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What's odd about your country?

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Neil Edgeller Neil Edgeller | 16:31 UK time, Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hello again Paloma. Thanks for your latest blog and for sharing your thoughts about life in the UK compared to Spain. It's always funny to hear how normal things for us Brits seem odd to visitors to this country. However, I can assure you that I don't have a trampoline in my garden and neither does anyone I know. I've never been to Loughborough, but perhaps it's the trampolining capital of the UK.

I hope you enjoy your trip to London this weekend. You've asked me to recommend a well-kept secret away from the tourist hoards. That's quite tricky because London is jam-packed with holidaymakers in July. But there is a place slightly off the beaten track. The Sir John Soane's Museum is a fascinating collection of curios and antiques in the home of the architect who gathered them. Apart from the strangeness of the exhibits themselves, the museum is run in quite an eccentric way. Here's a link If you go, let me know what you think of it. Whenever I visit I lose track of which country I'm in and even what century it is!

LANGUAGE

A few things of interest and to work on:

Mailbox
In British English we say usual say letterbox.

...that's something I don't still get used.
You need to use present perfect tense for this because you weren't used to it in the past and you are still not used to it now. The correct way of saying this is ...that's something I still haven't got used to.

...you can easily see what people is doing in their houses.
This is quite a common mistake for Spanish speakers of English. We say 'people are...' You can easily see what people are doing in their houses.

British drink 165 million cups daily.
'British' is an adjective, so it must be followed by a noun. In this case British people drink 165 million cups daily. Another was of saying it is The British drink 165 million cups daily. Or a more informal way would be Brits drink 165 million cups daily. You can read more about that in the USEFUL VOCABULARY section.

...she gave her some advices.
Again this is quite a common error. 'Advice' is an uncountable noun in English, so the sentence should be ...she gave her some advice.

HOMEWORK

Thanks to everyone who did the homework last time. Here are the answers:

Verbs

1. to poach - c. to cook something in gently boiling water.
2. to steam - a. to cook food using the gas from boiling water.
3. to deep-fry - d. to cook food in a pan so it's completely covered with oil.
4. to braise - e. to cook food slowly in a covered dish with some fat and liquid.
5. to grill - b. to cook something using direct heat, especially a very hot surface.

Paloma's been describing what she finds unusual about British life. Often it's quite difficult to look at your own culture from outside. But I'd love to hear what you think someone visiting your country would find unusual about it.


USEFUL VOCABULARY

• Brits - informal way of saying 'British people'.
• Odd - strange or unusual.
• Trampoline - a piece of sports equipment for jumping on.
• Jam-packed - full of people or things.
• Off the beaten track - away from the usual places people visit.
• Eccentric - strange or unusual in a humourous way.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Neil,
    As usual, your comments about english grammar are a really good way to improve our english skills.I´m always B.O.L.O for it.
    All the best,
    Alfonso

  • Comment number 2.

    Dear Neil,

    Thank you for your comments about english grammar. They are very useful to me, and, I suppose, to everyone who reads your blog.

    Best wishes,
    Lorena from Brazil

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Teacher,
    The main thing I want to tell you is that I've been hooked to this site. It's some kind of addiction now ;). I want to thank everybody who is participating in this. Keep up writing, commenting and giving advice. We (readers) will keep up reading and learning!
    Thanks.
    From Russia with Love.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Niel , Thank you for your fruitful Blog . As I live in Iran You might think of some of odd things in my country such as driving on left , don't wearing shoes inside our home , sex segration in most public transportations , and If you don't mind Toilet issues and so on !
    Have a nice day and bye

  • Comment number 5.

    Meeting people the first time too, we are very friendly in Italy ... too friendly with many smiles and much "simpatia". It's a good feeling, sure. However... pay attention about this: sometimes it's sincere, simetimes not. After that, Italy could be a nice place to live... just a little bit. Enjoy!
    Sergio

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello Neil,

    Very interesting question! Despite the globalisation it remains many cultural differences among all countries, stronger between western and eastern cultures. Some are sometimes not understandable, astonishing or comic. I would retain only one that I would put among the comic ones: our self-centredness. No need to enumerate all our qualities, it would be boring! ;). To illustrate, I saw many years ago a cartoon in a newspaper, drawn by an Israeli journalist, it described my compatriots in a picture containing lots of faces all saying one word: “me”, so hundred of “me” with a legeng at the bottom which was the only word: “us”, correct me, Neil, if I am wrong, it was perhaps “ourselves” or “we” I don't remember exactly, but I suppose you’ve caught the idea.
    On the other hand, I must say that I rarely saw French people wearing blue and white striped T-shirt, (except perhaps our national football team!), bearing a beret and holding a baguette under their arm and I will have to run a lot before finding a dish of frogs in a restaurant! what a surprising cliché!
    Thanks. I’m looking forward to reading your interesting enquiries.

  • Comment number 7.

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