At the end of the previous blog, there were some everyday collocations that moved away from the basic verb + phrase format (e.g. take a break / make sure / get away with murder).
To help them sink in (make you remember), here a chance for you to practise using them.
Rewrite the following business email to your senior manager in France, using the following collocations for the bold sections:
Adequate supplies to meet demand
Cause insurmountable difficulties
Major turning point
Set realistic aims
Dear M Delarue
I have some good news from the HCM office which I think represents a change in the company and how we do things and what we can expect to do in the future.
We have stopped using the old business model because when we tried, it made many, many problems that we were unable to solve, no matter how hard we tried. Now we are seeing real and tangible progress.
Our main concern now is to make sure we have enough products to fill all the orders for all of our customers. We need to plan ahead; as Marketing Director, I am on the look out for new markets to break into.
Two areas spring to mind:China and India. It is our intention that we become market-leader in those territories but we must not wish for too much too soon as there are many factors that stand in our way, such as infrastructure and logistics.
Finally, could you please send us the newest, latest copy of the company handbook, as our one in five years old and is out of date and does not have the latest facts and figures.
Rewrite the following texts using new vocabulary, phrasal verbs or idioms, where appropriate. Feel free to change verbs into continuous. Correct the mistakes and use better syntax (sentence structure).
Use clauses to combine sentences about the same subject.
Use ‘however’, ‘having said that’ etc in place of ‘but’.
Incorporate any new language style you have learnt on the course e.g. negotiation language, polite language, and see if you can use alliteration (words beginning with the same letter).
Warm up: Here’s a short exercise. Try to rewrite using as few sentences as possible, which will entail employing complex sentences, linked by discourse markers. An example answer follows.
My friend will come to visit me. In HCM. I will show him city. In my city is many things to show him. Him like market. I show him market. And restaurants. And museums. Many museum in HCM. I hope he will likes.
My friend will soon pay me a visit here in Ho Chi Minh City and there is such an abundance of things to see and do, for example my friends enjoys markets therefore I shall take him to several, followed by some great local food in one of the countless restaurants. Additionally, he adores museums and we are spoilt for choice here with many fascinating exhibitions.
Now … your turn.
Firstly, this is one large chunk of text, no paragraph breaks, so organise the writing.
Avoid repeating the same word or words. Use a thesaurus to search for synonyms.
I’ve started you off with two example sentences however, the rest is up to you.
My name is Tony. I am 23 years old. I am a accountant. I very much don’t like my job. It is not exciting. Because I do the same thing every day. All day. I like travel. I like Thailand. I very want to go there. At there I can eat food spicy. I like football. I don’t like baseball. Sometimes I watch on TV football. I like very much listen music. I play piano. I play recorder. My friend asked me to be in his band but his music I don’t like. He is my friend. His music is horrible. He is very bad guitar man. I live in HCM. I don’t like sometime. Now it rain every day, very heavy. We have to live with bad rain. Every day. The traffic is bad. Much motorbikes. Air very not good. I like to shopping. I buy shirt. I have many shirt but I buy more shirt because I like shirt, I have red blue green yellow shirt and black. Today I gets email. Email is from friend. I have not see friend for long time. I was surprise.
My name is Tony and I am 23 years old. By profession, I’m a accountant. However,I don’t like my job very much . I do the same thing everyday so It is not that exciting.
I like travelling and I really want to visit Thailand where I can eat spicy food as well as seeing golden temples.
Who knows … maybe if you keep writing, you will become a Noble laureate like our writers
This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.
This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.
One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.
To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.
(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)
Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK
Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.
The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.
Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.
For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.
Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:
I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.
Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.
I wanted her to elaborate:
I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure.Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.
That was a great introduction, please continue:
I have mixed feelings
I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:
I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.
Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.
I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.
NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.
(make of = think about).
How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?
Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.
A short introduction
First point with reasons to support your view.
A contrary (opposite) view.
For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?
I agree totally / I agree to an extent // I disagree // I disagree strongly
She makes a good point // She misses the point
She is spot on // She is way off // In my experience …
wierd = unusual / strange
Now, your turn. Do you agree with these statements:
Learning English is so important if you want a good job.
People who drink and drive should go to prison.
An African football team will win the World Cup before 2040.
Nobody should have to work more than 25 hours a week.
Men and women should earn the same money for doing the same job.
New Vocabulary / expressions
looking up = getting better (things are looking up).
Since we got a new manager, things are looking up.
