Weekly grammar question: Is the past simple or is the past continuous? by Kirsty Emma Watts

Do you believe everything you’re told? Past simple versus past continuous Urban Legends Recently, I did a road trip in Australia. While I was there, I heard many a story this is one that my friend told me late one evening on Byron Beach. Although it’s not easy to swallow, it’s funny to imagine. These two guys my friend knows work for Chase Bank. Every year they go to Australia for a big bank-sponsored surfing competition. This past year, these guys and their team won. They went out afterwards to celebrate and went on to drink lots of beers. After drinking up a storm, they stumbled into their rented car and began their reckless drive. They were driving on a bush road when they accidentally hit a kangaroo. On getting out of the car they realised that the kangaroo had died in the accident. Being so drunk they propped up the kangaroo against the car. They dressed it in one of their jackets and took pictures of themselves with their arms around it. To their shock and horror, while they were taking pictures, the kangaroo came back to life! The kangaroo wasn’t dead. It had passed out! When the kangaroo came to, it started to box the drunken guys and actually broke one guy’s jaw! It then hopped away into the bush. The guys tried to chase the kangaroo in the car but on getting in. realised that the keys were in the jacket that the kangaroo was wearing. They called a taxi and as they were returning to town they saw a pack of kangaroos and one was still wearing the guy’s jacket. The taxi man couldn’t stop laughing! “Unbelievable!” I hear you say. Maybe. But let’s look at how this story was told…   “They were driving on … Read more

Word of the week: Fancy!

WORD OF THE WEEK: FANCY! One of the reasons I love English is because it’s such a lovely versatile language. Don’t you agree? Just take the word “fancy”. It has so many different uses, depending on the situation. Check out some of them below and then try them out:    That’s a fancy suit you’re wearing! Meaning: That suit looks nice, stylish and expensive. I really fancied my teacher at school. Meaning: I found my teacher extremely attractive. Do you fancy a beer? Do you fancy grabbing a quick beer after work? Meaning: Would you like to come and get a beer with me? Pronunciation: /ʤəfænsiːjəbɪər/ (look carefully at how “do you” is pronounced in spoken English) Form: Do you fancy + noun / gerund? I fancy a curry. Meaning: I would like to get a curry. At Halloween we wear fancy dress. Meaning: We dress up in costumes. That doesn’t really tickle my fancy. Meaning: That doesn’t sound like something I want.   Now, go out there and try out a few of these expressions while you’re out celebrating New Year’s Eve. Remember, if you use an expression once, you’re more likely to remember it in the future. If you don’t get out there and try them out, they are just more words and expressions sitting in your vocabulary notebook that never get used. Move them from your passive knowledge into active use by putting them into a conversation. Don’t be afraid to try out new phrases! It’s the best way to memorise them. And remember, it’s OK to make mistakes, that’s how we learn. If you would like to do some more vocabulary exercises, try our Learn English website with over 2000 free lessons to choose from. If you’re interested in finding out more about our English courses in London, … Read more

Weekly Grammar Question: Will, Going to or Present Continuous?

So, I’m going to tell you a story, a story that will hopefully clear up the difference between will, going to and present continuous:   My ex-girlfriend came home one night with a beautiful new painting that she’d bought at the market. “David,” she said. “I’d like you to hang this painting please.” “Of course,” I answered. “No problem.”  A week later she came home from work and found her picture lying on the ground where she had left it seven days before.  “Ahem,” she cleared here throat. “Em, David!”  I knew I was in trouble now.  “You still haven’t hung my painting.” At this point I had three choices. I could say any of the following: Don’t worry, I will hang it tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’m going to hang it tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’m hanging it tomorrow.  But what’s the difference? In each sentence, the result is the same. The painting will be on the wall tomorrow. But each sentence gave slightly different information to my girlfriend. I have just decided now that I will hang it tomorrow. I didn’t think about you or this painting before now. I thought about this before now and I planned to hang it tomorrow. Not only did I think about this before now, I have also organised everything. I have selected the perfect place on the wall, I have bought a hammer and a nail and I am ready to hang it tomorrow.   Which one do you think I said to her? Number 3 obviously. It might not have been true but it was the message I wanted to tell my girlfriend. And here’s the lovely picture. If you’re interested in learning some more about English Grammar, check out our lessons website. If you would like more information on our English centre … Read more

