Danny Clark's Posts (165)

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Buying Clothing

My friends, I see that one of the sentences on my last test turned out to be a true toughie! What a great sentence! It has already made me write my “nightmare blog” and makes me write one more blog as we all buy some clothes/footwear from time to time and should know the appropriate vocabulary. Some EC members may think I went nuts, such things are well-known! Yes, they are, but if you read what I did, you will agree it is time to tell learners what words and expressions to use speaking about shopping and clothing.

First of all, let me introduce my incorrect sentence I am speaking about:

“The pants I tried in the store were little long and I thought I have to shorten them.”

Those who take part in my activities know they have to correct all the mistakes saving the original idea. I believe the idea is clear. I decided to buy new pants. I came to the store, picked out one pair, put it on and looked in the mirror. I saw the pants be longer than I usually wear. But I liked those pants and wanted to buy them. So, I thought, “If I buy them, it will be necessary to have them shortened.”  As I am not a tailor, I obviously thought about taking them to the alterations (it is a shop, usually a part of a big store, where clothes alterations are made).

You know, I like making fun of your mistakes, but I am quite serious now. Let’s consider my mistakes.

TO TRY may mean TO TASTE. I don’t taste the clothes I am going to buy as I am not going to eat them, I will be wearing them. So, when we are going to buy some stuff we wear, we pick it out, take it to the fitting room and TRY IT ON before buying to see if it suits us, if it fits, if we feel comfortable having it on. I’d like to explain some vocabulary.

If we say something suits us/others, we mean we like what we see. It is our subjective opinion. For example, I think blue colors suit me as I am dark-haired and blue-eyed. First of all, I mean shirts. But it is my subjective opinion, nothing more.

If we say that something fits us/others, we mean the right size first of all. Besides, we mean that such a fashion, such cut is good for our figure. If the size is smaller than that we wear, the stuff is too tight for us. If the size is bigger than that we need, the clothes are too loose.

If we choose the right tie for the suit or the right shirt for the pants meaning style and colors and if we doubt what to buy, we usually ask, “Does this tie go with/match this suit?”

I think it is clear now that the right verb is TO TRY ON. As to the tense of this verb, the best choice is the past progressive tense. We are trying on something until we take it off. So, I was having the pants on looking in the mirror and thinking what to do. However, the past simple tense is OK, too.

Back to my sentence. Nothing can be LITTLE LONG. It may be a little long, a bit long, a little bit long or too long. So, if the pants are longer than we wear but we want to buy them anyway, we can have them shortened by a tailor as they need shortening.

Dear ladies, I am very thankful for all your wise advices! Next time, buying pants I will surely follow them. Of course, it is much better to buy shorter ones, but how to find it out without trying them on? It is also a great idea not to buy any pants at all. What for?! But best of all I like the idea of altering the pants into shorts by myself! It is just great! Why to wear pants in the tropical climate?! But the question is why not to buy shorts instead of cutting off the pants? Hahaha!

Well, I tell you, I can’t stop laughing since the beginning of this test! You make my life so bright!

Thank you all!!!

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My friends, the idea of this blog is not mine. One of our learners, our dear Bet, asked me why not to write a story based on the mistakes you all make in your comments, blogs, my tests and so on.  I liked the idea at once as I usually joke about your mistakes trying to show what you say.

Well, for you to understand my humor, I am writing the wrong sentences together with my explanations.

  1. “I tried my pants”. This mistake hadn’t been corrected until I said the correct answer. To TRY may mean to TASTE and I meant I put them on in the store before buying.
  2. "If I had known, there was the rain I might have taken an umbrella along" sounds very strange. It means I didn’t know it was raining that moment. How is it possible? Either I am blind and deaf or….? Besides, if I know it is raining I usually take an umbrella along with me.
  3. I told about the car crash and it is obvious we all drove. One lady asked me: ”Did you really run so fast to save her life or you ran that much fast as she was very pretty?” In fact, I was driving fast while my car was running.
  4. “I recalled that I forgot my laptop in the car being parked far of the front door right after I have entered the building.” If I don’t even say about other mistakes, this sentence means that I parked my car after entering the building and I parked it far from the entrance door.
  5. Here is my wrong sentence on the test “The pants I tried in the store were little long and I thought I have to shorten them”. My sentence is wrong and I have already explained TRY. But I am a scientist, I am not a tailor. I can’t shorten my pants myself. Here is the “correction” I like most of all: “I thought I would have them short.” Please, tell me why to buy any pants and have them altered in shorts? It is much cheaper and easier to buy shorts without any alterations!
  6. “Having held the books for so long she felt her arms became numb and she dropped them on the floor.” Oh, man! I can’t even imagine a woman getting rid of her arms separating them from HER body and throwing them on the floor! It is worse than my nightmares!
  7. The last and may have been the better!  One of my female friends said I could hardy understand her as we are “of different orientation”. I do know what she meant but as a result she said that one of us is homosexual!

And now, I’d like you to read my story to realize what you really say! Hahahaha!

I opened my eyes but seemed not to have woken up. I heard the sound of the Niagara waterfall and couldn’t realize if it sounded in my head or somewhere else. It was dark in the bedroom although I knew it was time to get up. The electricity must have blacked out as I couldn’t switch the light on. I felt something lying on the bed, squeezed it trying to find out what it was, but it mewed shrilly and rushed away.

