12 Foreign Words and Phrases New Yorkers Love to Use

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, American English Grammar and Usage, Business English, English lessons in New York, Online English lessons

It’s no secret that languages borrow from other languages. The French, despite their reputation as linguistic puritans, are known for enjoying “le weekend.” Any English-speaking fan of telenovelas has probably  heard the word “look” being used to describe one’s personal physical appearance and style. 

The classic and much imitated Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty La Fea centered on the transformation of Betty’s “look.”

English has always had its fair share of borrowed phrases. When Europeans first arrived in the Americas they stole native words as well as land.

Wabanaki (Native American) Canoe. The word “canoe” came from the Arawaken language. Can you canoe?

Americans have adopted many foreign words and expressions that were brought to our shores by people who came here from all over the world. New York City, which continues to draw immigrants, visitors, dreamers, and doers from every corner of the planet, has a particularly rich history of taking words of foreign origin and adding them to our unique regional lexicon.

Below is a list of 12 foreign words and phrases that one is likely to hear in New York.  I’ve excluded words used only to describe foods such as pizza, tacos, and so on. They’re too easy!  Most of these words have been brought to me by my English-language students who heard them at work, in social settings, or on television.

Click here to read the complete list. (more…)

Getting to JFK: Here Are Your Options

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, New York Culture

“Why isn’t there a direct subway line to the airport?”

“Why is it so expensive to get to Kennedy?”

“I always take Uber, but how do you New Yorkers get to the airport?

I get these questions a lot. Many of my English language students are here on work transfers, or they are the spouses of someone with an L-1 visa. They love to explore U.S. destinations, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles . They enjoy going back home for the holidays. Some of them have a “revolving door” of visitors crashing on their couch. They often lament the high cost of getting to the airport, and are surprised that a major city like New York, doesn’t offer better options. Usually, they take Uber.

Today I’m going to give you some other options for getting to JFK. I will follow up with posts on getting to Newark Airport and LaGuardia.

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Welcome to New York! Now learn English and find a job!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, American English Grammar and Usage, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, Tutoring

(Quick Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer and this blog post does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about your visa or ability to work in the United States, consult an immigration attorney!)

Congratulations! Your spouse works for a multinational company or organization and just got a job transfer to New York or maybe Los Angeles, or another major American city. You are excited about the prospect of spending a year or maybe more in a foreign country.

However, there’s one little problem….
While this is a great career opportunity for your better-half, it might not be so great for your career. Maybe, if you are very lucky, your company will allow you to stay on and work remotely, but with the time difference between the US and Europe, that might not work out so well. Chances are you are going to have to take a long leave or quit your job.

But there’s some good news: You can work legally in the United States!

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The Way We Speak (English) Now: Hooking Up

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, New York Culture

“Hooking up” is a phrasal verb – which means (as all my ESL students know) it is an expression containing a verb and a preposition.

Once upon a time is a phrase we use to start fairy tales. It was also used in the very first Star Wars film, in the opening captions where we learn that the story takes place “Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away. Sometimes we use “once upon a time” ironically to mean “a not so long time ago in the past,” as in the following:

Once upon a time “hooking up” was an innocuous expression used in the following way:

John: My flight was delayed, so I won’t be able to meet you at the breakfast. I should get to the conference by noon.

Kevin: That’s fine. There’s a lunch break at noon. We’ll hook up then.

John: Great! I’m looking forward to it.

In this context, “hook up” is very similar to “meet up.” Here’s another example, just to make the point:

Sarah: So did you have a chance to talk to John at the conference?

Kevin: No, his flight was delayed, and then he got stuck in traffic, and I was on the panel in the afternoon. We never managed to hook up.

However, in recent years the expression “hook up” or “hooking up” has taken on another meaning, which has just about supplanted the previous meaning. Here is an example of how you are likely to hear it used:

John: I really like Sarah, but I think she’s dating Kevin isn’t she?

Beth: Dating? I don’t know about that. They may have hooked up a couple of times back in college, but I think now they’re just friends.

John: Friends with benefits?

Beth: Maybe once upon a time. I doubt it in the present. Kevin lives with his girlfriend, and I hear she keeps him on a pretty tight leash. Honestly, I doubt that Sarah and Kevin are more than co-workers.

