Spring is in the air!

“Spring is in the air!” is an expression that means you can tell Spring has arrived (or is coming soon). The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the grass is growing!

Another Springtime expression is “April showers, bring May flowers.” This has always made me giggle because it applies to the Northern part of the US. In Texas and in South Carolina the expression should be “March showers, bring April flowers.” But, of course you can’t say that.

“Spring cleaning,” is an expression people use in the Spring when they go through their house and do a very heavy cleaning. Also, they go through their possessions and get rid of things they don’t need by throwing them away or giving them to a charity.

One last expression I wanted to talk about is “Fall back and Spring forward.” This refers to the time change. In Fall (Autumn) the time goes back and we fall backwards, so to speak. In the Spring, the time goes forward 1 hour and we Spring or jump ahead. It’s a cute play on words since Fall and Spring have more than 1 meaning.

A Million ways to say “That’s great!”

I think English has a million of ways to say, “That’s great!” Okay, maybe not a million, but definitely a ton! Here are a few:

That’s good
Super-duper (It’s a little silly, but it still works.)
Yeehaw (That’s the Texan way!)
Yes, that’s it

Life in Texas!

It’s important to learn about some of the cultural aspects of a country when learning their language. Below is a text I wrote about life in Texas. Read it, then answer the questions below to make sure you understood it all. Post a comment if you have any questions!

I live in South Carolina now, but I was born and raised in Texas. When I tell people I’m from Texas they always ask me if I know how to ride a horse. And the answer is yes, I can. But, not everyone rides horses in Texas and not everyone is a cowboy or cowgirl in Texas. I did wear cowboy boots and special cowboy jeans. I grew up with horses and we had a big ranch. So, in many ways I lived the classic life of a Texan.

However, the interesting thing is that I don’t speak like a Texan. Most of my friends and family from Texas have a drawl. All of the words are said longer and slower than in other areas of the US.
I am from San Antonio in Texas. San Antonio is rich in Tex-Mex culture. You can find the best Mexican food in all of the United States there (in my opinion). There are also lots of country-western dance clubs and you can learn how to dance the two-step.

Texas is a huge state, so the climate is different in various regions. Dallas can be cold and snowy in the winter. Where I’m from in San Antonio, it is not very cold in the winter, but is sure does get hot in the summer, up to 110 degrees F.

To me, the people in Texas are some of the friendliest Americans you’ll meet. And we do sometimes say, “Howdy” when we greet someone and we definately say “y’all” when we speak of more than 1 person.

Now, you can read these questions and see if you undestood what I wrote by answering the questions…
1. What is another word for ‘hello’ that is used in Texas?

2. How hot does it get in San Antonio, TX?

3. What other culture influences life in San Antonio, TX?


1. Howdy

2. 110 degrees F.

3. Mexican

The differences between British and American English

There are a ton of differences between British English and American English, but I thought I’d highlight some of the ones that stick out in my head that I notice that you may run into.

The biggest difference that I hear is the difference between vocabulary:



Spelling differences:

theater/theatre (er is switched to re)
favorite/favourite (0 is changed to ou in many words)
memorize/memorise (lots of words where the z and s are changed)
check/cheque (ck -> que)

Those are just a few of the differences that I come across often, to see more differences, refer to these websites:


A while vs. awhile

I was just having a conversation with a friend on twitter about the difference between ‘awhile’ and ‘a while’. He wanted to know if there was a difference since they seem to mean the same thing. I thought I would post about this because it is interesting.

Simple answer = Yes, they are different.

Long answer = They are different because they are different parts of speech.

The word ‘while’ in ‘a while’ is a noun, it specifies some length of time like ‘a minute’ or ‘an hour’.

‘I slept for a while before breakfast.’ See how you can also say ‘I slept for a minute before breakfast.’ Because ‘minute’ and ‘while’ are both nouns. Also, notice how ‘a while’ has the preposition ‘for’ in front of it, which is normal for this phrase.

‘Awhile’ is an adverb which modifies a verb.

‘I slept awhile before breakfast.’ ‘Awhile’ here is referring to the verb. And even simplier terms, the word ‘awhile’ actually means ‘for a while’. So, even though they mean almost the same thing, you use them differently.

Please post a comment if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to talk more about this.

Tongue Twisters!

Today, I wanted to have a little fun. I’m going to write out some English tongue twisters that will help you to practice your pronunciation, while having fun! Try to say each one between 5 and 10 times quickly. Be prepared to laugh, because it is funny.

Rubber baby buggy bumpers

She sells sea shells by the sea shore

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many peppers did Peter Piper pick?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?

How many cans can a canner can, if a canner can can cans? A canner can can as many cans as a canner can, if a canner can can cans.

A few of my favorite English idioms!

There are lists all over the internet with lots and lots of English idioms. However, as I looked through the lists, I found that so many of the idioms are not widely used. I thought I’d make a list of some of my favorite idioms that are widely used in the United States.

Don’t cry over spilt milk. – This means not to fret over something that has already happened. It has happened and there is nothing you can do, so move on with your life.

