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English has many words with similar meanings. In some languages, one word has multiple meanings. Here is a basic breakdown of what these words mean:
see = to open one’s eyes
When your eyes are open, you can see if there is light. If your eyes are closed or there is no light, you cannot see.
To see can also mean to understand. People often say, “I see” instead of “I understand.”
To see is automatic. It is something we do with no effort.
To look is to focus your eyes on something.
Look at the picture.
I know you are listening if you look at me while I am speaking.
To watch is to look at and wait for an action to happen.
People usually use “watch” before “tv,” “a movie,” or a sporting event, but sometime “watch” can mean you are looking at something while you wait for something to happen that is very slow.
“We watched the turtle slowly come out of its shell.”
To watch can also mean to take care of someone for a short time.
“His grandmother watched him while his parents were away.”
Almost all/Almost every/Almost none
Most + plural noun
Most of + a particular group
Most of the people in this building are under the age of 50.
Most of the Americans who live in Indiana are familiar with the Indy 500.
Most of the cars that are made in the United States are manufactured in the Midwest.
A common mistake I often hear is the use of “almost” in place of “most.”
INCORRECT: Almost people have brown eyes.
CORRECT: Most people have brown eyes.
INCORRECT: Almost Americans like to drive.
CORRECT: Most Americans like to drive.
Almost all + plural noun
Almost every + singular noun
Almost none + of + particular group
Almost no + plural noun
INCORRECT: Almost sidewalks are made of concrete.
CORRECT: Almost all sidewalks are made of concrete.
INCORRECT: Almost none of the sidewalks are made of asphalt.
CORRECT: Almost every sidewalk here is made of concrete.
INCORRECT: Almost nothing sidewalk here is made of asphalt.
CORRECT: Almost no sidewalks here are made of asphalt.
A common error I hear is misuse of the words, “say,” “tell,” “said,” and “told.” To say something is to speak words. We can say something to another person. We can say something to ourselves to help us remember something. The past tense of “say” is “said.” In sentences, “say” and “said” should not have a pronoun or proper noun like a name of a person in after them. For example, it is incorrect to use “say” like this:
INCORRECT: He said me he is going to check the status of the project.
CORRECT: He told me he was going to check the status of the project.
INCORRECT: She said me she was sick yesterday.
CORRECT: She told me she had been sick yesterday.
Notice that when we report what someone told us, the verb becomes a past tense verb. He is going to check the status (now or soon), but we change “is going to” to “was going to.” This is because it is not direct speech, but reported speech. The original speaker is not saying the words. We are reporting what the person said. Past tense becomes past perfect.
When using the word “tell” or “told,” we use a pronoun or a proper noun (a name) after the word. We tell someone something.
The pattern is (Subject + tell/told + someone + independent clause)
Example: He told me he was going to back to Japan later this year.
The independent clause is “…he was going back to Japan later this year” because it expresses an entire idea with a subject and verb.
In short, remember this:
Tanya Hoover, President and Founder of Midwest Language Services, was invited to talk about her business on a radio show this morning that aired on 106.5 FM, The Giant. Executive Director of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, Julie Metz, invited Ms. Hoover to speak on the Chamber Chat radio show. While Tanya is not new to Shelby County, Midwest Language Services, LLC is. She started English as a Second Language teaching adult students from Yuma Industries when she started her business as a sole proprietorship nearly fifteen years ago.
A new English as a Second/New Language (ESL/ENL) class is being offered by Midwest Language Services in Shelbyville, Indiana that will meet on Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 12:00 noon for non-native speakers of English. For more details about this and other services Midwest Language Services provides, such as sign language (ASL) interpreting, document translations, and other interpreting services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (317) 296-7997.
Join us for a weekly English conversation group that will meet on Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 12:00 beginning in March. The cost for each class is $12.50. We will meet at 735 Shelby St., Suite #106, Indianapolis, IN 46203. Class size is limited to five students.
We at Midwest Language Services, LLC want to continue making a positive difference in the lives of others in the new year.
Are you looking for a job in the new year?
Contact us about updating your resumé or writing an new one from scratch.
Elissa Kaupisch, a certified life and career coach, has joined our team of expert communicators. Her role with Midwest Language Services, LLC will be that of a resumé writing and interview coach.
Elissa Kaupisch, Life and Career Coach, Trainer, and Consultant
Elissa is a Certified Life Coach, experienced Career Coach, and professional business seminar leader. She is a Certified John Maxwell trainer, speaker, and leadership consultant.
As a Life and Career Coach, Elissa mentors, inspires, and empowers others to grow personally and professionally, assisting them in cultivating and achieving their desired goals in life and career. In addition, she is certified to coach people in both the Enneagram and DISC Personality Type inventories.
Elissa holds a Masters Degree in Education, and has served as a college instructor at several colleges, teaching Career Development, Leadership Communication, Speech Communications, and Business & Technical Writing.
Elissa is a Graduate of Dale Carnegie Institute's Effective Communications and Human Relations program and has assisted as a graduate assistant in their training programs. She has also achieved the level of Competent Toastmaster in Toastmasters International.
Elissa has a passion for inspiring, encouraging, and helping others discover possibilities for their lives, examine and eliminate roadblocks to their success, and gain personal confidence and insight, as well as realize their potential.
This year’s INTESOL Conference was another great opportunity to share ideas with our fellow English language instructors. There, I attended a colleague’s presentation on the various kinds of stress in English pronunciation. I was drawn to the topic since I regularly teach accent training and pronunciation to my own students. After all, learning a new language is not only about grammar and vocabulary. If you want to become fluent and intelligible to native speakers, you naturally have to spend some time improving your pronunciation.
There are three basic levels of stress — syllable, word, and sentence. In my lessons, I introduce each level in this order. This allows me to build on the student’s knowledge gradually and naturally. Typically, this process takes several weeks from beginning to end with continuous practice and reinforcement thereafter.
During the conference presentation, I enjoyed learning some new techniques to enrich this rule-heavy task of teaching stress patterns. One in particular involved creating a physical representation of sentence stress, the last level my students learn. To replicate this task yourself, you’ll need to cut apart printed sentences into their thought groups (the natural divisions in native speech). Then have students fold each focus word — the main stressed word(s) in a thought group — to illustrate how the voice will rise and fall as the sentences are said naturally. In the end, you will have strips of paper that contain peaks at the folded words and thus create a visualization of the speaker’s voice. I think it’s simple but effective and conveniently appropriate for any learner.
I’m looking forward to implementing this and other ideas from the conference in my upcoming lessons.