Confessions of a questionnaire addict
I have a weakness for questionnaires, and modern life seems to be full of them. I am so flattered if someone wants to know my opinion – on anything – that I can never resist telling them.
I was doing my weekly food shopping the other day when I was stopped in the street by a charming young man with a clipboard. He wanted to know everything about my internet-using habits. How often am I online? How many times a week do I ‘surf the net’? Do I send more e-mails than letters? Do I buy plane tickets online? Books? CDs? Clothes?
A few days earlier I’d been approached by a nice young woman with a handful of coloured cards. Could I spare a moment to tell her which international logos I recognised and which I’d never seen before? Of course I could. How could I resist some who’s interested in me?
|Answering a questionnaire
In the last twelve months I’ve been asked my opinions, by professionals, on everything from beer to banking, from credit cards to car shampoos. Which of these schemes would solve the parking problem in central London? What sort of camera do I own? What do I think of cosmetics for men? Which political party has the best policy on the environment? Which of these colours is best for a bedroom? Hey, I must be important because someone wants to know what I think.
Yesterday I bought myself a smart new watch. It was packaged in a black leather box with blue silk inside. But that wasn’t all. There was another leather box and in that leather box there was a booklet, a guarantee card and, yes, you’ve guessed haven’t you, a questionnaire. The watch manufacturers wanted to know how old I am (older than I am prepared to admit), how much I earn (not enough), what newspapers I read (only the good ones) and what my hobbies are (filling in questionnaires!). All I had to do was tick the right box. And here’s my second confession. As well as a weakness for questionnaires I also have to confess that I don’t always fill them in truthfully.
Don’t be shocked, and please don’t think I’m a congenital liar. You can trust me, honestly you can (and you should always be suspicious of anyone who needs to tell you that!). It’s just that I can’t resist having a bit of fun at the expense of the marketing people (if you work in marketing, I apologise right now). Modern metropolitan life sometimes seems so regulated, so organised, so packaged that I sometimes can’t resist the urge to mess it up a bit. Am I just being childish?
I know they don’t think I’m important. I know they don’t care what I think. I know I’m just another statistic. But I don’t have to like it, do I?
It is the weekend and the newspapers are full of lifestyle articles, advertisements for expensive exotic foreign holidays and celebrity questionnaires. I have one in front of me now. It’s the kind I like best. There’s a series of unfinished sentences which the subject of the questionnaire has to complete, like a mini interview. Every week they ask the same questions of a different celebrity. I hate myself for liking this kind of thing. It’s so shallow. It’s so meaningless. It’s so unimportant. And it’s so compelling! It’s also very easy to manipulate in order to present the image of yourself you want to present to the world.
Here are some of the unfinished sentences in today’s celebrity questionnaire. I bet you can’t resist completing them either, can you?
A book that changed my life…
Well, if I want you to think I’m an intellectual I’ll say something by Wittgenstein or Cervantes, but if I want you to think I’m a romantic I’ll choose a volume of love poetry by Pablo Neruda. Actually, I’m not sure books really do change people’s lives. For me, books have always accompanied my life but I’m not sure they ever directly changed it. What do you think?
As a child I…
|Can one book change your life?
…was so well-behaved you wouldn’t believe it. (Don’t!) Or …I used to pretend I had an imaginary brother (you have to decide for yourself about that one). Or …I always wanted to be a writer (that really is true, how about you?).
The shop I can’t walk past…
If I tell you it’s Perfume Heaven (not a real shop) or Harrods or Niketown (both of which I occasionally use), you’ll think I’m an airhead, so I’ll tell you that the shop I can’t walk past is Hatchard’s (bookshop) in Piccadilly, London.
All my money goes on…
That’s too easy, and impossible to lie about: …Lucy!
If I could be someone else…
This assumes that I’m not happy being who I am. Actually, I’m delighted to be me (it could be a lot worse). I’m the person I know best. What if I said, ‘Nelson Mandela’ and then discovered he was allergic to chocolate?
My favourite food…
…is chocolate. See what I mean?
I’m better than you might think at…
…D-I-Y. But don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to be asked to put up anyone’s shelves or refit their kitchen (and anyway I’m really bad at plumbing).
