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Welcome to "Everyday English for Advanced English Speakers"
Practice common topics you'll encounter on a daily basis and pick up essential vocabulary you'll need for the most basic day-to-day tasks.
Language: English
Members: 11007
Officers: Larissa (Administrator)

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 I’m lucky.  After many, many disastrous roommate (=a person with whom you share a house, but in a non-romantic way) relationships, I now have a great one.  Billy’s laidback (=relaxed), considerate, always pays the rent and bills on time, he owns a fridge and washing machine (which I don’t) and the best part – he’s usually not here!


Here are some tips for good roommate living.

  1.  Be clear from the beginning about your expectations and theirs.  If you hate dirty dishes, or if you love your loud music, get it out in the open from the start.
  2.  If something bothers you, address it before it becomes a huge frustrating problem in your head.
  3.  Let the small stuff slide (=forget about unimportant things).  A dirty dish here, or a onetime late night door slam isn’t worth making a big deal (=starting a big discussion or argument) about.  Be relaxed about everything that doesn’t actually affect your wellbeing.  It’s not worth starting something just for the sake of making a point (=trying to show you’re right).
  4. Respect their stuff. Don’t borrow things unless you’re SURE it’s ok.
  5. Keep their stuff safe.  Don’t bring strangers home, and always lock up (=lock doors and windows) behind you.
  6.  Know their schedules and respect them.  If your roommate works at 7am, don’t bring your drunk friends home at 3am. 
  7. Don’t talk about sensitive topics that are likely to lead to tension or fights.  Billy and I never discuss my exboyfriend (who makes me insane) or the way he treats girls (which I disagree with)!
  8. Make rules in the beginning, but don’t go overboard.  In our house, for example, smoking inside is banned (Billy smokes, I don’t), and I have to wash my clothes during the week since Billy is only in the house on Sundays.  In the beginning we disagreed on housework policies, so we decided to pay someone to come once a week and clean.


Have you ever had a roommate?  What do you think are the keys to a successful roommate relationship?


 Ah, stress.  People don’t really understand how it’s possible I ever have it, giving my current work activities involve only singing and blogging for Englishtown, and stress is so often associated with heavy workloads and long periods of time in the office.


But actually, I get stressed very easily.


Here in Brazil, people are very relaxed about time, and it drives me insane (=make me uncontrollably angry).  I always find myself tearing my hair out (=becoming extremely stressed) when members of my band are late for yet another rehearsal, or when I’m waiting for an hour in a queue.  I lose my temper (=get angry) quickly and people are often confused what I’m upset about.  If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “Relaxa Larissa!” or “Calma!” (Portugese, but I’m sure you can figure out what they mean), I wouldn’t be here writing this blog, because I’d be on a Caribbean holiday without any stress at all!


I get stressed out (=become very stressed) when we have a show scheduled in 2 days and we still haven’t had a rehearsal.  I get seriously on edge (=nervous and tense) when someone is LATE for a rehearsal. 


If something is causing me severe stress, particularly relationship problems or money problems, I suffer from insomnia (=sleeplessness) and mild depression (=unreasonable sadness).  Inability to sleep is always the first sign that I have to sort out a problem in my life, along with really vivid dreams that wake me with a start with clear messages.


What causes you stress?  What are your stress related symptoms?

 They say time really flies when you’re having fun, and that was certainly true last weekend, it seemed like I was back in the city in no time!  I went to the beach to sing reggae with my new band, and we had a great time.  The trip took a long time, but we killed time playing games and chatting. 


We didn’t play as many times as I would have liked, but next time we’ll be more organized and book more shows.  We wasted a lot of time talking to the wrong people in the wrong venues, but we’ll know better next time.  I ran into a friend of mine, a singer who I hadn’t seen in a really long time, and he introduced me to some bar owners who booked gigs with us for the end of the month.  His percussionist was interested in me and kept trying to hug and kiss me, but I didn’t give him the time of day.


I hurt my leg on Saturday so I had a hard time getting around in the soft sand.  That was disappointing because I was stuck in one place, but at the same time it was good that I couldn’t go out partying every night and ruin my voice!  Even without being able to walk around a lot, I had the time of my life in Algodoal.  I really love going to the beach from time to time, it takes the stress out of city living.  However, for the time being I’m stuck in the city writing blogs for Englishtown.




Do you know any other expressions using the word time? 

 Anyone who says they’re not afraid of anything is lying.  When we’re young our fears usually involve monsters or ghosts, and as we get older they become more realistic.  Public speaking, growing old, being alone… we all fear something, whether we admit it or not.


