High or tall

‘How high are you?’ is not the right question to ask if you want to know someone’s height. The right question would be ‘How tall are you?’

The adjective ‘tall’ is mostly used with people, trees, buildings, chimneys and electricity pylons, for example: ‘Look at those beautiful, tall trees’ and ‘The Dubai Tower is the tallest building in the world’.

In other situations ‘high’ is used, for example: ‘My garden has high walls’ and ‘Mt Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan’.

Here is a picture of the Burj Dubai, the Dubai Tower.



On my own / By myself

I know I’m meant to be the teacher, but can anyone help me?

What is the difference between ‘on my own’ and ‘by myself’?

For example: ‘She went to Bali on her own’, and ‘She went to Bali by herself’.

At night or In the night?

A student asked me a very good question: what is the difference between ‘at night’ and ‘in the night’?

It’s a good question because I never thought about this before. The best answer I can give is nothing. There is no real difference.

However ‘at night’ sounds a lot more elegant, and ‘in the night’ sounds rather clumsy.

I always like to use ‘at night’, and the only time I would use ‘in the night’ is if I am writing something like poetry or the lyrics of a song, when the three syllables of ‘in the night’ seem better than the two syllables of ‘at night’.

But I rarely write poetry, so my best advice is to always use ‘at night’.

Eether or Aither

Yesterday one of my students wrote a  comment about my pronunciation of ‘neither’. She said it sounded like ‘naither’ and she wondered if this was an example of British English. The pronunciation of either is very similar, with two possible styles, eether or aither.

I did a little research and it seems that most (but not all) Americans tend to say eether and neether, and most Brits, Canadians and Australians (but not all) tend to say aither and naither, and many people use both.

I use both, and I can’t explain why.  So use either, you can’t go wrong!

Pizza isn’t very delicious (again!)


Pizza is tasty. Pizza is very tasty. Pizza is delicious. But pizza isn’t very delicious.

The problem is that the adverb ‘very’ and the adjective ‘delicious’ are not used together.

‘Very’ can be used in front of most adjectives, for example: ‘very hungry’, ‘very cold’, and ‘very nice’, and it is used to show a strong feeling. So ‘very tasty pizza’ is a very nice phrase.

However ‘very’ is not used before all adjectives. Some adjectives, for example ‘tasty’, are known as basic adjectives, and they have a strong adjective as a partner, for example ‘delicious’.

Please look at a short list:

basic adjective – strong adjective

tasty – delicious

tired – exhausted

cold – freezing

nice – wonderful

interesting – fascinating

scared – terrified

hungry – starving

‘Very’ can be used with a basic adjective but it is not used with a strong adjective. So ‘very cold’ is OK, but ‘very freezing’ is not OK. And ‘very tasty’ is OK, but ‘very delicious’ is not.

What can we do? The answer is simple: use ‘absolutely’.

The adverb ‘absolutely’ is used with strong adjectives so ‘absolutely delicious’ is what you can say. But, be careful, ‘absolutely’ is used mainly with strong adjectives, so don’t say ‘absolutely tasty’.

If this is very confusing don’t worry because there is an even more useful adverb: ‘really’. This can be used with both basic and strong adjectives, yippee! So ‘really tasty’ and ‘really delicious’ are both OK.

You may think that ‘really’ is not so easy to pronounce, but all you do is touch the top of your mouth with your tongue when you say ‘l’.

So pizza isn’t very delicious, it’s really delicious, especially with ham and pineapple!

No umbrella

Oh dear I forgot my umbrella.

Oh dear I left my umbrella at home.

Which sentence is correct? Answer: both! This morning, by mistake, I didn’t take my umbrella when I walked to the station.

If you look carefully at the top sentences you can see we use the verb ‘to leave’ when we forget something and we mention the place. We use the verb ‘to forget’ when we don’t mention the place. So we cannot say, ‘I forgot my umbrella at home,’ and we cannot say, ‘I left my umbrella.’

But today I was very lucky, there was no rain, so actually I said, “Great, I left my umbrella at home.”


This punctuation mark is a period (American English) and a full stop (British English).

It comes at the end of a sentence, immediately after the last word, with no space. After the period there is one space before the next sentence begins with a capital letter.

However if the period comes at the end of a paragraph, then the next sentence will start on the next line.

A period mark is also found in some other situations:

a) In internet and e-mail addresses, where it is called a dot, for example lojol_2p@yahoo.com.ph (my private e-mail address which you can use at any time).

b) In numbers, where it is called a decimal point, for example 3.7, which is “three point seven.”

c) In money it has a similar use, for example $6.25, which is “six dollars and twenty-five cents,” or “six twenty-five.”

If you know of any other situations please let me know.