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May 13, 2020

Do you want a quick way to build on your English each day? In our new English blog, vocab and grammar are organized according to the Common European Framework (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), so you will know where you stand in your English-learning journey. We challenge you to find vocabulary words and grammar structures that you already know and then start practicing the ones you don’t!

Check out our other posts here.


Idiom of the day

Oh, come on. : used for when you don’t believe someone or something, especially when you think it is silly or ridiculous

Oh, come on. There’s no way you can build a fire underwater!”

Slang of the day

(to act) sus: suspicious

“Did you feel like Mike wasn’t telling us the whole story? He was acting real(ly) sus.”

Words of the day

CEFR A1 (Beginner)

bag•gage (n): all of the suitcases and bags of a traveler

In a Sentence: I don’t like to travel with a lot of baggage. I’m only taking a backpack to New York.

Other beginner words:

a lot, back, café, daily, each, facility, garage, hair, ice, January, keyboard, lake, magazine, nap, o’clock, pair, question, rain, sailing, table, (to) understand, valley, (to) wake up, year, zoo

CEFR A2 (Elementary)

bar•be•cue (v or n): to cook outside over a fire; a meal that is cooked outside over a fire

In a Sentence: There is some chicken in the refrigerator. Let’s have a barbecue this afternoon! / Or you could say: Let’s barbecue the chicken this afternoon.

Other Elementary words:

a few, bad, cage, (to) depend, e-course, fair price, gallery, hamburger, ice hockey, jet boat, kg (kilogram), landing, mail, nature, octopus, pronoun, paid, qualified, rafting, salad, tag, (to) undo, vacuum cleaner, wall, yesterday

CEFR B1 (Intermediate)

bal•ance (n): (1) the amount of money that you have OR

 (2) the amount of money that you still have to pay

In a Sentence: (1) I took some money out of my account, so my balance is low.

   (2) I have to pay a balance of $1, 578 on my credit card this month.

Other Intermediate words:

(to) accept, bad, (to) calculate, dead money, (to) earn, fact, game show, half-board, I wonder, joke, key, last-minute, (to) make sense of, near, (to) observe, paper, quantity, range, sales advisor, (to) take longer, uncertain, vault, wallpaper

CEFR B2 (Upper-Intermediate)

be•hav•ior (n): the way that a person acts (the things they do and say)

In a Sentence: The students got 5 extra minutes of playtime for their good behavior.  

Other Intermediate words:

above all, (to) back, (to) can, dazzling, echoing, fairly, gang, half-hearted, idiomatic, (to) jet-ski, keyword, lane, (to) make an effort, obligatory, parade, question mark, (to) raise an objection, salespeople, (to) take deep breaths, unbelievably, venture, (to be) wary of

CEFR C1 (Low-Advanced)

back•ground (n): a person’s complete history, including their experience, education, and origins

In a Sentence: With his strong background in sports, it was an easy decision for him to study sports medicine in college.

Other Advanced words:

(to be) about to, (to) back, calculated, damp, ear, face-lift, game-changer, hail, I’d much rather, jaw, (to) keep a straight face, (to) lag behind, made from, nail-biting, obligation, panel, quirk, rainforest, safety issue, (to) take evasive action, unaided, valuable lesson, wake-up call, you’d be well advised to

CEFR C2 (Advanced)

(to) back down (v): to drop or lessen your demands in a conflict or argument; to withdraw a threat, to surrender

In a Sentence: In spite of residents’ protests, the city refused to back down on its proposed tax increase.

Example #2: After weeks of discussing which color to paint their bathroom, the pair backed down on their outrageous color choices and agreed on a neutral grey.

Other Advanced words:

(to) abandon, back to normal, calm, damned, earth, factor, garbage, (to) hammer home, ideal, jovial, (to) keep in mind, (to) land on our feet, magic, nation, (to) offer, paradox, (to) qualify, radio transmission, safe bet, tact, unanticipated, vague, waist, (to) yell out, zilch


Why do Americans…?

Thanks to the current global health crisis, many countries have been on lockdown for months. In the United States, many important decisions, such as how long to quarantine, are left up to states and local governments. But something peculiar is happening across the United States. Perhaps you’ve already seen some videos and images in the news of Americans protesting the quarantine. While the majority of Americans agree that public health is what’s most important right now, a small group of Americans hold a different opinion. Click to see why the U.S.’s anti-lockdown protests have their roots in the country’s historic fight for independence from Britain.


       Meme of the day                                                                                                                                     Joke of the day



I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, 

                                                                       but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.


CEFR A1 (Beginner)

Yes or No Questions in Present Simple

If you can talk about yourself in present simple, then you can ask someone about themselves, too! Let’s focus on questions with DO for today.

