Confusing verbs and prepositions: to remind or to remember? to remind about or of?

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Since some of you quite liked my last post about prepositions, I thought I would write another one on the same topic. This time we’ll focus on the verb ‘to remind’ and the prepositions that can follow it.

25001380898956_Sometimes-all-it-takes-is-a-stroll-down-memory-laneto-remind-you-to-never-give-someone-the-power-to-But first, I would like to point out the difference between two verbs that students often seem to confuse: ‘to remind’ and ‘to remember’.


To remember something or doing something means to have a memory of it like in the following examples:

I remember meeting you at the party. >> I have a memory of meeting you at the party.

I remember her from my school days, we were in the same year. >> I have a memory of her from my school days.

Notice that when used to talk about your memories, ‘to remember’ is followed by a noun/pronoun (her) or a gerund (meeting).


To remember something or to do something is used when talking about something that it’s on your to-do-list or that you shouldn’t forget:

Will you remember to buy potatoes on your way home?

I’m so sorry, I didn’t remember your birthday!

As you can see in the above examples, remember is never followed by ‘someone’ so the structure ‘to remember someone to do something’ would be incorrect in English. Instead, you should use ‘remind’ in this case.


1) If you remind someone to do something, you make sure they will remember to do something that they have to do:

Don’t worry, I’ll remind Dad to pick you up from school. >> I’ll make sure he’ll remember he needs to pick you up.

2) If you remind someone ABOUT something, you want to make sure they won’t forget about it:

I’d like to remind you about tomorrow’s meeting, please come ready. >> I’d like to make sure you haven’t forgotten about tomorrow’s meeting


1) If someone reminds you OF someone else, it means that you think these people are somehow similar. Have a look at this example:

Lucy reminds me of my cousin Mary. They are both very friendly and chatty.

2) The same can be said if something reminds you OF something else:

This place reminds me of my home town. It’s just dead and boring. >> My home town is also dead and boring


If something reminds you OF someone/something it means that this thing (a place, food, a song etc) brings back some memories from the past like in the following sentences:

This food reminds me of my mum. She used to cook a delicious fish pie.

This song reminds me of our holiday in Cuba.

Hope this helps! 🙂
Talk soon,

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Confusing prepositions: to shout at or to someone?

Boy shoutingPrepositions are always tricky for students to get their head around. Especially when the same verb can be followed by either of two prepositions like in the case of ‘shout’. So which is the right preposition to use after ‘shout’, is it ‘at’ or ‘to’?

Well, you could use either and both would be correct but the meaning of ‘shout’ would change.


If you shout at someone, you’re angry. So in the middle of an argument between two people, you might hear one of them say:

“It wasn’t my fault, why are you shouting at me?”


“Why do you always shout at me for no reason?”


If you shout to someone, you want to attract their attention maybe because they’re far or can’t see you. For instance, you might be walking and suddenly see a friend of yours across the street and to attract their attention you shout to them.

“I was on my way to the library when I saw Mark across the street, I tried shouting to him but he didn’t hear me”.

Another verb that behaves like ‘shout’ is ‘throw’. Have a look at these examples:

“Mark threw the ball to me” >> in this instance, Mark just passed me the ball for me to catch it.

“Mark threw the ball at me (and hurt my eye)” >> in this case Mark was mean and wanted to hit me!

So when deciding which preposition to use, first understand what the intention is.
Hope the choice of which prepositions to use after ‘shout’ or ‘throw’ won’t bug you any more!
Talk soon,
Deb 🙂


Medical English: English for pregnancy

babyonboardAs one of my students has recently found out she’s pregnant – and, consequently, came to me with a lot of vocabulary-related questions- I’ve decided to write a post about it!

I suppose this could fall into Medical English if you like!

I didn’t want to write a mere list of terms and definitions because I believe that, in order to learn new words, you should try to study them in context. In this way, it’s more likely that they’ll stick with you (=you’ll remember them).

First of all, to find out you’re pregnant you have to do a pregnancy test that can easily be bought at a local pharmacy. Next, you want to see your GP (General Practitioner) who is going to refer you to a hospital for your first antenatal appointment. At the appointment you’ll meet your midwife who will take care of you during your pregnancy, have a blood test and hand in your urine sample so that they can check you’re healthy and not lacking any vitamins, for instance.

The first trimester can be quite exhausting for some expectant mothers, a lot of them experience morning sickness and an ongoing metallic taste in their mouth which is quite annoying. If you live in London like I do, this is also a good time to request a ‘baby on board’ badge to wear when taking the tube (you just need to write an email to Transport for London and within a few days you get it delivered by mail!). Indeed you won’t have a bump yet but you want people to be more cautious, especially during rush hour.

