There’s a dirty habit that English speakers have … okay, it’s not that terrible. Still, when many people speak, they have a habit of contracting certain verbs if they come before the word “to.” These verbs usually stand ahead of another verb that is in its infinitive form, which is the most basic (e.g. to love, to go, to see). Here, I’m talking about the verb that comes before these infinitive forms. Read some examples to see what I mean:
Examples – connecting verbs with “to”
I wanna help you.
(“Want to” might get fused together, so this sounds more like, “wanna”)
You hadda say that, didn’t you?
(You had to say that, didn’t you?)
You hafta help me, please!
(You have to help me, please!)
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Or, do you want more info? Look at this article on RealLifeGlobal.com along with the video below.
This might happen because the word “to” is normally pronounced as a “shwa” or a short “uh” sound. When people are speaking, it can be a drag to pronounce every letter and word. So, they get bunched together and form into a new word. It’s similar to how “would have” can turn into “would’ve.”
One thing to remember is that this fusing the verbs before “to” doesn’t work all the time. You might have to pay attention to which words this is used most commonly. Also, unlike with “would’ve,” hafta, wanna, and hadda are just how these words are pronounced in speech. They aren’t proper English, though, so you shouldn’t write these words on a paper or test (but they’re fine in text messages or social media).
Some other noteworthy examples of these contractions I’m sure you’ve all heard before are gonna and gotta.
They’ve gotta be kidding.
(They’ve got to be kidding.)
No one told you what’s gonna happen?
(No one told you what’s going to happen?)
She hasta help her mom first.
(She has to help her mom first.)
Thank you all for reading! I hope you learned something. Read the Blog for other posts like this about English habits. Go ahead and share a comment with us if you’ve heard this habit before. And as always, take care out there. Peace! ☮️
In the video below is a poem. It was inspired by a strange time in my teens when I was struggling with obsessive anxiety. I know some of the words are weird, but I tried to express my reality and my real thoughts from that time. This is not what everybody who experiences OCD feels. This was an artistic take on my personal view of the condition at the time. Okay, hope you enjoy it. You can also read the poem by itself at the link below. Thanks!
Have you or someone you know ever dealt with OCD or another psychiatric condition? If you feel up to it, please share about it here. It’s a safe place and it’s you may inspire someone with your testimony. You never know 😉 Thanks for supporting and I appreciate your courage.
You can check out some other videos like this one in the Videos section.
For people seeking to learn English, there have never been so many options as now! With such variety, though, it can get confusing as to which platforms are better suited for each individual student. I mean, we’ve all got our own unique styles and comfort zones, right? This post will take a look at two platforms that I have tutored on.
I’ll give my opinion on what I feel the advantages and disadvantages are for English learners on either of the two. Feel free to let me know what you think below or to share what your experiences have been like learning on these sites. So, let’s talk about some of the similarities, pros, and cons of Preply and Cambly for students.
Despite some differences, Preply and Cambly actually have a lot of similarities for students, and they offer much of the same things. Both of these are online language learning platforms where students can decide the times and days of their own lessons. These platforms allow for students to attend lessons on practically any device with a camera, from laptops to cellphones to tablets and more.
They also allow for students to choose which tutors they wish to talk with, providing a profile and video by each tutor. The two platforms have learning materials that can be used during the lessons as well. Monitors are on watch for both platforms to make sure the lessons go smoothly and safely. Now, on to the specifics.
