Hi Everyone!

As we all know, it is much easier to say things than to do things. However, many of us would still rather use our words than use our actions. 

In English, we have some idioms that describe such a situation where people say things that they cannot prove because they do not take action. 

Here are a few of them:

Talk is cheap
-this means "talking is easy to do so people will talk a lot to make themselves feel or look good"
-this is often said when someone makes a commitment but the other person does not really believe them until they take action
-or it is said when someone expresses their opinion but does not prove it

A: I'm the best at this video game!
B: Yeah? Well, talk is cheap, so let's play!

A: I am going to buy you a new car!
B: Hey, talk is cheap. I will believe that when I see a new red car in the driveway.

Action speak louder than words
-this is less of an idiom and more of a collocation, however, actions cannot "speak", but in English, we often use "speak" to mean "communicate"
-here, louder means "more believable" or "more convincing" - "convincing" means it can change your mind / opinion

A: I love you!
B: Well, actions speak louder than words. You should show me that you love me. 

Put your money where your mouth is
-this is most often said when someone claims to be better at something than someone else or when someone wants to challenge someone who made a claim in a competion
-this implies that people want to wager or bet money and compete in a challenge - the winner of the challenge will take the money, yet, when this idiom is used, it rarely involves money

A: I am the best at this video game!
B: Yeah? Haha, ok, put your money where your mouth is...let's play!

"Put your money where your mouth is!"

"You say you care about the environment, but you still drive a car! Put your money where your mouth is...walk to work instead."

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Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)
Hello everyone,

In English, there are different expressions that we use to mean 'we are going to sleep'.

You can say these when you are going to sleep for the night and wake up in the morning:

(to) hit the sack
-this is a common expression which is a “fun” way to say “go to bed”
-maybe, many years ago, while people were working, they would take a break and sleep on a real sack!

A father to his son:
“It's time for you to hit the sack. You have school tomorrow morning.” 



(to) hit the hay
-this is a common, “fun” way to say "go to bed"
-”hay” is found on a farm, and maybe, people used to take breaks and sleep while they were working on a farm, or maybe, poor people used hay to sleep on
 - these days, they expressions means “go to bed for the night”

“I have to work early tomorrow, so I'm going to hit the hay. I'll see you tomorrow morning.”

(on a farm)

"Hitting the Hay"

(to) go beddy-bye

-this is less common that the others and is a “cute” way to say “go to bed”
-this sounds like the person is a small child
-you can say this to someone if you want to tease them or joke with them and pretend that they are a “little child”

“Are you going beddy-bye now? It's only 10pm! Ok, good night.”

(to) catch some Zs

-this is a “cool” way to say “going to bed”
-this is usually said by young people or young adults
-In English, the letter “z” represents the sounds we make when we are sleeping
-this usually means that you have stayed up very late and will only go to bed for a short time

“It's late. I'm gonna go catch some Z's. “

Catching some Z's
(in the cartoons)


There are also different expressions to say
take a nap”:

take a snooze
-this is common (but not as common as “take a nap”)

“I'm going to take a snooze before the party tonight.”

take a siesta 
-this is not common, but maybe you will hear it
-”siesta” is a Spanish word which means “nap”

“I like to take a little siesta on Saturday afternoons.”

In Britain, you may also hear people say, 
"forty winks". This means to take a very short nap, usually when you are on the bus or subway, etc.

“I couldn't sleep last night and I am so tired. Maybe I can get forty-winks on the bus ride to work.”

Can you think of any other expressions in English that mean “go to sleep”?

Post them as a reply to this blog post and I will correct them for you.

I'm going to take a snooze after this blog post...

Happy English!

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Gerry ( ;)

There are many phrasal verbs in English and improving your speaking skills often means learning and studying them. This can pose a challenge because there are so many of them! However, do not fret (this means, 'do not worry'), because there is hope! Most native English-speakers use the same phrasal verbs over and over again, so to improve your English speaking, you really only have to know a portion of the phrasal verbs that exist.

One of the most commonly used phrasal verbs is:

                     set up

This phrasal verb is common most likely due to the fact that it has many definitions and uses.

