Hello Satya and everyone,
I can’t believe it! October is over, and it’s time to say goodbye :-( Satya, a big thank you for making such an effort to post your blog when you’re so busy, and I wish you all the best with your studies. Please keep coming back to the site to say hello, though, as it would be great to keep in touch.
And welcome to our new student blogger, who some of you might recognise (I’m being mysterious again, aren’t I?!) – I’m really looking forward to getting to know you over the next few weeks!
I’d also like to say thank you to all of you for your birthday/anniversary wishes! October is a bit mad in that regard, as there’s only five days between the two – I was so happy that Owen wasn’t an October baby, as I think you really can have too much of a good thing!!
Well, today’s post is all for you, really; I’ll give you the answers to the gerunds and infinitives practice – well done to all of you who had a go! – and then if you keep reading I’m sure you’ll find your name somewhere!
1. Cityrail regrets to inform you that the next train has been cancelled.
This is talking about a regret in the immediate future
2. I mustn’t forget to include some vocab at the end of this post.
Again, this is looking forward to something I still need to do.
3. I can remember making snowmen in the garden with my sister when we were little.
Here, I’m looking back at my childhood, and remembering a past event.
4. I’ll never forget seeing Chris’ face when he realised he was having a birthday party.
Again, I’m looking back (the party was in the past), even though the verb “will never forget” is in a future tense.
5. You must remember to take a drink for Owen next time you go to the park.
This one is about the future – next time you go to the park.
6. I still regret throwing away my husband’s best shoes – I didn’t mean to do it.
The action of throwing away the shoes is in the past (about 6 years ago – I can tell you the story if you like), so we use the gerund because we’re looking back (even though I still regret it now).
OK, and now over to you!
Paulraj from India – Yes, I have eaten Indian food several times and love it! As I mentioned, there are two really good Indian places in Glebe where we like to go. I still can’t do really spicy food, though! Chris really loves Indian food – the spicier the better; can you guess his favourite dish? Vindaloo!! Actually, you might find this interesting; we were in England earlier in the year visiting family, and we had Indian food a couple of times from local restaurants. I really enjoyed the dishes I had, but Chris said the vindaloo in England was totally different from vindaloo in Oz, and he preferred the Aussie version. Any ideas why there might be such a difference? All we could think was that the chefs were using slightly different ingredients …
Your description of how you cheated in the exam (12 Oct) was spot on; I would make one small change, though. You wrote: Till that very moment I had taken resolution not copying in the exam what ever the consequences of the results. I stick on that till now. I would use the present perfect here because you’re talking about a past decision which is still true now, and say “since then, I have made the resolution … I have stuck to that til now.”
By the way, Chris says to tell you that although he enjoys the one day matches, he’s a bit of a traditionalist and prefers the full test matches – I hope you know what he means!!
I really enjoyed your description of your school sports day – what a great idea to make the teachers do the tug-of-war. And the balloon game sounds like a lot of fun – much better than welly-throwing!
I’m glad you’re using the blog to help you with grammar notes, and I hope your daughter’s tests go well – wish her good luck from Oz! Your questions about the drought are interesting; it’s a huge subject and would probably take up a whole post, so I might save them for later!
Ana Paula from Brazil – Ana Paula, thank you for all your detailed comments! I always look forward to reading them and finding out what’s happening in Brazil. It was so interesting to read about your patron saint, and also about children’s day and the gincana and Festa Junina (you’re right, I would love being in Brazil for that, and I can just see you as a little girl, all grubby from sliding down the pole!) - it’s funny, I’ve taught a lot of Brazilians here in Oz, but have learnt very little about the country! Does it often rain a lot at this time of year in Brazil?
About the FCE, I’m sure your speaking isn’t as bad as you say it is. For part 2, do you have a list of useful expressions for comparing and contrasting? (If not, let me know.) I’m sure you don’t really want to hear this, but honestly, the best way to improve is to practise comparing the pictures within a time limit. I used to take a kitchen timer into class and set it for 2 minutes for my students, so maybe you have something like that you can use? You can use any sort of pictures to practise, (maybe just whatever you have in a magazine at home?) as long as there’s something in common between them. And don’t forget there’s always a second part to the question “Compare, contrast, and say …” so leave time to answer that part as well. I hope that helps! (When are you doing the exam?)
I’ll have a think about some Aussie writers that you might like – what kind of books are you into? (And if anyone else has any thoughts on this, please let me know!)
Duy Ngyuen from Ha Noi – Thank you for your comments and welcome to the blog! I agree, listening is one of the harder things to practise, especially if you’re not easily able to access listening texts. Are there any English TV or radio programmes in Vietnam that you could listen to for practice? Or how about joining an informal conversation class? Does anyone else have any ideas about practising listening that might be useful?
