Genre: Castle on the Hill

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This Genre profile is also a classroom activity to be used to talk about memories and past tense. This song, Castle on the Hill, was written by Ed Sheeran and released two years later. It focuses on memories of a childhood where one experiences his ups and downs, his firsts and lasts, his friends and foes, and his love for the land he grew up. It talks about friendships and love, experiences that are worth remembering and those that are worth forgetting, and lastly what has changed between now and the time then. Have a look at the piece that is worth watching and listening to:


Now comes the exercises that are worth doing. You can do one or all of them, but they all talk about the same thing- memories of growing up.

  • Experiences- Make a list of personal experiences you had in your childhood, both good and bad. Then choose one out of each and tell us a story about the experience- when it happened, why you did it and the result. Most importantly, each story must include a lesson to share with everyone.
  • .
  • .
  • Friends- Make a list of friends with whom you hung around with during your childhood. Then you can do one or more of the following:

_Who was your best friend? Tell us about him/her?

_Tell us about your circle of friends- each one about his/her life, characteristics, like/dislikes/ hobbies, etc., and what happened to them in the present.

_Your experiences hanging out with your friends- what you normally did and the events that happened that were good or bad


  • Place of childhood- Tell us about the place where you grew up. What did the community have while you were growing up and what has changed between now and then.
  • .
  • .
  • Favorite Foods- Tell us your favorite foods you had while growing up and why you liked it so much. Would you recommend it to others and if so, why? Apply this to other topics, like TV shows/movies, music, books/magazines, cars, places to visit, etc. Anything that comes to heart and mind and you wish to talk about.
  • .
  • .
  • Life with your family- What kind of family did you have? Tell us about your parents and siblings. What kind of life did you have with the family? Some events that happened that had a defining moment in your life would be helpful but not a must.
  • .
  • .
  • What things did you wish you could have done but didn’t? Every single one of us has done this and has a list of regrets. List them and ask what would have happened had you done what you regretted not having done.
  • .
  • .
  • Random Questions. Then feel free to add a few questions of your own on some index cards and have your students pick a card, read the question and talk about it. The questions must have to do with childhood memories and must be appropriate for classroom use.


The song itself received numerous accolades and ended up as nr. 2 in the hit charts in most countries. It’s one song where you can close your eyes and return to the day of what you were as a child, reliving the days and trying to ask yourself, what-if. Therefore, it’s worth listening to in class, but just as valuable sharing your childhood experiences, regardless of where you came from and what you experienced. Our past helps us determine who we are at present but provides lessons to the future generations.


Verbs that Function Both as Regular and Irregular

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One of the least talked about subjects in the English Language are verbs, whose conjugations are both regular and irregular. Some are probably thinking why that is the case. There are two arguments for why they are not even mentioned in the classroom:

1. The endings are different but the meanings are the same. This argument applies for the different endings between British and American, where the past and perfect endings have either a -t or an -ed at the end. In many cases they can be used interchangeably. Example of such include

Dream (present) Dreamed/ Dreamt (past simple) Dreamed/ Dreamt (perfect)

Smell (present) Smelled/Smellt (past simple) Smelled/Smellt (perfect)

The same applies for irregular tenses, where a verb both have a regular and irregular form but the meanings are the same and are sometimes used in both types of English. This includes:

Wet (present) Wet/Wetted (past simple) Wet/Wetted (perfect)

Dive (present) Dove/Dived (past simple) Dived (perfect)


2. People would understand the meaning of the words without having to make the difference in conjugation. Two examples come to mind that would counter this argument:

Lie: Lie has two different conjugations but also two different meanings. You can lie to the person to save yourself from trouble, but you cannot lay unless you’re speaking a “red neck” version of English. 😉 By the same token, one can lie down or lay down for taking a nap.

Find: Find has a past tense that has a conjugation of its own. You can found a company and establish it from the ground up, but when you say I find a company (or even finded), then you discovered the company either by research on the internet or by chance while playing hide and seek. 😉


Then there is the third argument which states that the numbers are so few that it would make no sense to learn them. English, like any other foreign language features vocabulary whose difference in pronunciation (including homophones) and lettering (including the affixes) produce different meanings. Therefore it is important to cover all the aspects of each word, including the meanings and the context. This is important especially when translating the words into your own language because each word has a different equivalent, regardless of how the English word is conjugated.

