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Expressing Time in English

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Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

This is a delicious evening, when all the body is one sense. All the elements are unusually congenial to me. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the woods, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the others with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not rest, but seek their prey now. They are nature’s watchmen, links which connect the days of animated life.
My nearest neighbor is a mile away, and no house is visible from any place but the hill-tops within a half-mile of me. I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself, and a distant view of the rail road where it touches the pond. But for the most part it is as solitary where I live as it is on the prairies. It might as well be Asia or Africa instead of New England. I have my own sun and moon and stars and a little world all to myself.
Yet I sometimes find that the most innocent and encouraging companionship may be found in any nature object. There can be no very back melancholy to one who lives in midst of nature. Some of my most pleasant hours are during the long rainstorms in spring or fall, which confine me to the house all day. Men frequently say to me, “I would like that you would feel lonesome down there, and want to be nearer to folks, on rainy and snowy days especially.” I am tempted to reply to them. “This whole earth which we inhabit is only a point in space. Why should I feel lonely? Isn’t our planet in the Milky Way?” what sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. What do we want most to dwell near? Surely not the post office, the barroom, the schoolhouse, the grocery, where most men congregate. We don’t want to dwell near many men, but in nature, the perennial source of our life.
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. Being in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I have never found a companion that was as friendly as solitude. We are for the most part lonelier when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our homes. A man thinking or working is always alone. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellow men. The really diligent student in one of the crowded rooms of a college is as solitary as a hermit in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, weeding or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed. But when comes home at night he cannot be alone. He must be where he can “see the folk” and, he thinks, repay himself for his day’s solitude. So he wonders how the students can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without boredom and the “blues,” but he does not realize that the students, although in the house, is still at work in this field, and chopping in his woods.
Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had any time to acquire a new value for each other. We have had to concur on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable, so we do not have to resort to open war. We meet at the post office, and at the tavern, and around the fireside at night; we live en masse and are in each other’s way, and another in this way. Certainly less frequency would be sufficient for all communication. It would be better if there were only one inhabitant to a squire mile, as it is where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, so that we have to touch him.
I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in morning, when nobody calls. Let me suggest a few comparisons, so that I may convey an idea of my situation. I am no more lonely than the duck on the pond, or than Walden Pond itself. What company does that lonely lake have? The sun is alone. God is alone, but devil is far from being alone; he has a great deal of company. I am no more lonely than the single dandelion in a pasture, or a bean, or a fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lovely than a brook, or the North Star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.

Comprehension Questions
(Read the story above and answer these question by using new words from the text and your own words. Write complete sentences and be sure you are using correct verb tenses.

1. Does nature ever sleep?
2. What does the author want to live with?
3. Who is his favorite companion?
4. Whom does he compare the diligent student with?
5. What disadvantage is there in seeing the same people frequently?
6. How do we use etiquette?

For more questions like, multiple-choice, matching, puzzle, etc. about the story click on EXECUTRICES

About short story

In many countries around the world students have fairly limited access to spoken English, and written English often takes on primary importance for stimulating language acquisition. Literature can be an important item that it may provide a particularly appropriate way of stimulating this acquisition, as it provides meaningful memorable contexts for processing and interpreting new language. Literature is very rich in multiple levels of meaning and vocabulary (Gillian Lazar 2005). Among literary texts particularly short stories are widely used in ESL/EFL classrooms. More than some advantages like wide range of vocabularies and grammatical elements, short stories have other functions that provide some more advantages for teachers and students to use in ESL/ EFL classrooms. The most important advantages can be counted such as shortness and in most cases simplicity, which help learners to memorize hole story and then present it easily and it can improve self-confidence and self-esteem as significant factors of learners (Brown 2007).  In compare with other literary texts like, poems or drama, short stories usually are written in simple language, simple words and even in some cases simple structure. These advantages provide the special possibilities for teachers to change the vocabularies and grammatical structure to make familiar students with new words and structures and then improving students’ comprehension. The other benefits of using short stories are that, short stories involve variety of topics, situations and events in different tenses. These varieties give some opportunities to the learners to find out new vocabularies and structures or even some common phrases for using in daily conversations. On the other hand these stories can bring some cultural points from target language for the learners and they can use them to improve their language they are studying.

In brief benefits of using short stories in the class can be classified as below:

1)  To present a short story in the on section of English class;

2)  To make preparation in both of vocabulary and cultural or background information;

3)  Students can read the story carefully and in short time, analyzing the character, setting and plot, finding the theme and speak and discuss about the author’s point of view;

(4) To encourage students to discuss and explore the story in detail.


Brown  H. D, 2007, principles of language learning and teaching,5th Edition, USA


Idioms are expressions which have a meaning that is not obvious from the individual words. The best way to understand an idiom is to see it in the context. On the other hand native speakers in each language use idioms and phrases in their daily conversation widely. Therefore, knowing about the meaning and usage of each can be essential for all language learners.

in this section I try to put some idioms in different areas and topics and some examples of each in front that they show the usage of idioms in context. But I should  recommend all learners using good dictionary and practice with other   sentences will help to memorize and understanding idioms better.


