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"Keep my eyes open"

A: "I want to buy a surfboard, maybe a  used one that is not too expensive. Do you know anywhere I can buy one?"
B: "There are a few sports shops that sell used equipment near my office. I am not sure if they sell surfboards, but I'll keep my eyes open for you."

This is an idiom we use when we say we will pay extra attention for something, or try hard to find something. If there is something we want, we are often more sensitive to seeing it, we become more alert.

alert - adjective - fully aware, attentive. "There was a robber seen in the park last night. If you walk through the park tonight please be alert."

If we want to meet someone or talk with someone, we can use the same expression.

A: "Did you see Bob this morning? I want to ask him about tomorrow's meeting."
B: "He was in the office this morning but I haven't see him since lunch. I'll keep my eyes open for him and if I see him I'll tell him you are looking for him."

"I want to buy a new hat! I'm keeping my eyes open for a bargain!"


Today lets look at some advanced vocabulary, made easy. (EASIER!!! I hope)

decisive - adjectiveDEE-SAI-SIVE - having the power or quality of deciding.
"Scott is very decisive. He can make big decisions easily."

If we look at some other vocabulary that come from the word decide.

decide - verb - to solve or conclude a question or a struggle.
"I decided to go to Italy for my vacation this year."

decision - noun - the act or process of deciding.
"I made a decision. I will go to Italy this year for my vacation."

So if decisive is a new word for you, looking at the base word can be helpful to understand the meaning.
Remember sweetener?
I hope this is useful!

Which way should I go? I can't decide!
I am not very decisive :(

Out the window

Out the window = wasted, no longer exists.

"If I buy a $6.00 latte every morning from the cafe, that's $42.00 out the window every week!" = That is $42.00 wasted every week.

Also - If an idea or plan is no longer good or possible we say it goes out the window.

"I wanted to get up early today and watch the sunrise, but I didn't go to bed until 3:00 am so I was too tired. My plan to wake up early went out the window."

"My plan to climb Mt. Everest is out the window!"

Lend - Borrow

lend and borrow

Lend and Borrow can be confusing to use in a sentence, so lets look at how they are used correctly.

"Can I borrow $10.00? (from you)"

"Can you lend me $10.00?"

These sentences have the same meaning. Whether you need to use lend or borrow depends on the subject of your sentence.

In our 1st example sentence the subject (you), will receive something so we need to use borrow. You will receive money.
Borrow is used whenever the subject receives something. (money, a DVD etc.)
"My brother wants to borrow my car tomorrow." - My brother is the subject of the sentence, he wants to receive my car.

In the second example the subject is the person who will give us the money (for some time, not forever of course!) so we use lendLend is used whenever the main subject gives something to someone else.
"The bank will lend me $10,000.00 to buy a car."

Some phrasal verbs with "OUT"

In English, we often use phrasal verbs in conversation. A phrasal verb is a verb that is used together with another word, and together they have a new meaning. Here is an example:
"LOOK OUT! A car is coming!" - LOOK OUT is a phrasal verb. Look is a verb, the meaning of look is :
to turn one's head or eyes so you can see something.
"Hey, look outside! There is a bird sitting on your bike!"
But if we use the verb LOOK with the word OUT the meaning changes to "be careful!" It becomes a warning.
"LOOK OUT! A car is coming!" = "Be careful! A car is coming!"

We can also use "WATCH OUT!" it has the same meaning.
Do you understand a phrasal verb now? Lets look at a few more.

"I didn't finish college, I DROPPED OUT after second year." The verb drop means:
to cause or let fall.
"I dropped my wallet in a puddle, now my cards are all wet!"
Can you guess the meaning of DROP OUT? It means to stop before you have completely finished something.
I didn't finish college, I DROPPED OUT after second year." = "I quit college before I finished my program."

One more. "I don't have anything to eat in my fridge. Lets EAT OUT tonight."
This is an easy one. EAT OUT means eat at a restaurant, not at home.

My kitchen is a little messy, lets EAT OUT tonight!

Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow...

Please look at the following calendar:

Lets pretend that today is Wednesday, February 9. We will start with future times, and an easy one, what do we call Thursday February 10th? Tomorrow of course! 
Now when we talk about Friday February 11th we will say "the day after tomorrow." 
"I will go to Hokkaido the day after tomorrow."
After Friday the 11th we count how may days forward and use the preposition IN. Remember that today is Wednesday, February 9, so if we want to talk about Saturday, February 12th we would say "IN 3 days."
"I will go to Hokkaido IN 3 days." = 3 days from today.
What would we say for Sunday the 13th? That's right! "IN 4 days."

