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Sunday, May 29, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - Start versus Begin (Part II)

START versus BEGIN (Part II)  

This is Part II of two parts. The verb “begin” will be addressed in Part II of this article. Please refer to Part I in order to read about the verb “start”.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the verb “begin”. If the initiation of the action that you are identifying is done in a leisurely way, where time is unimportant, then use the verb “begin”. This kind of action exhibits a sense of expectancy or optimism that something is going to happen, but in a relaxed way. The action that commences is anticipated, and gives you the sense that it is promised to take place, but just not in a rushed way.

Here are some examples and practice questions for you to look at, so that you will understand how to use the verb “begin”.

Example:  Pets usually begin to get nervous and upset when you put them in an animal carrier in order to take them to the vet.

Explanation:  It’s almost guaranteed that a pet will do this under these circumstances.  There is no importance of time being conveyed here, it’s just a relaxed statement about what a person would probably anticipate in this situation.  There is a sense of optimism that pets react this way.

Practice:  Why do dogs begin to bark when strangers approach them? 
 
Example:  My first class at the university begins in the afternoon after lunch.

Explanation:  There is an expectation that my first class at the university will take place, but the exact time is unimportant.  This class is going to take place, without a doubt, but there is a relaxed feeling about expressing when it takes place.

Practice:  When does your first meeting of the week usually begin at work?

Example: My mother always begins to complain if I don’t call my aunt from time to time.

Explanation:  This is a habit that my mother always has with me, so I am pretty relaxed when she tells me this, since I expect that she will probably say this same thing to me, as usual.  This situation is almost always promised to take place whenever she thinks about her sister.

Practice:  Why do mothers begin to complain when their children don’t do something that they think their children should do? 
 
Example:  The bus driver began to complain to a passenger about something, so I looked out the window in order to distract myself.

Explanation:  This is a relaxed situation for me, since I’m not involved in this dispute.  Time isn’t important to me because I’m seated in the bus, and just waiting for my bus stop.  Riding the bus is an opportunity for me to spend some leisure time doing whatever I want to do.  If the driver complains to a passenger, then I expect that a possible dispute will take place.  This discussion isn’t really important to me, so the time that it occupies isn’t either.

Practice:  If someone begins a heated argument with another person in public, what do you usually do? 
 
Example:  My boss began to yell at the secretary because she forgot to call an important client for him.

Explanation:  This happens a lot between my boss and his secretary, so I anticipate that it will happen again soon.  There is a sense of relaxation on my part because I don’t have to participate actively in this conversation.  Time is unimportant here, since it isn’t going to change this habit that my boss has with his secretary.  He’s always complaining about something to her.

Practice:  What do you do if your boss begins to behave in a strange way for you?

In summary, whenever you want to talk about an action that is commencing, you have to decide if the action has a sense of urgency, or not, where time is important.  If time is important, then use the verb “start”.  If time is not important, and the sense of the action is relaxed and not in a hurry, then use the verb “begin”.

Remember the two sentences mentioned at the beginning of Part I of this article: “I have started to learn how to play the piano”, and “I have begun to learn how to play the piano”.  Which one suggests that time is probably important?  Which one of these two statements has a sense of urgency?  Now the answer to these two questions is simple.  The first statement which uses the verb “start” is correct.  If I have started to learn how to play the piano, then I am referring to the importance of timing and determination needed in order to acquire the skills necessary to play a piano.  Maybe I have thought about learning how to play a piano for a long time, and “now” is the moment in order to achieve my goal.  The sudden urge to “start” now is evident here.  It is essential that I “start” now, maybe because I want to perform in front of an audience, or maybe because I need to learn this skill for a class.

If I have begun to learn how to play the piano, then I am optimistic about doing so, but I am not necessarily in a hurry. The idea is more like that of a hobby, and there is no feeling of urgency in order to carry out this hobby.  It’s possible, but not necessary, that I might demonstrate my musical talent by playing the piano for someone someday.  This is a very carefree notion here in this example.

