Be Aware – Lesson 1

This Be Aware Lesson is based on the conversation, Health Problems.

Download the pdf for this lesson.

[audio:health.mp3]
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This lesson has two sections:

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Section A – Grammar Explanations with Examples

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:

am sitting
is sitting
are sitting

Do you understand the difference between these? We say, “I am sitting” or “he is sitting” or “they are sitting,” but we do not say, “he am sitting” or “she are sitting.” Talking like that in English is unnecessarily confusing.

In grammar we call this “conjugation”. Look the word up in your dictionary. Is there a word for “conjugation” in your language? Do verbs “conjugate” in your language? Write to me and tell me by leaving a comment below.

Lets look at some more examples:

was sitting
were sitting

Do you understand the difference between this group of phrases and the previous group of phrases?

“Am sitting,” “is sitting,” and “are sitting” are used in the present tense. They are used to talk about “now.” “Was sitting”and “were sitting” are used in the past tense. They are used to talk about “before.” They are not used to talk about “now.”

Now look at this group of phrases:

am sitting
is sitting
are sitting
was sitting
were sitting

When you listen to the real conversation in Section B, which phrase do you hear? Underline it. Underline the one you heard. Don’t do it now. Do it later. Let me go through all the language points for this conversation. Then I will give you a list in the activities in Section B. You can go through the list as you listen to the conversation.

Ok, let’s try another one. Look at these phrases:

with Michael
next to Michael
by Michael

Do you know the difference between them?

We use the phrases “with Michael” and “next to Michael” in about the same way. They mean the same thing in the context of location. “By Michael” is not the same. German speakers often make this mistake because in German it is “bei Michael” but in English it is usually “next to Michael” or “with Michael” when we talk about location. “By Michael” is usually used in the sense, “This book was written by Michael” or “This drawing was done by Michael.”

Which one do you hear?

with Michael
next to Michael
by Michael

Let’s try another one:

am feeling good
am not feeling good
is feeling good
is not feeling good
are feeling good
are not feeling good

This is another conjugation. Do you understand the difference between each pair of phrases? Look at them carefully. Each pair of phrases consists of a negative statement and a positive statement.

Look at the next group:

was feeling good
was not feeling good
were feeling good
were not feeling good

Later on, you will listen to the conversation and underline the one that you hear, but please do it in Section B, at the end of this lesson.

Let’s try the next one:

got diagnosed
was diagnosed
NOT became diagnosed

Do you know what “diagnosed” means? Check your dictionary if you do not. The base form of the verb is “diagnosed”. The doctor examines you and he makes a diagnosis. That means he decides what the problem is. For example:

I was diagnosed with cholera.
or
I was diagnosed with influenza.

This means:

The doctor said I had cholera.
or
The doctor thought I had influenza.

You can say:

I was diagnosed with influenza.
or
I got diagnosed with influenza.

but we never say:

I became diagnosed.

Now look at the next point:

got diagnosed by
got diagnosed with

Do you understand the difference between these two?

“by” is used like this:

I was diagnosed by Doctor Smith.

In this sentence, “by” refers to the doctor (the person who diagnosed you).

“With” is used like this:

I was diagnosed with influenza. (“with” refers to the illness or the malady)

Look at the next one. Do you understand all these phrases:

about nine weeks ago
exactly nine weeks ago
almost nine weeks ago
just over nine weeks ago
less than nine weeks ago
more than nine weeks ago

Use your dictionary to make sure you understand each phrase. They are like pairs of opposites. They go in pairs like this:

more than nine weeks ago
less than nine weeks ago

almost nine weeks ago
just over nine weeks ago

about nine weeks ago
exactly nine weeks ago.

In Section B below, I will give you a list like this:

more than nine weeks ago
less than nine weeks ago
almost nine weeks ago
just over nine weeks ago
about nine weeks ago
exactly nine weeks ago

I will want you to tick the phrase you hear.

Now look at the next one:

up in the hills
up in the mountains

Do you understand the difference? “Hills” are considered to be smaller than “mountains.” We sometimes use the words interchangeably however.

Be aware. Which one did you hear? Select it when you listen to the conversation in Section B at the end.

Now try this one:

got treated
was treated

am getting treated
am being treated

was getting treated
was being treated

Do you understand the difference? They are all passive sentences. Passive voice can use “be” verb or “get” verb. Both are ok.

These two are past simple passive:

I got treated by a Japanese doctor.
I was treated by a Japanese doctor.

These two are present continuous passive:

I am getting treated by a Japanese doctor.
I am being treated by a Japanese doctor.

These two are past continuous passive:

I was getting treated by a Japanese doctor.
I was being treated by a Japanese doctor.

