Parts of Speech: Interjections

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)


Mmmmm! That smells delicious! What is it?






Yuck! What IS that? It looks disgusting!



We use a lot of interjections in English. Interjections are small words or sounds. They can be loud exclamations or noises you make with your mouth closed.

Here are some interjections we use in English. Usually you hear these more than you write or read them.

Word Meaning Example
Oh! Surprise Oh! It’s 8:00! I’m late!
Uh . . . Hesitation Uh . . . I think . . . uh . . . the answer is . . . uh . . .
Uh-huh Yes, agreement “Did you like the movie?” “Uh-huh.”
Uh-uh No, disagreement “Did you like the movie?” “Uh-uh.”
Ouch! Pain Ouch! You stepped on my toe! That hurts!
Hmmm Hesitation, thought “What’s your opinion on global warming?” “Hmmm. I’m not sure.”
Um Hesitation Hi, my name is, um, Jaimie.

You can see another list here. Enjoy!

This video is a recording of what you just read. Listen to it so you can know how to pronounce the words.

English Signs: Beginner Version

Every country has signs on the roads and in cities. Some are the same as in the U.S. Some are different.

It is important to know the signs around you.

Here are the names of the signs:

  1. Poison
  2. Ambulance
  3. Hospital
  4. Handicapped
  5. School Crossing
  6. Railroad Crossing
  7. Pedestrian Crossing
  8. Yield
  9. Do Not Enter
  10. No Trespassing

These are the signs:

1. poisonPOISON (image by SilsorIf you drink or eat POISON, you could die. 

2. ambulanceAMBULANCE (image by Pixabay)

3. hospital HOSPITAL (image by Govt. of Ontario)

4. handicappedHANDICAPPED (image by USDOT)

5. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SCHOOL CROSSING (image by BrokenSphereCrossing = intersection

6. railroadrailroadRAILROAD CROSSING (images by Frye1989 and Ian Britton

Railroad = train

7. pedestrianPEDESTRIAN CROSSING (image by Mark Buckawicki

                                   Pedestrian = a person who walks

8. yieldYIELD (image by Frye1989)  Yield = wait 

9. do not enter DO NOT ENTER (image by Fry1989)

10. tresspassing NO TRESPASSING (image by Rutebega

No trespassing = Do NOT enter. Do not go in. The place is not your place. 

You can practice some (not all) of the signs at this link. It is a test for drivers.

You can read more about signs at this link.

Enjoy . . . and be safe!

English All Around You: Intermediate/Advanced Version

English is everywhere! There are signs all around us.

(Photo by Mark Buckawicki)

(Photo by Mark Buckawicki)

Some signs have only pictures. Some signs have words, too.




When you can read the signs on the street, you feel good! You feel smart. You understand.

When you can’t read the signs, maybe you feel frustrated. You don’t feel smart. You don’t understand.

The Same Experience 

(photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

(photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)


I lived in Japan for two years.

Everything was in Japanese!

During my first year, I couldn’t read anything! Maybe I understood one or two words. But I didn’t understand a lot.

I felt lost sometimes.

And I felt ignorant.

I was sad.

(Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

(Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)



But sometimes the signs were in Japanese AND English.

I could understand.

And I felt good.

Thank you, City Planners!

(Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

(Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)


Be Careful 

At the same time, I knew I couldn’t rely (depend) on translations all the time.

Sometimes translations are wrong. They are bad.

Look at this t-shirt. Is this good English? (NO!!!!!)

Maybe they wanted to say, “Think and dream within your heart.” Or “You need to think and dream with your heart.” Either way, the t-shirt is not correct.

The same problem occurs in the United States. Here, we usually translate English to Spanish. It is very common to see Spanish translations everywhere.

(photo by Michael Pereckas)

(photo by Michael Pereckas)

Sometimes the translations are correct. But sometimes they are horrible! 

If you speak a different language, you probably never see your language translated anywhere.


So what is the solution?

You are doing it — studying English!

One day, you will be able to read all of the signs, all of the papers, all of the books in English with no problem. And you will be very proud of yourself!

