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ESL Student Blog
Language points (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciaton) that are worth noticing for ESL students around the world.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

ESL Student Blog: Treat Yourself Like Royalty!

It’s Victoria Day weekend in Canada.

It’s during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) that Canada was born as a nation on July 1st, 1867; also known as Confederation. Victoria Day (commemorating Queen’s birthday) is currently celebrated on the 2d Sunday in May.

Queen Victoria’s reign proved to be influential - we talk about Victorian era, Victorian fashion and Victorian architecture. There is even an expression ‘to be Victorian’, which means to be very srtict and conservative or old-fashioned. For example:

My mom was rather Victorian: she wouldn’t let me leave the house in shorts or tight skirts.

In Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, the holiday is celebrated by maypole dancing and decorated boat parade (sailpast) in the harbour. Most cities have a fireworks display at dusk. It’s also the beginning of the gardening season and time to transplant seedlings started indoors into the ground.

Most Canadians look forward to Victoria Day because it’s a long weekend. It’s a long awaited break from work and school. Give yourself and your family special treatment this weekend - treat yorself like royalty! Breakfast in bed, anyone?
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:34 AM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'Onto' vs. 'On To'

‘Onto’ is a preposition that shows a movement toward another surface:

(1) The doors opened [onto a large veranda].
(2) We stepped [onto a crowded platform].
(3) He slid the pizza [onto the hot stone].

The words in the square brackets are prepositional phrases related to the preposition onto. The bracketed phrases specify a location towards which the movement is directed.

Note: (1)-(3) aren’t clear cut cases, and some speakers may use ‘on to’ (written separately) instead of ‘onto’.  There is no universally accepted explanation and sometimes these two can be interchangeable.

Yet, with verbs meaning ‘lift’ or ‘climb’, onto is preferable:

(4) The victim was lifted onto the stretcher.
(5) A family of racoons climbed onto the picnic table.
(6) The fishermen hauled the netting onto the boat.
(7) The horses were hoisted onto the truck.

A general rule of thumb to decide if ‘onto’ is appropriate is relplace it with ‘on’. The meaning should not be affected:

(8) Save it onto/on the desktop.
(9) Never put a stroller onto/on the escalator.
(10) They hopped onto/on the streetcar.

Note: Never replace ‘on’ with ‘onto’. It doesn’t work the other way around.

‘On to’ is written separately when ‘on’ is a part of a phrasal verb:

(11) [Could you please pass it on] [to everyone in the room]?
(12) [The presenter moved on] [to the next topic].
(13) [I can’t log on] [to my account].

Additional common phrasal verbs may include: hold on (to the rail), catch on (to the joke), turn on (to the next topic), hang on (to the hope), go on (to pursue an academic degree).
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 5:11 PM   6 Comments  Add Comment

top Thursday, May 07, 2009

ESL Student Blog: Road Repairs - A Sure Sign of Spring

Do you dread coming upon a road construction zone while driving to work, school or running some errands? Black-and-orange pylons and barrels and construction signs can be spotted on just about any street in the city.
While many people (especially from the northern climates) are happy that the spring is finally here, it also comes at a cost - spring means the beginning of the road construction season, which translates into traffic delays.
Using the phrases below, describe a road construction site:
seasonal maintanence
asphalt patching
sidewalk/curb/pothole/railguard repair
updating road signs
lane marking
drainage/catch basins repair
crack sealing
road closure
alternative route
arterial roads
flagged traffic
Eventually, we’ll all know more than one way to get to work or school, eh? Better yet, those pool-sized potholes will also get fixed!
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 4:33 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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