Blog CTJ

Tag: englishtip

« Voltar para o Blog
Have something done

It is common to hear things such as “I cut my hair / I washed my car / I repaired my car”. Brazilians might understand what you mean, but probably a native speaker of English would be surprised. Let me tell you why: we only say these things when we actually did them. So, did […]

Review: Second Conditional

The second conditional is used to talk about hypothetical situations in the present. Suppose I think I’m too short to play basketball. I would probably say: “If I were taller, I would play basketball.” What I mean is that I don’t think I can play basketball because I’m not tall enough. I use the verb in the […]

Games as a powerful language learning tool

Have you ever thought of playing online games to help you learn English? Games can be a powerful language learning tool. They are also seen as a fun way to expand learner’s knowledge of English in meaningful ways, which might lead to a better long-term retention of the target language. ABCya is a free educational website that […]

Free English Resources to Boost Your Language Learning

 The British Council is an organization in the United Kigdom that builds on implementing cultural relationships and provides myriad educational opportunities. They have developed a website exclusively dedicated to learning the English language, which is divided into sections according to the student age: kids, teens and adults. Each section features a huge variety of resources, including games, […]

Improve your Listening Skills and Have Fun

Everyone loves music, everyone has a favorite song or artist. Lyrics Training is  a website  where you can improve you language skills in a fun and enjoyable way:  by listening to your  favorite songs! The website offers not only the song and its music clip, but also the lyrics with  gaps to be  filled in. You can choose […]

Review: Present Perfect vs Simple Past

Hello, dear reader, Here is the second part in our review series. There’s great confusion among language learners when they have to differentiate between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past. Most of these problems originate from the need a student might have to translate these tenses into his/her own language to better understand how […]

Review: Past Perfect

Here’s my third piece of review, and it’s a good one. The Past Perfect is an interesting verb tense. It does not happen alone. It comes together with the Simple Past. As the saying goes, they go together like a horse and carriage Look at this sentence: “When I got home, my wife left for work.” In this sentence […]

Review: Zero Conditional

Conditional sentences are sometimes confusing, so I am going to try to make them as clear as possible to you, reader. Let’s start with the first one. It’s called zero conditional. You only use the present tense in this time of sentence. “If you don’t eat, you get sick.” “If you eat a lot, you put on weight.”  As you can probably […]

Review: First Conditional

Hello again, dear reader, The first conditional is one of the most common in the English language. We use the simple present after if and the simple future in the next clause. “If I get home early, I will do my homework today.” As you can see, the first conditional is used to express a future action that depends on another […]

What kind of movies do you like?

Hello, dear reader, In this post, I propose we talk about vocabulary that is commonly used in English to talk about movies. Many are the words used to describe how we feel about a movie, how it was made, the kind of movie it is, etc. Without further ado, let me jump right in and […]

Numbers vs Periods & Hyphens

Hi, dear reader, The title of this post might sound puzzledly mathematical, but its content does not require prior knowledge of advanced calculations. In English, periods and hyphens are frequently used when numbers need to be set to paper: Periods:  Periods are used to separate the number from its decimal ($ 3.35) . This period […]

Confusing verbs: Been or Gone?

Hi, dear reader, Two verb forms that are often confused is been and gone. They are the past participle of the verbs be and go.  I ask you, what’s the difference between,  he’s gone to Africa and he’s been to Africa? Well, use gone when someone visits a place but has not come home yet. “Michael can’t come […]

Confusing words: all together vs altogether / aid vs aide

Hello, dear reader, Here are two pairs of words that are often confused. What is the difference between altogether X all together and aid X aide ? Well, they are really different: Altogether  is an adverb that means completely, totally. “His latest business plan for the second trimester is an altogether new approach to our deficit problem. All together means […]


Hello, dear reader, Yes, I know that this blog post title may seem confusing. After all, we have different words which are, according to the tile of this post, the same? Don’t fret over it. Let me explain what I mean. Obviously, really, pretty, and very  are different words. For example, “That test was very difficult!” “Sophia […]

Confusing prepositions (at, in, on)

Hello, dear reader, It’s a week-know fact that prepositions in English can be tricky. Sometimes their use is quite simple, as when they are used to show placement, e.g. The book is on the table. However, there are times when their use can be quite a challenge as in He’s on a bus to Portland. Why is he on a bus […]

Pronunciation tip: Silent L

Hello, reader, The English language has plenty of silent letters, and one that is often forgotten by speakers of Portuguese is the silent l. It’s common for people who speak Portuguese to overlook that because in Portuguese silent letters are not common. Take for example the following words: Salmon, half, calm, talk, would and should […]

Movie abbreviations

Abbreviations and acronyms are commonly used in English to talk about movies

Golly Gee Whillikers

Relax, my dear readers. This blog is still in English. The title of this post is just to illustrate that sometimes you will come across some really odd words in English.