I did some research and asked some of the native speakers and experts who taught English and found that verbs with both types of conjugation can be divided up into different categories. The German translations for each word is marked in orange. They include the following:


American <=> British Type 1:  Word pairs that have the same meaning but the endings in past/perfect tenses are both –ed and –t. As a rule, the irregular forms are typically British English; the regular forms are typically American

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
dreamdreamingdreameddreamedTo think of something while sleeping
dreamdreamingdreamtdreamtGerman: schlafen
learnlearninglearnedlearnedTo collect knowledge for future use
learnlearninglearntlearntGerman: lernen
spoilspoilingspoiledspoiledTo ruin a food product or event
spoilspoilingspoiltspoiltGerman: verderben
burnburningburnedburnedTo apply heat to a surface sometimes causing a fire
burnburningburntburntGerman: brennen
leanleaningleanedleanedTo tilt against someone or something
leanleaningleantleantGerman: neigen
smellsmellingsmelledsmelledTo have a scent of an object or area
smellsmellingsmeltsmeltGerman: riechen
spillspillingspilledspilledTo empty the contents onto a surface
spillspillingspiltspiltGerman: verschütten oder verstreuen


American <=> British Type 2 Word pairings where even though the meaning is the same, the verb endings with –ed are used in British English; in American English they stay the same and are considered irregular verbs.

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
quitquittingquittedquittedTo discontinue doing
quitquittingquitquitGerman: aufhören
wetwettingwettedwettedTo add fluid to a surface to make it softer
wetwettingwetwetGerman: nass machen


Regular British and Irregular American Forms:  Word pairings that function both as a regular as well as an irregular verb form but have the same meaning; can be used in both British and American English.

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
lightlightinglightedlightedTo make glow
lightlightinglitlitGerman: beleuchten, anzünden, Feuer machen, u.A.
divedivingdiveddivedTo jump head first into the water; to drop rapidly
divedivingdovedivedGerman: Kopfsprung machen; fallen/ sinken


Present Pairs with Different Meanings: Word pairs where each verb in present simple tense has a different meaning per conjugated regular and irregular form

Verb Present + V- ing Past Simple Perfect Form Meaning/ Translation
ringringingringedringedForming a circle around something/ German: kreiseln
ringringingrangrungMaking a sound like a bell on a telephone/ German: ringen
shineshiningshinedshinedTo polish/ German: polieren
shineshiningshoneshoneTo glow or cast with light/ German: scheinen
slayslayingslayedslayedTo strongly impress someone/ German: beeindrücken
slayslayingslewslainTo kill or destroy/ German:  töten od. zerschlagen
hanghanginghunghungTo attach something high off the ground and allow to sway/ German: hängen
hanghanginghangedhangedTo be suspended by neck in mid-air, causing death/ German:  erhängen
abide abidingabidedabidedTo continue to live and act in a similar fashion/  German fortbestehen; ertragen
abideabidingabodeabodeTo live in a home/dwelling/residence   German: leben/wohnen


Past Pairs with Different Meanings: Word pairs whose past simple tense form has its own set of conjugations and meaning. The past tense version functions as a regular verb form.

VerbPresent + V-ing Past Simple Perfect Form Meaning/ Translation
findfindingfoundfoundLook for something/ finden
foundfoundingfoundedfoundedEstablishing a business or organization/   German: (be)gründen
windwindingwoundwoundWrap around something/   German: (auf)wickeln
woundwoundingwoundedwoundedTo injure someone’s feelings or through a knife-stab or gunshot/   German: verletzen
fallfallingfellfallenTo drop down to the ground from above/ German: fallen
fellfellingfelledfelledTo cut down a tree or tall object / German: fällen
feelfeelingfeltfeltTo sense something/ German: (sich) fühlen
feltfeltingfeltedfeltedTo try and perceive or twist/ German: wahrnehmen/ empfinden
seeseeingsawSeenTo look at something with the eyes/  German:  sehen
sawsawingsawedsawnTo cut apart a tree or object with a saw/ German:  segen
bearbearingborebornTo make into life; tolerate/    German: gebären; tolerieren
boreboringboredboredTo make uninteresting or tiring/   German: langweilen; langweilig machen


