Nov 202015

English idioms about travel and transport

English idioms about travel and transport

  • in the same boat: If two or more parties are in the same boat, they are in the same unpleasant or difficult situation.
    When the factory closed down, the workers all found themselves in the same boat.
  • cart before the horse: A person who puts the cart before the horse is doing things in the wrong order.
    Building a school before knowing the age of the population is putting the cart before the horse.
  • asleep at the wheel: If you say that someone is asleep at the wheel, you mean that they are not sufficiently attentive, especially at a critical moment when vigilance is required.
    When the firemen arrived too late at the scene, the night watchman was accused of being asleep at the wheel.
  • backseat driver: 1. A passenger in a car who insists on giving the driver directions. 2. Anybody offering unsolicited or unwelcome advice.
    My brother is such a backseat driver. I hate traveling with him.
  • miss the boat: To fail to take advantage of an opportunity.
    The price discount ended yesterday and I just missed the boat on a great deal.
  • Bad news travels fast.: Information about trouble or misfortune disseminates quickly (more quickly than good news).
    John: Hi, Andy. I’m sorry to hear you got fired. Andy: How did you know about that already? It only happened this morning. John: Bad news travels fast. I called my mother to tell her about my car accident, but my aunt had already told her. Bad news travels fast.

(The above idioms are derived from the following internet addresses in the References list. You can visit there for more idioms.)


Nov 162015

Let’s learn new idioms

Idioms are

The following idioms are in color. While learning them you can use the image of the related color to memorize them more easily.

white lie: an innocent lie to protect another person’s feelings
Example: We told Grandma that her cake was delicious, which was actually a white lie.

white elephant: An expensive item that is costly to maintain.

black out: faint
Example: I always black out at the sight of blood.

the green light: permission
Example: The builders were given the green light to begin the tower.

to see red: to suddenly become very angry
Example: When he laughed in my face I saw red and hit him.

to catch someone red-handed: to catch someone in the act of doing something wrong (private or illegal)
Example: I caught my sister red-handed reading my diary.

in the red (informal): in debt, owing money. “in the red” can refer to a person or the person’s bank account.
Example: I don’t understand why he’s always in the red as he has a very good job.

blue collar: Working in a manual labor job
Example: He is a blue collar man.

once in a blue moon: very rarely, hardly ever
Example: When I was younger I used to go the cinema about once a month but now I go once in a blue moon.

out of the blue: unexpectedly
Example: I hadn’t heard from my old workmate in years when one day I received a letter from her out of the blue.

(The above idioms are derived from the following addresses in the references list)


Nov 092015

The Knife

The knifeSixties… We live in Uzunköprü (LongBridge). It is a small town near Edirne (Adrianople).

I can’t remember the name of our street anymore after more than half a century. There are only some foggy images from there. But our house was very near to my school. And I remember its name: Shahsuvar Bey Elementary School.

My elder brother was 4.5 years older than me. Then, he must be in Middle School. Now, I can not ask him these foggy details. He passed away only two months ago.

We were living in a two stage wooden house. Our bedrooms were upstairs. Creaking stairs were following our steps while we were going to sleep at night.

There were a small garden at the back of our house. The garden was separated from the outside world with a tall fence. The fence was covered completely with old, rusty gasoline cans. Beside the fence there was a narrow flower bed in bright colors.

We were in the garden on that day. Me and my bro. I don’t remember whether there were any other person around.

My bro was playing with a big, rusty knife. Actually it was my knife. I had found it in the junkyard. But he had gotten my knife and he had no intention to give it me back.

I was crying none-stop…

– “It is my knife. Give it me back!..”

He liked to torment me. And my only defense was to wearisome him by crying until he gives up what he was doing. None-stop… Again… And again…

– “It is my knife. Give it me back!..”

– “Not yours. It’s mine!…”

– “You’re a liar. It’s my knife. I found it in the junkyard.”

Sometimes we forgot our fight, but then restarted again.

Generally it didn’t take too long to come to an end. However, then, it was not the case. Both of us resisted to stop the fight.

Then, suddenly the overall scene got frozen. It became a slowed down movie… Voices were coming from far:

– “Take it then!”

My bro threw the knife with an abrupt move. It was just a single moment. Without considering what would happen.

In such moments instincts are important. I felt the danger and bent down at the same time.

The big rusty knife glanced off my hair, and penetrated into the fence completely.

We were both in shock!

I was completely frozen. My brother was more aware of the problem, and run away in a moment.

Now, I am only smiling when I remember that day. We were children. And sometimes we live just by chance…

Ahmet Aksoy

Oct 272015

Show Don’t Tell Method While Writing

Show Don't Tell Method While Writing

If you are telling a story, maybe it is the best way to use “Show Don’t Tell” method.

In this method, you don’t tell the story directly. Instead, you give the visual, auditory and kinesthetic clues to the readers and let them imagine the scenes in their own minds. You describe the sensations which will trigger their emotions and memories. By doing so, each reader creates his/her own story in his/her mind.

