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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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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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Homonyms in English - Part I

In English, there are many words that sound and are spelled the same, but they have different meanings. These are called homonyms. It may sound confusing, but in this first lesson in the series, 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 noun "rose" (the flower) and the verb "rose" (the past tense of "to rise"). Take a look at the two examples of "rose" and their different meanings:

 

A sprinkling of rose petals.
Caption 32, Victoria Sponge: The Royal Connection

 

The verb "to rise" has many meanings, such as "to get out of bed," or to assume a standing position" after lying or sitting down. It can even mean "to return from the dead" as shown in this example:

 

He was crucified on Good Friday, and after that, he rose again.
Caption 20-21, Holidays and Seasons with Sigrid: Easter

 

The noun "bank" can mean either a financial institution or "a raised portion of seabed or sloping ground along the edge of a stream, river, or lake." 

 

Two people have a bank account together: a joint account.
Caption 25, The Alphabet: the Letter J

 

My favorite place is probably on the south bank of the Thames River here in London.
Caption 19, Chris, I.T. Professional: Information Technology

 

The word "bow" has a multitude of very different meanings, both as a noun and a verb: 

 

Tie a ribbon in a bow. When you meet the queen, you bow.
Captions 48-49, English: with Annette O'Neil

 

The noun "bow," in this case the bow on a wrapped birthday gift for example and the verb "bow," as in bending from the waist in honor of somebody, are pronounced differently. Watch the video above to hear the pronunciations.

 

I got two orcas off my port bow.
Caption 38, National Geographic WILD: Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark

 

In this case, "bow" is a nautical term meaning the front of a boat or ship.

 

Bow hairs are being shredded like crazy!
Caption 45, Sting: Symphonicity EPK
 

 

Here the noun "bow" referred to is the bow of a violin.

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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. Perhaps you know some already that confuse you again and again — the Yabla videos can help you put these words in an everyday context! 

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Colloquial Contractions in American English, Part III

This lesson is Part III of a series. Let's continue discussing some of the ways that words are shortened in casual speech in American English that are not used in formal writing. "Colloquial" means "casual" as opposed to "formal," and a "contraction" is just the shortening of words.

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Hey, my little old friend, whatcha gonna do?    
Caption 12, Royalchord: Good Times

 

We discussed in a previous lesson that "gonna" is a contraction of "going to," thus "whatcha gonna do" is the colloquial equivalent of "what are you going to do."

 

'Cause you feel like home
'Cause I've been by myself all night long
'Cause nobody told me that you'd be here
Captions 5-19, Adele:When We Were Young

 

Normally the word "cause" is either a verb or noun, meaning the reason that something happens ("What is causing the problem? What is the cause of the problem?"). But in this case with the apostrophe in front of it, it is just a contraction of the preposition "because."

 

If you had a life we'd ask you to sorta give that life up.
Caption 38, World's Toughest Job: Official Video

 

Like many contractions, you can probably easily guess from the sound that "sorta" is a contraction of "sort of."

 

Lotsa bands playing there, like pretty much every night of the week.    
Caption 25, Turn Here Productions: Belltown, WA

 

The contraction "lotsa" is short for the informal "lots of" or "a lot of," meaning the same as the more proper "many," but without even saving any syllables!

 

C'mon, man. Fallen off over and over and over again.
Caption 30, Chris Sharma, World's best rock climber 

 

You may not even notice when somebody says "come on" quickly in speech, but it's good to know how the contraction is written as well!

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Further Learning
Watch this video on Yabla English to learn about more contractions, and search the videos on Yabla English for more examples of these colloquial contractions used in a real world context.

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Colloquial Contractions in American English, Part II

This lesson is Part II of a series. "Colloquial" means "casual" as opposed to "formal," and a "contraction" is just the shortening of words. Let's continue discussing some of the ways that words are shortened in casual speech in American English in ways that are not used in formal writing.

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So, lemme just show you.

