Present continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used for something happening at this very moment.
Question: What are you doing now?
Answer: I am reading Aaron Teaches.
Question: What is Chet doing?
Answer 1: Chet is waiting for a lull in the traffic.
Answer 2: Chet is positioning himself inside his hula hoop.
Answer 3: Chet is spinning around inside his hula hoop.
These six sentences use the present continuous tense.
(1) I am watching Chet.
(2) You are looking at Chet.
(3) She is wondering how Chet learned to spin inside a hula hoop.
(4) We are thinking about asking Chet how he learned to spin like that.
(5) You are giving Chet a dollar.
(6) They are taking photos of Chet.
Notice when you read this: I am watching Chet.
You hear this: I’m wacheenChet.
Notice when you read this: They are taking photos of Chet.
You hear this: There takeen fotozof Chet.
I am linking words. Suppose you repeat these two sentences:
1. I am watching Chet.
2. They are taking photos of Chet.
Next record your pronunciation and compare your pronunciation with mine. If your pronunciation is the same or almost the same as mine, congratulations. If your pronunciation is not the same, keep trying. If you need help, let us know. We are here to help.
Cranes and other kinds of equipment
This huge crane is at a building site in San Francisco. You may think of cranes as modern pieces of equipment, but they are not. The Greeks invented cranes more than twenty-five hundred years ago.
Huge: big, large
Site: a place, a location
Invented: created, developed
One of the most common mistakes we see is equipment. What is the plural of equipment? Equipment has no plural form.
If you are talking about one crane, you would say this: We need one crane. We need one piece of equipment for the job.
If you are talking about two cranes, you would say this: We need two cranes. We need two pieces of equipment for the job.
Many of us have a sweet tooth. If sweet tooth is a new idiomatic expression, suppose I explain. If you have a sweet tooth, that means you like sweet foods: cheesecake, apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, brownies with walnuts, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate mousse.
This is Katie. She makes sandwiches, salads and desserts under the dome. When Katie first started working here she thought, “Wow. I have a sweet tooth. This is the perfect environment for me. I can snack on all the brownies and chocolate mousse I want.” That was six months ago. Katie ate so many sweets that her sweet tooth disappeared. These days she prefers an apple or a stick of celery.
This is an antique car, a woodie, at the National Park Service in San Francisco. The back of the car is made of wood, hence the nickname woodie. If you are wearing a sweatshirt with a hood, you are wearing a hoodie. If you want something sweet to eat, you want a goodie. Well, you probably want more than one goodie. You want goodies.
An antique is generally valuable because it is old. I have antique jewelry from my mother, aunt and grandmother and antique furniture from my grandmother. Now think about what you have that is old. Do you have antique jewelry, trinkets or furniture? If you do, do you value these antiques because they are old or because someone in your family gave them to you?
A metaphor is a literary device expressing the idea that something is like something else. If you like to use formulas, you could say this: A is B. Metaphors of war are commonly used against illness and disease. People battle the flu; they fight cancer; they take magic bullets to conquer malaria.
Literary: refers to literature
Device: a thing or an idea used for a specific task
Formula: a rule expressed in symbols
Bullets: metal balls that are fired from a gun
Conquer: defeat, beat
Malaria: a serious illness that mosquitos carry
Words and phrases you just heard
I’m brain dead
She is not a rock
Strong and dependable
This is a miniature town. You can see houses in the background. The houses are painted in a variety of colors: yellow, turquoise, purple, green, blue and gold. You can see train tracks in the foreground and in the middle. You can see the game house on the left side, which is the building with the chessboard rooftop.
Miniature: small, tiny
Background: the area in the back, a compound word
Variety: different ones
Tracks: the train path
Foreground: the area in the front, a compound word
Words and phrases that you just heard
Suppose we talk about
A compound word
Chessboard and rooftop
We are camera creatures. We carry our mini cameras to the park, to work, to school, to restaurants. Everywhere we go we bring our mini cameras. We photograph what we see. Louise is from Montreal. She is in San Francisco for a week. She has photographed the seals and birds at Ocean Beach, flowers and bikers in Golden Gate Park, and tourists and shoppers in Chinatown.
