Category Archives: BUSINESS ENGLISH

English for actors

English for Actors: Improve your English Skills by Conversing With a Native English Speaker Regularly

English for Actors

English for actors is a thing. Actors around the world like to polish up their English skills because just about everybody wants to be the next Angelina Jolie. Well, maybe not. They could just want to polish up their skills to improve their chances of getting English speaking roles.

The best way for actors who are not native English speakers to improve their English is to speak regularly with someone who is a native English speaker.

At ELG we work with actors around the world to speak English in a “natural” manner. We do not necessarily focus on the dramatic aspects as we believe that if your basic English is good and if you can find a way to improve your “natural” speech, your acting English skills will naturally improve as well.

Sure, if a student would like us to role play with them for a role they are interested in trying out for, we would be happy to give it a go. But we are not actors by trade. We are people who speak English (with an American accent) and we would be happy to help you become more of a “natural” English speaker, after which, your acting English will naturally improve as well.

Many actors want to improve their English for a specific role for an audition they have coming up, to create or expand their brand to an American or English speaking audience, or to create their own YouTube videos.

For many actors, the concern is accent reduction more than anything else. Of course, as noted in this post, we love different accents and for us, having an accent when you speak in English is no big deal. But if you really want to change your accent because you feel it will improve your odds of getting parts in American movies or British films, then it is your choice and we would be more than happy to help you.

 

 

Note that we offer course exclusively online or telephonically.

Contact us for more details. Contact@englishlanguageglobal.com

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The Passive Voice in English: When Should You Use It?

In English you use the passive voice when you want to be vague, noncommittal, inexact, deceptive, pretentious and wordy. That is why lawyers tend to love this tense. That is not to say that lawyers are vague, noncommittal, inexact, deceptive, pretentious or wordy. It would be a bit unfair to say it is only lawyers who can be like that.

The fact is, almost anyone may need to be one or more of those adjectives under various circumstances and they would therefore need to employ the passive voice.

NOTE THE FOLLOWING ABOUT THE PASSIVE VOICE IN ENGLISH:

  • With the passive voice, you may not know who commits the act, only that the act was committed. (Example: The book was taken.)
  • With the passive voice, you will always need the verb “to be” and sometimes you also need the verb “to have.”
  • Almost any verb tense in English can be changed to the passive construction including the conditional perfect using “would.”
  • Typically, with the passive voice, you sentence will end with “by someone” or “by something.” However, often, you can leave off the “by” clause and it will still be understood even though not expressly stated.
  • With the passive voice, the object becomes the subject in the passive construction.
  • With the passive voice, you have to add “being” to all continuous passive tenses.
  • For some tenses and verbs, the passive voice is very awkward and you should avoid using it and use the active voice instead.

BELOW, FIND AN EXAMPLE OF THE BASIC PASSIVE TENSES IN ENGLISH:

 

ACTIVE VOICE PRESENT TENSE:

The woman holds her son lovingly.

PASSIVE VOICE PRESENT TENSE:

The son is held lovingly by the woman.

 

ACTIVE VOICE PRESENT CONTINUOUS

The lightening is striking my car!

PASSIVE VOICE PRESENT CONTINUOUS

My car is being struck by the lightening!

 

ACTIVE VOICE SIMPLE PAST 

The chef cooked the meal

PASSIVE VOICE SIMPLE PAST

The meal was cooked by the chef.

 

ACTIVE VOICE PAST CONTINUOUS

The seamstress was dressing the bride when the zipper popped.

PASSIVE VOICE PAST CONTINUOUS

The bride was being dressed by the seamstress when the zipper popped.

 

ACTIVE VOICE PAST PERFECT

If he had known, he would not have pulled the trigger.

PASSIVE VOICE PAST PERFECT

The trigger would not have been pulled if he had known.

 

ACTIVE VOICE PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The president had been planning to ban immigrants for many years even before he was elected.

PASSIVE VOICE PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

Banning immigrants had been being planned by the president for years, even before he was  elected

 

ACTIVE VOICE PRESENT PERFECT

The school has put on a theatrical performance for the last fifteen years.

