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August 22, 2014

Ways of saying something politely

This week’s tip gives some ways of saying something politely:

In our recent post on ways of agreeing and disagreeing we looked at some phrases that are used when politely disagreeing with someone. Knowing how and when to use these types of phrases is important, because what is normal in one language or culture can sound rude in another. 
Phrases such as (I’m) sorry, Excuse me, or Pardon me can be used to show politeness in many different contexts, such as asking for information and interrupting, as well as disagreeing:
Sorry/Excuse me, do you know what time it is?
I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you expect us to finish by lunchtime.

Excuse me, but I never said I’d pay for everything.
Excuse me, but there’s a phone call for you.
Excuse me for a moment, I have to make a phone call.
Pardon me, but those numbers aren’t right.
Pardon me for interrupting, but there’s a phone call for you. 
(I’m) Sorry, Excuse me and Pardon me can also be used when asking someone politely to repeat something. Excuse me and Pardon me are used mainly in American English:
‘Is this your coat?’ ‘Excuse me/Pardon me?’
I’m sorry, what was your name again?
Excuse me is used in British English and Pardon me in American English when asking someone politely to move so you can get past. 
Expressions such as I don’t know, I see/take your point and That’s true, but… can be used when you want to disagree with someone to some degree, rather than completely: 
‘It’ll be boring.’ ‘Oh I don’t know. It might be fun.’
I see your point, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do at the moment.
Phrases such as With (the greatest) respect, with all (due) respect and I beg to differ are very polite and formal ways of disagreeing with someone:
With all due respect, I think you’re missing the point.
He argues that young people would benefit from parenting courses. I beg to differ.
Actually can be used when disagreeing politely with someone, or to correct them:
‘I find James a bit dull.’ ‘He’s actually very nice when you get to know him.’
‘That Picasso’s amazing!’ ‘Actually it’s by Braque.’

I’m afraid can be used for politely telling someone something that might upset, disappoint or annoy them:
Things haven’t been going very well here, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid that I can’t accept this job.
I’m afraid to say I found the book very dull.
‘Did he forget to do it?’ ‘I’m afraid so.’
‘Will John be there?’ ‘I’m afraid not.’
Source: the Macmillan Dictionary

August 20, 2014

Williams’ Words of Wisdom

If anyone could capture an audience, it was Robin Williams. The way the famed actor could rope in his audience, make us hang on his every word — laugh one minute, tear-up the next — is the envy of any presenter.

Whether in movies like “Goodwill Hunting” or shows like “Sesame Street,” Williams always seemed to have something poignant to say. Here are some of his best quotes through his career:

August 19, 2014

Ways of expressing disagreement

More expressions to improve your speech:

I’m sorry, but…/Excuse me, but…/Pardon me, but…: used when politely telling someone that you do not agree with them:
Sorry/Excuse me/Pardon me, but it was never proved that he stole that car.

Absolutely not/Of course not…/Nothing of the kind! used for saying that you completely disagree with what someone has said:
‘I think I should accept the blame for the accident.’ ‘Absolutely not!/Of course not!/Nothing of the kind! There’s no way it was your fault.’

I don’t know/I take your point/That’s true, but…: used as polite ways of saying that you do not really agree with someone:
‘Peter is really unfriendly sometimes. ‘I don’t know, he’s always been very kind to me.’
‘These taxes on petrol are far too high.’ ‘Well yes, I take your point. But maybe that’ll encourage people to use their cars less.’
‘She’s a difficult person to work with.’ ‘That’s true, but she’s a really good designer.’

Speak for yourself…: an informal and sometimes impolite way of telling someone that your opinion is very different to theirs:
‘We don’t mind walking from here.’ ‘Speak for yourself! My feet are killing me!’

Don’t make me laugh/Are you kidding?/You must be joking…: informal ways of telling someone you completely disagree with them, and you think that what they have said is crazy:
‘I really think the Beatles are overrated.’ ‘Are you kidding?/Don’t make me laugh! They’re better than any of the modern bands.’

Source: Macmillan

August 05, 2014

5 Reasons to Drink Coffee Before Your Workout

Half of Americans start their day with coffee, and according to recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. The Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who ingested a placebo. The dose that triggered the effect was 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. For 150-pound woman (68 kg), that’s roughly 300 mg of caffeine, the amount in about 12 ounces of brewed coffee, a quantity you may already be sipping each morning.

Source: Time Magazine

August 03, 2014

Pss! Your phone is snooping on you

Revelations about the detailed location records stored on smartphones indicates just how much information companies including Apple and Google are able to gather. But it's not just the phone-makers – apps on your phone are hungry for your personal info too. So is your phone snooping on you? Here, we reveal what you need to know – and whether you can do anything about it.

August 01, 2014

Fish Idioms


Now that you might be close to water, you may want to learn a few fish idioms.


July 30, 2014



Are yo a recessionista? Or did you shop on July sales?

recessionista, noun [countable]        

A person who is able to dress in a fashionable way even though they do not have a lot of money to spend on clothes:
'Modern takes on glamour are about deceiving the eye while preserving the purse, demanding all the imaginative skills of today's artful recessionistas. In short, getting the high-fashion look at a low-down price …'               Irish Times29th September 2008

Recessionista is a popular new term for a person who manages to dress stylishly on a tight budget, and it gained currency rapidly in the pre-Christmas weeks of 2008, when people's disposable income was seriously curtailed by the knock-on effects of an ailing economy. 'Shoppers' guilt' is worse than ever in the current financial climate – with people losing their jobs left, right and centre, there seems to be no way of justifying frivolities such as clothes, shoes and handbags. So, instead of satisfying her fashion needs with a trip to the local shopping mall, the recessionista adopts a different strategy to replenishing her wardrobe. Typical activities include swapping clothes with friends, hiring rather than buying, or trawling the charity shops to find designer garments at a fraction of the high street price.