My favourite building…
Who cares? But since you ask, it’s St Basil’s Cathedral, in Moscow, but only from the outside. My second favourite is The Chrysler Building, in New York. I’ll send you a picture of it in July (remind me). My third favourite building is The Temple of Heaven, in Beijing. My fourth favourite is… I guess I like a lot of buildings.
|The Temple of Heaven, Beijing
My favourite work of art…
I know I should say something by Marc Chagall (who really is my favourite artist) but actually my favourite work of art is a small drawing of a duck which Lucy did when she was about 3. Well, I think it’s a duck. Perhaps it’s a house. Or a police car. Anyway, it’s priceless to me and definitely not for sale, unless, of course…
Maybe I’ve just revealed much more about myself than I wanted to. Not from my ‘answers’ to the questionnaire, but from my approach to it. It’s clear, isn’t it, that I just don’t take anything seriously. Why not, I wonder? Could it be my age? Or is it a British thing? Do women take these things more seriously than men?
Maybe there’s another reason why I don’t always tell the truth in questionnaires. What do you think of this? Perhaps, in some sad, self-important way, I actually want to change the world – or re-shape it a bit, anyway – and my single, democratic vote in a general election, once every four or five years, isn’t really powerful enough or directly effective enough? If that’s true, then it’s clear that I really do take these questionnaires very seriously. Seriously enough to think that by giving answers which distort the results I might influence policies which come out of those results?
This is getting much too heavy – and you know I never take anything seriously. So let’s finish with another mindless questionnaire. Try this one yourself. Complete each of the following sentences in any way you like. Have fun! (That means you don’t have to tell the truth!)
I want to improve my English…
The best decision I ever made was…
My biggest regret…
I’d like to meet…
My favourite toy was…
My most valuable possession…
The only time I am really impolite…
I have never bought…
I have never admitted this before, but…
At parties I…
That’s all for another fortnight. If you’re worried about Lucy’s exams you’re not alone. I’m having sleepless nights. She, however, seems quite calm about everything. Is this a good sign or not? Don’t ask me. I’m not answering any more questions for at least two weeks. By then it’ll almost all be over. Time flies…as we say. Talk to you again soon. Take care.
Bye for now.
PS: You all continue to be so kind and generous in your comments. Asif Masood, from Islamabad, reminded me that too much praise can be dangerous. You’re absolutely right, Asif. I will try to keep ‘a strong stomach’.
It was very interesting to read your opinions about crying. I was surprised by how many of you (not all of you, I know) used the word ‘weak’ or ‘weakness’ about crying. Is it really weak to cry? I think Donny, from Hong Kong, made an interesting point about how humans are ‘emotional creatures’ who cry as much from happiness as from sadness.
I almost shed a tear myself when I read about how Monica (Brazil) hated her boarding-school so much that she cried ‘inconsolably’ (good word, Monica). Maru hasn’t cried at Shakespeare (yet), and she could be right about the translation. When we read something in translation are we really reading what the author actually wrote? A good performance of ‘King Lear’ usually brings tears to my eyes, especially when Lear dies with his daughter, Cordelia, in his arms.
There seem to be more reasons for crying than I thought. Ara, from Indonesia, can weep when an Indonesian athlete is successful in an international competition, and Lucile (France) sometimes cries when she listens to nostalgic songs. (I wonder whether perfumes can have the same effect.) Then Wisarut, from Thailand, reminded us that people who cry easily seem to live longer. Bring me an onion someone!
Some of you thought that crying was a depressing subject. Oops! Sorry. Like Katy (Iran) I too hope for ‘brighter thoughts’ and “a world brimming with love and peace”. Meanwhile, there’s a house to clean, the grass to cut in my garden, a daughter to feed – oh, yes, and it’s time for me to fill in my Tax Return (more questions!), pay a few bills and visit the dentist. So much for brighter thoughts. Bye for now!
