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When an ‘a-‘ is not an opposite

It was a winding path that led me to teaching the English language, which started with an interest in the development of language. I think you can appreciate language more when you have an idea of where it comes from, what has influenced it and how it has changed over its history. There is an […]

Pronunciation Tip #1

After listening to many of my students mispronounce the “Th” sound in words like “Think,” “Thought,” “Through,” “Thigh,” “Thief,” and “Theft,” as if it were an “S” sound, I kept thinking about a way to improve their pronunciation and reduce the misunderstandings caused by such mispronunciation. Thinking about the “Th” sound goes beyond we, Brazilian Engish […]

Confusing Verbs: Lay or Lie?

Another pair of confusable verbs is lay and lie. Lay is a transitive verb, so it’s used with a direct object. For instance, “as the kids arrive, they lay their backpacks next to the window.” Their backpacks is the object of the verb lay. Its past is laid and so is its past participle form. […]

Confusing Verbs: Raise or Rise?

Students usually confuse the verbs raise and rise. Raise is a transitive verb, so it needs a complement. For example, “she raised her hand to ask the teacher to go to the bathroom.” Her hand is the complement. In the sentence, “Manchester Evening News raised more than one million pounds after fire destroyed dogs’ home” (Sept 15,2014 ), more than one […]

Seven Basic Steps For Writing a Good Essay

    First of all, choose a topic you feel like writing about and brainstorm on it. What do you know about the subject you have chosen and its relevance to your audience? Make sure your choice is related to a subject which you are familiar with. The more you know about your topic, the […]

Separation: A Tough Thing To Do

Hello, dear readers, Students often ask me, “Teacher, how do I separate a word in English?” If you speak Portuguese, you probably separate a word based on the letters this word has; however, in English we do it differently. The syllables and not the letters are more important for you to learn to separate properly. […]

Expressions with the word “finger”

Hello, dear reader, Some time ago I posted an entry to our blog about the names of the fingers in one’s  hand in English. Today I’d like to show you how the word “finger” is used idiomatically. There are, obviously, many idiomatic expressions that use the word finger, but I’ll show you the ones I think […]

Uses of ‘still’

“Be still my heart, my heart be still” “To remind you how I still love you, I still love you” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 18: Foes step forward in preview and stills”   As you may have noticed, the links above all contain the word ‘still’ in some form. You have probably guessed that […]

Expressions with “Face”

Nowadays it’s very common to hear Brazilian people saying “face” to designate Facebook. However, this post has nothing to do with that “face”!

Here are some common expressions with the word “face” that might interest you.

Sport Metaphors III

How are you guys doing? Great I hope. So, going back to our topic of sports metaphors, I’m going to talk about some that are connect to another of American’s greatest passion: Baseball.

Syndicate x Trade Union

These two words have the same meaning in Portuguese (sindicato), but there is a difference in usage between them in English.

Which Word? Some time x Sometimes

This is a very simple topic: when to use ‘some time‘ and ‘sometimes’. Some time means ‘one day’, ‘one occasion’ that is not very clear when it’s going to happen in the future. There in no idea of repetition involved. Examples: 1) Let’s have dinner together some time next week. 2) We could travel some time […]

Children’s Games – From the Past?

With the weekend approaching, it seemed a good idea to write about some games or activities children like to play or do (when they’re not hooked to their iPads or iPhones!) Maybe some of these activities were more common when you were younger, so here’s a chance to go back in time for a while. […]

Sport Metaphors II

Hello everybody.On my last post I talked to you about a few sport metaphors that are commonly used. Also they were quite general, referring to more than one sport activity. This time I want to address those that are related to American football. So, let’s start with my favorite one which is Monday morning quarterbacking. […]

I Worked There for One “Ear”

You must now be thinking I’ve gone mad, or that this post is about body parts. Relax, I want to talk about pronunciation. English language learners often have problems to say the words ear and year correctly. They are pronounced differently. Year needs to have a /y/ sound at the beginning such as when we say the words yellow or young. Ear does […]

Eat Your Way to Learning English: Pesto

Learning a language can be a daunting task, but it can also be a lot of fun! On this post, I invite you to learn English and learn how to make two delicious recipes to wow your family and friends.

Sport Metaphors I

Just the other day I was talking to a couple of friends when I realized how many sport metaphors we use during conversation. Actually, to be more accurate we use a lot of soccer analogies. And then it dawned on me to talk about that. You see, contrary to Brazil where the world of sports […]

What are the names of the fingers?

