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Everyday English: Books

Spotlight - 8 min 12 sec ago

In our podcast for 23 October 2014, listen to a short dialogue about an idea for a birthday gift.

to begin with

Spotlight - 8 min 12 sec ago
"So you have three cards left. How many did you have to begin with?"

"Have" and "have got"

Spotlight - 8 min 13 sec ago

"I've got a new car." When you talk about possession, you can use have got or have. There is no difference in meaning. Practise using both expressions in our Basics section.

Deadly Attack Shocks Canada's Capital

VOA Special English - 22 October 2014 - 10:54pm
In Canada, Wednesday, a gunman shot and killed a soldier at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Parliament Hill is home to Canada’s legislature.  A spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he left the area of the shooting and is safe. The Canadian Broadcasting Company reported that police have confirmed that one gunman was shot and killed in the central parliament building. Police are not sure if he was the only attacker. Witnesses...

Ebola Survivors Speak Out about Their Experience

VOA Special English - 22 October 2014 - 9:01pm
  The number of Ebola cases continues rising. But there is some hope for those who survive the disease. Recently, a conference for Ebola survivors was held for the first time in eastern Sierra Leone. The goal was to offer advice to survivors and look at ways they can increase people’s understanding of the disease. That music is coming from a small church in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Inside the building, 36 Ebola survivors danced in celebration. All 36 have beaten the deadly virus...

Apple, FBI Battle Over Privacy Rules

VOA Special English - 22 October 2014 - 9:00pm
  Apple Incorporated recently said it was increasing security settings on its latest operating system for the company’s wireless devices. Apple said its new encryption rules are designed to protect users from search and seizure of their iPhones. But the changes are of concern to federal investigators in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and high-tech companies are now debating over how much personal information law enforcement agencies can demand to...

Activists: China Executed 2,400 People in 2013

VOA Special English - 22 October 2014 - 9:00pm
An American-based group says China executed 2,400 people in 2013. The group, the Dua Hui Foundation, also says it expects China will execute about the same number this year.  Death penalty numbers are a state secret in China. In other words, the government does not release the information to the public. As a result, rights groups use unofficial reports and statements to estimate the number of executions.  Researchers believe the number of people executed in China...

Iron Ships Clash at Sea

VOA Special English - 22 October 2014 - 9:00pm
From VOA Learning English, this is The Making of a Nation. I’m Kelly Jean Kelly. And I’m Christopher Cruise. The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. It was built from the remains of a captured Union warship called the Merrimack. The...

Cartoon: Chemicals In Plastic Turning Women Off Sex

The English Blog - 22 October 2014 - 11:11am

Mac cartoon 22-10-14

Chemicals found in PVC flooring, plastic shower curtains, processed food and other trappings of modern life may be sapping women’s interest in sex. A study has linked low libido with the additives used to soften plastics which are found in every home. Women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies were more than twice as likely to say ‘not tonight dear’ as those with the lowest amounts. Read more >>

The cartoon by Mac from the Daily Mail shows a couple in bed. The wife has declined to have sex with her husband on the grounds that she has a headache (a classic excuse). Her husband thinks "it might have something to do with the PVC flooring". The joke is, of course, that the man is such a slob (= someone who is lazy or untidy) that no-one in their right mind would want to have sex with him!

1. To reckon is to believe that something is true. • I reckon there's something wrong with him.
2. In English you can use 'have got + ache' (when it forms part of a compound noun) with only 5 parts of the body: headache, earache, stomach ache, toothache and backache. All of these aches except headache are usually uncountable in British English so you don't use a or an with them. In American English, all these aches are countable so you use a or an with them.

  • I've got (a) backache 
  • She's got (a) stomach-ache 
  • He's got a headache 
  • You've got (an) earache
  • He's got (a) toothache

See here for a BBC PDF on describing illnesses.

Related articles How plastics could dent your love life Chemicals in plastic 'are making women less interested in sex.' Rubber ducks can kill your sex drive, research finds How household plastics could ruin your sex life Cosmopolitan: Really Sexy Stuff:Are Chemicals in Plastic Reducing Your Sex Drive?


