3 English Expressions

I’m a real fan of “3s”…can you tell from my blog post titles? And well, I’m at it again with these three idiomatic English expressions.

catch 22 (noun)

Meaning: A situation that has no answer or solution. It comes from a novel of the same name.

Example: “I applied for some jobs, but they won’t hire me because I don’t have any experience. How can I get experience if no one will hire me without experience?! It’s a catch 22!”

to hang / hang out (verb)

Meaning: To spend time with someone, but not suggesting a specific activity. This phrase works with both friends and romantic relationships.

“Do you want to hang out this weekend? I’ve worked hard and need to have some fun!”
“Let’s hang soon! I haven’t seen you in a long time!”

to stay in touch or to be in touch

Meaning: To be in communication with someone; usually said when someone is leaving or moving and you are unsure when you will see them again and you want to remain in contact with them.

Example: “Make sure you stay in touch after you move to New York, Mary! We want to know what’s going on with you!”

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3 Idioms About Language

If you think about it, there is a lot of English language that revolves around, well, using language!

Here are some useful idioms and sayings related to using language and conversation.

1. off the top of my head

Meaning: Without researching the answer; without being sure

Example: “I don’t know what time I have to work off the top of my head, but I think at 11 a.m.”

Note: This is a good phrase to use if you want to express you aren’t certain about something or may be wrong.

2. in a nutshell

Meaning: To make the story brief; to communicate an idea quickly

Example: “She talked for so long about the changes to the department, but in a nutshell, the director is leaving next month.”

3. (to) wrap up

Meaning: To end; to conclude (a conversation or activity)

Example: “Let’s wrap up here and go get dinner.” -or- “Time to wrap up and go home.”



Do you have questions about how to use these or other English idioms or sayings? Let me know! Send me a private email via the form below, or leave a public comment at the bottom of the page. I want to hear from you!

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3 Easily Confused English Verbs

A lesson I was teaching earlier this week included the verb “ensure,” and when students started asking about other, similar sounding verbs, I realized it makes for a great blog lesson post!

Read on for definitions, example sentences, and mp3s for pronunciation of three easily confused English verbs: assure, insure, and ensure.

(Listen to my pronunciation of “assure” above!)

One of the easiest ways to determine if you need to use “assure” is looking at the structure of the sentence you’re producing.

Assure means that you are telling someone something with certainty, or to make a promise, as in:

I assure you, I never lied to you.

He assured her that he would be on time to the meeting.

The children assured their mother they would clean their rooms.

A sentence using “assure” will generally always be structured as
(pro)noun + assure + (pro)noun + [noun phrase].

These last two words are where things get tricky.

Many sources will tell you that “insure” and “ensure” are nearly interchangeable.

One very specific use for “insure” is when it is related to an arrangement for money or compensation in the event of an accident, illness, or injury. This meaning is connected to the noun “insurance,” as in “car insurance” and “health insurance.”

In general, you could say that “insure” means to protect someone or something against something happening, as in:

I insured my car for a lot of money, because it is new.

To insure against a possible break-in, they installed an alarm system.

She is lucky that she insured her jewelry before it was stolen.

Lastly, “ensure” is to make something certain (or make sure that it is…sure!), as in:

Please ensure that you have all your belongings with you before you leave.

Students must ensure that they keep an accurate record of due dates.

Practicing every day will ensure success.

The main different to note between “assure” and “ensure” is that someone assures someone of something, while someone ensures something of happening.

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Quanifiers in English

Quantifiers are words used before nouns to express the amount of something – in fairly general terms. Here are some common quantifiers and how to use them.

1. too much, too many, too
(meaning = “more than is good”)

  • too much + non-count noun
    Example: I drink too much coffee.
  • too many + count noun
    Example: I ate too many cookies today.
  • verb + too much
    Example: She talks too much.
  • too + adjective
    Example: I’m too sick to go to school.

2. enough
(meaning = “the amount that is necessary or needed”)

  • enough + noun
    Example: I did not drink enough water today. I’m so thirsty!
  • verb* + enough
    Example: She didn’t sleep enough this week.
    *verbs without objects
  • adjective / adverb + enough
    Example: I thought the shirt would be too small, but it is big enough.
    Example: He didn’t drive quickly enough, so he missed the game.


3. much and many

  • much = non-count nouns (milk, time, money, information, coffee, etc.)
    Example: We don’t have much coffee. Let’s buy more tomorrow.
    Example: How much money do you have?*
  • many = countable nouns (dollars, minutes, tables, etc.)
    Example: There are many tables at this cafe. It will be easy to find a seat.
    Example: How many hours before her flight arrives?

4. a little and a few

  • a little = non-count nouns
    Example: I have a little money. (meaning = I have some money, but not a lot.)
  • a few = count nouns
    Example: I have a few dresses. (meaning = I have some dresses.)

*”Little” or “few”, without “a” means a very, very small amount, or not many.
Example: I have little money = I have almost no money.
Example: I have few dresses = I do not have many dresses.

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Social Media English Vocabulary

I recently taught a class about learning English through Social Media and I want to share some of it with you. Below, check out some essential English vocabulary and phrases related to social media.

Social Media Vocabulary

app: Short for “application.” Software for your mobile phone or table (or sometimes computer) that serves a specific function. For example, you likely have the Facebook app on your phone that allows you to access the site. You may also have apps to help you keep track of appointments, log exercise workouts, track your spending, and more.

blog: Originally short for “weblog,” a blog is an informal, online diary. Blogs can range from someone’s daily activities, to their opinions about politics, to fashion, music, film…and anything you can think of!

Blog posts are often shared on social media channels.

crowdsourcing: This is when people unite on social media / the Internet to help raise money or think of ideas to solve a problem. “Crowdfunding” is the specific term for when many people donate small amounts of money online to a cause.

feed: Example: Facebook feed; Twitter feed. The “home” section of a social media network. This is where you see the posts of all of your friends, as well as people and businesses you follow. A common verb used with the action of going through your feed is “to scroll.” “I was scrolling through my feed this morning and saw that Jenny is in New York this week.”

meme: Pictures that have words added to them, usually to be humorous. Memes are often shared on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

viral: Also “goes/went viral”. This usually refers to a video, but could also refer to a photo or a general post. It means that many people have viewed the post/content and it was shared many times.

Social Media Acronyms (Acronyms are groups of letters that stand for words.)

ICYMI (in case you missed it):  Twitter users especially use this for when they have a popular post that they post again.

“To miss (something)” is to not see it or hear about it yet. “ICYMI, here’s our latest product!”

TL;DR (too long, don’t read): This is written when a post is very long. Often, there will be a short sentence after the “TL;DR.” This sentence is a short summary of the longer text, in case people don’t want to read the entire post.

FOMO (fear of missing out): This is when someone feels envious about the experiences of others they see on social networks. “Jenn had a party last week and I was out of town. I got totally FOMO from looking at all the crazy Instagram posts about it.” 

FBF and TBT (Flashback Friday and Throwback Thursday): These posts usually involve older photos that the poster wants to enjoy again. Normally, the photos are several months or even years old: “FBF to when I started Kindergarten!” But sometimes people jokingly post more recent photos: “TBT to last week when I celebrated my birthday!”

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