Be Aware – Lesson 3

This Be Aware lesson is based on the real conversation, Burke 2 – And then they went to Europe.

Download the pdf for this lesson.

[audio:burke2.mp3]
Download audio file (burke2.mp3)
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Like the first 2 lessons, Lesson 3 has two sections:

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Section A – Grammar Explanations with Examples

Improve your speaking. Sometimes when you are listening to something in English, you can understand it but you cannot say it. You are not able to reproduce what you hear with correct grammar. It is important to be aware of grammar and the correct way to use words. It helps you to communicate more clearly. This saves time and prevents misunderstandings. Let’s look at some examples:

Say these words aloud as quickly as you can:

one
one and a half
one and a half years old
two two and a half
two and a half years old
three
three and a half
three and a half years old
four
four and a half
four and a half years old
five
five and a half
five and half years old
six
six and a half
six and a half years old
seven
seven and a half
seven and a half years old
eight
eight and a half
eight and a half years old
nine
nine and a half
nine and a half years old
ten
ten and a half
ten and a half years old

These phrases are really common. This is how we say it. We never say ‘two years and a half old’ or ‘three and half year’. A native speaker would never say it like that.

A native speaker has heard all of these phrases a million times. He or she will become impatient if you stumble over them. You should not have to think about them. You should be able to say them really quickly without thinking. You should be able to say them automatically. Say them over and over in your head. Make it like a song. Sound them out like music in your head. Sing!

Tap your fingers on the table in rhythm with the syllables as you recite them, if it helps you.

Now look at the next example. How are these phrases different?

they were both Canadian
they were both Canadians
one of them was Canadian
one of them was a Canadian
neither of them were Canadian
neither of them were Canadians

The first two have the same meaning.

‘They were both Canadian’ uses the word ‘Canadian’ to show nationality. It is an adjective. They were both Canadians uses the word ‘Canadians’ to show nationality. It is a noun plural.

The next pair of phrases is the same:

One of them was Canadian. (adjective)
One of them was a Canadian.(noun singular)

The next two are the same too:

Neither of them were Canadian. (adjective)
Neither of them were Canadians. (noun plural)

Are you sure of the difference between ‘both of them’, ‘one of them’ and ‘neither of them’?

“One of them” is used to talk about only one person. ‘Both of them’ and ‘Neither of them’ are used to talk about two people, but not more. Look at this scale:

one of them
two of them
three of them
a few of them
some of them
quite a few of them
most of them
almost all of them
all of them

The scale descends from fewest to most. Use your dictionary to check any meanings that you do not know.

check out these words too:

either of them
neither of them
both of them

Look at these phrases:

they were trained as nurses
they were taught how to be nurses
they were educated to be nurses
they were trained to be nurses

They all have roughly the same meaning.

Look at the next group of phrases:

how do you spell that
how is that spelled
how is that spelt

They are variations of the same question. They have the same meaning.

Now look at this group of phrases:

less developed countries
underdeveloped countries
developing countries
highly developed countries

Do you know the difference?

The first three are identical. The top one is common. The second one is not politically correct. The third one is more polite than the top one, because it implies that development is taking place. Development is happening. The country is developing. People think development is good. People think that development is good.

What is development? Is it good? Is it always good? What do you think? Write and tell us in the comment section below.

What is your job?

I work as a teacher.
I work as an accountant.
I work as an administration official.
I work as a cleaner.
I work as a caterer.
I work as a project manager.
I work as an office worker.

The last one sounds a bit strange because in English we do not like repetition in the same sentence. The verb ‘work’ is followed by the noun ‘worker’. They belong to the same family. Putting them in the same sentence sounds repetitive and clumsy.

Have you ever worked as a teacher? Write and tell us about your experience.

Now look at this group of phrases:

were doing the same thing
are doing the same thing
will be doing the same thing

They belong to three different types of narratives. The first one is in the past. The second one is in the present. The third one is in the future.

Look at the next set of three:

were just seeing a movie
are just seeing a movie
will be just seeing a movie

They are also, past, present and future. The word (just( has no real meaning. It is just used to play down the importance of the activity of seeing a movie. It is no big deal. It is just a movie. It is nothing special. Do you think movies are special? What movie do you like? Write and tell us.

Look at these ones:

was nine or ten
was like nine or ten
would have been nine or ten
would have been like nine or ten

They also have roughly the same meaning but there are subtle differences. The first one is simple, direct, straightforward and factual.

The second one adds the word ‘like’. This softens the effect of the sentence and gives it an informal relaxed feel. It shows that the speaker is not completely sure of himself. He is relaxed and speaking freely. He is not paying too much attention to exact detail. It is polite and deferential.

The third one uses the conditional form ‘would have been’ instead of ‘was’. This has the same effect as ‘like’ but it is even stronger. It shows humility and intelligence. It shows that the speaker is not arrogant.

Look at these ones:

was fifteen or sixteen years old
was like fifteen or sixteen years old
is fifteen or sixteen years old
is like fifteen or sixteen years old
will be fifteen or sixteen years old
will be like fifteen or sixteen years old

They come in pairs. They show the past, present and future as well. Look at them carefully.

