30 10 / 2013

A metaphor is a literary device or a figure of speech in which comparison is made between two unlike or dissimilar things. It uses an image, a story or a proper example to express a quality or a situation. It is the comparison of a situation with a real thing. It can be a single word or a complete sentence. For Example: a blanket of snow, a heart of stone, etc. Here is a list of metaphors with their meanings:

Albatross: A burden that is psychological and sometimes may make you feel cursed

prison: anywhere where you feel captivated and suffocated

Broken Heart: Used to describe intense suffering or emotional pain due to the loss of a loved one

eagle eyes: someone who has eyes with excellent vision

Belling the cat: To perform a task that is very difficult or dangerous

four eyes : a person who wears glasses

Battle of egos: Competitions based on just pride

A heart of gold. : A person who is sweet, kind, generous and of good nature

sunny disposition : someone who has a happy personality

A heart of stone: A person who cannot show sympathy and have a cold nature

egg head : a person who studies too much

blockhead : a foolish person

A rainbow of flavours: A variety of unique choices to pick from

rocket scientist : refers to a very intelligent person

Apple of my eye: Used for someone very beloved

airhead : a stupid person

numbskull : a stupid person

bird brain : a stupid person

Cold feet: Having doubt that’s so strong that it prevents a course of action that was planned

lion-hearted : generous

It’s raining men:  The abundance of male suitors

forked tongue : a tongue/mouth, which speaks duplicity

butter fingers : fingers, which are clumsy

green thumb : a talent for growing plants

Storm: something that is unexpected

Late bloomer: A person who might be slow to develop

clear skies: calm and smooth situation which is not threatening in any manner

Rollercoaster of emotions: It refers to the situation which alternates between the feeling of happiness and sadness

boiling mad: to be very angry

White elephant: Having a possession which is either troublesome or useless and one that might be very expensive or difficult to maintain

Yin and yang : There’s good in bad and bad in good

dark skies: something like a threatening situation
blue skies: happiness

Life is a journey: it means that in life there are always going to be ups and downs, challenges, moments of success and moments of failure, just like a journey

You are the sun in my sky: A person who gives you hope
You are the light in my life: A person that you love too much

Fade off to sleep: To go to sleep

sweet talk : praise given for the purpose of manipulation

‘something’ was a breeze: something was very easy to do

silver-tongued : having eloquence

someone’s  voice being music to someone’s ears: feeling happy to hear someone every time

black heart: evil personality

red carpet treatment: royal treatment

gray skies: melancholy

something to chew on: something to think about

white paper: government report

24 10 / 2013

Learning a foreign language like English is always a tough challenge for the budding learners. Many believe that a foreign language can be mastered only by living in a foreign country, by making friends with the native speakers and by cramming boring grammar principles. But in fact, anyone can learn English by following some simple basic tips that will not only make learning easier but also enjoyable.

1. Identify your preferred learning technique

Everyone has their own way of learning. A learner might be comfortable with a particular learning technique. This particular technique becomes their preferred way of learning. The first and foremost thing while learning English is to identify one’s preferred way of learning. You might find it interesting to learn through visuals or a thematic approach, or you may even learn better by listening to English news and songs if you prefer to take a more auditory method. In short, try to identify the particular path you would like to take in your journey to learning that will help you to learn quickly and easily. One such technique which is useful for all learners is interaction in English. Try to interact in English as much as possible. Speak in English with your friends, siblings, parents and teachers. Make it a habit to only talk in English. Initially, you will find it difficult to converse but the key is to continue despite all the problems. Once you get the hang of it, things will start falling into places and you will gradually get into the groove.

2. Make reading a daily ritual

Read a newspaper every day. It will not only improve your knowledge of the language but will also keep you abreast with all the current affairs and issues. Even if you do not read the entire newspaper, reading the editorial page is a must as this is the page that showcases the best of writing skills, introduces high quality vocabulary and improves the reader’s English tremendously. Reading books, magazines and journals is also a great way to improve the flow of English. This entire exercise will also improve your grammar greatly.

3. Build your vocabulary

Building a decent vocabulary is an integral part of perfecting a language. There are several ways to learn fresh words every day. Use flash cards or take the help of small notes with words and their meanings scribbled on them. Pin these notes and cards in your room or around your house and take a look at them whenever possible. The more you see the words, the more they get etched in your memory. Start reading a dictionary for new words and their meanings. You may also make it a habit to carry a small pocket dictionary everywhere, so that you can manage to pull it out as soon as you come across an unknown word.

