Joe's Cafe


Personal blog of EnglishClub founder Josef Essberger - see Menu

House or home?

These two words may seem alike but actually they have rather different meanings.

A house is a building that people live in. It stands on its own land (unlike, say, an apartment or flat) and often has a garden. It may be detached (not joined to another house), semi-detached (joined to one other house), or terraced (in a row, like townhouses all joined together).

  • We are selling our house and want to buy a bigger one.
  • That house used to be brown, but last week the owners painted it white.

A home is the place where you live, especially as part of a family. It could be a house, or it could be a condominium or apartment or flat, or anywhere else.

  • I have to go home. I’ve just remembered that I left my apartment door open.
  • After the hurricane they had to move into a temporary caravan. But already they’ve made it into a real home for the children.

Just think of house as a physical thing, and home is more like an idea.


NB: there is a tendency by real estate agents in the USA to use “home” instead of “house”. So they advertise “Home for Sale” instead of “House for Sale” etc. This is perhaps due to the emotive nature of the word “home”, which may better serve the purposes of commercialism. But we have seen what happens when words lose their meanings.


What Are Your New Year Resolutions for 2015?

resolve (verb): decide firmly to do or not to do something (for example: He resolved to discuss the matter with his boss.)
resolution (noun): a firm decision to do or not to do something (for example: He never regretted his resolution to stop drinking.)

I resolve

2015 is upon us. Pray tell us. What have you “resolved” to do in 2015? Or not to do? ^^

And don’t forget to tell us what happened to Last Year’s resolutions :))


What to call the UK if Scotland independent?

On Thursday 18th September 2014, the people of Scotland will hold a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country. Currently, and for more than 300 years, Scotland has formed part of the UK, whose full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain comprises England, Scotland and Wales. The rest of this united kingdom (which is really a queendom at present with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state) is comprised of Northern Ireland. If Scotland goes independent, what shall we call what’s left of the UK? United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Disunited Kingdom? Divided Kingdom? Take a look at the map hereunder (and also this explanation of the current UK nomenclature), and please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

map of United Kingdom

Wordchecker
referendum (noun): a general vote by the population on a single political question
independent (adjective): free from control by another country; sovereign
kingdom (noun): a country ruled by a king (or queen)
hereunder (adverb): below; under this
nomenclature (noun): the system of names in a particular field


Do you have any New Year Resolutions for 2014?

For 2013 there were nearly 500 answers to a similar question. Have you kept those resolutions, and what do you plan to do this coming year? Read on »


What’s this guy got to do with English?

This guy is “Guy Fawkes”, and English was his mother tongue. His death is gruesomely celebrated in England every 5th November when ordinary people mindlessly burn effigies of him on bonfires.

Guy Fawkes

What did Guy Fawkes do to deserve such venom? He plotted with others to assassinate the king of England (and of Scotland) by blowing up Parliament during its state opening in 1605. Their motives were politico-religious… But they failed. Their plans were leaked and Guy Fawkes was the one conspirator found guarding the gunpowder under the Read on »


Organic or Conventional? WT*?

I was intrigued to read about research into what fruit flies think of organic food. Apparently they like it:

“By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.”

Read on »


How many “slugs” do you see here?

slugs

How many uses of the word “slug” do you see above? Can you write one sentence for each in the comment box below?

illustration courtesy Andy Singer


What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2013?

When we “resolve” to do something, we decide firmly to do it. It’s like a promise to ourselves. The verb is “resolve” and the noun is “resolution”. Typically, at the start of each year, people make New Year’s Resolutions such as: Read on »


How many ‘scales’ can you see here?

scale

How many uses of the word “scale” do you see Read on »


How many waves do you know?

