At the Optometrist (eye doctor)

I wear contact lens and I’m sure a lot of you wear them or glasses, so I thought it might be nice to learn a few words and phrases you could use if you need to go to the optometrist.

contact lens (contacts) and glasses – used to correct vision

far-sighted – You are unable to see things close up, but you can see things far away.

near-sighted – You are unable to see things far away, but you can see things close up.

bifocals – glasses with 2 distinct optical powers

prescription – This is what the doctor writes so you can get either contact lens or glasses. It is for a specific power of lenses. Contact lens prescriptions are only valid for 1 year.

reading glasses – Glasses that are used for reading. You do not need a prescription for these glasses.

20/20 vision – This is the same as 6/6 vision for my metric readers. 20/20 is in feet.

Here’s a dialog you can practice which is a typical conversation one would have with an eye doctor.

Dr. – Hi, how can I help you today?
You – I’m having difficulty seeing lately.
Dr. – Do you wear glasses or contacts?
You – Yes, I do. I have contacts on right now.
Dr. – Oh, perfect. Let’s do your eye test with your lens on and see how you do. Can you read the last line?
You – No.
Dr. – Which line is the lowest you can read?
You – The 3rd line is E, A, O, M, P
Dr. – Good. However, I think your vision has gotten worse, so you’ll need to get a new prescription. Can you take your lens off and we’ll start again and see what your new prescription is?
You – Sounds great.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

This is a toast people say when drinking together. Now that you know one toast to say in English, you can learn about the various drinks we drink.

Good ol’ cow’s milk. This is the staple for many people, especially kids. In the United States we buy it in plastic jugs. 1 big jug is 1 gallon.

In Canada, they tend to drink milk from plastic bags. They put the plastic bags in a little pitcher. This was very foreign to me when I first saw their plastic bags; however it makes a lot less trash and it is much better for the environment. My only complaint is that you have to switch bags often as there is not that much milk in each bag.

Florida orange juice! Mmmmm….many Americans wake up to a big glass of OJ (orange juice). You buy it in cartons and they are found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. You can buy lots of flavors like Orange-Strawberry-Banana or Orange-Cranberry. Also, there are 2 types of OJ. There is the type that is made from concentrate and there is the kind that is not. The kind that is not made from concentrate is better because it is fresh orange juice.

Another drink people like to drink in the morning is a cup of Joe, or coffee. These days with Starbucks, there are so many different types of coffee and so many different flavors. Some people drink it with cream, milk and/or sugar.

Are you low on energy? You could try one of these energy drinks. There used to be only Red Bull, but now there are so many different brands and flavors. Believe it or not, I have never had one of them, but that’s okay because my husband has ‘downed’ enough for the both of us.

The next drink we have is carbonated beverages or soft drinks. There are so many names for them depending on where you live in the USA. I grew up calling them ‘soda water’. But, here most of my friends call them soda or pop. Lots of people also call all sodas simply coke. Here is an interesting site that shows the statistics of where people call soft drinks soda, pop or coke.

Need a pick me up after or during your exercise? These are the perfect drink for you – Sports drinks. They come in all flavors and they are really good for supplying your body with things that it needs during exercise. They have extra sodium and potassium added.

There are obviously many other drinks in the USA, but I just wanted to touch on a few. Before I end I wanted to talk about one other favorite – iced tea. In the South, where I live, people drink it by the gallon. When you ask for Iced tea in the South, it comes sweetened, unless you ask for it to be unsweetened.

Memorial Day

This coming Monday, May 31, 2010, the United States will celebrate Memorial Day. It takes place on the last Monday of May every year. This day honors and commemorates the male and female soldiers who have died while in military service.

It was first created to honor Union soldiers after the US Civil War, but later it was changed to encompass all soldiers who have fallen while in service. It was stated that the first Memorial Day was celebrated in the Charleston, South Carolina. This was where I live, so I find that really fascinating.

Most employees will get the day off of work to celebrate the day. Lots of people celebrate it by visiting cemeteries and memorials to pay respect of deceased soldiers. This is also a time where people have picnics, barbecues and special family time. Also, lots of people view it as the official start to summer and summer vacation.

If you want to read more about Memorial Day, you can visit:

Feeling Idioms

I was thinking about what to write on my blog today and a friend on twitter asked me about the expression “mixed feelings” so I thought I’d write about that and some other idioms that use the word “feeling” in them.

mixed feelings – This is when you think both good and bad things about something particular. (“mixed emotions” is the same)
I have mixed feelings about moving away from my parents. On one hand I get to be free, but on the other hand I have to pay my own rent.

sinking feeling – This is when you have a bad feeling about something that may happen. You feel it at the pit of your stomach.
Fred had a sinking feeling his marriage was going to end, after his wife found the lipstick on his shirt collar.

no hard feelings – To not have anger towards someone.
I know we had a fight yesterday, but no hard feelings, right?

gut feeling – a personal feeling you have about someone or something.
I have a gut feeling that something bad is going to happen today.

At a DVD rental store

Want to learn about how to talk to a clerk at a DVD/video rental store? Keep on reading!

Clerk – Hi, may I help you?
You – Yes, I’m looking for a movie…
Clerk – Which one?
You – I think it’s called, “The Razor’s Edge?”
Clerk – Oh yes, I know that movie. It’s in aisle 3 on the left-hand side of the aisle.
You – Thank you so much.

So, you’ve gone and found the movie. Now, it’s time to talk to the clerk again.