PASSIVE VOICE PRESENT PERFECT

A theatrical performance has been put on by the school for the last fifteen years.

 

ACTIVE VOICE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

Jane and her husband have been demolishing their home for the last two months.

PASSIVE VOICE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

For the last two months, the home has been being demolished by Jane and her husband.

 

ACTIVE VOICE FUTURE SIMPLE

Geanne will drive me to the airport tomorrow.

Geanne is going to drive me to the airport tomorrow.

 

PASSIVE VOICE FUTURE SIMPLE

I will be driven to the airport tomorrow by Geanne.

I am going to be driven to the airport tomorrow by Geanne.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Formal Emails in English: Using the appropriate tone and language

WRITING EMAILS IN ENGLISH

The art of letter-writing is an ancient one. Modernity has ushered in the advent of change in the form of emails. Emails are quick, immediate and less costly than “snail mail.” It is not unrealistic to posit that in a few short decades emails will completely replace snail mail. That means that except for packages, there will be no need for post offices.

As we have pointed out before, writing emails in English can occasionally be intimidating for non-native speakers of the language. But emails have become so central to professional and personal communication that as global citizens, it behooves  everyone to know how to do it well.

Emails, like letters, are an important aspect of business communiction however, in the digital age, emails are probably the preferred mode of communication between business professionals. If not the preferred, it is certainly more likely that our interactions will be done by email than by “snail mail,” telephone, text or fax within the context of business.

One reason for this is that  emailing is quicker than many other media. Another reason is that at the end of the process, there is a paper trail – and this can prove important in business communication.

Emails also offer both the sender and recceiver flexibility in terms of when the communication is achieved and allows both sides to respond in a time that is convenient for them. Another feature of emails is that they can be quick and reliable.

But just because emails are quicker does not mean anything goes. Particularly in a business context, the sender and responder must consider the context of the email in terms of the content of the email and the chosen vocabulary in order to write effectively and appropriately under the circumstances.

FORMAL EMAIL

Formal Emails are used in business and professional contexts. What makes an email formal? The intent of the sender.  That’s right. The first thing that makes an email formal is if the sender intended for it to be formal. This is a subjective test. Whether an objective person thinks that the sender is writing in a formal or informal capacity is not controlling. It is what the sender intended to convey by the communication that is controlling.

Indeed, there are three things that makes an email formal rather than informal:

1. Intent of the Sender

2. Tone of the email

3. The purpose of the email

You might have noticed that “structure” was left out. That is because both formal and informal emails follow a similar structure. They have a sender, receiver, subjet, salutation, body, conclusion and closing. So it is not the structure that makes an email formal.

 

 

With Formal Emails Don’t use:

1. Emoticons

2. Contractions

3.Curses

4. Racist language

5. Sexual innuendos

6. Overuse of exclamations points Informal Emails

7. Too many abbreviations

8. Unedited text

9. Lies

10. Grammatically incorrect prose

MORE

 

Some Common English idioms you should know

This post contains some common English Idioms You Should Know

Whether you are taking Legal English or Business English courses, it is helpful to learn at least a few English idioms so that you can at least up your “cool index” when you speak with your American colleagues. These idioms are not legal idioms or business idioms. We will look at those in another post. These are just idioms for socializing, chatting and shooting the breeze. (shooting the breeze is an idiom that means relaxed banter and chatter.) Americans particularly appreciate people who are “cool” and “with it.”  Is “with it” an idiom? Arguably, yes. Idioms don’t have to be full on sentences. They can be just a couple of words that strung together have an identifiable meaning. In English, to be “with it” means to be plugged in; to be cool; to know what is going on.

You will find idioms all over the English language, in law, in business, in play, in sports, in crime as well. For example, when you ‘take a contract out on someone” it means you plot to kill the person. When you “blow a deal” it means you caused negotiations to break down within the context of a contract that would otherwise have been good for you. When you “cave in” it has all sorts of meanings. In sports it may mean you lose your confidence; in dating it may mean you “give in” to someone’s desires; in life it could mean you let the stress of something get to you. In negotiations it could mean you let the other side get their way, you give in to their unreasonable demands because it was just easier.