I bet you have never thought of that. In Portuguese we have names for the fingers of a hand (mindinho, seu vizinho, pai de todos, etc). Likewise, fingers also have specific names in English. From your thumb (the one we put up to signal OK) to your smallest finger, they are: Thumb / Index finger […]

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 […]

Which word is correct: soda, pop, or coke?

What’s the general term that Americans use for a carbonated drink such as Coca Cola? Is it soda, pop, or coke? What do Americans call a rubber sole shoe worn in a gym class? Sneakers, gym shoes, or tennis shoes? The answer would really depend on geographic location: all of these words are widely used […]

Never Fail a Test Again!

Do you have a test coming up and need to study some concepts, words, or ideas? Are you traveling and need to learn some expressions to get by? Nowadays, we can use our gadgets to help us learn on the go. Organize a set of flashcard on your device and get ready to learn in […]

Don’t Forget “it”

Have you noticed how we, Brazilians, like to omit “it”? Take a look at these common mistakes: *Rains a lot in Manaus. The correct is: “It rains a lot in Manaus.” A: “Why didn’t you like the party?” B: “*Because was boring. The correct is “Because it was boring.”   A: “How was your weekend?” […]

How Do You Spell It?

Many words are  misspelled in English, but why do English learners make these mistakes, and how to avoid them? First, many words do not follow familiar spelling rules, and they can`t be spelled phonetically. The most commonly misspelled words can trouble even experienced writers, and the best thing is to learn from the mistakes we make […]

“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 […]

“ill” and “sick”

This is another pair of words that cause confusion. Both of them mean “bad health”, but there’s a difference in usage. 1) Sick – meaning ‘vomit’. Examples: I feel sick. Where’s the bathroom? I don’t like traveling by boat because I feel sea-sick. He was sick three times in the night. 2) Sick – meaning […]

“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 […]

Do you speak English or American?

It is often said that the United States and England are two countries divided by a common language. Although for the most part the two varieties are mutually intelligible, there are a lot of differences between the two, especially as regards to pronunciation. In this video, you can explore some of these pronunciation differences.   […]

Confusable Words – “Leave” or “Let”?

Here’s another pair of confusable words: leave and let. They have the same meaning in Portuguese (deixar), so this is basically one source of confusion. “Leave” means “to go out of a place; to abandon/forget; to remove yourself from a society/association”, among other things. Let’s take a look at some examples: 1) She left the […]

Improve your Vocabulary – “Bear” Expressions

You probably know the word “bear“, right? That cute big animal that most people love! Well, did you know that are some expressions with the word bear with lots of different meanings? Let’s take a look at some of them. 1) Bear in mind This means “to remember”, “to think about”. Examples: Don’t lose your […]

Brazil News — in English!

Everyone knows that exposure plays a central role in the learning of a foreign language. And thanks to the Internet, access to authentic materials and resources in English is at the click of a mouse. However, the seemingly unlimited number of resources can be very intimidating at times! Besides, it can be difficult to know […]

Cognates – When Looks Are Not Deceiving

There are words in English that look like words in our mother tongue, but mean something totally different. If we take the word actually  as an example, we notice that it looks like the word “atualmente” in Portuguese, but in English it does not have this meaning; These words are called false cognates and we […]

Pronunciation Tip – “ss” pronounced as “z”?

Don’t feel embarrassed if you have also mispronounced words like ‘possessive’ or ‘possess’ at least once in your life. I believe everyone has done that! The fact is that the words ‘possessive‘ and ‘possess‘ are pronounced like ‘pozessive’ and ‘pozess’. Click on the words to listen to their pronunciation. But, we, Brazilians, tend to think […]

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 […]

Forget “have”!

One of the most recurring mistakes among Brazilian learners of English is to use “have” when they want to express the idea of “exist”. And, believe me, it’s a mistake that can kill your English! So, let’s just remember: we use “there +be” for this. Let’s take a look at these sentences. The first ones […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

False Cognates – When Looks Are Deceiving

Do you know that even though some words in English sound like familiar ones in Portuguese, they mean something totally different? That`s right! They are called false cognates, or false friends. Unlike our beloved friends, they are not trustworthy and many of them can lead us to misunderstandings. As a teacher, I can remember some […]

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Look
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. […]

Getting a Good Free Dictionary App for Learning

There are many different dictionary apps that you can download and use to become a more independent English learner. With a good app in our hands, you can look for definitions of some words, check pronunciation, and see how the words collocate with others to form sentences. However, there are so many options in the stores that […]

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 […]