4. Refresh your vocabulary by using it in your daily conversation

The whole purpose of learning fresh words is to keep them alive and active after they have been learnt. This can only be done by using them in your day to day conversations. Try to recall and use the freshly learnt words according to the appropriate contexts. Do not try to fit in the words just to use them but do try to think of ways to place them effectively. This will enhance memorizing and will in turn give them permanent space in your stock of words.

5. Don’t just learn single words; idioms, proverbs and collocations are also necessary

Learning new words is the first step to improve English vocabulary, but it is equally important to widen the realm of your expressions. English language is full of idioms, proverbs, collocations and the like. All of these help to broaden your boundaries of describing a situation and thus facilitates expression.

6. Practice public speaking

By now you must have already started to interact with everyone in English. When you feel comfortable, take it a step ahead by practicing public speaking. Agreed that this is extremely intimidating and scary, but the very purpose of the activity to break even the last few shackles of fears and nervousness. Play public speaking games by selecting different topics and giving short speeches on them. This will not only be an interesting activity in developing your knowledge of English but will also enhance your personality by manifolds.

7. Say goodbye to fear and say hello to motivation

It is natural of a learner to feel nervous and scared of making mistakes. But don’t let your fears win over you. Remember that it is absolutely fine to make mistakes as you are learning a foreign language. All of us make mistakes through the process of learning something new. So it is nothing to feel intimidated of. Try to feel relaxed and motivated to learn this immensely rich and potentially sound language. Follow all the steps mentioned above. Internet is full of infinite free resources. Use it for help and to gain more knowledge regarding English learning. With so much of help around, you are bound to get better with time. When you do, don’t forget to reward yourself!

18 10 / 2013

A simile can be defined as a figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing and it compares two things directly. It uses some connectives like ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘than’, etc. to make comparisons. Here is a list of some commonly used similes examples:

as blind as a bat: used to talk about someone who is completely blind

as strong as an ox : a very strong person

as cold as ice: very cold

as light as a feather: very light

as flat as a pancake: completely flat

as busy as a bee : very busy

as gentle as a lamb: very gentle

as quiet as a mouse: someone who is too quiet
as light as a feather: very light

as old as the hills: very old

as quick as a flash: someone who moves or works very fast
as sharp as a knife: very sharp

as strong as a bull: very strong

as dry as a bone : something which is very dry

as black as night: something which is too dark or black

as white as snow: pure white

as white as a sheet : it is referred to talk about someone’s face which might have turned white, especially due to fear

as wise as an owl: very wise

as red as a beetroot : someone’s face when embarrassed
like a rose: beautiful

like a volcano: explosive

like garbage: disgusting

as brown as a berry: it is referred to someone who has got a deep suntan

like an animal: inhuman

as deaf as a post : to describe someone who cannot hear properly

like spaghetti: entangled

like dewdrops: sweet and pure

like gold dust: precious

as blind as a bat :to describe someone who sees badly

like a tip: it refers to someone who is very untidy

as drunk as a lord: someone who is too drunk

like a dream: wonderful, incredible

as thin as a rake: used to describe someone who is very thin
like stars: bright and beautiful

as mad as a hatter: used to describe someone who is very eccentric

to drink like a fish: to drink a lot

to eat like a horse: to describe someone who always has a big appetite

to eat like a bird: to eat very little
to drink like a fish: to describe someone who drinks a lot of alcohol

to eat like a horse: to eat a lot

to work like a dream: when something works perfectly

to eat like a pig: to eat impolitely

to have a memory like a sieve: used to talk about a forgetful person

to fight like cats and dogs: to fight fiercely

to sleep like a log: to sleep well and soundly

to sing like an angel: to sing beautifully

to have eyes like a hawk: describing someone who sees every small detail

to smoke like a chimney: to smoke heavily, all the time

to soar like an eagle: to fly high and free

to work like a dog: to work very hard

04 10 / 2013

Pronouns are words that are used in place of nouns in order to make the sentences less repetitive. ‘He’, ‘it’, ‘who’ are examples of pronouns.

Personal pronouns are words that represent specific people in written or spoken language. Personal pronouns change their forms to represent the number, gender, case or the person speaking. Hence, we use pronouns depending on:

Number: The number of persons, singular (he) or plural (they)

Person: 1st person (‘I’), 2nd person (‘you’) or 3rd person (‘us’)

Gender: male (‘he’), female (‘she’) or neutral (‘it’)

Case: subject (‘we’) or object (‘us’)

In the following cases, the first example shows the subject pronoun while the second one shows object pronoun:

  • I don’t like ice-cream.
  • Ritu helped me with the work.
  • She loves horse riding.
  • Rahul met him.

 

  • It looks good on the wall.
  • Why do you blame her?
  • We went to the beach.
  • Can the mechanic repair it?