Despite having a list for each of the categories, I also concluded that there are more examples of such verbs in English that exist, yet they are at best seldomly mentioned. Furthermore there may be a little bit of leeway in terms of the word pairs and the meanings. Therefore I would like to ask you to mention any further examples that you know in the language that fit into one of the five abovementioned categories. Any missing verbs will be added including the conjugations and the German translations. You will do yourself, yours truly as well as teachers of English as a Foreign Language and the students (regardless of age and school) a big favor. 🙂

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Useful Sources:



“No means NO!” A look at the many ways to reject an offer in English

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Imagine this scenario: a stranger offers a child a ride to school, or offers a woman to a cup of tea, or offers a group of people to go to a free show in a theater, etc. You want to say no, but you want to find a creative alternative to the words “No thank you.” Furthermore, you would like to know which of the expressions are more forceful than the polite versions. It’s like in the commercial produced in 2015 on the issue of consent and, like in the picture above, the offer for a cup of tea:

Of course, we could accept the offer and say sure, we can do that. Germans would use the word annehmen and the English equivalents are below:


For the enquivalent to the German word, ablehnen, the expressions are on the same level as this traffic light:

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The green light represents the polite way of saying no, the yellow light is the more stern way, and the red light is the most forceful way. The most commonly used words to describe “No!” are decline, reject and refuse. Like the traffic light, the difference among the three verbs is as follows:

As a hint, each of the words also have an equivalent, whose meanings are different, but they are in reference to the actual meaning of the word.

Decline: Two meanings come to mind when it comes to this word. The first has to do with deteriorate, the other to go down. While it is OK to politely decline to the offer a friend gives you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the friend doesn’t like you. Yet if you reject your friend’s offer multiple times, then you might want to ask why, for it could be a sign that a friendship is deteriorating.

Reject: There are several words that come to mind when it comes to rejecting something sternly. One can repeal, annul or back out of an offer. Yet you can reject an offer and at the same time end a relationship and leave someone behind. As a hint, when you reject something plainly and to the point, it is a sign that you want to end something and move on. Reject is a tool used to end a partnership but on a professional basis.

Refuse: Two words are used to describe the harshest form of a “No” word: refuse and waste. Refuse is British and means garbage in American English as well as Abfall in German. The stress is on the first syllable. Waste is the same as garbage as a noun, but as a verb it means using time in a worthless manner. If you use the word refuse, your implying that the other person is wasting your time and you want nothing to do with him/her. If you use refuse, then the person is being tossed into the pile of garbage, full of disappointments, but in the clearest (and hopefully) verbal manner.


Decline <=> deteriorate, go down

Reject <=> repeal, annul, back out, end, leave behind

Refuse <=> refuse (noun), garbage, waste (noun/verb)

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A. Look at the expressions below. Determine whether they represent a red light (severe), yellow light (stern but moderate) or green light (polite). Please keep in mind that both the three words plus their synonyms are featured in the examples.

  1. I refuse to talk to my dad. He’s such a racist!
  2. Patricia declined to comment on the incident.
  3. Sam rejected Torsten’s request for a paid leave of absence
  4. The police officer apprehended the driver after he refused to show him his driver’s license.
  5. The teenager refused to show his tatoo to the leader of the gang and was subsequentially beaten.
  6. Anna declined Ted’s offer for a beer after work.
  7. I refuse to be a victim to this abuse!
  8. The President rejected the proposal to sign the treaty, citing high costs to carry it through.
  9. The clerk rejected the form because there was missing information.
  10. The opposite team declined the offer to penalize the home team for the foul.
  11. The marriage was annulled due to irreconcilable differences. Annul is the same as which of the three words: ______________________
  12. I’ve decided to leave the group because of the contract and I wanted to go solo. Leave is the same as which of the three words: ___________________.
  13. The relationship has deteriorated recently because of cultural differences between the couple. Deteriorate is the same as which of the three words:_______________________
  14. I will not speak with that piece of garbage. Not after what he did. He’s a waste of time. Waste and garbage are in reference to which of the three words: _____________________
  15. I passed up on the offer to work in Auckland for family reasons. Pass up is the same as which of the three words: __________________________.
  16. The bishop shunned the couple for same-sex marriage. Shun is the same as which of the three words: ______________________.
  17. We renounced our citizenship because we didn’t want to pay double taxes. Renounce is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  18. Scott sat out during the game because of a nose bleed. Sit out is the same as which of the three words:_____________________.
  19. The plaintiff’s lawyer objected to the defendant’s claims in court. Object is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  20. People in the hall protested at the proposal to tear the historic building down. Protest is the same as which of the three words: ________________________.



