Thursday, October 31

Hello Halloween!

A whole year has come and almost gone and now it’s Halloween again. It’s time to let ourselves be frightened by ghosts and monsters.

all images courtesy of stock.xchng unless otherwise stated

Halloween is a practice observed especially in English-speaking countries. Through symbols and advertising, the idea spread to other countries in the world. And now there is a wide variety of ways how people celebrate Halloween. Still, many non-English speakers remain unsure about this tradition and don't practice it.

Well, today our topic is Halloween; its history and customs.

A Little Background

The word “Halloween” comes from the Scottish term “All Hallows Even.” This meant “holy evening” at that time.

In Scots language, “even” is contracted into “e’en” or “een.” And so, little by little the expression changed. What happened was something like this:

All Hallows Even

All Hallows Een

Hallows Een


Before there was Halloween, there had been another festival called “Samhain” or “Day of the Dead.” This was a pagan* holiday celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

*pagan = not believing in God

Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter (the dark half). During this time, people believed that the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thin, and the souls of dead people could come back to earth.

Halloween Today

Today, many Halloween customs carry the influence of the pagan festival. Some of these modern customs are:

(1) celebrating on the night of October 31st

(2) trick-or-treating

(3) attending costume parties

(4) putting up Halloween decorations

(5) carving jack-o’-lanterns

(6) lighting bonfires

(7) visiting haunted attractions

This is Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

(8) playing tricks or making fun of other people

(9) telling scary stories

(10) watching horror films

Trick or Treat!

According to this custom, kids wear costumes (often scary, sometimes cute or pretty) and then go house to house.

They say the words: “Trick or treat!” and then people give candy or sweets to them. In Australia, people also give lollipops.

But what exactly does “Trick or treat” mean?

Trick or treat is a kind of threat. If you remember our lesson on “Had Better,” the phrase can be extended like this:

Trick or treat!

= You had better give me a treat (candy) or I will play a trick on you!

For a quick review of “had better,” please read:

Of course nowadays, even if the kids don’t get candy, they don’t play tricks. In other words, they don’t make fun of people who don’t give them a treat. “Trick or treat” has become just a greeting on Halloween.

The phrase “trick or treat” can also be a Verb. So you can say:

The kids will go trick-or-treating.


According to old English stories, “Jack o’ lantern” is another name for the strange light called “ignis fatuus” which is attractive to travelers.  

This is a ghost light that appears over swamps, bogs, or marshes. It looks like a faint lamp.

Ignus Fatuus” is also called “Will-o’the-wisp.” “Will” is the name of a man and short for “William.”







Many people believe that the old custom of carving jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween started in Ireland. Carved turnips were used to show the scary faces of spirits or goblins. 

Today, pumpkin jack-o'-lanterns are very common. 

Scary Stories

Telling scary stories to one another is a very big part of the Halloween celebration. 

If you’d like to get some ideas for scary stories that you can tell your friends, why don’t you read the stories that I posted here on “Cool Elf” over the past years?

Rika-chan (2012) 

Horror Movies

Watching horror movies with your friends (definitely not alone!) is another part of Halloween. So, here’s a list of the most recent scary films in Hollywood. I recommend that you watch them if you still haven’t.

(1) Insidious (2011)

Copyright FilmDistrict

(2) Sinister (2012)

Copyright Summit Entertainment

(3) Conjuring (2013)

Copyright Warner Brothers

Happy Halloween, Everybody!!!

Monday, October 28

TV and IV

Do you know the meaning of TV in English grammar? Well, it’s most definitely not television.

all images courtesy of stock.xchng 

TV” means “Transitive Verb.”

Its partner word is IV. “IV” means “Intransitive Verb.”

Knowing that there are 2 kinds of Verbs, being able to tell which Verb is TV and which is IV, is a very useful skill in English.

For a quick review of this topic, please watch:

TV vs. IV

Transitive Verbs are Verbs that must always be followed by an Object. On the other hand, Intransitive Verbs are Verbs that can’t have an Object after them.

For example, the Verbslike” and “walk.”  

Take a look at our sentences below and tell me whether you notice anything strange about them.

(1) I like.

(2) I walk the office.

What do you think about our 2 sentences above? Do you think they’re ok?

In fact, the 2 sentences above are both wrong.


Because “like” is a Transitive Verb while “walk” is an Intransitive Verb.

This means that “like(Transitive Verb) must always have an Object after it.


I like. = X

I like candy. = Ok

On the other hand, the Verbwalk” is Intransitive. This means that it can’t have an Object after it. An Object is a Noun, Pronoun or Gerund. In our sentence above, “the office” is an Object.