Animal sounds

Do you know what an animal sounds like in English? No, I am not suggesting that animals can talk. What I’m saying is that the sound an animal makes in English is most likely different from the sound the same animal makes in your language. Take Portuguese, for example. In Brazil, a dog says au, […]

Animals and the Pronoun “it”

I am animal lover, more specifically, I am a dog lover. The fact that I have three is a clear sign that they play an important role in my life. One day, during a class, I used the personal pronoun “she” to refer to one of my dogs, and one of my students gave me an inquisitive […]

Review: Will vs Going to

Hi, dear reader, As the year is coming to an end, I think it’s high time we reviewed some of the basics about English grammar. First, I would like to talk a little about the differences between using will and going to when talking about the future. Basically, what you should know is: Use will when you want […]

“Too” and “neither”

A: I like Linkin’ Park a lot! B: Me too!   Who has never used “me, too”? It’s quite easy for us to know what it means and to use it comfortably. But, what happens if the person says: A: I don’t like pineapple at all. Do you say “me too”? No…actually you have to […]

“So” and “neither”

The usage of “so” and “neither” is not that hard, but it’s a bit tricky because we need to know the auxiliaries well and it involves inversion of words. Let’s take a look at each example – I guess it’s easier to understand this way. Examples with “so”: 1) A: I think U2 is still […]

“comic” or “comical”?

There are some adjectives in English that have different meanings when they end in ‘-ic’ and in ‘-ical’. Let’s look at some of them. Comic x comical ‘comic’ means ‘artistic comedy’. Examples: comic verse; comic opera ‘comical’ means ‘funny’ (though it’s not a very modern word). Examples: a comical expression; his attempt to beat that […]

Policy and politics

In Portuguese, we just have one word to mean “política”, but it English there are two, and their meanings are different. Policy (plural: policies) is a set of rules of behavior or practices, or an approach concerning a subject. For example, if you work at a company, this company has a set of rules that […]

Pronunciation – A Collection of English Accents

The Speech Accent Archive is a collection of a variety of English accents – both native and nonnative. The usefulness of this collection lies in the possibility of comparing and contrasting how English speakers pronounce things differently depending on their geographical area. Although the website might look a bit technical at first, especially because they […]

Remember and Remind

The words “remember” and “remind” are a bit similar in meaning: they imply “not forgetting”. The difference lies in the usage of each one. So, let’s take a look at some examples. 1) Remember: transitive verb; you remember something or somebody. a) Do you remember John? He used to be my neighbor when I was […]

malapropism. Mala…what?

Have you ever heard of malapropism? This strange word defines what happens when somebody uses a certain word instead of another. The words in question usually sound similar, but have different meanings. This lapse can be intentional, especially in humorous contexts (TV shows or in jokes), or they can be unintentional. When it’s unintentional, the […]

If x whether

“If” and “whether” have the same meaning (which is “se”, in Portuguese). However, they can be used in different situations. Use “whether” when there is an option/choice: 1) I don’t know whether his eyes are green or blue. 2) I’ll take this new course anyway, whether you take it with me or not. 3) The […]

Actual x actually

Here’s another very confusable pair of words, especially for us, Brazilian speakers. The word “actually” is a false cognate, that is, it looks like “atualmente” in Portuguese, but it isn’t. “Actually” means “in fact; really” and it’s used like this: 1) When we want to correct a misunderstanding/wrong piece of information: Examples: A: Hi, Anna, […]

English Practice – What do you Look Like?

A simple question, right? “What do you look like?” The problem is that many people give answers like: “I’m like tall.”  “I like watching TV.”  “I look like tall and thin.” And all the answers are incorrect! When asked “what do you look like?”, you simply have to describe yourself. Look at some possible answers: […]

“Other”, “others” or “another”?

Have you ever had a doubt when choosing between “other”, “others” and “another”? This is a common doubt, but the good news is that it is simple to learn the difference between these words. Examples with “other”: 1) John has two brothers. One is very calm and sweet, but the other (brother) is really hectic […]

Confusable words

Who has never, ever, made confusion with “beside x besides”, “recipe x receipt”, “quiet x quite” and “meeting x reunion”? These words are easily confusable, so let’s take a look at each one of them. 1) beside x besides “beside” means “near; close to”. Examples: a) I usually sit beside the window in class. b) […]

English Practice – Idioms with Body Parts II

I know this was supposed to be an idiom post with a topic other than body parts, but I kind of left some pretty common ones out from the last post. Therefore I am adding them here if you guys don’t mind.So, let’s start with hand full. It seems quite self-explanatory, doesn’t it?! And it […]

English Practice – Idioms with Body Parts

As you guys can see this is a follow up post to the ‘color idioms’ one. And this time I thought it would be interesting to talk about body idioms. Specially because some of them can be quite common. For instance, you can be talking about some polemic topic with a friend and the both […]

Difference between “it’s” and “its”

The difference between “it’s” and “its” is really simple. Take a look: 1) It’s  “it’s” = “it is” or “it has”. See the examples below: a) It’s getting late. (It is getting late.) b) Oh, it’s so beautiful here! (It is so beautiful here.) c) It’s been so hot lately that everybody is already dreaming […]