Now past times, what do we call Tuesday, February 8th? Yesterday!
Now what do you think we call Monday, February 7th? We say "the day before yesterday." Past is the opposite of the future so we can remember....    
before <=> after        yesterday <=> tomorrow
"I went to Hokkaido the day before yesterday."
Before Monday, February 7th we count backwards and use the word AGO. Remember that today is Wednesday, February 9, so if we want to talk about Sunday February 6th we would say "3 days AGO."
"I went to Hokkaido 3 days AGO." = 3 days earlier.
What would we say for Saturday, February 5th? You got it! "4 days AGO."

"Where is my new computer!!! I ordered it 6 days AGO!!!"
"I'm sorry sir, your computer should arrive the day after tomorrow."

On time / In time

Lets use some more prepositions today.

ON time = not late

If something happens ON time, it happens at the time which was planned.


"The 10:35 train was ON time." = It left at 10:35, it left the station at it's planned time.
"Lets meet at the restaurant at 6:30 tomorrow. Please be ON time because we have a reservation." = Please don't be late.

The opposite of "ON time" is "late."

IN time = soon enough

We say someone is IN time for something, or IN time to do something.


"My train is late, I hope I am home IN time for dinner." = Soon enough for dinner.
"I sent my sister a birthday gift. I hope it arrives IN time." = For her birthday.
"I hope I get home IN time to watch to watch the baseball game." Soon enough to watch the game.

The opposite of "IN time" is "too late."

Ah! I have to go! I want to be on
time for  my meeting!

In the paper - On TV

Using words like in, at, on can be confusing. These words are called prepositions and they are important to understand if we want to speak natural English.

Today we will look at in and on, and how we use them to talk about something we read, heard or saw. Please read the following example:

A: "Did you hear about Ichiro getting traded to the New York Yankees last month!?"
B: "Yes I read it IN the newspaper."

If our information comes from something we read, a newspaper, a magazine, a report etc. we use the preposition IN.

"There was a beautiful picture of Angelina Jolie IN People magazine last month."
"Our company made a profit last year! I read it IN the annual report."

Lets look at a different example:

A: "Did you hear about Ichiro getting traded to the New York Yankees last month!?"
B: "Yes I saw it ON T.V. last night." OR "Yes I saw it ON the news last night."

If our information comes from something we hear or see from the radio or television we use the preposition ON.

"I heard a great song ON the radio this morning while I was driving to work."
"Did you know that Tom and Katie are getting a divorce? I saw it ON TV last night!"

***We also use the preposition ON when we get our information from the Internet.***

"I read about it ON the Internet!!!" "I saw a video ON Youtube."

There is a Hurricane coming! I saw it ON  the news last night!!


Hi again and once more I'm sorry for not posting a new blog every week. Illness and a vacation are the reasons (excuses!)  Okay! Lets go!!!

I recently flew to Phuket Thailand and the airplane experienced some turbulence.
Lets look at the meaning first, then I want to look at pronunciation (sound) today.
Turbulence = movements of air pockets that can cause an airplane to shake while flying.
If you have ever flown in an airplane you have probably felt your plane suddenly move or shake, this is caused by air turbulence.

Pronunciation is important when learning a new language. It is the use of stress, rhythm and tone while speaking. The best way to learn pronunciation is to hear a native speaker and try to copy their sounds. Here I will use spelling that will help you to understand the sounds of the word. For example you know the pronunciation of telephone, the sound is telefone. In English we have a few examples of the letters PH making an F sound. Elephant for example sounds like "ELEFANT"

Turbulence sounds like TUR (like turn) BYU (like beauty) LENTS. TUR-BYU-LENTS.
Have you ever heard the word ambulance? In ambulance the "BU" makes the same "BYU" sound.

I hope this is helpful!

Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts
we are expecting some mild turbulence.

