Vocabulary: Benefit, Revenue, Profit

When talking about money the words “benefit”, “revenue” and “profit” are three different things.
Generally a benefit is a result or effect that is good or helpful:

“Exercising has lots of benefits.”
“This job has lots of benefits” (vacation time, health insurance, working hours etc)

A “financial benefit” would be any condition that is good because of money:
“Retiring in Thailand has some financial benefits”

Revenue is the amount of money made by a company or organization.

“Samsung lost 6 million in revenue last year”.

“McDonalds makes most of its revenue from French fries”.

This is just all the money that comes in, not including other expenses like paying employees or buying supplies. Revenue is money coming in. For companies we use ‘revenue’ for people we usually say ‘income’.
Profit is similar to revenue, but it is the money that is left after paying all expenses. “I bought a concert ticket for $100 and sold it for $150, I made $50 profit.” “Starbucks makes at least 80% profit on all items they sell.” Profit is definitely a benefit.
But some companies, like Amazon, have 50 billion dollars in yearly revenue but less than 1 billion in profit. Rather than keeping the extra money they constantly reinvest it back into research and expansions.
So benefit is anything good, revenue is

money coming in, and profit is extra money that is made.

“How are you?”


Many English learners have trouble reacting to the common English greeting “How are you?”. But before you answer the question you have to think about what the question really is.
Western and especially American culture is very individualistic. Everyone lives in the same society but value their individual thoughts and feelings very much. But no one wants to be selfish and always think about themselves. So when they ask “How are you?” it is a polite way to show that they are acknowledging you and think that your feelings are important to them.
So we usually answer “Fine / OK / Not bad / Can’t complain” something that is slightly neutral but generally good. We appreciate that someone asked us about our feelings but we don’t want to bother that person with the problems of our person.
If you say “Not so good / Horrible / Don’t even ask” this could burden the other person with your problems. This is fine with close friends and family, but could make you look weak or needy in front of coworkers or strangers.
If you say “Great / Awesome / Best day of my life” again it is fine with close friends but in other situations you don’t want to brag about your good mood. Maybe the other person isn’t happy.
So we usually answer something like: “Fine. Thanks. How about you?”
Fine (I’m generally good and not in a mood or situation that you have to worry about.)
Thank you (I appreciate you being concerned over my feelings.)
How about you? (I am also concerned about your feelings.)


Articles “a/an” and “the” are what is called basic grammar – but basic doesn’t mean easy.

English is a very exact language and that means that all nouns need a ‘determiner’ in front of them. Articles are a type of determiner. They give us information about the noun.
“The” is called the definite article. It comes before words the listener/ reader already knows. “Hey honey, the cat is on the sofa” could be a husband talking to his wife about their pet.
“A/an” is the indefinite article, it is used to describe any member of a group. “Hey honey, a cat is on the sofa” would be the husband telling the wife that one random cat out of all the cats in the world is on the sofa. This could be a problem, no one wants a random cat on their sofa.
Nouns can quickly change from indefinite to definite.
Sentence 1: A man walked into the restaurant.” indefinite: we only know that he is one of the many men in the world. His identity is unknown or unimportant.
Sentence 2: “Then the man sat down.” definite: we are talking about the man introduced in the previous sentence. We still don’t know who he is, but we know he is the same man as before.
If it was Sentence 1: A man walked into the restaurant.” then Sentence 2: “Then a man sat down.” We would be saying one man in the world walked into a restaurant and one of the men in the world sat down. There is nothing indicating they are the same.

Fun & Funny

“Fun” and “Funny” are two adjectives that are often confused.

“Funny” means that something is comical and it makes you laugh.

For example: “That was a funny joke.”,

“I think Louis CK is the funniest comedian”,


“My dad thinks he’s funny but he’s not.”

“Fun” means something that gives you enjoyment.

As in: “It was fun spending time with my sister.”,

“That soccer match was really fun.”

or “That was actually a fun English class”.
A problem is that funny things are usually also fun. If you see a hilarious comedy movie you might say:
A) “That movie is funny”


B) “That movie is fun.”
But what you’re really saying in A) is “That movie is funny, it can make people laugh” this is a quality you think the movie has.