Preply, pros & cons
they make it easy to pay for lessons and set up recurring / weekly lessons with the same tutors
if the student doesn’t enjoy their first lesson, they can do a lesson with another tutor free of extra charge until they find a good fit
the interface looks nice and the platform is fairly easy to use
they have features like a whiteboard, lesson topics, and an easy chat section to navigate
students can arrange to do automatic lesson confirmation so they don’t have to worry about this after lessons
it’s designed mostly for students that want to stick with the same tutors for longer and do longer lessons
they aren’t so picky about doing lessons off of the Preply platform, as long as the lesson is confirmed on Preply, this allows for more freedom to do the lesson where you’re comfortable
they check with students to confirm before extending their payment plans
students can learn other languages besides English
sometimes the platform can be a little slow, this especially happens during updates
there is no free trial lesson and all lessons are paid for in advance
students aren’t required to do 1 hour lessons but most do, some students have a hard time keeping up with this weekly schedule, it’s a bigger commitment
most students do lessons on a laptop in a more formal setting, this could feel limiting to some students
because tutors set their own rates, sometimes lessons may be too pricey for certain students
Cambly, pros & cons
students usually do the lessons on a cellphone, so they have the freedom to be almost anywhere and practice English
lessons are normally shorter, although students can pay for extended lesson times if they wish
it is usually a laidback atmosphere which can be very relaxing for students, low pressure
students have the freedom to talk to a different tutor each session or make planned lessons with the same tutor
students are allowed a free-trial lesson and sometimes promotions for multiple free lessons
a great place for YouTubers and influencers to interact with English speakers for entertainment and educational purposes
students can feel safe that the lessons are closely monitored, more so than Preply in my experience
tutors go through a quick training before starting, this is to better understand other world cultures and behaviors, and it helps them to be more receptive of students’ specific customs
you don’t have to schedule lessons, just log in and find someone to talk with
I sense that tutors come from a wider array of backgrounds on Cambly, there’s also a fair amount that aren’t native English speakers but still speak English very well
many students like to share contact info, but Cambly strictly prohibits this, this is a downside if you are one of those students
students can do the lesson from anywhere, but some locations might make video connection worse
because the atmosphere can be more relaxed, some students might not reap the full benefits of a fully focused lesson, this can provide a false sense of improvement for some students who would benefit better from sitting and focusing on English practice, which is totally possible on Cambly
So, there …?
Well, you can see I tried to stay optimistic and focus on the good side of things. The lists are overwhelmingly positive for both platforms, which surprised even me. For students looking to do lessons on either Preply or Cambly, I would suggest just thinking about the kind of lessons you want. Do you want to just practice conversational English or do you want to have a bit more structure and order in your lessons? Or do you want both or something different altogether?
Both of these platforms are excellent tools to use for practicing English and to get some cultural exchange. In the end, though, my experience tells me to encourage all the students out there to use it as one of your many language learning tools, and not as a cure-all. Just using an online platform probably isn’t going to make you fluent, although it’s one great way to help you get there!
Language learning is best done when there is a variety of methods and materials used so the brain can get in contact with the language from different angles, using different experiences. Students that seek a more casual approach to learning might prefer Cambly, while students who seek to put in more focus might prefer Preply. Either way, both platforms allow for casual and serious language learning, just with their own twist. The important thing is how they are used by the students. You can do it! I trust in you. I hope I could make the differences, similarities, pros, and cons of Preply and Cambly a bit clearer for you. Thanks for reading, and we’ll tune in next time. Peace.
Hello, English learners and enthusiasts. We have this expression or slang word called:
This word is used to describe things that are boring, not interesting, of bad quality, or simply not fun. The video below shows how you might use or hear it in normal speech, so please check that out. Let me know what you think! Sorry, my hair was kind of crazy that day. 😀
We’re here to look at a funny habit that many English speakers have. Sometimes we drop the “d” or the “t” sound in the middles or ends of words. This is more common if that “d” or “t” is next to another consonant, and especially if it’s between two consonant sounds.
“I can’t hear a thing you say.” Pronounced, I cann hear a thing you say.
“There’s going to be a band night this evening.” Pronounced, There’s going to be a bann night this evening.
Above, the “t” in can’t gets lost between a “nnn” and a “hhh” sound. The “d” in band gets lost between two “nnn” sounds. This doesn’t always happen as a rule, but it is common for many people.