Caption 53, Get the Dish - DIY Hatching Chick Deviled Eggs For Easter

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Lemme recharge it, OK?

Caption 17, Hemispheres - The Amazing Cell Phone - Part 1

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"Lemme" is an informal contraction of "let me."

 

dunno, it's kind of like they don't have any…

Caption 55, Ed Sheeran - Interview with Ellen DeGeneres

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Dunno" is easy. It combines the words "don't" and "know," and it is a response word used to express confusion.

Captions 27-29, English with Annette O'Neil - Colloquial Contractions - Part 2

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The next contraction is a bit more difficult: 

 

gotcha, I gotcha, OK.

Caption 21, Plain White T's - Visit The VEVO Office

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Similarly, the colloquial contraction "gotcha" isn't a grammatical superstar. It combines the words "got" and "you," and is used to express casual assent. Where's the button just to make one espresso? Gotcha.

Captions 20-25, English with Annette O'Neil - Colloquial Contractions - Part 2

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"Gotcha" is a colloquial contraction of "to get" something, in the sense of "to understand" something. If you say "I gotcha," it's a colloquial way of saying "I get it" or "I understand you." 

 

Nine times outta ten there's no manual on these things.

Caption 12, Motorcycle Masters - Birmingham Alabama - Part 1

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Get me security, get him outta here!

Caption 45, People's Choice - Kaley Cuoco Opening

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"Outta" is an informal contraction for "out of." It's also common to hear the expression "I'm outta here!" for "I am leaving," which is what I'll leave you with for this lesson!

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Further Learning
Watch this video on Yabla English to learn about more contractions, and search the videos on Yabla English for more examples of these colloquial contractions used in a real world context.

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Colloquial Contractions in American English, Part I

The topic above looks a bit complicated, but it's actually quite easy. "Colloquial" means "casual" as opposed to "formal," and a "contraction" is just the shortening of words. So let's talk about some of the ways that words are shortened in casual speech in American English. 

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In American English, the colloquial contractions you'll hear most often are: "kinda" [kind of], "wanna" [want to], and "gonna" [going to].

Captions 8-9, English with Annette O'Neil - Colloquial Contractions - Part 1

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These words are just casually spoken contractions of "kind of," "want to," and "going to."

 

I just kinda stay away from all that. It's not part of my life.

Caption 77, Ask Jimmy Carter - Interview with Cameron Diaz

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You do wanna keep your resume to one page.

Caption 4, Job Hunting - 4 Resume Do's & Don'ts

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You also do wanna highlight the results, the experiences,

Caption 16, Job Hunting - 4 Resume Do's & Don'ts

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What are you gonna [going to] do with it when you grow up?

Caption 8, A Charlie Brown Christmas - Snowflakes

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You definitely do not want to use these kinds of informal words in formal writing, for instance when applying for a job! 

 

There's another similar contraction that you will commonly hear among native speakers of American English: 

 

I'll talk to ya later, Mick. I gotta go.

Caption 32, A Mickey Mouse Cartoon - Goofy's Grandma

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I mean, you show up and your hair's gotta be in place and the lipstick has to be right.

Caption 43, Nicole Kidman - Batman Forever

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The conjunction "gotta" derives from "got to" or "have got to," in the sense of "have to" or "must". A more formal version of the sentences above would be "I have to go" or "I must go," and "Your hair has to be in place" or "Your hair must be in place."

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Further Learning
Watch this video on Yabla English to learn about more contractions, and search the videos on Yabla English for more real world examples of these colloquial contractions used in a real world context.

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The phrase "used to"

The phrase "used to" is a great one to know in English, as it has three different functions. 

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1. First of all, "used to" is the participle of the verb "to use" combined with the preposition "to." Note that in this case the "s" in "use" is pronounced more or less like a "z." The sentences below are about something being utilized for a particular purpose:

 

Java isn't the same thing as JavaScript, which is a simple technology used to create web pages.

