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Everything posted by LauraM

  1. ...as the flames shot up, lighting the forest, as it was twilight now. Alberta could hear roaring. She turned to see that it was her tiger! He had found his courage again, and returned to do battle with the eldritch abomination...
  2. I would say by far it was Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales." I read it in high school and later in college. The language is so vastly different from contemporary English that it was very much like reading a book in a foreign language. It was helpful to have classroom guidance and study guides. Otherwise I would have found it extremely frustrating. But the characters and stories were so fascinating, and I was also quite amazed to read something that is so many centuries old.
  3. If you have read and enjoyed the works of Charles Dickens, please share your favorite novel or novels. I've read several of Dickens novels, and of them, my all-time favorite is "A Tale of Two Cities." I have always found it to be it quite absorbing, and I find that time period in history fascinating as well.
  4. Thanks for sharing. That's a good, long list of words that are often misspelled. I also looked at the homepage of the Web site and I see it's got a lot to offer. There are many resources for learning the fine points of English grammar. I'm always on the lookout for helpful online resources like these and many other people here in the forum are as well. As for misspelling words, we have been having an ongoing discussion on this and people have been sharing words that they have had trouble spelling: http://linguaholic.com/english-language-general-discussion-thread/which-english-words-do-you-have-trouble-spelling/msg6975/#msg6975
  5. Unfortunately, this has become a common grammatical error to mistake "you're" and "your." "You're" is a contraction; it means "you are" as in "You're taking the train tomorrow." "Your" is a possessive pronoun, meaning that something belongs to "you" as in "your house." But unfortunately, although these are clearly two distinctly different words and parts of speech they are still used incorrectly frequently these days. I admit this is one of my pet peeves; I find it annoying to see this grammatical error so frequently. This very same topic is being discussed at great length on another thread. It would be best to continue at this thread: http://linguaholic.com/english-grammar/your-vs-you%27re/
  6. The phrase is new to me, too. It comes across as very strange, at best, to me. I had heard of 'the cat's meow' though. But the general consensus -- odd though it may seem -- is that like the "bee's knees" the "cat's ass" is supposed to be something really fine, special or extraordinary. There is some speculation that the phrase is also alluding to how carefully and dutifully cats groom themselves; all parts of the body. Yes, there are some great Web sites on origins of idioms and other expressions. I especially like this one: http://www.phrases.org.uk/index.html It's been mentioned on other threads, but in case you have not seen it, do check it out. It's a great resource.
  7. Yes, "upon" is becoming obsolete. It comes across as very formal in most usage. In some cases it's deliberately so, as in the case of the preamble for a fairy tale: "Once upon a time...." "On" can usually be substituted for "upon." But there are some subtle differences in the meanings of the two words: "Upon" means "up and on." As in "placed upon a pedestal." It can also mean "immediately" or "soon after." As in "payable upon receipt." "On" means "attached to" or "in connection with." It can also mean "supported by." There are some more details on this here: http://www.reference.com/motif/science/on-vs-upon But I agree that these days, "on" pretty much has replaced "upon" in most cases.
  8. Yes, that's a good point "while" can also be used as a noun signifying an interval of time and in that case it is not interchangeable with "while" used as a conjunction. Thanks for bringing that up as it can save a lot of confusion. This is yet another example of English words that have multiple meanings and/or are used as various parts of speech; in this case both conjunction and noun. The word "while" can also be used to mean the "although" and, similarly, would not be interchangeable with "whilst" as in these examples. While the new phone was adequate, many users still preferred the previous version. While the textbook was more than 800 pages long, it was well-organized and useful.
  9. Yes, I've been noticing this more and more within the last 10 years or so. It may have started with the current generation, but it seems to be an error that people of all ages are making. I think that people see the incorrect use of these words so often that they just thoughtlessly pick them up thinking they are correct. It's almost like a bad grammar virus is spreading and people are catching it and passing it along unknowingly. It's really unfortunate as it is grating to see this error so often.
  10. If you're interested in self-study there are some good tips here in this thread. It is focused mainly on Spanish, but the tips, pointers, study methods and programs are useful for any foreign language study. http://linguaholic.com/general-discussion/best-self-study-method/ Overall, aside from learning basic grammar and vocabulary by whatever means you choose -- classroom, online learning, tutorials, etc. -- I think that immersion is very important. Everything you mentioned would be helpful so as to have opportunities to use the language as you are learning it.
  11. The 2013 National Book Award finalists were announced just a few days ago. It's one of the most prestigious awards given out annually in the U.S. in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young adult categories. The awards will be announced on November 20th. This site rounded up links to free online excerpts of most of the finalists, which you can check out here: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/free-samples-of-the-2013-national-book-award-finalists_b79064 Here are the finalists below. Have you read any of these books? Or perhaps some other works of these authors? If so, let us know what you thought of them. Fiction Finalists Rachel Kushner, "The Flamethrowers" Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Lowland" James McBride, 'The Good Lord Bird' Thomas Pynchon, "Bleeding Edge" George Saunders, "Tenth of December" Nonfiction Finalists Jill Lepore, "Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin" Wendy Lower, "Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields" George Packer, "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America" Alan Taylor, "The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832" Lawrence Wright, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief" Poetry Finalists Frank Bidart, "Metaphysical Dog" Lucie Brock-Broido, "Stay, Illusion" Adrian Matejka, "The Big Smoke" Matt Rasmussen,"Black Aperture Mary Szybist, "Incarnadine: Poems" Young Adult Literature Finalists Kathi Appelt, "The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp" Cynthia Kadohata, "The Thing About Luck" Tom McNeal, "Far Far Away" Meg Rosoff, "Picture Me Gone" Gene Luen Yang, "Boxers & Saints"
  12. Beverly, you're absolutely right that both forms are correct. In the U.S. "learned" is used much more often. As I live in the U.S. I use "learned" almost exclusively both in writing and in speaking. In fact, I can't remember using "learnt" unless in quoting. I do like the looks and sound of "learnt," however, I just don't use it, mainly from habit and from being in the U.S.