B. Complete the following sentences, using either decline, reject or refuse. Pay attention to the details!

  1. Charles _______________ to apologize to his brother for the fight because he had started it.
  2. The cat ________________ to come down from the cupboard. So Sam took a broom and chased him down.
  3. Georgia _________________ Harlow’s offer to dinner at the diner in town. She was not interested in him and he understood.
  4. I _________________ to comment on the story because I’ve only heard it for the first time. Please give me time to digest the news.
  5. The Senate ________________ the proposal calling for the increase in taxes among the wealthy.
  6. The wedding proposal was __________________ because she didn’t love him. She loved someone else.
  7. The protesters _________________ to leave the town square, so the police sprayed water on them.
  8. I _________________ to back down to Mr. Henning because his argument for me clearing my classroom was not justified.
  9. My boss _________________ the offer for a higher position because he loves his job.
  10. She __________________ the draft because it was irrelevant.




C. Look at the following sentences and convert them using the antonyms.

Example: I refuse your apology! <=> I accept your apology!

  1. I decline the offer to marry you. <=>
  2. I refuse to talk to him. <=>
  3. The proposal was rejected by a unanimous vote. <=>
  4. The fine for speeding was rejected. <=>
  5. The peace treaty has been refused by both parties. <=>
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After watching the video and reading (as well as doing) the examples, you should have an idea on the ways to express yourself if someone offers you something in English and you want to accept or deny the offer. Regardless of severity vs politeness, the main factor is: “No means no!” If a person declines, rejects or refuses something, then there is a reason for that. It is only OK with the consent of the other and NOT based on your assumptions. What was learned in your childhood that “No means yes.” is no longer the norm in this day and age.

When it’s no, it means no. Regardless of how no is interpreted.


The Ultimate Guide to Activity Verbs Part 2: Explanations and Activities

Now for a simple explanation of the difference and functions of the activity verbs, namely the verbs of Do, Have, Make and Take. Before doing that, you should do the activity in Part 1, yet if you are not sure of the difference, you can look at the information table below before going back to Part 1.

In either case, click here. And as for the explanations on the difference, have a look at the following tables below:

Even when looking at the conjugations, one can see the differences based on verb tenses. As a bonus, have and do also function as helping verbs (a.k.a. auxilliary verbs)- verbs that assist the main verbs (regardless of whether they are passive or active):

Yet the differences among the four activity verbs that we “enjoy mixing up” go beyond the verb tenses. Let’s have a look at:

While these two verbs are easy to differentiate, the last two verbs are the ones that students have the most difficulty in understanding. They are:

This word is often mixed up with its counterpart…..

While we a better explanation of the four activities, let’s do the following exercises to better understand the differences.


Activity 1: Look at the following words below and determine which of the four verbs best fits. Keep in mind, some of them may have more than one answer.

1. Housework

2. Breakfast

3. Pictures with a camera

4. Test (writing the test)

5. Repairs on the car

6. Sweater (as a gift)

7. Training (for sports)

8. A glass of hot cocoa

9. A pan of bars (Kuchen in German)

10. A party at your house

11. A break (from your job)

12. Your job

13. A risk

14. A shower (after a long day of work)

15. A wedding


Activity 2: Complete the following sentences using the correct activity verb. Pay attention to the verb tenses in some of them.

  1. Chris ___________ the cut and is now a football player.
  2. __________ you find out who tried to call you?
  3. __________ you tried to contact your neighbor about the broken window?
  4. I ____________ a vacation for the next three weeks and ____________ a trip to Hawaii. (2x Future tense)
  5. Why don’t you __________ a few minutes and get some fresh air? You really need a break.
  6. You have the right to __________ a statement about this incident.
  7. Just ________ what I tell you and don’t complain!
  8. We ___________ a nice delicious meal tonight. (present continuous).
  9. What have you ____________? My TV is broken!
  10. I will _____________ a party on Friday night. Will you _________ it that day?
  11. Carrie _______________ a big birthday cake for Tina. (present continuous)
  12. He ___________ 100 sit-ups a day and his abs are solid as a rock.
  13. She ___________ with her daughter yesterday about her problems in school.
  14. They _______________ the train to Berlin. We’ll meet them at the station. (future tense)
  15. We can ________ it!