Captions 6-7, Business English - About Java

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"Kinda," for example, combines "kind" and "of," but the word "kinda" is most often used as a casual synonym for "rather," and is used to modify an adjective or an adverb.

Captions 16-18, English with Annette O'Neil - Colloquial Contractions - Part 1

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2. The phrase “used to” can mean “accustomed to.” In this case, "used" is pronounced with a soft "s" rather than a "z" sound. To "get used to" something is to gain experience or become comfortable with it to the extent that you expect it: 

 

Now I know that you're used to seeing me in warmer climates,

Caption 1, British Gas - top tips on preparing your home for cold weather

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I remember Madonna saying the colored contacts she wore for “Evita” were pretty uncomfortable and hard to get used to, for example.

Captions 45-46, Bohemian Rhapsody - Six facts about the true story - Part 2

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3. When we talk about habitual actions in the past in English, i.e. something you did on a regular basis, we often use the construction “used to” + infinitive. Here, the "s" in "used" is also pronounced with an "s" sound.

 

it's a lot more interesting and enticing than it used to be.

Caption 35, Alaska Revealed - Tidal bores, icebergs and avalanches - Part 2

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and I used to go there every Saturday and go to the market,

Caption 32, Creative Space - An Artist's Studio - Part 2

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Further Learning
You can discover many instances of "used to" on Yabla English and get used to using this phrase yourself! As you can see, it is used to discuss not only practical uses, but also life experiences in the past and present. When you watch the videos, make sure you pay special attention to the difference in the pronunciation of the "s."

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Spanish Words in English, Part II

As we saw in Part I of this series, many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language. You will find many English words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.

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Many words originating from Spanish are words that we associate with cowboys or the Southwest United States, which were originally territories of Spain.

 

I wore a sombrero once.

Caption 63, How 2 Travelers - Rethink What You Wear On the Plane!

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In English, a sombrero refers to a very wide-brimmed hat often seen in Mexico, but in Spanish, a sombrero is any kind of hat with a brim.

 

Ah, yeah, what a bonanza, a bonanza!

Caption 12, Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump

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A bonanza in English is a windfall or sudden good luck, which it can also mean in Spanish, although in Spanish it also means "fair weather."

 

California's central coast is a gorgeous stretch [weekend getaway] dotted with Spanish architecture, secret gardens, and chaparral-covered mountains.

Captions 2-3, Travel + Leisure - Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara

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A chaparral is a dense growth of shrubs or small trees, stemming from the Spanish word chapparo, which is a kind of evergreen oak.

 

The trip through the labyrinth of flooded canyons is impressive.

Caption 11, The Last Paradises - America's National Parks - Part 8

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A canyon is a steep valley, often with a stream or river at the bottom. This is derived from the Spanish cañon, which has the same meaning.

 

185 of their friends are holed up in a crumbling adobe church down on the Rio Bravo.

Captions 25-27, John Wayne - The Alamo

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The word "adobe," the clay and straw bricks from which buildings are constructed in many drier climates, came to English via Spanish, but the word itself hearkens back to ancient Arabic, Coptic, and Egyptian!

 

[They] look like... kinda like chaps.

Caption 21, Chicago Bulls - Kid Picasso - Part 1

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Not to be confused with the informal British English "chap" (a "fellow"), chaps are the wide leather leggings worn by cowboys. This stems from the Mexican Spanish word of the same meaning, chaparreras.

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Further Learning
See if you can find the English meaning for other words with Spanish origins which are in common usage in the Southwest United States: arroyo, bronco, buckaroo, coyote, desperado, hacienda, machete, mesa, mustang, poncho, pueblo, ranchrodeo, serape, stampede, vamoose, vaquero, and vigilante. Then look at some of the video examples above English Yabla and see how they are used in specific context.