In conclusion, the main differences between the two verbs “start” and “begin” have to do with timing of commencing some action.  The logic behind using the verb “start” is that the initiated action is spontaneous, necessary and well-organized.  On the other hand, the verb “begin” implies a more peaceful, leisurely and friendly feeling behind its action.

PRACTICE EXERCISES

If you want to check your understanding of the words “start” and “begin”, then take a look at the following exercises.  Choose the correct form of either the verb “start” or “begin”.


1.     My brother ______ yelling at me because I didn’t tell our parents that he was going to the store with their car.

         (a) started        (b) began             (c) begun              (d) starts



2.      My parents always ______ arguing whenever my sister comes home after midnight.

         (a) begin          (b) began             (c) started              (d) start



3.     The mother ______ yelling at her daughter because she had failed to call her and tell her where she went after school.

         (a) started        (b) began             (c) begun              (d) starts



4.      It is true that cars hardly ever ______ up the first time in the morning when the weather is cold outside.

         (a) start             (b) begun            (c) started              (d) begin



5.      I ______ reading a very long book yesterday, but I have lots of time in order to finish reading it.

         (a) began         (b) start                 (c) started              (d) begin



6.     The teacher would like you to ______ off the debate, since you have experience giving debates.

         (a) start             (b) begin              (c) begins              (d) starts


Answers:  The answer to each question (numbers 1-6 above) is letter (a).


Friday, May 20, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - Start versus Begin (Part I)

START versus BEGIN (Part I)

This is Part I of two parts. The verb “start” will be addressed in Part I of this article. Complete information about the verb “begin” will be included in Part II.

Many of my students have asked me if there really is a difference between the words “start” and “begin”. To give you a quick answer, I would say “yes”, but this answer needs more of an explanation. Even though these two words are considered to be synonyms of each other, there is room for discussion about using them interchangeably in any context. For example, consider the following three questions: (1) Where should we start, or where should we begin? (2) Do we begin at the start, or start at the beginning? and (3) Do you think it’s better to start at the start, begin at the beginning, start at the beginning, or begin at the start?



Maybe your choice for number (1) is not so clear, but if you use your instinct and remember what you have heard before, you probably do have a clear choice for numbers (2) and (3); namely, “start at the beginning”. It’s obvious that the words “start” and “begin” are yet another example of troublesome word pairs in the English language. Here’s another example to consider. Which of the following two statements do you think is correct: “I have started to learn how to play the piano”, or “I have begun to learn how to play the piano”. The fact is that they are both correct, but there is a difference in the character or nature of these two words. The meanings in these two examples are not exactly the same. Let’s find out why.

Both of the verbs “start” and “begin” refer to commencing or introduction of some kind of action. However, “start” generally implies that there is a necessity or urgency to do something, whereas “begin” suggests an unhurried or relaxed act. In other words, “time” is important when you “start” some action, but not so important when you “begin” it. If you need to do something where time is critical, then you need to “start” some action. In contrast, if you are relaxed, and not in a hurry, then time isn’t important in order to “begin” something.

Let’s examine the verb “start” in Part I of this article. If you want to identify an action that is done suddenly or unexpectedly, then use the verb “start”. Time is of the essence here, and implies that the action has a sense of urgency behind it. Read the following examples, and practice answering the questions out loud, in order to have a better understanding of the usage of the verb “start”.

Example: Since it started to snow, we decided to end our visit earlier.
Explanation: The snow suddenly appeared, and we didn’t really expect it to do so during our visit. There is a sense of urgency for us to leave earlier than we had planned. Time is of the essence so that we don’t get stuck in a bad situation with the falling snow.
Practice: Has it ever started to snow on you when you were away from home?

Example: My stomach usually starts to growl just before lunchtime every day at work.
Explanation: My stomach usually tells me at the same critical time every day at work that I’m hungry. When I suddenly realize this, I feel the urge to eat something very soon. I know that lunchtime is coming up, and that it’s necessary for me to have something to eat at my precise lunchtime hour in order to alleviate my hunger pains.
Practice: Does your stomach usually start to growl before any of your meals during the day?