So, how many English idioms do you know? Probably more than you realize. Americans use a lot of idioms in their everyday speech. If you want too interact with Americans, you should try to memorize a few of their idioms. What is cooler than a ‘”foreigner” with a charming accent using American idioms in their communications with Americans?

Oh, wait. First I should have first defined idiom. What is an idiom? Hah. An idiom is a just a quirky thing people say within a “culture” that has a specific meaning to that culture. It is a group of words strung together to create a semantic unit that means something specific to the people within that culture. It is not a phrasal verb. Even though phrasal verbs are also quirky and culturally sensitive in terms of what they mean. Idioms are usually full fledged sentences but not always. As mentioned earlier, just a couple of words can form an idiom.  Basically all languages have idioms.

So for example: it is raining cats and dogs.”Raining cats and dogs” is an idiom. The words are strung together to create a semantic unit that has a meaning separate and distinct from the words taken individually in a different context. Moreover, it cannot “rain” cats and dogs in a literal sense.  idioms have this nuance of being slightly unreal; or maybe the better word is idioms cannot be taken “literally.” So when you say in English that someone has “kicked the bucket” that means the person has died. It is possible to “kick” a “bucket” but kicking a bucket has nothing to do with dying except insofar as in English, it takes an idiomatic meaning. There are no rules for these things. You have to just memorize them.

 

Here are 10 English-American idioms. Do you know what they mean? Match them if you can:

1. On the other hand                                                                                        a. pouring

2.  To come up with                                                                                           b. rendered speechless

3. Piece of cake                                                                                                   c. however

4. raining cats and dogs                                                                                    d. old

5. bite off more than you can chew                                                                 e. to find; to figure something out

6. Over the hill                                                                                                     f. out of place

7. Straight from the horse’s mouth                                                                  g. unable to see

8. Cat got your tongue                                                                                        h.nervous

9. butterflies in your stomach                                                                           i. over-extended

10. Scared as a mouse                                                                                         j. Easy

11. Blind as a bat                                                                                                   k. terrified

12 Fish out of water                                                                                              l. direct

Conditional Sentences in English Using “If” Clauses: First, Second, Third Conditionals Plus Examples

CONDITIONAL SENTENCES IN ENGLISH: First Conditional, Second Conditional, Third Conditional 

 

FIRST CONDITIONAL

First Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is very likely to happen if another thing happens.

  • One part of the sentence begins with “if”.
  • The “if” clause is in the simple present tense.
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.
  • The second clause, or part of the sentence, is directly related to the “if clause” and is in the future tense.

EXAMPLES:

I will be excited if you are exciting.

If you are exciting I will be excited.

 

If I hurry, I will catch the bus.

I will catch the bus if I hurry.


SECOND CONDITIONAL

Second Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is NOT very likely to happen (although the speaker wishes that it would happen).

  • The “if” clause uses the simple past tense.
  • The second clause uses the conditional modal “would”
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.

The second clause, or part of the sentence, is directly related to the “if clause” but only to explain why the if clause is unlikely.

EXAMPLES

If I ate fewer carbs, I would be thinner.

I would be thinner if I ate fewer carbs.

 

If you studied harder you would do well.

You would do well if you studied harder.

 

 

THIRD CONDITIONAL

Third Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is impossible because the opposite has probably already occurred. It is like a counterfactual.

  • The “if” clause uses the PAST PERFECT
  • The second clause uses the conditional perfect “would have”
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.

EXAMPLES:

If I had known, I would not have said yes.

I would not have said yes if I had known.

 

If the surgery had worked, she would have been gorgeous.

She would have been gorgeous if the surgery had worked.

Signal Words – Cause and Effect: English Vocabulary Words & Phrases to Explain what happened and why/how it happened

SIGNAL WORDS THAT EXPLAIN CAUSE & EFFECT IN ENGLISH

When you think of cause & effect, think two WH words WHAT (the effect/the reason something happened or the result of something happening) and WHY/HOW (cause/why or how something happened).