Walking outside in the dark gives me the jitters (=makes me very nervous and shaky), I guess because I’ve been robbed so many times at night.  Then if a bicycle comes towards me, my blood runs cold (=I become very frightened and get a chill)!  I’ve been assaulted by men on bikes several times, so it really makes me jump out of my skin (=I literally jerk with fear) when one of them gets too close to me, particularly if there are two boys or young men on one bike.


I’m a singer, and going on stage to sing in front of large numbers of people has never given me a problem… but I often get butterflies in my stomach (=I feel nervous) when I teach a new English class for the first time.  Worse still is when I have to give bad news to someone.  Particularly if that bad news is related to something I’ve done wrong, like if I’ve borrowed something from a friend and lost it, or made a big mistake that affects them… I always find myself with my heart in my mouth (=feeling anxious) and a little bit tongue-tied (=stuttering, unable to speak clearly) when I have to tell them what happened.


What are you afraid of?

In Australia (where I come from), gambling is an extremely common past time.  Now, for better or for worse, many bars and restaurants have a pokie room (pokie is short for Poker Machine).  I never really got a taste for it (probably for the best), since statistically you’re only going to lose money, and I seem to lose more than most when I do give it a go.


There are a lot of common expressions that originated in gambling, here are some of the most well-used.


You think that guy isn’t married?  Do you wanna bet?  (I don’t believe that’s true)


I really hit the jackpot when I met my girlfriend!  (I got extremely lucky)


You can bet your bottom dollar those two are having an affair. (I’m extremely sure it’s true)


She told me she hadn’t taken my money with a poker face. (without giving away anything with facial expressions)


I told him I’d leave my job if he didn’t increase my salary, and he called my bluff. (forced me to go through with a threat)


I thought I’d won the argument, but he had an ace up his sleeve (an advantage that he was keeping hidden)


I laid my cards on the table and told him I was interested in somebody else. (revealed everything)


Can you use these expressions in sentences of your own?


They say Friendship is like money – easier to make than to keep.  In my life this has certainly become true, probably because of the amount of travelling I do.  I’ve become accustomed to staying a short period of time in many different places, so I make new friends easily, but sometimes neglect them after a few months.  I have to really be conscious about maintaining the relationships I start.


Here are some tips for being a good friend.

  1.  Listen.  Really pay attention to what they say, this is one of the most important aspects of a friendship. 
  2.  Don’t gossip (=spread rumours or stories) about them.  Seriously.  It WILL get back to them sooner or later.
  3. Keep their secrets (=don’t tell them to anyone).  Once the trust is gone in a friendship it’s extremely difficult to get back, and if word gets out (=other people know about it) that you’re a big mouth, other people won’t trust you either.
  4. Give and take.  It’s extremely important not only that you give what you can to your friends, both emotionally and materially, but also that you allow the other person to give to you. 
  5. Be there for them.  Even if you don’t agree entirely with the decision they’ve made, it’s important to be supportive.  If she’s fighting again with the boyfriend you never liked, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there for her with a hug and a tissue.
  6. Forgive them.  Nobody is perfect, including you!  So forgive their mistakes and failures as you want them to forgive yours.
  7.  Make time for your friends, even when you’re busy. 
  8.  Be trusting and trustworthy.


What tips do you have for being a good friend?


 “42” says Arthur Dent in A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Very funny book, by the way… but let’s not digress.  We’ve all asked these questions at some stage of our lives.  Why are we here?", "What is life all about?", and "What is the meaning of it all?"


Forgetting religion for now, let’s look at some of the philosophical viewpoints that have been taken on this question over the years.


Platonism – Plato writes that the Form of the Good is the ultimate object of knowledge, and from the Good, things that are just gain their usefulness and value. Humans must pursue the good.  He suggests that justice, truth, equality, and beauty ultimately come from the Form of the Good.


Cynicism – the Cynic philosophers said that the purpose of life is living a life of Virtue that agrees with Nature. Happiness depends upon being self-sufficient and master of one's mental attitude; suffering is consequence of false judgments, which cause negative emotions and a vicious character.  The Cynical life rejects conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and fame.


Utilitarianism says "that the good is whatever brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people". He defined the meaning of life as the "greatest happiness principle".


Nihilism  rejects any authority's claims to knowledge and truth, and so explores the significance of existence without knowable truth. The nihilist says: "Nothing is of value", morals are valueless, they only serve as society's false ideals.