Recessionista is a clever blend of recession and the noun fashionista, which was coined in the early nineties to describe a person who wears fashionable clothing or works in the fashion industry. The suffix -ista, taken over from Spanish, has entered productive usage in English in recent years to describe a follower or devotee of someone or something. It regularly pops up in political commentary for example Blairista, Bushista, Palinista.
Source: Macmillan buzz word

July 29, 2014

Deleting memories

Memory sticks
What if you could erase your memories with the click of a button?

We all have bad memories that we would prefer to forget. But can science actually help us delete specific unwanted memories? New research suggests it could be possible.
Rob and Finn discuss the research and explain some words relating to the brain.

This week's question:
How many neurons do scientists think we have? Is it:
a) 8-10 million
b) 8-10 billion
c) 80-100 billion

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

July 27, 2014

Seville's silent summer: Spanish city bans outdoor noise

Activities ranging from domino games to singing in the street banned as locals win fight for peace and quiet. 

Seville bar noise
Regulations focus on Seville's hundreds of bars and cafes, where patrons regularly crowd outside. Photograph: Ingrid Firmhofer/Getty Images/LOOK
As the heat of the day gives way to the evening breeze, Seville comes to life. Distant wails of flamenco singers mix with hearty cheers of seniors engrossed in a game of dominoes. Bar patrons spill onto the sidewalk as they noisily recount the day's events over a round of cañas.

Now the push is on in this fun-loving city for a little peace and quiet. On Friday, councillors passed a raft of regulations looking to silence the noisy city banning activities ranging from domino games on the outdoor terraces of bars and cafes to singing in the Street.

July 25, 2014

How does your brain respond to pain? - Karen D. Davis

Everyone experiences pain -- but why do some people react to the same painful stimulus in different ways? And what exactly is pain, anyway? Karen D. Davis walks you through your brain on pain, illuminating why the “pain experience” differs from person to person.

Source: Ted Talks
And can you personally define pain?

July 24, 2014

The many meanings of Michelangelo's Statute of David


This video will give us a new perspective to interprete David.
What meaning would Michelangelo’s Statue of David have if it appeared outside of your favorite sports team’s arena?

Source: Ted Talks

July 21, 2014

How to Keep Husbands Happy When Wives Make More

If you earn more than your partner, these strategies will help ensure both spouses feel valued and comfortable with their financial roles.

July 19, 2014



If you go to the beach this summer, will you wear a facekini?  ;-)

facekini also face-kini, noun [countable]

A face mask worn on the beach in order to protect the face from the sun
'For something less revealing this summer, take a look at the face-kini, the ultimate alternative to slathering on sunblock on trips to the beach.'
Huffington Post 21st August 2012
A facekini is a fabric mask which covers a swimmer's entire head and neck down to their collarbone, incorporating slits for the eyes, nose and mouth. You can see a photo illustration here. Looking like a brightly-coloured balaclava, the facekini is made from a stretchy, lightweight material which protects the wearer's skin from exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, and is often worn with an accompanying long-sleeved body suit. Facekinis come in a whole range of colours, patterns and sizes, retailing where available around a very affordable £2.50. They also have the added bonus of protecting the wearer from mosquito bites and jellyfish stings when swimming. And if all that isn't enough to persuade potential purchasers, the following might just be the clincher – the bright orange version can, allegedly, help to scare away sharks!

July 17, 2014

Ways of expressing agreement

These expressions will make your speech richer!!

That’s right/You’re right/I know: used when agreeing with someone:
‘It’s supposed to be a very good school.’ ‘That’s right. They get great results.’
‘He’s really boring, isn’t he?’ ‘Oh, I know, he never stops talking about himself.’

Exactly/Absolutely/I couldn’t agree more: used for saying that you completely agree with someone:
‘When we were young, people didn’t get into debt.’ ‘Exactly. You just bought what you could afford.’
‘I think Jacob is the best person for the job.’ ‘Absolutely. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t get it.’
‘We had to wait three months to get a phone line – it’s ridiculous.’ ‘I couldn’t agree more.

You can say that again/You’re telling me: a more informal way of saying that you completely agree with someone:
‘It’s so cold outside!’ ‘You can say that again!
‘The buses are so unreliable!’ ‘You’re telling me! I’ve been waiting here for half an hour.’

Why not? used when agreeing with a suggestion someone has made:
‘Let’s go to the cinema tonight.’ ‘Why not? We haven’t been for ages.’

 suppose (so)/I guess (so): used when you agree that someone is right, but you are not happy with the situation:
‘We’ll have to get some new tyres.’ ‘I suppose so/I guess so. But it will be expensive.’

Source: Macmillan

Undocumented chidren in the US


This is an important controversial debate that is going on right now on the USA, migrant children arriving to meet their families in the country. The government says up to 90,000 children will arrive on their own this year, compared with about 39,000 the Border Patrol detained last year.

By Tom Cohen, CNN
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)