Hoo Wai from China – I really like the idea of having a street party where you can eat from one end of the street to the other – fantastic! And what a great way to experience traditional food! I was sorry to read what you said about some traditional foods disappearing; that’s really a shame. Do you think there’s any way to preserve the traditions?
Lam Tran from Vietnam – Chao co! (Are there any other important Vietnamese words you think I should know?) Great to hear you’re a good cook! What’s your speciality dish? I enjoyed reading about the culinary fairs in Vietnam; they sound wonderful – the only thing is you made me really hungry!! (I guess I did the same to you, though, so let’s call it quits!)
I loved your description of your camping trip – I almost felt like I was there! And also the “float game” – maybe next time I go to the beach I can try and organise an Aussie version! You asked about one of your sentences; I understood what you were saying, but we could rewrite it like this to make it better: “I’m trying to imagine how funny the people look when they fall off a pole covered with soap and water.”Chris also likes watching the football; he supports Middlesborough, a team in the English Premier League who (like the Cronulla Sharks) never seem to do very well! He did join a team once, but it was formed from the cricket team and no-one really knew very much about football, so it was a bit of a disaster! I went to every match in their first season and took a tub of oranges for the boys at half-time. Again, the meaning of the sentence you asked me about in this post was very clear; I would say it like this, though; I hope there will come a day when I can watch …About the pronunciation issues you mentioned (ch/sh) etc, I’ll have a think about that and get back to you if anything helpful occurs to me …
Good luck with all your job interviews – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Adriana from Brazil – I was interested to read your description of the movie “Elite Squad”; I’ve never heard of it and was wondering if it’s a Brazilian movie? I have to say the last movie I saw was about as un-violent as you can get – I went with a friend to see “Hairspray” (have any of you seen it?) and we loved it! I did embarrass myself a bit, though (I always seem to do that at the movies) – all the way through I was wondering who the actor was who played the mother, as her face looked really familiar (it’s really annoying when that happens, isn’t it?!), and when the credits came up at the end it was John Travolta!! So I said (much louder than I intended) “It’s John Travolta” and everyone turned round to look at me, and my friend just shook her head pityingly and said “Didn’t you know that?” Oops!
I loved your story about your son and the cars – hilarious! Owen just cracks me up sometimes, the things he does and says. He fell over today and when I picked him up and asked him what he’d hurt, he said “Myself”. So I had to try not to laugh, and ask him which bit of himself he’d hurt!
I’ve never actually seen a shark around Sydney’s beaches – I have seen dolphins, though, and whales occasionally come right into the harbour, which is just amazing!
I agree with you about football and racism; I don’t know what it is about sport but it certainly seems to bring out the worst in some people. I think you have the right attitude, though – it really does seem to be a minority and not everyone thinks and behaves like that.
Timejit from Morocco – You are absolutely right, I could also say “I’d never been there before”. Either way is fine – I didn’t need to use “there” in the sentence because it was clear what I was talking about, but it would also have been OK to use it. As regards the vocab, try and work it out from the context if you can, and keep checking my posts as I give you the definitions (and maybe a bit more practice) every couple of weeks or so.
Hyoshil from Lincoln – Hello! And greetings from my cheeky monkey! I loved your story about Guinness/Coca Cola, and you know what, I bet a similar thing has happened to anyone who has been overseas! In fact I had a very similar experience when I lived in Prague – I needed to go to Ikea to get some things, and my friends told me how to get there. It was at the end of one of the metro lines, and there’s a special Ikea bus stop and a bus that takes you there. Well, I found the bus stop, and there was a bus, so I paid my money and got on. I didn’t really notice that the other people on the bus looked more like they were going to work in a factory rather than shopping … Anyway, the bus left the bus station, drove past Ikea, didn’t stop, and kept going onto the motorway!! I’d only been in Prague a few weeks and didn’t speak Czech, so I was really panicking! Eventually, I got a grip of myself, got off the bus at the next stop (which happened to be a factory in the middle of nowhere), crossed the road and waited in the snow for the next bus back to Prague (which came an hour later!!). And I never did get to Ikea!
I’m glad you like Lincoln; I’ve only been there a couple of times, but as you say it seemed like a very compact, friendly place. Do you mind if I ask where you’re from originally? (No reason, I’m just curious!)
Hameed Wali from Baghdad (but Pakistani) – Welcome to the blog! Please keep adding comments; your first one really made me laugh when you described your friend interrupting you! We’d love to hear more from you, even if you don’t think you have anything to say!
