Things in a Living Room: 2

English Vocabulary - Things in a Living Room: 2

Things in a Living Room: 2

Last week we brought you “Things in a Living Room”.  This week we have part two!

You will see a couple of the same things in this second living room for a little review! 🤓

As we mentioned last week, the living room is the room in a house that is most comfortable and welcoming. 

Let’s start in the center of this picture and work our way around it. In the center, you will see a piece of art with trees on it. 🖼🌳 You can also call this a painting.  

To the right, we have a bookshelf. Last week we talked about a bookcase. A bookcase is a piece of furniture that has many bookshelves in it. But you can also just have a bookshelf on your wall, like we see here! On this bookshelf, you will find a blue vase and are a couple of books ⚱️📚. 

On the floor, under the artwork is a lounge chair. A lounge chair is different from a couch because it usually fits only one person.  Lounge means to to sit back and relax, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do in a living room! On the lounge chair there are two throw pillows

Next to the lounge chair is a footrest. A footrest is a small piece of furniture next to a chair that you can rest (or relax) your feet on. On top of the foot rest is a cushion.

To the left of the lounge chair is a side table. We call it a side table because it is a small table that we keep on the side of a couch or chair.  On top of the side table is another vase with some flowers. 💐Next to the flowers is an old radio, which plays music or the news. 📻 

Did we miss anything?  How is this living room different than yours?  🤔


Things in a Living Room: 1

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Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Today is Saint Patrick's Day! We usually abbreviate Saint to St., and we often just call it St. Patty's Day.

St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland in the fifth century. The funny thing about St. Patrick's Day is that it's heavily celebrated in the United States. Because of the large population of Irish immigrants in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day changed from a serious religious holiday into a fun celebration of all things Irish. ☘️ 🇮🇪

On St. Patty's Day, many American cities, such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, have big parades in the streets. Chicago even dyes their river green! We'd be lying if we told you that there's not a lot of drinking (especially Guinness drinking). 🍻

You may have noticed this funny looking man in our post. He is called a leprechaun, which is a mystical type of mischievous small person. They come from Irish folklore, and are very common on St. Pattie's Day. Sometimes children set up traps to try to "catch" the leprechauns. It is rumored that leprechauns can be enticed by gold and candy...

In fact, leprechauns are fun to describe using the vocabulary and sentence frames from our Describing People blog post! Leprechauns are very short. They have red hair and red beards. Leprechauns wear green clothes and big green hats with a gold buckle on them.

Do you celebrate this holiday in your country? How is it different from how we celebrate? Do you have leprechauns too? Have you ever caught one?? 😎 

3 Steps to Studying with Ginseng

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Things in a Living Room

Let’s talk about the things in this living room!  In this blog post we give you over 15 new vocabulary words to describe this room in your house.



What is a Free Demo Class, Anyway?

Free Demo Class

You may have seen this button on the Ginseng homepage and wondered, what is a "free demo"?  What happens if I click this button!? Is it really FREE? Are there any strings attached? What happens next? Well, let me see if I can help to answer your questions!

We think our classes are pretty great, but you can't know that this is true unless you try one out, right?! That is where a free demo class comes in. 

Demo is short for demonstration, which means we are showing you something. You might go for a demo, or a test drive, at a car dealership if you're thinking about buying a car, or you could get a free demo of a new computer software that your company is considering buying.

 A "demo class" at Ginseng is a short, 30 minute sample of an online class class. You get to meet one of our teachers, see some of our fancy materials, and check out the follow-up emails we'll send you. 

So, what happens when I actually click that button?

When you click on this button, you will need to fill out a short form and then I will get an alert from you. But wait, who am I?! Great question.

Sarah Hi!

My name is Sarah, and I work for Ginseng. It is my job to help you with pretty much anything that you need from our online English school! You can ask me anything you want about our school, and I will do my best to help you out!

When I receive your free demo request, I will e-mail you to set up a time to video chat 📹 to learn more about what you are looking for. We can talk on Skype, Google Hangouts, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facetime—you name it!

I'll ask you questions about yourself, like:

  • Where are you from? 
  • How long you've been studying English?
  • Why is learning English important to you?
  • What part of English do you want to study the most? 
  • What time is good for you to have classes?

(It's ok if you don't know, or even if you just want to study EVERYTHING!)

It is up to you to choose what you want your free class to be about. It can be focused on just about anything English, such as pronunciation, grammar, writing and conversation! We will also talk about what times are good for your free class.