I walk the office. = X

I walk. = Ok

Or, we can add a Preposition between the Verb and the Noun. If there is a Preposition, “the office” will not be an Object anymore.

I walk the office. = X

I walk to the office. = Ok

Did you get it?

Here are other examples of TV and IV.


I buy. = X

I buy at the cinema. = X

I buy tickets at the cinema. = Ok


I listen music. = X

I listen to music. = Ok

I listen from morning to evening. = Ok

I listen. = Ok

Word Partners

The difference between TV and IV becomes very noticeable and useful especially when we have 2 words with similar meanings.

Although the 2 words have similar meanings, one needs an Object after it while the other can’t have an Object.

For example,

(1) rise vs. raise

(2) succeed vs. accomplish

(3) grow up vs. raise

(4) appear vs. show

(5) remember vs. remind

As you might know, each pair of words is very similar to each other in terms of meaning, but there's something different between them.

Well, the first words (or the words on the left) are IV while the second words (the words on the right) are TV.

This means that:


The temperature rises.

The temperature raises the tension.


He succeeded.

He accomplished his goal.

(Note: The Verb “succeed” can also become TV or have an Object after it, but it will have a different meaning.)


I grew up in Osaka.

My parents raised me in Osaka. (I was raised in Osaka.)


The ghost appeared.

The ghost showed his bloody hands.


The boss remembered.

The secretary reminded her boss.

(Note: The Verb “remember” can be both IV and TV, but the Verb “remind” is only TV.)

Of course there may be other ways of using the words above in sentences, but the basic principle remains: Intransitive Verbs, IV, can’t have an Object while Transitive Verbs, TV, must have an Object.

Take a look:


His hand rises.

He raises his hand.


He succeeded in his dream.

He accomplished his dream.


I grew up without a father.

My grandparents raised me in a strict religious family.


They appeared in a movie.

I showed her my painting.


I remember clearly.

She reminds me of my mother.

As you can see, it’s not good to add an Object if your Verb is Intransitive, and it’s bad not to have an Object if your Verb is Transitive.

Take a look:


They rise the price. ( = X)

The smoke raises. ( = X)


He succeeded his plan. ( = X)

He accomplished. ( = X)


My parents grew up me. ( = X)

I raised in the city. ( = X)


They appeared a gun. ( = X)

I showed to my brother. ( = X)


I remember her about the appointment. ( = X)

Now I remind. ( = X)

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

Tuesday, October 22

5 Uses of the Verb "Lean"

Our topic for today is a song from the 1970s. This song is what we call a “golden oldie.” This means that the song is old but it’s good.

The title of the song is “Lean On Me.” It was written and sung by American artist Bill Withers. During its time, the song scored No.1 among all the R&B Songs and in the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, it’s one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Here are the complete lyrics of the song:

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can't carry
I'm right up the road, I'll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (call me)
Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (if you ever need a friend)
Call me (call me)
Call me
Call me (if you need a friend)    

Lean On Me” is often played at charity events. Many versions of this song have also been made by different artists.

In fact, the musical TV series Glee also recorded their own version of this song for one episode.

Here’s a video from Youtube featuring Glee’s new version:


This song is all about friendship. It’s a good song for true friends.

The writer of the song, Bill Withers, grew up in the poor area of a coal mining town. But when he moved to Los Angeles, he missed the togetherness and closeness of the community in his hometown.

This was the inspiration for the song “Lean On Me.”

You can feel it from the words in the song’s chorus:

Lean on me when you're not strong

And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on

For it won't be long

'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

These words are very positive and will give encouragement to your friend when he has some trouble. This message will cheer him up and give him strength.

About the Word “Lean”

The Verblean” has at least 5 different meanings. They are:


Meaning: To move or bend the body in one direction


S + lean + Adverb

S + lean + Preposition + someone

S + lean + Preposition + something


If you want to relax, just lean back.

all images courtesy of stock.xchng

He leaned forward.

She leaned toward me.

He leaned across the table.


Meaning: To support yourself or something in a sloping position against a wall or other surface


S + lean + against + something

S + lean + on + something

S + lean + something + against + something

S + lean + something + on + something


He’s leaning against the wall.

The bikes are leaning against the wall.

He’s leaning his bike against the wall.


Meaning: To slope or bend, not stand straight


S + lean


The tree is leaning a little.

The Tower of Pisa leans.


Meaning: To depend on someone


S + lean + on + someone


You can lean on me.

He leans on his friends when he has a problem.


Meaning: To tend to support something


S + lean + toward + Noun / Ving

S + lean + to + Noun / Ving

S + lean + in favor of + Noun / Ving


The country is leaning towards military action.

The board of directors is leaning in favor of supporting the merger.

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

Any Questions?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...