 “My cat,” I thought. I found something else. It felt soft and pleasant. I carefully smelled and tried it…

“Miaow!!!!” Full mouth of cat hair! Ugh, how disgusting! One more cat! I went on touching all around hoping to find some clothing. At last, I found it lying on the floor and started dressing still hearing the sound of the waterfall.

“It might be hangover,” I thought. “Why to take an umbrella? It will take too much room in my car and can it really rain during the rainy season? What a crap!” I came out and found myself under the heavy streams of the rainwater coming down from the lowering sky.

“Never mind!” I thought quicky getting into my car. “It is only one hour drive.”

The road was slick and dangerous. I was driving slowly but all of a sudden, I was overtaken by a car running like crazy. I could hardly notice its driver, a very young pretty girl who was obviously hurrying to the hell as there was a turn ahead! I tried to speed up, to catch up with her and to tell her about danger, but my car didn’t react. I just tumbled out of it right on the road and suddenly felt I could run as fast as Flash! What a great feeling! I immediately reached her car, pulled her out and still feeling her arms around my neck and her sweet kiss on my lips I heard her empty car crash round the turn! What a sweet moment! If there is such a reward, ladies’ lives are worth saving! She was alive, safe and happy seductively smiling at me as if asking about a date. I didn’t mind! But being a gentleman, I never go out for a date without taking a shower and changing. I tried to look at my clothes. As far as I saw them, they were wet and dirty, not to say that we both were wet from top to feet.

“What to do? To refuse or to …? Yes, I know…”I thought and, as I was  Flash, she immediately found herself sitting on the passenger’s seat of my car. We went to the store for some new clothing to change. I left her alone in the ladies’ wear and started picking out something for myself. I picked out the pants, put them on but they turned out to be a little long and I thought, “Why not to buy a pair of scissors and to cut off the extra length? Or, it may be even better to cut off some more and to alter them into shorts? I have seen scissors a few times in my life and I hope I know how to use them.” And I bought the pants, the scissors and started cutting off the pants while I thought it would have been easier to buy the shorts! But it was too late! The girl was waiting and I was going to be late for the lectures. So, we had coffee, I took her cell number and rushed to work.

Approaching the university I realized my lecture should have begun 20 minutes before. As there was no room to park at the entrance, I entered the building driving my Chrysler along the corridors of the century old university ruining its walls running over everything and everyone on my way trying to park at the door of my classroom. I did it! I looked back to see what had remained! Almost nothing! But there were my students in the room! I opened the door of my classroom, there was no one! I felt as if I had been Terminator!

I got back into my car, drove to the entrance door crashing everything on my way. I decided to put the end to the university making students dry their brains up! I decided to end my miserable life feeling great shame for making my students learn! I decided to do it once and forever! But I suddenly felt my legs getting numb. I couldn’t press the pedals, I could neither speed up nor slow down!

“Well,” I thought, “if my legs bother me, why not to get rid of them? I can press the pedals with my hands!” And I took the hunting knife out of my glove compartment, cut off my legs and let them bleed on the floor…..

“It is time to wake up, darling,” I heard the voice and felt the kiss of the woman I love. And I thought, “She must be of the same orientation if she is still with me”

“Nightmares again?” she sounded and looked worried. I kissed her back: “Everything is OK, corrected EC members’ mistakes late into the night!” and burst out in laughter. If only she had known what nightmares they were!

“Ready to do it again?” she asked smiling.

“Why to ask? You know.” I answered feeling pity for not being Flash to get to my work in a moment and to say “At last, I am in time to prevent you from making the same mistakes as mine" and I felt such a pity for not being Terminator to stop it all forever!

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My friends, I hope you have had some rest from my grammar tests. So, I am back with my next grammar task for you not to relax completely. This time I have decided to add some Subjunctive and inversion. Please, be attentive as this test is not a piece of cake. You know my mistakes are unpredictable and there are a lot of them in each sentence. I have to admit using some of the sentences from your blogs as well as some your ideas. But we are a perfect team as you give me your ideas and inspire me and I give you the tasks and my explanations for your mistakes and am always happy to see you learn.

Well, there we go!

  1. Only having entered in building I recalled I forgot my laptop in the car being parked far of the front door.
  2. He is known being an unique architect of 19th century.
  3. She did not only tell her life story, also she confessed to cheat her husband.
  4. Holding the books for so long she is dropping them on the floor having felt her arms to get numb.
  5. If I had known, there might rain, I would take a umbrella along.
  6. The drink was too sweet so that I had it.
  7. He didn’t sleep during many hours and the best thing he had to do was having some rest.
  8. His mother was French and he spoke French language like he lived in Paris all his life.
  9. The pants I tried in the store were little long and I thought I have to shorten them.
  10. Having lived in Florida, I love this land and I feel sorry for moving away.

The deadline is May 15.

Have a great weekend and good luck!