The “d” and “t” sounds when next to consonants are already pronounced weakly in normal cases, so it wasn’t so hard to completely omit them. Still, the sound is not simply dropped, but usually, the sound before it gets a little stressed. Remember, that’s like the “n” sound in I cann hear a thing you say.
Taking other letters along
In some words, the “d” and “t” take some other letters away with them. This can be heard in some accents with the words don’t, doesn’t, and didn’t, among others. Watch how many sounds get dropped from these words.
“He doesn’t look like he knows what that means.” Pronounced, He ‘onn’ look like he knows what that means.
“Elvis also played the guitar, didn’t he?” Pronounced, Elvis also played the guitar, dinn’ he?
This might look pretty funny on paper, but it sounds smoother in speech. Again, not all English speakers have these habits when talking, but they can be noticed in several accents. This usually happens so that the words can come out easier since so many “d’s” and “t’s” right next to each other just don’t seem natural.
It’s some people’s way of making the speech flow better. Of course, lots of people may find these habits weird or think they’re uneducated, and there are plenty of those that do try to annunciate all their letters. This is just another habit that English learners may come across when they practice their new language.
Cambly and Preply are two of the top online language tutoring companies out there right now. I have tutored on both of these platforms and, over time, I’ve noticed some things I want to share with you. This page will focus on the pros, cons, and similarities of these two websites as they are from the tutor’s point of view. Some of these are facts and others are opinions or subjective experiences. Either way, it may help you, potential tutors, to make a clearer decision. So let’s get ready and see what we think!
First off, the most obvious similarity between Cambly and Preply is that they are both language learning platforms, and pretty good ones at that. Both sites are largely popular and sought after by students from all over the world. For the tutors, these sites make available a connection and video/audio test so that tutors can be sure these things are functioning. They also both have teaching materials ready to use and good support teams to help tutors, including groups for fellow teachers to assist each other.
The platforms allow tutors to essentially choose their own work times and days, though in different ways. Both platforms, like most language tutoring sites, do require that tutors use a PC or laptop to conduct the lessons. No phones allowed. Still, they both offer opportunities to connect with people from around the world and enrich our understandings of each other, all while offering professional growth and experience. What’s more satisfying than that?
Preply: Pros & Cons
most students search for longer-term tutors & are generally more serious about learning
tutors are informed about the student before 1st lessons (where they’re from, what their level and goals are), this eases the uncertainty
students can take a placement test which helps tutors understand strengths & weaknesses from the start
lessons are normally an hour, so tutors get paid for the full lesson
now they have automatic & obligatory lesson confirmations, so you receive payment quicker
tutors cash out at any point
tutors set the price of their lessons
fewer restrictions to share contact information as long as the students confirm lessons on Preply (some students prefer lessons on Zoom, Skype, etc.)
