Grammar Mondays: adjectives 4

I often hear my students make the following mistake: “I am very interesting in this subject.” Or, they might say, “I am boring,” when they mean: “I am bored.”

These are very common mistakes. So how can we remedy them?

Try to pick up an example that you feel comfortable with, like: I am bored. = I feel bored. When you are unsure which form of the adjective to use, think back to your tested and tried example. Do you feel interested? If yes, then you should say: I am interested.

Let’s have another one. The Ring is frightening. I am frightened. = The Ring is a frightening film, therefore I feel frightened. If you say: I am frightening, that means you think people are afraid of you!

Okay, now you try it. Make three sentences with the following adjectives: tempted/tempting; excited/exciting; embarrassed/embarrassing.

Friday Idiom: break a leg

Learn an English idiom every Friday with Groupetude!

This idiom is used in theatres; before an actor goes on stage, rather than saying “good luck”, which incidentally is supposed to bring bad luck, you say, “break a leg!”

I have always wondered why we say break a leg… it is a bit strange after all. Its origins, however, are uncertain, so we’ll just have to remember not to say “good luck” to anyone about to perform!

Word of the Day: wary

Word of the day: wary. Improve your English vocabulary with Groupetude!

Well, many of us are wary of a great number of things, particularly in these strange times. I think it’s important to be able to express these worries with the adequate vocabulary!

So here are some more examples of the word “wary” in use:

  • We wary of things that seem to good to be true, they often are!
  • That said, it’s also important not to be wary of everything and everyone, trust is important too.
  • Christine gave him a wary look from across the table.

So there we are, can you think of any other examples?

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 3

The nice thing about adjectives in English is that they’re not terribly complicated. There are a few rules to remember, but on the whole, there isn’t that much to it.

Let’s look at an example of a descriptive paragraph, all the adjectives are in bold:

The sun’s rays beamed into the large room through the French doors. It illuminated everything, and gave the sparsely decorated office a warm and welcoming glow. The furniture was all made of wood: the chairs were upholstered, red velvet and of polished dark mahogany; the desk, also a dark mahogany, was wide and comfortable, with papers and books scattered all over; and not to forget, the potted plant stood upright on the hardwood floor with its leaves bursting joyfully from its soil, brining in air and life.

a large room.

upholstered chair

red velvet

a wide and comfortable desk

hardwood floor

potted plant

French doors

decorated office

polished dark mahogany

Now, can you try to describe either, the room you are in, or an imaginary room. You don’t need to use terribly complicated language, use the words you are comfortable with. If you’d like to step out of your comfort zone, you can reach for a thesaurus, which is a dictionary where you will find synonyms. You can find this online by typing “thesaurus” into Google. Good luck!

Don’t forget to post your descriptions here!

Friday Idiom: half-baked

In honour of this week’s Brownie Bonanza workshop, let me intrduce today’s idiom: half-baked.

This is when an idea isn’t properly thought through. For example: “He came to us with a half-baked plan and expected us to back him up on it!”

or,

“This half-baked plan is going to get us into a lot of trouble!”

If you haven’t already heard about it, we’re organising a free online baking workshop entirely in English this Saturday, March 13th. To sign up, simply go to the link below and enter your information, we still have a few spots left!

Word of the Day: nauseous

For the American pronunciation: nah-tious.

For the British pronunciation: nah-zee-ous

I figure that this is a pretty useful word to know. After all, everyone feels sick at one point or another, and it may be a good idea to know how to describe your symptoms to a doctor or a friend.

Here are some more examples:

I often feel nauseous in the car, especially if the road twists and turns.

Just watching you eat that is making me nauseous.

Doctor: what are your symptoms?

Patient: I have a headache, a fever, and I feel nauseous.

3 TV SHOWS TO WATCH IF YOU’RE LEARNING ENGLISH

When you can’t get yourself to a foreign country to really learn a language, watching TV is the next best thing. So, based on that statement, what fallows are 3 of my recommendations for the best series to watch in English.

