Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is it good to be prude?

Who is a prude? It is a person who is easily shocked by things relating to nudity or sex. Would you say you're a prude? In other words it is a pious (pobożny, nabożny) person but not necessarily in a positive way. I mean, it is a person who is self-righteous, i.e. being overly confident that one acts properly (obłudny, fałszywy). Prudes are often excessively modest (przesadnie skromni) and they often behave in an exaggeratedly proper manner. So being a prude is not really a compliment :) Just like lots of other English words, this one also comes from French and it used to refer to a 'wise woman'. Now, we know that the meaning of this word has lost its noble meaning and is used pejoratively.

So, I do hope you are not a prude but just open and honest :) Does anybody know more about this word? Please write! Talk soon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do you know any good oculist in your area?

Today I want to focus on another type of person, i.e. an oculist, and don't confuse it with an occultist, i.e. those guys who study the magic or some devilish mysterious powers  :) To put it simply, an oculist is just an eye doctor, that is a doctor who specializes in treating eye defects or diseases.


In Polish we have a very similar word: okulista. I guess, oculists are those doctors I like the most :) as they usually don't perform any dangerous operations and, as far as my experience is concerned, they are rather friendly :)

What memories do you have from visits to oculists? Do you have one that you consider worth recommending? Why?
Talk soon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Are you afraid of invigilators?

These are the people who supervise those who are taking an examination and make sure students don't cheat :) I have been an invigilator many times and I have to say it is a really hard job to ensure that exams run smoothly :) In Polish we call these guys 'nadzorujący' or 'inwigilator' or 'osoba pilnująca na egzaminie'. These people are usually present during written exams.


Have you ever been an invigilator? What/Who did you invigilate? How was it? Have you ever had any problems?

Talk soon!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Are you delinquent?

Today I want to begin a series of posts which would be devoted to different types of people... Each post will focus on one adjective describing a person. The word for today is


This is usually a young person who has broken the law. It is not a very problematic word for Poles learning English as we have a very similar word in Polish, i.e. delikwent. We can also translate this word as 'osoba naruszająca prawo' or 'winowajca'. What is interesting, this word is also used as an adjective and means 'przestępczy', 'winny przestepstwa' or 'zalegający z zapłatą'.

There are also a few nice phrases connected with the word 'delinquent'. Let's take a look at some of them:
  • delinquent by birth - urodzony przestępca
  • delinquent juvenile - młodociany przestępca
  • delinquent payment - zaległa płatność
  • delinquent tax - zaległy podatek
  • supposed delinquent - domniemany winowajca
Talk soon!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do you admire the beauty of English idioms?

Idioms in English are just lovely! English is such a rich language that I am always impressed by the flowery idioms it offers us... Let's take a look at a few of them today! I will also give you a few examples to illustrate how these idioms work. I would also like you to answer my question(s) that I'm going to think up with each idiom :)

THE APPLE OF SB's EYE - oczko w czyjejś głowie
From the time my parents adopted me until my father's death, I was the apple of my dad's eye.
The youngest was the apple of his father's eye. 

TO BE BLACK AND BLUE ALL OVER - być posiniaczonym
He was black and blue all over and had blood in his ear.
She was black and blue all over after falling downstairs.

TO BREAK ONE's HEART - złamać komuś serce
I know a man who has broken a lot of girls' hearts.
He was like an angel to her and she still broke up with him and broke his heart. :(

TO GIVE SB THE COLD SHOULDER - traktować kogoś bardzo chłodno
I really tried to be pleasant to Tereska but she gave me the cold shoulder.
Whenever I meet her, she gives me the cold shoulder.

TO GET STH OFF ONE's CHEST - wyrzucić coś z siebie
We hadn't talked for two days and when I asked what the problem was, he got it off his chest.
He had spent two months worrying about it and he was glad to get it off his chest. 

TO HAVE A LUMP IN ONE's THROAT - mieć ściśnięte gardło
My sister got a lump in her throat when she started talking about the accident. 

My questions to you:
1) How do you cope with a situation when you have a lump in your throat?
2) What was the thing you got off your chest last time?
3) How do you feel when somebody gives you a cold shoulder?
4) How did you/would you help yourself if someone broke your heart?
5) Who is the apple of your eye? Why?
6) Have you ever been black and blue all over? When?