the lesson materials setup is a little more sophisticated
it’s super easy to make notes in the system and jot down important information for future reference
personal opinion, the platform just looks nicer, I love their whiteboard and conversation topics features
other languages available to tutor in besides English
tutors have to do a free trial lesson (“free” for them but not for the students), they only earn from the second lesson onward
Preply receives commission on all lessons, it starts at a pretty large percentage (I think 33% now) but drops (as low as 18%) as you continue to do more lessons
not much else, when getting a student you don’t enjoy you might feel more obligated to stick with them because students generally pay for a package and schedule in advance, also the lessons are usually an hour which can be a lot with students you’re not fond of
Cambly: Pros & Cons
allows tutors to meet many students from all over the world at a faster rate than most sites, lessons are usually shorter so more students can potentially be met
the atmosphere is generally more relaxed since the students come mostly for conversation practice
it has been making great improvements in its teaching materials and interface
there’s an element of surprise with constantly meeting new students, many interesting people and topics are met and discussed
downtime during priority hours can be used to learn more about tutoring (they have a blog for that), learn some other skill, read, or do any other desktop activity
there’s an obligatory pre-lesson check for the internet and video/audio, and to make sure tutors are dressed properly, this can be a great reminder
lots of influencers promote Cambly and you’re likely to get on someone’s YouTube channel or blog at some point, it can be a nice publicity boost
tutors earn for every lesson by the minute, no free trials (for tutors, yes for students)
allow for scheduling a lesson with recurring students if you should get any, it does happen
ratings are now based on the last 200 student ratings received which helps as tutors continue to do lessons and improve
the dashboard shows how many minutes tutors have spent with students all time plus all the money they’ve ever earned, this can be a confidence booster showing your progress
tutors on the Cambly groups (like on Facebook) are generally very sweet and helpful
they are very protective about sharing information or “meeting” outside the platform, they offer great help for tutors suffering “awkward situations” and are always on the lookout
the rating system can be a little iffy since students can rate even for shorter lessons, this can feel like too much control is with the students, although they have been improving the rating system
if tutors happen not to be online at the moment the lesson starts, they aren’t allowed to continue that priority hour (needed to get online and teach), this hurts future availability for those, sometimes unexpected things happen and this can be a bummer
tutors may get lots of short lessons and you’re only paid per minute, so you often don’t receive for the entire priority hour you scheduled
tutors may potentially have to wait for long periods of time until they can reach a single student some days and not get paid for waiting time
only allow cashout after earning a certain amount ($20) and only on Mondays
most students (in my experience) don’t continue with the same tutors which is a shame since most of them are really nice and you might want to keep up their lessons
although the atmosphere is often relaxed, there may be students who are out with friends, kids playing with the phone, people out in the street, or someone just forcing an English session in before bed, these casual situations can be challenging to navigate since their attention might not be fully on English practice
also, since it’s more casual there’s a higher chance of getting someone who is out where the connection is bad and the video quality is poor or choppy
every now and then there’s someone on the support groups that is irritated with new tutors asking the same old questions and can be a little offensive, it’s rare but something to be aware of
they are very restrictive about sharing information or “meeting” outside the platform, I know this is for the safety of students and tutors but can be a drag in some situations, plus it can feel like you’re always being spied on
In Conclusion …
So, I know the lists look really lopsided up there, but the best choice comes from personal preference. With Cambly, I really love the wide range of people I’m able to meet from all walks of life. I’ve gotten calls from guys at hookah bars and teenagers at recess and vendors at shops.
There’s a connection to people’s everyday life that I’ve experienced nowhere else. I’m just a bit socially anxious, and so the constant feeling of not knowing who I’m going to meet next can be hard on the nerves. Still, that factor could be great for someone else. You might notice that I saw a lot of great things about Preply, but who knows? The fact that they receive commissions on every single lesson and you have to do lessons that you don’t earn for could be a deal-breaker for many.
On the flipside to Cambly, I also enjoy the stability of knowing who you’re going to talk to each time. Both sites have people monitoring lessons to ensure safety, but I never felt “watched” on Preply as I did on Cambly. Either way, I love both of these platforms for their own reasons. I recommend both to any tutors out there, or try to find a better one. There are so many English teaching sites and there’s bound to be one that fits you like a glove.
**I hope I helped you gain some insight on these two fabulous (and a little flawed) websites. Happy tutoring! Read more interesting posts on the Blog and stay tuned for Preply vsCambly, Students’ Edition! Comment what you think the better site is, or tell us about a site you like even more than these two. Contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or to collaborate with me! Thanks again, and take care of each other.
Another piece of the Maritimes, Canada’s got its own little Acadian Scotland. Nova Scotia is known for its seaside towns, extreme tides, and forested highlands. But does any of that make the province unique? Well, let’s find out. First, take a quick look at some geography, and we’ll get into what is so special about Nova Scotia. Come on …
NOVA SCOTIA: Quick Geography
Canada’s second-smallest province is Nova Scotia, a Latin name meaning “New Scotland,” or Nouvelle-Écosse (Nu-vell-Eh-coss) in French. True to the name, it’s also known as Alba Nuadh in Scottish Gaelic, though that’s one of the lesser spoken languages nowadays.