Colloquial English

Do you think the English you learn in school is different than the English you hear at work or on the street? It probably is! There are many different levels of English. You speak different English in different situations:

  • At school
  • At work
  • With your friends
  • At a party

Probably, you do the same thing in your language. You speak very politely to your supervisor at work. You speak very casually to your family members. The language you use depends on the situation.

Let’s look at how some things change. I will call them “Formal” and “Casual” English. People use formal English with people they respect. They use casual English with their friends and family.

Remember, not all casual English is “good,” “correct,” or “proper” English. But you will hear it.


Formal: Do you have a pencil?                             Casual: You got a pencil? or You have a pencil?

Formal: I don’t agree with that idea.                     Casual: Man, that’s a terrible idea!

Formal: He isn’t here right now.                            Casual: He ain’t here.

What have you heard? What are some examples you know?

The Legend of John Henry

Statue of John Henry (photo by Ken Thomas)

Statue of John Henry (photo by Ken Thomas)

Every country has folk tales and legends about famous people or events that happened there. A folk tale is usually not true, but is passed down generation to generation. Legends are usually traditional but maybe not 100% true. There are also tall tales. Tall tales pretend to be true, but they have many parts that are not real or unbelievable.

Today we’re going to look at the tale of John Henry. John Henry is the hero of the story. He worked on the railroad in the 1800s. From the time he was a child, he worked on the railroad. When he was an adult, he continues to work on the railroad. He helped make a tunnel through a mountain. He is famous because he worked faster than a machine!

Here is some vocabulary you might need as you read the story:


Gather = come together
Hero = a person with a lot of strength and ability
Link = connect
Powerful = strong
Steel = a very strong metal
Steel-driver = a man who cuts rock for the railroad
Drill = a tool you use to make holes
Beat = rhythm
Lightening = the light in the sky during a storm
Competition = race
Ain’t = isn’t (casual, not standard English)
Claim = to say something is true, usually without evidence
Laborer = worker
Burst = explode

Click here to read the story. You can listen to it at the same time.

John Henry is very famous in American culture. There are a lot of folk songs about him You can listen to Johnny Cash sing the song. You can read the lyrics here. (It’s 8 minutes long, so have patience!)

Here is a shorter song. It has pictures of life working on the railroad a long time ago. You can read the lyrics here.

After you read and watch the videos, try these quizzes!

Quiz 1 

Quiz 2

Happy Valentine’s Day for Singles: A Lesson in Adjectives

Broken Heart (image by corazon.svg)

Broken Heart (image by corazon.svg)

Almost everyone knows that February 14th is Valentine’s Day, both here in the U.S. and across the world. It’s a day to celebrate romance and being in love. But what happens if you don’t have someone to share it with?

Some people call Valentine’s Day “Singles Awareness Day.” “Single” means without a partner; to be “aware” means to understand or know something. So “Singles Awareness Day” is a day when single people feel that they are obviously alone.

Some singles have Anti-Valentine’s Day parties on Valentine’s Day. Anti- is a prefix that means “against” (antisocial, anti-inflamatory, antibiotic, etc.) There are usually two kinds of these parties: sad ones to mourn unrequited love, and angry ones to [….] break ups.

Unrequited Love

If you love someone but they don’t love you, you are experiencing “unrequited love” (click here for its pronunciation). “Unrequited” means “not returned.” People usually feel sad in this situation. Some other words you can use to describe “sad” are: bad, blue, brokenhearted, cast downdejecteddepressed, despondent, disconsolate, downforlorn, gloomy, glum, heartbroken, heartsickinconsolablelowmelancholy, miserable, unhappy.

Broken Hearts

Sometimes your boyfriend or girlfriend cheats on you (sees another person while they are with you) or breaks up with you. Maybe you are sad if this happens. But maybe you are angry. If you are angry and screaming, you are enraged, furious, indignant, inflamedinfuriated, or livid. If you are angry but quiet, you are seething. If you want to do something bad to your ex, you are resentful, spitefulvengeful, or vindictive.


