A Dime a Dozen


A Dime a Dozen

Time for another English idiom! Today's idiom is "a dime a dozen," which means very common. 

As you may know, a dozen means 12. We use this word frequently to talk about buying things:

a dozen eggs:

a dozen donuts: 拎拎拎拎拎拎拎拎拎拎

a dozen roses: 屢屢屢屢屢屢屢屢屢屢屢

And a dime is a coin worth $0.10 in America: 


So, if something costs a dime for a dozen, it's really cheap, so it must be really common. This is a metaphor, though, so it isn't literal. Here are some examples: 

Beach towels are a dime a dozen in Florida.

Many people think old baseball cards are valuable, but they're a dime a dozen.

Cell phones used to be for rich people only, but now they're a dime a dozen.



See Eye to Eye

Do you have any friends, coworkers, or family members who you really understand and agree with? In English, you can express this with the idiom see eye to eye. Here are some examples:

  • My wife and I are a great match, we really see eye to eye.
  • Jerry and his boss see eye to eye so they work well together.

It's also very common in the negative:

  • My parents and I don't see eye to eye about a lot of things, so we fight a lot.
  • The relationship didn't work because we didn't see eye to eye on some important issues.



Collocates with Summer

It's summer in Boston! 儭

Let's take a look at some of the words that are most common after summer. Remember, a collocate is a word that is often used with another word.  Focusing on collocation is a very good way to learn common English phrases and expressions. 

Hare are some of the most common words after summer: 




Borrow and Lend

Our earlier post on take and give was really just an introduction to these harder two words: borrow  and lend.  

Borrow is like take, but when you borrow something, you give it back later. I can borrow your pencil now, and give it back to you when I am finished. 

Similarly, lend is like give , but when you lend something, you take it back later. I can lend you my car now, and you can give it back to me tomorrow. 

Take a look at the the grammar in this picture. 



Let's start with borrow. There are two common ways to use borrow.  The first works just like take:

Carlo is taking a pen from Kate. 

Carlo is borrowing a pen from Kate.  

Notice the preposition from. A person borrows a thing from another person. Another way to use from is with the possessive form. The pen belongs to Kate. It is Kate's pen. So we can also simply say:

Carlo is borrowing Kate's pen.  


 Many people make mistakes with borrow. Many people say Please borrow me a pen. But we can not say borrow a person! The word here is lend. Notice that the grammar for lend is exactly like the grammar for give:

Carlo is giving Kate his pen. 

Carlo is lending Kate his pen.  

We can also move the indirect object (Kate) to the end of the sentence with both lend and give :

Carlo is giving his pen to Kate.

Carlo is lending his pen to Kate.  

What you can say

In daily life, the useful sentences you may want to use are these: 

May I borrow your ____?

Could you lend me a ____?

DO NOT SAY Can you borrow me a pen.  

If this helped you, check out these other grammar posts:



Give and Take

Today let's have a quick look at two very common verbs in English: give and take.  

The meaning is simple. I have something, and I want you to have it so I put it in your hand. I give it to you. You take it from me. 

But the grammar is a little more difficult. Look at the sentences in the picture:


In the first sentence, Juana is giving Jim some aspirin. The word give is tricky because can have two objects, a person and a thing. The objects here are Jim  and some aspirin. The thing that you give, aspirin, is called the  direct object. The person who you give it to, the one who receives the action, is called the indirect object, is Jim

We can put the indirect object just after the verb or at the end of the sentence, using to. Look at the two sentences:

Juana is giving Jim some aspirin.

Juana is giving some aspirin to Jim. 

Take is much simpler. It doesn't really have an indirect object, but you can use the preposition from to indicate the person who is giving, like this:

Jim is taking some aspirin from Juana.

If you like this post, check out these other grammar tips:


Happy Father's Day


Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads in the world! How do you say Dad in your language? In most languages it's something like papa, but some of these are very different! 

If you like this, then check out these other posts from our blog


This That These & Those - Demonstrative Pronouns


This That These & Those - Demonstrative Pronouns

In our post earlier this week, we discussed this, that, these, and those as demonstrative determiners. As we discussed, determiners are words that come before nouns to tell us some important information about those nouns. Demonstrative determiners give us information about the quantity and location of the nouns, remember? If we say "this apple," we know that there is one apple, and it's right here, but if I say "those apples," it usually means many apples, and they are over there.

This That These and Those - Demonstrative Determiners

Today, let's look at another, similar way to use those four words: this, that, these, and those. We can also use these words without a noun after them. For example, we can say, "This is a hammer." Here, this doesn't go before the subject of the sentence; it is the subject of the sentence. It works takes the place a noun and represents the thing, the hammer. Words that stand in place of a noun are called pronouns. So in these sentences, thisthat, these, and those are called demonstrative pronouns. See the graphic below for some more examples.

One more time, if they come directly before a noun, this, that, these, and those are called demonstrative determiners. If they replace a noun, acting as a subject or object, they are called demonstrative pronouns.

Notice that the meanings are the same for demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns. This and that are both singular. These and those are both plural. This and these are both for things that are close. That and those are both for things that are over there.

If you like this, check out these other grammar charts:



Silent N Words

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about some words with a silent B at the end. There is a similar pattern that can be tricky for student. These words end with the letter N, but you never pronounce that N. Take a look:

SIlent N Words
damn /d疆m/ v. to condemn to hell
condemn /kndm/ v. to judge guilty
limn /l阞m/ v. to draw or describe
hymn /h阞m/ n. a religious song
column /klm/ n. a decorative pillar
solemn /slm/ adj. serious or earnest
autumn /tm/ n. the season after summer

Share the graphic! 



Silent B Words

One of the most frustrating and interesting things about English is the crazy pronunciation. Silent letters can be particularly difficult. They are there. You can see them. But you don't hear them! 

Silent B at the end of words is one common pattern. For silent letters. If you see -MB at the end of a word, usually you do not pronounce the B.  

Here are some examples of silent B words:

Bomb /bm/

Comb /km/

Dumb /dm/

Lamb /l疆m/

Climb /kla阞m/

Thumb /庛m/

Tomb /tum/

Notice that the silent B doesn't tell us anything about the vowel in the word. The vowel sounds can be very different, for example in bomb, comb, and tomb.

Please share the picture with #ginsenglish if you find this helpful!  







I just stumbled across an article from The Economist and had to share this quote about one of the most important strategies for achieving fluency in language learning: chunking. Chunking is thinking about and studying the language in common phrases, instead of single words.

A common example is good morning . We don't have to learn the word good and then the word morning  and put them together: we simply learn it as a phrase, and we can say it quickly, without thinking much.

This can be applied deliberately to other phrases, too though. Here are some common phrases you might want to study as chunks:

on the other hand

contrary to popular belief

the thing about that is






Twain on Letter Writing


Twain on Letter Writing


This Mark Twain quote is one of my favorites as an English teacher:

I didnt have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.
— Mark Twain

The phrasing is counterintuitive: we are inclined to think longer equals more time. But that's where the true insight of the quotation lies. Writing is deceptive in its simplicity, and anything but linear.  Being concise requires more effort in the form of editing and organizing thoughts than simply pouring your thoughts out onto the page.