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Spanish Words in English, Part I

Many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language, especially in the United States, whose Hispanic and Latino residents account for nearly 18% of the total population. As well as having predominantly Spanish-speaking territories such as Puerto Rico, the United States also borders the mainly Spanish-speaking Mexico. Thus you will find many words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.

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Some of the most common words of Spanish origin in English are food-based: 

 

Yellow split peas, boiled and grounded [sic] in the food processor, cilantrohabanero [pepper], garlic...

Captions 49-50, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen - Part 1

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The fresh herb "cilantro" is most commonly called "coriander" in British English, whereas in US English, "coriander" usually refers to the dried root of the plant and not the fresh leaves.

 

Habanero peppers (habeñero in Spanish) are among the hottest chilis around, rating at 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. The word "chili" (also spelled "chile" in English) is, although also a Spanish word, derived from the indigenous Nahuatl language that is still spoken by 1.7 million people in Mexico. Chili is also a kind of thick stew made from beans, tomato sauce, and chilis: 

 

Don't ever eat chili out of a dented can. That's my advice.

Caption 27, Karate Kids, USA - The Little Dragons - Part 9

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In the US, it's common to see canned (or "tinned" in British English) chili labeled as "chili con carne," so watch out if you are vegetarian, as con carne is Spanish for "with meat."

 

...and the good news is that I got some extra tortillas.

Caption 38, Travel + Leisure - Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara

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In US and British English, as well as North American Spanish, a tortilla is a thin, round pancake made of corn meal or flour. But in Spain, a tortilla is more often a kind of egg omelette! 

 

Packaged foods, like chocolate and tea and salsa... 

Caption 9, New York City - The Union Square Holiday Market

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Come summer, this place is full of people sunbathing in bikinis, playing beach volleyball, and even dancing salsa.

Captions 24-25, World Cup 2018 - A Tour of Cities and Venues - Part 4

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Here you see "salsa" in its two meanings as a sauce and a kind of music and dance. 

 

Of course, nearly everybody knows this one, from the Spanish adíos:

 

If you didn't worship him, it was out, adios, you know, off.

Caption 76, Ask Jimmy Carter - Interview with Anthony Hopkins

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Actor Anthony Hopkins is British-born, but has lived in Southern California off and on since the 1970s, and in fact got US citizenship in the year 2000.

 

With that, we'll say goodbye for now! 

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Further Learning
Take a look at this extensive list of Spanish words in English on Wikipedia and see if you can find some of them used in a real-world context on English Yabla

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Sports Idioms

English speakers often use phrases taken from sports as metaphors in business and everyday situations. This can be a bit difficult to understand for those who speak English as a second language, and especially so when the expressions are taken from such particularly US American sports as baseball and American football. Let's take a look today at the way some sports expressions are used in other contexts. 

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I've been workin' on my game plan perfectly!

Caption 16, David Haye - Video Blog June 2011

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A "game plan" is a general sports term that is often applied to any kind of project, and thus means the plan for implementing a project.

 

But, yeah, we've been scoring surf...

Caption 42, Naish Kiteboarding TV - Meet Team Naish

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The verb "to score" is derived from scoring a goal in sports or scoring points in a game, but in slang usage also means "to get" something that isn't just taken for granted or to get a good deal, such as "I scored a new computer for 50 dollars!" 

 

Been here for eight years. Tips are good, call my own shots...

Caption 12, Drivers Wanted - Pizza Delivery - Part 4

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A person who "calls the shots" originates from the team captain in sports, but is used to mean a person who is in charge ("Who calls the shots around here?") or has control of a situation.

 

Applicants often use buzzwords such as "hard-working," "motivated" or "team player"

Caption 50, Business English - Curriculum Vitae - Part 2

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The term "team player" comes from team sports, but in a business sense it means somebody who works well with other people, not just independently.

 

Here are some other commonly used sports terms you may hear in non-sports contexts: 

 

— to fumble This term originates from American football, and means "to drop the ball", or in a figurative sense, "to make a mistake" or "to perform poorly."