May 15

Here are the correct sentences:

  1. Only after entering/Only when I entered the building did I recall forgetting my laptop in the car parked far from the front door.
  2. He is known to have been a unique architect in/of the 19th century.
  3. She not only told her life story, but also __ confessed to cheating on her husband (or Not only did she tell her life story, but she also confessed to cheating on her husband).
  4. Having held/After holding the books for so long she dropped them on the floor feeling her arms get(ting) numb (or Having held/After holding the books for so long her arms started getting numb and she dropped the books on the floor or Having held/After holding the books for so long she felt her arms get(ting) numb and she dropped the books on the floor).
  5. If I had known, it was going to rain I would have taken an umbrella along (with me).
  6. The drink was too sweet for me to have it (or The drink was so sweet that I couldn’t have it).
  7. He hadn’t/hasn’t slept for many hours and the best thing for him to do was/is to have some rest.
  8. His mother was (a) French(woman) and he spoke (the) French (language) as though/as if he had lived in Paris all his life.
  9. The pants I was trying/tried on in the store were a little long and I thought I would (have to) have them shortened.
  10. Living/As I live in Florida, I love this land and I feel sorry to move away.

Of course, you can as me your questions as usual. Thanks everyone for participating!

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I have always been interested if our pets understand what we say or they just react to the intonation, if they distinguish one language from another.  As our family is multilingual (I, together with my wife can speak 5 different languages) and our pats were raised in different countries, it has been quite easy to find it out.

Dogs are considered to react to our speech more consciously than cats. So, we started our experiments with Jenny. She is American born and has always heard only English. She is a very obedient dog and when I call her, she rushes to me like a shot ready to make me go to grass!

But I usually command in English: “Come here!” and her reaction is always the same: ”Coming!” Well, as I have been learning Russian for about a year, I decided to practice in different commands with Jenny one day. We went out and I called her in Russian with the same intonation as usual and for you to know my Russian sounds with a strong English accent. You won’t believe!

She reacted to my voice and turned to me, but stood stock-still giving me a puzzled look: “Daddy, what do you mean? What shall I do?” It started getting interesting! I said the same in French. There was no reaction and she was still puzzled what to do! I called her in Spanish, but she didn’t move again and even stopped wagging her tail! Poor Jenny! She knew she had to do something but she had no idea what! She was looking at me in such despair that I couldn’t stand and stuck to English: “Come here!” and you should have seen her reaction!

“Daddy, I am coming! At last, I know what to do!!!!!” she was so happy to understand! She ran up to me at such a speed that she knocked me down and started licking my face being so happy to hear the language she understands! If she could speak, she would have told me how grateful she was!

Well, now about our parrot who can speak! Rocky is obviously “American” despite being an Australian rose cockatoo. Tanya bought him when he was already adult and very talkative! Hahaha! She tried to teach him Russian! LOL! Any time she spoke Russian to him, he said, “What a crap!” and flew away if she even proposed him his favorite nuts! But he is very smart and I taught him to say “English only!” Now, if we start speaking Russian when Tanya teaches me or I speak French to some of my colleagues from Paris, Rocky gets very aggressive and starts running on “English only! English only!”

To be fair, I have to add a few words about our cats.  Mary and Kuzya were born and raised in Ukraine. They had been used to hearing the Russian language only until they came to the USA. At first, they didn’t react to English at all as if they had been deaf. They didn’t even react hearing their names although they knew me and were very friendly! They slept on Tanya’s side of the bed and they “talked” Russian there. But later on, Mary turned out to enjoy country music and when I start singing she always comes up and starts rubbing against my legs or shoulders if I sit and sometimes she even asks me to take a guitar and to sing!

So, to make some conclusions, I will say that our pets “understand” languages and it is not that difficult for them to learn others!

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What Do Our Pets Think About?

On my challenge about inventions, one of my EC friends, Rahul Wazir, wrote: “If I were an inventor, I would design a device recording pets’ thoughts.” His idea sounded very interesting for me as I have always loved pets and always wanted to know what they think about us. Besides, I have always been interested if they react to the words or just intonations, if they “understand” different languages. So, this blog is for those who love pets!

When I just joined EC I posted a few blogs about my pets. Now, we have a dog (Jenny, a golden retriever of about 3 years old), four cats Anastasia (Stacy), Mary, Kuzya and Bux and a parrot Rocky.  For you to understand their conversation, I will tell a little about our pets.

I think it is needless to say anything about the dog. Like all dogs, Jenny is very kind, loving, loyal and friendly. She loves people and other animals. But all four our cats are very different.

Stacy is a spoiled, arrogant and very independent female of about 6 years old.

Mary (black one) is the oldest and the smartest. She is affectionate and friendly with people and other pets. Kuzya is a 7 year old Mary’s daughter. She is very interesting! On the one hand, she is playful and very affectionate, but on the other hand, she is very shy and apprehensive. She loves only her mother, my wife and our dog. She is very friendly with Jenny and often goes out for a walk with her to play or just to enjoy her company. But if she sees a stranger at home, she immediately hides under the couch.

Bux is our youngest, a male. He is one year old and is still growing. He is fat, lazy and a little infantile.  Our parrot is about 40.