Some of these songs are sad; some are angry. What words can you use to describe them?

How to Complain in a Restaurant

Before you read this paragraph, make sure you understand these words: understanding, patience, left (past tense of leave) waiting list, hostess, waitress, customer, manager, awkward 


Yesterday I went to a restaurant with my mom and dad. Usually, my parents are understanding, but yesterday they lost their patience. We left before we even ordered.

We arrived at the restaurant at 12:30 p.m.. It was very busy and there were a lot of names on the waiting list. We waited about 20 minutes before we got a table. The hostess gave us menus and walked away. We waited for the waitress but we didn’t see her. After 15 minutes, we saw the waitress talking to other customers, but she didn’t talk to us.

My dad got angry and called the manager to our table. “Why isn’t the waitress talking to us?” he asked. “She is serving all the other tables.” The manager said, “I’m very sorry. We’re very busy today.” My dad said, “I don’t want to hear excuses. I’m going somewhere else.” We stood up and left.

I was embarrassed. I felt awkward because I understood both positions. I know waitresses are busy, and I know customers want their food. I think there are better ways to complain than just to walk out.


Watch this video about poor customer service:

Afterwards, look at this lesson about complaining in a restaurant. Notice the polite requests people use. “Could I have….” is a nice way to ask for something. “Could we get…” is another nice way to ask. Notice too that the man made an observation (“I don’t have a fork”) instead of saying something rude like, “Why don’t I have a fork, you moron?!”

Maybe my father should have said, “I notice other tables are being served but not us. Could we get some service, please?”

What do you think? What do you do when you get bad service in a restaurant?

Sports Vocabulary

(Photo by Paul Cutler, Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Paul Cutler, Wikimedia Commons)

Today is Sunday, February 1. It is an important day in the world of football (American football, not British football). It is the XLIX Superbowl. (XLIX is 49 in Roman numbers. You can read more about them here.) Many Americans love to watch the Superbowl. Even if they don’t like the sport itself, they still enjoy watching the game with their friends. This post explains the rules of football and explains why Americans enjoy this day so much.

Maybe you like football; maybe you don’t like football. Personally, I’m not a big fan of any sport. I like to run, but I don’t like to watch sports on TV. I don’t like watching sports because I don’t understand them. Maybe if I understood them, I would like them better.

Every sport has its own special vocabulary. Let’s look at four of them: football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. You can click on each title for more information, more vocabulary, a history of the sport, and information about famous players.

Most sports have the same basic vocabulary:

Player: the person who plays the sport

Team: the group of people who play the sport together

Coach: the person who teaches the players

Goal: the place where the ball should go to get points

Point: a number you get from completing a task

Score: the number of points a player or team has


You play football on a football field. The game is divided into four quarters. Each quarter is 15 minutes long. There are two teams. There are 11 players on each team. You get points when the ball crosses into a special part of the end of the field.

(Photo by Damon J. Moritz, Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Damon J. Moritz, Wikimedia Commons)


You play basketball on a basketball court. Professional basketball is divided into four quarters of 12 minutes each. College basketball is divided into two halves of 20 minutes each. There are two teams. There are 5 players on each team. You get points when you put the ball through the hoop (the goal, the basket). The team with the most points wins.


Photo by Caroline Culler, Wikipedia Commons

Photo by Caroline Culler, Wikipedia Commons

You play baseball on a baseball field. You use a baseball, a bat, and a glove. It is divided into 9 innings, but there is no time limit. There are 9 players on each team and there are two teams. There are no points in baseball. Instead, you score “runs,” when a player crosses home plate. The team with the most runs wins.

Photo by Nick Wiebe, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Nick Wiebe, Wikimedia Commons


(Notice that every other country in the world calls “soccer” “football.” Here in the U.S., we call it “soccer.”) You play soccer on a soccer field. There are two teams. There are 11 players on each team. You get points when you score goals.

Which sport do you like? Why do you like it?

How to Read a Recipe When You Cook

Do you like to cook? What kind of food do you cook?

Lima Beans (photo by Albert Cahalan, 2005).

