ワンポイントレッスン

英会話ワンポイントレッスン26. トーク・アベニュー新宿  "A" vs "The"

"A" vs. "The"

Many English students have trouble with when to use "a", and when to use "the". It seems like a small thing to worry about, but there is a very big difference and misuse can result in confusion in conversations.

"A" is used to introduce a noun into a conversation for the first time. "A" indicates a single noun, whereas if the noun is plural, "a" is not used. For example:
I bought a new camera.
I bought two new cameras.
"A" also becomes "An" when places before words that begin with a vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u).
I bought an orange at the supermarket.
I spent an hour watching television.
"The" is used in place of "a":
After the noun has been introduced to the listener and is being referred to a second time. Example: I took a camera with me to the top of the mountain, but the camera didn't have batteries.
With nouns of which there is only one. Example: I want to clean up the environment on the moon.
With nouns which represent a larger institution or concept for a place. Examples: the post office, the hospital, the army, the park, the beach
With many location names and in the names of countries which have a plural feeling. Examples: The United States, The Phillipines, The Mediterranean Sea, The Cayman Islands
Here are some more examples which show the proper uses of "a" and "the":

I ate at a restaurant in Shibuya. (First time being introduced, and the listener does not know which restaurant precisely)
I at at the restaurant in Shibuya near your house. (First time introduced, but the listener likely knows exactly which restaurant this is.)

I want a new phone. (Non-specific about what type of phone; listener does not know which model. Perhaps the speaker has not decided which model yet.)
I want the new model of phone from Sony. (Specific, and the listener likely knows which model is being talked about.)

Using "a" and "the" correctly is an important step to becoming an effective English communicator. Do your best, and remember that it is an important difference!

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン22. トーク・アベニュー新宿 "Much", "Many", and "A lot"

"Much", "Many", "A lot"

"Much", "many", and "a lot" are all similar terms which indicate a large quantity or number. The way in which they are used, however, is slightly different and depends on whether your noun is countable or uncountable.

Uncountable nouns do not have separate singular and plural forms, because they nouns cannot be counted. Examples of uncountable nouns are water, time, clothes, money, or love.

Countable nouns have separate singular an plural forms, and can be counted. Examples include bottle, minute, shirt, yen, or hug.


"Many" is used with countable nouns, in both the negative and positive form. For example:
  • John has many of cats in his house.
  • We don't have many bottles of water left.
  • There are many people waiting in line over there.

"Much" is used with uncountable nouns, and is generally used only in the negative form. For example:
  • We don't have much water.
  • There isn't much time left, so we had better hurry.
  • I won't have much money until the end of this month.
  • NOTE: "I have much money" sounds bad, and native speakers will not say this, even though it is grammatically correct

"A lot"
can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns, and in negative or positive form. Therefore, it is very useful. For example:
  • We have a lot of time left until the movie starts.
  • Tom doesn't have a lot of money, so let's pay for his dinner.
  • There is still a lot of beer left in the bottle.
  • There aren't a lot of people at the theater tonight.


As you can see, "a lot" is useful since it can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. Much is used with non-countable, but is only normally used in the negative "not much" form. And "many" is only used with countable nouns. Improving your understanding of which words to use, as well as your understanding of countable and uncountable nouns, will take you one step closer to being an excellent English speaker.

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン21. トーク・アベニュー新宿 Talking about time.

Contributed by Joseph Smith

 

ONE POINT LESSON: Talking about time: "In", "At", and "On"

 

When we are talking about times that we did something, or making plans to do something at a specific time in the future, we use "In", "At", and "On".  When to use which word, however, depends on what kind of time you are talking about.  For example:

 

"At" is used when we talk about:

  1. specific time  (Let's meet at 5:30 in Shinjuku.)
  2. midnight/noon (The clock will strike 12:00 at midnight.)
  3. night   (At night, owls come out to hunt for mice.)