Match the basic words on the left with words on the right, then complete the sentences with the right-hand words:
interesting // intelligent
on time // fascinating
forgetful // miserable
tired // punctual
smart (clever) // exhausted
unhappy // absent-minded
John forgot his keys again; he’s so _________
The documentary about ocean life was __________
Tony has been very ____________ since his girlfriend left him.
It would be incredible if Vietnamese students could be __________
ubiquitous = everywhere. In Viet Nam, coffee shops are ubiquitous.
incessant = never ending. The karaoke noise is incessant.
rewarding = doing something that makes you feel better about yourself. Nursing doesn’t pay much but it is tremendously rewarding.
Use these new adjectives with some of these nouns:
coffee shops / motorbikes / Vietjet / construction work / German trains
charity work / AI (artificial intelligence) / swimming / British weather
Meaning, pronunciation, structure
What is happening here?
I am thinking about a holiday.
Meaning: Am I having a holiday ? Where will I go ? Is it certain ? Alone / with friends ?
Pronunciation: In speech, we would contract “I am” to I’m and link “abouta“
Structure: What tense is being used … why ? Will it happen ?
Try these: Make as many questions / possibilities as possible
He’s having his car repaired
She having a dress made
He looked at a new apartment
My cousin will be applying for universities
I’m not sure about taking the new job.
stories that maybe aren’t true but people believe them
[urban = city // rural = countryside // haunted = a place with ghosts ]
Ten scary Vietnamese urban legends:
Project: Do you know any of these tales / legends ?
Do you know any other Vietnamese legends ?
Have you even been to the places in HCM City ?
Painting by Ferdinand keller ‘Scheherazade und Sultan Schariar’ (1880).
The main frame story concerns Shahryār ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to learn that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed.
In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him.
Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees.
On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution once again. This goes on for 1,001 nights.
This is quite a long introduction; how could you reduce it to three sentences ?
Mark At last ! Can’t you be punctual just once in your life !
Craig I’m here now, aren’t I ? You look so miserable, why are you fed up ?
Mark I need some coffee. Where can we get some ?
Craig Anywhere, coffee shops are ubiquitious here. What the hell ?
Mark What’s up now ? Your complaining is incessant !
Craig My money got all soggy ! I have to put up with so much.
Mark Oh, get over it ! Some people have no money. Do you help charities ?
Craig It sounds rewarding but after work I’m too exhausted !
Mark You are just talk. Put up or shut up !
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Why is it hard to start these early cars ? Where was this car made ?
particular / original / hill-start / rapidly / brutality / you what ?
Firstly, a look at some vintage cars:
According to the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, United Kingdom, the definition for each category is the following:
Veteran– officially a car made up to and including December 1918.
Vintage– officially a car made between 1919 and 1930. Although, the term is often used to describe any car made before World War II.
Classic– generally any car that is no longer in production that is still popular. For classic car events organised by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) eligibility is set at 20 years. Generally this term is applied to cars from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. However, no definition is universal.
There is some great new vocabulary in this article, as well as expressions and collocations (‘potentially dangerous’ / ‘do their best’).
What are the causes ? Can turbulence be predicted ? How do air-traffic controllers gather information ?
Selecting important information
We want to condensethis article so we only need the main facts:
This is about the British engineer Isabard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom BrunelFRS(/ˈɪzəmbɑːrd bruːˈnɛl/; 9 April 1806– 15 September 1859), was an English mechanical and civil engineerwho is considered “one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history”,”one of the 19th-century engineering giants”,and “one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions”.Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlanticsteamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.
Though Brunel’s projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his career, Brunel achieved many engineering firsts, including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river and development of SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven, ocean-going, iron ship, which, when built in 1843, was the largest ship ever built.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), was an English engineer who is regarded as a major figure in engineering history. His designs, which were considered ground-breaking and ingenious, included bridges and tunnels, railways and ships.
Despite some engineering fails, he was an innovator and achieved many firsts in enginnering. His ship, the SS Great Britain (1843), was the largest ship of its time.
Now, your turn:
How to look for important information. Read this Wikipedia entry and re-write in just 3 or 4 sentences, inclusing only the most important information.
The 461.5 metres (1,514 ft) tall, 81-storey building is built on the western banks of the Saigon River in the city’s Binh Thanh District, located just north of Ho Chi Minh City’s historic center and to the immediate south of Saigon Bridge. The tower is at the heart of the $1.5 billion high-end mixed-use urban area called Vinhomes Central Park, and was scheduled to be inaugurated in July 2018. The development comprises hotel and conference facilities, luxury apartments, high-end retail spaces, restaurants, bars, and a multi-story observation deck at the tower’s crown.