Giving thanks in English

Posted on 24. Nov, 2015 by in Culture

Image by Adi Respati on is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Image by Adi Respati on is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is a time when people give thanks for the people and things they have in their lives. In honor of the upcoming American holiday of Thanksgiving I have some idioms and expressions for you that are all about giving thanks.

Emphatic expression of thanks:

I can’t thank you enough.
Example: I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me!

Thanks a bunch.
Example: Thanks a bunch for helping out.

Thanks a million.
Example: Thanks a million for being here.

Emphatic expressions expressing relief from worry:

Thank heavens.
Example: Thank heavens you are safe, I was so worried about you.

Thank goodness.
Example: Thank goodness your plane landed before the big snowstorm.

Idioms with the word ‘thank’ in them:

thank your lucky stars  = you should be very thankful
Example: You should thank your lucky stars that I came along when I did, you could have frozen to death out there.

wham bam thank you ma’am – This is an expression that is said after something happens quickly, or is finished very fast. Note: At times it is used to refer to sex that happened very quickly.
Example: Wham bam thank you ma’am, the deliveryman was here and gone so quickly I hardly saw him.

thank God its Friday (TGIF) – an expression commonly used on Friday when leaving work or school, indicating joy that the weekend is about to begin
Example: Thank God it is Friday; I can’t take another customer complaint.

Informal ways of writing ‘thank you’:

Thank you for being a faithful reader of the blog. And Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Is it ‘this’ or is it ‘that’?

Posted on 17. Nov, 2015 by in English Grammar

Image by Robert Couse-Baker on is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Image by Robert Couse-Baker on is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Do you know when to use the English words ‘this’ or ‘that’ correctly? If you don’t, you have come to the right place, because our topic today is the correct use of these words.

‘This’ and ‘that’ are words that fall into the category of words called demonstratives.  Demonstratives are words used to indicate something (i.e. a noun) that is being talked about (without using the thing’s name) while at the same time giving some information about the thing’s location. Demonstratives indicate distance or proximity of an object to the speaker or listener.

‘This’ and ‘that’ are also categorized as either pronouns or adjectives – depending on the usage of the word. When ‘this’ or ‘that’ are used as pronouns they stand in place of a noun, usually a thing or a place. (It is best to use pronouns like ‘he’ or ‘she’ when refer to people rather than to use ‘this’ or ‘that’.)  When ‘this’ or ‘that’ are used as adjectives they are being used to describe a noun, by giving more information about the location of the noun.

Now, that you know how these words can be used, you might be asking yourself, ‘so what is the difference between them anyway?’ The difference is all related to distance. ‘This’ is used to talk about objects that are near and ‘that’ is used to talk about objects which are away or far from the speaker/listener.

this = near
that = away or far

Another way to say this is:

this = here
that = over there

How will you decide what is near or far, here or there? A good rule to keep in mind is that if something is within your arm’s reach (i.e. you can reach out and touch it) you should use ‘this.’  If something is outside your arm’s reach or something that you would need to have passed to you, then you should ‘that.’

There are also often additional words used to indicate distance or relative distance when using the words ‘this’ and ‘that.’ For example:

This card right here is the one I like the best.
That house over there is where Jamal lives.

In these examples the words “right here” and “over there” emphasize the distance of the object to the speaker. These words of emphasis are often used to make it clear what object or thing a person is talking about, but they are not always necessary. Often English speakers also point to the object they are talking about when using ‘this’ or ‘that’ to make it even clearer what object they are talking about.

The words ‘this’ and ‘that’ also have plural forms you should be aware of.

this –> these
that –> those

The plural forms of these words are used in the same contexts as the singular forms.

Now, try your hand at figuring out which word to use (‘this’ or ‘that’) in the following sentences. Try to use the contextual clues in the sentence to help you make your choice.

1) I had just picked up ___________ book from the table next to me when Pam walked in the room.
2) Kay sent me ___________ picture over there for my birthday.
3) ____________ kite up there is really high in the sky.
4) I want to eat _____________ muffin, can you pass it to me?
5) ___________ here pen is my favorite pen. I’d be very sad if I lost it.

I hope this lesson was beneficial to you – scroll down for the answers.








Answers: 1) this; 2) that; 3) that; 4) that; 5) this

Great American Cities – Asheville

Posted on 12. Nov, 2015 by in Uncategorized

So far we’ve covered a few east coast cities (New York, Boston, D.C., Philly), a couple of west coast cities (San Fransisco, L.A. and Las Vegas) and one Midwest city, Chicago. Now we’re heading to the southeast, the land of BBQ and biscuits and gravy, to a small mountain town called Asheville in our “Great American Cities” series.

Asheville's down there somewhere.

Asheville’s down there somewhere.

Name: The area was originally named Morristown but after the expansion of the area it was incorporated and renamed Asheville in honor of the Governor, Samuel Ashe.

Location: Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina where the French Broad River meets the Swannanoa River.

Land of the Sky

Land of the Sky

Nicknames: Asheville’s first and primary nickname is ‘Land of the Sky.’ It has also been called ‘Paris of the South’ and ‘Santa Fe of the East.’

Year Founded: Present-day Asheville was officially incorporated in 1797. This came as a result of John Burton establishing a large settlement from state land grants.

Population: The first census of the area in 1800 counted only 38 people. As of 2013 the population was 87,236, but it has been growing steadily year after year. Its population is predominantly white (87%) with African-Americans making up 6.6% of the population and Hispanics at 6.4%.

Floating in a tube is one way to get around here... slowly.

Floating in a tube is one way to get around here… slowly.

Transportation: The city has one regional airport connecting to select cities throughout the country. There isn’t a train station and Greyhound is the only bus operator for long routes. The city bus is called ART (Asheville Redefines Transit) and has several routes. If you’re visiting Asheville it is best to have your own car.

The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate

Famous Places: The most notable famous place is the Biltmore Estate which is the largest home in America. The Blue Ridge Parkway is also very well known in the area. It is a 469-mile long road through the Blue Ridge Mountains with amazing views and it runs through Asheville. Another thing Asheville is known for is the large amount of micro-breweries and its food scene. They offer both food and brewery walking tours.

Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Friday night drum circle.

Friday night drum circle.

Culture: Asheville has a very eclectic culture. It attracts people from all walks of life but in recent years it has had a very ‘hippie’ culture. There is a drum circle at Pritchard Park in downtown every Friday night, which attracts hundreds of people. You’ll also see plenty of musicians playing in the street which is known as ‘busking.’

Busking on the street.

Busking on the street.

Awesome southern food.

Awesome southern food.

Asheville, and North Carolina in general, is known for its BBQ. There are plenty of places where you can try the famous BBQ such as pulled pork, beef brisket and corn bread.

Sports Teams: Asheville isn’t big enough to have professional sports teams, but they do have a few minor league teams. For baseball they have the Asheville Tourists and for football the Asheville Grizzlies.

Take a hike in Asheville.

Take a hike in Asheville.

Although it’s much smaller and less famous than other American cities, Asheville is an up and coming destination that’s becoming more and more popular every year. Everyone goes to New York or Los Angeles when they visit the US, so why not try a different place? Mountains, BBQ, microbrews, and lots of music – what more could you ask for?