He is very smart, but so uncultured! He swears all the time and uses such dirty slang I would never dare to speak to myself! When my wife bought him, he already swore like a trooper and it was impossible to wean him from that bad habit. Now, you should know that our family is international and multilingual and our pets are from different countries. Jenny and Stacy are “American”. They were born and raised here. Rocky seems to be “American”, too as he speaks American. But three other cats are “Ukrainian”. Besides, you should know that Ukraine and Russia have been fighting for the part of the Ukrainian territory for a few years.

So first of all, I’d like to guess what my pets think and talk about.

Jenny (happily rushing all around): “What a great day! Let’s take a walk! Our dad will take us out!”

Mary (lying on our bed): “What do you mean, Sister? As a matter of fact, I can open the door for you to go out if you like. But why to go out, to walk, to soil our paws and to have them washed while we have a nice bed of our parents to lie in and to enjoy our leisure?”

Jenny (jumping): “I enjoy having a shower!”

Stacy (lying on our bed): “You are crazy! We can do without it! Just lick yourself over!”

Bux (lying on our bed half asleep): “You may be right, but why not to lick me, girls?”

Jenny: “Licking instead of being showered?!No, it is not Ok with me! I like my dad’s making a bath for me every night!”

Bux: “As a matter of fact, whom do you call our DAD? It is quite interesting.”

Jenny: ” Buxy, it is a man who takes me out, plays with me, washes, wipes and drys me every day, who loves us all.”

Stacy: ”Really? I thought he were our servant filling our bowls in the morning and opening the doors when we want to go out and come in. Is he our dad indeed?”

Kuzya (lying on our bed): “Stacy, you should have known, he raised you! I adore my mom and if she chose us a dad, I love him, too.”

Bux (turning on his back half asleep): “Now, we turn out to have a full family, DAD and MOM! And I wondered why our servants sleep in our bed! Stacy, like you I thought a woman who brushes me were my housemaid!

Stacy: ”You shut up, aliens. Nobody needs your opinion! Kuzka, just SHOO under the couch!”

Mary (very quietly): “Hehehe! Let me see who is an alien here. All three of us have international passports given by the same country, our homeland Ukraine. We can travel all over the world without any problems. Our sister Jenny has an American passport as well as our parents. She is free to live in any country she likes. But what about you, dear? You have no passport at all! We don’t even know whom we deal with!”

Stacy (sounding aggressive and getting off the bed): “Oh, I am speechless! I am a Russian Blue, very pure-bred, for you to know!”

Mary (getting a little frustrated but still lying): “You have just said it! You are Russian! What are you doing in our Ukrainian-American family? Who is the alien here? Look here, either you accept our rules and our parents or…… Wonna start the war?”

Bux (still lying half asleep): “And you remember, the only one male in this family is not on your side.”

Rocky (flying around): “War, war, war! At last, no one will say I swear like a trooper! Buxy, as a matter of fact, I am a male, too and I will keep your side!”

Stacy (putting her tail between her legs and walking away): “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

Mary (getting off the bed): “Well, my friends, it’s time to celebrate our victory! Let’s take a walk, get some fresh air, let's love our parents as they make our lives so comfortable and let's not mind their washing us before going to bed. We are a great team!”

Jenny (rushing to the door): "Hurrah!"

Everyone except Bux followed Mary to the back yard.

Bux (10 minutes later, going to sleep): “And what about me? Who will lick me over?”

Well, I have told you this story to show one more way of using the direct speech and to make you smile. I’d also like to tell about pets’ reaction to different languages, but this blog seems to be too long. So,

                                  …….to be continued……

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A few days ago I was asked to to expain how to use SHALL and WILL and I decided to post this blog for everyone to be able to read it.

To use SHALL/SHOULD with the first-person subject sounds old-fasionate now.

In modern English, especially in American English SHALL is used very rarely. Internationally, WILL is the standard choice for expressing future plans and expectations, promises and much more. However, we sometimes use SHALL in the following cases:

1. In the questions implying immediate reaction:

"It is so hot here. Shall I open the window?"

"Sure. Please, do"

We can also use SHOULD, but it will sound like asking the advice. Let's consider another example.

"What shall I do with this problem?"

Asking such a question I mean I will follow the recommendation as soon as I hear it.

But if I ask, "What should I do with this problem?" I mean I'd like to hear other opinions, to think them over and to make up my mind about what to do. I hope you feel the difference.

2. With a third-person subject for stating some requirements:

The rent shall be paid monthly.

You can come acrosss such expressions mostly in some official documents like business/lease contrats/agreements.

We can also use MUST in this sentence.

3. To show the strong intention:

I shall be there to help you out!

Well, in this sentence we can also use WILL and it will sound like a promise.

4. To make something sound old-fashionate or dramatic:

I shall never forget that day! (it sounds dramatic. It means that on that day I experienced some tragedy or I pretend to sound like that).

If I use WILL in this sentence, most probably I will mean some pleasant events I don't want to forget.

For example:

I got in a car crash that day and I shall never forget it!

I will never forget the day when I met my wife!

Well, I have to say that in British and Amerivan English we use some modal verbs differently. We use them differently even in the USA. So, I will be happy if British native speakes tell us their opinions.

And it would be really useful for learners to write some sentences with SHALL and WILL to feel the difference. I am always ready to correct your mistakes! Hahaha!