Some useful words and expressions
a weakness for…
If you have a weakness for something you like it very much (even though that may be surprising or undesirable).
lists of questions which are answered by a number of people to provide statistical information for reports or surveys
If you are flattered by something, you are pleased because it makes you feel important.
refuse; refuse to accept; try to prevent something happening
a board with a clip at the top to hold papers and to provide a firm base on which to write
…spare a moment
give a little (of your) time
graphic designs which are used by companies and organisations on their products, publicity material and possessions for easy identification
Here this word refers to the people who are specially-trained to administer questionnaires.
a set of plans used as a basis for decision-making, especially in politics, economics or business
companies which make products
writing the answers on a questionnaire; completing a form
NB: The verb to fill in is correct British English usage. In US English the correct verb is to fill out, which is now also becoming common in British English.
a written mark to show that something is correct or has been selected
a congenital condition is a condition you are born with (but is not inherited)
be suspicious of…
at the expense of…
making (someone) seem foolish
desire or need
piece of information expressed in numbers
Here the word refers to the person the questionnaire is about.
opposite of deep; not very intellectually challenging
control to produce a particular result
not very intelligent person
To be good at something means to do it well. The opposite is to be bad at something. To be good at/bad at usually take the –ing form of verbs, as in these sentences: She was very good at running. He was good at playing the piano. However, good at/bad at can also be used with nouns, as in these example sentences: She was good at athletics. He was good at music. The usual comparative and superlative forms can be used, as in these sentences: She was better at running than swimming. He was better at playing the piano than his father. She was the best at swimming in her team. (She was the best swimmer in her team is more natural.) He was the best at playing the piano in the whole class. (He was the best pianist in the class is more natural.)
This abbreviation stands for ‘do it yourself’ - the activity of making or repairing things yourself, especially in your home.
equip or furnish again
water and drainage pipes, baths, showers and toilets in a building
believe something or someone is important and deserves attention
represent a fact or idea wrongly (Here the word is used in a similar way to the way in which I have used the word ‘manipulate’.)
slang for ‘serious’
WORD ORDER – Adjectives
Re-read the text and look out for the following expressions in the second, third and fifth paragraphs: ‘a charming young man’; ‘a nice young woman’; ‘a smart new watch’; ‘a black leather box’. Each of these expressions contains two adjectives. It’s possible to write expressions with three or more adjectives, for example, ‘expensive, exotic, foreign holidays’ (seventh paragraph). It isn’t always clear what the correct order of adjectives is. This simple guide should help in most cases (but remember that there are always exceptions to every ‘rule’ in English):
 First we have articles, determiners and numbers: ‘Three of those small red boxes…’
 Then the adjectives, in this order:
a) QUALITY – lovely, expensive, smart
b) SIZE – small, tiny, huge
c) TEMPERATURE/AGE– hot, cool, young, old
d) SHAPE – round, square, triangular
e) COLOUR – blue, green, red
f) ORIGIN – British, foreign, Medieval
g) MATERIAL – leather, metal, wooden
Write five sentences using the following groups of words in the correct order. Refer to the list above if you need help:
||red, London, old, big – bus
||[I saw a/an ...]
||old, dirty, tiny – house
||[She lived in a/an ...]
||yellow, small, three, fresh – apples
||[I’d like ...]
||French, delicious, blue, smelly – cheese
||[I love this ... ]
||expensive, new, fast – sports car
||[She’s bought a/an ... ]
PRONUNCIATION – At least seven different pronunciations of –ough.
My answer to the question, ‘How much do you earn?’ was, ‘not enough’. Look again at the word ‘enough’ and think about how to pronounce it correctly (check the pronunciation in a good dictionary if you’re not sure).
There are at least seven different pronunciations of –ough in English. Every sentence in the story below contains at least one word which has –ough in it. Some of these words may be unfamiliar to you, but others are very common.
Read the story and check any unfamiliar vocabulary in a good dictionary. Also, check the pronunciation of every word which contains the letters –ough. You should find seven different pronunciations of that combination of letters.
The country road had been rough and I was tired and hungry. Spotting an old farmhouse I entered the orchard and sat under the bough of an apple tree to rest for a while. I had thought the house was empty but when I heard someone cough nearby I decided to do a thorough search. I went through every room. Finally I reached the kitchen where an old woman was making dough. The place smelled of freshly-baked bread and as I entered she turned and greeted me silently, holding out a fresh bread roll which was still warm from the oven and which I ate so quickly I got hiccoughs immediately.
ANSWERS TO ADJECTIVE ORDER EXERCISE
i) I saw a big old red London bus. ii) She lived in a dirty tiny old house. iii) I’d like three fresh small yellow apples. iv) I love this delicious smelly blue French cheese. v) She’s bought an expensive fast new sports car.
WRITE TO STEPHEN
This section has now closed. Thank you for sending your comments.
