Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Avril Lavigne: Dating

Avril Lavigne Maxim

Question: What type of boys are you into?

Avril Lavigne:  Boys with guitars…they’re really fucking hot. I 
                          could never date a preppy guy. 

Speaking Style

In conversation, with friends, the type of person you like to date often occurs.  Guys and girls often spend hours talking about the type of person they like or don’t like.  Today, we will look at how to start talking naturally about dating.

Avril has a young, vibrant style of casual conversation.  In this case, she is asked about the type of guys she likes.  She gives a good strong answer with her ideal type and what she doesn’t like.  In some cultures, we might avoid the part about what we ‘don’t like’ but in English it comes across naturally.

Avril also uses common expressions to make her feelings vibrant or passionate.  Speaking with passion makes people want to listen to you.  Let’s change the question and answer expressions into direct English with the same meanings. 

Question: What type of boys are you 'into'?
                   = What type of boys do you 'like'? (same meaning)

Avril: Boys with guitars they’re really 'fucking hot'.  I could     
           never date a 'preppy guy'.    
           = Avril: Boys with guitars they’re really, 'really 
              attractive and sexy'.  
              I could never date a guy who wears 'neat, classic
              clothing with a preparatory school style'. 
              (same meaning)
Casual Slang Word Summary

1. 'fucking' = very

2. 'hot' = really attractive and sexy

3. 'preppy guy' = a guy who wears young but classic clothing that is neat and well put together.  The clothing is usually expensive.  This fashion style comes from clothing designed after expensive preparatory school uniforms.  Modern preppy fashion can be seen in the clothing line by ‘Tommy Hilfiger’.

Now let’s put these ideas into practice.  Below is the main speaking pattern to try out in your next English encounter with a native speaker. Also, don’t forget the slang!

Conversational Speaking Pattern

Boys with ________...they're really fucking hot.  I could never date a ________.

1. Boys with snowboards …they're really fucking hot.  I could never date a guy who doesn’t like the mountains in winter.
2. Boys with muscles …they're really fucking hot.  I could never date a skinny guy.

Girls with ________...they're really fucking hot. I could never date a ________.

3. Girls with tattoos   …they're really fucking hot.  I could never date a boring girl.
4. Girls with long hair …they're really fucking hot.  I could never date a girl with short hair.

I hope you enjoy challenging these speaking patterns in your daily life!
Take care,

More Stuff!

Avril Lavigne's official website

Tommy Hilfiger's official website
LINK: http://usa.tommy.com/tommy/

Avril's video about how a guy can make her feel!

Celebrity English Language and Culture

Celebrity English


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Natural English from Aretha Franklin and Bono: 'Growing Up'

Natural English from Aretha Franklin
                  Aretha Franklin 'The Queen of Soul'
Natural English from Bono: 'Growing Up'
Bono of U2

In casual conversation, the simple question: “Where are you from?” often occurs. Let’s take a look at how Bono (Irish musician) and Aretha Franklin (American musician) answer the question.

Question:  “Where are you from?”

Bono: I grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood.

Aretha Franklin: I was brought up in Detroit, and most of my 
                           family's here.

Speaking Style

People often ask me:  “Which style is better?”

I grew up…
I was brought up…

I think if you ask your native speaker friends, they will say they use either style without thinking.  Both answers are natural in a casual/informal conversation.  Also, you can notice that Aretha Franklin shortened her sentence by dropping the object.

I was brought up by my grandmother in Detroit.  (according to Aretha’s biography)

In conversation you can do this too!

Common Mistake

However, language learners often want to add an object to the verb ‘grew up’ because the ideas seem similar or interchangeable to the verb 'to be brought up'.

For example:

I grew up by my parents in New York.       incorrect
My parents grew me up in New York.        incorrect

Unfortunately, both sentences are incorrect because the verb ‘grew up’ doesn’t take an object.  The verb ‘brought up’ can take an object. 

I was brought up by my parents in New York.      correct
My parents brought me up in New York.              correct

Now the sentences are “OK”!

Anyhow, don’t think too much about grammar.  You can use either phrase in casual conversation quite easily by following Bono and Aretha’s answer styles.  Here are some examples if you need some extra practice.  Please try them out at your next social gathering.  

Conversational Speaking Patterns

I grew up in __________.

1. I grew up in New York.                                  
2. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood.   

I was brought up in __________.

3. I was brought up in Detroit.                    
4. I was brought up in the countryside.      

More Stuff!

Check out the tourist links of Bono and Aretha’s hometowns:

Bono-Dublin, Ireland

Aretha-Detroit, Michigan, United States
LINK http://www.visitdetroit.com/

Celebrity English Language and Culture
Take Care Alex! See you next week!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Natural Language from Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter: Music

Harry Potter: Music
                                                                               Daniel Radcliffe          

Question: You're a major (major =big) music fan, aren't you?

Daniel Radclilffe: Huge.