Marian from China – Thanks for your comments; I am a big fan of Chinese food, and, as I’m sure you know, there are many Chinese restaurants in Sydney. We like to go for yum cha, although we haven’t been for a while. I keep saying to Chris we should take Owen, as I’m sure he’d like to try all the different things. I wonder if you would consider Chinese food here to be authentically Chinese …it’s hard to know, really. I will tell you a story about Chris, though – he has relatives in the north of England and once, a long time ago when he was staying there, they decided to get a Chinese takeaway. Chris was horrified when they asked him if he wanted chips or rice with it – he couldn’t believe anyone would serve Chinese with chips!
Naheed from Pakistan – Hello, and thank you for posting your comments (and doing homework!) so regularly – it’s always nice to hear from you. I was interested to read about the Palla fish, as I’d never heard of it before; I’m learning so much from this blog! And I’m glad you agree with me about the vinegar!! Did you really use to play cricket at school? At my school girls got two sports – hockey in the winter (when it was freezing cold) and tennis or netball in the summer; and guess what – I hated all of them! Actually, hockey wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been so cold, but we had to play whatever the weather and we weren’t allowed to wear scarves or gloves or tracksuits to keep warm; we had to wear proper hockey skirts and T-shirts! Oh, and I will try and find a pavlova recipe for you!
Jaylan from Sweden – If you can explain a bit more what you mean by “building sentences”, I will do my best to help you!
Amit from Noida, India – Welcome to the blog! You ask a good question about working individually to clear up mistakes. Firstly, I’d recommend using a good grammar book and/or dictionary (you can do this online if it’s easier). Secondly, if you have any friends or colleagues with good English, you can discuss it with them. Thirdly, if you’re really stuck with something, post a comment and I’ll see if I can help! By the way, what does everyone else do if there’s something you’re stuck on – it would be really interesting to know!
Myen from Vietnam – Please can you tell me the name of the beef / vinegar / rice paper / vegetable dish that you describe? It sounds absolutely delicious, and if I can find it here in Sydney I will certainly try it! Yum! And thank you for being so diligent about the homework – well done! (Don’t feel sorry for Owen and his addiction to machines – save your sympathy for me! He’s starting to ask about what the machines do and what their different parts are called and I don’t know the answer! Help!)
Adek from Poland – Tartare sauce!!! Noooooo!! Only joking – in fact when I was in the Czech Republic I enjoyed tartare sauce with fish and chips (or even chips on their own), because that’s how they are served there too, but tartare sauce here in Oz just doesn’t taste the same (or maybe it’s the chips that aren’t the same!). I absolutely agree with you about the beach – it’s the whole experience that makes it so enjoyable, not just the views!
I think the thing with gerunds and infinitives is that native speakers use them naturally, without thinking about it, and if you asked someone on the spot to explain, they would be stuck. They are very tricky things, and you are certainly not stupid if you find them difficult! I really encourage you not to give up – just do a little at a time, and keep making notes that you can refer back to when you need to.
I agree with you about promoting alcohol, but I thought what you said about the popularity of Aussie wine was very interesting – we don’t actually get many foreign wines over here (unless you’re prepared to pay a lot of money) except ones from New Zealand, because it’s expensive to import them. When we go to England we always enjoy trying wines from different parts pf the world, as there’s much more variety over there (England is NOT famous as a wine-producing country!!)
Marianna from Bojnice, Slovakia – Jak se mas? (I’m just showing off now!)Yes, I have been to your country, although only to Bratislava and only for a weekend. I had a great time, and would really like to go back (unfortunately it’s a bit far from Oz, but I live in hope!). I speak a tiny bit of Czech (enough to buy a train ticket and order food), but I believe that it’s quite similar to Slovak – is that true? Your town sounds lovely; I bet it’s getting cold now and you’re drinking svazeny vino on your walks to keep you warm! I loved your description of the rosehips – beautiful! (And such accurate English too – well done!).
Don’t be ashamed to admit you don’t like grammar – I completely understand!! In fact, students of my generation were never taught English grammar at school; we just worked it out for ourselves, really. I think it’s starting to make a comeback, now though. As you say, there are lots of little rules in English, but I really think you’re approaching it in the right way, by doing a little at a time. And please don’t let your worries about grammar stop you from writing comments on the blog – you make some great contributions to our “class” and it’s always good to hear from you!
Silwal Kishor from Nepal – I’m glad you like the pictures, and I will try and think of some more virtual tours of Sydney for you! Thanks for all your comments – keep posting! I’d love to hear about how you celebrated the Dasain festival …
Mohd Naeem from Afghanistan – Welcome to the blog! Thank you for your comments; I hope you keep coming back and that we hear from you again!