After we speak, I will talk to our team here at Ginseng and find you the best online English teacher for your educational goals, and your availability.

But wait, is it really free?

Yes!  Your 30 minute demo class is completely free. If you like what you see, we would love for you to share Ginseng English with your friends, and maybe even sign up for a class or two!

Ok, Now you've got me curious...

Great! So, take a moment to click the "request demo" button and fill out the form.  Soon, you'll be hearing from me! Who knows, we might even become friends! 


3 Steps to Studying with Ginseng

Studying with Ginseng is easy! Click the FREE DEMO CLASS button to request your demo. Then you will get an email from one of our staff to schedule your class. Then just log in and meet your teacher!

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My name is Sarah and I have 8 years of experience working with international students studying in the United States, most recently at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I share your passion for adventure, and am currently traveling through Asia as part of the Ginseng English Anywhere tour! 

If have any questions about Ginseng, e-mail me at



No Strings Attached

English Idiom - No strings attached

Today's idiom is no strings attached.  This is an informal phrase that is used to show that an offer or opportunity has no restrictions or hidden fine print, and nothing is required or expected in return.

Check out the examples below!


Ginseng English is offering a free demo English class.  We promise, there are no strings attached

Henry's life was very busy, so when he met a cute woman at a coffee shop, he told her that he wasn't looking for a serious relationship, just something fun with no strings attached.  

The gym near my house was offering one month for free. The salesperson told me that if I didn't like it, I could cancel easily, no strings attached!

3 Steps to Studying with Ginseng

Studying with Ginseng is easy! Click the FREE DEMO CLASS button to request your demo. Then you will get an email from one of our staff to schedule your class. Then just log in and meet your teacher!

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Simple Past Tense

The simple past tense is a very common verb tense in English. Almost 20% of verbs in English are in the simple past tense.

Using the simple Past Tense In English

The simple past tense is used for actions that happened at a particular time in the past. They started and finished in the past. When you are telling a story about something that happened in the past, most main verbs will be in the simple past tense.


Examples of the simple past

Here are some examples of the simple past tense in use:

Last night I saw a movie. 

Back in June, I went to Paris. 

I had a party last weekend. All my friends came. 

Magellan landed in the Philippines in 1521. 

Forming the Simple Past

Regular verbs take -ed to form the simple past tense. In some cases, this requires doubling the last consonant in the word. When you use the simple past, you almost always need to identify a specific time in the past when the action happened. 

1ST I jogged we jogged
2ND you jogged you jogged
3RD he jogged they jogged


  • Generally, when we use the past tense, it is important that the speaker and listener know the specific time. For example, just saying I went to the movies is unusual. 

Other Forms of the simple past

Negative Sentences

If the verb is a form of be, make a negative sentences in the simple past, by putting not after the verb.

That was not Rebecca.

She wasn’t at school on Tuesday.

We were not excited.

If the verb is not a form of be, put did not before the main verb to make a negative.

We did not feel hungry at dinnertime.

I didn’t go to school yesterday.

They did not want to come.


Exactly like the questions in the simple present, if the simple past verb is a form of be, move the verb to before the subject to form a question.

Was that girl Rebecca?

Was that pork?

Were they angry?

Where were you?

How was the pizza?

For other verbs, add did before the subject.

Did you like the movie?

Did Claire go home? 

Where did you go?

What did you make for lunch? 




The Only Letter in English that is Never Silent

 The only letter in English that's never silent

The only letter in English that's never silent

We have talked a whole lot about silent letters in English here on the Ginseng English blog.

Silent B can make you feel dumb. And that damn silent N is terrible! I don't even walk to talk about silent L, folks. Silent G makes me gnash my teeth! 😵

But, as a recent article in Reader's Digest points out, nearly every letter in the English language is silent sometimes. There is only one letter in the language that is never silent. Can you guess what it is?

The letter is V! There are various very valuable v-words, and that V is never silent!

If you're thinking, "Wait, but what about A!? What about X!?" you can check out Wikipedia's list of silent letters from A to Z. (You might notice that they do have something listed under V, but it's the name of a town in Scotland, which isn't exactly an English word in the way we generally think of things.)

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Describing People in English


Describing People in English

In this post we introduce over 40 vocabulary words for describing people in English, along with 6 sentence frames to use them in. The first three sentence frames are basic (level A1). The other three are a little more advanced (level A2-B1). All of the vocabulary is basic (levels A1 to A2). (If you don't know what A1 and A2 and B1 and B2 mean, learn about the CEFR!)

