Au revoir, Naheed
Don’t panic, we haven’t switched to a French-learning blog. I’m in France for the weekend. France is a favourite holiday destination for us Brits, because it’s so close and easy to get to. I’m in Normandy, which is in the northern part of France. In my next blog I’ll post some pictures and tell you a little bit more about it.
Today, I have to say farewell to Naheed (sob!). Naheed, you’ve been a great student blogger. Thanks to you, we now know all about mangoes, marriages in Pakistan, life in Karachi, your life, your studies and last but not least delicious Pakistani food. Thanks for sharing a little bit of yourself with us, and for taking my nasty homework on the chin.
Which reminds me, I have to tell you the meaning of those proverbs (which you explained perfectly, Naheed). Here goes:
1 The grass is always greener on the other side – people always think other people are in a better situation than them, when really they should be content with what they have.
2 People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones – if you are in a vulnerable situation, you shouldn’t criticize others
3 A rolling stone gathers no moss – If you keep moving about and don’t put down any roots, you’ll have no responsibilities
4 Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – be thankful for the gifts you receive; don’t criticize them
5 Empty vessels make most noise – people who have little knowledge or understanding of a subject often talk the loudest about it
Naheed, you asked me how you can improve your English and make it more impressive. First, I want to say that your English already is very impressive. I don’t think there was ever a time when I read your blog and thought ‘What on earth is Naheed talking about?’. You can express your ideas very well and you are very fluent. No one will ever have any problems understanding your English. So have confidence in your abilities!
As for what you can do to improve, I would focus on two things: articles and verbs. We already discussed articles a bit in some of our blogs. I explained that articles are small things, and that if you *do* miss them out, people will still understand you. However, if you can master the use of articles, it will make your English seem very natural and fluent.
Secondly, we did talk a little bit about using the most appropriate verbs for the context (i.e. ‘feed the pigeons’, ‘tastes sweet’, ‘my window faces East’). Verbs are really what add ‘colour’ to our language. Compare for example these ‘plain’ and ‘strong’ verbs. By that I mean the ‘strong’ verbs give us greater information and are richer in meaning:
Naheed, if you can pick just the right verb for the context, your English will seem smooth and flowing. Of course, this is easier said than done! To achieve this, you really just need to keep reading lots of English from a variety of sources (newspapers, magazines, books, the Internet). If you notice an unusual or ‘strong’ verb, look it up and make a note of it. Find out what it means and how it is used. Then, next time you write in English, see if you can use it (if it fits into the context of course!).
And remember: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Naheed, good luck in your studies and best wishes for the future. Everyone reading: You’re all stuck with me for another month I’m afraid, so I have to start thinking of some more nasty quizzes and riddles.
I won’t say ‘Goodbye’, Naheed. I’ll use the French farewell, which means ‘until I see you again’:
Answers to your comments
Hurray! Your comments are back! :-)
Ana Paula – I’m not sure where those symbols came from. I re-posted and they disappeared! I have heard of BodyStep and BodyBalance, but I haven’t tried them. You can say either ‘do BodyCombat’ (more common) or ‘practise BodyCombat’ (less common). Both are fine.
Benka – ‘nosey parker’ is a great phrase, it means someone who gets involved in every one else’s business. If you want to talk about someone who thinks they’re very important and likes to be obeyed, you can use the slang term ‘jobsworth’, i.e.
The park officer told the kids not to play football in the park in case they damaged the grass. He’s a real jobsworth.
Melissa – Hmm, it’s hard to tell you the meaning of that phrase out of context. What is the book about?
Mauricio – ‘quite’ can be used both ways, i.e. to mean completely:
You’re quite right. (you’ve got the answer exactly right)
Or to mean ‘somewhat’:
She’s quite pretty. (she’s fairly pretty)
Fulvio – interesting to hear about the miracle, and yes, you say ‘do a miracle', or ‘do miracles’. No, we don’t have fixed answers for good wishes in the UK. If someone wishes you ‘Good luck!’ we would just say ‘Thanks!’. Boring, isn’t it?!
Wisarut – we don’t really concentrate on earning merit as such. I think most people just try to live a good and honest life.
Uddhav – our unlucky number is 13. I’ll try to talk about if-clauses next week.
Sherzhod – yes, I try to introduce vocabulary items that are commonly understood in the UK. I couldn’t say for sure whether people in other English-speaking countries would use them, but I think they are fairly common.
switch – to change
Brits – (noun) short for ‘British’
last but not least – this means although an item may be last on your list, it is not the least important.
If you take something on the chin, you cope well with a difficulty or challenge.
What on earth – a stronger and informal way of saying ‘what’
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. – another proverb, meaning ‘don’t give up’.
stuck with me – if you’re stuck with someone, you can’t get away from them.
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