Example: My favorite TV show starts at 9 o´clock every Thursday night.
Explanation: If I suddenly realize that today is the day to watch my favorite TV show, then the timing is important for me to remember so that I don’t miss it. I feel a sense of urgency in order to pay attention to the clock this evening. I might unexpectedly forget to watch my favorite show, if I don’t look at the clock in the evening in order to know when it starts.
Practice: What time does your favorite TV show start at?


Example: The neighbor’s dog always starts barking whenever its owner leaves to work in the morning.
Explanation: The neighbor’s dog suddenly reacts by barking when its owner unexpectedly leaves the house. The timing of this event is crucial to the pet since it depends totally on its master. The dog has an urgent feeling to reunite with its master as soon as possible after he leaves.
Practice: Why do dogs usually start to bark when their owners leave the house?

Example: The house fire started because children were playing with matches.
Explanation: The children’s sudden urge to play with matches caused an accident to happen. Timing was critical in order to put the fire out, but it was too late. The children didn’t expect to start a fire in the house. It just happened.
Practice: How do think that fires usually start in houses?

The verb “start” also has another possible usage. This verb can imply that an action commences at an exact, or precise time. It also conveys the sense that an action originated in the past at a particular point in time, and that it will likely repeat itself again in the present and/or future. For example, “I start work at 9 a.m.” This means that on any particular work day, I am required to arrive at a precise time in the morning, which in this case is 9 a.m. Furthermore, this is the same time that I will arrive to work on any given day from now on, so long as I’m employed at the same place and in the same job. Read the following examples, and practice using this other meaning of the verb “start” in the questions below.

Example: My boss started this morning’s meeting at 10:00 a.m. (an exact time)
Practice: What time do your morning work meetings usually start at?

Example: My sister started to swim when she was just 2 years old. (a particular point in time)
Practice: When did you first start to learn how to ride a bike?

Example: My son started to walk when he was twelve months old. (likely repetition of an action)
Practice: When did your children first start to walk?

In summary, the verb “start” is used to communicate the commencement of an action that is necessary, urgent, timely, sudden, or unexpected. Time is relevant in this case. This concludes the explanation of the usage of the verb “start”, as discussed here in Part I of this article. Part II of this article will explain the usage of the verb “begin”, and identify its difference with the verb “start”.  Practice exercises will be included in the second part of this article, so that you can test your understanding of the difference between the two verbs "start" and "begin".

GO TO (Part II) HERE

Thursday, May 12, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - Relationship versus Relation (Part II)


RELATIONSHIP verus RELATION (Part II)


What is the difference between the words RELATIONSHIP and RELATION?

Please refer to Part I of this article in order to read about the meaning and usage of the word “relationship”. In Part II of this article, the word “relation” will be addressed. The confusion between these words is not always clear to most people; therefore, please study both of these articles (Parts I and II) in order to better understand them. The problem stems from the fact that the alternate expressions for these two words sometimes overlap and are somewhat similar to each other; however, the context or usage of these two words is a little bit different.

Let’s continue with the word “relation”. Similar to the word “relationship”, the word “relation” also has five different possible usages. Alternate words and expressions for the word “relation” include the following: (1) an abstraction belonging to two things or people which can include interdependence, a connection, a link, or a comparison; (2) an act of human reproduction; (3) a person who is related to someone by blood or marriage, (4) the act of telling a story to someone, and (5) the word “relations” (not “relation”) also refers to business dealings, but it is used only in the plural form.

Firstly, the word “relation” can be used in four different ways in order to demonstrate that a certain notion belongs to two different entities or parts. For example, there can be (a) an interdependence between them, (b) a connection, (c) a link, or (d) a comparison between the two things or people.

(a) Example: There might be a relation (an interdependence) between seal and polar bear populations.
(a) Practice: Do you think that there is a relation (an interdependence) between “cause” and “effect”?

(b) Example: The relation (connection) of an owner to his pet is that the owner decides what the pet eats.
(b) Practice: What is a possible relation (connection) of a renter to his apartment?

