Thanksgiving is a very American holiday. It is also called Thanksgiving Day. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year. It used to be a religious holiday to give thanks to God. There are two versions of the origins of this holiday. One is thanks for the early settlers arriving in America safely. On December the 4th, 1619, a group of English pioneers arrived at a place called Berkeley Hundred, in Virginia. The group made a promise that the day of their arrival should be a “day of thanksgiving” to God. The second version is the thanks given to Native Americans for teaching the pilgrims how to catch eels and grow corn in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1941, President Roosevelt made Thanksgiving a federal holiday.

The main event of any Thanksgiving is the Thanksgiving dinner. It is traditional to have baked or roasted turkey. This is usually accompanied with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fall vegetables, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Pumpkin pie is the most commonly eaten dessert. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for traveling. It is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation for most schools and colleges, and many businesses and government workers get three or four days off. Thanksgiving is also the unofficial signal for Christmas preparations to begin. Once Thanksgiving finishes, stores fill their shelves with Christmas goods. It is also a bad time to be a turkey.

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What are Pronouns?

Pronouns are words which replace a noun: I, me, she, we, they, who, that, yours, his, her,etc.
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Pronouns should only be used if the name of the person (or group of people), place (or places), or thing (or things) has been previously mentioned in the paragraph. If it’s not clear which thing the pronoun is modifying, the reader can get quite confused.
Uses of Pronouns
We use pronouns so we don’t have to repeat the noun; it makes it sound a little better when we’re talking about one subject for several sentences.
  • When Michael first started Michael’s new job, Michael was a little apprehensive. After all, Michael had just finished Michael’s post-secondary education, and Michael suddenly felt Michael hadn’t learned anything about the real world.
  • When Michael first started his new job, he was a little apprehensive. After all, he had just finished his post-secondary education, and he suddenly felt he hadn’t learned anything about the real world.
You can see how the use of pronouns makes the paragraph sound less repetitive. Notice, though, that Michael’s name has to be mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph; otherwise, we wouldn’t know which man was being discussed.
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Pronouns can be subjects or objects, or show possession.
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Pronouns can also be used to name something unknown or unspecified: someone, something, anyone, anything, etc.
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Someone is up to something here; I just know it.
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Get moving into MODALS

Some of my students have a particularly hard time understanding modal verbs. Since I teach a lot of Italians I have become familiar with some language work for Italian students of English, specifically that of John Peter Sloan. However, he explains his ‘methods’ in Italian, obviously! So for the purpose of all other students, who don’t speak Italian, here is the translation. It’s not my idea, it’s his. I want to make that clear, but it’s a very good idea indeed and works wonders for making modals easier to understand and use.

The idea is that you think of modal verbs with percentages that show to what degree the action is likely, possible or probable. Then you simply use the relevant modal according to the result.

For example:

could                    35%
may / might        50%
have to                 75%
must                     90%

should = the only exception, no percentage here as it is a matter of advice… think of someone with a wagging finger, tutting at you when you use this… ‘You SHOULD stop smoking!’

So… the process:

  1. Choose your subject pronoun
  2. Choose your verb, always in the infinitive (without ‘to’) after a modal verb.
  3. Choose the possibility factor and insert the appropriate modal between the subject pronoun and the verb.
I COULD go to the party (35% possibility factor… probably won’t go as I can’t borrow the car that night!)
I MAY go to the party (50% possibility factor… probably depends on whether their best friend goes too!)
I HAVE TO go to the party (75% possibility factor… as it’s my parents’ anniversary!)
I MUST go to the party (90% possibility factor… because it has been organised especially for me to celebrate my 40th birthday!)
I SHOULD go the party (because my girlfriend will be upset if I don’t!)

Try it… it works!

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Contact Rachel today >

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Good / Well

Good” and “well” are often misused. “Good” is an adjective (and a noun in some cases); “well” is used as an adverb unless used as an adjective meaning “healthy“. If we need a word to describe noun or pronoun we use “good“. If we need a word to describe verb (or sometimes adjective or other adverb) we use “well“. For example:Kate is a good piano player. (correct)
Kate is a well piano player. (incorrect!)Kate plays the piano well. (correct)
Kate plays the piano good. (incorrect!)

Brian speaks good English, but he doesn’t speak Spanish very well. (correct)
Brian speaks well English, but he doesn’t speak Spanish very good. (incorrect)

My brother did well on the English test. (correct)
My brother did good on the English test. (incorrect!)

Do you think I’m doing well at school? (correct)
Do you think I’m doing good at school? (incorrect!)