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Dear friends, as you all like writing different stories using the direct speech and quotations, I decided to tell you how to do it correctly. Here are a few easy rules we should follow.

1. We should always quote the direct speech, the quotations and the words we use in some figurative sense.

She said, “I am leaving.” (The direct speech)

I believe “there is no place like home.” (A proverb)

Mishaikh said, “I have been “run over” by Danny’s task” (TO RUN OVER has been used in figurative sense. Sure, I didn’t drive over his body lying on the ground! Hahaha!).

2. If we start a sentence with the direct speech, we always start it from the new line.

“Is she a student?” (he asked.)

“I am not sure.” ( ,“ I replied.)

However, if we place the introduction before the direct speech we can write:

He asked, “Is she a student?” and I replied, “I am not sure.”

3. We always capitalize the first word of the direct speech if it is a new sentence like in examples given above. But if we divide a sentence in two parts and place a reporting verb between them, we don’t have to capitalize the first word of the second part:

“I have to think it over,” he thought, “maybe, for a few days.

4. I’d like to say a few words about the reporting verbs. If there is no indirect object, we use TO SAY while we use TO TELL with the indirect object:

He said, “I am tired.”

He told me, “I am tired.

5. Introducing the reported speech with the words He said, My friend asked, etc., we use the direct word order. However, if we use these words after the quotation and the subject is a noun, we should use the inversion:

He said, “I am leaving.”

My friend said, “I am leaving.”


“I am leaving,” he said.

“I am leaving,” said my friend.

6. Now, a few words about the punctuation.

Introducing a quotation with the words like He saidShe whispered, I thought, we usually use a comma before the direct speech.

I thought, “It is too much for me!”

However, we can also use a colon.

I thought: “It is too much for me!”

In modern writing the choice mostly depends on the desired flow of the text, i.e., how much the writer wants the reader to pause. A colon expects the longer pause than that after a comma.

However if the introduction is an independent clause, we always use a colon before the direct speech.

The guides always gave the same advice: "Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone."

He though it over and said the following: “I will be there whenever you may need me!”

7. We never use a colon after the quotation and always start with a small letter.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Just a moment!” she shouted.

“You’re right,” he said.

“You’re right,” he said. “It feels strange.”

“Thinking back,” she said, “he didn’t expect to win.”

“No!” he cried. “You can’t leave now!”

8. We sometimes use the quotations without any introduction as a part of our sentence meaning that we read or heard it somewhere. In this case, we use nothing before the quotation and don’t capitalize it. The same is about the words or expressions we use in some figurative sense.

If this is the "best skiing resort in France," I would hate to see the worst.

However, if we introduce a quotation, the rules are the same as for the direct speech.

President John Kennedy said: "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."

I sincerely hope you will find this information useful, learn these easy rules and will not make me correct the direct speech in your stories any longer! Hahaha!

I am ready to answer your questions if there are still any.

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My friends, I have written my story to demonsrate the use of idioms. It is a true story. Enjoy and learn!

Well, I often run myself into the ground overworking and taking to heart what isn’t worth a bean. But about 3 years ago I decided to reward myself and bought a very good expensive car I had always dreamt about. It was just an ordinary spring day I will never forget, it was already hot and rainy and I decided to get to work by my new car I was still running in. It was my first drive on the highway and I immediately felt my car be so speedy and so easy in steering! I was happy! I expected seeing the dumbfounded faces of my colleagues when I got out of my new Chrysler, but there was no one in the parking lot! What a disappointment! But I still felt so happy! However, happiness can’t be endless and one of my worst students managed to hit me where it hurt by his remark just before my class. Sure, everybody realized he just ran like a hairy goat, but my good mood vanished into thin air! I got very angry and nervous, I called my wife but she was very busy and couldn’t talk to me. So, I just got into my car and started driving home. The rain was becoming heavier turning into the T-storm. All of a sudden, I was overtaken by a car running like the clappers. I could hardly notice its driver, a very young pretty girl who was obviously hurrying to the hell as there was a turn ahead! I sped up to catch up with her and to tell her about danger but it was hopeless! I didn’t slow down enough before making a turn and ran into her car standing right on the lane!  I fainted, but when I came to I was told she had run an alligator over, but she, herself, was safe and unharmed. As to me, I was taken to the hospital, had to have the face plastic surgery and to wear the cast on my arm for 6 weeks.

Now, when I run my mind over that accident, I think it is me who ran like a hairy goat trying to save the life of a person who didn’t care at all! I can run on it over and over, so I have run off this story not to think about it any longer!

Hahaha! How do you like it?

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My dear friends, I couldn't decide what task to propose you. I wanted to post something both useful and interesting. But yesterday I saw a car accident on the highway. Fortunately, there happened nothing serious and it helped me come up with this idea.

Well, the idea is following. I will tell you some idioms and phrasal verbs with the verb TO RUN and will ask you to write your stories using at least 5 of them. If some of the expressions are not clear enough, just ask me for more explanations and examples, OK? You may know some of them, but some of them may be new for you. If you drive, it will be easy for you to write a story using these expressions.