(c) Example: Children’s growth depends on the relation (link) of their physical and mental development.
(c) Practice: Do you think that there is a relation (link) between a married couple’s happiness and success?

(d) Example: Alien life has no relation (comparison) to human life on Earth.
(d) Practice: Is there any relation (comparison) of a person’s earnings to his/her salary?

Second of all, if reference is made to a sexual act of intercourse between two people, then a “relation” is being talked about. It also refers to sexual procreation between a man and a woman.

Example: The couple is having a relation every week because they want to have a child soon.
Practice: Do you think that it is common for young people to have a sexual relation in a car?

Thirdly, whenever you talk about one of your relatives, you are referring to a “relation” of yours. This relation of yours can be a blood relative, or someone related to you by marriage.

Example: The children call this man their uncle, but he really isn’t a relation (relative) of theirs.
Practice: Do you have a distant relation (relative) who lives in a foreign country?

Fourth of all, when someone tells a story about something, s/he is giving a “relation”, or an account of the events that occurred.

Example: The witness’s relation (story) about the accident helped to identify the guilty party.
Practice: Do bosses always believe the relation (story) that an employee tells him/her when the employee says that s/he is sick, and can’t come to work?

And finally, if you use the word relation in its plural form (relations), then you can refer to communications and interactions between two different entities.

Example: The European Union wants its relations (communications) with all of its member countries to be favorable.
Practice: Does the company that you work with have good relations (communications) with its employees?

In summary, if you are talking about a “relation” that belongs to two different things or people, then you are identifying interdependence, a connection, a link, or a comparison between them. A “relation” also makes reference to the act of sexual intercourse, a relative, or the telling of a story. Don’t forget that “relations” (not “relation”) is also used in order to refer to the dealings and communications between different parties, especially that of businesses.

Both of the words “relationship” and “relation” have now been discussed. Review the different usages of the word “relationship” (See the first article, Part I), and re-examine the different meanings here in Part II of this article in order to compare the usages of the words “relationship” and “relation”. Hopefully, now you better understand why these two words are often confused, and you can distinguish how to use them correctly.

 PRACTICE EXERCISE

Now practice filling in each blank below with the correct answer using one of the following words – relationship, relation, or relations. The answers to all of the items below can be found within the text of both articles written in Parts I and II about this subject.

Item 1: The _______ between a mother and her child is very important for the child’s development.
Item 2: The children call this man their uncle, but he really isn’t a _______ of theirs.
Item 3: There might be a _______ between seal and polar bear populations.
Item 4: The couple is having a _______ every week because they want to have a child soon.
Item 5: The man didn’t want his wife to know that he was having a _______ with another woman.
Item 6: Contracts are often used to demonstrate that two companies want to form a legal business _______.
Item 7: The witness’s _______ about the accident helped to identify the guilty party.
Item 8: Children’s growth depends on the _______ of their physical and mental development.
Item 9: The _______ of an owner to his pet is that the owner decides what the pet eats.
Item 10: The _______ that these two children have together is that of brother and sister.
Item 11: The _______ between money and power is evident in today’s society.
Item 12: Alien life has no _______ to human life on Earth.
Item 13: I have a very good _______ with all of my colleagues at work.
Item 14: The European Union wants its _______ with all of its member countries to be favorable.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

EwR Recommendation - List of News Articles on the Subject of the English Language

Interesting Articles to Read
About the English Language

Here is a list of interesting articles about the English Language that you might want to take a look at.  Some of them are written in English, and others in Spanish.  They are of special interest to anyone who is studying English as a second language.  The aricles in Spanish are of particular interest to readers residing in Spain.

Happy reading in English!

Human Brain Works Heavy Statistics in Learning Language

The Importance of the English Language in Today's World  

Which countries study which languages, and what can we learn from it?