Stevieboy from China – G’day! I hope your friends have kept their promise and cooked an authentic Aussie barbeque for you – would love to hear more about it if they have! I would use “to put sth into perspective” in two ways:
1. to compare two things more accurately
e.g. I worked 20 hours last week. To put that into perspective, that’s twice as many as last week.
2. with a more idiomatic meaning, (and this is probably more common) to use someone else’s bad experience to think about your own situation
e.g. My friend’s husband had a car accident last week and now she’s got to bring up two children on her own. It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?(Notice that this one is a fixed expression – puts things into perspective)
Rossana from Durango, Spain – Welcome! Great to hear that you’re working so hard to improve your English; let me know how I can help.
Yvonne from NRW Ahaus, Germany – How’s it going? I’m really glad you’re still finding time to drop us a line, even if you are really busy!
Pilar from Spain – Wow! What a great use of the new vocab! And congratulations on inventing a new word “Englishvocabularyphobe” – I love it!
Filippo from Italy – Yes, most of Sydney’s beaches are swimmable, although not all of them are patrolled by lifeguards. And, obviously, some are better for surfing and some are better for swimming. A lot of people go snorkelling at Clovelly, for example. A lot of the beaches have swimming pools attached that are supplied with water from the sea (probably the most famous one is Icebergs, at Bondi). Most suburbs also have a pool or Aquatic Centre with two or three different pools, so there are lots of opportunities here for swimming.
By the way, although I have tried prosecco and merlot (and like them both, I have to say!) I had no idea that Veneto was famous for rice, or the barbecue ribs that you describe – they sound wonderful! Yum!
Carolina from Argentina – 80km! Wow! You absolutely didn’t bore me to death with your story; in fact, I was really interested. I’d like to know how many people do the walk each year (on average), and what the age range is? I just can’t imagine myself walking 80km, although I can totally appreciate why you did it.
Your description of “pañuelito” was far from boring – you described it very well and it sounds like a lot of fun, even if a bit chaotic! Football in Argentina sounds even crazier than football in England – isn’t it extraordinary that one sport can have such an effect on people?
I’m sorry I couldn’t explain cricket any better – I just don’t get it myself! And I can completely understand how you feel about losing to South Africa – as I’m sure you know, it happened to us too!!! :-(
Well done with your example sentences for the gerunds and infinitives – great work! I’m going to make one very picky little comment (sorry!) – I’d say “my husband and I stopped going out” because you’ve used “had” later on in the sentence. And you’re right, someone is expecting a baby in December, but not me – Amy, the teacher for August/September!
Your description of the elections was really interesting; we have a federal election coming up here in Oz next month, and things are certainly hotting up … And the food! I’m almost ready to jump on the next plane to Argentina! I love avocadoes too, especially with seafood or in salads. Owen is really not convinced about them, but I keep trying; Chris is a lost cause and really hates them! Food preferences really are individual things, aren’t they?
And I just want to say thank you for such dedication in posting your comments; it’s always great to hear from you!
Pary from Iran – You’re absolutely right, I didn’t do the beach walk with Owen, although he and Chris dropped me off at Coogee. There’s not really any private land on the beach walk, as it’s footpaths or streets most of the way, so you don’t have to worry about trespassing. Access to the beaches is pretty easy, it’s just the higher bits of the walk that are quite rocky (sandstone, mainly) although the amount of clambering you have to do is up to you, really – if you stick to the paths it’s a fairly easy walk.
As for the babysitting – good question! I actually work two nights a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, from 5-9pm, plus Saturdays. On Mondays Chris is able to leave work early and come home, so I take Owen to the station and we do a hand over there. On Wednesdays we have a great babysitter who does all sorts of fun things with him that I would never have thought of (putting food colouring in the bath, for example, so he has a different colour bath every Wednesday night). And Saturdays are fine unless Chris is playing cricket, and then Chris’ mum comes over. So it’s all working out well, so far!
Hualan from Melbourne – Glad I could help with the sports! I’m guessing if you’re in Melbourne your workmates generally follow AFL, am I right? And what a great idea to practise the new vocab in conversations – let us know how it goes!
Tian Qing from Beijing – Many apologies if I forgot to provide an answer, and goodonya for reviewing all my posts – great stuff! I used the present simple even when talking about the past to make the story seem more immediate. It’s OK to do this in English, although it’s more common in speaking.
Rafique from Pakistan – Thank you for your feedback on the vocab exercises; no offence taken! I guess I was expecting you to have the words written down in a vocab book, which you would also use to write the answers before looking back at the previous post to check the context. So I’m sorry if you found it too cumbersome. I still think it’s a really good skill to be able to work out words from context, and I also think that most people learn better by trying to think things out for themselves, but next time I do a vocab review (probably in my next post) I’ll try to make it easier. I hope I haven’t put you off the blog completely!