There are several criteria that I used when selecting, and they are:

  • Brevity. Hour long episodes are great, but when you have to concentrate all your attention to understand what’s going on, fatigue can set it. So if you’re looking for something to watch, favour shorter shows.
  • Fun. They really should be very entertaining and especially, they should include humour that can be widely understood across cultures. Added slapstick is also a great advantage because, well, everyone gets it.
  • A mix of accents. Everyone knows that English comes in a variety of accents, it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing something to watch. Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s THE criterion to trump all others, but it helps to understand a wider array of speakers.
  • Simplicity. Don’t go for series where there is a lot of complicated language and specific slang. If you like House, that’s great, but remember, the show uses a lot of very specific medical vocabulary to seem authentic; most people struggle with this in their own languages, now imagine how it would be in a foreign language!

So here we go, my list!

Brooklyn 99

This show is just funny. Very very funny. The actors were born of Saturday Night Live and so you also get that sense of improvisation that you don’t always feel from a regular sitcom.

Why do I recommend this one? Even though the language isn’t necessarily super easy, the accents are relatively neutral and the storylines easy to follow. The humour is very much cross-cultural, so most people will get a laugh out of it even if they don’t understand everything 100%.

Apart from that, it’s the type of show where you can turn on your TV and turn off your brain. It isn’t dumb in the same way a Ben Stiller movie will be, but it’s light and slapstick, so there’s something for everyone. Also, you can watch it with your kids; not the very little ones, mind, but from about age 9 I think they can probably handle it.

So what’s it about? A Brooklyn police precinct and the various silly things that seem to happen to and are orchestrated by, the staff.

The Good Place

Apart from being a comedy, this show is just plain nice. Its simple, unassuming plot can really be understood by everyone, and the short length of each episode means that it isn’t too taxing after a long day’s work.

What’s the premise? Three people die and wake up in Heaven. Two think they belong there, and one (the protagonist) thinks there must have been some mistake.

Again, this is one you can watch with the kids, though they will probably appreciate it much less than Brooklyn 99.

Modern Family

Why do I love this show? Because the characters are endearing, the plots always funny without being completely stupid, and the language relatively simple.

What’s it about? A family in LA: 3 generations across 3 homes. It’s a “modern” family in most senses of the word, since the grandad remarries a much younger Columbian woman (who already has a kid), the “typical” couple with three kids, a gay couple who adopted a little Indonesian girl, and from time to time guest star the ex-wife of the grandad as well as another older parent.

I even watch this with my 4 year old sometimes, who of course, doesn’t understand everything, but nonetheless manages to enjoy the slapstick humour.


So there you, go. Three easy-to-watch sitcoms for the whole family, in English. Remember, when you’re watching something in a foreign language, do these three things:

  1. Forget about understanding everything. Don’t sweat it, you need to learn to ‘let go’ and try to enjoy what you do understand. As time goes by, there’ll be more and more of that!
  2. Put on subtitles in English, this will help you follow along more easily and catch those things that the characters may or may not say a little too quickly. Plus, it’ll help you with your pronunciation, just wait for those “aha” moments.
  3. Enjoy yourself. This is not supposed to be a time for close study, you are meant to put your legs up and relax in your free time. So switch on the TV, and let the show carry you forward, whether or not you’re able to follow 100% of it.

Word of the Day: watertight

The definition I provided above has to do with the more figurative sense of the word, because I think we can all figure out what it means literally. So, here are a few more examples of watertight with the meaning above.

  1. Jeremiah must have a watertight alibi if he wants to be beyond suspicion.
  2. The contract is watertight, you don’t have to worry.
  3. That’s a pretty watertight argument, well done.

Can you think of any other examples?

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 1

I still sometimes struggle with adjectives in French, because they change. You have to know the gender of the noun, adjust for plurals, etc.; that confuses me, or, even when it doesn’t, sometimes I simply forget!

In English, adjectives are pretty simple. They never change! No matter what you pair it with, your adjective will always be the same. For example: your old shoe, and, your old shoes. There may be more than one shoe, that’s ok, it has no effect on the adjective.

Aldo, adjectives go in front of the noun. For example: a happy face.

There you go! More on this again next week, when we’ll deal with multiple adjectives to describe one thing.