Getting about in the UK
Mmmmmm! Is it time for dinner yet? Ha, you’re making me hungry. I looooove noodles. But do you have any nice veggi noodle dishes in Vietnam? I don’t eat meat. Or maybe a nice cake or biscuit I could try?
Ha, I don’t know much about scholarships for banking and finance degrees I’m afraid, but I did notice that you used ‘Master’s’ perfectly – twice – in your blog. Excellent! Well done!
The language point I want to mention to you today is the present continuous tense. Ha, in your last blog, you wrote:
‘There are more and more companies invest in Vietnam’.
We use the present continuous tense to talk about things that are happening about now. To form the present continuous tense, we use the verb ‘to be’ + the –ing form of the verb, e.g.
I am blogging now.
I am looking forward to the weekend.
In the example above, you used the bare infinitive ‘invest’ to talk about what is happening in Vietnam now. This is ongoing at the moment, so you should use the present continuous tense, like this:
There are more and more companies investing in Vietnam now.
Oh, and I should also mention that we can also use the present continuous tense to talk about the future. Usually, we use the present continuous tense to talk about things that are going to happen in the future that have been decided, e.g.
I’m going to a friend’s house for dinner on Saturday night.
So Ha, maybe you can write a couple of sentences in your next blog, explaining what you’re doing right now? ;->
That’s enough grammar – it’s Friday! A couple of blogs ago, Aaron in Beijing asked if I would tell you a bit about the traffic and transport in the UK, so you can know a bit more about life in the UK.
Well, the stereotypical image of a British commuter is probably a businessman in a pin-stripe suit with a bowler hat on his head, carrying an umbrella. He then hops onto a red London bus to get to his office.
In London, lots of people do use the famous red buses to travel about. They can also use the tube. A couple of years ago, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, introduced a congestion charge, which means you have to pay extra to drive into the centre of London. The idea was to reduce pollution and congestion, and to raise money for public transport. The scheme has definitely helped to reduce traffic problems in the capital, and the area covered by the congestion charge was recently extended.
However, the population of London is around 7 million, and there are more than 60 million of us the UK. How do the rest of us get about? The simple answer is by car. Not because our roads are so great – there are lots of traffic jams – but because public transport isn’t really that good. Train services have improved greatly over the last 15 years, but it’s expensive. For example, an off-peak return ticket from my house to London, which is a journey of around one hour each way, costs about £23. If you were to do that every day the price would be astronomical. And don’t even mention the buses – they’re always late, crowded or don’t turn up at all. In fact, we have a saying about buses, that ‘you wait hours for one, then two come along at the same time’.
Luckily I work from home so I don’t have to cope with the grind of the daily commute. This also helps to reduce my carbon footprint. You can’t deny that all these people going to work by car every day must be bad for the planet, but I wonder what the alternative is? It’s simply not practical or cost-effective for most Brits to commute by public transport.
How do you all get to and from work/study?
I’m commuting down to the kitchen now for a cup of tea. It’s a hard life!
Oh, and one of my pets has been bugging me to let him blog. So I might ask him to give you some homework over the weekend. Hope you don’t mind!
Catch you later!
stereotypical – (adjective) the common mental image of something
commuter – a person travelling to/from work, the verb is ‘to commute’
pin-stripe – with thin, vertical stripes
bowler hat – a hat with a domed top. You don’t see businessmen wearing bowler hats these days.
hop – to jump lightly
the tube – slang for the London Underground
congestion – overcrowding
get about – move, travel
off-peak – (adjective) not during the rush hour
astronomical – extremely high
turn up – arrive
grind – a chore, something that is unpleasant to do
carbon footprint – how much impact an individual has on the environment. This is quite a trendy phrase at the moment.
It’s a hard life! – we use this phrase ironically, to mean that actually someone is very fortunate, e.g.
Tom has two cleaners, a cook, a driver, a gardener, and even someone to brush his teeth for him. It’s a hard life!
If you bug someone, you annoy them.
Answers to your comments
Cathy – Ah! You’re so sweet, thank you. I think it’s easier to learn if you have fun at the same time. For explanations on how to use ‘the’ and ‘a/an’, please see my blog dated Friday 08 June.
Naheed – Hi! Nice to speak to you again! Yes, people do live in those houses. There are lots of them in the Normandy countryside.
The Student With No Name – you can say either ‘He said his mother was ill’ or ‘He said that his mother was ill’. Both are correct and there is no difference in meaning. The same with ‘It started to rain’ and ‘It started raining’. Both are perfect and there is no difference in meaning.
Mauricio – If you say ‘at the weekend’, you’re talking about a specific weekend, i.e. the weekend that has just gone, or the weekend that is coming. If you say ‘on the weekend’ it can be any weekend. You can use ‘on the weekend’ if you want to talk about habits, e.g.
On the weekend, I go fishing and read the newspaper.
Ana Paula – Yes, I have seen the Water Lilies and they are amazing. They are so huge in the flesh you really can’t quite believe it. If you ever go to Paris, don’t miss them! As for commas, a good way to put them in the right place is to say the sentence aloud – where do you pause to take a breath? That’s the place you can put a comma.
Stevieboy – ‘fair enough’ is a colloquial (slang) way of saying ‘that’s fair’, e.g.
The boss said I had to work four hours of overtime that night. I said, ‘Can you pay me extra for that, maybe double time?’ He said, ‘fair enough’.
Tomo – Hmm, I’m not sure that I’m a very good photographer but thank you! Yes, I use a digital camera, which is actually quite old now. But it’s made by a Japanese company so it’s the best! ;-> When we take a photo in the UK, to get everyone to smile, the photographer says: ‘Everybody say cheese!’ Then everyone who is being photographed says back: ‘Cheese!’
Jai – please take a look at my blogs dated June 04 and June 09 for more information about phrases coined by Shakespeare and idioms.
Joel – I’m so happy you enjoy reading my blog. I love writing it too!
Michel – so does that make you a North Man? ;->
Ahmed – great use of the words ‘meaty’ and ‘peruse all of them with great relish’. Well done! Yes, you could also say ‘the lifestyle there is quite different to that in the UK’. The version I wrote is a little less formal. Also, Giverny is a place in Normandy. It’s where the painter Monet lived, and the gardens there are what inspired him to paint The Water Lilies.
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