Here's why it's so easy for a baby's brain to learn two languages at once

The differences between English and Spanish 

Spain voted top Erasmus destination - and here's why

Speakers of two dialects may share cognitive advantage with speakers of two languages

Bilingualism and the brain: How language shapes our ability to process information


Five biggest challenges of learning English 

Cognitive benefit of lifelong bilingualism

Speaking two languages benefits the aging brain

Bilingual baby brains show increased activity in executive function regions

Happy reading in Spanish!

¿Por qué nos cuesta (a los españoles) tanto hablar inglés?

El 63% de los españoles no sabe inglés

Crean un mapa del mundo según el idioma que más se estudia

Que nuestros hijos sepan inglés. ¿la obsesión de los padres recientes españoles?

El nivel de inglés de los españoles empeoró en 2015

España suspende en inglés: por su nivel ocupa el puesto 17 de 24 en el conjunto de Europa

¿Aprueban en idiomas los directivos españoles?

A los 11 meses los bebés aprenden los idiomas que oyen

Menos de la mitad de los estudiantes españoles aprenden dos o más lenguas


Message from Raymond:

"If you find another different article that is not included here,
please feel free to send me a URL link of your article on the Internet,
and I will be happy to include it here in this list. Thanks!"

Thursday, May 5, 2016

EwR Recommendation - List of URL Links on Internet for English Language Practice

Raymond "highly" recommends
the following URL Links
in order to practice the English language.
 


Raymond's Message to Readers:

"Is there a topic missing
that you would like to have included here?

Don't hesitate to write me a comment below,
and I will be happy to include other topics."

Monday, May 2, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - Relationship versus Relation (Part I)

RELATIONSHIP versus RELATION (Part I)


What is the difference between the words RELATIONSHIP and RELATION?

These two words are often confusing, not only for second language learners, but also for native speakers, as well. The meaning of the word “relationship” is addressed in this article for today; and next week you will learn about the word “relation” in another separate article. After reading these two articles, you will understand why these words are often confusing.

Let’s start with the word “relationship”. This word has five different possible usages. Alternate words and expressions for the word “relationship” include the following: (1) family ties; (2) romantic or sexual affair; (3) mutual business dealings; (4) human relatedness; and (5) the connecting link between two people (which is not necessarily that of kindship or of a blood relative), things or concepts.

First of all, a relationship can refer to a human kindship among people who are family members (e.g., a relative).

Example: The relationship between a mother and her child is very important for the child’s development.
Practice: What is your relationship like with your brothers and sisters right now?

Secondly, if you are talking about a romance, or an emotional or sexual connection between two people, this is also known as a relationship.

Example: The man didn’t want his wife to know that he was having a relationship with another woman.
Practice: Do you think that more men or more women in your society have extramarital relationships?

Third of all, the word “relationship” is also used when you talk about mutual business dealings between two different people, companies or countries.

Example: Contracts are often used to demonstrate that two companies want to form a legal business relationship.
Practice: Does the company that you work for have a relationship with any foreign companies?

Fourthly, the connection between people that is based on blood, marriage or adoption, also refers to a relationship.

Example: The relationship that these two children have together is that of brother and sister.
Practice: Is the relationship that you have with your brothers and sisters a natural one, or were you adopted?

And lastly, the usage of the word “relationship” is also associated with the linking or connectedness among things or ideas, or even people who are not related to you, such as friends, acquaintances or strangers.

Example: The relationship between money and power is evident in today’s society.
Practice: Do you think there is a relationship between wealth and fiscal paradises?

Example: I have a very good relationship with all of my colleagues at work.
Practice: Do you think that it is important to avoid a relationship with someone who is always negative?

In conclusion, if you are speaking about a “relationship”, then you are making a human connection to a blood relative, or some other person in which you have some kind of personal or professional connection; for example, a sexual partner, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, or a business associate. However, you can also refer to a relationship among things, concepts or ideas which are not human connections.

Think about the different usages of the word “relationship” as mentioned above.  Study the examples and practice questions above in order to better understand the different meanings of what a "relationship" includes.

Then read the next article which will address the word “relation”.  Are these two words similar, different, or is there a correspondence between these two words?