Note: Reading this article in English will be difficult for A1 and A2 students. We will soon translate this article into many different languages!

What is a Sentence Frame?

Sentence frames are a really useful way to learn how we speak English. A sentence frame is a sentence with an empty slot that many different words can go in for many different situations. For example, if you learn the sentence frame I feel [ADJECTIVE], you can make hundreds of different sentences. All you need to do is learn a new adjective that fits in that slot: I feel hungry. I feel tired. I feel angry. I feel sick. At a basic level, sentence frames are a great way to learn English!

Frame #1 - Basic Sentences for Describing People

The first three sentence frames we will look at are simple sentences. One of the most common ways to describe people is with adjectives: tall, short, fat, skinny, pretty, handsome, ugly. To use these common adjectives in a sentence, try this frame:

The man is [ADJECTIVE].

The man is tall. The man is fat. The man is ugly. The man is in shape. These are all good sentences in English. 

It is important to know that The man is another slot that you can change. The woman is tall. My friend is tall. My dad is tall. Jane is tall. She is tall. You can put any person in that slot.

Now let’s take a look at some adjectives describing people that can fit into this slot:

Adjectives to Describe People in English
Word Pronunciation Definition
tall /tɔl/ greater in height than the average person; not short
short /ʃɔrt/ lesser in height than the average person; not tall
thin /θɪn/ not having lots of extra flesh; not fat
fat /fæt/ having lots of extra flesh; not thin
old /oʊld/ having lived many years; not young
young /jʌŋ/ not having lived many years; not old
in shape /ɪn ʃeɪp/ healthy and physically strong
out of shape /aʊt ʌv ʃeɪp/ not healthy or physically strong
beautiful /ˈbjutəfəl/ attractive; good looking (mainly for females)
ugly /ˈʌgli/ not attractive; not good looking
handsome /ˈhænsəm/ attractive; good-looking (usually for males)
bald /bɔld/ not having hair on the top of the head

 Frame #2 - Basic Sentences Describing Features

The next basic sentence frame for describing people in English focuses on a specific feature: glasses, curly hair, black hair, blue eyes, a mustache, a ponytail. To talk about a person’s features, use this sentence:

The woman has [FEATURE].

With this sentence frame, you can make lots of different sentences:The woman has curly hair. The woman has glasses. The woman has long hair. The woman has a ponytail.

Again, you can change the person slot as well: The man has long hair. My friend has long hair. My sister has long hair. Clara has long hair.

Here are some features (nouns or nouns with adjectives) that can fit into this sentence frame:

Frame #3 - Basic Sentences Describing Clothes

The last sentence we will talk about for describing people focuses on clothes. Who doesn’t love clothes!? Black shoes! Gray pants! Blue ties! Green skirts! But let’s make complete sentences with them. Here is the sentence frame:

The woman is wearing [CLOTHES].

And here is a list of clothes that can go into this sentence:

All of these clothing items can be used with color words to be even more descriptive. The woman is wearing black shoes. The man is wearing a yellow tie.

So, those three sentence frames, combined with this vocabulary, allow you to make hundreds of different sentences to describe people. If you are a beginner, and this is mostly new information for you, you can stop here.

But, if you know most of this stuff, and you want to learn some more advanced English sentences, read on!


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Complex Sentence Frames Describing People

The first three frames talked about nouns, features, and clothes, in that order, right? The next three frames will be used to talk about the same three things, but in a more complex way. All of the same vocabulary from the sections above can be used with the next three frames, in the same order. 

In the first three sentence frames, the main idea of each sentence was describing people. The sentences were about describing people. The thing that I want to tell you about the man is that he is tall. But sometimes we want to describe people in a sentence about something else, and the description is not the most important idea in the sentence. For example, maybe I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, but I also want to mention that he is tall. These next sentence frames will help in situations like that. 

Frame #4 - Adjectives Before Nouns

Let’s use that example. The I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, and I also want to describe him as tall. I can put the adjective before the noun: The tall man is my neighbor. You can also put any of the other adjectives from above into that slot.

The [ADJECTIVE] man is my neighbor.

The handsome man is my neighbor. The old man is my neighbor. The fat man is my neighbor. And again, the end of the sentence (which we call the predicate) is a slot, too, and you can put different verbs in there: The tall man likes football. The tall man is eating. The tall man has a car.

Frame #5 - Features and With

If you want to talk about someone’s features in that same sentence, we need to use the preposition with. We could say The man with glasses is my neighbor. Any of the other features can go into that same slot:

The man with [FEATURE] is my neighbor.

