Going Through Immigration

If you come to the US you’ll have to go through Immigration and talk with an immigration officer. There are different lines for people who are not US citizen or green card holders. I know this process well since my husband is Canadian we usually get the 3rd degree (that means they ask us a lot of questions).

They will ask you why you are here, who you are visiting, how long you intend to stay. If they don’t like your answers to any of these questions, then they’ll ask you more. It is important to be very respectful of immigration officers. Say, “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma’am” when they ask you questions. Instead of saying “Thanks”, say “Thank you very much.” Keep your answers short, but answer thoroughly.

Try to run through this dialog, making your own answers for the immigration officer’s questions.

Immigration officer: Passport please.
Immigration officer: Why are you visiting the US?
Immigration officer: What city are you visiting?
Immigration officer: Who are you staying with?
Immigration officer: How long do you intend to stay?
Immigration officer: Do you have your return ticket? Can I see it?
Immigration officer: Okay, have a good stay in the United States.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about going through customs. Leave me a comment if you have any comments.

At the Doctor’s Office

If you visit or move to the US, you may need to go to the doctor’s office at some point. Here are some common symptoms that might make you go to the doctors:

stomach ache/belly ache/tummy ache
dizzy/vertigo – This is when you feel like the room is spinning
nauseated – This is when you feel like you might throw up.
sore throat
pain in a part of your body

Here’s a dialog of a person visiting a doctor. Try to say it out loud and practice your pronunciation.

Dr. Spicey: Hi, My name is Dr. Spicey. Could you tell me what’s going on with you?
You: Yeah, I have reoccurring headaches.
Dr. Spicey: Which part of your head? Are they on your forehead?
You: No, they are right above my nose, by my eyes.
Dr. Spicey: How often do you get them?
You: Almost every day.
Dr. Spicey: What time of day?
You: In the afternoon usually.
Dr. Spicey: I see…
You: Will I be okay?
Dr. Spicey: Of course. Just take this medicine and you’ll feel a lot better. You are having tension headaches.
You: Okay, thank you so much. I will start taking the medicine. How often do I take the pills?
Dr. Spicey: Just 1 pill once a day.

How did you do? Try it again, but this time try a different symptom instead of a headache and see if you can walk through the whole conversation.

Happy Birthday!

I guessing most of you know this song?

Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday dear _____.
Happy Birthday to you.

It’s my birthday (May 14th) and I wanted to celebrate it on my blog! We celebrate birthdays like most of you, I’m sure. A birthday cake, a song, some presents and lots of well wishes.

For children’s birthdays it is more involved. There is usually a birthday party. For some odd reason in the United States, it’s a big deal to have a ‘better’ birthday party than your friends. I don’t play this game, but I have a ton of friends who do. I have been invited to huge parties at jump castle places, parties where a magician shows up and does tricks, a party where a science guy came and did experiments, pool parties, parties with clowns and horses, a party in a train caboose, a bowling party and many others. Mothers try to ‘one up’ each other. It just means they want to try to out do their friends.

Birthday cards are a big thing in the US. People send their friends birthday cards or like one of my friends did today, they may take you out to lunch.

Regardless of how people celebrate it, cake and candles are usually involved. Does your country have any interesting customs?

Money Idioms

Some people think that the world revolves around money, while others feel that money doesn’t buy happiness. Either way, it’s nice to know some Money related idioms and expressions to use in your English.

Nest egg – Money you have saved to use later.
I have a nest egg of over 1 million dollars for my retirement. (Oh, I wish!!!)

Cheapskate – A stingy person who is not not willing to spend money.
When I was younger I went out on a date with a cheapskate. I had to pay for the entire date myself!

To Bring home the bacon – To earn a living
I work at night, so I can bring home the bacon!

Deadbeat – a person who doesn’t pay the money that he owes
He’s a deadbeat father; he never pays his child support.

Flat broke – to have no money
I’m flat broke. I’m sorry I can’t give you the money I owe you.

To have sticky fingers – to steal things
My new friend has sticky fingers, she walked right out of my house with my gold necklace.

In the red – to be losing money
That company has been in the red for months. I’m sure they will go bankrupt any day now.

To pay an arm and a leg – to pay a lot of money for something
She paid an arm and a leg for her new diamond necklace.

Weather or Whether??

This is one mistake that I sometimes see on twitter and I thought it would point it out.