Any questions about the difference? If you are still unsure, try and do the photo exercises in Part 1 again and see if you can tell the difference. If you figured them out, then you will never mix them up again……

Right? 🙂

The Ultimate Guide to Verbs of Activity Part 1

How to tell the difference between Make, Do, Have and Take from a Columnist’s perspective

One of the main problems of learning a foreign languages is making a distinction between certain words for the meanings in their native tongue is all the same. We have many of these in German and for those learning English as a second language, the examples are huge in number. Apart from the verbs of communication (click here), verbs of transportation (the ride versus drive- click here) and verbs of vision (click here), one of the most annoying habits is mixing up the verbs of activity- namely make, have, do and take. 

Before we go into the details, lets take a Guessing Quiz. Look at the following pictures below and determine whether a person can use the words make, do or take. In a couple cases there may be more than one answer.  Create an example sentence for each photo to help you.

The explanations and further exercises will follow in part 2. Click here to go to the page =>

On the Road: A Look at Verbs of Transport Part 1

woman wearing black tube dress painting
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This English language series looks at the use of verbs in connection with the topic Transportation. Some are asking why this is important. Simple as 1,2 & 3.

Non-natives have a difficulty making a difference among the words, such as ride, drive, and fly in the sense of actually operating a vehicle. In addition, there is the issue of making the distinction among the phrasal verbs with get in the sense of boarding and disembarking and lastly the phrasal verb using either go by or go on.

Before we get to the explanation and assuming we know the means of transportation in English, we have a challenging but enjoyable exercise for you to try.  Using the verbs given in the respective boxes- Verbs of Transportation and Verbs of Boarding, look at the gallery of pictures  and determine which verb(s) from each set best fits. An example sentence may be needed. You will need to provide a reason behind each answer.

Enjoy! 🙂


Verbs of Transportation

ride and bike

Verbs of Boarding

get into out

Transportation Photo Gallery:

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This gallery quiz exercise can be used in the classroom and you can manually stop the slides to allow time for students to answer the questions and form sentences as examples.

Explanations are found in Part 2 by clicking here, which include some videos and more pics.


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Less is More- Answer Sheet

questions answers signage
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Now that you had a chance to learn about the use of More and Most in English, let alone do the exercises (which you can access here), here are the answers to the two exercises.

More or Not:

Look at the following adjectives and determine whether the use of more and most apply or not. Mark with Y for yes or N for no.

  1. Impressive   Yes
  2. Greedy   No
  3. Angry   No
  4. Impulsive   Yes
  5. Insistent   Yes
  6. Sad   No
  7. Happy   No
  8. Excited   Yes
  9. Pale   No
  10. Busy   No
  11. Stressed   Yes
  12. Authoritative   Yes
  13. Tough   No
  14. Fair   No
  15. Beautiful   Yes
  16. Ugly   No
  17. Picky   No
  18. Disgusted   Yes
  19. Furious   Yes
  20. Peaceful   Yes


Multiple Choice:

Choose the correct word in each sentence.

  1. Colin could have ______________ told us about the accident last night instead of running off.
  • Least
  • Less
  • At least
  • Little



2. Frank smiles ________________. He always makes a serious look when we take pictures.

  • The least
  • The most
  • Less
  • More



3. Dorothea is ___________________ of the students in her class. Her IQ matches that of Einstein’s.

  • The least intelligent
  • The less intelligent
  • Intelligentest
  • The most intelligent



4. We have a choice between selling our business and taking out a loan. We need to ___________________________.

  • Make the best of the situation
  • Choose the lesser of the two evils
  • Choose the option with least resistence
  • Do nothing.



5. And _________________________, before we open the festivities, we need to bring the wedding cake to the Restaurant.

  • Least of all
  • Last but not least
  • More of all
  • More or less.



6. _________________________! We should have left some meat out of our presentation!

  • Less is more!
  • More is everything!
  • Last but not least!
  • Above all!



7.  Clarinda is the __________________ of the women on the wrestling team. She may be 17 years old but she has a height of 5 feet even.

  • Smallest
  • Most tiny
  • Littlest
  • Least tiny



8. Instead of playing with your Smartphone, you could have ______________ paid attention and not crashed into that tree!

  • At least
  • At the latest
  • The least
  • Less



9. You are not going anywhere _____________ you clean that room of yours! It’s a real mess!

  • Less
  • Least
  • Unless
  • The least



10.  _________________ Bill could have done was inform the landlord of the water damage in the bathroom.