The man with red hair is my neighbor. The man with a mustache is my neighbor.

Frame #6 - Clothing and in 

When we want to talk about clothes, we need another preposition. Instead of with, we use in. The man in the blue shirt is my neighbor. Any of the clothing vocabulary above can go into that same slot:

The man in [CLOTHES] is my neighbor.

The man in the tie is my neighbor. The man in the grey pants is my neighbor. The woman in the red hat is my neighbor.


That's it! Study these six sentence frames and the vocabulary, and you can now make hundreds of new sentences to describe people! Check back soon and we'll have a quiz to check what you have learned!

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Rob Sheppard is the founder and Chief Executive Teacher at Ginseng. Over the past ten years, he has taught English in Taiwan, South Korea, and his hometown of Boston. Now he teaches online at Ginseng while traveling the world.

You can email Rob at

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The most important of all professions

Ridley Scott—the film director most well known for Blade Runner—just made a powerful statement about teaching at the The British Academy Film Awards after being awarded a BAFTA fellowship.

Scott says, "It's extraordinary what an enthusiastic teacher can do, drawing the student out, igniting independence, and encouraging a design of your own future, rather than waiting for something to happen. Teaching is the most important of all professions. Sort that out and social problems will get sorted out."

We couldn't agree more (but maybe we're biased!). What do you think? 

"Teaching is the most important of all professions." - Ridley Scott

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Simple Present Tense

One of the most important parts of English grammar is verb tenses, and the simple present tense is the most common verb tense in English. Over 50% of verbs in English are in the simple present tense, so it's a really important tense to learn. It is used for several different situations.

Using the Simple Present Tense in English

The simple present can describe actions that happen regularly. This means things we do again and again, things we do every day, every week, every month. This can be routines and habits, and also things that are currently, always, or generally true.

The simple present is also used to describe feelings, emotions, and our senses. We can also use it for describing people and things in English.

The chart illustrates the rules for how we generally use the simple present tense.

Chart for Simple Present Tense in English

Examples of the simple Present tense

Here are some examples of different ways that we dan use the simple present tense:

To state facts:

The earth moves around the sun.

Birds have wings.

Your mother's mother is your grandmother.

To describe habits and routines:

I wake up at 7:00.

I brush my teeth every day.

I take my vacation every August.

More on Describing people in English

To describe people and things:

She has brown hair. 

That car is red.

Sally is tall

To describe feelings and opinions:

She is angry. 

We are cold. 

I smell cookies. 

Sarah loves movies. 

Forming the Simple present tense

In English, regular verbs take the base form of the verb, except the third person singular (he, she, and it) which add an -s. If the word ends in -ch, -sh, -th, -ss,  -o, or -z, you usually have to add -es. See the conjugation table for the full conjugation of work.

Simple Present Tense Verb Conjugation
Singular Plural
1st person work. we  work.
2nd person you  work. you  work.
3rd person he  works. they  work.
she  works.
it  works.

Other Forms of the simple present

Negative Sentences

If the main verb is a form of be, simply put not after the verb to make a negative sentence. 

That is not pork.

I’m not Rebecca.

If the main verb is not a form of be, use the helping verb, do (or does), then not, then the base form of the verb.

He does not like cheese.

I do not have a lighter.

She doesn’t live near here.


Many simple present questions use the verb be. If the verb is a form of be, move the verb to before the subject to form a question:

Are you Rebecca?

Is this pork?

Where are you?

What is that? 

If the main verb is not be, we need to use a helping verb to make questions. In the simple present, the helping verb is do (or does with he, she, or it).

Does he like cheese?

Do you have a lighter?

What do you think?

Where does she live?


  • Adverbs of frequency are often used with the simple present tense.

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If you spend any time on Twitter, you may have heard some funny words that all look the same: POTUS, FLOTUS, and SCOTUS. What do these strange words mean? Well, they are all acronyms. Acronyms are abbreviations, in which each of the letters represents a word. The -OTUS in these three words stands for of the United States. POTUS means president of the United States. FLOTUS means first lady of the United States (the term for the president's wife). SCOTUS is Supreme Court of the United States (the most important court in the US). 

English has many acronyms like this. Many of them began in the military. SCOTUS and POTUS were first used in the late 19th century, in telegrams. FLOTUS didn't come into the language until almost a hundred years later. VPOTUS has been used here and there to refer to the vice president, but this isn't exactly easy to pronounce, so it hasn't caught on. 

