Monday, 26 December 2011

Online tasks to check your Business English

Business Spotlight have put together a collection of the most popular exercises of 2011.

Online tasks to check your Business English

Monday, 28 November 2011


Do you know what CIVETS are?

Vulture funds

Do you know what a vulture fund is?
Read the article and then follow the links on its right to read about DRC and Jersey


There's a nice article / blog on the Harvard Business Review called
There's No Such Thing as Constructive Criticism

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011

useful writing tips

How to Style Compounds After the Noun

Most but not all phrasal adjectives (two words that combine to modify a noun — hence the alternate name, compound modifiers) are hyphenated, which is confusing enough — though easily resolved: If a permanent compound is listed in the dictionary as open, no hyphen is necessary; otherwise, hyphenate. But that applies only before the noun.

What happens after the noun is a whole other matter: Usually, phrasal adjectives and similar (or similar-looking) constructions are left open in that position. Here’s a rundown on hyphenation rules for various types of compounds:

Age compound: “The eighteen-year-old (boy),” but “He is eighteen years old.”

Color compound: “The sky-blue paint,” but “The paint is sky blue.”

Fraction compound: “A half-mile walk,” but “a walk of a half mile.”

Number, spelled out: “Fifty-one,” “five hundred,” five hundred one,” “two thousand twenty-two.” (Hyphenate tens-ones figures in isolation and in larger figures, but leave open all other combinations of places.)

Number plus noun: “A five-year plan,” but a plan that will take five years”; “a four-and-a-half-inch gap,” but “a gap of four and a half inches”; “the fourth-floor office,” but “an office on the fourth floor.”

Number plus superlative: “The third-tallest player,” but “a player who is third tallest.”

Time: “They’re going to the eight o’clock screening” and “The meeting starts at six (o’clock)”; “I have a five-thirty plane to catch,” but “I’ll meet you at five thirty” (always open when time is on the hour, and hyphenated before the noun but open after when time is between hours).
Parts of Speech

Adjectival phrase: “His matter-of-fact manner,” but “His manner was matter of fact.”

Adjective plus noun: “A low-class joint,” but “The joint is low class.”

Adjective identifying origin or location plus noun: “An Indo-European language” and “the French-Spanish border,” but “She is a Japanese American” and “the latest Middle East crisis” (open unless the first term is a prefix or there is a sense of a distinction between the elements).

Adjective plus participle or adjective: “His long-suffering wife,” but “his wife is long suffering.”

Adverb ending in -ly plus participle or adjective: “Her rapidly beating heart” (always open).

Adverb not ending in -ly plus participle: “The little-read novel,” but “The novel is little read.” (See “More About Adverbs,” below.)

Noun phrase: “A feather in your cap,” but “He’s a jack-of-all-trades” (open unless hyphenated in the dictionary).

Noun plus adjective: “The family-friendly restaurant,” but “The restaurant is family friendly.”

Noun plus gerund: “A note-taking lesson,” but “a lesson in note taking.” (But beware of closed noun-plus-gerund compounds like matchmaking.)

Noun plus noun, the first one modifying the second: “A tenure-track position,” but “She’s on the tenure track.” (But leave permanent compounds like “income tax” open even before a noun, and check for closed noun-plus-noun compounds like bartender.)

Noun plus noun, equivalent: City-state, nurse-practitioner (always hyphenated).

Noun plus letter or number: “A size 34 waist,” “the type A personality” (never hyphenated).

Noun plus participle: “A problem-solving exercise,” but “time for some problem solving.”

Participle plus noun: “Working-class families,” but “members of the working class.”

Participle plus prepositional adverb plus noun: “Turned-up nose,” but “Her nose was turned up.”
More About Adverbs

When less or more modifies an adjective, such as in “a less frequent occurrence”/“an occurrence that is less frequent” or “a more qualified candidate”/“a candidate who is more qualified,” the phrase is not hyphenated either before or after a noun. The same is true of least and most unless ambiguity is possible.

For example, “a lesser-known rival” is a rival who is not as well known, but “a lesser known rival,” by contrast, might be a known rival of lesser consequence. Likewise, “the most-quoted orators” and “the most quoted orators” refer, respectively, to orators most frequently quoted and a majority of quoted orators. Again, however, the hyphenated version would be left open when it follows a noun, and would likely be worded differently than its counterpart that is not hyphenated before the noun, either.

Also, when an adverb that is part of a modifying phrase is modified by another adverb, as in “a very much praised debut,” the phrase is not hyphenated at all, even though a hyphen would appear in “a much-praised debut.”

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


The Many Forms of Plurals


Plurals take many (sometimes curious or counterintuitive) forms. Here is an outline of how to form various types of plurals according to the word form or ending:

For words ending in

nonsibilant, or voiceless, consonants: add -s (dogs).
voiced, or sibilant, consonant blends: add -es (riches).
vowels: add -s (knees).
-f: delete -f and add -ves (loaves) or -s (chiefs).
-x: add -es (foxes).
-y: delete -y and add -ies (bodies).

For words of Latin or Greek origin ending in:

-a: add -s or -e, depending on context (formulas/formulae).
-ex: add -es or delete -x and add -ces, depending on context (indexes/indices).
-ies: leave as is (species).
-is: change to -es (axis).
-ma: add -s or -ata, depending on context (stigmas/stigmata).
-um: add -s (aquariums), delete -um and add -a (curricula), or either depending on context (mediums/media).
-us: delete -us and add -i (alumni), -ii (radii), -era (genera), or -ora (corpora), or leave -us and add -es (octopuses) or use another form, depending on context (cactuses/cacti).