Idioms – Colors

When learning a new language, I believe one of the goals is to get as close as one can to a native speaker. Therefore, we try to minimize our accent and practice as much as we can to improve our fluency. However, there is a much bigger challenge: first language interference. I say this because […]

The Difference between Do and Make

Many students have a hard time using make and do correctly , and it`s not  complicated if we understand the basic difference and also understand a little about collocation.Many of my Brazilian English students get confused because in Portuguese, both verbs can be translated as “fazer”. In Brazil, we usually say “fazer um favor”. So, […]

Learn Words about Soccer

Even though there has been many protests on the streets in Brazil, they are not necessarily  against our beloved national sport. We love soccer, and this post is meant to help learners talk about our most popular sport. In English, there are many specific words one should learn to be able to talk about soccer […]

Pronunciation Tip #5

What do the words “numb,” “thumb” and “debt” have in common? Well, they each have a silent “b.” Yes, we do not pronounce the “b” in these words, and that has been another pronunciation challenge for us Brazilian speakers of English. So, in order to help you identify more words in which the “b” is […]

There to Be X Have – The Difference

I usually hear the question “Have homework today?” many, many times. All teachers do, and it sounds really bad because it is incorrect, but what`s wrong with it? Why do English learners make this mistake over and over? In English, we do not start a sentence with the verb have when we mean exist. We have […]

Present Perfect

The present perfect is the verb tense that puzzles us Portuguese speakers the most, due to the fact that we have no equivalency in our language. It is usually at this point that I tell my students that we have reached the point where the languages divorce each other; and that they have to forsaken […]

Multitasking to Boost Learning

Are you a busy person who has to work a lot and does not find time to practice your English? Are you? Well, I happen to understand what you are going through. I have been trying to learn Hebrew, but I just cannot find the time to devote to studying. I am motivated, but I […]

What is “AIN´T”?

Casa Thomas Jefferson´s Teacher Magda, in her post about the contraction “ain´t”, mentions that the contraction is not generally found in any textbook. “Ain´t” is very informal and typically spoken on the streets. So, here´s Magda´s tips about it: Ain´t can mean “doesn’t” in the following case:  She ain’t no brothers or sisters. = She doesn’t have […]

Mispelled Words in English

According to our teacher Magda, there are some words that seem easy to spell, but they are easily spelled incorrectly by English students. Do you have any idea what the champions of mispelling in English are? Check out what Magda had to say about it  in her blog Dicas de Inglês, based on her students´ […]

Moving Beyond the Intermediate Plateau

I started learning English really young. When I finished my English course, my dad decided to send me to Australia for a year so that I could become more independent and responsible. Little did we know that I was far from being a competent speaker of the English language. The first months were challenging, but […]

Where Can You Find Audiobooks?

Reading a good book is comforting and mentally engaging. Reading and listening to an audiobook in the language you want to learn is not only pleasant, but also emotionally satisfying. Which book should you choose? If you are not totally fluent in the English language, I suggest you choose a book that you have already […]

American Football 101

Do you know much about American football?  Better yet, did you know that there are American football teams in Brasília? Casa Thomas Jefferson is sponsoring the Tubarões do Cerrado,  a team that was born in August 2004, when Leandro Barreto and Serginho Dias organized the first unofficial matches. With that in mind and following the […]

Practice Your English with Songs

Every teacher knows how important it is to use songs in the classroom. Why? Why do we learn so well through songs? Well, I assume it`s because it is fun, it triggers emotions, and it conjures up memories. When we enjoy a song, we usually do not mind listening to it many times, so learners […]

The Son of Sobek

Have you read the first saga of Percy Jackson? What about the Kane Chronicles? If your answer is no to any of these questions or to both of them, you have got to start reading them. They are amazing. Well, that is, if you like this kind of adventures that involve Greek gods and teenage […]

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Look
My English class is over. What do I do now?

Some English students think they will learn English just by attending their two classes a week and that will be it. Well, not so much. According to research, we learn languages through the same processes every child around the world does. We first listen to a “gazillion” words for almost a year, then we start […]

The Phrasal Verb Machine

What is a phrasal verb?  It is a combination of verb and one or more adverbial or prepositional particles functioning as a single semantic unit and often having an idiomatic meaning that could not be predicted from the meaning of the individual parts. And that’s what you’ll find if you look it up on the […]

Vocabulary Learning Strategies

Learning how to sound natural in a second language is very important and here goes a few tips that might help you learn words, expressions and idioms to enrich your vocabulary range. 1. Notice, be curious when you are listening to music, people or movies. 2. Try to make the piece of vocabulary come alive. […]

Practicing English With CTJ Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking platform. You can check your favorite links and resources on the move, from your work computer to your cellphone (it has app for both iOS and Android). Though it has become really popular due to its visual appeal and its usefulness, not many people are aware of its potential for […]