It’s time to hit the hay. – This means you want to go to sleep.

It’s raining cats and dogs – This means it is raining really hard.

I’m so hungry I could eat a horse! – This means you are starved. (We really don’t eat horses in the USA.)

Get your ducks in a row – This refers to getting things organized.

to feel like a fish out of water – The means you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation.

Hold your horses – This means someone needs to slow down.

One-horse town – This means that the town is very small and boring.

to be a fly on a wall – This means you would like to be somewhere unnoticed. For example, if someone is in a meeting at work or school and you aren’t in it, you’d say, “I wish I could be a fly on the wall in that room.”

Good vs. Well

When do I use good and when do I use well?

Lots of people have asked me this question on twitter, so I thought I’d give a little lesson on it. ‘Good’ is used when you are referring to a noun – ‘good book,’ ‘good dog.’ ‘Well’ is used when you are referring to a verb, an adverb or other adverbs – ‘speak well,’ ‘swim well.’

Even if you confuse the two as even a lot of native speakers do, you will still be understood. Someone might look at you oddly if you said, “That is a well book.” Or if you say, “You swim really good,” but they will understand what you mean.

As with everything, there are exceptions:

For one, if you are talking about health, you use ‘well’. So you say, “I am well today.” Even though ‘well’ is referring to ‘I’, you would use, ‘well’ here.

Also, if you are talking about how something smells, tastes, looks, sounds, or feels, you use ‘good.’ Example: “That apple pie smells very good!” or “I feel good!”

To sum it up:

Use WELL when you modify a verb, an adverb or an adjective
Use GOOD when you modify a noun.

The School System in the USA

Today I wanted to write about the school system in the United States from my view. It may vary a little from state to state, but on the whole, this is how the system works and the options parents have for their children.

A lot of mothers are going back to work right after they have children. Mothers can take maternity leave for up to 3 months and still keep their job. Lots of mothers opt to take less maternity leave, but they are required to take at least 6 weeks off. Thus, a baby can be as young as 6 weeks old in order to go to a day care.

A day care is a place for children 6 weeks old to 5 years old. They are in the day care for about 9 hours a day while both parents work. There are other options for parents as well. One option is for one of the 2 parents to quit their job and be a stay-at-home mom or dad. Another option is to get a babysitter or a nanny to stay at home with the children. A nanny is much more expensive than putting your child in day care.

When children are 3 or 4 years old, they can also attend a half-day preschool. At preschools they can learn their alphabet and engage in activities which will prepare them for school. Many stay-at-home moms choose to put their children into preschool for 2 days a week, so that they can have a break.

Kindergarten in the United States starts when the child turns 5 years old. But, they have to be 5 years old before Sept. 1st or they have to wait for the next school year to go to school. There are 3 types of schools: Public schools, private schools and religious private schools. Public schools are free and are paid for through property taxes for houses. Private schools and religious private schools cost money to attend. The cost depends on where you live and the quality of the school, but where I live it is about $4000-$5000 per school year.

The school system consists of Elementary school (or primary), Middle school and then High school. High school students are usually 18 years old when they graduate.

There are also magnet schools for arts or sciences. These schools are special schools where you have to excel in arts or sciences in order to attend them.

Another option is to home school your children. This is where the kids stay at home with their mom or dad and their mom or dad teaches them what they would normally learn in school. This used to be very rare, but now more and more families are turning to this option.

After high school, you basically have 4 options: 1. join the work force 2. join the military 3. go to a community college (Jr. college) or 4. go to a University (also called a college).

As always, please leave a comment if you have any questions!

Driving in the USA part 2

Hi there! I hope you are all having a wonderful day learning English! Below is the script to the podcast from yesterday. Please leave a comment if you have any questions at all! I’m always willing to help!


Hi, My name is Yvonne and this is The English Guru podcast #5. Today I wanted to talk a little about driving in the United States since all countries have different laws. First of all, when you are 15 years old you can begin to drive. You take a classs where you learn the laws and then you practice driving as well. After you pass the course, you can take a test and get your ‘driver’s permit’. When you are 15, you can drive, but only with an adult in the car with you and only after you have passed the course.

When you turn 16, then you can drive by yourself anywhere you want to go. Most Americans go to the Department of Motor Vehicle, the place where you get your driver’s license, the day they turn 16 in order to get their driver’s license that very day. This is a huge day for American teens. It symbolizes their independence.

Concerning laws, it is the law that you have to wear your seat beat in the car. If you do not wear it, you will fined. Also, all babies and children must be in a properly secured car seats or else the adults will be fined.

An intersting thing is that in most states you are allowed to drive while talking on your cell phone. You see this a lot as you drive around the city, people driving with one hand while holding and talking on their cell phone with the other hand.
Unless a person lives in New York or another huge city in the US, they usually own a car. And families usually own 2 cars. The problem is, that public transporation is usually not reliable or not accessible in lots of areas. Where I live, there are no buses or any public transporation at all. So, it is necessary for me to own a car.

This is the end of podcast #5