Monthly Archives: May 2013

Give it a go

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Give it a go is a fabulous expression, used to encourage someone to make an effort or attempt something or to say that you are going to try something. It is frequently used in the context of something you have never tried before or are hesitant about trying.

This expression implies that you should try (give) something (it) just once (a go) to find out if you like it or can do it.

You’re not artistic? You should still try making pottery–you may just end up liking it! Go on, give it a go!

Why don’t you give it a go and see if you like it.

-Want to learn Chinese?
-Well, I’ll give it a go!

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It’s high time

It’s high time to write about another beautiful expression that you can start using to make your English sound more natural.

I can attest to the fact that you hear “it’s high time…” a lot in the South! It’s a casual expression that you can use to impress the natives with your ability to speak English as they speak it. As you might have guessed, “high time” originally refers to noon (“high noon“–perhaps you recognize this phrase from Western movies?).

Examples:

  • It was high time she forgot about men and worked on bolstering her independent spirit with a return to California.
  • Then it’s high time we put it away once and for all.
  • I can’t see that stuff without thinking it’s high time someone did something.
  • We thought it was high time to give you some vital info on this trend among men.

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high time english expressions

english expressions

So, what does this expression mean?

It means: “It should have happened a long time ago.”

or

“This thing is long overdue.”

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Writing in English: Why we use the passive voice

In a previous post about why we should make active voice writing the default, I gave some passive voice sentences and asked you to think about why I used them. Here are my answers:

1. At some point, my Dutch students were taught that you have to write in the passive voice to be formal.

Here, I don’t actually know the subject of my active voice sentence. I could make a guess: “Their high school teachers/Society/The national education system/Someone taught my Dutch students that you have to write in the passive voice to be formal.” I also wanted to put emphasis on the Dutch students and not who taught them.

2. Passive voice is frequently used as a way to remove the subject from the sentence.

Who uses passive voice as a way to remove the subject from the sentence? Well, we all do. I could add a subject: “We/Everyone/People use passive voice as a way to remove the subject…” but because that is such a general subject, I felt that it didn’t add anything to my sentence. In placing “Passive Voice” at the beginning of the sentence, I could emphasize it, which is logical since that’s what my blog post was about.

3. While much can be said about the passive voice,…

Here again I don’t have a subject. Who is saying much about the passive voice? No idea–maybe you, maybe me, maybe your English teacher? Not only do I remove an unimportant or unknown subject, I also put emphasis on the verb.

4. Rather, passive voice can be used to put emphasis on different parts of the sentence,…

This is obvious now, right? Who can use passive voice to put emphasis on different parts of the sentence? I don’t know–I’ve left that purposefully vague by using the passive voice. I’ve also emphasized “passive voice” by placing it in the beginning of the sentence.

To summarize, we frequently use passive voice when

  • We don’t have a subject or our subject is very general or unimportant to the context
  • We want to put emphasis on another part of the sentence (the object or verb usually) by placing it at the beginning of the sentence.

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Filed under Business English, Language Learning, Writing in English