 

  • They invited us to their wedding.
  • Rahul and Sid beat them in the tennis match.

When we refer to an animal especially when it is a pet, we sometimes use the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’. This is also true in cases when we have to refer to ships, countries. For these we use the pronoun ‘she’. Look at the following examples:

  • Meet my dog ‘Ron’. He is a Labrador.
  • We cruised on Celebrity Century. She carried over 1000 tourists.
  • I have a Beetle car. She is small and carries up to 4 people.
  • India was once called a golden bird. She was known for spices, cotton and precious gems.

01 10 / 2013

Possessive nouns are nouns that show ownership or possession. Therefore, we call these nouns as ‘possessive nouns’. By adding an apostrophe and an‘s’ we can convert most singular nouns into their possessive forms. For example:

  • The girl’s clothes (clothes belonging to one girl)
  • The girls’ clothes (clothes belonging to more than one girl)

Other examples are:

The toys of the child (child’s toys)

There are certain words, where instead of s we use only an apostrophe to avoid the hissing sound. Such examples are:

  • Charles’ chair
  • Boss’ desk
  • Jesus’ worshippers

There are two things to be kept in mind in case the noun is plural:

Rule 1

When the noun ends in s then we put apostrophe after the s. For example:

Dogs’ food, Lions’ prey, Goats’ caretaker, girls’ school

Rule 2

When the noun does not end in s, then we add an apostrophe and an s at the end of the noun. For example:

Children’s park, men’s perfume, women’s hostel

Forming possessive nouns is not a difficult task if you know the singular and plural forms. The plural form of ‘girl’ is ‘girls’. In order to show possession or ownership, we will add apostrophe after the s (girls’). In case of nouns like children, we add an apostrophe and an s (children’s).

Look at the following examples:

  • These are ladies’ watches.
  • Men’s football team won the match.
  • Laptop’s keypad is not working.
  • My phone’s charger is lost.
  • Rahul’s children are extremely naughty.  

28 9 / 2013

Phrasal verbs are multi-word verbs which consist of a verb and an adverb or a preposition. Phrasal verbs are very commonly used in spoken English. Phrasal verbs are usually two to three words long that combine to form a short phrase and this is why they are known as phrasal verbs.

It is important to know that a phrasal verb made up of a basic verb + a preposition/adverb is still a verb as a whole. For example the phrasal verb, ‘look up’ is a verb, but a different one. ‘Look up’ means to search or find information in a book. Since the phrasal verb describes an action they are considered action verbs also.

Below is a list of commonly used phrasal verbs in spoken English:

Bring up

To initiate a conversation on a subject

‘He brought up the issue of corruption in the meeting.’

Calm down

To relax

‘I asked her to calm down and go to sleep.’

Check in

To reach or register at a hotel or an airport

‘We checked in at the hotel in the evening.’

Get along

To like each other

‘The two sisters get along with each other very well.’

Hang up

To end a phone call

‘She always hangs up the phone abruptly.’ 

Look after

To care of someone

‘I will look after the baby tonight.’

Look forward to

Anticipate with pleasure

‘I look forward to meeting you.’

Look down on someone

To always consider someone inferior

‘She always looks down on her maids and speaks rudely to them.’

21 9 / 2013

A proverb is a saying that offers advice or tells the truth that is generally known by people.

It is a short sentence that is repeated in spoken and written language in order to convey practical truth about life that is based on experience. 

Every language or culture has its set of proverbs. In order to use the proverbs effectively one must know the meaning of these proverbs.

There are thousands of proverbs in English language and to know the meanings of each of them requires thorough practice. Mastering commonly used proverbs can improve English to a great extent.

Below is a list of proverbs that are commonly used in English language with their meanings and usage in sentences.

Money doesn’t grow on trees

The proverb is used when you want to warn someone regarding the money that they spend because there is only a limited amount.

‘Dad, I want a new laptop.’

‘We will have to think about it. Money doesn’t grow on trees.’

The early bird catches the worm

It is used to advise someone that they will get an advantage if they do something immediately or before anyone else does.

‘My colleague always comes early to office because she believes that the early bird catches the worm.’

A picture is worth a thousand words

It means that the pictures convey better than spoken or written words.

‘Can you also put a picture with the article? A picture is worth a thousand words.’

Where there’s a will there is a way

It is used to mean that if you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if it is very difficult.

‘I’m sure you will be able to clear CAT this year. Where there’s a will there is a way.’

There’s no place like home

One’s home is the most comfortable place

‘This is the perfect vacation spot but there’s no place like home.’

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Be clean

‘Priya, always brush your teeth before going to bed. Remember cleanliness is next to godliness.’

Actions speak louder than words

What you do matters more than what you say. The actions of a person tell us more about their intentions and feelings rather than what they say.