Wordsmith.org Today's Word - 22 October 2014 - 9:09am
adjective: Cheap and showy. noun: Something that is counterfeit or of inferior quality.

English Cafe #473

English As A Second Language Podcast - 22 October 2014 - 9:00am

Topics: Famous Buildings/Structures – The Brooklyn Bridge; The Minimum Wage; to speculate versus to deliberate versus to contemplate; holy moly; down-and-dirty

suspension bridge
on site
to supervise
interstate commerce
to speculate
to deliberate
to contemplate
holy moly

pavonine: Dictionary.com Word of the Day

Dictionary.com Word of the Day - 22 October 2014 - 9:00am
pavonine: of or like a peacock.

Newsy Video: Pistorius Gets 5 Years In Prison, House Arrest Possible

The English Blog - 22 October 2014 - 7:30am

A South African judge has sentenced Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison plus other punishment for the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

JUDGE THOKOZILE MASIPA ON NBC: "Culpable Homicide, the sentence imposed is a maximum imprisonment of five years."

Additionally, Judge Thokozile Masipa gave Pistorius a three-year sentence for a firearms charge, but that prison time was suspended. It isn't clear if his defense attorney was simply posturing, but Pistorius' lead attorney told reporters he expected the former Olympian to be released to house arrest when he's eligible in 10 months. Full transcript >>

Related articlesOscar Pistorius Gets Five Years For Reeva Steenkamp DeathOscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Killing GirlfriendOscar Pistorius faces sentencing this week

Words in the News: Whistleblower

The English Blog - 22 October 2014 - 7:24am


Whistleblowers in the Prison Service are being threatened with dismissal for raising serious concerns about their ability to keep inmates safe and their fears over soaring levels of violence. The attempts to silence staff have been condemned by a Conservative MP, who was approached in confidence by a number of officers working at a prison in his constituency during the summer with details of how staffing shortages were causing concerns over safety. Read more >>

A whistleblower is someone who reports dishonest or illegal activities within an organization to someone in authority. • A union whistleblower says he warned senior management about corruption and organised crime in the construction union. 

Related articles UK prison whistleblowers 'threatened' UK prison whistle blowers being threatened with dismissal


OALD Word Of The Day - 22 October 2014 - 3:00am
scintillating: very clever, amusing...


Spotlight - 22 October 2014 - 12:14am
"You fool! How could you let that happen to you?"

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

VOA Special English - 21 October 2014 - 11:45pm
The World Health Organization said an experimental Ebola vaccine could be available by January. Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, the WHO assistant director, said that trials, or tests, of the vaccines are to take place soon in Europe, the United States, and Africa. Dr. Kieny spoke to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday. She said if the vaccines were considered safe, there could be a trial in West Africa by next January. The trial would include tens of thousands of individual vaccine...

Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

VOA Special English - 21 October 2014 - 9:01pm
  Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. The silicon chips are smaller than a child's hand. Each one has living cells that act and react like a human organ. The chips are being created as part of a program to test the...

Hong Kong’s Protests Show Generation Gap

VOA Special English - 21 October 2014 - 9:00pm
Students have been leading democracy protests in Hong Kong. The protests have shown what observers are calling a generation gap -- sharp differences between the student demonstrators and their parents. Many parents are more likely than their children to express support for stability or calm than democracy. But as the older generation worries about today, the protesters say they are fighting for Hong Kong’s future.  Most of the protesters are students who have boycotted their...

Fiber Optic Cable Measures Antarctic Ice Melt

VOA Special English - 21 October 2014 - 9:00pm
Antarctica is covered with ice that extends past the land and floats on the sea in thick shelves. But those ice shelves are melting quickly. As they melt, the sea level rises, increasing the risk of damaging floods. Scientists have developed a new way to monitor the temperature of the ice shelf and how fast it is melting. They are using a fiber optic cable — like the one connected to your television or home computer. But this cable is as thin as a human hair. And, it is covered with...


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