Nova Scotia is a part of both the Maritimes and Atlantic provinces of eastern Canada. It’s mostly located on the main peninsula, though a big chunk lies on Cape Breton Island which is home to a pretty large inland sea called Bras d’Or Lake (I know, the name is misleading). The capital and largest city of Halifax is on the main peninsula. Otherwise, there are thousands of smaller islands all around, including the famous Sable Island.
It is connected to the rest of Canada in the north and is surrounded by parts of the Atlantic Ocean in all other directions like the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The climate in Nova Scotia is mostly continental with wet weather and uncommonly cold winters for the region. There are lots of seasonal forests and highlands that form an extension of the Northern Appalachian system, especially on Cape Breton.
So, why is Nova Scotia so unique?
1. Because of Pretty Towns like Lunenburg
One thing that Nova Scotia is probably known for above all is its pretty colonial towns and villages, with one of the most famous being Lunenburg. This town is particularly colorful with museums and historic buildings, but it’s most famous for its beautiful waterfront.
Other popular coastal towns are Peggy’s Cove and Yarmouth, known for similarly beautiful rustic buildings, their ports, lighthouses, and the works. Amherst was the first designated town in the province and Sydney used to be the capital of Cape Breton’s colony. Either way, the mix of Maritimes coast with forested hills and wooden Victorian homes make these towns all a special sight.
2. Because of Halifax
Halifax is not just Nova Scotia’s main city, but it’s the biggest city in the Maritimes region. This makes it a center for business and culture, most notably at the Harbour and Waterfront. Here there are markets, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a newly designed Art Gallery in the works, and the famed Pier 21. This place was once Canada’s gateway for European immigrants and is now a museum where folks can check their family records for free.
The Harbour is also where people can take a ferry over to Dartmouth to get a great view of Halifax or enjoy another set of waterfront attractions. Within the city are the beautiful Public Gardens and the historic Citadel Hill which houses the city’s old forts and a special panoramic view.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is one of the prettier structures to be viewed in town. Also known for its green spaces, pleasant zones to get fresh air are the Halifax Common and Point Pleasant Park. Long Lake Provincial Park is good to go a bit further in the boonies.
3. Because of Historic Sites like Louisbourg
The Fortress of Louisbourg is a National Historic Site where reenactments of colonial life are carried out by professionals all over the site. Even though it’s one of the larger forts, there are quite a few places that provide insight into historic life like the Ross Farm Museum and Fort Anne.
It and Port-Royal were actually among the first French settlements in Acadia and the Americas, while Fort Anne leads to the splendorous Annapolis Royal Gardens. Another historic site is Grand-Pré, a sort of monument town dedicated to the Acadians that were expelled from there by British rule.
4. Because of the Bay of Fundy & Minas Basin
That’s right! New Brunswick isn’t the only province that can boast the Bay. Nova Scotia also has a number of scenic sites and landscapes due some praise. Around Hall’s Harbour are a famous lobster restaurant, sea caves, and the site of huge tidal changes.
The area is also notable for whale watching. Cape Split has a series of high trails and cliffs that overlook the beautiful water. Going inward to Minas is where the real tide action happens, being home to the most extreme tidal changes in the world. There’s even a place where rafters can ride backward on the tides.
Blomidon Provincial Park is one of the best places to take in all the wonderful scenery with orange cliffs and long sandy passages being a feature there. Stamped between the Bay and some interior hills is Annapolis Valley, another very pretty region stocked with rolling vineyards and green knolls.
5. Because of Kejimkujik
Kejimkujik is — well, hard to pronounce, but also one of Nova Scotia’s best National Parks. It’s a gorgeous forest area with rivers and hills and even reaches down to some beaches. Besides its natural appeal, the park also has a number of cultural interactions with the native Mi’kmaq people. These can include villages, hunting and food practices, wildlife reserves, and other cultural immersion sites set to inform outside visitors about Nova Scotia’s original settlers.