...to Set Up can mean:

*to establish as an organization, business, etc.

A group of students in my class set up a new study club. 

They set up a new business selling used vintage clothes.

setting up a new business


*to assemble; to physically connect / put together

They set up their new home theater system. 

setting up electronic equipment


to put into power

The rebel forces took control and set up a new president and a new government. 

setting up a new government


*to arrange for someone to be blamed for something (this is also called 'to frame someone')

The criminals set up the innocent man for the crime.  

setting someone up for a crime 
by putting evidence in their room 
(this is also called 'planting evidence')


Do you know any other uses for the phrasal verb 'set up'?

Post your example sentences as a reply to this blog post, and I will correct them for you. 

Study more phrasal verbs on my FREE English-learning website!

Visit Youtube and subscribe to my Youtube channel and study more phrasal verbs!

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)
Hello folks, 

Here is your idiom of the nite:

to Step Up

Actually, 'to step up' can have slightly different meanings, but they are all usually related to "increasing" something (usually a level). 

*If someone 'steps up', it means they are increasing their acceptance of more responsibility in their lives and expecting a greater performance from themselvesMost often, this happens during a crucial point in time. 

For example:

A father talking to his son:
Well, my son, you are 18 years old now. You are an adult and it's time for you to step up and take more responsibility in your life...you must get a job.

My boss made me the head of our group at work. It's time for me to step up and show everyone how skillful I am at leadership. 

*A common phrase is, "...step up to the podium...". A 'podium' is like a 'tall box' that people stand in front of during a speech or presentation (see below for a picture and example of a podium).

*'Step up' can also mean to increase your speed

You are working too slow; step it up!

*If people 'step something up', it means they increase its level

For example: 
The factory stepped up production during the months before Christmas.

There are more uses of 'step up'. If you want, you can reply to this post and write some example sentences, and I can check them for you...

If you want to 'step up' your English study, subscribe to my Youtube channel for free English tutoring videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6I25RQpdR4SuVEwcoyZ4tg

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)

                 a podium  ---->
"Please, step up to the podium and  receive your award!"

A person standing behind a PODIUM

Happy Independence Day!

Today, July 4, marks the day that the United States of America declared their independence from England, forming an independent country in 1776.

To be an 'independent' country, means that a country is no longer 'dependent' on another country. Being 'dependent' means that someone replies on someone else to make decisions for them.

independent = not dependent

...so, 'in-', which is a prefix, must mean 'not'...and it does! ('In' can also can mean 'in'). Actually, 'not' can take the form: im- or ir- too.

We can see this in other words:

im-, in-, ir- = not

---> impossible = not possible

---> insane = not sane

---> irrational = not rational

Do you see? Many times in English, the definition of the word can be known by paying close attention to the type of letters inside!

These groups of letters are called 'roots'. 

A root is a part of a word from one language that is used in another. 

Many English words are made up of old Latin and Greek roots which come from ancient Latin and Greek words.

A prefix is a type of root.

All prefixes are roots, but not all roots are prefixes. Most English words have a main root, but not all have a prefix.

Actually, the word 'prefix' HAS a prefix ---> 'pre-'.

pre- = before

This means that prefixes come before the other letters in a word which means that prefixes come at the beginning of a word. Do you see? The roots inside a word gives meaning to that word. The prefix 'pre-' gives definition to the word 'prefix'. If you didn't know the meaning of 'prefix', but you knew the meaning of 'pre-', then you could guess the meaning of it as being 'before-something'.

A suffix is a type of root that goes at the end of a word (-tion, -er, etc.). I will discuss suffixes and main roots in a future post.

There are many other prefixes in English.

co-, col-, com-, con-, cor- = together, with

coworker = together + work ---> a person you work with


Other prefixes (and roots):

auto- = self

mobile (self + move)

autobiography (self + life + write)
= life
= write, draw

ab-, a-, abs-, au-
= away from

abnormal = away from normal


inter- = between

national = between + nations ---> between countries

Now, let's look at the word 'independence' again.

Did you know that sometimes, English words can have more than one prefix? 