In English there are many words such as adverbs and adverbials that can be used to express cause & effect.

In English, it is possible to put the cause before the effect; and it is also possible to put the effect before the cause. However, depending on the way you phrase your sentence, you may have to change the adverb or adverbial you use

Signal words help to connect your ideas and show a relationship between ideas and concepts in your sentences – explaining what happened and why/how it happened.

Signal words can also help to make your speech, and your writing clearer for the listener and reader.

Examples:

 

Because I was late, I lost my place on the queue. (Why/cause before what/effect)

I lost my place on the queue because I was late. (what/effect before why/cause)

 

OR

The medical trials were a disaster; as a result the company discontinued the medication. (why/cause before what/effect)

As a result of the disastrous medical trials, the company discontinued the medication. (why/cause before what/effect)

 

OR

Since you refuse to honor your contractual obligations, my client has decided to commence a lawsuit (why/cause before what/effect)

My client has decided to commence a lawsuit because you refuse to honor your contractual obligations (what/effect before why/effect)

Below are other cause and effect vocabulary you can use.

CAUSE (WHY/HOW)

  • For (I did not go to the gym for I am tired)
  • Since (Since he is untrustworthy, I think we should avoid telling him confidential information)
  • Because (He will marry you because he loves you)
  • As (As it is late, I have to leave)
  • So long as (So long as I have life, I will continue to exercise)
  • As long as (As long as Trump is President, Jennifer plans to remain in Prague)
  • Now that (Now that it’s winter, I am happy.)

 

EFFECT (WHAT)

  • As a result (She failed the bar; as a result she cannot practice law in her state)
  • This led to (The refugees were denied food and shelter; this led to several deaths)
  • On account of that (The boss thought George was incompetent; on account of that, he fired him.)
  • Due to that (It poured for days. Due to that, the entire city is flooded)
  • For this reason (I am not Jewish. For this reason I do not go to synagogue.)
  • Consequently (He broke the rules. Consequently, he has been suspended from school for two months.)
  • As a consequence (She is very beautiful. As a consequence she has had everything handed to her.)
  • Therefore (It is way past my bedtime. Therefore, I am going to bed)
  • Thus (The government is oblivious thus it is up to voters to take action.)
  • So (He beat his wife so she left him.)
  • If…then (If you come with me to Ipanema, then I will go with you to Somalia.)
  • resulted in (The plane accidentally was not fuelled in Dubai. This resulted in a crash in the South Atlantic.)

 

How to Ask Questions in English: 6 Basic Ways to Ask Questions in the English Language

ASKING QUESTIONS IN ENGLISH

 

There are many ways to pose or ask questions in English. This post will explore 6 basic ways to ask questions in English:

  1. Using all forms and tenses of the verb “to be” including active and passive voice.

Example:

  • Am I late?
  • Was I late?
  • Have I ever been late?
  • Will I be late?
  • Is the car being moved by a truck?
  • Are you sure that the car is being moved by the truck?
  • Will the house be damaged by the hurricane?
  • Will we know if the house is damaged by the hurricane?
  • Is he leaving?
  • Will they have left by the time we arrive?
  • Are they being put to sleep?

SPEAK WITH A PARTNER:

  1. Are you VERY tall? (yes I am. No I am not.)
  2. Is your mother an orangutan? (Yes, she is./No she is not./No she isn’t.)
  3. Are you a fan of Donald Trump? ‘Yes I am. No I am not)
  4. Is your gut big? (yes it is. /No it isn’t)
  5. Are you going to see the film tomorrow evening? (Yes, I am. / No I am not. / No I’m not.)
  6. Are you going to take a major vacation this year? (Yes I am. /No I am not)

 

2. Using all forms and tenses of the verb “to have

Examples:

  • Have you seen these documents?
  • Have I got any money?
  • Have you got any money?
  • Has he got any money?
  • Has she got the most beautiful smile you have ever seen?
  • Has he been drinking or what?
  • Has she ever been in this university before?
  • Have they any conscience whatsoever?
  • Have you got a private jet or were you just joking?
  • Have you ever heard such a ridiculous story in your entire life?
  • Have you had any success with this medication?
  • Have you seen the latest George Clooney movie?
  • Have you lost your mind?
  • Had you known better would you have done it?
  • Had she taken a different route everything would have turned out differently for her.

