Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Talk about Money and Coins

When you're learning a new language and you are living or visiting in a new culture, there are few things that can cause you to feel so embarrassed and "stupid" as dialogues that occur in public that deal with money when you're trying to purchase something.

Today let's continue to talk about talking about money and after you read this post, you can go out and practice what you've learned.

This is twenty-five cents.

And this is twenty-five cents:

What's the difference?

This is a quarter...

and this is change for a quarter.

If you are at a restaurant and all you have is a one-dollar bill...

...and you want to give the waiter or waitress a 50 cent can ask for
change for a dollar

If you have a quarter and you need a dime, you can ask for change for a quarter.

We have four types of coins commonly in circulation
in the United States:
a penny
a nickle
a dime
a quarter.

We also have a half-dollar, which is less commonly in circulation.

Maybe it will help you to remember the names for the coins if you understand how each one got its name.

The name penny comes from the old English. A penny is worth one cent.

A nickle is so named because it is made of the element nickle.  It is worth five cents.

A dime is worth ten cents. It is so named because of the decimal system, from the old French, meaning one-tenth (here, one-tenth of a dollar).

A quarter is so named because it is worth one quarter (1/4) of a dollar.

Our next blog post will continue to talk about money! 

If I had one dollar for each blog post that I have about money... how much money would I have???

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Talk about Money

You have a one dollar bill and you have a car and you need to put money into the parking meter. The meter takes quarters, dimes, and nickles.

You see somebody nearby and show this person your one-dollar bill and, pointing to the parking meter, you say, "Do you have.....    " and the words to complete your request aren't there.  You feel embarrassed!  You can ask this in your native language so easily, just not in English!  You hope this person will get the message. What is the question you need, what are the words you are trying to get out?


Let's talk about talking about money. Let's talk about the money that you have, the money that you have in your pocket, or in your hand,or the money you'd like to have in your hand!

This is one dollar.

And this is one dollar:

What's the difference? 

This is "one dollar in change"...


...while this... "a one-dollar bill".

So then, what is this, below?

If you answered, "This is something I'd like to have", that's correct, but you can't have it.  If you answered, This is a twenty-dollar bill, you're also correct! This is a picture of my twenty-dollar bill.

So let's get back to our problem:  When you have this...

...and you want this, such as our friend who is at the parking meter,...

...then what do you ask? You ask "Do you have change for a dollar?"

Let's repeat:  "Do you have change for a dollar?"

Let's review today's vocabulary:

a bill (a one-dollar bill, a five-dollar bill, a ten-dollar bill, etc.)
change (Please notice that this is a non-count noun.)
money (Please notice that this too is a non-count noun.)

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion about MONEY and HOW TO TALK ABOUT IT.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Breaking News: The idiom "to break"

Every CNN page title includes these words: "Breaking News".

What exactly is that? "This story just broke minutes ago...." The media uses (to) break as a verb (and breaking here as an adjective). What does that mean?

Is "a news break" anything like "a coffee break"?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that a news break means that the program is "breaking", that is, temporarily taking a break from, its current program in order to bring you this special news story. So you have a break between classes, or a break in the middle of one long class.

No, in that a news break is supposed to alert or awaken people and gain their attention, whereas a coffee break is supposed to give people a bit of physical and mental relief and respite from a difficult meeting or work day (or English class!)

"Breaking News" is any news that is considered "big" or important enough to interrupt the current story.

Of course CNN and Cable TV always have breaking news. The media use this term so often that it has almost no meaning. When I see the term "breaking news" now, I just ignore it.

And so why do they use this term, "breaking news", so constantly?

It's to gain your readership.

Anybody for a coffee break around now?

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Is Just the Beginning!

Welcome to our English blog.

The focus of this blog is English vocabulary, English idioms, and any expressions in English that we need to live our lives day to day.

And see that dog in the picture to the right? That's our Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Joey.  He doesn't speak English, but he can occasionally understand it.

Please bookmark our blog!


Vocabulary in today's lesson:

a bookmark (noun)

(to) bookmark (verb)