Plans / A Plan

Hi again! Sorry I haven't written a new blog in a few weeks :(  My summer cold became a summer flu so I have been sick for almost 5 weeks! I will try and get some extra blogs up in the next few days :)

“Do you have any plans for the weekend?” is a very common North American phrase that you’re very likely to hear on Friday. “Plan” is always used in the plural (“plans”), and this expression means “What are you going to do this weekend?”
“Do you have a plan?” is used for when you have a specific goal in mind, and never to just ask about what someone is going to do during a certain time.
A: I am going to start a business.
B: What is your plan?
A: I will open a restaurant that sells the world’s best hamburgers.

Wrong: Do you have a plan for tonight?
Right: Do you have any plans for tonight.
Wrong: Do you have any plan for the weekend?
Right: Do you have any plans for the weekend?
…are you planning.. ...
“What are you planning to do this weekend?” has the same meaning as “Do you have any plans for the weekend?” 

"Do you have any plans for the weekend? Do you want to see a movie with me?" 

English expression - "Just in case"

Just in case

Recently was I asked about the English expression "just in case" and I thought it would make a good blog post.

Please look at the following example: 
"I don't think it will rain today, but I will take my umbrella with me to the store, just in case."

Just in case means "IF something happens" then you want to be prepared. Even if the chances are small, you still want to be prepared. Let's look at the example sentence again.
"I don't think it will rain today" = the chances are small that it will rain today.
"but I will take my umbrella with me to the store" = I will be prepared.
just in case." = IF something happens. In this example - IF it rains.

So the meaning of our example sentence is "The chances are small that it will rain today, but if it does rain it will be no problem because I will have an umbrella." Have you got it? Here are some more examples:

●"I am having a party tonight. I expect 10 people to come but I have bought extra wine  just in case more people arrive." = I think I will have 10 people at my party but IF more people come I will have enough wine for everyone because I bought extra.

●"I have an important meeting at 7:00pm. I really don't want to be late so I will leave very early,  just in case."  We can end the sentence with just in case because we can easily imagine why it is better to leave early if you don't want to be late. Traffic jams, train delays, bad weather etc. can cause problems, but if we leave early we have extra time, we are prepared, and we won't be late.

I should have brought an umbrella!

More great posts!

English idiom - A Slap on the Wrist

10 common English expressions with TIME

Increase your English vocabulary with the suffix ~ish

50 Phrasal Verbs

This is a $60 shirt / This shirt is $60

Hi everyone, sorry I haven't written a blog in 2 weeks, I have had a cold with a bad cough :(
I hope today's blog is helpful :)

This is a $60 shirt / This shirt is $60
Do you know how to read these sentences?

This is a $60 shirt. = This is a sixty dollar shirt.
Easy right? Lets try the second sentence.
This shirt is $60. = This shirt is sixty dollars.
Did you get it right? In the first sentence we say "sixty dollar", In the second we say "sixty dollars." I'll explain why:

In the first sentence the subject (the main noun) is "shirt," and $60 is an adjective. (Adjectives describe nouns) If an amount of something, money, years, etc. is used as an adjective, it doesn't get an S.
"He is a 12 year old boy." (the main subject is boy)
"I have a 5 year contract with my company." (the main subject is contract)
"I eat usually lunch at my office because I only have a 45 minute lunch break." (the main subject is lunch break)

Dollars, years, hours, minutes are all countable nouns, that means if there is more than 1 dollar or more than 1 year we need to add an S on the end. (I have 5 dollars. He has lived in Toronto for 2 years.) Remember that in the first example sentence $60 is not a noun, it is an adjective, the main subject is the noun shirt. If you look at our second example sentence the main noun is the price of the shirt, $60 so we say sixty dollars.
"That boy is 12 years old."
"My contract is 5 years."
"I usually eat lunch at my office because my lunch break is only 45 minutes."

Please be careful, this is a $300,000 car!!!

Out of the Blue

"Yesterday I got an email from an old friend out of the blue!" I got an unexpected email, from an old friend. The email came suddenly, I was surprised.

Can you guess the meaning of out of the blue? When something happens suddenly, unexpectedly (we are not prepared for it) we say it happened out of the blue. This idiom comes from rain storms that happen unexpectedly. The blue means the sky, when the sky is blue there are no clouds so we don't expect a rain storm to happen very soon. Usually the sky fills with dark clouds so we have a warning that soon it will rain, we can prepare. We don't prepare for rain if the sky is blue, so if it begins to rain quickly we are not prepared, we get wet! If the clouds and rain came out of the blue sky, we are surprised.

Here are a few more examples:

"Last week when I was walking in the park a bicycle came out of the blue and almost hit me!"