The word 'independence' does!

It has two prefixes and one other main root:

'in-' = not
'de'- = remove (descend, decaffeinated, etc.)

main root:
-pend- = to hang

-ence- = noun

Here, if someone is “hanging”, they are experiencing a challenge, so this means they have a “problem” or a 'difficulty”. So, 'depend' = 'remove + the hanging (difficulty)' or 'remove the problem because someone will help you'.

However, 'independence' = 'not remove the hanging' – so this means that people who are independent must solve their difficulties themselves.

There are many many more roots, prefixes, and suffixes in English. Studying them will help you improve your vocabulary, so...Stay tuned to my blog for more posts on roots and vocabulary!

Happy independence Day!

Visit my website to study more roots:

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Happy English!


Gerry ( ;)

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Today marks the day, July 1, 1867, that Canada enacted their Constitution Act and was officially born as a distinct country (still apart of the then-British Empire).

So, we say, “Happy Canada Day!”

Actually, English-speakers add “Happy...” in front of many holidays or special days to mean:

Happy   (special day)  !”   =   “I hope you enjoy   (special day)   !

For example, we say this for holidays:

New Year's Day ---> "Happy New Year!"
(you can say this for the New Year's Days of all cultures)

Easter ---> “Happy Easter!”

Ramadan ---> “Happy Ramadan!”

Passover ---> “Happy Passover!”

Thanksgiving ---> “Happy Thanksgiving!”
(you can say this for the Thanksgivings of all cultures)

Halloween ---> “Happy Halloween!”

Mother's Day ---> “Happy Mother's Day , mom!”

Father's Day ---> “Happy Father's Day, dad!”

Children's Day ---> “Happy Children's Day!”


However, for Christmas, we say:

Merry Christmas!

In North American culture, “Merry Christmas” is very popular and traditional, however, some people become angry and offended if they hear it. Instead, these people prefer to say a “generic term”. This means it is a term that can be used for many holidays and there is no need to even identify the holiday. They simply say:

“Happy Holiday!”
 (you can say this for any holiday...it's generic)
"Happy Holidays!" (for periods of holidays)
(you can say this for any holiday...it's generic)

We can also do this for periods of time that have just begun:

summer ---> “Happy summer, everyone!”

winter ---> “Happy winter!”

mid-term (a break at school) ---> “Happy midterm!”

going back to school ---> “Happy back-to-school!”

last day of school ---> “Happy last-day-of-school!”

vacation ---> “Have a happy vacation, everybody!”

...and of course:

birthday ---> "Happy Birthday!"

Even the expression “Happy Days” is used. It means “memorable periods of our lives”. “Happy Days” was even the title of an old t.v. show that was extremely popular in the 1970s.

“Do you remember high school? Oh, those were happy days!”

Can you think of another holiday or special day where people say, “Happy...” before it? 
Or, do you have a question? 
If so, you are invited to post a reply!

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Visit my website for free English listening exercises!

Happy Canada Day! (again)

Happy Your-Country's-Day-when-it-is-its-birthday!

Happy English!


Gerry ( ;)

Hi all,

There are so many idioms and expressions in English, and one that is often overlooked, yet used quite often in North America is I bet...”
(In the United Kingdom, its equivalent is "I reckon...")

'To bet' means to wager. 'To wager' means to put down money on a prediction that you made or on a probability of something happening. If your prediction comes true, you win money. If it doesn't come true, you lose the money you put up. Of course, this is used as an idiom, and idioms do not really mean what they say, so this is not how we usually use "I bet..."

As an idiom, when someone says, I bet...” it means they make a casual prediction about something.

We can use this for things we predict will or will not happen in the future:

I bet my favorite soccer team wins the game tonight.”

I bet she arrives late again! She is always late.”

We can use this for things we predict that are true in the present:

I bet mom has finished cooking dinner. Let's go to the kitchen.”

I bet you're tired. Let's go to bed.”

We can use this for things we predict did or didn't happen in the past:

I bet you didn't do your homework.”

I bet you forgot my name!”

We also use I bet! when we want to agree with someone in a sarcastic way. Notice the use of the exclamation mark to denote emotion. 