  13. Yes, colour and flavour are the British English spellings of the words. The American spellings are "color" and "flavor." British spellings are also typically used in Australia and New Zealand. For the most part, Canada also follows British spellings, but there are some exceptions. You may find this thread interesting as it covers many of the differences in spelling. http://linguaholic.com/english-vocabulary/american-vs-canadian-spellings/msg3314/#msg3314
  14. Actually, "none of us" is plural as typically it's the equivalent of saying "we" which is plural. But on the other hand "none" by itself can be plural or singular depending on the context. This particular reference sheds some light on the use of "none" as plural or singular. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_none_singular_or_plural
  15. Thanks for sharing Ego4U. I didn't know about this site. I checked it out and I see it's been around for quite a while -- since 2000! It looks well-organized and comprehensive; I'm glad to hear that it has been so helpful for you. Sites like this are so valuable for both non-native and native speakers of English, both for learning and for reference.
  16. I did not read any 'Archie' comic books when I was growing up. That's good to know that they use proper grammar and thus helped you develop your skills and appreciation for grammar. It's a great tip to pass on to others. I mostly read the superhero comic books when I was growing up. I read both the DC and Marvel comics so a lot of Superman, Batman, X-Men, Avengers, etc. It's been such a long time ago I don't remember if the grammar was proper or not. But I found it a valuable experience; very absorbing. I was also reading a lot of books as well, but I found that comic books -- especially superhero tales -- helped to engage my creativity. I think that comic books and graphic novels can be very helpful in building vocabulary for sure, as you have both the written word and the illustrations simultaneously. I'd be curious to know if non-native speakers have found them helpful in this way, and/or in other ways.
  17. The second period is not needed; it would be incorrect to add a second period. The period at the end of the sentence suffices. If you have a sentence ending with a question mark or an exclamation mark you would then need to use the period with the abbreviation. Thus with your example, it would be "Does John works for the F.B.I.?" or "John works for the F.B.I.!"
  18. I think what makes language learning fun -- and certainly very rewarding and gratifying -- is knowing that as you become more and more proficient you are entering an entirely new cultural and social experience. You'll be able to take part in conversations you previously couldn't understand. You'll be able to read literature you had to settle for reading in translation or perhaps not at all. Plus there are the arts to enjoy -- music, theater, movies, etc. Having such new experiences and opportunities is exciting.
  19. I agree. The confusion of their, they're and there seems to me to go beyond just a spelling error. These words have completely different meanings and are used in completely different circumstances. I think it's a fundamental lack of understanding of how and when to use these words. I think this could be indicative of laziness, indifference or perhaps even lack of critical thinking.
  20. I see this error a lot. I see it more and more these days. I think people are doing this thoughtlessly or because they see the error so frequently they pick it up thinking it's correct. Really the error is surprising because if and when you reason it through, it's quite clear what the difference is between these two words: "You're" = you are. "Your" = possessive form of the pronoun. Very simple!
  21. I have a lot of pet peeves. But just to mention one, it's the misuse of the apostrophe. More and more these days people omit the apostrophe where it's needed. And even more commonly, people will add an apostrophe where it is not needed and, in fact, makes no sense. Someone might say for example, "We brought the bag's with us." Obviously a confusion of the plural form with the possessive noun form. Definitely not correct!
  22. Here are a couple more. They may seem easy, but try saying them very fast a few times. There was a fisherman named Fisher who fished for some fish in a fissure. Till a fish with a grin, pulled the fisherman in. Now they're fishing the fissure for Fisher. A twister of twists once twisted a twist. and the twist that he twisted was a three-twisted twist. now in twisting this twist, if a twist should untwist, would the twist that untwisted untwist the twists?
  23. All 20 tips are excellent -- for learning English or any other language -- and collectively they are even more effective as they help you to become immersed and stay immersed. I singled out these tips in particular because they require an active engagement of one's time and efforts. Learning words and setting a daily goal is so important. As you point out, with just one word a day, that's seven words in a week. In six months, this is more than 180 words! I always found carrying a small dictionary around and using it on the spot with new and unfamiliar words was very handy. These days, we can use our phones and that makes it even more handy and convenient. I think the daily discipline of looking up words that we encounter and making a conscious effort to learn the meanings is very important.
  24. You are probably using appositives all the time without realizing it. An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that defines another. The appositive is often set off with commas or a dash. Here are some examples. The appositive will be in bold type and will tell us something more about the noun that it follows. Debra, my sister's best friend, paid us a surprise visit yesterday. There are several books on the top shelf, first editions, which we bought on eBay. Eight grad students, alumni of the adjacent college, have formed a study group. The appositive can also appear in front of the noun as in these examples: A renown violinist, Larry is also an excellent chess player. A trailblazer in film editing, John is a visiting professor at our school this semester. Can you think of some examples? Or do you remember having used some appositives recently?
  25. That's my experience as well. I do a lot of research on a daily basis and I'm used to skimming content quickly to get the gist and/or to find the key points that I need. When checking out news stories and social media, I'm the same way, very fast, so as to save time and get more done more quickly. I find this useful as it also helps me improve my reading speed and comprehension. I don't use any particular system or method, it's just trial and error. However, when I read literature or nonfiction that I enjoy, especially novels and stories that have many levels of complexity and/or the use of language is in some way especially compelling, I will slow down so as to fully savor and appreciate it.
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