Town or country?
What’s happening? Today I had to drive to Oxford for a meeting. I don’t mind driving so much, but I had to come back during the rush hour, which is not so much fun. Also, I work from home most of the time. The meeting I had was in a big, busy, open-plan office. It was a bit of a shocker to be surrounded by ringing telephones, noisy photocopiers and lots of people talking. I guess I’ve just got used to the peace and quiet of working from home (well, other than my dog hassling me to take her for a walk). Maybe I’m turning into a hermit? But no, I’ve got all of you lovely people to chat with!
Anyway, this, along with some of your questions (thanks Paulraj and Anita for the inspiration!) about life in my village, got me thinking about the difference between life in a busy city and life in the countryside. I lived in big cities for more than 10 years, and I think Hong Kong is probably the most hectic (though also the most exciting) place of anywhere I’ve lived. What are the pros of living in a city? Well, there’s always something interesting to do or go. You can visit art exhibitions, watch plays and go shopping to your heart’s content. Transport is usually very convenient, and there are lots of places to socialise and eat. On the downside, big cities are often noisy, polluted and overcrowded.
Then there’s the countryside. Where I live now is so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The air is fresh and you get to see the seasons change. However, it’s not very convenient. For example, I would have to drive 10 miles to go to the cinema, and for big shops or art exhibitions I would have to go to the next big city, which is about half an hour away.
Which is best – city life or village life? I think they both have their pros and cons. But for now I like living in the country.
And as for working in an office or from home? There’s no contest. I may miss out on chatting to people at work, but I definitely prefer working from my little office at home. I don’t have to sit through boring meetings, and I can work when I like.
What would you prefer to do – work from home or in an office? And where would you rather live – in a city or in the countryside?
Aaah, work – I suppose we’d better do some, hadn’t we? Farz from Tehran wanted to know how and why we can use the present tense to talk about the future. And Ha, seeing as we need to brush up your use of tenses, I thought this would be a good topic to talk about today.
So, we know we can use the present tense to talk about the present, or about things that are always true (e.g. Water freezes at zero degrees).
However, we can also use the present tense to talk about the future in some certain situations. There are really three situations when we use the present tense to talk about the future.
1) The most common situation is when you’re talking about a timetable or something that is scheduled to happen, e.g.
My train leaves at 5 p.m.
My favourite TV programme starts at 9 o’clock.
2) You’ll also find the present tense used with a future meaning in subordinate clauses – usually after if, until, than, what, where and when, e.g.
I’ll stop working when I become a millionnaire.
I’ll tell you what the doctor says.
3) Sometimes, you use the present tense with a future meaning when you give or ask for instructions, e.g.
Where do I get my ticket?
When you arrive at Heathrow Airport, you go first to immigration.
All clear? If so, see whether you can complete the sentences below. You’ll need to put the verb in brackets in either the present tense or the present continuous tense. Can you decide which is right?
1) The opera _______________ at 7.30p.m. sharp. (start)
2) I _________________! Wait for me! (come)
3) Where ___________ I ______________? (do, pay)
4) You _________________ a blog about the English language. (read)
5) I won’t stop working until I _____________ rich. (be)
OK, I’m finishing work now because a TV programme I want to watch starts at 9.00p.m.
See you next time!
the rush hour – the time when most traffic is on the roads, usually from about 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the UK
open-plan – lots of open space and few walls
shocker – like ‘shock’, but the ‘er’ makes it sound more informal
hermit – someone who stays at home a lot and doesn’t talk to many people
hectic – very busy
pros – advantages
to your heart’s content – as much as you want
so quiet, you could hear a pin drop – silent
cons – disadvantages
there’s no contest – there’s no need to think carefully about the pros and cons
Answers to your comments
Rahul – ‘being’ is the gerund form of the verb to be. We use gerunds like nouns, e.g.
I hate being late.
Being on time is not her style.
Melissa – To say you’re hungry in Cockney Rhyming Slang, you say ‘I’m Hank Marvin’, which rhymes with ‘starving’. However, you don’t hear this one so often – it’s not as common as ‘have a butcher’s’ or ‘trouble and strife’.
Naheed – good luck with your exam. I know you’ll do well, because you work hard and are very bright.
Manas – Yes, ‘Holy cow!’ is slang. Mostly, you’ll hear Americans rather than Brits using it. I supposed the British equivalent would be ‘Oh my god!’. ‘Goodness me!’ is another exclamation which means the same thing, but it’s fairly formal.
Ana Paula – you can say ‘Has the new book already been released’. I think that works best. Are you thinking of the new Harry Potter book? ;->
Leila – I did see your comment from the weekend eventually – thanks! I promise to give you the answers to the Cockney Rhyming Slang this weekend. Glad it made you feel like a saucepan lid!
Monu – ‘nosey parker’ isn’t really an idiom as such. It’s more of a common phrase.
Sherzod – Hmm, our new prime minister is quite new, so we have to give him a bit of a chance. I do notice he makes some funny facial expressions when he talks, though.
Quynhvn – ‘I thought I would’ is a phrase that you can use to talk about your intentions. It’s in the conditional tense. You’re right, you could also use the present tense: ‘I think I will …’
Serena – No, we don’t really have a place for teenagers, which is a shame. Some villages have youth centres (similar to your oratorios?) but we don’t. I’m glad the photos brought back happy memories!
Jill – it’s a good question! I don’t know why thatch doesn’t rot in the rain or the snow. I know that it’s waterproof. How? Maybe someone can tell me!
Anita – Yes, Bournemouth isn’t too far away from me. I’m glad the photos brought back happy memories for you too!
Diego – Sounds like you’ll have a great time on your tour of the UK. Can you give me examples of the sentences containing ‘really’ and ‘indeed’ that are troubling you? The words can be used in different ways, so it will help if I can see what you mean.
Tomo – Glad you’re better, I missed your comments! Yes, we have water from a tap. I’m glad – fetching water from a well would be hard work.
Pilar – thanks for the description and the link!
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