Talk soon! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

English Modal Verbs Are Cool!

Yesterday, one of my students, Kamil, asked me about modal verbs. I guess modals are very important in English because you can express a whole range of issues with their help. Here, I wanted to give you a few very useful links to modals' theory and practice :)

First, some theory:


Dig for more:

And now, you can go and do some exercises here:

I think, once you have read and done all of the above, you will become the master of modals :) Also, if you have any questions on modals, please ask me here by simply leaving your posts. I will be more than happy to help you:) Cheers!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are you fed up with snow?

The story of a Swedish man having survived two months in a snow-buried car has been quite popular recently. It's amazing how that guy was able to survive in his car for such a long time without food and in temperatures reaching -30 C! The story motivates me today to talk about a few snowy expressions...

  • blinding snow - roziskrzony śnieg
  • snow-bound - unieruchomiony śniegiem
  • snow bank - zaspa śnieżna

However, my favorite expression is snow job. The phrase could be translated as 'mydlenie oczu' or 'bajerowanie' in Polish. It is mostly an American expression but it is worth remembering it as it is very popular in everyday communication. 

A few examples:
  • His excuse was a real snow job.
  • The presentation he gave us last Tuesday was a snow job.
  • I know that whatever he was saying was a snow job.
  • When we hear that the PM is worried about his citizens, we know we're getting the usual snow job.
Do you like snow? Are you fed up with it this winter? Have you done a snow job on anybody recently? Talk soon! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Are you interested in GEOGRAPHY?

Today I wanted to ask everybody this question: Are you interested in Geography? I have always founf this subjct extremely interesting. I remember that I have always wanted to read books on people's adventures, their journeys, explorations, etc. It was a real pleasure for me to read about countries, landscapes, etc. Have you ever watched Cejrowski's movies? They're just awesome! Below, I give you some words and phrases connected with geography:

ON LAND (na lądzie):
  • steppe - step
  • tundra - tundra
  • uplands - wyżyny
  • summit - wierzchołek
  • valley - dolina
  • swamp - bagna
  • volcano - wulkan
  • desert island - bezludna wyspa
  • land - ziemia
  • low-lying - nizinny
  • mainland - kontynent
  • area - powierzchnia
  • archipelago - archipelag
  • atoll - atol
  • canyon - kanion
  • cape - przylądek
  • moraine - morena
  • cave - jaskinia
  • mountain - góra
  • cliff - klif
  • mountainous - górzysty
  • peak - szczyt
  • on the coast - na wybrzeżu
  • peninsula - półwysep
  • plain - równina
  • coastal - przybrzezny, nadmorski
  • prairie - preria
  • coastline - linia brzegowa
  • precipice - przepaść, urwisko
  • desert - pustynia
  • range - pasmo
  • foot - płaski
  • reef - rafa
  • foot - podnóże
  • glacier - lodowiec
  • ridge - grzbiet
  • headland - cypel
  • rock - skała
  • highlands - pogórze, obszar, górzysty
  • rocky - kamienisty
  • hill - wzgórze
  • sand dune - wydma
  • hilly - pagórkowaty
  • savanna - sawanna
  • hillock - pagórek
  • mountain scenery - krajobraz górski
  • horizon - horyzont
  • island - wyspa
  • steep slope - strome zbocze
I've decided to give list of words as you may find it useful to learn and/or revise some of these words before your exam or MATURA or maybe you would like to use them in your homework :) Here, I wanted to repeat my question: Are you interested in Geography? Is this your subject at school? What do you think is the most exciting aspect of learning Geography? Or are you a geography student? Why? Please write! Talk soon!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do you often escape into the world of shopping?

I guess many people would say 'yes' to this question. Let's talk about shopping for a while. How do you usually pay for your shopping? Is it by credit card (kartą kredytową) or in cash (gotówką)? Some shops do not accept (nie akceptuje) credit cards and then you need to find the nearest cash dispenser (BrE)/ATM (AmE) (bankomat) to withdraw (pobrać) some cash. What do you buy most often apart from food? Is this household equipment (AGD) or maybe household detergents (środki czystości)? How often do you visit your bakery (piekarnia) or cake shop (cukiernia)? I myself do the shopping every second day. I just don't like taking too many things in advance (na zapas). Looking forward to your posts! Talk soon :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

St Valentine's Day - how did you celebrate it?