 

—to hit a home run This is an American baseball term, and in non-sports contexts it means "be be successful."

 

—in the home stretch This is a horse racing term, where it means the horse is in the last part of the racecourse between the last turn and the finish line. In other contexts it means "nearly finished" or "in the last stages" of a project.

 

—to jockey into position Another horse racing term, otherwise meaning "to find one's place" or "to maneuver" or "to manipulate" as a means of gaining advantage.

 

—to pitch The verb "to pitch" originates from American baseball, but in a business sense it means "to make a proposal" or "to try to sell" something. The noun "pitch" is often used in the business sense as a "sales pitch", which is a business proposal.

 

—to play ball This general sports term means, in other contexts, "to participate" or "to follow the rules."

 

—to play with a full deck This card game term means that somebody is well-informed or well-prepared, whereas "not playing with a full deck" suggests that somebody is mentally unstable or not intelligent.

 

—second stringer This American football term refers to players who are not the best on the team and are the second choice in playing on the field, usually only appearing if a "first stringer" has been injured or if winning the game is already a foregone conclusion. In business parlance, it means that the person is not the first choice to fulfill a designated task.

 

—to strike out Much like the American football term "to fumble", this term is from American baseball and means the batter fails to hit the ball completely or fouls out. In a non-sports context, it means "to perform poorly" or "to fail" at an assigned task.

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Further Learning
Look online for the above terms used in non-sports contexts, and see if you can formulate some sentences using the terms in a similar fashion. 

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Commonly Paired Words Part II

In part 2 of this series, we look at how every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.

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Progress is usually made. This phrase sounds a little odd at first, as if "progress" were something that could be "made" in a factory, but what it means is that something or someone is improving:

 

You've made a little progress.

Caption 69, Barack Obama - on Trump presidential victory - Part 2

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I'm making great progress with the parents already.

Caption 16, Movie Trailers - The Boss Baby

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Money is often described as hard-earned, meaning that it was not inherited or acquired easily otherwise, but that someone had to work hard and long for it.

 

Don't hand over any more of your hard-earned money to these crooks.

Caption 22, Laurel & Hardy - Jitterbugs - Part 4

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People aren't lining up to trade their hard-earned money for your unnecessary product.

Captions 67-68, Nature Preservation - The Story of Bottled Water - Part 1

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When you want to take shower and use very little time in doing so, you take a quick shower. The meaning is the same as taking a "fast shower" or a "brief shower," but the standard expression uses the adjective "quick":

 

We have learned just for a quick shower, you just put the nozzle up there.

Captions 26-27, An apartment - in Japan

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You stand there and take a quick shower.

Caption 27, An apartment - in Japan

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Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

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Commonly Paired Words Part I

Every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.

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Advice is usually offered or given:

 

What advice do you give to five-year-old girls who want to be president of the United States?

Captions 15-16, Entertainment Weekly - The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions - Part 1

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If I was to give them any advice, I think it would be just go for it.

Caption 22, Naish Kiteboarding TV - Snowkiting Ragnarok

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If the advice is heeded, then it is usually said to have been taken

 

I don't know how well I took their advice.

Caption 65, Numberphile - Connect Four

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Homework, the extra studying that you do away from school, is usually done, though your parents or teacher might also ask you if you have finished your homework

 

But you can't do that if you don't study and do your homework.

Caption 49, Entertainment Weekly - The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions - Part 1

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A risk, which describes doing something that is somehow dangerous, is something that is taken.

 

Our clients take big risks everyday.

Caption 25, Jump for Opportunity - Official Video

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I decided to take the risk and tell her.

Caption 44, The Apartment - The Date - Part 3

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You could dispatch or relay an email, but the standard expression is for an email to be sent

 

Could you please send me an email?

Caption 51, Business English - Starting on a new job - Part 2

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And then finally, Eric sent me an email.

Caption 43, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World - Electric Playground Interview - Part 3

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Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

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