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English as a Second Language

Viewing entries tagged with 'language'


Can vs. May


More often than not, "can" and "may" are used interchangeably in speaking and writing. So today, let's look at how they should be used.

"Can" is used to express someone's ability to do something.

He can cook spaghetti for dinner tonight. (He is able to cook spaghetti.)

"May" is used to express possibility or permission.

He may cook spaghetti for dinner tonight. (It is possible he will cook spaghetti./He has permission to cook spaghetti.)

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Work Out


There are several meanings to this phrasal verb.

1. To solve (or resolve) a problem or problems. “Megan and Kevin are always fighting. I hope they can WORK OUT their differences.”

2. To exercise. “Mike WORKS OUT at the gym on the second floor of his building every day.”

3. To formulate or develop. “My teacher and I WORKED OUT a plan that would help me improve my writing.”

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It's vs Its


Cut it to the chaseThis is a common grammar mistake that even native English speakers will make when writing. When do we use "its" and when do we use "it's"?

ITS shows possession for the pronoun 'it'
IT'S is the contraction for 'it is' or 'it has'

"The college has its graduation ceremony at 10:00am." In this sentence, possession is shown. So there is no apostrophe in 'its.'

"It's raining cats and dogs outside." In this sentence, 'it's' could be replaced with 'it is,' so we need to use an apostrophe.

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Cut to the chase


Cut it to the chaseWhen we use this expression, we are usually telling someone else to hurry up and get to the point. We may also use it about ourselves to express that we are going to tell you the most important thing, first.

Example: Let’s say that there was a fire in my office - a big fire. There three fire trucks as well as news cameras reporting on the situation. I got out of the building, as did everyone else. When I call my wife, I might begin the conversation like this: “Hi, honey. There was a big fire at my office today, but let me CUT TO THE CHASE. Everyone is fine.” Then, I’ll proceed to tell her some of the details.

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Lose vs Loose


These two words can often be confusing, especially in writing. So let's clarify the difference this morning.

LOSE is a verb. The word rhymes with whose. It means that you misplace or fail to keep something, or you do not win. For example, if you go on a diet, you will LOSE weight.

LOOSE is an adjective. The word rhymes with goose. It means that something is not tight. For example, if you go on a diet, you will probably notice your clothes becoming LOOSE.

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April showers bring May flowers


The literal meaning of this phrase is just as it seems: the rain showers we receive in the month of April will help beautiful flowers to bloom in the month of May.

However, there is another meaning behind this phrase. Think about a difficult time you had in your life. Did that difficult time produce anything good? I'm sure it did. Usually, something good or beautiful (May flowers) will come from the difficult moments (April showers) we have in life.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!! It's an old joke kids like to tell!

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What is the meaning of..?


Many students arriving in US have difficulties understanding the meaning of phrases that do not fit logically into standard translations of their languages. So, if someone says, “Yes, I hear you” after listening to your problem, is it good or bad? Or what does it mean if someone says, “Let’s call it a night?” Today we are opening a new section of our blog called “What is the meaning of…?” Let us know what you think and propose the topics you are interested in. So, let’s start…

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Summer English


Summer English Program in Chicago, USA

Summer Eglish School in Chicago, USASOLEX College invites you to study English in the USA this summer! Taught at our Chicago Downtown campus, The SOLEX Summer Program provides an exciting and fun summer school venue to learn English in the heart of Chicago, one of the United States’ most vibrant cities.

The Summer Program is open to students from all levels of English proficiency. Class schedules are flexible and meant to accommodate those seeking morning, afternoon or evening sessions. Our experienced staff will be happy to provide assistance with housing and other ancillary issues.  Personnel are on hand to provide guidance in navigating the visa application process for Student (F-1) Visas and other entry questions.

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11 Tips for Improving your English


StudyingStudent.jpgAlong the same vein of the previous blog entries, here are 11 additional tips for improving your English language proficiency. The tips were submitted by beginner level ESL students practicing the use of conditional sentences - clauses using “If”.  The tips are great for every level of ESL student, or for any person who is learning a new language.  Enjoy the pearls of wisdom!

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Ideas to Help Improve Your English Speaking Ability


Students often ask what they can do on their own to help improve their English speaking skills.  Here are some ideas that are fun, useful and may help you speak English more fluently.

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