the duration

Since + the starting point of the duration

This is why you can either say:

I’ve known how to drive for 6 years

I’ve known how to drive since 2007.

And they would have very similar meanings.

If you want to know which one of them to use, it will depend largely on whether you want to talk about (A) how long you have been doing something or (B) when you started doing something.

So, choose your Time expression appropriately.

Here are some more examples:

I’ve been a big fan of Harry Potter for 15 years.

I’ve been a big fan of Harry Potter since 1998.

I’ve had my pet Shasha for 8 months.

I’ve had my pet Shasha since May last year.

For” talks about a long stretch of time, while “since” talks about an exact point in time.

The last difference between them is: when you use “since,” the period of time must continue until the present. “For” isn’t like this.  


I worked in that company for 10 years. (finished) = Ok

I have worked in that company for 5 years. (until now) = Ok

I worked in that company since 2003. (finished) = X

I have worked in that company since 2008. (until now) = Ok

So, I hope you don’t mix them up when you use them.

Since + Ago?

Some people have the habit of combining the words “since” and “ago.” This way:

I’ve been studying English since 6 years ago.


I’ve been studying English for 6 years.

There’s been quite a debate about whether a combination of “since” and “ago” is acceptable or not. Some grammar books say that we should stick to what’s direct and simple: ex. for 6 years.

But still, you can hear some people using the combination mentioned above.

My advice to my readers, who are non-native ESL learners, is to practice and be comfortable with using the original structures first:

For 6 years


Since 2007

At the same time, practice yourself with using “ago” with only the Past Simple and not the Present Perfect. Because if you don't, it could give you a lot of problems in the future:

I came here two minutes ago. = Ok

I’ve come here two minutes ago. = X


The two words that we discussed above are both Prepositions, which is why they are followed by Nouns. Right now we are going to start talking about “as,” which is often a Conjunction.

Now, what is a Conjunction?

A Conjunction is a type of word that is used to combine sentences and clauses. So,

Preposition + Noun


Conjunction + S + V

So, “as” will be followed by more words. (Not a single Noun)


The phone rang as I was leaving.

He called as we were having dinner.

I saw her as I was entering the bar.

As time passed, he felt more and more bored.

As you can see from our examples above, the Conjunctionas” is used with the same meaning as “when” or “while.”

Note:As” has so many other meanings but we will not talk about all of them here.

Reason Expressions

After everything that we talked about, you will be surprised to know that, in spite of their differences, all the three words – “as,” “for,” and “since” – also have the meaning of “because.”


It’s true. The reason is that “for” and “since” are sometimes also used as Conjunctions:

I skipped my lesson today, for I had felt a fever coming on.

I don’t need to go there today since I already finished all my tasks.

Since you didn’t tell her exactly what to do, she’ll just do whatever she wants.

Don’t be confused. Now, the meaning of “since” and “for” is not about time. Now, both of them mean “because.”

Note: You should remember though that when we use “for” in this form, it becomes formal.

On the other hand, the word “as” will still remain a Conjunction, but it will have another meaning aside from time.

We started on our way home as it was getting late. (= because)

We should hire the first applicant as he has more experience in the field. (= because)

This is the reason why students get confused during written exams. The three words – as, since, and for – can switch meanings from time expressions to reason expressions.

In summary,

Meaning and Type of Words






Hope you learned something!

Keep on learning !

Any Questions?

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