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When Things Go Very, Very Wrong

Life is not perfect. Things go wrong. We make mistakes. We have mishaps and failures. But mistakes, mishaps and failures are nothing compared to a fiasco! A fiasco is something that goes completely wrong often in a ridiculous or embarrassing way. It is dramatic and sometimes absurd. These are all important words when talking about fiascos. They are what make fiascos different from other types of failures.

  


Animals We Love to Hate

They slither. They are slimy. For most people, they are high on the list of animals nobody loves. They are worms and snakes. From ancient folk stories to modern animated films, snakes and worms do not often play the hero. Fair or not, they are usually the characters that set bad examples. This is also true in American English. In our idioms and expressions worms and snakes are often the bad guys. First, lets talk about worms.

  


'Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!'

Children all over the United States know this simple rhyme. They say it when someone gets caught in a lie. In other words, when someone gets busted for lying. The word lie comes from Old English through even older German. A lie is an untruth. It is intentional and usually has consequences. But not all lies are created equal. People often use white lies to prevent hurting the feelings of others or to save themselves trouble. For example, lets say you are eating dinner at your bosss house and the food is really bad. When your boss asks you, How do you like the meatloaf? Its an old family recipe, it is a good idea to say you love it.

  


Will: Do You Have It?

Today we talk about a seemingly simple four-letter word: will. But do not be fooled. The word will is a strong noun and a powerful verb. As a verb, will requires you to do something. If you say you will take action, you have promised to do it with no excuses -- no ifs, ands or buts. As a noun, will is the determination to do something, demonstrating a strength or firmness of purpose. Someone who has a strong will does not give up. Americans often say someone who is determined has an iron will. On the opposite side, someone who has lost their will has given up. It is a very serious situation when a person has lost their will to live. These people need lots of love and support. Will can also be a persons choice or desire to do something. For example, do you have the will to learn the English language? If you are listening to this show, I hope your answer would be yes, I do.

  


An Introduction to Verb Tenses

Today we are going to give you a basic overview of the verb tense system in English. Verb tenses tell us how an action relates to the flow of time. There are three main verb tenses in English: present, past and future. The present, past and future tenses are divided into four aspects: the simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive. There are 12 major verb tenses that English learners should know. English has only two ways of forming a tense from the verb alone: the past and the present. For example, we drove and we drive. To form other verb tenses, you have to add a form of have, be or will in front of the verb. These are called helping, or auxiliary verbs.

  


Do You Know This Blizzard of Winter Words?

People all over the world love to talk about the weather. Today, we talk about expressions that come from extreme winter weather. Winters in the northern United States are cold and snowy. Sometimes, the snows come with extremely strong winds. These snowstorms are called blizzards. It is difficult to see through the fast blowing snow of a blizzard. So, they are often described as blinding. The dictionary Etymology Online says blizzard came to mean a severe snow storm during the late 1800s. Before then, the word blizzard had nothing to do with snow. It had several other meanings. One was a sharp blow, like hitting a ball with a stick. Another meaning was a gun shot. And blizzard was also defined as a most extreme statement or event.

  


Head Over Heels



  


Don't Hold Your Breath



  


Please Don't Boycott Us!

Each week we report on words and expressions commonly used in American English. We explain their meanings, their roots and how they are currently used. Today we talk a word that comes to English through the Irish. That word is boycott. Boycott can be used as both a noun and a verb. As a verb, boycott means to refuse to do something as a form of protest. People who boycott something are often looking for social, economic or political change. As a noun, the word boycott has a somewhat different meaning. People stop using goods or services during a boycott until changes are made.

  


The Terms of Buying a House

Many Americans and people who come to America want to own a home. Home ownership is part of the American Dream: the hope that if you work hard and are treated fairly, you can buy a place to call your own. But buying a home can be difficult. Even talking about it can be confusing. The language of real estate the buying and selling of property includes its own terms, phrases and expressions.

  


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