John: Wow. I don’t think I’d be too comfortable with that history if I was Kevin’s girlfriend!

Beth: Oh c’mon! What happens in college stays in college.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Cloisters_from_Garden.jpg

5 Easy Labor Day Weekend New York Getaway Day Trips

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, New York Culture, Tutoring

 

Most of my students are newcomers to New York. Some already understand that New Yorkers love to get away from the city, especially on long weekends during the summer, but if you didn’t make plans, it’s not too late to have a fun three-day weekend. There a lots of interesting places to explore within the five boroughs of New York City, and there are plenty of easy day trips outside of the city that don’t require finding a “last minute”  car rental.

Here are five ideas for outdoor excersions that will feel like mini-vacations.

  1. Explore Manhattan’s Northern Tip

You can start by catching the A train to 207th Street. From there you can visit Fort Tryon Park. The park offers beautiful Hudson River views on winding paths. This is also where you can find visit The Cloisters. You can then walk to Inwood Hill Park, which offers hiking trails with old growth trees. There is also a Nature Center there where you can learn more about the local ecology. Sometimes there are additional activities sponsored by the Parks Department, such as kayaking. (more…)

Got or Gotten? How to Speak North American

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, American English Grammar and Usage, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, Tutoring

Someone should write a book on all the uses of “get” in the English language. This post is for a select audience of grammar-nerds and advanced English language learners already familiar with “get” in everyday speech. Sorry, but this is not where you are going to learn 500 new idiomatic phrases with “get.” I’m going to attempt to focus on when to use “got” and when to use “gotten.”

Got it?

Okay, let’s go!

Here’s the lowdown:

Most of those handy PDFs that list commonly used irregular verbs have two past participles listed for the verb “get.” Those past participles are “got” and “gotten.” Which one is correct?

Some lists break it down by classifying “got” as British English and “gotten” as American English, but that’s not helpful. In North America(US and Canada) we use both “got” and “gotten” and we use them for different things. (more…)

Handy Phrases: With Hands (Part I)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips

handsAll languages have phrases and saying involving parts of the body. English has a lot of them! I’m only going to write about a few of the more common uses of the word “hand” here. If you would like more, please let me know in the comment section below.

Let’s start with the use of  hand as a verb. Hand is a regular verb. (It takes “ed” in the past and perfect tenses.) In its simplest form it means to pass or give something to someone. (more…)

How Americans Elect a President (An Explanation for English Language Learners)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips

(I have had conversations with all of my students – even the beginners – about the coming election. Here is a post explaining as simply as I can how the United States elects a president.)

hillary-and-donaldEvery four years the United States holds an election for president. The major parties (Democrat and Republican) each choose a candidate. Both parties have a series of primary elections. These are contests between candidates in the same political party who are trying to get the nomination of that party. How primaries work varies from state to state. Not all states have primaries. Primaries do not take place on the same day, but happen over a period of months. The first one is usually in February. The final primary might not be until June. This is why our campaigns seem to go on forever. The voters choose between candidates when they are in the voting booth, but they are not actually voting directly for their choice. In reality, the candidate with the most votes wins delegates  to send to his or her party’s convention. The delegates all go to their party’s convention where they nominate their choice. The conventions take place during the summer.

Months before candidates start running (campaigning) in the primaries, they announce that they will run. This is because they need to start fundraising for their campaigns. This is another reason the process feels so long! (more…)

Halloween — American Style

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, New York Culture

halloween-stockThis week ALL of my students have been asking me about Halloween, so I thought it was worthy of a post.

Halloween or “All Hallow’s Eve” is a holiday celebrated in a number of countries.You can read more about the origins and history here. In the US, Halloween is celebrated as a secular holiday. There are religious people who DON’T celebrate Halloween because they feel it violates their religious beliefs,  but most Americans don’t associate Halloween with any religious tradition. (more…)

Welcome to the Perfect English NYC Blog

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips, New York Culture, Tutoring

This is the blog of the Perfect English NYC website. If you are looking for private 1:1 ESL/English lessons/tutoring, please go to the HOME page to get started. If you are looking for FREE resources to help you learn English, please check out the links to your right. Posts below may contain short lessons, ideas for self-study, and/or stories about American culture, holidays, traditions, etc — and especially about life in New York City for newcomers!