Helasiri Nawalage, Sri Lanka
Dear stephen Since I was accidently step on to you column I have become regular.Thank you very much for your lovely tips.I would like to share my thoughts with you regarding learning english.I started and improved my self by reading the sports and feature pages.since i was keen about sports and world at large I was compelled to read.What I want to emphesis is first select a favourite topic and start reading or listen I am sure that will take you to the next level.Thank you and best wishes to lucy
'I'm right,arn't I?'Could you please tell me if this question tag is right?
Xuan, Vietnam, Hochiminh
Wow, Stephen! I have to admit that you must be a great father because I can see how you concern about your daughter when reading the lines in your letters. Also, it's like reading someone's diary(private stories;)) when reading your articles. Thanks for all and good luck to Lucy...
Connie, Hong Kong
Thanks. The 'Word Order' helps a lot
Could I ask you a question?---'I am a student,am I /aren't I?' Which tag is correct?
Poor Stephen! I know what you mean, I haven't been sleeping very well for several days because of my studies too. Sleepless nights are horrid indeed! aren't they? As for books I want to say my father gave me King Lear last month and I've already finished reading it. Despite the bad traslation (well, it wasn't so bad but it could have been better) I agree with you: the scene that you mentioned is breathtaking! And with regard to questionnaires, I don't think you're childish...it's a nice and, maybe innocent, way of having fun. I'll bear that in mind!;) Give my regards to Lucy!Wish you all the very best,
i went through your article and it was superb.i do need some tips from you to improve my way of pronunciation and the rate of speech.whenever i speak i just pour words in a fast manner and i tried to stop and pronounce slowly but the it just go fast as it was earlier.
Joydeep Chowdhury, Woking, UK
Hi,I saw at many English writing lessons that it is advisable to write in active voice as much as possible. But when I read your article, I see you write in passive quite often, though an active can be easily used. I am not saying that it makes the writing hard to follow, rather should admit, it was quite easy reading. But, at the same time, I fail to corelate between the lessons and a sample writing from an expert.I appreciate to see your opinoon on this.Best regards,Joydeep.
Hi! "Mrs.Marigold was a pretty, fluffy, engaging little woman ..." the sentence I`ve just read in J.K.Jerome `Malvina of Brittany´. May this be an example which Faratin asked about? I always look for help in your instruction. Reading this book, bilingual with a czech translation, it calms me down and learns to take each life mess positiv. It`s something right for me. But mainly I am writing this because after I`ve read comment from Adriana last Friday I tried to send in another comment on your 21th May post. However it didn`t appear despite the space isn`t closed. What are the rules here? How long can we put in the comments? I would write more but I will wait and tell you about Peter`s exams after your new entry appears. Bye!
Dear Stephen, I've recently began reading your coulmn as a way of improving my english. I liked your coulmn a lot. You've a very good sense of humor. Unlike you I usually hate to fill in questionnaires. May be this because most of the time they contain silly questions or all the given choices just don't suit me. I agree with you that no book can change someone's life, but indeed some books can influence you, change your attitude, way of thinking etc. I like reading books much and I like them to affect me, or let me say it in another way, to leave an impression on me. Well stephen I've to end this now. Looking forward for new article.yours,asmaa
Dorris Franco, Philippines
I think you're really great! I love reading your column, it is absolutely helpful and very informative. Thanks!
Dear Stephen, thanks for your notes. It let us think one more time about our society. When I was a student I took part in those researches many times. Firstly you write the answers but soon you begin seeing the real person, personality on the other side of clipboard. Even in short, close answers you begin to feel your interlocutor, no matter what he says. From small pieces of puzzle you create a picture of the community and it looks more bright, more colourfull than you can see on the pages of final report.Thank you one more time for your thouhts and for your lesson.
I have never bought.... a piano! But as soon as I get one will let you know! :)Regards,M.PSLucy's right! Do not panic before - you never now what it will be like, do not panic during an exam (or whatever)as it will make it more difficult, do not panic after... it won't help you at all.Or something like that.M.