Abdul Razaq from Afghanistan – I really take my hat off to you for enjoying sports so much – I wish I did! In fact I hated sport at school so much that I spent as much time as I could avoiding it! Do you still follow the football? Chris says he totally agrees with you about Brett Lee, by the way! (He also says, proudly, that Brett Lee is from Sydney, or if not Sydney, at least NSW!)
Kakafung from Hong Kong – Welcome to the blog, and thank you for your comments! I hope I’ve helped you with gerunds and participles, but please let me know if you’d like a bit more explanation! I think a lot of people are happy to think about the –ing form without worrying too much about what it actually is, but it can also be helpful to know the difference.
Paula from Venezuela – Thank you! Hope you feel a bit better about gerunds and infinitives now (let me know if you don’t!)
Vinh-Phu Nguyen from Delft – You’re absolutely right, the atmosphere at a live game is really amazing (if a little scary!), and I’m sure seeing Man Utd play at Old Trafford would be an unforgettable experience. Do you really think English grammar is easier than French? Interesting! (I agree with you on pronunciation – I find French really difficult to pronounce, although I love hearing it spoken properly).
Fakru from UAE – Welcome to the blog, and I hope you will find it a useful way to improve your English. Please keep in touch!
Antonio from Belgium – Hope you managed to recover your notes on the gerunds!
Hello-loc from Vietnam – Thanks for your comments – unfortunately, most of the time, the only thing you can do with gerunds and infinitives is just to learn them – sorry! Your use of the gerund was correct, so well done! (I would say confused about rather than confused on, though). And well done for having a go at some example sentences – all of your examples were right except one, so great work! I’d say I’m trying to finish my post rather than I’m trying finishing my post because in this case you’re not really experimenting, you’re doing something that you find difficult.
I’m glad you enjoy Aussie wines – I’ll try and talk about them some more in another post.
Tiasha from Sri Lanka – I’m very impressed that you’re trying to use gerunds and infinitives in your writing to help you improve – that’s great! If you want more practice, and if you have access to the internet, there are lots of websites with practice exercises; try typing “gerund and infinitives practice” into a search engine and see what comes up.
Sam from Amman – Yes, slack can be quite rude. It’s definitely an informal word, so you could probably use it with your friends, but you would need to be careful who else you said it to (e.g. it wouldn’t be a good idea to call your boss a “slacker”!).
Ruth from China – Thank you for your comment and for your question about to and of! I really need to think about that for a while, but I will get back to you on that one!
Valentina from Russia – I’m really glad you find the blog helpful; that’s great to know! As to your excellent question, in my opinion there is no real difference in meaning between “try to do sth” and “try and do sth” (in fact I wrote “try and do” in one of my example sentences, and then had to change it!). I would say, though, that it’s much more common to use “try and do sth” in spoken English, as it’s a bit more informal. Both are correct, and I think in most situations you could use either.
Sujan from South Korea – G’day! It sounds like you had a great time here in Oz – did you get to see much of the country while you were here? What was your favourite place?
Rocio from Mexico – Wow! Such amazing food! (And of course Corona, that famous beer. Do you really drink it with a wedge of lime, or is that just advertising?) And Happy Birthday for last week (the cake sounded wonderful!). So your birthday is just one day after mine … which of us is older? (I suspect it’s me!) And I can make you happy by telling you that there are indeed some Mexican restaurants in Sydney (one in Glebe, in fact), and I have tried Mexican food and really enjoyed it! Hurray! (Never tried tamales, though – what are they?)
Golden from China – Thank you for you comments! I’m always happy to talk about food! Have you had any success getting a pavlova recipe off the internet? If not, keep watching, as I’m on a mission to post one here for everyone …
Wow! This has to be the biggest post in the history of the world, and if you’re still with me at this point, well done!! I have to say that for most of the time I’ve been writing this I’ve had a yellow builder’s hat on my head, a blue furry rabbit on my knee, and a small boy crashing trucks into my feet! So if I’ve made any typos (or forgotten anyone), I hope you will understand, and forgive me!!
I’m off for a cuppa and a chocolate biccie, and I think anyone who’s read to the very end deserves one too!
Until we meet again,
Rachel (in a yellow hat)
And if you're not totally exhausted, here's a bit of vocab ...
to be spot on (expr)
to crack sb up (phr vb)
to show off (phr vb)
things are hotting up (expr)
take your hat off to sb (expr)
Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.