So, here is my list.

to run oneself into the ground - to make oneself extremely exhausted

to run in - to run (mostly an engine) gently when it is new

to run like the clappers - to move extremely fast

to run smbd/smth down - to hit a person or an animal and to knock it on the ground

to run over - to knock smbd/smthing down and to drive over

to run low/short of - to become depleted

to run out of - to use up

to run into smth - to face unexpected problems or to hit something with a vehicle

to run one's mind over smth - to recall some past events

to run like a hairy goat - to act in such a way that others think you are worse than you are

to run on - to talk incessantly or to something without stopping

to run off - to write a story, a verse or something else in no time.

Well, I am ready to run off my story and what about you? Let's see!

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My Spring Fairy Tale

Hi, everyone! I decided to contribute something in my challenge as Spring and Love have always been my true muses. So, here is my spring fairy tale.

Once upon a time there lived poor Minstrel who had nothing but his old guitar and his enchanting magic voice. He traveled over the country, sang his sincere romantic songs making his listeners forget all their troubles and sorrows and they gave him some food and lodging for the night.

Spring was breaking its way through his land and one sunny day he decided to stop for a rest right in the forest to look around, to enjoy the fragrance of young greenness and early flowers, to share his poor provisions with the birds and forest animals. After having his scanty lunch, he was sitting under the tree with his head tossed back basking in the soft tender spring sunrays and he didn’t even notice he started singing such a touching romantic tuneful song that all the birds began harmonizing with him. But suddenly he recognized a girl’s voice among the birds’ twittering. He looked up and his breath stopped.

Up there, among the branches of the old oak was a transparent, but such an amazing forest nymph! Her smile was dazzling, her transparent dress made of dandelions didn’t hide graceful curves of her young flexible body, her head was crowned with a chaplet made of the spring forest flowers. She was as tender, exquisite and desirable as Spring itself! She gazed at him mysteriously and said with a charming voice sounding like music,

“Sing for me and I will make you wealthy and happy”.

But our poor Minstrel was already head over heels in love with her and he exclaimed,

”There won’t be any other happiness for me than loving you, holding you in my arms and being with you!”

“But I am not a human, I am incorporeal, I can’t be with you.”  desperately said Nymph.

“You will be a human, my word! Just give me a day!” cried out Minstrel rushing away.

In the same forest lived a wizard and Minstrel bent his steps right to his cabin. He told the wizard his story and asked him to make Nymph a human. The wizard got very angry.

“Aren’t there enough women for you? Just choose among them!”

“I can’t”, said Minstrel, “I need only her to be happy”.

The wizard thought it over for a while and answered,

“Well, she will be a human if you are ready to pay an excessive price for your happiness. As soon as she becomes a woman, you will lose your magic voice and never in your life will you ever be able to sing!”

Sure, Minstrel exclaimed,

“Yes, yes, it is a deal!” and rushed back to the oak tree where he found his Nymph who had assumed the aspect of a woman.

Their ecstasy and happiness were boundless and unspeakable. But when she freed herself from his hugs, she asked,

“Sing for me, darling!”

And Minstrel had nothing else to do but to tell her about his deal with the wizard. But Nymph gave him her inspiring cheerful smile and said,

“You just try!”

He didn’t want to disappoint her, touched the strings and.... The forest heard the best melody and the best voice that had ever sounded around!

So, what was it: power of love, power of spring or both?! We will never know, but I do like happy ends!

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My dear friends, I do know many of you live in the tropical zone and have seen different seasons on TV only. But just imagine that nature goes to sleep for a few months. There is no greenness, no flowers, no bird singing. There are just naked trees and snowdrifts all around. Nature is resting to wake up one day. And just imagine how great it is to see its rebirth! Nature feels spring coming! Buds start opening, birds start singing, animals start their mating season, everything starts blossoming telling the world that life is going on independently on our mood or desire. Spring is the best season for romantics and, as I am the one, I propose you to write a spring fairy tale. Let it be romantic, inspiring and hopeful! Let us be ourselves!

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My friends, checking out your answers on my grammar tests and reading your blogs, I noticed many of you not know the difference between FEW and A FEW, LITTLE and A LITTLE. Besides, one of our learners asked me to post the blog about these confusing words. So, today I will tell you about them.

I believe you all know  we use many/few/a few with countable nouns while we use much/little/a little with non-countable ones. These words as well as some others (a couple, some, several, a number of, a lot of, a great many) define some quantities and you might be interested in how many or how much it is. However, there is no hard-and-fast answer. Those quantities may be different for different people in different situations. So, I will tell you what I mean using these words.

Let’s consider the words we use with countable nouns as it is easier to demonstrate the difference.

A couple. Sure, the word means two but not necessarily exactly two. We may mean 2, 3 and even four.

I will be rather free for a couple days (I may mean 2-3 days).

A few. It is more than two. It is usually 3 or 4 but may be more in some situations.  Of course, it means not many, but at least some.

I still have a few cigarettes (I mean I don’t have to rush to the store immediately, I still have 3-4).

Several. It is usually up to 5 but may be more. Everything depends on the context.  Anyway, SEVERAL is more than A FEW. Going on with my example with cigarettes, SEVERAL will mean 4-5. However speaking about the world, a few countries may mean from 10 to 20, while several countries may mean 40-50.