During your 12th week, you should get your first scan which is quite exciting as you get to see the baby for the first time and hear their heartbeat! The ultrasound specialist will also be able to tell you your due date (= when you’ll give birth). At this point, you might want to tell your employer about your pregnancy and discuss when going on maternity leave.

Twenty weeks into your pregnancy (by then, apparently, you should have a little bump, make sure you use a cream to avoid stretch marks..), you’ll get your second scan and, should you want to, find out the sex*of your baby.

Depending how far in your pregnancy you are, you might want to go and check the delivery room where you’ll be admitted to once your water breaks and you go into labour . Should you not like it, you can self-refer yourself to another hospital.

To get ready for the delivery, mums and dads-to-be usually go to antenatal classes.

These are some of the questions you might want to ask a pregnant woman:

How far in your pregnancy are you?**

When are you due?

And this is how you answer (should you be the expectant mother):
I’m + number + weeks (pregnant) i.e. I’m 15 weeks pregnant
I’m due on + date / in + month

That’s it for now, I hope you’ve learned some new terms there!
Talk soon,

*what’s the difference between the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’? This seems to be a question which often bugs people. To put it in a nutshell, when you talk about biology you should use the word ‘sex’ while when referring to the ‘social aspect’ you should use ‘gender’. So, for instance, if you do Gender Studies at university, you’ll learn about the role of men and women in different cultures, you’ll study politics, feminism etc.

** This is a useful structure to learn, look at this other example:
How far in the book are you? I’ve read 200 pages and I’m loving it!


Natural English: the suffix -ish

lovely-package-the-ish-watch2-ish‘ is definitively my favourite English suffix. I know what you’re thinking: ‘she must be a real grammar geek to have a favourite suffix’. You’re not wrong, I am indeed passionate about grammar 🙂

Anyway, I think that if you start getting into the habit of using ‘ish’ every now and then, your English will sound more natural. Here are some situations where you could use this suffix:

1- ish and numbers

What time shall we meet?


Used with numbers, -ish means ‘around‘. So not quite seven but around seven. The same is true when you talk about someone’s age: I think she’s fortyish but I’m not sure.

This is a good one if you don’t want to commit yourself too much and if you show up 20 minutes late, you could always say: ‘I said seven-ish not seven sharp!‘ and if you don’t want to say an exact time you can go for ‘I’ll be home soonish‘.

2- ish and adjectives

What does she look like?

She’s blondish.

Used with adjectives, -ish means ‘fairly’ or ‘slightly’. So she’s not super blond but she still falls into the category of blond. The same happens with colours: What colour is your dress? Bluish.

2- ish and nouns

What’s he like?

He’s childish and boring.

Meaning that he behaves like a child. So if someone has got a girlish face, their face looks like that of a young girl.

Bear in mind that in a formal context the use of the suffix ‘ish’ could sound too colloquial.

Talk soon!
Deb 🙂


Useful English: how to succeed in a job interview

BROKINNEWS interviewIf you have a job interview in English lined up, you might want to give this post a read. I’m going to present some language that you can use to answer the most common questions interviewers usually ask.

As an interviewee, you’re likely to be asked the four following questions:


What are your strengths?

Here are some expressions/words that you might want to use to address this question:

  • I’m good at + doing something: I’m good at planning / dealing with people;
  • I’m good with + something: I’m good with numbers;
  • People say I’m..: people say I’m very hard-working;
  • I’ve often been praised for + skills / doing something: I’ve often been praised for my organisational skills / being always on time;
  • My time management is excellent;
  • I’m reliable;
  • to cope with something: I can cope with stressful situations;
  • to strive + to do something: I always strive to meet deadlines / achieve my goals;
  • I’m particularly proud of + skills: I’m particularly proud of my ability to deal with multiple tasks;

What are your weaknesses?

  • I find it difficult + to-infinitive: I find it difficult to say ‘no’;
  • I struggle with + someone/ something / doing something: I sometimes struggle with people who don’t work hard / prioritising;
  • I have trouble + doing something: I occasionally have trouble prioritising tasks;
  • I used to + infinitive but now: I used to have difficulties in prioritising* but I have now learnt ..;

>>> I’d suggest that you use adverbs like ‘sometimes’ or ‘occasionally’ in your response to make your answer sound ‘less negative’. Also by using ‘I used to + infinitive‘ you’re underlining that you’ve worked on your weakness and finally overcome it.

*Notice the structure: to have difficulties in + doing something.

Tell me about your experience/ your current job.

  • to be in charge of: as a Sales Director, I’m in charge of strategic planning;
  • to be responsible for: as a Sales Director, I’m responsible for strategic planning;
  • to lead a team: I lead a team of five people;
  • my main duties include + (doing) something: my main duties include strategic planning and setting targets etc;
  • my field is + sector/ science / industry: my field is human resource / psychology ..;

What made you apply for this job?