I want to improve my English…to grab your job, he he. I am so impressed with your style that I want to copy you. How do you keep your articles so interesting? I want to improve mine, because I want to do well in my job. English is our medium here and if I am not good in that I am not good in my work. Its like if you can't express it is as good as not knowing it, so I got to improve my language. The best decision I ever made was…we can't jugde a persons sucess/failure unless he is no more. Same goes with decisions, we can't judge them unless all their consequences are known, which is impossible. At this point when I look back and search for the decisions I don't think I have taken any. I have been so regulated or packaged, my parents have been influecing me in all my major decisions. To be honest I haven't taken any bold decisions, I have always been influenced by the environment and my family. Or my decisions aren't logic defying hence I think all are good.My biggest regret…easy to spot, I didn't pay enough attention to language courses. I’d like to meet…my grandfather. He is no more, but I have lots of good memories of him. My favourite toy was…I didn't have a favorite toy. I wasn't a toy person. I liked to spend most of my time in my farm, watching people working, enjoying the river, watching birds etc. My most valuable possession…these questions are annoying me, these are not meant for my type. I don't have anything physical as my answer, my answer is my childhood memories. The only time I am really impolite…I hate polititians, whenever I get a chance to show my dissatisfaction, I will. I have never bought…an original DVD, we get lots of pirated ones here.I have never admitted this before, but…it was very evident from my actions, if you have noticed. I don't really like attending long meetings, I skip whenever possible.At parties I…normally keep quite, do not laugh loud, talk about sports and movies. Form side gangs which normally follow a different agenda, and different interests. wiered enough huh!.
Hi Stephen, it was so interesting to follow your last blog and had a fun in revealing some new things about yourself. It seems that one of most fascinating things is to get known other people gradually, indirectly, just like you did, through describing your attitude to questionnaires or just like, for example, in ‘Lisbon Story’, a great Wenders film, when Phillip Winter is trying ‘to empathize’ with the empty house of his friend, German director, tracing the reasons of his breakdown .... It was really a good idea to start your reflextions with the questionnaire – an ordinary tool with a quite big potential to inspire, especially those who like to go about things in a contrarious way ... It made me think about us, readers, do you think that we also ask that sort of questions like: well, if I want Stephen thinks I’m an intellectual I’ll write this and that, but if I want him to think I’m a charming, romantic soul I’m going to sound quite the opposite? It was also nice of you to admit that there are things we have weakness to though they seem to be shallow, meaningless – what a relief that I’m not the only one who despite hating myself for liking that sort of things still allow them to attract me ... I’d rather not give you any examples – let it be my secret. And last but not least: the red freshness of strawberries felt so optimistic in your previous blog so I’m sure everything will be ok, but just in case I’ve got my fingers crossed for both you and Lucy. Best,
Lourna, Hong Kong
hi Stephen, like your writing it make me laugh got same experience with questionnaires in the past too. and your right sometimes its a bit fun to give them some ideas to what your not,but hey i haven't finish reading all your writings better finish it later I just drop by to make some comment can't resist it. anyway thanks again hope it will help me improve my english and vocabularies.
Hello Stephen! As my comment did not appear on your last column, you did not get to know what would make my year complete. Never mind! But I want you to know that I am also keeping my fingers crossed for Lucy. Stephen, do not worry about spending all your money on Lucy. We have a saying that I will try to translate: “Bringing a child up is the best investment!” If you ask me, you are doing very well. As for your question about books, we have another saying: “The book is the best friend.” How true. I do not think anyone would disagree. Best wishes,
Sandra cartaxo Praia do Icarai, Ceara , Brazil
Stephen, yours writing are very spontaneous way. I apologise for the gramaticals informations. Nice to meet you. Sandra
Stephen, there is only one question I wanted to ask you for a long time. >Where has your wife gone?< Maybe you mentioned that already somewhere and I overlooked it. Or maybe you don't want to talk about that? Drop a line!
Wisarut-Khonkaen , Thailand
Hello there. Frankly when I fill in the questionnaire , I accept that I normally fill in the real answers,not to cheat. The publish pole normally search for another useful objective , not asking in joke e.g. like vs dislike in option in central canteen, accept vs not accept with a newcomer.Anyway concerning many books ,I love reading books very much especially cartoon books. I agree with you when I concentrate on books, I am reading never ending. It is very funny !!!And the last but not least I would like to a big thank you in order to teach grammar,PRONUNCIATION ,and even kind response. Better luck next time.!!!