6. Because of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island has a lot of what makes Nova Scotia unique, and a lot of it has to do with the Cape Breton Highlands. The coastal highlands form another great National Park to explore, particularly around the Cabot Trail.
Among the many trails that Giovanni Caboto blazed in the New World, this area has a number of scenic overlooks and pathways to take in the pure beauty of Canada’s Atlantic coastline. I mentioned the big sea/lake of Bras d’Or which has its own share of nice water and forest settings.
Along the coast is the town of Baddeck, a calm post for tourism, boat outings, golf excursions, and a site dedicated to the maker of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, once a resident there. We already mentioned Louisbourg too, so check it as another special place on Cape Breton.
7. Because of its Random Islands
With a few thousand islands, you have to bet that some of NS’s isles had to be a little strange. Or maybe random is a better descriptor word. There are lots of islands that could potentially make the count, but one that stands out is St. Paul Island.
This place is odd because it’s pretty far offshore from Cape Breton but was seriously settled at one point. There’s a lighthouse, an abandoned radio station, and a couple of abandoned manors. If that weren’t enough, the island is often shrouded in fog to make matters creepier.
A more pleasant yet no-less random island is Sable. This island looks more like a long sandbank and it’s also a ways offshore from the mainland. That didn’t stop the island from being populated by a special breed of horses (Sable Island horses, fittingly so). It’s also apparently a popular island in literature and other media and is well-known for its grassy hills, long sandy beaches, and a history of frequent shipwrecks. I’m sure the horses contribute to the fame, though.
8. Because of the Culture
A big part of Nova Scotia’s cultural identity is spelled right there in the name. Scottish and other Gaelic-nation immigrants had a huge impact on the province’s early British settlement. Still, the earlier French and Acadians also left their mark on NS, from place names to foods and some of the traditions.
Several places look like French Catholicism and colonialism clashed with Victorian design and made some very pretty architectural collages. Plus, this is Canada, so world immigration has contributed to NS’s already diverse population. Anglo-Canadian culture and language have taken over. Still, there are areas where the native language or French are still prevalent. Scottish Gaelic is sort of on the rise in some places and apparently has one of the highest speaker communities outside of Scotland.
Even though its population density is fairly high, the people are pretty spread out and the towns are able to maintain that old North Atlantic fishing village feel. Industrialization mixes with modern tech and arts. The influence of the Mi’kmaq people is still present in heritage festivals, galleries, and some of the renewed designs.
It was also a haven for British Loyalists escaping the American Revolution, and so New England has a foot inside the province. Quiet coastal living, rural country values, and the ocean itself all put a stamp on what it means to be in Nova Scotia. Quietly continuing to surprise people with its subtle beauty, this province holds a unique place in our world.
**Enjoying learning about Earth’s places? Show us some love and follow to get notified every time we post about a new place! Want to collaborate? Contact me at email@example.com, and read more posts like this on Earth’s Face. Take care, you all. Peace.
Hi, I’m Susan Rex from Nigeria and always being a Nigerian (Smiling). I’m thankful to Trystn Waller for giving me this alternative to a guest post about my country Nigeria and its accent (just in brief). I’m a Relationship Coach, helping to build healthy relationships. I hope you like this post and also share your thoughts with me as well.
Nigerian spoken English is an amalgamation of British English and American English. The outcome is an imaginative clash of broken English and words that have cheerfully grown eternally distant from their original definitions.
Path to Getting the Nigerian Accent
Cutting out inner syllables
Medicine pronounces as “med-sin“
Happy Birthday pronounces as “api betday“
Concern pronounces as “consign“
Get outas “gerrat“
Start as “stat“
With as “wit“
Bathroom as “baffroom” etc.