 SPEAK WITH A PARNTER

  • Have you been attending this school for more than one year?
  • Have you ever been to Moscow?
  • Have you ever visited Canada?
  • Has your mother ever hit you when you were a kid?
  • Had you known what you know now, would you have still come to this school?
  • Has a mosquito ever stung you?
  • Have you always been this smart?

 

3. Using modal verbs such as (Can, Could, Should, Would, May, Might, Must, Able to, Shall, Will, Ought)

Examples:

  • Can you pass the salt, please?
  • Could you play the piano when you were little or did you only learn as an adult?
  • Should I pay the tab?
  • Would you please stop acting stupid?
  • May I ask you to dance?
  • Might this be the one you are looking for?
  • Must you continuously act like a moron?
  • Are you able to see the blackboard?
  • Shall we go?
  • Ought we to think about leaving now?

 

PRACTICE WITH A PARTNER

  • Can you play the piano?
  • Could you write with both hands at any point in your life?
  • May I ask you a personal question?
  • Will you go to a Coldplay concert with me if I pay all your expenses?
  • Are you able to eat a lot of beans without getting gas?
  • Shall we go out for a cigarette now?

 

 

4. Using a relative pronoun (Who, What, Where, When, How, Which)

Examples:

  • Who let the dogs out?
  • What is going on in here?
  • Where is the car?
  • When can we leave?
  • How are you?
  • Which is your favorite?

 

SPEAK WITH A PARTNER

5. Using an indirect question with a tag at the end

  • You didn’t really mean to do that, did you?
  • We should to leave now, shouldn’t we?
  • I was great, wasn’t I?
  • You have done this before, haven’t you?
  • She has a lot of money, hasn’t she?
  • Your dad will like this tie, won’t he?
  • That guy is nuts, isn’t he?
  • We need to ask permission before we park here, musn’t we?
  • We have enough food to survive at least a month, haven’t we?

6. Using the verb “do”

Examples

    • Do you have the time?
    • Do you know how I can get to the town square?
    • Did you really invent the machine?
    • Didn’t I see you in that bar?
    • Doesn’t he like cherries?
    • Doesn’t she like chocolate?
    • Did you  honestly think that I didn’t know what you are up to?
    • Do you own a pet?
    • Do they have a big house?

 

SPEAK WITH A PARTNER:

  1. Do you speak Spanish as well as you speak English? (Yes I do. / No I don’t.)
  2. Do you speak German well?  (Yes I do. /No I don’t)
  3. Does your girlfriend like chocolate pudding? (Yes she does. / No she doesn’t.)
  4. Do you have an older brother ? (Yes I do. / No I don’t)
  5. Did you always look this way?
  6. Did she steal the lipstick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Give Your Opinion in English: Examples of What You Can Say and How to Begin Your Sentence

GIVING YOUR OPINION IN ENGLISH:

IDEAS FOR HOW TO BEGIN YOUR SENTENCES WHEN YOU WANT TO TELL SOMEONE YOUR OPINION IN ENGISH 

Giving your opinion in English can take several different tones.

  • You can express a strong opinion.
  • You can express an opinion that is based on your own personal beliefs.
  • You an express an opinion that is based on the general opinions of others.
  • You can also express an opinion using language that is non-committal or even cautious to protect yourself based on the situation.

 

Below you will find some examples of how you might START your sentence when you want to give your opinion in English. This is not an exhaustive list in the sense that there are many, many other possibilities. 