"I was sitting at home this morning when out of the blue my sister called me and gave me tickets to the Tokyo Giants baseball game tonight! What a nice surprise!"

I was watching a soccer game when a ball came out of the blue and...
(This was not expected!)
Has anything happened to you out of the blue recently?

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Sweetener (root word practice)

We looked at the word "captivate" before and practiced using the root of the word to help us learn and remember the meaning of new words. Sweetener is another word that I have used with my English students lately and it is a good example of using the root word technique that we studied. The word sweet is also easier and more common so this a good example to use.

I like to cook, and while I was looking at some new recipes I saw a sweetener called "stevia" that seemed to be popular. I did some research and I found that it has been used in Canada and America recently, but it has been used in Japan for more than 30 years! When I asked my students if they have heard about stevia we talked about sweeteners. "What is a sweetener?" 

We know the meaning of the adjective sweet already, it describes a taste. "Sugar and honey are sweet."

It can also be used as a noun, usually a plural noun, to mean candy(s). "My dentist said I eat too many sweets!"

Sweeten is a verb that means :to make something sweet. "Many people use sugar to sweeten their coffee. Black coffee is too bitter for most people."

So now we understand sweeten, how about our new word sweetener? Let's look at some other verbs that have "er" added at the end and see what they mean.

In baseball, the person who throws (pitches) the ball is called the pitcher. The person who hits (bats) the ball is the batter and the one who catches the ball is...? That's right! The catcher. And not only for people, the machine that dries our hair is a hair dryer, the machine that mixes (blends) our food and drinks is a blender.

What do you think a sweetener does? It makes things taste SWEET!!!!!

When we use sweetener we are most often talking about one that has fewer calories than sugar. An artificial (not natural) sweetener.

I sweeten my coffee with LOVE!!!

English idiom ~ go "Cold turkey"

English idioms ~ go "Cold turkey"

Did you ever have a bad habit? Did you use to smoke? (Did you smoke in the past but not anymore?) How about drink too much alcohol? Do you still have a bad habit? My bad habit recently has been drinking too much coffee. 

My main problem was that I would go to Mister Donut to study Japanese, and I would drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee while I was there, 4 days a week! At Mister Donut in Tokyo, they have free refills of coffee, so it was easy to drink too much.

So I stopped going to Mr. Donut. I didn't reduce my visits to only 1 or 2 times a week. I also didn't have only 1 or 2 cups of coffee while I was there, I just stopped going. I suddenly and completely stopped. I stopped going to Mister Donut cold turkey.

Can you guess the meaning of cold turkey? It means to give up (quit) a habit abruptly (immediately) without stopping slowly, without reducing little by little. 

People quit smoking usually by reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke, slowly, over time until they stop. If you smoked 2 packs a day, and you reduced to 1 and a half packs, then 1 pack until eventually, you don't smoke any cigarettes, this is quitting gradually. 

If you smoked 2 packs a day, and one day you decide that you will quit smoking and then stop immediately (abruptly), you have quit cold turkey

Idiom origin 
I think this idiom comes from Western Christmas culture. After Christmas, there are lots of leftovers in the refrigerator, and turkey is a traditional holiday food so there will be lots of turkey, cold turkey, in the fridge.

You can eat these cold turkey leftovers quickly (immediately) when you are hungry. The New Year holidays are also times when people like to make decisions (resolutions) often to stop a bad habit. These 2 ideas got connected to make the idiom cold turkey.

I still drink coffee, but not as much as before. I feel better now :) Have you ever quit a bad habit cold turkey? I am very proud of you!

↓Check out these other great posts!↓

Using "root words" to find meaning

One of my students told me about his daughter staring at a frog during a recent trip to a farm. She couldn't stop focusing on it. I taught my student a new word to describe this situation, captivate. His daughter was captivated by the frog. Captivate is a verb that means : to hold the attention of, by beauty or excellence. As I explained the meaning of the word we looked at the root (the base) of the word and used it to help understand the meaning. I thought this technique would be a good blog topic :)

To hold attention can mean to capture the attention, and capture is the root of captivate. Capture means to take something/someone prisoner, by force. Captivate is a little softer and the past tense from can also be used as an adjective. (remember that captivated is a persons feeling and captivating is the thing that gives us that feeling. ed ing adjective review)
The audience was captivated by the speech.