A: She only likes expensive gifts.
B: Yeah, I bet!

For this definition, we can use I bet! alone, or we can repeat the verb and pronoun in the original statement:

A: He wants more candy.
B: Yeah, I bet he does! (here, the stress is on 'does')

We also say, I bet!” when we do not believe someone and we want to disagree with them. It is said sarcastically in this situation.

A: I am a rich business owner. Let's go on a date.
B: Yeah, I bet! No way!

We also say, You bet!”

You bet!” is said as a cute, fun way of saying “Yes!” when someone asks for something.

A: Can I have another beer, please?
B: You bet!

We also say, You bet!” when someone understates a (perceived) fact (this means they state a fact casually) and we want them to say it more seriously. So, we confirm what they said very assertively.

For example,
A: You are very beautiful.
B: You bet I'm beautiful!

A: Ew! It's really hot outside!
B: You bet it's hot outside!

I bet you learned something new and I bet you will use "I bet..." in your next English conversation.

I bet you think I'm a smart teacher now.

I bet you enjoyed this blog post on 'I bet' so much that you will visit my Youtube channel and subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6I25RQpdR4SuVEwcoyZ4tg

Happy English!

Gerry ( ;)
"Hello guys!"...oops!...er, sorry, I mean...

...Hello folks!

During many of my English-conversation classes, the topic of plane rides and travelling always comes up in many of our discussions. This means that, more often than not, I will hear my clients using the term, "stewardess". 

For example, 

"Then, the stewardess told me to put my seat up and get ready for lunch..." 
"Oh, I see. So, the flight attendant wanted to make room for the person behind you?"
"Huh? What's flight attendant?" 

I always have to remind each of my students that, these days, many native English-speakers try to avoid using gender-specific terms like stewardess or policeman. Instead, gender-neutral terms like, flight attendant and police officer are used. Why? Because woman work at these jobs too! And because some people feel that declaring their gender is not important and they wish to kept it private. 

One day, a student told me:

"The waitress brought me the wrong dish and I got angry!"
"Oh, I see. So, your server mixed up your order?" I corrected. 

So, which gender do you think the "server" was? Yes. The server was (most likely) a woman. We know because the student used the word "waitress". The "-ess" is called a suffix and suffixes go at the end of words.
In this case, "-ess" means "female-version of ___". So, the male is "waiter" and the female is "waitress". The male is "prince" and the female is "princess". Yet, many woman find this to be disrespectful because  "princess" = "prince" + "-ess", which means the male-form is the original root of the word and it is found inside the "female-version".  Notice that the word "female" has the root "-male" in it already. 

So, if you use "waitress", then people will know that that person was a woman. Also, there are some people who are biologically-female, and feel they are male. This is another reason why people use gender-neutral language and terms. Some people want to keep their gender private and believe that it doesn't matter if the person is (perceived as) female or male. 

Really, I believe that it is your choice which type of language to use, however, I usually use gender-neutral language because most people seem to appreciate it as respectful and because it seems to avoid conflict. :)

Here is a list of some gender-neutral terms and their antiquated pair.

fireman ---> fire fighter
waiter / waitress ---> server
stewardess / steward ---> flight attendant 
salesman / saleslady ---> sales person / sales clerk
chairman ---> chairperson
councilman ---> council member
deliveryman ---> delivery person / delivery clerk
freshman ---> first year student

fellow-student ---> co-student
stock boy ---> grocery clerk
paper boy ---> paper carrier
maid / chambermaid --->  housekeeper
manpower ---> workers
mankind ---> humanity / humankind 
manmade ---> handmade
house wife ---> homemaker (since men can stay home and "make the home" as their vocation)

There are many more, so stay tuned to this blog for more in the future...or just check the internet. Search keywords: gender-neutral terms / titles, etc. 

Oh yeah...I forgot one more:

guys ---> folks

Hahaha....so....now you know why I made a mistake at the beginning of this blog post. At first, I said "guys", which means "males". Many people say, "guys" when they are referring to a group of people, even if there are woman in that group. Instead, I chose to say, "folks", which is an old-fashioned way of saying, "people". However, if more people begin to use this gender-neutral word...than it won't be so "old-fashioned" anymore!