Creatures: living things
Montreal: a large city in Canada
Seals: large fish-eating marine mammals
Bikers: people who ride bikes
Note: A biker can refer to a bicyclist or a motorcyclist. Here, biker refers to bicyclist. You need to know the context to understand what bikers refers to.
Words and phrases that you just heard
The mini camera
About the business
How to study vocabulary
Audio recorded at Step Two
Vocabulary is important.
You need to learn more and more vocabulary, so you can understand when you listen, read, speak, and write.
There is nothing wrong with memorizing lists of vocabulary words.
However, memorizing lists of words is not productive if you memorize the wrong lists or if you do not listen and read.
Memorizing words is almost useless if you do not later read or hear these same words again.
We recommend that you be sure you have the right book to memorize words from. These words should be lists of high frequency words, the words you will hear most often and see most often.
Other ways to select words are to keep a notebook and write down new words. You may be better off writing down words that you hear often. You probably don’t want to put more than 10 new words in your notebook a day. If you are a beginning or intermediate student, you should focus on frequent words, not words that you hear occasionally.
What else can you do to learn vocabulary words besides memorize lists of words?
We suggest the following:
1. Study the words in NHK textbooks. We recommend them. The textbooks are reasonably priced and cover the basics.
2. If you hear or see words over and over again, look them up in the dictionary.
3. For advanced listening, listen to the news in English without subtitles. Write down new words you do not know. If you have trouble finding the words because you cannot spell them, make a note of what you think the spelling is. Set the unknown words aside. You may hear them again.
4. Set time aside each and every day to study vocabulary.
Live in, live on, and live off
I have a friend who lives in San Francisco, a friend who lives on an island, and a friend who lives on a boat. I had a friend who lived on coffee and beer too. I haven’t seen him for many years. I hope he is doing okay, but too much coffee and too much beer are not a winning combination.
I am writing this now, responding to a virtual friend who asked about live always taking the preposition in.
I remember when I was in elementary school, or perhaps middle school, and my English teacher told me that every rule has an exception or two or three or more. Actually, she only said that every rule has an exception, but many rules have more than one exception!
Live always taking the preposition in is one such rule. It is true that we usually live in a place, but we live on boats and islands.
What about living off coffee and beer? Imagine what that would do to your insides… (Yes, you can live off coffee and beer or you can live on coffee and beer.) That does not mean that you live on top of them. It means that they are what keep you going.
If you really love coffee, you could also live for coffee. That means that coffee is your reason for living! People do say that. They may not really mean it, but they do say it! Starbucks hopes they mean it…
So, I live in San Francisco means that I live there.
I live off San Francisco would mean that the city supports me, perhaps with money. This is not a very pleasant implication though. It sounds rather dishonest. Maybe I steal from tourists for my living?
I live on San Francisco might mean that San Francisco gives me my energy and keeps me going.
I live for San Francisco means that it is what I truly want and desire.
Please understand, in closing, that these examples are not perfect. They do not have context. Language needs context. They could mean as stated above, but in another context they could mean something different.
Here are some more examples:
I live in California.
My friend lives on a boat.
Farmers used to live off the land.
When we are university students, we live off our parents.
Sometimes we live in apartments or dormitories.
I lived in the countryside for two months.
When I lived in the countryside, I lived for swimming.
In the winter, I lived in the mountains. Then, I lived for snowboarding.
Now, it’s time to stop and have a cup of tea. After all, I live off tea.
Phone booths are rarely seen these days. This particular phone booth is in the middle of a campsite in Santa Cruz County, which is approximately an hour and a half drive from San Francisco. Before the advent of cellphones, phone booths dotted San Francisco and most every other city and town. Now they are a rarity.
Particular: specific, a certain one
Campsite: a place to sleep in your tent
Santa Cruz: both the name of a city and the name of a county
County: a district. California has 58 counties.
Approximately: about, roughly
Advent: in this context, invention or creation
Dotted: sprinkled or located here and there
Rarity: adjective form of rare
Words and phrases you just heard
Changes in daily life
Email, Skype, text or call
Two hundred years ago
Letters may take three weeks
Not hear from anyone