  • The least
  • At least
  • Lest
  • Both a & b



11. There are ______________ on the streets today than normal. We would have 400 or more visitors at any given day and not 20.

  • Few
  • Fewer
  • Fewest
  • Least



12. There is ____________ milk in the gallon jug. Who took a drink?

  • Fewer
  • Less
  • Smaller
  • Least



13. The sandwiches at the snack shop are _____________ then normal. Are they cutting back on the fixings or what?

  • Smaller
  • Less
  • Fewer
  • More



14. There are __________ bikes than usual because of the expanded bike trail network.

  • More
  • Most
  • Less
  • Least



15. The number two is _______________ four in this equation.

  • Greater
  • Less than
  • The least
  • More than


dolphins jumping out from ocean
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Less is More. But is Most the Least?

two people riding on jet ski
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Most of us probably know the functions of comparative and superlative adjectives in English. Especially with the use of more and most as they generally support adjectives with three or more syllables plus other adjectives with endings of -ed (passive), -ful, -ive and a few other exceptions.

But there are some who don’t know about how more and most function outside the primary role of comparing two or more entities. Therefore, we will look at the different functions of the two.



More is used to compare two entities and determine which one is better than the other. However, as we see in the table, More has other functions as well. For instance……

Use of More



Most is used as the superlative form of the adjective, finding out which object or person is the greatest of three or more subjects. However, most has other functions as well, as we see in the table below:

Most as function


Few/Small vs Less

When looking at the opposites, we have two different words to look at. For most cases where we look at objects from a quantitative purposes, we would use few and small. They also include the comparative form, each of which require the use of „-er“

Small and few


While few is very obvious because we’re talking about the numbers, many people have problems making the difference between small and little. Small is used either as an adjective or an adverb and describes the size and amount of something. Little has both grammatical functions, plus it can be used as a pronoun and determiner, yet little has two key differences:

  1. Little can be used to express some emotion or sometimes an idea of smallness
  2. Little is always used to describe something that is intangible, having no number, figure or amount.

Some examples to support the argument:

  1. There’s a beautiful little cottage next to the lake.
  2. Happy Birthday to our funny little man, known as my brother.
  3. We’ll have to use what little we have in our savings account to buy food.
  4. There’s very little water in that Reservoir.



When we use less, we can see that there are multiple meanings and functions that should be taken account. While less means something to a smaller extent per se, its differences can be broken down into the following:




In the sense of superlative, we have the same words but different meanings and functions. For small and few, the meaning is basically the same, which is looking at the small amount or size of an object, people, or other things. The endings is with –est.



We have the smallest/ fewest number of salmonella cases than our neighboring community.

The town has the fewest people visiting the market square this week.

I was given the smallest meal I’ve ever seen: A plate with a mini-sandwich and only three potato wedges!

Becky was the smallest person on the basketball team (Note: You can also use shortest).


When looking at the superlative for little, namely least, here we have a different set of functions and meanings to pay attention to.


In German, all of these in the box above have one meaning: wenigstens. 😉

Now that we know how the comparative and superlative words work in the sense of grammar and context, we’re going to look at the activities which you can click here to access.


Flensburg Sunset


“Verstehen Sie Savvy?” The many meanings of “Do you Understand” in English


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A couple months ago, I did a survey to find out how many meanings and translations we can find for the question: Do you understand?  The German equivalent is Verstehen Sie? (or when using the informal: Verstehst du?)  

After compiling the different ways of expressing this phrase, this what I got in the end:

Savy with a twist

At least 40 different expressions of Do you understand– in English!  🙂 There are some formal ones we use, but we also have three times as many informal expressions of this phrase that have been used. They depend on not only the country but also the region in the Anglo-Saxon speaking countries where you will find them in use.  For example, the Scots use the expression “Do you, ken,” whereas “You know?” is found mostly in the rural Midwestern region of the US. But those are small examples.  Ironically, some of the romantic expressions, like Comprende, Capito, etc. have been adopted into the English language and they can be found in areas where Italian and Spanish are used.  Sometimes a little bit of “Savvy,” is used if one wants to impress his French. 😉

This artwork best describes the many forms of “Do you understand” for wine and dinner are the best combinations to having a great conversation, persuading each other to agree to disagree with the point of view of the other.  In simpler languages, great conversations require wine and the many forms of the expression needed in order for the discussion to be lively and “sophisticated.”

