English musical vocabulary

Posted on 23. Oct, 2014 by in English Vocabulary

Live music.

Image by Xi WEG on Flickr.com.

What is your favorite type of music – rock, pop, R&B, country, classical, techno? No matter what type of music you like the best, being able to talk about the music you like, or don’t like, is a good things. After all, everyone likes to talk about music, right? Today I have a vocabulary building post for you with words about music to help you be better prepared to talk about your favorite music.

First take a look at the lit of words below and see how many of them you already know, I bet there will be at least few.

number one
top ten

You might know what some of these words mean in general, but what do they mean when they are specifically related to music? Take a look below at this same list of words and definitions. See if what you thought the word meant, is really what it means.

airplay – the amount of time a song is played on a radio station, i.e. how often it is played
album – a collection of songs on a CD or record
catchy – a song that is easy to remember and sing
composer – a writer of music
concert – a public performance of music
hit – a popular song
instrument – a tool used to create music
instrumental – a song (or part of a song) that has no words
lyrics – the words of a song
live – music that is played in front of an audience
latest – the most recent music/song from an artist
musician – a person who plays a musical instrument or sings, as a hobby or as a profession
number one – the most popular song at any given time
record – a collection of songs; synonym to album
single – one song from a collection of songs or album
singer –  a person who sings songs
soundtrack – the music that accompanies a film or TV show
top ten – the top ten most popular songs in a particular genre of music at any given time
vocal(s) – the singing, or the words, in a song

Lastly, take a look at how some of these words are used in context.  See if you can figure out which words from above fit in the blanks below.

1.    The _____________________ to the new James Bond movie is amazing.
2.    I wish my favorite artist would get more ______________ on the radio.
3.    I am going to a __________ at the Rose Bowl this Friday. This will be the first time I see my favorite singer ______________.
4.    Phillip is an amazing ________________. I don’t know anyone who plays guitar as well as he does.
5.    This week’s ________ _________ songs on the local country radio station are all great, but the ___________ ____________ song this week is my favorite.
6.    That new song by Jay-Z is so _______________; I can’t stop singing it.




1. soundtrack; 2. airplay; 3. concert & live; 4. musician; 5. top ten & number one; 6. catchy

Toilet talk: English vocabulary about (using) the bathroom

Posted on 21. Oct, 2014 by in English Vocabulary

Bathroom sign.

Today’s post is all about words and expressions that you aren’t likely to learn in a class; today we are going to talk about going to the bathroom! The vocabulary introduced today are words and expressions you will definitely hear native speakers use, and these are also words and expressions you may need to use sometime too.  So let’s get down to it, today is all about toilet talk!

Here are some common expressions that English-speakers use to ask where the toilet is located.

“Where is the bathroom?”
“Can you tell me where the restroom is?
“Where is the lavatory?”
“Which way is the washroom?”
“I need to use the toilet, where can I find it?
“Where is the loo?” (British English)
“Can you point me to the WC?” (British English)

In English the bathroom can also be called: “the men’s room” (for men), “the women’s room” (for women), and sometimes people also say “the little boy’s room” (for men) and “the little girls’ room” (for women). For example:

“Can you tell me where the little girl’s room is?”

All of the above expressions are neutral in nature (not too formal or informal) and appropriate to use in public at anytime to ask where the bathroom is located.

Image "toilet" by dirtyboxface on Flickr.com.

Image “toilet” by dirtyboxface on Flickr.com.

The toilet, which is found in the bathroom, also has many names in English.  Here is a list of some of these names. How these words are used is in (parentheses).

toilet (neutral)
commode (formal)
potty (childish)
the pot (informal)
the throne (informal)
the chamber pot (old fashion)

Now, it is time to look at some vocabulary to talk about what happens in the bathroom, on the toilet. Below are two lists of words for our two bodily functions (pee and poop). I’ve listed these words generally in order from the most polite/formal words (at the top) to the least polite/informal words (at the bottom). I have indicated next to each word whether it is a noun or verb, its formality, or other important information. How the word is used is important information to know, so please take note. There are some examples for how these words can be used below.

urine (n) / to urinate (v) – (formal)
number 1 (n) -(neutral/polite)
tinkle (n) – (polite/old fashion)
(to) pee (n & v) – (neutral, most common term)
pee-pee (n) – (childish)
wee-wee (n) – (childish)
(to) piss (n & v) – (informal)
(to) wizz (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a leak (v phrase) –  (very informal)

“I have to pee, where is the bathroom?”
“I’m going to take a leak, I’ll be right back.”
“My son peed on himself and I need to change his clothes.”
Mom: “Do you have to go number 1 or number 2?” Child: “Number 1.
“Someone pissed all over the sidewalk. Gross!”
“I went pee-pee in the potty.”
“The nurse checked to see if there was urine in the bed.”
“Do you have to tinkle?”