Some. If fact, it is not a good idea to use it with countable nouns meaning a few/several as it may sound like something/somebody unknown. For example:

There are some people in my backyard. (It is hard to say what I mean: either a few people or some unknown people.  Most probably, it means the last).

As to quantities, SOME may mean the same as A FEW or SEVERAL.

A number of. It is indeterminate. I think it is more than two or three. Well, I can say:

A number of my students are very capable and painstaking (I mean a few dozens).

A lot of/many. It means the great number. It is obviously more than 5 but less than infinity. If I say:

Many/a lot of my students are very capable and painstaking

I will mean most of them or, at least, more than 50 %.

If I say the same about cigarettes, I will mean that I have enough for a few days or a week. I don’t think about buying them now.

Quite a few.  It is an American expression that means RATHER MANY. It is less than many, but quite enough. Back to my example with cigarettes. If I say, I have quite a few of them I mean I surely have enough for today.

A great many. It means the very great number. Here is an appropriate example:

A great many people learn English all over the world.

Few. It means not many, not enough, less than I need or have expected. Examples:

I have few cigarettes. I have to buy some right away.

Few people came to the meeting and there was no quorum.

It is not that easy to demonstrate much/quite a bit/little /a little but they mean the same quantities being used with non-countable nouns. I will use all of them in the same example about gas.

I have much/a lot of gas, I have just had my car filled up (I have a full tank).

I have quite a bit of gas, I had my car filled up yesterday (the talk is almost full).

I still have a little gas (I will get to the place of destination).

I have little gas, I must have my car filled to get to the place of destination.

And now, I will be happy to see your examples and to answer your questions as usual.

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My friends, you are really very helpful in all my researches and innovations! Thanks to your comments, I gave up the idea of inventing the pills preventing us from being ourselves. But I have come up with another invention that seems to be useful for the humanity in gereral and for each of us in particular.

My new invention is the medicine for bigotry.

Well, I don't mean our believes, persuasions, customs, traditions, etc. I mean fanatism, zealotry of any kind that makes people deaf, blind, narrow-minded, senseless, agressive and much more whether we mean politics, religion, traditions or anything else.

Just recall some history! How much blood was shed in the name of imaginary “true” values and “right” ideas! How many people were killed and executed because they disagreed! How many prominent scholars were burnt alive because they affirmed the Earth rotates and goes round the Sun! American president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated because he wanted all American people to have the same rights. John Kennedy was assassinated as he wanted to release the strain between the West and the Soviet block! Just think about our past! Why to make the mistakes of our ancestors again?

So, my pills include the components stimulating common sense, knowledge and desire to learn more, open-mindedness and tolerance as well as some anti-aggressive depressant and some tranquilizer for you to feel peace of you mind.

I think humanity as well as many of us including me needs such pills to get sober and to be ready to listen to others. As to me, I am ready, but if I am the only one who takes my magic pills, I will hear you all but will remain unheard!

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On My Blog: Magic Pills

Well, most of my EC friends know that I am a chemist and when it comes to inventions I will speak about chemistry as it is my GODESS! My students often ask me why I don't invent some magic pills for them not to learn, but to take such pills before going to bed and to wake up being as knowledgeble as their teachers. I always say they can compose them themselves if they learn at least a little. But today I'd like to speak about some other magic pills we all need to take from time to time.

The truth sentence has been known for many years and it works, but why has nobody come up with the idea of pills that make people think before saying something? Well, I am ready to invent them and to be the first to try them out! But I'd like to ask you what will you feel if everyone agrees with you, if you feel so positive and perfect? Sure, it is a rhetorical question, but I wish you all would answer it talking to yourselves!

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Well, my last challenge was just a joke as it was posted on Fool's Day and only a few people decided to tell us something humorous and funny. However, most of their jokes and pranks were really good. Here are my special thanks to Rose and Bet who posted very funny blogs!

Today, I'd like to propose you a challenge that is not expected to raise a new wave of misundersanding and hatred on EC. Let's calm down and speak about inventions. I hope you have learned some grammar from my tests and explanations and I will be happy if you try using it writing your short stories. So, here is the topic:

If you were able to invent something, what would you develop?

Your stories may be serious, humorous, fantastic, whatever you like. However, you should ground your ideas giving us some specific reasons. You should tell us why your invention is needed. Let's imagine you are writing the doctoral thesis and have to defend your brainchild!

Let's try to be creative and thoughtful!

If your stories are not long enough, I promis to correct them.

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"To be or not to be?" This question has never been answered and will never be. It is for us to decide. So, I have decided not to be a bright shining star on EC. It is time for me to collapse and to give birth to super novas. In fact, it is unnecessary as they already shine and their light is so bright! I can only enjoy seeing the results of my annihilation. 

Mary, it is your fault. I told you "don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you". My having been elected as a Star (I have always been! Hahaha!) scared off all my students and I have nobody to teach from now on! Moreover, a few male members left EC without even saying "Bye".

So, people, I have to pass away. According to my last will, it is Luci who will take my place as she is the best! She is almost like me but she is a WOMAN, a LADY. She  is not that tough even being sarcastic and she has been born to be a leader.

Thank you all for the great time spent together and great experience in watching my mouth.