He is an old man. He is used to go to the nearby park every day. First he feeds a couple of doves and then reads his daily newspaper.

The above sentences tell about an old man. The given messages are directly sent to the logical mind of the reader.

We can write the same story without telling anything, but paint a colorful, vivid image :

He sits down on his bank in the park taking care of the hurting stiffness in his right knee. It is his bank, because he is visiting it almost everyday. He shares his thoughts, even his secret feelings with it sometimes like an old friend. A couple of dove waits him on the branch of the pine tree leaning down. The doves know his exact arrival time and are always ready to share birdseed coming from his pocket. They are mute. They don’t make any sound. After eating their seeds, they silently fly away leaving a broad smile on his lips and the wrinkles at the sides of his eyes.

After the breakfast ceremony, he pulls out his daily newspaper from his left pocket of his worn up jacket. He squints his eyes, and tries to read the biggest titles first. Then wears his eyeglasses, and starts to read the news on the first page.”

If you tell a story, you only give some information to the reader. But, if you show the details triggering his/her senses, you create a vivid four-dimensional world. Yes, it is four-dimensional, because you also include time in the story.

As an ESL student, “Show, Don’t Tell” method gives you command over the language. Try it! I’m sure, you will love it.

Ahmet Aksoy

Oct 202015

Rewriting Exercises to Learn English Better

Rewriting Exercises to Learn English Better

One of the best method of learning English (or any other language) is using “Rewriting Exercises”.

When you learn something, you can make your own sentences with your own words in order to define it. By doing so, you learn English (or any other language) dynamically. You do not memorize the words and/or sentences and phrases. You can understand them thoroughly, and redesign the required definition with your own resources. You become more versatile.

For example:
I am an old man. (I am not a young man.)
It is cold. (It is not warm enough. / The temperature is low.)
I got a cold. (I am coughing and I have a high fever. / I am ill. / I am sick.)

How to study:

  • You can find some “Rewriting Exercises” on the internet. Check and study them.
  • Get some short news or stories. Rewrite them without changing the original text. Use different words and phrases as much as possible.
  • Write a few paragraphs about a simple subject. Then rewrite it changing some words and phrases, but preserve the meaning of your original text.
  • Write a few paragraphs about a complex subject. Then rewrite it changing some words and phrases, but preserve the meaning of your original text.
  • Translate some original English text to your own language. Then, after a few days translate your translated text to English again. Do not refer to the original English text without completing your work. Then compare it with the original text.
  • Repeat these exercises at least once in a week.
  • In order to learn English better, there would be no hesitation during your rewriting and translations. You must complete them without extra thinking. They would become automatic events.

    In the references below, there are a few links to some Rewriting Exercises.

    I hope they will be useful for you.

    Ahmet Aksoy


    Oct 102015

    Business English Jargon

    Business English Jargon

    Photo credits: forbes

    • You aced it. (You did a great job.)
    • to ace a test (to get a very high score on a test. I aced my math test!)
    • My plate is full. (I am busy.)
    • My 2 cents is … (My opinion is …)
    • Don’t leave any money on the table. (Make sure you take everything out of a negotiation.)
    • to surge (to increase quickly)
    • to ramp up (to increase)
    • to pan out (to be successful)
    • word of mouth (gossip; news spread by people talking to each other)
    • to live off (to make enough money from something)
    • Yes man (An employee that always agrees with the boss)
    • Down to the wire (Working to the last minute. To finish just before the deadline.)
    • Belt tightening (To reduce expenses. To save money.)
    • Bite the bullet (To make a difficult decision.)
    • Gut feeling (An instinct or intuition that makes you expect how something will happen.)
    • I hear you (I understand.)
    • to pass the buck (To blame someone else for a problem or mistake.)
    • Stay on your toes. (Be careful. Be ready for trouble.)
    • On the tip of my tongue (When you know a word but can’t remember how to say it)
    • Show him/her the door (To get rid of someone. To fire a person.)

    I will add some more slang words or phrases and idioms in my coming articles. You should study all of these phrases to pan out.

    Ahmet Aksoy


    Oct 062015

    30 colors in English

    30 colors in English

    Image credits:

    Color is a function of light. When the frequency of light changes, it means that its color also shifts. Colors are ruled by law of physics.

    Red objects are either reflecting red light, or permits penetration of it. The same rule applies for the other colors.

    Leaves are green, because chlorophyll molecules reflect only green light and absorbs all other frequencies.

    I’m sure you remember all of these details from your old good school days.

    Now let’s talk about names of colors.

    I made a list of 30 color names mostly used. There are lots of more, but 30 is also a quite good number for colors, especially for men.

    As you know there are three basic colors: red, yellow, and blue. (However, in visual electronics red, green and blue are used in order to create other colors.)

    Most color tones are in the blue family: navy blue, sky blue, turquoise, azure, teal, cyan. (You can add them dark blue and light blue.)

    Green tones are lime and olive.

    Red tones can be listed as maroon, rose, pink, and magenta.

    Yellows are gold, amber and orange.

    In violet group there are purple and indigo.