There’s no doubt that there are more in addition to what is presented in close-up, but for those wishing to learn the language, this expression is one of the main questions you will need to know so that you can use it to better communicate with others.  It will make for avoiding misunderstandings, together with another Expression used to help the other help you to understand, which is:

I don’t understand. 😉

Savy Red Wine


You see what I’m sayin’ ? 🙂


Author’s Note: Some recipients sent me the expression Savy? without having to look up the word and realize the word is with two V’s. A bit too late for the wine bottle (even though the word looks cool on the label), however, to ensure the correctness of the word, the title is with two V’s. 


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Tongue Twisters: The Long E


Prost! Cheers! Salut! Mazeltov! From the two travel companions enjoying a good Flens beer: BamBam and CoCo (brown)

I’d like to start this tongue twister with this anecdote: Four campers- two Americans and two Germans- are in the forest at an open fire when the Germans go to the camper to get some Frankfurters for the fire. Seconds later they come back screaming “BEER!” As big of beer fans as they are, the Americans run to the camper, assuming they are getting a good deal on a bottle of beer. However, as they arrive at the camper, they’re greeted with this:

By the way, that is a BEAR- as in BÄR in German! And by the way, it is scientifically proven that bears drink beer as seen in this video below:


As a tip, if a German says BEER in distress, ask them if they mean BEAR!


This is one of the most common problems we have with pronunciation of words in English. People see the spelling of English words but pronounce them in their foreign language. This example of the mispronunciation of BEER and BEAR is a classic example of such, both in general as well as in this segment of tongue twisters dealing with the long –E- in English.


Long –E- words feature the following word categories, all of which have the common denominator of stretching the mouth horizontally, “Eeeeeeeeeeeee.” :

-EE-: Words with –ee- also at the end, such as:  deed, see, bee, ween, beech, need, steel, seem, queen, street, coffee, squeeze, freeze, committee, fifteen, teenager, etc.  And yes, BEER falls here. The exception is the word “been” because it has the short “-e” pronunciation.


-EA: Many words, mostly with the endings of –ch, consonant+ e, -d, -l, -m, -n, -r, -on and –t  fall into this category, such as the following: reach, clean, beam, seam, leave, treat, rear, real, deal, reason and season.

Keep in mind, that words, like READ and  LEAD also have the short –e pronunciation, but different functions. Read is a homophone, whose short –e form is past tense. Lead (long –e) means to direct a group (German: Führen) but the short –e form means a metal found in water and pencils (German: Blei).


-IE: Like in the first two categories, one will find quite a few –ie- words whose pronunciation has the long –e-. Examples include: chief, field, ariel, adieu, thief, premier, and hygiene.

Please note that words with  –ie at the end, have the long –i- pronunciation, such as die, lie and pie.


-IE_E: Words with –ie plus a consonant + e ending also have the long –e sound. Examples: believe, relieve, perceive, piece, achieve, butadiene, apiece, niece.

-Y: Most words with a consonant plus a y will also have the long –e- sound, such as the following examples:    body, marry, vary, wary, dairy, very, wavy, Navy, family, baby, cherry, thirty, memory, baby.


Yet take care that words with the following consonant+ y ending end with a long –i- sound: -l, -n. –p, -p and –r. Examples: cry, try, lying, rely, apply, reply, xylophone.


_-E: Yet as a general rule, words with the consonant+ e at the end, unless a vowel predates the ending, always have the long –e for sound. Examples include: Japanese, Chinese, delete, concede, gene, these, geese, complete, interfere, here, severe, theme.


To sum up, long –e- words can be found in words that either have –ee-, -ie-, -ea, spellings as well as with an –e at the end, keeping in mind the exceptions.  Any questions?


If not: here’s a youtube video with a guide on pronouncing the words in long –e- form. This is done in a form of tongue twisters and like in the previous Tongue Twister articles (click here and scroll to see the rest), you can listen then pause to allow yourself or your class to practice.


And yes, we have bears drinking beer in this video! 😉 Enjoy! 🙂


Prost! 😀

Bear drinking beer at a Bavarian restaurant. Source:


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