Maybe you have WhatsApp, and you want to know if your new friend has WhatsApp, too. Think (but don’t say): I have WhatsApp. –> Change the “I” to “You”: You have WhatsApp.

But that’s still not a question! We are missing the auxiliary verb DO: You have WhatsApp. –> Do you have WhatsApp?

Another one: I read before bed. (every night) –> You read before bed. –> Do you read before bed?

CEFR A2 (Elementary)

Past Simple of Regular Verbs

By now, you know how to talk about things that happen in the present. For example: “I work in an office every day.” What if yesterday was different? How can you talk about it?

The best thing about the past simple of regular verbs is that it’s, well, simple! Most verbs in English are regular. Regular means that if you want to talk about the past, you only have to add “ed” to the end of the verb.

laugh –> laughed, talk –> talked, watch –> watched (and so on)

So let’s talk about yesterday’s work. Use yesterday / work / home. –> Yesterday, I worked at home. (You can also say “Yesterday, I worked from home.”)

Tip: Since most verbs are regular, it’s a good idea to start studying a list of irregular verbs because that list is much shorter. Irregular means that you cannot just add “ed” to the end of a verb. We will cover irregular verbs in our next blog post!

CEFR B1 (Intermediate)

Using “Used to” to talk about something that happened in the past

“Used to” can be used as a verb to talk about a past habit OR just something that was true in the past that isn’t true now. Don’t use this when referring to something that happened only once or twice. Can you think of something you did regularly as a child? How about spending summers at the beach?

My family used to spend every summer at the beach (when I was a child).

Example 2: used to / have / blond hair: I used to have blond hair when I was younger.

Example 3: used to / store / on the corner: There used to be a store on the corner. Now it’s an office. (This sentence may look a little strange, but it makes more sense when you think of it in the present: There is a store on the corner. –> There used to be…)

CEFR B2 (Upper-Intermediate)


Have you ever heard someone say, “She friended me on Facebook”? One could argue that the verb “to friend” has existed for hundreds of years. However, in modern usage, we usually use “to become friends,” where “friends” is a noun:

“My classmate and I became friends while working on a school project.”

…that is, until we talk about social media. If you add a person that you already know from work or school, then you don’t really “become friends,” do you? You need a new way to describe this action. Luckily, if the appropriate verb doesn’t exist in English, it’s quite acceptable to just repurpose an old noun. So, verbing is the act of using a noun as a verb.

Google –> If you don’t know something, Google it.

gift –> I gifted my mom a necklace for her birthday.

Here are some other verbs that were born as nouns: Skype, microwave, workshop, transition, elbow (someone)

Now you won’t help but notice how many words we’ve “verbed” in English (and maybe even in your own language)!

CEFR C1 (Low-Advanced)

Inversions with Negative Adverbials

Fancy name, huh? Inversions with negative adverbials are, in fact, usually found in more formal spoken or written English, but you may have come across them before. (“Little did we know that the whole world would shut down in March!”) Negative adverbials are usually used for emphasis or dramatic effect.

An inversion with a negative adverbial would look similar to this: Not until she apologized did he agree to help her with her essay.

In commonly spoken English: He didn’t agree to help her with her essay until she apologized.

Make the adverb “until” negative. In this case, that means just move the “not” from “didn’t”: He did agree to help her with her essay not until she apologized.

Move the whole clause “not until she apologized” to the beginning of the sentence. Now we have: Not until she apologized he did agree to help her with her essay.

Leaving it like this would be incorrect. There’s one more step: invert (switch) the order in the independent clause:

he did agree [subject + auxiliary verb (+ verb)] –> did he agree [auxiliary verb + subject (+ verb)]

Put it all together: Not until she apologized did he agree to help her with her essay.

Example 2: Nowhere was his daring more evident than at Paris Fashion Week. [His daring was more evident at Paris Fashion Week (than anywhere else).]

Here is a non-exhaustive list of negative or restrictive adverbials: not only, only now, not since, rarely, under no circumstances, no sooner…than

CEFR C2 (Advanced)

Using Uncontracted Verb Forms

Think of some common contractions and their uncontracted forms: can’t / cannot, won’t / will not, shouldn’t / should not, doesn’t / does not

You may already know that using the uncontracted (long) form of the verb is usually reserved for formal written English, such as a rule on a public sign. English speakers typically don’t even use uncontracted forms in formal speech unless they want to emphasize the uncontracted words.

Father to child: You can not play video games until after you mow the lawn.

Use emphasis when trying to clear up a misunderstanding:

Person 1: I thought you said James had gotten the tickets.

Person 2: No, I said James had not gotten the tickets.

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