Yesterday many people celebrated St Valentine's Day. Did you? This is a day that is believed to be the day of love declaring, ensuring, sharing, etc.  How did you spend the day? Did you go out? Did you stay in? Did you exchange gifts?

Since I have a bit twisted sense of humor, I would like to talk about a slightly different situation when you actually break up with your girlfriend... I know, I know... I shouldn't be telling such things, but still... I want to make this post a bit different :) So if you broke up with your girl, are you back in the game (wracać do gry) now or maybe you don't know where to begin (jak się do tego zabrać)? I think, the first thing you should do is go to a bar and try meeting a few girls but you shouldn't latch on (przyczepić się) to the first one that catches your eye! Before you make the final decision about your potential girlfriend, they say it is a good idea to play the field first (umawiać się z kilkoma dziewczynami jednocześnie). This may be risky, but if you're really looking for that only one...

Looking forward to your responses!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do you like sightseeing?

I do! Whenever I can, I go sightseeing (zwiedzanie). The first thing you need to do, you need to check when a particular tourist attraction is open, so you need to check its opening hours (godziny otwarcia) and visiting hours (godziny zwiedzania). You should also find out when the last entry is (ostatnie wejście) or when the next guided tour is (następne wejście z przewodnikiem). The sad thing is you need to visit a place called 'ticket office' (kasa biletowa) to get yourself a ticket. Sometimes tickets are cheaper if you buy advance tickets (bilety w przedsprzedazy). It may also happen that tickets are sold out (wyprzedane) and you need to go somewhere else. Many people are happy when admission is free (wstęp bezpłatny). After each visit people usually go to a souvenir shop (sklep z pamiątkami) and leave a lot of money there! When sightseeing you need to watch out for such notices as 'No flash photography!' (Zakaz robienia zdjęć z lampą błyskową!) or 'No filming!' (Zakaz filmowania!) as if you don't adhere to (dostosować się do) the regulations you may simply be shown the door :) So tell us about your adventures as a sightseer!

Irregular Verbs - revise quickly!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Outdoors Information Messages

Do you play bridge?

On Friday I was talking to Robert, one of my friends, about the game he plays, i.e. bridge. I myself have never learnt how to play the game although I have always wanted to learn it. I remember that once I was even reading some book on 'how to play bridge'... I found it too difficult then and I gave up as I had no one to play with... Today I don't really want to learn the game but I thought I would take a look at the basic rules again. It's not my intention to teach anybody the game as I can't play it myself, but I would like to look at the rules for the sake of looking at the rules :) If you know the rules, please let me know :) I also want to ask you to write about the pleasures you get from playing this card game? Is it really worth trying? Why? Why not?

As I've learnt from Robert, bridge is played with a deck (talia) of 52 cards. We also need four people; there are two teams playing against each other. Of course, as we know, there are four suits (kolory) in cards: clubs (trefle), diamonds (karo), spades (piki) and hearts (kiery). As far as I remember (I play cards from time to time), there are 13 cards in each suit and in bridge, the deuce (dwójka) is the lowest card in the suit and the ace (as) is the highest.

I've read that first we need tot draw cards to select the person to deal the cards. Such a person is called the dealer (rozdający). The cards are distributed clockwise and face down, one at a time. Each player has to have a hand of 13 cards.

As far as I understand, the aim of the game consists in that each partnership tries to win as many tricks (lewa) as possible.I know, there is also something called bidding (licytacja) but I have no idea what you bid and why and how? Robert also told  me there are some various value contracts in the game...

The rest I don't know :) So, if you know more, please write here about the rules of the game and tell me why it is such an exciting game - as I heard from Robert... Talk soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's your favorite day of the week?

The poll is closed now, and 60% of voters have selected Friday as their favorite day of the week! It is really interesting... My next question that comes no mind now is WHY? Why is Friday your favorite day of the week? After all you still have to work, school... The days that are off work are the weekend days, am I right? What made you choose Friday as the best day? Also, defenders of other days, please voice your opinions on your other favorite day of the week!