Waves

Can you make one sentence for each of the four Read on »


The Chapel

She was walking lazily, for the fierce April sun was directly overhead. Her umbrella blocked its rays but nothing blocked the heat – the sort of raw, wild heat that crushes you with its energy. A few buffalo were tethered under coconuts, browsing the parched verges. Occasionally a car went past, leaving its treads in the melting pitch like the wake of a ship at sea. Otherwise it was quiet, and she saw no-one. Read on »


The three rings of marriage

“There are three rings involved with marriage. The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.”

Woody Allen (1935-) American actor, comedian and director

Wordchecker
ring (noun): a small, round, metal band that you wear on your finger
involved with: connected to
engagement ring (noun): a ring that a man gives to a woman when they decide to marry
wedding ring (noun): a ring that a married person wears
suffering (noun): a bad and painful feeling


The chain of marriage

“Marriage is a chain so heavy that it takes two people to carry it – sometimes three.”

Variously attributed to Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) French writer and Alexandre Dumas (son) (1824-1879) French writer

Original: Les chaînes du mariage sont si lourdes qu’il faut être deux pour les porter; quelquefois trois.

Wordchecker
chain (noun): a series of connected metal links (used, for example, for pulling heavy objects or confining prisoners)


Better to have loved and lost?

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

(By Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809–1892)

What do YOU think? Is it better to have loved and lost? Or is it better never to have loved at all?

Wordchecker
to hold something true: to consider/believe something to be true
whate’er*: whatever
to befall* (verb): to happen
whate’er befall*: whatever happens
to sorrow* (verb): to feel deep distress; to be very unhappy/sad (“sorrow” is not normally used as a verb in English today)
’tis*: it is

*this language is typical of romantic poetry but is not normal in everyday English


Have you ever seen a ghost?

ghost.pngWhere?

What?

When?

Who?


If you ruled the world…

Master of the UniverseIf YOU

were the

master of the universe

for one week,

what would you do?


Who would you like to be today?

Who?If you could change

for one day and

be anybody on earth

(present or historical),

who would it be?

And why?


What do you think you were in your last life?

?!


We are all basically selfish

selfishWhat do you think about this statement: “We are all basically selfish“?

Is it true? At the end of the day, are we all only interested in ourselves? Or are some people genuinely selfless and altruistic?

Wordchecker
selfish (adjective): having no consideration for other people; being interested in one’s own personal well-being, profit or pleasure
selfless (adjective): having no concern for oneself; unselfish
altruistic (adjective): having consideration for the well-being and lives of other people


What abbreviations and acronyms do you know?

abbreviationAn abbreviation is something like “Dr” or “Dr.” for “Doctor”, or “Ltd” or “Ltd.” for “Limited”.

An acronym is made from the First Letters of other words, for example “NASA” for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration”, or “laser” for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”.

What abbreviations and acronyms do you know?


Alcohol should be illegal

alcohol“ALCOHOL SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.”

???????????!!!!!!!!!!

What do you think

about THAT?!


Mobile Phones Dangerous?

mobile phonesSome scientists now say that

mobile phones are dangerous and

may damage our brains

or cause cancer.

But not all scientists agree.

What do you think?


footer versus footnote

A reader writes: “Is the word ‘footer’, now used in documents and written on one of your pages, a correct English word? I think it was created by Microsoft, and I believe the word ‘footnote’ would be more appropriate.”

Let’s try to clear this up. I’m not sure whether the word “footer” was coined by Microsoft or not, but if it was it made it into my 1995 edition of Concise Oxford Dictionary. For the context that we are discussing, the two words can be defined as:

  • footnote (noun): a note at the bottom of a specific page usually about something on that page.
  • footer (noun): a piece of text or programming code repeated at the bottom of every page.

Footnote: the word “footer” can also be used in combinations such as “six-footer” (a man who is six feet tall) and “right-footer” (a specific kick in football etc).


Everything will be OK

Everything will be OK

Just how much this post-riots message of hope in 21st-century Bangkok draws upon the similarly repetitive 14th-century “All shall be well” by Julian of Read on »


The Prophet ~ Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not Read on »



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