Swap your “er” for “a”
Paper pronounces as “pay-pah“
Father pronounces as “fathah“
Mother as “mothah“
Helicopter as “elucuptah” etc.
Nigerians also pronounce each of these groups of words in the same manner.
Work and walk (pronounced as same)
Bus and boss (pronounce as same)
Saint and sent (pronounce the same)
Curb and cub
Hair and air
Ear, hear, and here (pronounce the same way).
Having the basic conversation
How are you?
I’m walking please.
Please, where is the bathroom?
I don’t know.
I don’t understand.
How you dey?
I dey waka abeg.
Abeg where the baffroom dey?
I no no.
I no sabi.
(Add “No” if you need to say that you don’t understand something or don’t have something. Also, Nigerians refer to older people as Auntie or Uncle, pronounced as “hanty or “uncul”, to show manners and respect.)
Let me remind you that if you are not a Nigerian, it will be hard to blend in with the accent. That’s one of the unique things about being a Nigerian; no one can take that away from us, not even those that colonized us.
**I hope you enjoyed this article from Susan Rex and got some better insight into the unique accent of Nigeria! Please feel free to contact her with more questions, and read her website to get advice about healthy relationships. I appreciate you doing this guest post for us, Susan, and I look forward to seeing what others have to add about the Nigerian accent. Stay safe out there, people! Peace.
“They” is a common word, right? It is taught that “he” is for a male and “she” is for a female. If it’s me and you, then it is “we.” And if it’s multiple others, then it’s “they.” But English speakers have this funny habit of “they” that can be tricky for second-language students. “They” is often used to talk about one person. But normally, it is used to refer to a group of people whether all male, all female, and any other possible mixture of genders. Technically, it’s also used to refer to a group of nouns in general, but we’re focusing on people here.
There are a lot of people at the door, and they don’t look happy.
The tree was full of apples, but they all fell down
The Singular ‘They’
Informally though, “they” can be used to refer to just one person. That’s what we call “they” as a singular pronoun. This may be for a couple of reasons.
This can happen a lot in English because many professions and occupancies don’t denote a specific gender (e.g. teacher, classmate, student, doctor). In other words, we don’t know just from hearing the word if that person is a male or female.
At this point, it’s more a choice of respect for that individual, but this is probably the least common instance of using “they” for a single person.
He or She – She or He
Normally, the grammatically correct way to refer to someone whose gender is yet to be revealed is by saying “he or she/she or he.”
-“I met with my new doctor yesterday.”
-“Really? Were they nice to you?”
-“I met with my new doctor yesterday.”
-“Really? Was he or she nice to you?”
The same goes for the object position where it changes to “them.”
“What about your cousin? Are you going to the festival with them?”
“What about your cousin? Are you going to the festival with her or him?”
I’m sure this might sound really weird if you’re learning, but that’s what lots of English speakers do. It doesn’t quite look correct on paper, but this is a very common habit.
We also do the same for possessive cases, using “their.”
“One of my classmates left their bag in the lunch yard.”
“One of my classmates left his or her bag in the lunch yard.”
Using the Right Pronoun
Again, this is normally used when we don’t know the gender of the person or if we intentionally want to hide it. When we do know the person’s gender, then we use whatever the correct pronoun is.
Incorrect (assuming John is a male):
“What about your cousin, John? Are theytaking you to the festival?”
“What about your cousin, John? Is he taking you to the festival?”
Even though saying “his or her/her or his” is more grammatically correct, it sounds unusual or very formal to many English speakers, especially in a casual setting. It might be preferred in more formal settings though, like on the news, in business meetings, or in formal papers and articles. Otherwise, it’s completely normal to do this, even if grammar teachers won’t like it.
I wrote the examples as Habit and More Correct because saying “they/them” in this way is so common in English that it’s almost an accepted rule despite being technically incorrect. If you’re talking casually, I would urge you to use this form instead of “he or she/she or he” because it sounds very formal. It may be the better option for formal settings though, so keep that in mind. Don’t worry too much about it though. If you’re learning English, no one should hold it against you if you use one or the other.