Strong opinion:

  • I know for a fact that
  • It is painfully obvious that
  • I am completely convinced that
  • I am absolutely convinced
  • I am convinced beyond doubt that
  • Clearly,
  • Obviously,
  • It is incontrovertible that
  • No one can argue that
  • Everyone knows that
  • As a matter of fact
  • I have no doubt that
  • I believe strongly that
  • As far as I am concerned

 

Tepid/lukewarm/Cautious opinion

  • I sort of think that
  • I hesitate to say that
  • I suppose that
  • I guess that
  • I don’t know this for a fact but
  • I would imagine that
  • I am cautiously optimistic that
  • I almost want to admit that
  • I almost want to say that
  • Maybe there is another way to….
  • I am not absolutely certain but
  • This not necessarily my personal opinion on this matter but

 

Subjective opinion

  • I personally think that…
  • In my personal experience
  • As far as I know
  • To the extent of my knowlege
  • My personal opinion is
  • From my point of view
  • From my vantage point
  • To my way of thinking
  • In my rarefied world
  • In my humble opinion
  • The way I see it it

Objective opinion (based on generalized opinions of others)

  • The conventional wisdom seems to be that
  • Evidently,
  • Apparently
  • In other people’s opinion
  • According to established studies
  • I have heard from reputable sources that
  • Generally speaking,
  • Based on generally accepted principles
  • Based on widely held opinions
  • Normally,

 

Les Gros Mots en Anglais: Jamais on dit ces mots dans une contexte professionnelle

Les gros mots en Anglais

Les gros mots en anglais are plentiful and when uttered by someone who is not English native, can be funny depending on the situation. But these words are never funny in a professional context. In English, as in any other language, there are some words that are forbidden in a professional context. It does not matter how angry you become on account less than “gentille” conduct by the other person. You should say these words in a professional context (in some circumstances you can get yourself fired or even violently attacked) and if someone says these words to you, you ought to consider not doing business with this individual – depending on the circumstances.

Of course, university students and those in lycée love to know these words and can tend to blurt them out – for fun – at inappropriate times. But this, really, is inappropriate conduct and diction in a professional setting and you should not do it in speaking or in emails. Below are are list of the gros mots en anglais.

There are others, of course but these are the main ones to avoid:

  • Shit (oh shit, piece of shit, shithead, etc)
  • fuck (WTF, Oh fuck, fucking, fucking idiot, fucking bitch, fucking bastard, fuck you etc)
  • Damn it
  • Goddamn it
  • Damn you
  • What the hell
  • Bloody
  • Bloody hell
  • bitch!
  • son of a bitch
  • your mother!
  • Degenerate loser
  • shut up!
  • Bastard
  • Cunt
  • Ass
  • Ass wipe
  • Asshole
  • Kiss my ass
  • Dick
  • Dickhead
  • Shithead
  • Slut
  • this sucks
  • this blows

NEVER, EVER, USE THESE WORDS IN A PROFESSIONAL SETTING. OKAY? THEY ARE GROS MOTS EN ANGLAIS!

 

For, During, While & Since: When to Use These Prepositions in English

Prepositions of Time such as FOR, DURING, WHILE, & SINCE can give English learners a very tough time. I have found that these prepositions are the most commonly misused by French people, for example. They get these prepositions mixed up and it probably has something to do with their own language POUR, PENDANT, DEPUIS, and how those words are interchanged in French, which is a bit different to how they are used in English.

FOR

Use “for” to express how long something has been occurring or will occur.

For example: I have been traveling to Spain every summer for the past 15 years.

 

WHILE

Use “while” to express 2 actions occurring in roughly the same span of time even though it is unclear how long either of the actions were occurring.

For example: I was eating while I blogged.

 

DURING

Use “during” to express a span of time that has a clear beginning and end that can be objectively measured.

For example: I will get a chin implant during the summer holidays.

(note that the summer holidays can be objectively measured as starting on a specific date and ending on a specific date)

 

SINCE

 

Use “since” to express a moment or time in the past that something such as an activity began. The activity is still going on in the present.

For example: I have been exercising regularly since I was 15.