Since Friday is the winner :) Let's just focus on Friday for a second... Did you know that Piętaszek from Robinson Crusoe is called man Friday? Man Friday also refers to a person who is a devoted male employee; it's a man who is a personal assistant to someone and who does general office work, this person is trustworthy and efficient and is ready to attend faithfully to a diversity of tasks, in Polish we call such a guy 'człowiek od wszystkiego'. Many people, although quite illegitimately, are afraid of Friday the 13th (any day when the 13th day of the month is a Friday), this is called Black Friday. Last but not least, is Good Friday, which holy day which commemorates the day of Jesus' death on the cross. Talk soon!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How did you cope with the freezing weather last week?

My friend Naftali from San Diego, CA in the USA asked me this question: "I was a little concerned about how you are managing with the dire weather situation in your part of the wood." Indeed, the temperatures we had to fight against last week were as low as  -15 F (-26 C)! I know that such temperatures are unthinkable for Californians :) What could have I said? I replied that we had had to wear warm clothes and avoid sticking our noses outdoors! That's it! What else can one do if the weather is this freezing? Well, how would you answer Naftali's question?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why do we sometimes use -ing and sometimes infinitive verb forms?

This question I was asked by my friend Darek the other day (see the picture). There are a few rules that govern this issue. Let me answer...

Sprawa wcale nie jest aż tak skomplikowana... Po pierwsze, jeśli chodzi o tzw. stative verbs, to są to czasowniki 'nie dynamiczne' czyli raczej 'stateczne' i zazwyczaj odnoszą się do tzw. biernego stanu umysłu, czyli think, believe, know, itd. Te czasowniki najczęściej same występują bez form -ing. Natomiast inną sprawą jest to, co może pojawiać się po tych właśnie 'stative verbs'. Te kwestię też reguluje kilka fajnych zasad, o których nie będę się rozpisywał, ponieważ chciałbym się odnieść jedynie to sprawy zawartej w pytaniu. Jeśli mamy do czynienia z tzw. czasownikami wyrażającymi preferncje, np. enjoy, like, detest, hate - to zasada jest taka, że po tych czasownikach z kolei zazwyczaj uzywamy formy kolejnego czasownika z -ing. Stąd, powiemy: enjoy swimming, like going, hate watching, itp. Ogólnie rzecz biorąc jest też taki generalny podział na czasowniki, po których występuje forma -ing, a po których bezokolicznik (z 'to' lub bez 'to). Tutaj znów, pojawia się niejako odpowiedź co do drugiej części pytania o to dlaczego po want jest bezokolicznik z 'to'. No właśnie jest bezokolicznik z 'to', ponieważ czasownik want należy do tych, po których używamy pełnej formy bezokolicznika... Wniosek końcowy jest taki, że trzeba jakby oswoić się z czasownikami z jednej i drugiej grupy i najlepiej jest zapamiętać, jaka forma występuje po jakich czasownikach... Jest to trochę problematyczne, bo - co tu dużo mówić - trzeba sprawę 'zakuć' - lub tak wyćwiczyć, że potem człowiek się już nie zastanawia :) Oczywiście, jak wspomniałem wyżej, jest kilka zasad, które poza 'zakuciem' trochę mogą zawsze pomóc, np. ta zasada, która mówi, że po czasownikach wyrażających preferncje używamy -ing. Mam nadzieję, że teoria i ćwiczenia podane w linkach niżej jeszcze bardziej rozjaśnią tę sprawę :) Pozdrowionka! 

Co to jest GERUND?

Present Simple - theory and practice

Yesterday I was explaining the form and usage of the Present Simple tense to my friend Iwona :) Did you know that this tense is really the king of all present tenses? When I say the 'king' I mean that it is the most frequently used tense of all present tenses in English. it is so powerful and has at least ten different usages. You can read, learn and practice the tense if you go and visit the links attached below. If you have any questions about the tense, I am eager to explain things to you :) Talk soon!

Conditionals in English - are they a problem for you?