Hi Stephen :-) So far I have been sure we have a lot in common. But after having read your last blog I'm not so sure about it. You said one of your favourite buildings is the Chrysler Building. Unbelievable! It's one of the ugliest. I could partly agree with you as for St Basil’s Cathedral, but for me the Taj Mahal is absolutely the greatest. I've got loads of wonderful pictures of the mosque. The architecture is simple, nearly austere, but it's difficult to avert your eyes from it. Another thing we are different to is the weakness for questionnaires. I hate filling them in. What's more I don't agree to your opinion about books. In my opinion books really do change people’s lives. If you, for example, took a hundred of people who read book, and a hundred who don't, you would think they are from different planets. You can trust me, I know a lot of people from both of the groups. And the last but by no means least difference: you won't like my 'Comments' but I really like your blogs; I've read them all lots of times. I'm looking forward to the next one. All the best.
hi...Stephen! i am sally from China. i was looking forward to read your post here just like expecting a letter from a old freind. i check the this website everyday, and expect something new come out. finally, you are here to share your life with us again. do u know why i am so addictive on what you post here? first, what you write here is honest and true. all things just happen in our real life. when i read your post here, just like read a friend's letter, telling me what happen recenly. feel so intimate. and when i read something you write about China, also make me feel you are just some one here around me. secondly, your post make me to find a interesting way to improve english. u know i am so easy to getting boring. i am so happy to share ur life experience here. thanks for this, maybe if i get the chance to go to UK, i should search you out(if i can not find u, i will ask the police for help), and give u a big hug. haha.. if surprised u , i will appologize. hey , i am not kidding. additionally, here my best wishes to your sweety Lucy. so luck for her, that she has a great father like you. and hope everything doing well for both of you. so bad, i am start to looking forward to your next post now.
Roxana Carina. Buenos Aires, Argentina
What a wonderful reading...! Every time you write something we know much more about your personality! Don't you worry, all of us are the same, may be not with questionnaires, but with other things for sure. I'm in the teacher training college...and I'd like to know your opinion on something. Our Language teacher doesn't teach us at all, she only make us write compositions, one after the other, and we don't discuss our mistakes in class. That's the best way or the only way to work? I know we are supposed to know a lot at this level...but ...I'd really appreciate your view on this. Thanks in advance.
Miguel Andrés, Perú.
Maybe if you stop drinking you'll get some results hehe.
Truc Ly, Vietnam
Hi Stephen! It's very pleasant to read your wiriting. I'm always waiting something from you to learn. As you know, any company have marketing departement to researh development products or business way in the market by methods. One of method is questionnaires as you mention in this column. Sometimes it's not easy and feeling how troublesome to do this. When I was student, I used to research market by questionnaires of some company. I understood, some pepole give honest opinion if they concern but other one is not true. For this reason businessman are fifty percent believe answered of questionnaires only. Anyhow it is very interesting questionnaires also for businessman and for people concern realy. Good luck, Stephen! Best wishes, Truc Ly
Miguel Andrés, Perú.
What you must to re-shape is your head , but don't take it seriously hehe.
Hi Stephen. You've made me feel sad. I will never play with you "truth or defy" (do you know the game which we use a bottle? One ask a question and the other is expected to say only the truth?). It seems that nobody can trust anybody nowadays. It's a mess! I've believed in every single word you have been writing and perhaps you don't like to reveal the truth at all. Anyway, who cares. As I see, you don't take me seriously too. So, why should I complete these sentences? I prefer to complete a Shakespeare's sentence like this ( I hope somewhere in heaven, he doesnt become angry with me):To be or not to be/That is the question/If I am or not you don't trust me/So...how should be my reaction?Needless to say that I'm kidding... just to relax because I haven't got a clue ( I liked this expression!) how to publish my last comment in 21th of May. Please, keep my secret and don't tell this to Paul. Ah...someone bring me an onion too ( yes, you've made me laugh too!). Good night moon see you soon!
