People Are Plural 

Many non-native English speakers wonder, is it “people is” or “people are”? The Answer: It’s “people ARE.” Part of the confusion might be because the pronouns “everybody” and “everyone” take “is”.  So, since “everybody” is considered singular, you would think “people”...

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How to Pronounce Live vs Leave

Why do the sounds in these words cause so much confusion – and embarrassment?! The difference between Live vs Leave is usually clear.  Live = inhabit. Leave = depart.  The hard part is in pronouncing these words correctly: Leave = leev Live = lihv or l’v  Most...

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“THINK” or “SINK”

As a foreign speaker of English, do you say, "I sink" instead of "I think?" This consonantal switch is common among non-native English speakers.  Many English learners know that “I sink” literally means, “I am going under water”(like the Titanic); but that is not...

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THAT vs THIS?

“Is THIS your book?” OR  “Is THAT your book? What is the difference?  Both “that” and “this” refer to singular objects or people.  The difference is in how close or far away you are: When you say, “This is my book,” you are touching your book or holding it in your...

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Whose vs Who’s

Whose vs Who’s These two words are pronounced exactly the same, but they are used in different ways.  WHOSE “Whose” is a pronoun often used as an adjective to show possession, or what belongs to someone.  In the question, “Whose book is this?” “whose” asks “to whom”...

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Broadway Musicals and Pronunciation

Do you know any songs from American musicals?  Musicals are a big part of American culture. Singing these songs is also a lot of fun – on top of being great for vocabulary and pronunciation.  As an English teacher in New York, I’ve often helped interested students...

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LIE vs LAY

The First Thing to know is: there is no longer a difference between LAY and LIE. “Lie”(or “lie down”) has traditionally been the word to describe putting yourself in a horizontal position either in bed, on the ground, or some other flat surface.  “Lay” has always been...

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LOOSE vs LOSE vs LOSS

Loose ... Young children get what we call a “loose tooth.” That is, an adult tooth starts pushing on a baby tooth. This makes the baby tooth wiggle back and forth when gently touched with a finger.  It is a “loose” tooth because the tooth is not tightly held in by the...

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Felt or Fell?

“Felt” and “fell,” two past tense verbs, are often confused by nonnative speakers. The words look and sound similar, so the confusion is understandable. Still, the words mean two very different things. FALL (fall-fell-fallen).  “Fall” means to drop or come down...

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