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

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ESL Student Blog: What Are Collocations?

Collocations are words that sound naturally when put together. We say a ‘group of children’, but a ‘pack of wolves’, a ‘school of fish’  and a ‘herd of buffalo’. The words  ‘pack’, ‘school’, ‘herd’ in this context all mean a ‘group’ - yet, are used with particular types of animals.
 
Knowing a word (in addition to recognizing its meaning(s)) means knowing what can come before or after it. There’re no particular rules (like an irregular verbs list) that explain which words go together with which, and therefore it pays to be an observant listener and reader to be able to pick up common word combinations from the native speakers of English and authentic texts.
 
The words ‘cut’ and ‘mow’, ‘double’ and dual’, ‘quick’ and ‘fast’ have the same meaning, yet are used with different ‘partners’, words that surround them:
 
cut finger’, but ‘mow grass’
double occupancy’, but ‘dual citizenship’
quick look’, but ‘fast food’
’10 degrees above zero’, but ‘over 10 years experience’
‘shipwreck’, but ‘car accident
 
Next time you learn a word, don’t just add it to your new vocabulary list. Leave some space around it and think of as many phrases that include that particular word, e.g.:
 
shed tears/light on/5 pounds (lose weight)/leaves/skin/blood
wedding/concert/Olympic/outdoor/indoor venue
 
Also, take your time to compare a new word to a word with a similar meaning. For example, there’re many words that have a meaning similar to the word ‘bad’ when we describe food. Yet, each of these words has a particular ‘partner’:
 
rotten vegetables
stale bread
rancid nuts/butter
sour milk
 
To see additional examples of collocations, go to our practice section.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 7:07 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

ESL Student Blog: Do You Mind?

This question confuses many because a negative answer suggests you are okay with what you’ve been asked about while a positive answer means you’re not okay with it.
 
Example:
 
Do you mind if I smoke here?
No. Not at all. Go ahead.
(You’re okay with the person smoking beside you).
 
Do you mind if I smoke here?
Yes, I do. I’m sorry, but I just can’t tolerate smoke beside me.
(You’re not okay with the person smoking beside you).
 
Note: The verb ‘mind’ is followed by a gerund (not an infinitive!):
 
Do you mind holding the door for me?
Do you mind bringing me a cup of water?
 
Practice answering the following questions:
 
Do you mind:

- walking my dog tomorrow morning? I have an early meeting to attend.
- babysitting my son for a couple of hours? I have to finish my project.
- drawing the curtains? The sun is blinding.
- turning the lights on? It’s getting dark.
- if I take another piece of cake? It’s delicious!
 
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 1:11 AM   1 Comments  Add Comment



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