Lima Beans (photo by Albert Cahalan, 2005).

Today, we’re going to look at recipes. A recipe is a set of instructions for making food. There are 3 parts to a recipe: the title, the ingredients, and the instructions or directions. Let’s look at an example.

Lima Bean Recipe (from “Cooking Across the South” [Oxmoor House, 1980] photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015)


Parts of a Recipe

You can see the title is “Fresh Lima Beans.”

There are 4 ingredients. There are 5 steps to the recipe: wash, cook, drain, add, heat.

At the end of the recipe you see “Yield: 6 to 8 servings.” Yield is how much food the recipe produces. (Yes, “yield’ also means “to give way” like yielding to another car on the road, but that’s a different definition!) Here, this recipe produces enough food for 6, 7, or 8 people.

Measurement Abbreviations 

In the United States, we use a different measurement system than in other countries. Most countries use the metric system. To convert metric to U.S. or vice versa without using math, you can use a website like this one. The metric system uses meters, kilometers, grams, and liters. The U.S. system uses yards, miles, ounces, and gallons. (There are more, too!)

In the kitchen, we usually use cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

Tablespoons and Teaspoons (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Cup (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Cup (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

A tablespoon (T. or Tbsp.) is 15 mL.

A teaspoon (t. or tsp.) is 5 mL.

1/2 a teaspoon is 2 mL.

1/4 teaspoon is 1 mL.

We usually abbreviate “cup” with a “c.”

Reading a Recipe

Recipes use the imperative tense: regular verbs with no changes. Each sentence usually starts with a verb.

Let’s practice! Look at the following recipe. In the comment section, please answer these questions:

Fried Chicken Recipe (from "Cooking Across the South," OxMoor Press, 1980) Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015

Fried Chicken Recipe (from “Cooking Across the South,” OxMoor Press, 1980) Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015

1) What is the title of the recipe?

2) How many ingredients are there?

3) How many steps are there?

4) How many people can eat the food?



Idioms About Money

What is an idiom? An idiom is a group of words that has a meaning separate from the individual words. For example, when we say, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” we don’t mean that dogs and cats are literally falling from the sky. We mean, “It’s raining a lot.”

There are many idioms in English and in other languages, too. Today, let’s look at idioms about money.

First, watch this video lesson:

Now, let’s look at the idioms again.

1. loaded (adj.) = having a lot of money. For example, “My sister has a new job at a famous university and is making a lot of money. She is so loaded that she bought a new house and a new car in the same week!”

2. make a killing (v.) = make a lot of money (usually at one time). For example, “My boyfriend won a poker game, and made a killing. We’re going to go on vacation to the Bahamas now.”

3. make ends meet (v.) = survive (pay your bills, eat, etc.). For example, “Before Juan started working full-time, it was difficult for him to make ends meet. Now that he gets a regular paycheck, he can buy everything he needs without worrying.”

4. live hand to mouth (v.) = barely survive, only have enough money to eat. For example, “Jackie works three part-time jobs, but she’s still only living hand to mouth. She can never save any money.”

5. pay an arm and a leg (for something) (v.) = pay a lot of money. For example, “I want a nice car, but I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.”

6. pinch pennies (v.) = save money. For example, “When Dayla’s father lost his job, the whole family started pinching pennies.”

7. put in / give your two cents (v.) = give your opinion. For example, “If you want my two cents, I don’t think you’re ready to get married.” “No one asked for your two cents.” “What’s your two cents? Should I say yes?”

Look at these sentences. What is the best expression for each sentence?

  1. Anna ________ for her new house, and now she has financial problems.
  2. I’m not _____, but I’m not broke, either. (broke = poor, with no money)
  3. If you want to buy a new TV, you need to ________ in order to have enough money for it.
  4. It’s difficult for Wanda to _______. Sometimes she doesn’t pay her bills on time.
  5. You didn’t ask for my _______, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
  6. If Jose gets this new job at Google, he’s going to ________!
  7. Many people _________ because they don’t have a lot of money. They just live paycheck to paycheck.