Happy English!

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Do you wanna tutor online with me? Message me for a free trial lesson...special summer rates:

Gerry  ( ;)


Hi everyone, 

Since I just did a blog post on forming phrasal verbs with "up", I figured I would do a blog post on phrasal verbs with "down". (To 'figure' something, in this case, means 'to think something is appropriate and a good idea'.)

Most (but not all), phrasal verbs with "down" in them mean:

                       *to reduce something

For example, 

tone down = reduce the volume or frequency of something
"Please tone it down! Your noise is too loud!"
"You should tone down your drinking (alcohol)!"

cut down (on) = reduce your intake / participation of something
"I need to cut down on how much bread I eat."
"Cut down on your complaining! You sound like a baby!"

break down = reduce how complicated (difficult to understand) something is 
(to divide an idea or concept into parts to understand it better)
“I know the lesson is difficult. Let me break it down for you.”
“You can ask the accountant and she will break down the numbers for you.”

dumb downreduce the intelligence of something
“The people could not understand him, so the scientist had to dumb down his explanation.”
“Over the years, television has dumbed people down.”

play down = reduce the importance of something
Why are you playing down your achievements? You have accomplished a lot in this company!”
The politician tried to play down the seriousness of the disaster.”

drag down = reduce something to the same (low) level
You should not spend so much time with your friends. They are dragging you down at school.”
I want to stop dating (you). You are dragging me down. I want more from life.”

However, there are some phrasal verbs (but are not many) with "down" that do not mean 'to reduce __'.
For example: 
let (someone) down = to fail to help someone / to fail to keep a commitment 
"I am sorry I let you down. I will do better next time!"

Yet, almost of the other phrasal verbs with "down" mean to 'reduce ___'.

Check out my Youtube video where I talk more about phrasal verbs with "down":

If you have any questions, or have a phrasal verb with "down" and you want to know if it means to 'reduce something', post a reply below!

Happy English!

English Expressions
Hello everyone,

Some weeks ago, I did a video on Youtube about adding the preposition "up" to some simple verbs to form "phrasal verbs". 

Remember, this is only done to some verbs. 
For example: 
*eat ---> eat up                          
*clean ---> clean up
*listen ---> listen up
*pay ---> pay up
*wait ---> wait up
*drink ---> drink up

"Listen up" is a little different than just saying "listen". It does not mean "listen to something that is above you". That would be verb + preposition (up) and this has a physical meaning (direction).
"Listen up" is said in the imperative form and means you want someone to diligently and attentively listen. 
So, adding "up" to these simple verbs is like forming a "phrasal verb" because the combination of the verb and "up" forms a slightly different meaning than the verb alone or than the verb with the preposition "up". 

When native English-speakers add "up" to some simple verbs, the meaning (usually and almost) stays the same, but for some verbs, if "up" is not added, the sentence sounds a bit strange. 

When "up" is added to verbs, these verbs are usually said in the imperative form. So, "up" is added to:

*sound more authoritative - we add "up" to a simple verb when we want the person to comply or obey with our command

"Pay me my money!"
"Pay up!" - if someone owes you money, this sounds more authoritative

"Clean your room"
"Clean up your room!"
 - this (can) sound more authoritative and is something a parent might say

*make someone do it quickly and diligently 

"Eat your lunch."

"Eat up your lunch." - a parent or teacher (or someone else of authority) would say this to a young person to make them eat everything and eat it quickly

*make someone do something fully

"Drink everyone!" -this is rarely said
"Drink up, everyone!" - someone might say this at a party meaning they want everyone to drink all of their (alcoholic) drinks

*make someone do something a little bit

"Wait for me! You are walking too fast" - this is rarely said
"Wait up for me! You are walking too fast." -someone might say this if two people are walking together, and one slow person wants the other person to wait (a little)

Watch the Youtube video here (and subscribe to my Youtube Channel for weekly tutoring videos): 

If you have any questions or comments, respond to this post. 

Happy English!