In B) you are saying “Watching that movie is a fun experience, it can give people enjoyment” this is a feeling that people can get from a movie.
We wouldn’t usually say “That action movie is funny” unless it’s main focus is comedy, usually they provide fun through special effects, fights and explosions.

f you say “My friend is fun” it means that you and others get enjoyment from spending time with them. “My friend is funny” means they have the ability to make others laugh.
It’s possible for your friend to be funny, (they tell lots of clever jokes), but not very fun (the jokes are mean, or dark, or sad and don’t give you enjoyment).


“I play chess”, ok.

“I play soccer”, that’s fine.

“I play swimming” nope!


Sometimes it’ s hard to know when to use the word “play”. Why is it okay to use it for some sports like soccer, baseball and badminton but not allowed for other sports like skiing, swimming and boxing?

We have to think three categories: games, sports and exercise. Chess is a game; there are rules, teams, points and a clear winner and loser. “We play games.” “I play chess”, “I play video games”, “I play hide and go seek.”

Now, some sports are also games: Soccer, baseball, badminton (even 1 person teams are ok), etc. They have teams, rules and points. So you ‘play’ them. The exception is combat sports like boxing, Taekwondo or MMA. They have teams, rules, points and clear victors – but fighting is too violent to be called a game.

Then there are sports which aren’t games. Skiing is a sport, there are (usually) no teams or points and the rules for victory are usually very clear and simple (such as who goes fastest). These are usually verbs on their own: “I ski”, “I swim”, “I run”.

Many sports are also exercise (good for your body) but a lot of exercise isn’t a sport. Yoga is exercise, you can’t “win” you are just doing the activity to help your body. You ‘do’ these things: “I do yoga”, “I do weightlifting”, “I do Pilates”.



The Schwa (ə) and stress

Knowing when to add stress in a sentence can be a little difficult, and some words can change their sound if they are unstressed. In English we stress the content words in a sentence, the ones that convey meaning to the listener. Generally this means that nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and negation words are all stressed in a sentence. Smaller words that carry no content, like prepositions and articles, are usually unstressed. Not only are unstressed words generally said quieter, but their vowel sounds are replaced with a schwa.
“I am going to the store to buy some coffee” would be strange to hear, as if every single word in the sentence is very important for the listener.
“I’m going to the store to buy some coffee” is more natural.
to (tu) becomes to (tə), the (ði) becomes the (ðə), some (sʌm) becomes some (səm)
All of the vowels have been replaced with the schwa (ə), the sound that the human moth makes when the throat, lips and tongue are relaxed and you just let a sound come out. (ə)
The bad news is that this means that half the words in a sentence you hear can become unintelligible, said quietly and with altered pronunciation. The good news is that you can ignore them and still understand the sentence.
“I’m going to the store to buy some coffee”
“I’m going store buy coffee” tells you everything you need to know.
Of course you can choose to add stress to non-content words if they are important. For example instead of saying this is “the end” I could say this is “the end” emphasizing the finality.


The three prepositions “in, on and at” can be a little difficult to know when to use. We often use them with places and times.
For places, it’s easy to talk about something being “in a box”, “on a table” or someone working “at a desk”. But when talking about other places it can be tougher.
Remember that “In” is used for three dimensional places, things that have walls or borders.

For example: “She is in the house”, “He was born in China”, “I’m staying in New York”. New York has borders, even if you can’t see them. If it has walls, or a man-made border use “in”.
“On” is used for big things, where you are not surrounded by walls or man-made borders. Surfaces you can stand “on top of”, like streets, mountains, islands. We also use it for boats, since you can stand on top of the deck of a boat. Later on when other big vehicles like trains and planes were made we started using it for that too. “I get on a train” “I am on a plane” but “I’m in the car”.
“At” is tougher. We usually use it for where actions take place: “I’ll meet you at the park”, “He studied at Harvard”. You can also use it for abstract places “She isn’t at home”, but you can also drop it there: “She isn’t home”.
So what about things like: “I work in a hospital” and “I work at a hospital”. Both of those sentences are correct. The first one uses “in” and makes me think about a three dimensional building. The second one uses “at” and makes me think about the action of working.