 

"On" is used when we talk about:

  1. day of the week  (I don't have to go to work on Wednesday/Sunday/Monday/etc.)
  2. date  (The convention will begin on June 5th and end on June 12th.)
  3. holiday  (My family likes to watch TV together on New Years.)
  4. the weekend  (I like to play baseball on the weekend.)

 

"In" is used when we talk about:

  1. a month  (I will take my vacation in September.)
  2. a  year   (In 2005, my sister got married.)
  3. the morning/ the evening/ the afternoon  (It's better to hold the meeting in the evening.)
  4. age  (In my twenties, I often played basketball on Sunday.)
  5. during a time period  (In five months, I was able to lose 8kg.)

 

Using the proper preposition when you referencing time is very important for improving your English skills.  For practice, change the key words in the sentences above to make your own and practice using "In", "At", and "On" correctly.

 

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン20. トーク・アベニュー新宿 "Wish" vs "Want" vs "Hope"

Contributed by Joseph Smith

 

ONE POINT LESSON: "Wish" vs. "Want" vs. "Hope"

Wish, want, and hope are commonly confused, but have very different yet similar purposes in the English language when expressing your desires.

When you wish for something, what you are saying is that you want it, but you know that it's not possible.  For example:

"I wish it would stop raining."  You wish it would stop raining, but you know that it probably won't.

"I wish you hadn't told my sister about the surprise party."  Unfortunately, we cannot change the past, and you did tell her about it.  But I wish that you hadn't.

This is why many times, in movies or western culture, the idea of wishing has magic, genies, or supernatural powers associated with them.  Because the idea is that a wishes do not often come true.

 

Want is used to express a very real desire that you have in the present, or in the future.  For example:

"I want my dog to stop chewing on my couch."  This is a real and possible desire that I have for my dog. 

"Tom wants to go to a baseball game today."  Tom has a very real and possible desire to go to the game.

Want is a very real and possible desire that you have for the present or future.

 

When you hope for something, what you are saying is that you want something for the future, but do not have control over whether you get it or not.  For example:

"I hope that receive my package by tomorrow."  I want this, but I do not control when I will receive the package.  The post office does.

"I hope that tomorrow will be a bright and sunny day."  This is what I want, but I cannot control the weather.

"Sarah hopes to get into law school."  She would like to be a lawyer, but the college will decide if she can or cannot.

 

Understanding the differences between "wish", "want", and "hope" will help you to express your desires more clearly in English.

 

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン19. トーク・アベニュー新宿 Vocabulary "Vision" words

Contributed by Daniel Evans

 

ONE POINT LESSON: VOCABULARY

"Vision" words

 

Many non-native English speakers make mistakes when using " vision" words.  Sometimes we can use more than one word in a certain situation,  but often we need to use only one specific word...this is where mistakes can happen.

 

The most common "vision " words are:

 

see: to be aware of visually, to gain knowledge through the eyes.

(This is the easiest word to use, it has a wide meaning and is rarely incorrect)

 

look at: to focus on, to direct the eyes towards one point.

(This is used when we make a special effort to see a specific thing/area)

 

watch: to observe, to look at the actions of someone/thing.

(We usually use this word for when we try to see specific actions.  It is also the best phrase to use for visual entertainment.)

 

Below are some examples of how we commonly use these words.

 

  • I would like to see the Grand Canyon one day.
  • You can sometimes see Mount Fuji from here.
  • I've lost my dog. Have you seen him?

 

  • Do you mind if I look at your sketchbook?
  • Look at that woman, she's beautiful!
  • Sometimes, I like to look at photographs from my school days.

 

  • Let's watch a movie.
  • I watch TV for about two hours each day.
  • When I go to the park, I like to watch the ducks swim.

 

So we cannot, for example, "look at a movie" or "wacth Mount Fuji", but "see" is okay for both.

                                                                                                                                     

 "See"  also has a few other meanings which are not about vision.  For example;

 

I see = I understand

I'm going to see my friends tonight = I'm going to meet my friends tonight

                                                                                                                                      

So remember, be careful when using "vision" words.

 

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