When is now?

Last week we mentioned the possible ambiguity of the question: “Are you doing anything tonight?” This can, of course, mean different things depending on the context. This is tricky enough, but if you don’t have an –ing form in your first language, like for example German, French, Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Japanese to name just a few, it becomes doubly difficult! Especially if you’ve been told by some well-meaning teacher that ‘the present continuous’ is about ‘now’. Unlike some schools, here at ETC we enjoy dealing with these challenging areas! And as for ‘now’, what do you mean by that? When is ‘now’? Before I disappear into my own linguistic navel I’d better stop. I’ll leave you with another little teaser in the form of another short exchange. You have to think about who said it and where? There’s more than one answer. Be creative! J

“Are you the fish?”

“No. I’m the chicken.”

Until next week, byeee.



Welcome back to the ETC Blog. Many followers of the blog noted that last week we were particularly ‘blogless’. Was it because of the bank holiday? they asked. Well actually, it was due to/because of/as a result of a slight technical hitch, which has now been sorted. (Sorted is an anagram for Dorset, by the way!)

Anyway, I hope you had a super bank holiday Monday! A year ago last week I wrote in the blog (blog 32) about ‘comprehensible input’, how people learn a foreign language by understand ‘messages’, as Stephen Krashen (1983) puts it: ‘We acquire language when we understand messages, what people tell us and what we read.’ Yes, it really is a whole year ago! Where does time go? Anyway, today I want to start looking at how language is perceived, not just in terms of the words which are spoken, but what we understand by them. I’ll begin with this: what do you understand from the following short exchange?

“What was the food like?”

“Well the wine was OK.”

No answers on postcards please! Have a nice week. More next Monday.


Welcome back to the ETC blog. For any students and teachers reading this, you are probably familiar with the IELTS exam. If you’re not familiar with it, then check out this website. https://www.ielts.org/

In the speaking part of the exam you may be asked to talk about a place you once visited. If this happens, don’t just talk about what you can see; remember to include all the senses! What did you hear, touch, smell or taste when you visited this place? Here’s an example.

“ One of the most interesting places I have ever visited in England is Corfe Castle, near Bournemouth. Although it is ruined, it looks magnificent, perched on top of a hill. I felt exhausted climbing the steps and my legs ached. At the top of the hill I could feel the sun and wind on my face and hear birds singing in the trees and the children playing in the picturesque village below. The aroma of the traditional fish and chips gave me quite an appetite and before I left, I tried the delicious home made ice-cream.”

Subconsciously, the examiner will probably award you higher marks because they will relate to some images more positively than other. We have lots of useful tips like this at ETC, tips which I can’t share on the blog, so come and visit us! J

Making sense.

VISUAL: I’ll shed some light on the situation, my minds gone blank, the future looks rosy.

AUDITORY: That rings a bell, that strikes a chord, for whom the bell tolls, I’m all ears.

KINAESTHETIC: I’m falling to pieces, a pain in the neck, I’m under pressure, I’ve fallen in love.

OLFACTORY/GUSTATORY: I smell a rat, it’s a bit cheesy, it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

It has been noted that people with a particular preference for one sense over any of the others, use the language of that sense more frequently. Consequently, when good writers are writing a description they make sure they catch everybody by not only saying what things look like, but also what they sound, feel, smell and taste like too!

Think about this for the next seven days and we’ll delve deeper next time. From the ETC blog, with now over 18,000 words to its name, bye for now! Oh, and congratulations from everyone in my office at ETC to Manchester City FC for retaining the Premier League title yesterday. J

Fun fact…

Welcome to May, the only month named after a modal auxiliary! (See blogs 8, 9, and 10, November 2017! Yes, we’ve been going that long!) Anyway, last week I promised you some sensory idioms to identify, so here they are. So, as before you have, five V, five A, and five K. However, this week I’ve included O and G as well. Good luck. J

That rings a bell – it’s a piece of cake – I’m falling to pieces – a pain in the neck – I smell a rat – that strikes a chord – I’ll shed some light on the situation – it’s a bit cheesy – for whom the bell tolls – my minds gone blank – I’m all ears – it left a bitter taste in my mouth – the future looks rosy – I’m under pressure – I’ve fallen in love.

Solution in next week’s blog. So, before it turns into an impression of the TV show Catchphrase, have a nice ETC week!

Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic.

Hope you had some fun separating the senses in last week’s task. J Let’s run through them:

VISUAL: I can picture that clearly, look at it this way, I take a dim view of that, what are you focusing on,

we see things the same way.

AUDITORY: I hear what you’re saying, it’s all Greek to me, I’ve just clicked,

we’re on different wavelengths, that’s uncalled for.

KINAESTHETIC: I catch your drift, I’ve made a connection, we’re close in a lot of ways, let me run this by you, it’s just struck me.

I trust you got them all. If you find yourself using expressions related to mainly one sense, maybe this says something about you. J Next week we’ll do a similar activity with idioms, but it will be a day late as there’s another bank holiday. Until then, byee.


Welcome back to the multi-sensory ETC blog. I hope you had a pleasant Easter Break and enjoyed the poem. Last week I mentioned how the senses are often represented in everyday English expressions. This week I’d like to set you a task which is related to this. Can you separate the following fifteen expressions into three groups depending whether they are Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic? There are five in each group.

I can picture that clearly – I hear what you’re saying – I catch your drift – it’s all Greek to me – I’ve made a connection – look at it this way – I’ve just clicked – we’re close in a lot of ways – I take a dim view of that – what are you focusing on? – we’re on different wavelengths – let me run this by you – it’s just struck me – that’s uncalled for – we see things the same way.


I’ll put you straight, talk you through it, see you right, in next week’s blog. J.