I have never thought I could offend any women, but if I did, I have to collapse! It looks so great!

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My friends, I see many of you have no idea of such a construction, so let me tell you about it. Its structure is:

                          A Subject + a predicate + the infinitive

We can say, there are two general cases:

  1. The predicate is in the passive voice.  We use such a construction if the predicate is one of the verbs denoting sense perception, mental activity, suggestion, consideration, information. Here are some examples:

He is known to be a good football player. (It is known that he is a good football player).

She was heard to say that. (Somebody heard her say that)

The agreement is reported to be signed soon.(It is reported that the agreement is going to be signed).

       This theory is considered to be grounded. (It is considered that this theory is grounded).

The sentences in the brackets are just for you to understand what we mean using the complex subject.

  1. The predicate is in the active voice. First of all, we use such a construction with the verbs: SEEM, PROVE, HAPPEN, APPEAR, TURN OUT. Here are the examples:

        You prove not to know nonfinite forms. (You have already demonstrated that).

        The old car turned out to be fast enough. (I haven’t expected that).

We also use this construction with TO BE (UN)LIKELY, TO BE (UN)CERTAIN, TO BE (UN)SURE:

         He is unlikely to win. (He will hardy win).

         I am unsure to be useful with my explanations. (I am not sure my explanations are useful).

All the examples given above describe the simultaneous actions. However, if the action defined by the infinitive was earlier, we should use the perfect form of the infinitive.

        He is said to have been a good goalkeeper. (Some time ago he was a good goalkeeper and we speak about it now).

        You prove to have learned the lesson. (I examine a student and see he has learned).

As usual, you may ask me your questions and post your examples for me to correct and explain them.

Have a great week!

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My friends, I am a little late with posting this blog, but I think it is always the right time to laugh at ourselves and to fool around! So, I propose you to write something funny about yourselves or tell a joke, a funny story or to tell us how you tricked somebody or were tricked. Any funny story is welome. Just relax and be yourselves!

I will start and tell you one joke.

Having a great time with his lover at home while his wife was away seeing her parents, a man was called from the office and told to go to another city on business. He immediatelly asked his lover to dress and to leave his house, but the same moment his wife returned and he had nothing else to do but to hide his lover in the closet. He told his wife he was leaving and she immediatelly invited her lover to come to her place. But the weather changed all of a sudden and the husband couldn't fly away. So, he went back home as all the flights had been cancelled. When the wife heard him unlocking the door, she told her lover to get into the closet. Her husband entered, took a shower and decided to change. But when he opened the closed he saw both his and his wife's lovers sitting there. And he exclamed:" Dear, I have always known you have some sceletons in your closet, but I have never had any idea they are of different sex!"

I will be happy to read your jokes and stories if you post the link here. Let's go ahead!

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My friends, I have explained almost all I could. I will go on posting the explanatory blogs if somebody reads them. I have added some other constructions, but the idea is for you to lean something new. Again, you should concentrate on the nonfinite forms, but there are also other mistakes.

There we go!

  1. After having heard the familiar voice, I came of my room so that I could greet my friend. But having seen a stranger, I excused and went to my room.
  2. Here the exercise is that you should do till the next class.
  3. She denies that she witnesses murder while she is known being in the crime scene.
  4. Spending a few hours before the screen, I feel like I want to exercise a little.
  5. This text is so easy to translate without a dictionary.
  6. A nice house turned out not easy buying.
  7. It is you who should decide what else can I explain and what should I do so that you learn.
  8. I don’t mind you ask me question, but I see no sense explain the same time and again.
  9. Being worked all day long, I felt to be tired and wanted resting.
  10. After having read my explanatory blogs, you are supposed correcting all mistakes.

The deadline is April 10.

Good luck and have a great weekend!

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Well, my friends and learners, as usual I’d like to explain some sentences from my tests for you to gain some knowledge. Today, I will explain some infinitive constructions as you seem to have a lot of doubts about using them.

Here are my incorrect sentences from my tests.

1.  The question was very unexpected that I could not answer it.

2.  You know English well enough so that you can write such great blogs.

Of course, you know I made some mistakes on purpose. So, I have corrected other mistakes to tell you about using the infinitive or the subordinate clause in some cases. It sometimes depends on an adverb in the main clause. So, if we use TOO or ENOGHT in the main clause, it must be followed by the infinitive. If we use SO, it must be followed by THAT clause. Here are the correct sentences:

  1. The question was so unexpected that I could not answer (it).

          The question was too unexpected for me to answer.

          The question was unexpected enough for me to answer.

     2. You know English well enough to write such great blogs.

         You know English so well that you can write such great blogs.

Now, I’d like to tell you about one more infinitive construction.

The first thing we should do was finding the place to stay not for long.

It is incorrect as I want you to correct it. First of all, SHOULD DO is incorrect speaking about the past. But there are some standard grammar constructions we use with the infinitive. Most of you corrected FINDING and used the infinitive. But, in this case, there must be the infinitive with ‘to” before TO BE. So, we can say:

  1. The first thing we had to do was to find the place to stay not for long.
  2. The first thing for us to do was to find the place to stay not for long.


The last option is much better as it sounds more natural.

Now, I am ready to answer your questions and to see your examples.

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