As you may know, Donald Trump is a very unpopular POTUS, and this has led to many jokes about him. In 2017, a Twitter user came up with a new -OTUS word for Trump: SCROTUS. This joke works for two reasons: first, it stands for so-called ruler of the United States, and Trump really doesn't like when people suggest that he is an illegitimate president. But the much funnier part of this joke is that it sounds like the word scrotum. You can click here to find out what that one means; this is a family website! 😂 

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Things in a Kitchen

English Vocabulary - Things in a Kitchen

Things in a kitchen

This Ginseng English blog post is about things you find in a kitchen. The kitchen is the room in a house where people cook and make food. Kitchens look very different all over the world because every culture cooks food differently! This kitchen is typical of what you would find in an American home.

I don't know about you, but the first thing i noticed was that cake 🎂 in the oven 🤤.  In America, most kitchens have an oven, which is a machine that gets very hot inside and is used to bake food such as a cake, pizza or bread, but can also be used to roast meat, such as a Thanksgiving turkey 🥘 🦃.

Hanging on the oven is a is a thick piece of cloth or fabric called a dish towel.   We use this for just about everything in the kitchen, such as taking hot pots 🍳 off the stove, or cleaning up something we spill! 

On top of the oven there is a stove with burners with fire. 🔥The stove is used to stir fry vegetables, fry meat, boil noodles, or steam fish.

On the stove, it is common to find a tea kettle. In many countries, people boil their water in an electric kettle, but Americans often use a kettle on the stove to boil their water for tea. The tea kettle makes a whistling noise when the water is boiling, and then we can pour the hot water into our tea or coffee cup! 🍵☕️

To the left of the tea kettle on the stove, you will see a pot. 🍲 A pot is a container usually made out of steel, aluminum, ceramic or glass which we boil food in on the stove. For example, we might make soup 🍜 , oatmeal, or macaroni and cheese in a pot.

Above the stove is a range hood. A range hoodalso known as an exhaust fan 💨, has a big hood with a fan in it, and hangs above the stoveIt helps get rid of grease, smoke, and odors from whatever is cooking on the stove below it by sucking it up through the fan.

Next to the range hood are some overhead lights 💡 hanging  from the ceiling. Overhead literally means something that is over your head! These lights are here so that the chef can easily see what they are cooking.

To the left of the lights and near the floor are cabinets, which are shelves with a door that hang on the wall, usually made out of wood or glass. We store pots, pans, plates  and other big kitchen supplies in cabinets.

Under the overhead cabinet there is the microwave . The microwave is a special kind of oven that cooks food really fast with electricity! ⚡️ We use the microwave a lot when we are feeling lazy because it warms up food faster than the oven does 😂.

Under the microwave is a drawer, where we keep kitchen supplies in, such as utensils (forks, spoons and knives 🍴 ), spices, or extra dish towels.

Above the cabinet you will see the sink and the faucet 🚰. The faucet is a metal pipe where water comes out and flows into the sink. In the sink, we wash our dishes with soap and water.

Did we miss anything? How does this kitchen look different from the one you have at home?

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3 Important Aspects of New Vocabulary

A big part of learning English is learning new English vocabulary. Most teachers can tell you that it’s very common for students to study all kinds of new vocabulary words and their definitions. They can pass a multiple choice test or match the words to their definitions in an exercise, but when students try to use these words in sentences, their sentences are confusing or incorrect. That's because a word is more than just its definition, more than just denotation.

There are three very important aspects of a new word that you should be sure to learn: denotation, connotation, and collocation.


The denotation of a word is its actual meaning, the definition that you will find in the dictionary. Most students know that this is a very important part of learning new vocabulary, but it is not the only thing you need to know.


Connotation is a little more difficult. Connotation is a suggestive meaning, the emotions and feelings that a word is connected with. A word can have positive or negative connotations. For example, the words skinny and slender have the same denotation, but skinny generally has a negative connotation (it sounds like too thin), while slender sounds positive and attractive. Another example: the words woman and lady are synonyms, but lady has connotations of elegance and grace, while woman is more neutral. Female is another synonym, but it connotes biology or science. Your mother is a female, but it would be unusual to use that word to describe her.


Collocation is another important aspect of words in a language. Some words usually happen with other words. This is collocation. Many students will learn the word party, which is an easy word to understand. But when they make a sentence, they will say make a party or do a party, translating from their own language. In English, though, party collocates with have. In English we have a party. So just learning what the word party means is not enough. We also need to learn the word's collocates.


Include information about connotation and collocation when taking notes on new words.


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