Mr or Mr. ? — October 25, 2017

Mr or Mr. ?

Should we write ‘Mr’ or ‘Mr.’ when addressing a letter to a male recipient? The issue is not so intricate. It’s got to do with contractions and abbreviations.

Contractions and abbreviations are both widely used in English. Yet they are different.
English students are most familiar with negative verb forms, such as aren’t and isn’t. These are the contracted forms of ‘are not’ and ‘is not’.

Abbreviations instead are used when we report only the first syllable of a long word. For instance, when writing dates: 5 Oct. 2017. Another good example is the word approx. which stands for “approximately”.

So, when you write the first and the last letter of any word, that is considered a contraction and must not be followed by a dot. Whereas when writing an abbreviation, you have to put it.

In conclusion, Mr is correct, and Mr. is not.

Perhaps the subject is a bit trite, but as English actor Michael Caine says ‘Not a lot of people know about it’.


Express, Don’t Impress — October 16, 2017

Express, Don’t Impress

Here’s hopefully a useful piece of advice when taking part in the speaking section of the IELTS exam.

A common mistake is that of trying to impress the examiner with some tortuous and very difficult to follow line of thought when answering a very simple question. For example, the examiner could ask you why you think people today prefer online newspapers to traditional ones. Avoid coming up with some convoluted explanation. Rather, express yourself clearly. You could think of one or two main points and then explain them as simply as possible.

Remember the KISS principle : KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE!


How to get the most out of your English lesson — October 9, 2017

How to get the most out of your English lesson

Learning a new language isn’t easy. It’s not only about learning new words and how they are put together according to predefined grammar rules. It’s mostly about understanding how ideas are built and that takes time and effort. To help you achieve this goal a good English Language school and a prepared teacher are necessary but not sufficient. What is necessary is you. You need to take responsibility for your learning development.

Admittedly, after a heavy day at school or office you’re not in the best shape to attend an English lesson. Yet, there are some useful steps you can take before:

For example, briefly review the content of the previous lesson. Review any unclear grammar area or new words learnt. Ask your teacher for any needed clarification. Remember, you have a right to expect your teacher to assist you but you cannot expect the teacher to learn the language for you. And please bring your course book and notebook to class; it serves no good leaving them at home.

These suggestions are not too difficult for you to follow. Rather they are reasonable goals that you can easily reach.


Neither fish nor fowl — October 2, 2017

Neither fish nor fowl

I find it difficult to understand your proposal. As a matter of fact it’s neither fish nor fowl.

What do you think this idiomatic expression means “to be neither fish nor fowl” ? It basically refers to someone or something that can’t be easily classified or identified with any definite group.