Joe's Cafe


Personal blog of EnglishClub founder Josef Essberger - see Menu

Perfect age?

What do you think is the perfect age? Why?


7 That’s in a row

What’s the most times you can repeat the same word consecutively in a sentence and still retain meaning? Here’s a sentence with 7 words in a row. Read on »


Next life

What would you like to be in your next life? Why?


The Billion Dollar Question

So how much is a billion?

Answer: 1,000,000,000 (one thousand million)

Sub-plot: In American English a billion is 1,000,000,000. In British English a billion used to be, and technically still may be, 1,000,000,000,000 (one million million); but in practical usage British English now treats a billion the same as American English does: 1,000,000,000.

Nevertheless, a British billionaire is still worth more than an American billionaire (slightly more than twice as much at today’s rate of exchange).


What do you want to own?

If you could own one special thing, what would it be? Why?


Amzanig huh?

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.


Rainy day

What’s your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?


The quick brown fox…

What is special about the following sentence?

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

This sentence contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet and is (was?) used by typists to test their keyboards. Such a sentence is called a “pangram”.


And you calling me colored??

When I born, I black.
When I grow up, I black.
When I go in sun, I black.
When I scared, I black.
When I sick, I black.
And when I die, I still black.

And you white people.
When you born, you pink.
When you grow up, you white.
When you go in sun, you red.
When you cold, you blue.
When you scared, you yellow.
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you grey…

And you calling me colored??

Variously attributed to Josh White, “an African child”, Malcolm X, the Oglala Lakota, and an anonymous pupil of King Edward VI School, Birmingham, UK; but most likely one of various renditions into English from the French of a poem by Senegalese poet and first president of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001).


Good book

Tell us about a book you are reading (or have read). What is its title? Who wrote it? What is it about? Why do you like it?


Around the World in 80 Days

If you had 80 days to travel around the world, where would you like to go? Where would you start? Tell us about the places you’d want to visit, how you would travel and who you would like to meet.


Joke

We all like to laugh at some time. And we all enjoy a good joke. Tell us a joke that makes you laugh.


New Year’s Resolution

At New Year (1st January) many people resolve or decide to do something or not do something. That is called a “New Year’s Resolution”. For example, they might resolve to do more exercise, or to stop smoking, or to work harder. What is your New Year’s Resolution be for 2008? And why?


My Favourite Food

Leave a comment to describe your favourite food. When do you eat it? Why do you like it?


Affect or effect?

These two words are often confused. They both have several meanings, but today we will look at their basic meaning of change.

Affect is a verb, basically meaning: cause to change; make a difference to

  • The cold weather affected my health.
  • If you don’t study it will affect your exam results badly.
  • How you dress affects the way people think of you.

Effect is a noun, meaning: a change that is the result of something else

  • The cold weather had an effect on my health.
  • Hard drugs can have deadly effects.
  • Her love letters had no effect on him.

As mentioned above, both words can have other meanings as well, and effect can also be a verb (with a different meaning). Just remember that in the sense of “change” as shown above the noun is effect and the verb is affect.


You already speak English

Here are some words we use in English that are also “international words” – you see and hear them almost everywhere. So even if you are starting to learn English, you already speak it!

Like many words in English, some of these words have been “borrowed” from other languages.

hello

football

telephone, phone

hotel

taxi

toilet

museum

TV

pizza

sandwich

restaurant

city

hamburger

video


Quiz: Collective Nouns

Can you put each of these collective nouns in the right sentence below? You must use each noun once only.

pack | herd | fleet | suite | audience | crowd

1. The farmer moved his __________ of cows to higher ground to avoid the flood.

2. The President and his staff had a __________ of rooms on the top floor.

3. After the concert the __________ clapped loudly.

4. It was difficult to move because there were so many people in the __________.

5. Which navy has the biggest __________ in the world?

6. The casino uses a new __________ of cards for each game.

See Comments for answers.


The Sick Rose

O Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy;

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

William Blake 1757-1827

So the question is: What is “the invisible worm that flies in the night”?


Advice or advise?

Advice is a noun:

  • He did not accept my advice.

Advise is a verb:

  • The doctor advised her to stop work.

Stationery or stationary?

A stationer sells stationery (writing paper, envelopes and other office materials).

  • You’ll find some envelopes in the stationery cupboard.

Stationary is an adjective meaning “not moving”.

  • The car hit a stationary bus.

Practice or practise?

In American English “practice” is a verb and a noun:

I need more practice before I do the exam. Can I practice my English with you?

In British English “practice” is a noun and the verb is “practise”:

I need more practice before I do the exam. Can I practise my English with you?


Olympics in China

Next year the Olympics will be held in China. I noticed that they will start on 8th August. Then I thought: “Wow! The Chinese are very clever. They’re getting the games in their country on their LUCKY day.” I’m not sure if I’m right but I’m guessing that they engineered the games to start on 08/08/08 (8 August 2008). And for Chinese people I believe the number 8 is a very lucky number. Clever!


CAPITAL CRIME

WHEN I WAS A BOY, I LEARNED TO READ. BUT FIRST I LEARNED THE ALPHABET. AS YOU KNOW, THE ENGLISH ALPHABET HAS SMALL (abc) AND LARGE (ABC) LETTERS. THE LARGE LETTERS ARE CALLED “CAPITAL LETTERS”. GUESS WHICH LETTERS I LEARNED FIRST AS A YOUNG CHILD. SMALL LETTERS OR CAPITAL LETTERS? AND WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE ANYWAY BETWEEN SMALL AND LARGE LETTERS? WELL, I’LL TELL YOU. I LEARNED SMALL LETTERS FIRST. AND THE DIFFERENCE? LARGE LETTERS ARE ALL THE SAME HEIGHT. EXACTLY THE SAME. SMALL LETTERS GO UP AND DOWN. SOME ARE IN THE MIDDLE, LIKE x. SOME GO UP, LIKE b. SOME GO DOWN, LIKE p. THAT MEANS THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES. “SO WHAT?”, I HEAR YOU SAY. SO SMALL LETTERS ARE EASIER TO READ. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW A BOOK PRINTED COMPLETELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS? WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY READING ONE? PRETTY DIFFICULT, LIKE THE SOLID BLOCKS OF TEXT IN CAPITAL LETTERS THAT MICROSOFT LAWYERS USE TO MAKE THEIR AGREEMENTS DIFFICULT TO READ. LIKE THIS POST, COME TO THINK OF IT. DON’T AGREE? TRY THE TEST.


Consonant Strings

Normally, every syllable in English must have at least one vowel (or vowel sound). So it’s quite surprising to think that there are words with 5 or more consonants in a row.

Here are a few words with 5-letter consonant strings:

BIRTHPLACE, BREASTSTROKE, DOWNSTREAM, EIGHTHS, MATCHSTICK, NIGHTCLOTHES, NIGHTCLUB, NIGHTDRESS, STRENGTHS, THOUSANDTHS

Here are two words with 6 consonants in a row:

CATCHPHRASE, KNIGHTSBRIDGE

Can you think of any more? There are quite a few.


What is the third word?

Here’s a common puzzle:

Think of words ending in “-gry”. “Angry” and “hungry” are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.



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