My humble Hello to you Stephen and to everyone on this blog because I'm brend new here and I hope to be accepted well. When I answered some questionnaries, questioners caught me unaware. Since I'm the fastest one in my house to get to the phone, I was surprised to hear out of the receiver, I was surprised three times this way in the past few months, a woman's voice asking me to answer some strange questions like, which was my first, and then, my second favourite TV channel?, what did I do when my favourite TV show was interrupted with TV commercials?, did I stay on the same channel or change it and never came back because TV commercials lasted for ever?, which were the three TV commercials that first came to my mind ?, if I saw any TV commercials for instant soups and food spices and if I did for which?, and what would I do to improve the conditions of everyday living in this town? Who pays their phone bills? Why did they pick me from the phone book? Apparently, big firms are of the opinon that public opinon should be heard to help solve some of the problems in this town, aren't they? It would be very nice if I could influence things this way, answering questionnaires. If only someone cared for my opinon. I may be just another statistic, but this statistic helped lessen the time wasted on commercials on the TV. I will complete those sentences for myself just to try to get to know myself a little better. PS: Very important for me: A small request for Stephen: Would you give us some rules about and grammar exercises on articles in English, please? Thank you.
yu xuqi china
this is my fist time to read ur blog, i think it is interesting, not only can learning english and also can enrich my general knowledge. i am chinese girl. i want to improve my english. hope that i can have some advice from you.
Ester, Spain, Barcelona
Just a quick "HI" Stephen to tell you how amusing I find the way you write. I discovered the bbc learning english web page a couple of months ago and the first thing I do when I "surf" (as you used above) the page is to go and seek for your column. I want to brush up my english and thanks to your column I´ve discovered a priceless tool to achieve my goal as I find your writing very enjoyable. I think that your columns are written not only in a very natural, familiar way but also include interesting every day ocurrences narrated in a very vivid way. Thanks for that Stephen, I hope I can ever be able to write in such an amusing way ! and thanks also for all the new vocabulary I am learning from you. Hello to Lucy too and good luck in her exams !
Mr Matos, Portugal
Hello Stephen,l liked this lines,I thought that some brands will live just doing questionnaires, I'd like to recieve some money to "right" answer...Best regards Matos
Dear sir If we have 2 quality adjectives such as lovely & expensive which one will come frist.with the best regards
Hello, Stephen!I am following your articles with great enthusiasm and interest. My internet connection is absolutely down at home and I am completely hopeless with more complicated technical problems which somehow have recently occurred one after another. It is so great that the possibility exists just to download the prepared version of your writing at work and read it at home. Please say hello to Lucie, I keep my fingers crossed and I am convinced she will get over that successfully... As for questionnaires I always was so indifferent to them, but after your confession I become quite curious. It looks like fun... Once being asked to fill in some kind of the test I was advised to answer the questions without long contemplation. I would try to follow this instruction while filling in your suggested quesionnaire. Who cares about the result? The main thing is to have fun. So I want to improve my English…because I want finally stop doing it and get down to improving my German and learn French...and I think it is enough as for the foreign languages at least in terms of one life...The best decision I ever made was…not to be afraid to take risksMy biggest regret…is not to be able always to keep my word and not to be afraid to take risksI’d like to meet…real St Nicolas to whisper my cherished dreamsMy favourite toy was…funny blue tortoiseMy most valuable possession…are my devoted friendsThe only time I am really impolite... when refusing to put on this horrible dress when I was about to meet very important person in the kindergarden...I have never bought…a cute small green canaryI have never admitted this before, but…I have full head with rosy dreamsAt parties I…am crazy about having fun just like now while writing that...I agree with you that books definitely accompany people´s life at least those people who are a bit addicted to them. I have not found any book so far which can be nominated as the one which changed my life... I doubt a book itself is enough to change a person´s life but it could become a strong stimulus and motivation for it. Of course I am quite young to claim such a thing but on the other hand I do feel how books affect me especially when I notice that I try to implement some author´s suggestions in my life. I was born in special cultural religious environment and some particular values and beliefs are a part of me. However now for instance I am attracted by authors representing more Eastern type of philosophy, these ideas and beliefs intrigue me, some of them stand in contradiction to what I was taught or they are just totally different and that is why my more mature friend while listening to my impressions from the latest book smiled and mentioned that we are sometimes even too easily influenced by books especially if book comes to you in special period in life. What do you think?