    Here is the total list of 30 colors in alphabetic order:

    • amber
    • azure
    • beigebeige
    • black
    • blue
    • brown
    • cyan
    • fuchsia
    • gold
    • green
    • grey
    • indigo
    • lime
    • magenta
    • maroon
    • navy
    • olive
    • orange
    • peach
    • pink
    • purple
    • red
    • rose
    • silver
    • sky
    • teal
    • turquoise
    • violet
    • whitewhite
    • yellow

    Maybe it is not very critical to know all these color tones perfectly. However, we should the names of them.

    Ahmet Aksoy


    Oct 032015

    How to find food in the wild

    How to find food in the wild

    Image credits:

    In case of a survival situation it is important where to find edible foods. Maybe you think hunting to be the easiest method. However, hunting needs a lot of energy and some tools. So, it is easiest to try to collect some plants and/or insects.

    Edible plants
    There is a risque of eating poisonous plants. So, you must test it first. Eat just a small amount of the plant and wait for a few hours. If you watch any unpleasant reaction on your body, then do not consume that plant. (If it is very poisonous, maybe there will be nothing to do. However, in order to survive in the wild you should take some risque. It is inevitable.)

    Bird eggs
    If you can find bird eggs, that means you found a nutritional and safe food source.

    Instead of hunting, use your intelligence and imagination to prepare some traps. The most important tool you have is your brain. Use it!

    If you are around a river or a lake you can try to catch some fishes. Fishing is not easy. You need patience and practice. If you have a hook and line, you can use them. If you have not such a tool, then you can use an appropriate piece of branch as a spear.

    It might be better to make a simple net to catch fish. You can use your clothes, or some branches or plant stems to obtain a simple net.

    If you can build a set of bow and arrows, then you can try to hunt birds or some bigger animals like deer, or goats. But you need a lot of practice to be successful.

    If I summarize the situation, to survive in the wild is not very easy. But if you keep calm, evaluate your actual advantages and disadvantages, and use your knowledge you can find practical solutions to your situation.

    Our “In the wild” articles do not try to solve a realistic problem for such a situation actually. Our aim is to use English in different scenarios. By doing so, we obtain better and simpler stories to remember.

    In order to get the most out of these articles, reading once is not enough. You should study them also. Find the words and phrases that you didn’t know. Read and write them on paper. Then try to rewrite the same sentences using your own words. Ask yourself some questions and answer them. Read aloud and write all of them many times.

    In order to improve your English, you must use it as much as possible. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The biggest mistake is to avoid mistakes by avoiding action.

    Ahmet Aksoy


    Sep 302015

    NASA announced flowing water evidence on Mars

    NASA announced flowing water evidence on Mars

    Image credits: NASA – Mars Rover Curiosity

    Scientists from NASA reported that recurring slope lineae on the walls of some craters on Mars are due to seasonal changes causing salty water flow. According to them dark-toned streaks are formed when temperature rises above 21 degrees Celcius. When the temperature drops below that level, these formations disappear.

    It is known that Mars had an ocean 4.3 million years ago. You can find some details about it in my article Mars Had An Ocean 4.3 Million Years Ago.

    Existence of water is very important regarding “manned” space flights to Mars. Also, the probability of micro alien life forms on Mars sharply increases due to existence of flowing water. But, I don’t want to talk about the possibility of intelligent life forms on Mars. We have no evidence on it yet. However, it is not impossible.

    Interestingly, these type of news about Mars will act as a great advertisement for the movie “Martian” which will be released on October. Is it an innocent coincidence? It looks like too good to be true!

    Here is the official trailer:

    On the other hand, maybe NASA is already ready for a manned voyage to Mars. Who knows?

    Ahmet Aksoy


    Sep 282015

    Examples for 5 common idioms

    Today I will give you examples of five mostly used idioms. If you want to learn living English, you should learn and get used to idioms. I will continue to share new examples for some other commonly used idioms and phrases. I hope it will not take in ages. If you have any questions, you can use the comments.

    Example for 5 common idioms

    1- As easy as pie : Very easy
    Synonyms: as easy as 1-2-3; as easy as abc
    Setting up the computer was easy as pie.
    If you know how to study, learning English is as easy as pie.
    Getting a library card is as easy as pie.
    Being vegan is as easy as pie.
    The course was as easy as pie for me.

    2- Take it easy: Relax; be calm; good-bye and be careful.
    Take it easy!
    Life is short. Take it easy.
    I don’t take it easy because there are some neighbors watching me.

    3- Twenty-four/seven: 24 hours of 7 days of the week; Every minute of every day.
    Synonyms: 24/7
    You can access my website 24/7.
    You can call me 24/7.
    My team is on duty 24/7.

    4- Figure something out: come to understand a problem.
    She doesn’t talk to me. I can’t figure it out, why!
    My life is a mess. I can’t figure it out.
    I have to figure it out.

    5- In ages: for a very long time
    Synonyms: for ages
    I haven’t seen you in ages.
    I have never seen her going to the town in ages.

    Take it easy!

    Ahmet Aksoy