  • I think this job is a perfect match for my skills
  • I think this job would suit me because…
  • I want to bring my career to the next level
  • I think it would be both challenging and rewarding
  • My aim is to become XXXX in five years time;
  • I’d like to move on in my career as a Sales Director and this looks like an excellent opportunity;

Grammar you need to revise

Make sure you revise the following grammar before your interview:

  • Present Perfect: I have worked in my current job for 12 years / since 2002*;
  • Past Simple: I worked for 5 years in marketing before starting working for XXX;
  • Present Perfect Continuous: (lately) I have been working on a very important project..;
  • 2nd Conditional: If I was offered the job, I’d be able to start in a month (using the 2nd conditional makes you sound less pretentious 🙂

*for+ period of time (two days, three months, five hours)
since+ point in time (2010, April, Tuesday, five o’clock)

Hope this helps and good luck 🙂


Learning new words methodically

With some of my students I’ve recently started to work on broadening their vocabulary. I’ve tried to come up with something that would help them remember new words and how to use them. In my experience, most of the students tend to write down lists of words and try to learn them by heart. I wanted to provide them with a more methodical way of expanding their vocabulary.

This is what I came up with:


Click on the picture to see it bigger

At the end of each lesson (not necessarily focused on vocabulary), I ask my student what new words they’ve learnt. I then take a few pieces of paper (I’ve always keep them at hand) like the one in the picture and ask the student to write down each new word on a separate slip. I then ask them to think about the following aspects of each new word:

  1. Part of speech: is the word a noun / adjective / verb etc?
  2. Pronunciation: how do you pronounce it? Can you spot any pronunciation rules we’ve talked about?
  3. Register: is it formal or informal English?
  4. Opposites / synonyms: can you think of its opposite / a synonym?
  5. Collocations: what words usually follow / come before this word?
  6. Structure (especially if the word is a verb): is it transitive or intransitive? what preposition usually follows?
  7. Example: can you think of an example sentence containing this word?

The student writes all this information for each new word on the corresponding slip of paper (so make sure your pieces are not too small!). I then suggest that whenever they have some time to kill (for example, when waiting for the bus, when commuting to work etc) they should take out their set of cards and revise them.

Potentially, you could even make the student write derivatives on the back.

When the students has started using these words in their everyday life and feel quite comfortable using them, they can chuck them away and start learning new ones!

What do you think? Could this work for you?
Talk soon 🙂



Pronunciation: what’s the difference between want and won’t?

BizarroEyeChartPronunciation is one of the tricky aspects of learning English. There are few rules and lots of exceptions, this is way listening to podcasts and watching movies/series is so important. The more you’re exposed to the language, the easier it’ll be to learn the right pronunciation.

Today I’d like to point out the differences between words that sometimes students perceive as having the same pronunciation. This often happens with ‘minimal pairs‘: words that differ in their pronunciation only for one sound, like ‘want’ and ‘won’t’.
Other times it’s the spelling of a word that misleads the reader into pronouncing it as a different word, some students have a hard time distinguishing between ‘heart’ and ‘earth’ (and what about ‘hurt’?!).

Also, people in the UK pronounce some words differently from people in the U.S. One of the striking features of British pronunciation is that the ‘r’ is often silent. For instance, to say ‘nurse’ an American would say nɜːrs while a British would drop the ‘r’ and say nɜːs. 

In London it gets even ‘worse’ as some people tend to drop even the ‘t’. For instance, ‘a bottle of water’ becomes ‘ˈbɒʔl əv ˈwɔːʔə’ >> Click here to listen to a Londoner saying this sentence but don’t panic! Remember that you can always remind these Brits that you’re not from here and it’d be nice if they could make an effort to pronounce words properly 🙂

This symbol ‘ʔ’ is called ‘glottal stop‘ and replaces the ‘t’ in the sentence above. If you are passionate about languages you can read more about the ‘glottal stop’ here.

If you’re not familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet that I use in this post, the British Council website has very useful chart that you can find here. The phonetic transcriptions that you find below refer to BrE and not AmE (that’s why the ‘r’ is not there!).

Below you find a list of the most common words students find confusing. Try to read them aloud and then check your pronunciation by clicking here and listen to a Londoner saying these words.


/wɒnt/          /wəʊnt/


/kɔːs/                 /kɔːz/


/wɜːk/              /wɔːk/


/wɜːd/             /wɜːld/


/ləʊ/           /lɔː/

HAIR & HER (and EAR!)

/h/          /hə/          /ɪə/


/ɜːθ/      /hɑːt/     / hɜːt/

BAG & BEG (and BUG!)

/bæɡ/      /beg/      /bʌɡ/


/tiːθ/    /θf/

SHIT & SHEET  – this one is a classic 🙂

ɪt/        /ʃɪ:t/

Hope you’ve found this post useful,

/tɔːk   su:n/ ! 🙂