For some time now my friend Małgosia and I have been practicing English conditionals. I have noticed that the most problematic conditional type is the third. Would you agree? For some reason people can't remember the structure If + Past Perfect Simple/Continuous, would/could + have + V (third form). Anyhow, below you will find a few useful links as regards conditionals in English :) I hope this will help you understand them better and practice them until you master them :) Talk soon!


Zero Conditional:

First Conditional:

Second Conditional:

Third Conditional:

Mixed Conditionals:


Do you play the guitar?

Today I wanted to brag a bit about my son, who has played the guitar for two years now. He plays the guitar (gra na gitarze) with enthusiasm and I really love listening to him playing the instrument. He has a great guitar teacher (nauczyciel gitary). Very often they play together and then I can admire their mini concerts. Then my son usually accompanies him on the guitar (akompaniuje na gitarze). My son plays classical guitar (gitara klasyczna) but recently he bought himself an acoustic one (akustyczna). From time to time he grabs an electric guitar and plays louder chords (akordy). I may say my son has become an ear pleasing guitar player (gitarzysta). Below you can listen to one of his last learned pieces.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Have you ever been thrown in at the deep end?

The other day I was talking with one of my students about a nice situation when my interlocutor said he had been given a difficult job to do and it had happened before he had the knowledge and any experience for it. He didn't feel comfortable then because he simply didn't know how to work it out (nie wiedział jak to ugryźć). Then he said 'byłem rzucony na głęboką wodę', and then he asked how to express it in English... The English language has a nice idiom for this - to be thrown in at the deep end. Therefore, I am asking you the question: "Have you ever been thrown in at the deep end?" Tell us all about it :)

In my first teaching job, I was thrown in at the deep end with a class of about 20 people who were only a few years older than myself then :) However, I managed. Managers often think the best way to introduce new workers to the job is to throw them in at the deep end. Talk soon!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Rite

I watched a great movie today... 'The Rite" with Anthony Hopkins, watch the trailer here. The word 'rite' means 'obrządek, ceremonia, obrzęd'. Hence we can talk about 'Latin rite' - 'obrządek łaciński' or 'religious rite' - 'obrządek religijny' and 'last rites' is 'ostatnie namaszczenie' The film is really compelling and I do recommend it. Has anybody watched it? What do you think?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Competition!

February has just started so I cordially invite you to take part in this month's competition! While we're waiting for the January Quiz winner let me just set the task for this month :)

Describe any event in your life that calls/called for celebration: for example, passing your driving test, getting your first car, getting a job, finishing an important course, passing an important exam, receiving an award for some exceptional achievement. Write a post describing the celebration. Looking forward to your posts till the end of February! Of course, there is a prize: an MP3 file with an English dialog.

Do you have good credit standing?

Yesterday I was talking to Kamil, a friend of mine, whom I teach English, and we were talking about a very popular issue nowadays, that is the so called credit standing (zdolność kredytowa). He was happy to announce he had very good credit standing, but do you? The times are harsh these days so it is hard to prove your creditworthiness/borrowing power/credit capacity (these are other names for zdolność kredytowa). He is lucky and he can afford to buy himself a nice flat in Warsaw. I guess, he's going to have a good run for his money (dobrze wyda pieniądze)! To sum up, when he gets that credit, he will have a great injection of money (zastrzyk pieniędzy)!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to say it in Polish/English? I am here to help :)

Jak to powiedzieć...? Nie wiesz jak to wyrazić po angielsku? Pisz! Tylko pamiętaj, że to nie jest miejsce do zlecania tłumaczeń tekstów. :) Pytaj o słowa, wyrażenia, zdania, a ja chętnie Ci pomogę. :) Or, on the other hand, if you're learning Polish and if you don't know how to word something, I will be happy to help. :)

What the dickens?!

Recently I have started listening to an audiobook by Charles Dickens (the famous novelist of the Victorian period), i.e. Great Expectations. It's funny, but in English there are a few nice phrases connected with the word 'dickens'. The word itself means 'diabeł, bies, licho' and is used in such phrases as "What the dickens?" - "Co u licha?" or 'raise the dickens" - "robić piekło". Today, I could ask this "Why the dickens isn't this weather warming up?" It's -20 C now!


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