Weather – This refers to how it is outside. Is it raining, snowing, sleeting?

The weather is beautiful outside. The sun is shining and it’s not too hot.

Whether – This word is used to introduce an alternative possibility.

Whether you like it or not, I’m going to buy you a birthday present.

Spelling differences in US and UK English

Have you ever wondered why there are spelling differences between the US and UK? Here’s the reason…

Benjamin Franklin was one of the main people who pushed for the change. After the American revolution he and Noah Webster wanted to change the spelling of English to make it more easy to spell and closer to how it sounds. They also purposefully wanted to be different than British English.

The differences (The first example is US and the 2nd is UK):

Drop u from -our words – color vs. colour
Drop duplicate consonants – traveler vs. traveller
Transpose r and e – center vs. centre
Change the c to s – defense vs. defence
There are other changes/reforms as well.

There were other spellings that did not make it in the dictionary (and I’m glad too because they are bizarre). Here are a few examples:

Drop silent vowels in word like bread. So, they wanted it spelled like ‘bred.’
Replace some vowels and consonants to be written like they sound. Instead of ‘rough’ they wanted ‘ruf’.
Replace ch with k. They wanted chorus to be korus.

Celce-Murcia, Marianne, et al. 1996. Teaching Pronunciation. Cambridge University Press (New York).

Make or Do?

Do you know the difference between ‘do’ and ‘make’? Here are some pointers that could help you to know which one to use.


You can use ‘do’ when you are talking about daily activities. Usually these activities do not produce something physical.

Today I’m going to do the housework.
Ugh, I hate doing homework.
I need to stop tweeting and do the dishes.
Some people really like to do the ironing.

You can also use ‘do’ when you talk about things in general.

What are you doing?
That frog is doing nothing, but sitting there.

There are some expressions that use ‘do’ in them as well.

Can you do me a favor?
Please do your best.
He can do no harm.


‘Make’ is used for building, creating and constructing things.

Sit down, I’m going to make you some food.
I have to make a cup of tea, can you hold on?
My kids spend their days making a mess.

Here are some expressions that use ‘make’.

Let’s make plans.
Can you make an exception and let me in?
I have to make a phone call, can I use yours?
Let’s get crazy and make some noise.

Mother’s Day in the USA

Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in throughout the world. In the USA it is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of May. So, this Sunday, May 9, 2010 is Mother’s Day. On a side note, I was born on Mother’s Day. But, due to dates changing every year, my birthday has only fallen on Mother’s Day 2 other times in my life.

In the USA, Mother’s Day is a day to give Mom a nice rest. Many children give their mother breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. (Maybe one of my kids will read this post and do the same for me on Sunday.) Presents are often given to Mother’s as well on this day. Some examples are jewelry, flowers, spa treatments, greeting cards, or anything that mom likes or wants.

It’s also a big family day. The family goes to a park, doting on mom the entire time. It’s a great day to have special family time.

When is your country’s Mother’s Day? And how is it celebrated?

The differences between Each and Every

Here are 2 words that have almost the same meanings, but you cannot always use either one. Below are some rules for their uses.

Each – both (2 or more objects or people)
Every – all (3 or more objects or people)

Here is an example of when they have almost the same meaning:

I go to the festival every year.
I go to the festival each year.
The difference of the 2 sentences is that in the first sentence with every, we are thinking of the festivals in total. In the 2nd sentence with each, we are thinking of them more individually.

Here are some examples of when you can use only one or the other:

My kids each received a present. (Each is used before a verb.)
My kids every received a present. Incorrect

Santa gave a present to each of them. (Each is used before of.)
Santa gave a present to every of them. Incorrect (However, you can put ‘one’ after every and then it is okay. Santa gave a present to every one of them.)

He was using each hand equally. (Each used to describe 2 things.)
He was using every hand equally. Incorrect

Once every 2 weeks, I go to the doctor. (Referring to a regular event).
Once each 2 weeks, I go to the doctor. Incorrect

Complement and Compliment

Here are 2 words that people tend to confuse in English.

COMPLEMENT-something that completes and makes it whole
A smooth red wine complements a steak. (verb)
This red wine is the the perfect complement to this meal. (noun)

My husband complimented me on my gourmet cooking skills. (verb)
He gave me the best compliment after he ate his dinner! (noun)