After linking verbs such as betastesoundsmelllookseemappear we use the adjective “good” as we are describing the subject of the sentence, not the action of the verb:

The concert last night wasn’t very good.
If the food tastes good, children will eat it.
Your idea sounds good and if it works would be great.
It always smells good after the rain.
The house looks good outside.

After the linking verbs “be“, “feel“, “look” we can also use “well” as an adjective meaning “healthy“:

am well. / I feel well. / I’m feeling well. (refers to physical state, health)
am good. / I feel good. / I’m feeling good. (refers rather to emotional than physical state)
Jane didn’t look well last night. (well = refers to heath)
The new dress looks really good on you. (good = refers to appearance)

Note: In the USA (conversational English) you can hear a lot of people answer “I’m good.” in response to “How are you?” and it is very popular among young generation.

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For / To 

Don’t say: “I’m studying every day for improve my English.” 
Say: “I’m studying every day to improve my English.” 
The words to and for are very easy to confuse! Here are some rules: 
Use to in these cases: 
1. Destination (We’re going to Paris.
2. What time it is (It’s a quarter to 2.
3. Distance (It’s about ten miles from my house to the university.) 
4. Comparing (I prefer sleeping to working.
5. Giving (I gave the book to my sister.
6. Motive/Reason – with verb (I came here to see you.) 
Use for in these cases:
1. Benefits (Yogurt is good for your digestion.) 
2. Period of time (We’ve lived here for 2 years.) 
3. Schedule (I made an appointment for May 3.
4. Agree with (Are you for or against the development of nuclear weapons?
5. Doing something to help someone (Could you carry these books for me?
6. Motive/Reason – with noun (Let’s go out for a drink.
As you can see in #6, to or for can be used for a motive/reason, but to is always with a verb, and for is always with a noun. Here’s a good example: 
I came to New York to work. 
I came to New York for a new job. 
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Welcome to our extensive list of American English idiomatic expressions! These kinds of phrases are used by native speakers all the time. Learn and use some of these idioms and you will be able to speak English in a more natural way. 🙂
  • About time:  Nearly time, high time. ex. “It’s about time you bought a new car!”
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder:  Proverb that means that our feeling for those we love increases when we are apart from them.

  •  (To) act high and mighty:  To act proudly and arrogantly. ex. “He has been acting all high and mighty ever since he chased away that mouse.”


  • Actions speak louder than words: Proverb meaning that’s it’s better to do something about a problem than to talk about it.ACTIONSLOUDER2ACTIONSLOUDER


  • (To) act one’s age: To behave in a more mature way. Frequently said to a child or teen. ex. “Bill, stop throwing rocks! Act your age!”



  • (To) add fuel to the fire:  To make a bad problem even worse. ex. “He added fuel to the fire by bringing up old grudges while they were arguing.”




  •  (To) add insult to injury: To make a bad situation even worse.




  • Against the clock: To attempt to do something “against the clock” is to attempt to do something as fast as possible, usually in order to make a deadline. ex. “They were working against the clock to finish the project.”

  • All out (adj./adv.): Full-scale; complete. ex: “They said it was only a few skirmishes, but it was an all-out war.”

  •  All set:  Ready (to go). ex. “All set?”

  • All thumbs:  Awkward. Clumsy.

  • A little bird told me: When someone says “a little bird told me”, it means they don’t want you to know who told them.

  • All in a day’s work: Typical; normal; par for the course. ex. “Talking to famous celebrities is all in a day’s work for some Hollywood reporters.”

  • (From) all walks of life: (From) all social, economic, and ethnic groups. ex. “People from all walks of life voted for him, but he still lost the presidential election.”

  •  Apple of someone’s eye:  Someone’s favorite person (and sometimes thing). ex. “Sarah was the apple of Tom’s eye for quite a long time. He was very much in love with her.”



  • Armed to the teeth: Heavily armed. ex. “The rebels were armed to the teeth.”

  •  At all hours (of the night): Very late at night, throughout the night. ex. “Her boyfriend would call her at all hours of the night.”

  • At each other’s throats: Fighting or arguing hard. ex. “They were at each other’s throats. The arguments never stopped.”  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were at each other’s throats as George and Martha.

  •  At this stage: At this point. ex. “At this stage, it’s difficult to say who will win the election.”

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Today I want to ask you a question about how you are studying to improve your English:  Many students believe they are too busy to spend any time studying or learning new words or skills outside of class time.  The question that needs answering is, “Are you being productive, or are you just being busy?” There’s a huge difference between the two!