If we associate (connect in our minds) the root word with the new vocabulary it can be very helpful. I find this most helpful when understanding written text. (I live in Tokyo so understanding words by their pieces is very helpful with Kanji characters)

Now if we hear other words that use capture as a root we can figure out the meaning by the rest of the sentence. Remember that if you you can tell if the word is a noun, verb or adjective/adverb it will be easier to find the meaning. Try this:

"The army kept me in their prison until my government freed me. I was their captive for 3 months."

I hope that you are captivated by my blog, but not a captive!

"Sweating Buckets!"

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a few weeks! Today is July 16, summer is here and Tokyo is very HOT! The hot weather is my excuse for not writing a new blog post for 2 weeks, but maybe I am a little lazy too ;)

Today's idiom is "sweating buckets" and I have been sweating buckets since the beginning of June. Maybe you can imagine already that this idiom means to sweat a lot. Buckets can be used to collect water, and often in an emergency. When a boat (a small boat) is filling with water this is a problem, the boat could sink. We use a small bucket to take the water out of the boat. (It is called a "bailing bucket")

Another problem is if we have a leak in our roof or ceiling and water is dripping down on the floor. When this happens we usually use a bucket to collect the water.

These are both problems and the feeling is that there is too much water. If we are sweating a lot the feeling is usually not good, and we are uncomfortable so we use bucket to say it's too much.
"It's so hot today! I'm sweating buckets!!!!!"

How about you? Are you sweating a lot this summer? Are you sweating buckets? I am!!!

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Little and Few \ A little and A few

LITTLE is used with uncountable nouns and FEW is used with nouns we can count. LITTLE and FEW mean not much/not many. Here are some examples:

"I am very busy with work, I have LITTLE time for other things."
"Most of my friends moved away after high school, I have FEW friends in my hometown now."
This grammar is correct, but in conversation NOT MUCH and NOT MANY are more common.

"I am very busy with work, I DON'T have MUCH time for other things."
"Most of my friends moved away after high school, I DON'T have MANY friends in my hometown now."
These are more natural in conversation.

A LITTLE means a small amount and A FEW means a small number. Here are some examples:
"If you have A LITTLE time I would like to talk to you." (a small amount of time, some time)
"I saw the 'Amazing Spiderman' A FEW days ago. It was great!" (a small number of days ago, some days)

"I speak LITTLE Japanese so I can't communicate well in Tokyo." (I don't speak much Japanese)
"I speak A LITTLE Japanese so I can give directions to a Tokyo taxi driver. (I can speak a small amount of Japanese)

"To the station! I don't have MUCH time! I have A FEW friends visiting Tokyo today."

Much and Many

In English we use the words MUCH and MANY to show that there is a large amount of something. "Much" is used with uncountable nouns and "many" is used with countable nouns. (In the last 2 blog posts we looked at countable and uncountable nouns in more detail)
Check the following examples:

"There is too MUCH smoke in this restaurant."
"There are MANY people smoking."

Smoke is uncountable so we use MUCH. People is the plural form of person, which is a countable noun, so we use MANY. (When we use many we need to use the plural form of the noun.)

If you are not sure if the noun needs MUCH or MANY I have good news! A LOT has the same meaning, "a large amount of something" and we can use it with both countable and uncountable nouns.

"There is A LOT of smoke in this restaurant."
"There are A LOT of people smoking."
Both of these sentences are okay, but don't forget to add OF!

*It is unusual to use MUCH in positive sentences, A LOT is better.
"I spent MUCH money." this is not natural. "I spent A LOT of money." This is the best choice for this sentence.

"There is A LOT OF smoke in this coffee shop!"

Countable nouns pt.2

We learned from the last blog that we don't use A or AN with uncountable nouns. But don't forget that we can't use a countable noun by itself the same way we can for an uncountable noun. For example: "My friend takes the bus everywhere, he hasn't got car." INCORRECT
"I need some more water." CORRECT

Water is not countable so we don't need to use "A." BUT cars are countable so we need "A" when we talk about 1 car.
"My friend takes the bus everywhere, he hasn't got A car." CORRECT

A countable noun doesn't need "A" every time, but it can't be used by itself. Examples:
"This is my car." "That looks like Kevin's car in the parking lot." "The blue car looks better than the black one."

In the example sentence "I need some more water." we used SOME before water. We can use the word some with both countable and uncountable nouns, but don't forget that countable nouns need to end with S if you use them with some. "I saw some cool cars when I was at the auto show!"

