English Lessons


Greeting Friends Again

A lot of the things we used to take for granted are now seeming very special, such as when meeting up with friends again as the coronavirus lockdown starts loosening up and we begin returning to work and school. I realize this may not be happening quite yet where you live, but it will hopefully start in the coming weeks or by mid-summer at latest. 


There are a lot of English slang words and idioms commonly used in informal speech, so let's take a look at a few of those today. Let's start with a phrase I used in the first sentence of this lesson: 


Again, this assuming your opponent plays perfectly, but we'll take that for granted.

Caption 20, Numberphile - Connect Four

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"To take something for granted" means that you presume something automatically, without really thinking about it. When that something is not as you expected, you are surprised.


Let's start with some different ways that people greet each other besides the standard "hello," "good morning," "good afternoon," and "good evening." 


What's up?

Caption 29, English with Annette O'Neil - Ways To Say Hello

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How's it going?

Caption 30, English with Annette O'Neil - Ways To Say Hello

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What's happening?

Caption 31, English with Annette O'Neil - Ways To Say Hello

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All of the above questions are rhetorical, which means that people are usually not expecting you to tell them your life story or about real problems you might be having! Usually you just answer "fine," or "not much," or "I have been busy" or something simple like that. Note too that sometimes "what's up" is slurred into "'Sup," "what up," and similar variations.



Caption 46, English with Annette O'Neil - Ways To Say Hello

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"Howdy" is just a colloquial or casual way of saying "hello" that originally came from the more formal question "how do you do?". You can see from the bold letters where the word came from!


If you haven't seen each other in a long time, you might say something like "it seems like forever" or the odd-sounding "long time no see!" This last phrase, meaning "we have not seen each other for a long time," is thought to have come from the basic English first spoken by immigrants to North America over 100 years ago.

When meeting up with your friends for the first time in a long time, please remember to keep safe according the local rules of where you live. But also remember to enjoy yourself as we begin to have more social interactions again into summer!


Further Learning
Watch the entire conversational video series on Yabla English by Annette O'Neil and test your comprehension using the Yabla Flash Card Game.

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Commonly Paired Words Part I

Every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.


Advice is usually offered or given:


What advice do you give to five-year-old girls who want to be president of the United States?

Captions 15-16, Entertainment Weekly - The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions - Part 1

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If I was to give them any advice, I think it would be just go for it.

Caption 22, Naish Kiteboarding TV - Snowkiting Ragnarok

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If the advice is heeded, then it is usually said to have been taken


I don't know how well I took their advice.

Caption 65, Numberphile - Connect Four

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Homework, the extra studying that you do away from school, is usually done, though your parents or teacher might also ask you if you have finished your homework


But you can't do that if you don't study and do your homework.

Caption 49, Entertainment Weekly - The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions - Part 1

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A risk, which describes doing something that is somehow dangerous, is something that is taken.


Our clients take big risks everyday.

Caption 25, Jump for Opportunity - Official Video

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I decided to take the risk and tell her.

Caption 44, The Apartment - The Date - Part 3

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You could dispatch or relay an email, but the standard expression is for an email to be sent


Could you please send me an email?

Caption 51, Business English - Starting on a new job - Part 2

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And then finally, Eric sent me an email.

Caption 43, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World - Electric Playground Interview - Part 3

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Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

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