“We hired a new employee at the company, but I still haven’t met them.” (gender is unknown)
“Your friend bought you flowers? They sound like such a sweet person!” (gender is unknown or is irrelevant)
“My son got a new principal at his school, but I still don’t know their name. They don’t start until Thursday though.” (gender is unknown)
— “My cousin started their new job yesterday.” — “Really? Is your cousin a he or a she?” — “Does it matter?” (gender is intentionally hidden)
“Dannika is my gender-fluid friend, remember? They’re a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” (the person in reference is gender-fluid, identifies as “they”)
**Thank you for reading and wanting to learn these fun English habits! If you want to read more on this subject, check out this article on APA Style. Read about other English-speaker habits on the Blog. As always, take care and keep up your studies! They will certainly pay off. Peace.
There is a habit that many people have and, maybe, don’t know it. In casual speech, many English speakers tend not to form questions properly. This can happen on purpose so that the speaker can make themselves not sound too formal. Sometimes though, it can be an accident. Well, I’m not here to say whether it is right or wrong but just to show you English learners what’s happening when you hear this. To refresh your memory on the right way to ask questions, you can read this page. Read about other English speaker habits on the Blog. Following are two habits with asking questions that English speakers have:
Questions without “Do”
One of the most noticeable question-related habits is with the verb, to “do.” This little word is confusing for many non-English speakers, but it helps us understand that what we are saying is a question. In other words, it’s an “auxiliary.” With that said, “do” gets left out of a lot of questions in regular conversation.
“What you want from me?”
Correct is: What do you want from me?
You can see that “do” just gets dropped out. This also happens in questions that don’t have question words (AKA What, Where, Who, etc.)
“You have a dollar I can borrow?”
Correct is: Do you have a dollar I can borrow?
If you speak a language like Spanish, then you do this regularly anyway. “Do” just lets us know that we’re forming a question without having to change our tone of voice to sound more “questiony.”
Questions without “To be”
Another habit people have when forming questions is leaving out the verb “to be” where it should be.
“What you doing this weekend?”
Correct is: What are you doing this weekend?
Just like with “do” before, the version of “to be” (are) gets completely dropped. This habit is more common in longer questions. It would usually sound weird in a short question with only a few words.
“Who you?” This sounds weird. It’s better to say, Who are you?
Doing this with questions that describe an action is more common in general casual English. Doing it in questions where the main verb is “to be” sounds somewhat uneducated and very improper. In “What are you doing?”, doing is the main verb because that’s the main action. In the question “Who are you?”, are is the main verb because, well, it’s the only verb.
“What your name?” This sounds very improper. It’s better to say, What‘s your name?
Remember, people do this without really thinking about it. It’s more for you to understand what’s happening as opposed to trying to memorize this feature. This habit also can happen in questions without question words, of course.
“That going to be a problem?”
Correct is: Is that going to be a problem?
A Note …
These are pretty common habits for many English speakers, though not all. It can depend on region or accent, and some habits are more common with certain accents than others. Because these habits are widely practiced, many people don’t even notice them in casual speech. But beware; sometimes dropping the “do” or “to be” can sound very improper, incorrect, and make the speaker sound sloppy or uneducated. Listen to other English speakers and pay attention to how people react to the things they say. This is a good way to tell if that habit is acceptable or not in X situation.
“What __ you think about the new mayor?”
“__ They know they’re being watched?”
“__ He just say that?”
Without “to be”:
“__ You some kind of genius or something?”
“What __ we doing here, anyway?”
“__ That a threat?”
**Hey again! Thanks for reading and learning more, my wonderful reader. Continue to be encouraged in your learning journey. You can do it! And share with us anything that’s on your mind to share about this topic, if you can. Talk soon…