Question:  Do you get to go to gigs?  (get to = able to, gigs = musical performances)

Dan: Not as much as I'd like to, but I'm seeing the Chilli Peppers (American music band) in Hyde Park. I'm going to that, very excited, because The Pixies (American music band) are supporting.

Question: So when did you come across The Pixies?

Dan: Um... I'm really ‘into’ films, obviously, as well, and I got Total Film (British Film magazine) and there was a compilation of soundtracks, and "Where is my mind?" was on there, because it's the soundtrack to Fight Club (1999 American film with Bradd Pitt and Edward Norton), and so I went out and bought Death to The Pixies: The Greatest Hits.

Speaking Style
Daniel or Dan’s speaking pattern is casual/informal for many reasons but I would like to focus on two expressions.  He uses the word Huge in his first answer and uses the word into in a slang style.    

Question: You're a major (major =big) music fan, aren't you?

Dan:  Huge

When he uses the word ‘huge’, the meaning is ‘really really big music fan’.  Also he shortens his sentence for a faster talking style. 

Longer speaking style:  “I am a 'huge' music fan.”

The shorter speaking style is used here because to a native English speaker we know there are more questions coming.  A detailed answer isn’t necessary.  Why? Because the interviewer uses a tag question: …, aren’t you?.
Now when we learn grammar this answer is not usually the best. 

Question: You're a major music fan, aren't you?
Answer:   Yes, I am/No, I am not.

This is a common drill type question used in language classes to emphasize the grammar point.  It is a bit robotic if constantly used in conversation.   

In a conversation tag questions are used like an exercise warm up or to get to know someone when talking to them for the first time. 

However, even with such a short, simple question, Dan signals he wants to continue talking about music.  The answer ‘Huge’ doesn’t follow the yes/no grammar pattern.  Instead he answers emphasizing his excitement about music.  It doesn‘t sound disjointed to a native speaker because ‘Huge’ refers to the ‘major music fan’ idea of the interviewer’s question.  Dan’s natural answer helps link the ideas.   His enthusiasm/emphasis allows me to know that this is a good topic for him.  This speaking strategy is great for creating continued conversation.

The use of ‘into’ is a casual slang style.

Dan: I'm really ‘into’ films.  (to be into something/someone=to like
                                              or love something/someone)
 Ex. Same sentence idea - Dan: I really like/love films.

 'Into' is such a common word in English but the indirect meaning sometimes tricks us.  

You can get some more ideas about how to use 'huge' and 'into' in the next part.

Try out in your daily conversation!

1.Question: You’re a major fan of rock n roll, aren’t you?
   Answer:  Huge

2.Question: Are you a huge fan of jazz?
   Answer: Absolutely, I am really  into jazz fusion. 

3. Question: Are you a major fan of baseball?
     Answer:  Huge! I have been into it since my dad took me to my 
                   first game when I was 6 years old.

More Stuff!
Click on the links below for Dan Radcliffe’s music, reading, and film interests mentioned in today's conversation points:

The Chilli Peppers (The Red Hot Chilli Peppers-RHCP) music

The Pixies music

Total Film magazine

Fight Club movie
LINK      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Trailer Official HD 


 Connect with Alex here or at



Celebrity English Language and Culture


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Justin Bieber: Japanese crisis

Justin Bieber in Japan
                                                                       Justin Bieber
These days, natural disasters affect the global community.  It seems a ‘universal culture’ is becoming more of a reality.  In the past 10 years, I have had many friends and family affected by natural disasters. 

When I started learning foreign languages, I was often unsure of what to say in times of difficulty or crisis.  The other day, I was happy to see Justin Bieber expressing his feelings toward Japan.

He uses a common expression to show concern:

“My prayers go out to them (the Japanese people).”  
                                           Justin Bieber on Twitter

There can be two ideas about the expression:
1.In a religious sense, it means to ask a ‘higher power’ (God) to help the Japanese people.
2.In another sense, it means to hope/wish for something to happen to help the Japanese people. 

However, either ideas show the speaker’s feeling toward a positive outcome to a bad situation. 

The word 'prayer' is the common denominator in expressions of natural English during ‘times of hardship’.

Other Celebrity quotes for the Japanese people using the word  'prayer'.

*"I am sending all my love, prayers and support."*
                                                               Selena Gomez on Twitter

*"My prayers go out to anyone that is being effected by the disaster in Japan.”*
            Katy Perry on Twitter

*"I'm sending my thoughts and prayers and love to those in Japan who are hurting."*
                         Taylor Swift on Twitter

*"Our hearts and prayers are with all of our BSB family in Japan. We love you all so much.  Please try to stay safe. ... Kisses and hugs from us!"*
              Backstreet Boys on Twitter

For current information on Japan's nuclear crisis and ways you can help ~ click on the link below:

Japanese Red Cross
LINK http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html

Justin in Japan trying to help out.

My thoughts and prayers are always with the people of Japan. I am sorry for the hardships your country in enduring. I will continue to follow this terrible situation.  Take care!