Types of irregular forms include:

ablaut, or mutated, plurals, with changes in the midst of a word (tooth/teeth; louse/lice).
identical singular and plural forms (deer, spacecraft).
-en and -ren endings (oxen, children).

Some words have more than one plural form, one of which may be archaic (cows/kine) or reserved for a distinct meaning (dice/dies).

One problematic category is in referring to fish in general and specific varieties of fish in particular: “Look at all the fish!” but “Gars are long, slender, predatory fishes.” Also, some types are given a distinct plural form (sharks, barracudas), though for others, the plural form is identical to the singular one (salmon, sturgeon).

Plurals of letters, numbers, or abbreviations are generally formed simply by adding -s, although occasionally, the otherwise incorrect use of an interceding apostrophe is warranted (“Mind your p’s and q’s”). Usually, however, pluralizing names of letters requires no special treatment, especially when the letter is italicized, as here: “There are five es in beekeeper.” Initialisms and acronyms also require only an -s: “Many NGOs are headquartered here,” “It’s like having two NASAs.”

The singular forms of some words are, because they end in -s, sometimes mistaken as plurals, and the letter is then incorrectly deleted to create a false singular form. Examples include gyros, kudos, and biceps (as well as triceps and quadriceps). The plural forms are the same, although the latter examples are also pluralized by adding -es. For other words, the original singular has been supplanted by a plural form used in both cases (alga by algae; graffito by graffiti).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Ethnic terms

How do you say ......???

10 Ethnic Terms

by Mark Nichol

The vocabulary of ethnicity identity is fraught with peril. It is unfortunate that humans must at times distinguish between various subgroups, but it’s best to keep up-to-date on which descriptions are considered valid or acceptable among those belonging to those populations. Here’s a guide:

1. African
A person of African descent. Some people so described use this term even if they are US residents because, due to their recent arrival in the United States, they do not identify with black, or African American, culture.

2. African American
An American of African descent. Most people answering this description have no problem with the term black, but some groups and publications prefer this term, and it’s useful, at least, as elegant variation. Unlike as with the case of people from Asia, African Americans are less likely to be identified by their specific country of origin, such as in “Kenyan American.”

3. Asian

A person of Asian descent.

4. Asian American

An American of Asian descent. More specific terms such as “Japanese American” are used when necessary; note, however, that immigrants from nations from which relatively few people come to America can also be identified by such a construction, even if the phrase is not common (such as “Pakistani American”).

5. Black

An American of African descent; this term is generally lowercased but is capitalized by some groups and publications.

6. Chicano

An American of Mexican descent. This is one of those terms best reserved for use by those it refers to. People of similar ethnic heritage from countries other than Mexico may share communities and philosophies with Chicanos, but they may prefer not to share the name. (The feminine form Chicana is used when referring specifically to women.)

7. Hispanic
A person of mixed Spanish or Portuguese and Indian heritage. Some people of this description oppose the term because it emphasizes the European element at the expense of other identities.

8. Indian

This term has two distinct meanings: a person descended from people who long ago immigrated to the Americas from Asia, or people of Indian descent (that is, from India). Many people in the first category so identified prefer this term to “Native American,” and some use “American Indian” only to distinguish themselves from people originating in India. (American Indians were originally misidentified as such by Christopher Columbus, who believed, in error, that he had reached India rather than the Western Hemisphere.)

9. Latino

A person of mixed Indian and Spanish or Portuguese descent. This term, although no more etymologically valid than “Hispanic,” is preferable among many such people. (The feminine form Latina is used when referring specifically to women.)

10. Native American

A person descended from people who long ago immigrated to the Americas from Asia. Many people adhering to this description prefer to be called simply Indians or to be identified by their tribal name. (Note that the terms indigenous and aboriginal are not strictly correct, because Indians did not evolve in the Western Hemisphere. Canadian Indians who call themselves the First Nations are more accurate.)

Of course, many other descriptors for ethnic groups exist, including many broadly considered derogatory and even offensive. However, some people belonging to ethnic groups so labeled use such terms among themselves to reclaim them and dimin their painful associations.

A final note: I use the term American (which need not be hyphenated to another proper name) to refer to US citizens, although Americans — meaning people who live in the Western Hemisphere — who do not reside in the United States outnumber those who do. This apparently arrogant appropriation of the term is objectionable to some people, but it is unrealistic to expect that it will be abandoned.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Free online Business English dictionary

Have you tried this dictionary yet?
Use it regularly to expand your Business English vocabulary.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

IATEFL conference report


Above is a link to my report and photos from the IATEFL conference in Brighton this April.

Microsoft buys Skype

Microsoft confirms takeover of Skype
Skype website Skype had previously planned a share flotation

Microsoft has confirmed that it has agreed to buy internet phone service Skype.

The deal will see Microsoft pay $8.5bn (£5.2bn) for Skype, making it Microsoft's largest acquisition.

Luxembourg-based Skype has 663 million global users. In August last year it announced plans for a share flotation, but this was subsequently put on hold.

Internet auction house eBay bought Skype for $2.6bn in 2006, before selling 70% of it in 2009 for $2bn.


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Good news for new dads

Britain is finnaly catching up with the rest of Europe.

Paternity leave

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Words in the news

Have a look at the language help Business Spotlight gives for talking about nuclear meltdown.....

Monday, 24 January 2011


I've joined an online course run by The Consultants-e. It's all about m-learning = learning using mobile devices such as smart phones and netbooks.