Being Stuck

Being ‘stuck’ means something is “attached” or “can’t move”. A mouse that gets caught in a glue trap is a great example of this- because of the glue it is now attached to the trap and can’t move.

We can use it for either meaning:

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attached: “The women stuck a flyer on the community billboard”
can’t move: “The fat thief tried to escape through the small window and got stuck”
We also use it for times when you aren’t literally “unable to move” but it feels that way.

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“Sorry I’m late I got stuck in a meeting.”

= I was in a meeting I didn’t want to be in, and I couldn’t escape.

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“I got stuck in traffic.”

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“She is stuck in a bad marriage.”

It has the impression of helplessness that you’re in a situation that you cannot overcome with your own power.
This is why we use it for problems as well.

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“I got stuck on a problem in my homework, it made me so frustrated I had to take a break.”

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“I’m stuck on the last level in this game, I can’t figure out how to kill the final boss.”

Abstract Places

 

 

“I’m going to Jamaica”

“I’m going home”
These two sentences are very different. In the first one Jamaica is a real specific place, an actual location and it is a noun. So we use the preposition “to”.
In the second sentence ‘home’ is not a real specific place (my home and your home are different places), it’s a more abstract idea. It operates as an adverb of place. We don’t need to use “to” because it’s an adverb that really means “in the direction of home”.
When the place you are talking about is not a single, real, specific place then we don’t use “to”.


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“I’m going home” (abstract place, different for everyone)

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“I’m going to my house.” (real place)


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“I’m going upstairs” (the direction of up)
“I’m going to the second floor” (a real place in this building)


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“I’m going abroad.” (any country other than this one)
“I’m going to Spain.” (a real place)


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“Come here.” (my “here” and your “here” are different. It’s not a real place)
“Come to this spot” (a very specific location).


Learning how to think of places as nouns or adverbs is tough, so just try your best.

Salary and Wage

Salary and wage are fairly similar but there is a big difference. Both refer to the money you get for a job, but one is a fixed amount and one is an hourly amount.

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If you get hired at a job that pays $52,000 a year then that is a salary. Some companies in North America pay you once a week (payday!) and so you would get $1,000 every week. Although your job might have set hours (9-5) you won’t lose pay if you are sick, late or there is a holiday. You may get in trouble for being sick or late, but it won’t affect your salary.

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A job that pays $10 an hour is giving you a wage. You get paid for how many hours you work in a pay period (maybe every week or every two weeks). If you worked 40 hours you get $400, if you worked 20 you get $200. Being sick, late or having holidays means that you didn’t work certain hours and you will make less money.

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Both positions do usually offer overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a week or on holidays. This isn’t always the case with salaried positions, but it does happen frequently.

Abstract nouns


It can be very hard to understand which nouns are abstract and which are concrete.


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Concrete nouns are easy. Just like the concrete we use to make buildings and roads we think of them as solid and strong.

Concrete nouns are things you can:

see (a sunset) ,

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hear (a song),

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touch (an icicle),

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smell (a fart)

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or taste (honey).

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Abstract nouns are things you can’t see, hear, touch, smell or taste.

They are ideas or concepts (time, money, freedom),

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actions (running, drinking, falling)

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and feelings (hatred, love, confusion).

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Abstract nouns are uncountable.

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Money is a concept. Dollars, Won and Yen are concrete things that represent money to people.

“I have money.”

“I have 10 dollars


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Time is an idea. Hours, days and years are measurable, real nouns that represent time to people.
“Do you have time this weekend?”

“Do you have a couple of free hours this weekend?”


Some words can be both abstract and concrete, but the meanings change.

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“I love you.” love is a concept or feeling.
“I left my love overseas” here ‘love’ refers to an actual person = the person that I love.

“I don’t have time.” time is a concept
“That happened two times.” here ‘times’ is a completely different word, = the number of occurrences.


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“I hate winter.” all winters, the concept of winter.
“I went to Europe two summers ago” we are counting a year’s summer as a period of time, not as an abstract concept.
I don’t expect you to master abstract nouns with a short audio clip. I just want you to try to start noticing them more. Mastery (an abstract quality) will come later.

Home and House

 

The difference between “Home” and “House” is subtle, but they are very different. A ‘home’ is where a person or family lives.

A house is just a building.
If a family lives in a house then that house is their home. If they live in an apartment then that apartment is their home. If a place is your permanent residence then it is your home. A home is an abstract place, it is different to everyone. A student may live in the dormitory at university, but probably wouldn’t consider that a home. If someone lives alone in a small apartment they may consider that their home, or they may still consider their childhood home as their real home.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my house” can have the same meaning. If you live in a house.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my apartment” can have the same meaning, if you live in an apartment.
“I’m going to my friend’s house” is a common expression.
“I’m going to my friend’s home” sounds just a little strange. It’s his home, not yours.
Home country, homestay, homeowner, home schooled… ‘home’ can also be an adjective. It’s the place where you live, the place you belong, the space that belongs to you. ‘House’ is just a building.

We even have the expression “Make a house a home” referring to doing things like decorating, having kids, getting pets… anything to make the building feel like a home to you.

“Cheer”, “Cheer on” and “Cheer up”

The verb “cheer” and the phrasal verbs “cheer on” and “cheer up” may sound similar but they have very different meanings.
To “cheer” means a loud cry that shows approval or excitement.

“Everyone in the audience cheered loudly after the stellar play.”

“The baseball stadium was overwhelmed with the sound of cheering fans.”
To “cheer on” means to encourage someone by cheering (the verb we just talked about). “The crowd cheered on the final runner in the marathon.”

Again this involves loud cries, and is usually used at competitions. It usually happens in crowds, but a single person can do it too:

“The rest of the audience was silent, but Thomas stood up and loudly cheered on his daughter during the talent show.”

To “cheer someone on” with more mundane tasks is possible, but would be a strange social situation.

“Mary’s boss cheered her on as she worked” would have the boss loudly yelling something like “Hey you can do it!” to his employee.
“Cheer up” is a little different. It means to become happier, and is used when someone is sad.

“I was lonely my first week at uni, but a call from my mom cheered me up.”

“After his daughter lost the talent show Thomas bought her an ice cream to cheer her up.”
If you tell someone to “Cheer up” it means you think they are sad and are telling them to try being happy.
A: “I’m sad that we are moving to a different city.”
B: “Cheer up! You’ll make great new friends quickly.”

Politeness in English

Since there is no official “Polite Speech” or “Casual Speech” in English it is sometimes difficult to know how to talk to your superiors (bosses, professors) or elderly people.
First of all be careful not to use their first name. If their name is John Smith or Jane Smith it is best to call them Mr. Smith or Miss/ Mrs. Smith. Or you can call them “sir” or “ma’am”. If they are a professor, as in they teach at a University and have a PhD, then you can call them “Professor Smith” or just “Professor”.
Note: Never call a teacher “Smith Teacher”, “Teacher” is not a title in English, only the name of a job. “Mr / Miss / Mrs” works best.
Secondly, try to avoid slang and casual expressions
“Hey John, what’s up?” is not very polite for an older or distinguished person.
“Hello Mr. Smith, how are you today?” is much better.
Some bosses and professors don’t like the overly polite language, as they feel it distances them from others. So they may invite you to call them by their first names.
“Hello Mr. Smith, did you have a good weekend?”
“Oh please, just call me John.”
In these situations you can use their first names after being given permission, but it is still good to avoid slang and overly casual phrases.