‘He is not a suitable candidate for the elections. He has not done much for the people. You see actions speak louder than words.’

God helps those who help themselves

It means that people should not wait for good things to happen rather they should work hard to achieve their goal

‘Don’t wait for the best time. Just keep working. Remember god helps those who help themselves.’

Practice makes perfect

One has to practice a skill over and again in order to be good at it.

‘Cooking is a skill. Only practice makes perfect.’

17 9 / 2013

Verbs form the most important component in a sentence. Verbs are the words that describe an action of a person or a thing or event. It shows what the subject is doing or the state or situation that a subject is in. For example:

She painted her room.

He is an intelligent man.

In the first example, ‘paint’ is a verb. In the second example, ‘is’ is an auxiliary verb which shows the state of the subject ‘he’ as being ‘intelligent’.

There are different types of verbs. Few are listed below:

Action verbs

Action verbs tell us what the subject is doing in the sentence. It is easy to identify action verb in the sentence. In order to recognize an action verb in a sentence, you just have to ask ‘what is the subject doing?’

‘Satish is cleaning the room.’

Here, ‘Satish’ is the subject. What is Satish doing? Satish is cleaning the room. Hence, ‘cleaning’ is an action verb here.

‘Cat is sleeping in the kitchen.’

Here, ‘cat’ is the subject. What is the cat doing? Cat is sleeping in the kitchen. Hence, ‘sleeping’ is the action verb here.

Below is a list of verbs that are commonly used in English:

Accept

Achieve

Add

Admire

Bake

Bathe

Become

Burn

Call

Catch

Challenge

Choose

Dance

Drive

Drop

Disagree

Eat

Enjoy

Exercise

Explain

Feel

Find

Get

Give

Grow

Help

Hear

Identify

Kick

Kiss

Laugh

Learn

Make

Marry

Offer

Obey

Pay

Play

Quit

Read

Remember

See

Sing

Send

Talk

Teach

Tear

Understand

Use

Visit

Wait

Walk

Yell  

06 9 / 2013

A conjunction is a word that joins two words or sentences in order to make the text flow. When you read sentences which has conjunctions you will  have a better understanding of the meaning of the sentence. Look at the following example:

·         Ria went to the school. Her husband went to the office. Grandmother took care of the baby.

·         Ria went to the school and her husband went to the office so the grandmother took care of the baby.

First example has three sentences. The second example is one sentence with ‘and’ and ‘so’ connecting the sentences. Here, ‘and’ and ‘so’ are conjunctions.

There are three main types of conjunctions; Coordinating Conjunctions, Subordinating Conjunctions and Correlative Conjunctions. Here we will look at the usage of Coordinating Conjunctions in English.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are words that join parts of sentences that are grammatically similar. The use of coordinating conjunctions in a sentence shows that the joined sentences are equal in terms of importance and structure. For example:

‘I like pizza and pasta.’

‘Sachin likes Indian food, but Gaurav likes Chinese.’

Notice that coordinating conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but’ always come in between the sentences or words that are joined.  

When independent clauses are joined by conjunctions then it is advisable to place comma before the conjunction.

‘I will learn Chinese language next month, so that I can sell my products in China.’

The seven main coordinating conjunctions are:

For

And

Nor

But

Or

Yet

So

The simple way to remember this is to remember the word ‘FANBOYS’.

30 8 / 2013

In English language, tenses are tools that speakers use to express time in their speech. Hence tenses form an important part in the sentence formation. Usually there are three tenses in any language namely Present Tense, Past Tense and Future Tense. In English these tenses are further divided into subcategories. But first we will learn to use the basic tenses.

Present Tense refers to what the person is currently doing.

·         ‘I play hockey.’

·         ‘I’m playing hockey.’

Past tense refers to what the person did in the past.

·         ‘I cooked.’

·         ‘I was cooking.’

Future tense refers to what the person will do in the future.

·         ‘I will travel next month.’

·         ‘I will be travelling next month.’

Each of these tenses, Present, Past and Future have other forms. Here we will learn the usage of Simple Present, Present Continuous, Present Continuous, Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous.

Present Tenses

Simple Present Tense

Here the action takes place once, never or several times.

·         He cooks.

·         He does not cook.

·         Does he cook?

Present Continuous Tense

Here the action is going on at that very moment.

·         He is cooking.

·         He is not cooking.

·         Is he cooking?

Present Perfect Tense

Here the action is complete or has taken place.

·         He has cooked.

·         He has not cooked.

·         Has he cooked?

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Here the action is taking place for some time and is still going on.

·         He has been cooking.

·         He has not been cooking.

·         Has he been cooking?