Clerk – Oh, I see you’ve found it.
You – Yes.
Clerk – Can I see your membership card?
You – I don’t have one.
Clerk – Fill out this form and show me your driver’s license.
You – Okay, here you go. I’m done filling it out.
Clerk – Great, let me get a copy of your driver’s license.
You – Okay.
Clerk – Here’s your license and your new membership card.
You – Great.
Clerk – I’ll check you out now. How would you like to pay for that?
You – Here you go.
Clerk – Is this credit or debit.
You – Credit.
Clerk – You’re all set. Just sign here.
You – Thanks.
Clerk – Thank you!

As you can see, if you want to rent a DVD from a store, you’ll need to have a membership card. However, lately grocery stores have DVD rental vending machines, so you can skip the rental stores all together if you’d like. Of course the DVD selection is not as good.

Practice the dialog a few times and change some of the answers to make it sound more like something you would say! Let me know if you have any questions.

Who vs. Whom

Who and whom are 2 words that many native English speakers confuse. Where I live it doesn’t matter if you say ‘whom’ when you are supposed to say it. People of all backgrounds use ‘who’ many (if not all) of the times when you should use ‘whom’. But, it is still useful to know when you should use which one. Also, in some other areas of the US and in other English speaking countries, it may be more important to use the correct word.

Do you know when to use Who and when to use Whom? Here are some hints for you!

Who is used as the subject of the sentence. If you can substitute ‘he’ into the sentence and it is correct, then ‘who’ is correct.

Who/whom called me? You can substitute he in this example, He called me. So, the correct answer is Who called me?

Whomis used as the object of the sentence. If you can substitute ‘him’ into a sentence and it is correct, then ‘whom’ is correct.

This is the man whom you saw last night. You can substitute him here, and say: You saw him last night.


1. Whom/Who are you going to visit?
2. Whom/Who is in the bathroom?
3. Whom/Who did she marry?
4. I don’t care whom/who you talk to.


1. Whom – object (I’m going to visit him.)
2. Who – subject (He is going to the bathroom.)
3. Whom – object (She married him.)
4. Whom – object of an indirect question (I don’t care if you talk to him.)

Useful Rhymes

There are a few rhymes/poems that English speakers say often to help remember simple things. Here are a few of them that I use often.

Do you need to unscrew a lid or turn a faucet, remember this saying:
Righty tighty, lefty loosey

Can’t remember how to spell certain ‘ie’ words, here’s a good one that native English speakers are taught in school:
I before e except after c. (Unfortunately there are many exceptions to this rule like neighbor.)

How many days does May have? Memorize this poem and you’ll remember…
30 days has September, April, June and November,
All the rest have 31, except for February – the shortest one. 28 is all it stores, ’til leap year gives it one day more.

Happy Idioms

Being happy is a great way to live! Today, I thought I’d write about a few idioms that have the word ‘happy’ in them. I hope they will be useful to you!

happy hour – This usually starts at 5pm during the work week. This is when friends get together after work and have a few drinks at a local bar. Bars usually have drink specials (drinks that cost less than normal)during happy hour.
Let’s get together tonight at Finn’s for happy hour.

happy camper – This is a happy person.
I’m a happy camper today; everything is going my way!

fat and happy – Content because you just ate a lot of good food.
I just went to an all you can eat Chinese buffet; I’m fat and happy.

a few fries short of a happy meal– A happy meal is a kid’s meal at McDonald’s. But, what this really means is that the person is not very smart.
My new neighbor is really bizarre and walks around her yard naked. I think she’s a few fries short of a happy meal.

happy as a lark – When someone is very happy and content.
Bill proposed to Sally yesterday. She’s as happy as a lark.

Near vs. Nearby

Someone from twitter recently asked me what the difference between near and nearby is. I thought I would post my answer in case others had the same question.

adverb –in close relationship, within a short distance.
Christmas is drawing near.

– close in time, space or position, short and direction, barely avoided, close kinship
Julianne is my near and dear friend.

preposition – close to
I live in a town that is near the beach.

adverb – not far away.
I live nearby.

adjective – a short distance away
There is a great restaurant in this nearby town.

As you can see only ‘near’ is a preposition and there are subtle differences between the uses of the 2 as adverbs and adjectives.

Try this little quiz to see if understand the differences between the two words.

  1. In the _______ future, I will be president!
  2. I ate at a _________ restaurant.
  3. My grandmother is _____ death.


  1. near
  2. nearby
  3. near

Going through Customs

Customs used to be very easy to go through. You would just walk through hand them a piece of paper you filled out and say you had nothing to claim. Today, it’s much more difficult. The last time I went through customs in the US, it actually took longer than going through immigration.

They will ask you questions about the places you visited outside of the US and about your home country. They will ask you about what you are bringing into the US. Lots of things are either regulated or forbidden. You can’t bring in meat, soft/cheese or most agricultural products like fruits and vegetables. Oh and in case you were wondering, you can’t bring soil into the US either. Sorry. 🙂

There are other things that aren’t allowed, just make sure before you travel to look it up if you aren’t sure.

Here’s a sample dialog of what could happen at customs:

Customs officer: Hello, can I have your customs form and passport please.
You: Yes sir. (Again be as polite as you can with customs officers.)
Customs officer: Where were you before you came here?
You: I live in Japan. I didn’t travel anywhere before coming here.
Customs officer: Did you bring any liquor or alcohol?
You: Yes sir. One bottle of wine.
Customs officer: Anymore?
You: No sir.
Customs officer:Do you have any fruits, vegetables or plants?
You: No sir.
Customs officer: Do you have anything to declare?
You: No sir. I’m just visiting.
Customs officer: Okay, have a nice visit.
You: Thank you sir.