A very British Christmas – Annika Robinson

Christmas Day! Traditionally, Christmas Day is the most important day in December and of the season but there are also some other significant days. 24th December.  This is Christmas Eve and although the day time is usually spent rushing around the shops for those last minute presents or putting the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations at home, this is all usually finished by the evening in order to celebrate with friends and family. Although, presents are not usually opened on this day. 25th December.  This is a family day and most people only leave the house to have a walk in the local area or to visit other members of the family. People usually open their presents together in the morning and then have a big lunch together – Christmas dinner – between 2 and 4 o’clock.  People play games or watch television or go and visit close friends and family. 26th December.  This is called Boxing day and is the day after Christmas.  The name comes from people giving and receiving presents in boxes, even though traditionally presents are exchanged on Christmas Day.  Families may decide to get together again today and have another big lunch, basically a repeat of the day before!  Or for some people, despite being a national holiday, Boxing Day is just another normal day. 31st December.  This is New Year’s Eve and so friends usually get dressed up and go to a special party.  Just before midnight, there is a countdown and then when the clock strokes 12 at midnight people hold hands and sing a traditional song called ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  People kiss and wish everyone in the room a ‘Happy New Year’. 1st January.  This is a national holiday and so people are at home.  They usually spend the day relaxing … Read more

Study at EC London 30+ has been an amazing experience!

Check out Ileana’s kind words after her studying English in London. Thanks a million Ileana, it was great to have you here.  Study in EC London 30+ has been an amazing experience! The atmosphere is friendly and lessons are dynamic and never boring so you can learn having fun. Teachers and school staff are helpful and lovely. The location of the school building is very central so after the lesson you can walk around the city center visiting the main attractions and monuments. It has been great to meet people from all over the world!!! I’m looking forward to come back! If you are interested in booking a General English course in London, check out our website. If you’d like to try some quick lessons, check out our Learn English website for almost 2000 free lessons.

A Nice Idea for Christmas by Matthew Franklin

One of our teachers, Matthew, has put together some advice for any students spending Christmas in London. Click on some of the more difficult words if you’d like a definition.    Being far from home at this festive time of year can be a bit lonely, so how can you avoid getting the Christmas blues? Many people who usually live and work in London leave the city over Christmas so it can be a good time for a spot of sight-seeing without the crowds. On Christmas Day itself there is no public transport and taxis are very expensive so you’ll either have to walk or cycle around the city. I recommend hiring a bike from Transport For London (www.tfl.gov.uk). It’s cheap and very convenient as you can pick up and drop off your bike from numerous locations around the centre. Click here to find your local pick-up point. Christmas Day is perfect for cycling through the heart of the city on streets that would normally be clogged with traffic.  It’s amazing what interesting sights you notice when you’re not distracted by avoiding being hit by a bus! If touring the unusually quiet roads doesn’t appeal,  my other tip is to do what most Londoners do and go to the pub.  Not every pub opens on Christmas Day,  but those that do are generally welcoming havens of warmth and conviviality.  Find yourself a seat by the fire,  cosy up with a glass of hot mulled wine or spiced cider and you’ll soon find yourself chatting with the locals.  Cheers!                                                                                     … Read more

Don’t you hate it when plans fall through?

Have you ever been let down by a friend? Have you ever been really excited about something that then got cancelled? Well , today at 30+ one of our pre-intermediate classes learnt how to talk about it. This week, one of our teachers Georgia has been discussing ‘Going out’ with her class. They studied some vocabulary and adjectives to describe events that were good and bad, how to make and refuse invitations and finally how to talk about plans that changed. What type of events do you think these sentences are describing?:   1.”The food, the service, everything, it was fantastic!” 2.”The set design, the lighting, everything! It was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time” 3.”The band, the beer, everything! It was spectacular!”   Today the class discovered how to transfer direct speech to reported speech – here are some examples, can you find the pattern? “I’ll pick you up at 8” —- He said he’d pick me up at 8 “I’m not going to go out tonight” ———— She said she wasn’t going to go out “We aren’t going to get in, look at the queue!” —– We decided we weren’t going to get in     Then the class wrote some short stories about plans that didn’t work out including grammar and vocabulary we had studied in class! Look at some examples below:     If you would like to do some quick and easy grammar lessons like this then check out our learn English website! http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish