Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm good

Maybe I'm just dating myself with this blog, but I remember conversations like this:

One friend says:  "Would you like something to drink?"
The other friend says, "No, thank you.  I'm not thirsty."

Today, the conversation would go something like this:

"Would you like something to drink?"
"No, I'm good."

Or I remember this: Two friends are out at a restaurant:

"Would you like a few of my french fries?"
"No but thank you anyway"

Now this conversation would go something like this:

"Would you like a few of my french fries?"
"No, I'm good."

I first heard my daughter say this, and of course I asked her,  "What does this mean, you're good? I didn't ask you if you're good or bad; I asked you if you'd like me to share my french fries with you."

I may be old fashioned, linguistically, but I want somebody to say "No thanks, I'm not hungry" or "No thank you; I'm fine with what I'm having."

Like I said, this probably dates me... but if you're ever out having a bite to eat with somebody and they ask you, "Would you like anything else to eat?", you can say, "No thanks, I'm good" or you can answer, as somebody from my generation would, "No thank you.  But thanks for asking."


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Do You Call a Person from.......

One of the first sentences you learn to ask and answer, when you're learning English, is "Where are you from?"  Suppose the answer is "I'm from the United States."

Ah, one thinks... You're an American.

What if the answer is "I'm from New York?"  You're a New Yorker.

If you're from Texas, you're not a Texaser, but a Texan.

From California? He's a Californian.

On the opposite side of the country, from the Sunshine State - Florida? A Floridian.

Somebody's from Maine?  He is a Mainer.

Just south of Maine would be a person from New Hampshire, but he's a New Hampshirite.

New Mexico?  He's a New Mexican.

From Connecticut?  Well, maybe that state's name has too many syllables to have a compact expression.  It would probably be a Connecticuter, but that's so long that I'm not sure that anybody actually ever uses that expression!

How about cities where people are from?

Somebody from San Francisco? No, not a San Franciscoan, but a San Franciscan.

I'm originally from Philadelphia; that makes me an original Philadelphian.  But now I live in Boston. Does that make me a Bostoner or a Bostonian?  That makes me a Bostonian now.

A person from Chicago would be a Chicagoan.

How about regions of the United States?

Here you have a southerner, a northerner, a midwesterner, a New Englander... 
Do you see a consistent pattern within the English language?

Well, if you do, please write to us and tell us what it is!

And meanwhile, if you want to try to answer the question, "What do you call a person from.... (name of city), please send us a comment message!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Say "Yes" in English

Today I telephoned a bicycle shop and asked, "Can you fix my bike tire? It has a hole in it." 

"You bet", answered the voice on the other end.

"You'll do it while I wait?"

"You bet" said the voice, a second time.

Hmmmm.   I thought about the non-native speaker of English who knows the phrase "Yes" but doesn't know how many other ways we have of saying the same thing! And on the telephone, this can present a challenge. Is this person saying yes, or no?

There are many ways of saying "YES" in English, and we don't teach these in English classes. We don't teach which are formal and which are informal.

Yeah, for example, is very informal.  NEVER say Yeah in a job interview unless you want somebody to show you where the door is. Yes is appropriate whenever you want to make a good and positive impression.

Certainly is a very upbeat affirmative response.  For example, you may ask a potential employer the question, "Is it okay if I give you a call in a few weeks to see if you've received my resume?", and the response "Certainly" would indicate that you are more than welcome to do so.  It is a green light.

Another popular way of saying Yes is "Of course". This is similar to certainly and implies an enthusiastic answer in the affirmative.

There are also regional differences.  The southern states often answer, "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am" to men and women, respectively. Consider this very respectful, very deferential.

So these are a few ways in which Americans say Yes. 

Do you know of some others? Share them with us!!