I want you to imagine busy as being like an octopus with roller-skates. You have eight legs, all of them trying to go in a different direction, but nothing is going anywhere. But productivity looks like a tiger on a mission to catch its prey, just going forward and allowing nothing to distract it from its goal. So one of the key things about being productive is, ‘are you distracted,’ and if so, what is it that you need to stop doing of what you’re doing?

One of the main things that totally distracts most people and wastes too much time, is checking email, or even checking social media first thing in the morning. Now, if that’s your job, like if you’re in customer service, or you’re in social media, that’s something different. But if you’re in bed and you reach over to grab your phone, the first thing you do is check email and check social media, you’re in total reactionary mode. Your mind is being distracted without reason by whatever else is out there.

So what you need to do is get control of your life. What you do is, don’t go look at your phone first. First, be grateful that you’re alive. Meditate or just think about what you are going to do this day, before you get out of bed, and then consciously direct your mind on what you’re going to do. One of the things that have helped me is, I put a plan together of what I’m going to do the night before, for the next day.

I usually plan out just the daily things, maybe one or two days out, maybe a week out.  Just as important as planning your daily activities, you’ve got to prioritize them  as well. Did you know that productive people actually end up having more time, more free time and more time to spend with their loved ones. But if you’re just always being busy, and use it as an excuse and somehow that feeds your ego some way, that’s only going to work for so long. Eventually you’re going to come face to face with yourself and you won’t be happy with the outcome!

If you want to be that high-performer, if you want to be that successful person, if you want to have that higher life design, you really have to determine the difference between busyness and productivity. Also consciously directing your mind of, what am I going to be doing today?  Who am I going to be if I don’t improve my English today?

Once again, think about it. Do you want to be productive, or do you just want to be busy? I assume you want to be productive.   So, in your daily plan, give yourself some time to concentrate on learning something new in English.  Write down the time in your calendar book, just like you have written the time we have a lesson. Maybe you only have 15 minutes in the morning, but still you can do something productive in 15 minutes.  Maybe it will be to read 5 new words and revise them?  Then maybe you have 30 minutes in the evening.  Instead of turning on the television, open up a book. Read an English book…any book that you want to read just for pleasure.  Read that book everyday, even if it is only one or two pages!  Soon, you will see how much of that book you have read.  I always have a book in the bathroom.  I do exactly that; I read one or two pages a day.  It is surprising how much you can read during this time!

If you want to learn English, you must spend some time practicing and reading and studying outside of class.  There is no reason why you should not be able to find some time for this.  You are not too busy; you are just not managing your time in a productive way.  So, slowly and methodically, is often the way to be more productive and reach your goals.  Now, make a plan…

You can learn better English and you can be more productive.


Words ending in –ance and –ence

These two endings are both used to make nouns from verbs (e.g. performance from perform) or nouns from adjectives (e.g. intelligence from intelligent).

In general, you’ll need to remember how to spell these words (or else check their spelling in a dictionary). Here are some tips to help you remember:

Words ending in -ance

  • If the word is formed from a verb that ends in -y, -ure, or -ear, then the ending will be spelled -ance. For example: alliance (from ally), endurance (from endure), or appearance (from appear)
  • If the main part of the word (i.e. the bit before the ending) ends in a ‘hard’ c (pronounced like the c in cab) or a ‘hard’ g (pronounced like the g in game), then the ending will be spelled -ance. For example: elegance or significance.
  • If the noun is related to a verb ending in -ate, then the ending is likely to be -ance, e.g.tolerance (from tolerate)

Here are some common nouns ending in -ance:

clearance; guidance; acceptance; relevance; ignorance; importance; resemblance; instance; allowance; insurance; distance; substance; maintenance; appliance; disturbance; assistance; nuisance; balance; fragrance; circumstance; grievance; dominance; attendance.

Words ending in -ence

  • If the word is formed from a verb ending in -ere, then the ending will be spelled -ence. For example: reverence (from revere), adherence (from adhere), or coherence (from cohere).

Note that the word perseverance is an exception to this rule!

  • If the main part of the word ends in a soft c (pronounced like the c in cell) or a soft g(pronounced like the g in gin), then the ending will be -ence. For example: adolescence oremergence.

Note that the word vengeance is an exception to this rule!

Here are some common nouns ending in -ence:

consequence; absence; convenience; preference; influence; presence; innocence; difference; recurrence; audience; reference; essence; evidence; affluence; insistence;  sentence; coincidence; sequence; existence; silence; conference; experience; patience; confidence.

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