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Category «Speaking»

Bad or bat? Sad or sat? Bag or back?

Native speakers often don’t pronounce the final consonant sound such as the ‘d’ in bad and the ‘t’ in bat. Without their final consonant sounds, both words may look the same, but native speakers are still able to easily distinguish between the two. For bad, they will pronounce the ‘a’ vowel sound much longer than …

Common mistake – “There have a 7-11”

Very often, I hear HK Chinese IELTS candidates say “There have”.  For example: “There have a supermarket below my place”. The correct way is “There is a supermarket below my place”. In spoken English, this often shortened to “There’s a supermarket below my place”. I guess the reason for the error is that in Chinese, …

“How to spell?” or “How do you spell it?”

Students often use the wrong grammar when asking direct “how” questions: WRONG RIGHT PRONUNCIATION Use the weak (schwa) sound Ə for “do you” and “it” How to pronounce? How do you pronounce it? HOW dƏ yƏ prƏNOUNCE Ət? click to listen How to say? How do you say it? HOW dƏ yƏ SAY Ət? click …

Do you apply the job or apply for the job?

Correct expression: Apply for the job The word ‘apply’ has the following two main meanings: “apply” + object = put on / use  …E.g. Apply sunscreen (to your skin) “apply for/to” + object = request  …E.g. Apply for job Note: “Apply sunscreen” sounds a little too formal for casual spoken situations.  It is more common to say “put …

Common mistake – Me too!

Do you know why Rita’s response below is incorrect? John:     I didn’t like that movie very much. Rita:      Me too. You can only use “Me too” as a response to positive statements (not negative ones). “I didn’t like …” is a negative statement. For this, you can respond with “Me neither”: I didn’t …

Have it done, or do it yourself?

A common grammar mistake made by students is to say things like: Sorry I couldn’t answer your phone call. I was doing acupuncture. (針灸) Assuming that the doctor was performing the procedure, you could say: Sorry I couldn’t answer your phone call. I was having acupuncture done. The second way means that the doctor was performing acupuncture on …

常見錯誤 Are you a Hong Kong People?

“I’m a Hong Kong people” is bad English because the word ‘people’ is a plural noun – it can’t be used with ‘a’. Correcting the grammar to “a Hong Kong person” still sounds incorrect, in the same way “a UK person” does. As Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, you could say: …

“Drop it down” or “jot it down”?

The correct phrase is “jot it down”. “To jot down” is an English phrasal verb which means “to write a note”. A common mispronunciation (particularly by Hong Kong Chinese) is “drop down” or “drop it down“. Some correct examples: This point is very important. I think you should jot it down. Before you call her, you should jot down some …

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