Hello Stephen!This the first time that I write to you, but I have to admit that I have a weakness for your column, and that I have read and re-read all of them. A fortnight is too much time waiting!!!! It would be better, at least, once a week to calm my withdrawal symptoms.I'm coming!-I want to improve my English as a personal challenge and because I would like to get a better job.-The best decision I ever made was enjoying every minute of my life.-My biggest regret is don't pursue my dreams.-I’d like to meet my bbc-net-friends.-My favourite toy was a ball.-My most valuable possessions are my books.-The only time I am really impolite is when I'm angry.-I have never bought expensive jewels.-I have never admitted this before, but I am not perfect.-At parties I have as much fun as I can.My Best Wishes.
Marco, Italy, Belluno
Hallo Stephen,I'm writing from Italy and I would like to give you my compliments for your column, it's fantastic.In this article you told that you are not sure books really do change people’s lives but I think it's a delicate assertion becouse sometimes you can read into a book , something can change your point of view about your life's style, and this is a first step for change a xenophobic. Especially after the 11 september, where a lot of people think to solve the problem dividing people between muslim and catholic. Personally I've read "Letter against the war" by Tiziano Terzani (wrote in over 10 languages)and this book have change my point of view about a lot of things.Thank you for the time that you spend with us.Bye!
Sanja from Serbia
Hello Mr Keeler. I have just read your column and I must say that I am every time surprised how many new words,expressions,grammatical rules... I learn. It is so great,You are great...Thanks for everything.
Marianna, Slovakia, Bojnice
Thank you very much, Stephen, for the post. It was worth to wait.I liked the penultimate sentence in a sixth paragraph at first but later on each sentence was underlined and ful of arrows as usual. I wanted to improve my English with a view to be able to read English books. In my teen-age I couldn`t imagine the world will go open once. Books inspire us and I sometimes muse about the autor. I liked to read biograpies of a famous personalities. The best decision I ever made was that I took a courage to write comments. My biggest regret is that I forgot to say thank you hastening last time. I`d like to meet a person who likes questionnaires. I dislike and full ignore them. My favourite toy was a battered, old, stuffed doll with only plastic head. My most valuable possession.. my own paintings?..until they don`t go under the shower-bath. (Does each thing not have the current world its price?) I should say a flat - where sonst could I paint? The only time I am really impolite I don`t want to reveal right now. But my parents would give you a long list about. I have never bought a flight to London. I have never admited this before, but if I had said it earlier I guess you might have hated me. At parties I won`t be seen this summer for your language is very breakneck for me. I will sit and learn it but putting on the weight. So, hope you aren`t running the daily run with a hiccoughs yet now. Bye! Sleep soud. PS. On Saturday I watched a comedy with Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister in Downing Street. First time I wasn`t interested in Hugh Grant (sorry for him) but seing London`s streets and red busses! The best fun for everyone!
Stephen, I'm against questionnaires, because I don't want provide information about me, and also because I'm against our west societies, where everything has done for interests and for earn.GreetingsPaolo
Naheed from Pakistan, Karachi
Hello SirI really interesting and funny too, to read about questionnaires. The BBC Learning English has such best teachers that one does not need to go about here or there to find a teacher of English. BBC is always there to help in this regard. Besides learning, readers are bonded in some sort of relation, which is of friendship. I can't resist writing about today's column. When I was in college, every month, a questionnair used to be handed down to us. There used to be around 30 qusetions, most of them to be useless to think about either. At the end, there used to be some space to write our comments and that would be the world's most annoying thing to do. You are absolutely right that to fill a questionnair means to tell what you really don't think about.Best wishesNaheed
Jill Huang From Beijing
Hi, Stephen. Just a quick check-in. I want to be the first one who sent comments here. Am I? Today I am so busy that I don't have enough time to stay here for a long time. But I promise that after I finish my job, I will come here again and read your essay carefully and leave my comments again. Take care. Jill.
Ana Paula, Brazil
Hello Stephen!Books are my beloved friends. However, they have never changed my life. They guide me to wonderful journeys around the world without I have to pay for a ticket, which is really good for me, because I don´t have many opportunities to travel. And therefore, books wide our horizons, and they make us better people. Hmmm... I guess this is a way to change our lives, isn´t it? Because,as more as we read, more we learn. And moreover, they smell so good, don´t they? I don´t spend much money in cloths and smart things. However, I must to be very careful, because if I´m at a bookstore, I really lose my mind! It´s something that I really enjoy it, besides of course, going to the movies and collect classical films.Hmm... I think this is all. I´m late to my English course.Best wishes,Ana Paula.