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 English-learners,

Remember the differences between:
*maybe (adverb)
*may be (modal + verb)

Much of the confusion between 'maybe' and 'may be' exists because both terms have a similar meaning, as they both explain'the level of 'possibility of something happening'.

'Maybe' is an adverb, which means 'perhaps' or 'possibly' and signifies that something will possibly happen.

'May be” is a verb. Where 'may' is the modal verb (auxiliary verb) and 'be' is either the main verb, or the main auxiliary verb of the present or present perfect continuous tenses, so it is followed by '____ing' and may take the form 'has/have been ____ing'.

With this in mind, we are able to distinguish between the two terms by their position in a sentence. 

Since 'maybe' is an adverb, it is usually placed before the subject but can be placed anywhere in the sentence. 

Maybe it will rain tomorrow.
It will rain tomorrow maybe.

Because 'maybe' is an adverb, and adverbs modify verbs, when we use 'maybe', there will always be a main verb in the sentence that it describes. So, one way to test if you should use 'maybe' or 'may be' is to identify a main verb.

Maybe it will rain tomorrow. 
I will rain tomorrow maybe.
-"will rain" is the main verb in both of these sentences

Since 'may be' is a verb, it is always placed after the subject:

She may be coming to the party this Friday. 
-"She" is the subject and "may be" is its verb

The movies may be starting at 9:00pm. Let's check the movie times.
-"The movies" is the subject and "may be starting" is its verb

It can be followed by ____ing or by an ADJECTIVE.

She may be angry at me. ("angry" is an adjective)

From the above examples, you might notice that 'maybe' and 'may be' can be used to represent the same idea or meaning. Therefore, we can substitute each terms for the other - but YOU MUST RE-ARRANGE PARTS OF THE SENTENCE:
She may be cooking dinner tonight. 
Maybe, she is cooking dinner tonight.
She is cooking dinner tonight maybe

They may be arriving at 7:00pm
They are arriving, maybe, at 7:00pm.

Maybe, they are arriving at 7:00pm.

She may be angry at me.
Maybe, she is angry at me. 

Two More tips...

Remember that:

  • you can substitute 'perhaps' to test for 'maybe'
Maybe, he feels cold.
Perhaps, he will pass the test. (this makes sense)

He may be cold.
He perhaps cold. -THIS IS INCORRECT - 'perhaps' cannot be substituted for 'may be'

  • If there is already a main verb, then you will be using the adverb 'maybe'

He _____ cold. (here, there is no verb)
He may be cold.

Maybe, he feels cold. (here, "feels" is the main verb, so we use the adverb 'maybe')

All the best...and if you have any questions, you are welcome to post them below!

Happy English!



Hello everyone, 

Recently, a subscriber to my Youtube Channel offered a discussion about the differences between could and might and could not and might not.

Both of these can describe possibility, however, may and might indicate a possibility that seems more likely to happen. If I had to roughly pinpoint it, I would say that: 
*May / might indicate more of a 'probability', something more likely to happen 60-70%
*Can / could indicate a possibility of about 50-60%

Of course, these are only estimates. 

For example:

I may be home early. (COMMON)
I might be home early. (VERY COMMON)
I could be home early. (not very common - but not rare either)

I can be home early. (this means 'ability' and not possibility - it can mean possibility, but it is not very commonly used in that way


Avoid using could not for possibilities.

Could not is sometimes used for possibilities, but it sounds awkward sometimes. 

I may not be home in time for dinner tonight. (COMMON)

I might not be home in time for dinner tonight.

I could not be home in time for dinner tonight. 
(NOT COMMON for possibility - this sounds formal and old - it also sounds like they are talking about a past ability that could not be done).

I can not be home in time for dinner tonight. 
(this is ability only)

Could not is used for (negative) past abilities, but rarely for (negative) possibilities in the present

Watch my Youtube video on Can and Could here: 

Watch my Youtube video on May and Might here: 

( ;)