Cyrenaicism emphasizes one side of Socrates's teachings—that happiness is one of the ends of moral action and that pleasure is the supreme good; and bodily gratification is more intense than mental pleasure. Cyrenaics prefer immediate gratification to the long-term gain of delayed gratification; denial is unpleasant unhappiness.


What do YOU think is the meaning of life?

Nobody likes going to funerals (=a ceremony held for the burial of a dead person), least of all me.  In my family, people tend to be cremated (=incinerated, burned to ashes) and then have wakes, where we try to celebrate the deceased’s life, rather than mourn (=feel sad for the loss of a loved one) their deaths. Even the cremations are performed privately by the professionals, and not attended by any family members.  I’ve lost my father and 3 grandparents, and they’ve all done this.


Whether you attend a funeral or a wake, it’s important that you offer your condolences (=sympathy for one who is suffering from the loss of a loved one).  The main purpose of this is to ease the suffering of the people closest to the person who has passed away (=died).  Here are some useful phrases you can use.


“I’m so sorry for your loss”


“If there’s anything I can do, please call me.”


“I realise things must be very difficult for you right now, but if there’s any way I can help, please let me know.”


Of course, if the people are involved are of a particular religion, this makes a big difference.  God and concepts of the afterlife (=any spiritual concept of what happens after you die physically, such as Heaven or reincarnation) generally bring comfort to those who believe in them.  It can help to tell a humorous story or any story about the deceased that reminds the bereaved (=someone suffering the loss of a loved one) how much joy the deceased brought.


Do NOT say things like this.


“I know just what you’re going through.”  No you don’t.  Everybody has a different experience and relationship with those they have lost.


“You must be relieved that it’s all over.” Or “This is for the best.”


“Look on the bright side” or “It’s time to move on and be happy again.”  You can’t rush someone else’s grieving process.


Have you had to offer condolences to someone?  Have you been to a lot of funerals or wakes?

 Ah, weddings.  The smiling bride (=woman getting married) glides down the aisle to the arms of her waiting groom (=man getting married), they tie the knot (=get married) in front of friends and family, then they’re off on their honeymoon (=holiday for the newly married couple) and they all live happily ever after.


Except that 50% of marriages end in divorce, don’t you know?


My friend’s brother got married recently and my friend rang me lamenting the appearance of Bridezilla.  Bridezilla is what becomes of nice, ordinary women that become so stressed about their weddings that they become unbearable, screaming crying monsters.  After a year of planning and a shocking budget, the poor woman didn’t enjoy her own wedding!  She even complained constantly and bitterly about the appearance of a (relatively harmless and mostly amusing) stripper (=man or woman paid to dance naked) at her bachelorette party (=the last party a woman has with her female friends before marrying).  Her friends should know her better than that, apparently…


Around 1% of brides and grooms get left at the altar (=abandoned at the actual wedding) when their partner gets cold feet (=becomes too frightened to get married).


22% of men and 14% of women admit to having affairs (=sleeping with other people) during the course of their marriage.  And I’m sure there are a lot more people cheating (=sleeping with someone who isn’t their spouse) who aren’t telling!


As you can probably guess, I’m single and cynical…. ;)


Do you know anyone who has suffered any of these situations, or had any other kinds of disasters related to their wedding or marriage?





Road rage – an aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other motor vehicle.


We were driving to a beach town in some really heavy (but still fast) traffic last Friday, the roads were a nightmare, and people were getting stressed.  My friend was getting really irritated because he was being tailgaited (=when someone drives very close behind you) by the car behind him, as though the guy thought driving closer to us would speed up his arrival.  My friend hit the brakes lightly a few times to signal for the guy to back off (=slow down, make more space), and he responded by pushing into the lane beside us, swerving (=move sideways very quickly and suddenly) angrily in front of our car then slamming on his brakes (=braking very hard and fast)!  We braked hard as well and the guy turned left, leaving the highway and giving us the finger (=raising his middle finger in a rude gesture).


The point is, if we hadn’t braked quickly enough, we would have rear-ended (=hit him from behind) the guy, and rear-ending another car always results in blame for the car behind.  But if we’d totaled (=destroyed completely) his car and perhaps even hurt the driver, would that blame make him feel better??  And what if someone in our car had been hurt, could he have lived with that without guilt?  The situation left us all a little shaken up (=stressed and a little shocked) and my friend pulled the car over to calm down (=relax) before returning to the road, so he wouldn’t pass on any anger or irritation of his own, making the roads more dangerous still.


Have you had any experiences with road rage?