Countable and Uncountable nouns

In an earlier blog I talked about how to use A, AN and THE. We learned that A and AN mean 1.
A banana = 1 banana      An apple = 1 apple
We use A and AN with nouns we can count (bananas, books etc.), but we don't use them with nouns we can't count. (water, music etc.)

Today I want look at countable and uncountable nouns in more detail. If you can understand the difference between these 2 kinds of nouns it will be easier to use them naturally in English conversation. It will also help you to understand more parts of  English grammar.

A common mistake students make is trying to use A or AN with uncountable nouns.
"I heard a good music yesterday at Tower records." INCORRECT
"I heard a good song yesterday." CORRECT
A song is countable, we can count them. This CD has 8 new songs. Music is not countable. We don't say 4 musics. A correct sentence would be:
"I heard good music yesterday at Tower records." Not A good music.

Examples of nouns we can't count:
water  - I would like some more water please. (We can't count liquids like juice, paint etc.)
sand - I went to the beach and got sand in my shoes.
rice - This rice is too sticky! (Rice and sand are many small things in a group so we can't say "a sand or a rice)
money - I wish I had more money! (A dollar we can count, 3 dollars. Money we can't, 3 monies)
electricity - My cottage doesn't have electricity

Next is part 2...

To Go =>

We use to when we use the verb GO if we are going to a place, a location, work etc.
"I went to Shibuya on Sunday." 
"I go to work by train."
"Let's go to the park and have a picnic!"
We don’t use to when we go HOME, HERE or THERE. 
“We went there last week.” (Not to there
“It’s time to go home.” (Not to home)
"I told him to come here by 6:00 so we could watch the movie." (Not to here)

"Jim went to the concert last night."     "I went there too! It was great!"

"A", "an" and "the"

Not all languages use articles (a, an, the) and some don't use them the same way they are used in English. Lets look at how we use them with some examples to help.

"A" and "an" mean 1, so we only use these with nouns we can count. 1 pen, 3 pens for example. I have "a" pen means I have 1 pen. It is also not specific, a pen could be any pen. Because "a" means 1 it is incorrect to say "I have a 3 pens." If the noun is plural (more than 1) we don't use a. We only use A or AN when we are talking about 1 thing. We use "an" with words that start with a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) or  a vowel sound. For example the word "hour" does not begin with a vowel (the first letter is "h") but the sound is like the letter "O" so we say "an hour." 1 hour. Here are a few more examples:
"He is an honest guy." "This is an historic building. It was built 280 years ago."

In English we use a for things we haven’t talked about yet, or things in general. We use the for things we have already talked about, or things that are specific. For example: “I went to a restaurant in Shinjuku last Friday.” This means any restaurant, one of many in  Shinjuku. 
“I went to the sushi restaurant next to the convenience store in front of Takadanobaba station.” This is specific and only can mean one restaurant. We can see in this sentence that we use the for convenience store because it is also specific, the convenience store is the one in front of Takadanobaba.

Study Tip

Here is study tip that I hope will be helpful for you when studying English with this blog. 
It is good to use any new words or phrases as soon as possible after you learn them. If you don’t have many chances to speak English you can write some practices sentences with any new words. 
It is also good to change the subject to make it more personal for you. 
For Example- if I learn ”Hiromi and Kentaro went to Italy. “ I would write a practice sentence like ”My wife and I went to Hakone.” This uses the correct grammar but it's also a real experience for me so the phrase is easy to remember. I don't know Hiromi or Kentaro so I don't really care if they went to Italy, I have never even been there! I find this helpful in my own Japanese study, I hope it can help you too!

Let's enjoy studying English!!

"Play" "Do" and "Go"

Remember that we use play for games (like chess or PS3) and for sports that use a ball. 
“I play baseball every Sunday afternoon.”  “Will you play tennis tomorrow after work?” "I like to play poker online."

BUT We don’t use play for sports that don’t use a ball. We use the verb do. "I do Kendo after school on Wednesdays." (not I play Kendo...)

AND we don't use play with sports or activities that end with ing. We use the verb go.
"This weekend I plan to go snowboarding." (not I play snowboarding...) "My friends and I love to go bowling." "I'm bored... Lets go shopping!"

What do you like to play? What sports do you do? Do you ever go swimming?

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