Now look at these ones:

would have been twelve or thirteen
would have been like twelve or thirteen
would be twelve or thirteen
would be like twelve or thirteen

They are pairs as well but there are only two sets of pairs. The first pair is from a narrative in the past. The second pair is from a narrative in the present This form cannot be used in the future..

Look at this phrase:

as I said
as I indicated
as I mentioned
as I told you
as I explained
as I pointed out

They are roughly the same but there are subtle differences between them. The first one is straightforward and factual. The second one is slightly formal. It is better to use it as a written form or in a working, problem-solving environment. The third one is low key. It is more low key than the first one. The fourth one is a little up tempo. It is harsher and pushier.

The fifth one is a little different. You ‘mention’ or ‘say’ a fact like somebody’s age but you do not ‘explain’ it. An explanation refers to a narrative or a sequence of events. It can not refer to a single fact or number.

The sixth one, ‘pointed out’ is like ‘explained’. It usually refers to a sequence of events (an explanation) but it can also refer to a single fact.

Look at them now:

My brother, as I said, was nineteen or twenty. (straightforward)
My brother, as I indicated, was nineteen or twenty. (up tempo, at work)
My brother as I mentioned, was nineteen or twenty. (low-key straightforward)
My brother as I told you, was nineteen or twenty. (hard)
My brother as I explained, was nineteen or twenty. (a bit odd)
My brother as I pointed out, was nineteen or twenty. (a bit odd)

We can use different types of images to describe a brief stay in another place.

a taste of Asia (gustatory)
a glimpse of Asia (visual)
an Asian interlude (literary)

We use different adjectives to show degrees of quality:

must have been very nice
must have been very good
must have been wonderful
must have been fantastic

Sometimes we talk about memories. Look at these phrases:

the best memory I have
the earliest memory I have
the most horrible memory I have
the most unpleasant memory I have
the most pleasant memory I have

The earliest memory I have is of lying in the back seat of a car toe to toe with my little brother and moving across a vast landscape of yellow grass with blue sky above me at dawn, my mother and father in the front seat of the car, my father driving.

What is your earliest memory? Write and tell us below.

Sometimes we say the same thing in different ways by using verb/noun combinations from the same word family. Look at these ones:

the only thing I can remember
the only memory I have

We can also say:

the only thing I can recall
the only thing I can bring to mind

Most of us live in a town or a village or a city.there are roads and there are intersections. An intersection is a key place. It can be a real place where two roads meet or it can be a mental place where two minds meet. It is important to understand the vocabulary of the intersection.

the north corner
the south corner
the east corner
the west corner

the northeast corner
the southeast corner
the northwest corner
the southwest corner

the middle of the intersection
the center of the intersection

a cobblestone street
a paved street
a bitumen road
a normal paved road
a normal tar road
a dirt road
an unpaved road

Do you understand all those terms? Use your dictionary if you do not.

Finally look at these words. They refer to memories:

that memory
that impression
that imprint
that recollection



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Section B: Listening Activities

Now listen to the whole conversation without the transcript. While you are listening go through this list and mark the expression you hear. Have fun!

[audio:burke2.mp3]

one
one and a half
one and a half years old
two two and a half
two and a half years old
three
three and a half
three and a half years old
four
four and a half
four and a half years old
five
five and a half
five and half years old
six
six and a half
six and a half years old
seven
seven and a half
seven and a half years old
eight
eight and a half
eight and a half years old
nine
nine and a half
nine and a half years old
ten
ten and a half
ten and a half years old

hey were both Canadian
they were both Canadians
one of them was Canadian
one of them was a Canadian
neither of them were Canadian
neither of them were Canadians

they were trained as nurses
they were taught how to be nurses
they were educated to be nurses
they were trained to be nurses

how do you spell that
how is that spelled
how is that spelt

less developed countries
underdeveloped countries
developing countries
highly developed countries

as doctors
as nurses
as teachers

were doing the same thing
are doing the same thing
will be doing the same thing

were just seeing a movie
are just seeing a movie
will be just seeing a movie

was five or six
was like five or six
would have been five or six
would have been like five or six

as I explained
as I said
as I pointed out
a i indicated
as i mentioned
as I told you

a glimpse of Europe
a taste of Europe
a European interlude

the best memory I have
the earliest memory I have
the most horrible memory I have
the only memory I have
the most unpleasant memory I have
the most pleasant memory I have

the only thing I can remember
the only memory I have
the only thing I can recall
the only thing I can bring to mind

this intersection
that intersection
those intersections

bitumen
paved
cobblestone
tar
dirt

that memory
that impression
that imprint
that recollection

To improve your pronunciation and speaking confidence, listen to the recording many times. Try to repeat each phrase as the speaker speaks it. You can find the transcript here: Burke 2 – And then they went to Europe.

This is the end of Lesson 3.  We like to receive comments.  Please leave us a comment below. Let us know what you think of the lesson.

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