to defecate (v) – (formal)
feces (n) – (formal)
stool (n) – (formal)
to have a bowel movement (v phrase) –  (formal)
bowel movement or BM (n) – (neutral)
number 2 (n) – (neutral/polite)
poop (n) – (neutral, most common)
poo (n) – (neutral/childish)
poo-poo (n) – (childish)
poopy (n & adj) – (childish)
doo-doo (n) – (childish)

(to) sh*t (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a dump – (v phrase) – (very informal)

“The old man defecated in his bed.”
“How often do you have a bowel movement?”
“I need to change my daughter’s poopy diaper.”
“Where can I take a dump around here?”
“I haven’t had a BM in 2 days.”
“I saw some feces in the bushes at the park.”
“You will have to provide a stool sample for testing.”

Learning this array of vocabulary for talking about bodily functions is important for a few reasons:
1) You may hear other people (especially native speakers) use these words and so it is good to know what they mean;
2) You want to use the right type of word for the right type of situation, and to do that you have to know a variety of ways to talk about your bodily functions; and
3) This is vocabulary building! There is more than one way to say almost everything and now you have many ways you can talk about a subject that is often hard to discuss.

American National Parks Wrap-Up

Posted on 20. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, English Grammar, English Vocabulary, Travel

Over the past few months, we’ve been exploring some of America’s most famous national parks here on the English blog. I hope you’ve had fun reading the posts and watching the videos, because I’ve sure had a good time making them. Visiting some of the national parks should be high atop anyone’s list if traveling to the United States, and I hope that our readers will get the chance to take a trip similar to the one that I took last year to explore them. In case you missed any of the posts, here is a wrap-up with links to all posts and videos:

America the Beautiful

YouTube Preview Image

The song “America the Beautiful” is a very important and historical song in the United States, and many would like to see it become the national anthem. The annual pass for the national parks in the USA is named after this song, and rightfully so – the national parks truly are beautiful.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Get out of LA and visit Joshua Tree national park.

If you plan to visit Los Angeles, then it’s an easy 2-hour drive to the amazing Joshua Tree national park. There’s a lot to do here and it’s a nice escape from the big city, so stay a few nights and camp out.

YouTube Preview Image

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon NP

The amazing Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is perhaps one of the most famous places in all of the US, and for good reason. There are many viewpoints and a variety of hiking trails here, including the very challenging rim-to-rim trail.

YouTube Preview Image


Zion NP

What a view!

This national park located in southwestern Utah was probably our favorite of the many that we visited last summer. Camping out here, hiking, and taking in the views for a few days was an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend.

YouTube Preview Image

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon NP

It looks like a painting, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to spend at Bryce Canyon on our way across Utah. We still had a fantastic day taking in some of the views and walking a short trail, but we definitely want to go back sometime. If you get the chance, stay here for a few days and enjoy more of this spectacular scenery.

YouTube Preview Image


Canyonlands NP

Looking out on Canyonlands NP.

If you love visiting national parks, then Moab, Utah should be high on your list of places to go. Here, you can visit two national parks – Canyonlands and Arches. There are three sections of Canyonlands, and two of them are very remote and difficult to access. More adventurous travelers can give it a go, while everyone can visit the Island in the Sky section.

YouTube Preview Image


Arhces NP

Some of the many arches.

Named after its 2,000+ natural stone arches, this park is an amazing place to explore. There are plenty of hiking trails and lots of great viewpoints, and there are also nice spots to rest and have a picnic. We had some bad weather that cut our visit a bit short, but we’d love to go back some day.

YouTube Preview Image

Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountain NP

Scenic views at the Rockies.

You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world when you visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, as it has elevations ranging from 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) to 14,000 feet (4,200 meters). This park is huge, so take a few days to explore all that is has to offer.

YouTube Preview Image

Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains NP

The Great Smoky Mountains of TN and NC.

This is the most visited national park in the entire country, and it’s so big that it’s actually in two states – Tennessee and North Carolina. Combine a visit here with a drive on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, or visit it while you hike the Appalachian Trail.

YouTube Preview Image


There are so many more amazing national parks in the United States that I hope to visit some day, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. Make sure you include at least one or two national parks on your trip to the US. Many people simply visit the big cities, but they miss out on the natural beauty of the country. Speaking of cities, we’re going to start a new series here called “Great American Cities,” so make sure you subscribe to the blog for future posts. We’ll visit Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and of course my hometown of Detroit in addition to plenty of other cities from all corners of the country.