Note that “get” is more informal spoken style and “be” is slightly more formal for more polite situations.

Now look at this scale:

an excellent doctor
a very good doctor
a good doctor
an ok doctor
a normal doctor
a so-so doctor
a bad doctor
a very bad doctor
an awful doctor
a terrible doctor

This shows the scale of quality of the doctor in descending order.

When we get treated there are different ways we can be treated:

with antibiotics
with western medicine
with conventional medication
with traditional medicine
with strong drugs
with drugs
with western drugs

Check the meanings of these expressions in your dictionary.

Now look at this one:

threw up
vomited
spewed
spewed up
were ill
was ill

All those expressions have the same meaning. “Threw up,” “spewed” and “spewed up” are more informal. “Were ill” and “was ill” are more general. They could mean “vomited” or just “feel sick.”

The clearest ones are “vomited” or “threw up”

Look at the next point:

fear that
fears that
am afraid that
is afraid that
are afraid that

Check the meanings in your dictionary. We use these phrases to make our statements less direct and more gentle.

When we have problems that do not stop, we can say:

recurring problems
ongoing problems
continuing problems

They all have the same meaning.

If we talk about medicine in dry form it may be:

new pills
new drugs
new tablets
powder

When we talk about two types of “pills” we use these pairs of opposites:

these pills
those pills

these ones
those ones

these pills
some other pills

When we feel better or worse we say:

feeling a little better
feeling a little worse
feeling much better
feeling much worse

Another way to say “threw up” is:

was violently ill
was violently sick
vomited
threw up
spewed

When we express concern and sympathy we can say one of these:

That is terrible.
That is awful.
That is not good.

A sick patient might say:

I am feeling weak.
I am feeling a little weak.
I am feeling quite weak.
I am feeling very weak.

When he feels better, he will say:

I am feeling strong.
I am feeling quite strong.
I am feeling very strong.

He will not say, “I am feeling a little strong.” It is not natural to express it that way. If you said that everybody would know what you meant but a native speaker would never say it like that. “Strong” is a powerful word. We do not say “a little strong.”

Now here are some tropical fruits:

some papaya
some mango
some avocado
some orange
some pomegranate

Can you think of any more?

When we recount what we heard we can say:

I have heard
or
I had heard

“I have heard” adds weight to the expression. It is stronger.

“I heard” is used as part of a narrative as in:

I went to the coffee shop on the corner.
I heard some music.
I looked around.
It was the waiter.
The waiter was singing.

When we express sympathy we say one of these:

I hope you will feel better soon.
I hope you are feeling better.
I hope you do feel better.
I hope you are going to feel better.

It does not matter which one you use but DO use one as often as you can. It is good to express sympathy and compassion and caring. It strengthens human relationships.



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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:health.mp3]

am sitting
is sitting
are sitting
was sitting
were sitting

with Michael
next to Michael
by Michael

am feeling good
am not feeling good
is feeling good
is not feeling good
are feeling good
are not feeling good
was feeling good
was not feeling good
were feeling good
were not feeling good

got diagnosed by
got diagnosed with
was diagnosed by
was diagnosed with

less than nine weeks ago
more than nine weeks ago
about nine weeks ago
exactly nine weeks ago
almost nine weeks ago
just over nine weeks ago

up in the hills
up in the mountains

got treated
was treated
am getting treated
am being treated
was getting treated
was being treated

an excellent doctor
a very good doctor
a good doctor
an ok doctor
a normal doctor
a so so doctor
a bad doctor
a very bad doctor
an awful doctor
a terrible doctor

with antibiotics
with western medicine
with conventional medication
with traditional medicine
with strong drugs
with drugs
with western drugs

threw up
vomited
spewed
spewed up
were ill
was ill

was afraid that
were afraid that
fear that
am afraid that
is afraid that

recurring problems
ongoing problems
continuing problems

new pills
new drugs
new tablets
some powder

these pills
those pills
these ones
those ones
these pills
some other pills

feeling a little better
feeling a little worse
feeling much better
feeling much worse

was violently ill
was violently sick
vomited
threw up
spewed

that is terrible
that is awful
that is not good

I am feeling weak.
I am feeling a little weak.
I am feeling quite weak.
I am feeling very weak.
I am feeling strong
I am feeling quite strong
I am feeling very strong

some papaya
some mango
some banana
some avocado
some orange
some pomegranite

I have heard
I had heard
I heard

I hope you feel better soon.
I hope you will feel better soon.
I hope you are feeling better.
I hope you do feel better.
I hope you are going to feel better.

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 transcription here: Health Problems.

This is the End of Lesson 1. Do you have any questions? What did you think? Please leave us your comments below.

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