My friend Jones is not a very practical person. Driving along a main road one dark night he suddenly had a flat tire. Even worse, he discovered that he did not have spare wheel in the back of his car! Jones waved to passing cars and lorries, but not one of them stopped. Half an hour passed and he was almost in despair. At last he waved to a care just like his own. To his surprise, the car actually stopped and well-dressed woman got out. Jones was terribly disappointed. How could a person like this possibly help him? The lady, however, offered him her own spare wheel, wheel, but Jones had to explain that he had never changed a wheel in his life !  She set to work at once and fitted the wheel in a few minutes while Jones looked on in admiration.


Answer to these questions about the story and use new words from the the text and your own words,  write complete sentences and be sure you are using correct verb tense.

  1. What sort of person is Jones?
  2. Did he have a flat tire on dark night or not? Did he have a spare wheel with him or not?
  3. For how long did he wave to passing cars? Who stopped finally?
  4. What did she offer him? Was he able to fit it or not? What did she do?
  5. What did Jones do meanwhile?

Finger Idioms

Read idioms and examples about “fingers”. Use the idioms in new sentences with your new words.

Idioms Meaning

A finger in every pie

If someone has a finger in every pie, they are involved in many activities
“For information about the town development project, you should talk to John Brown. He has a finger in every pie.”

Get your fingers burnt

If you get your fingers burnt, you suffer as a result of an   unsuccessful action and are nervous about trying again. “He got his fingers so badly burnt in the last elections that he decided to withdraw from politics.”

Keep your finger on the pulse

If you keep your finger on the pulse, you are constantly aware of the most recent events or developments.
“A successful investor keeps his finger on the pulse of international business.”

Keep your fingers crossed

If you keep your fingers crossed, you hope that something will be successful.
“I’m doing my driving test tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.”

Not lift a finger

Someone who does not lift a finger makes no effort to help or provide assistance when it is needed.
“Many people saw the boy falling off his bike but not one of them   lifted a finger.”

Work your fingers to the  bone

A person who works their fingers to the bone is extremely hardworking.
“He deserves his success; he worked his fingers to the bone when he started the business.”

All thumbs/all fingers and thumbs

If you are all fingers and thumbs, you are awkward and clumsy and do things incorrectly.
“Would you mind wrapping this for me? I’m all fingers and thumbs!”

`Five-finger discount

If somebody gets a five-finger discount, they take something   without paying. In other words, they steal.
“How could he afford that watch?”
“Who knows – perhaps with a five-finger discount!”

Rap on the knuckles

If someone gets a rap on/across the knuckles, they are punished or reprimanded, not very severely, but as a reminder not to do that  again.
“Andy got a rap on the knuckles for coming  home late.”



Stick out like a sore thumb

If something sticks out like a sore thumb, it is very obvious or visible in an unpleasant way.
“The modern building sticks out like a sore thumb among the old  houses.”

Under your thumb

If someone is under your thumb, they are completely under your control or influence.
Nobody ever protests.  He has the whole group under his thumb.”

EYE idioms

Read idioms and try to memorize the meanings and examples, use idioms in new sentences by own

Idioms Meaning

Blink of an eye

If something happens in the blink of an eye, it happens nearly
instantaneously, with hardly enough time to notice it.
“The pickpocket disappeared in the blink of an eye.”

Catch somebody’s  eye

If someone catches your eye, you find them attractive.
“The pretty girl near the door caught his eye.”

More than meets the eye

When something (or someone) is more complicated, difficult or
interesting that it appears, it is said that there is more than meets
the eye
“He said he simply sold his shares, but I think there’s more to it than
meets the eye.”

See eye to eye with someone.

To see eye to eye with somebody means that you agree
with them.

Turn a blind eye to something.

If you turn a blind eye to something, you ignore it intentionally.

The apple of your eye

If somebody is the apple of your eye, this means that you like
them  very much.
“My grandson is the apple of my eye”.

The eye of the storm

A person or organization who is in the eye of the storm is
deeply involved in a difficult situation which affects a lot of people.
“The minister was often in the eye of the storm during the debate
on the war in Iraq.”

Eagle eyes

Someone who has eagle eyes sees or notices things more easily
than others.
“Tony will help us find it – he’s got eagle eyes!”

Eyes in the back of one’s head

To say that someone has eyes in the back of their head
means that they are very observant and notice everything
happening around them.
“You need eyes in the back of your head to look after young

Feast one’s eyes on something

If you feast your eyes on something, you are delighted and
gratified by what you see.
“As he drove along the coast, he feasted his eyes on the
beautiful scenery.”

Eyes like a hawk

If you’ve got eyes like a hawk, you’ve got good eyesight and
notice every detail.
“Of course Dad will notice the scratch on his car – he’s got
eyes like a hawk!  “

In one’s mind’s eye

If you can visualise something, or see an image of it in your mind,
you see it in your mind’s eye.
“I can see the village in my mind’s eye but I can’t remember
the name.”

In the twinkling of an eye

This expression means ‘very fast’ or ‘instantaneously’.
“Public opinion can change in the twinkling of an eye.”

Look someone in the eyes.

If you look someone in the eye, or eyes, you look at them
directly so as to convince them that you are telling the truth,
even though you may be lying.

Eyes wide open

If you do something with your eyes open, you are fully aware
of what you are doing.
“I took on the job with my eyes wide open, so I’m not complaining.”

A sight for sore eyes

This expression refers to a person or thing you are happy to see.
“Sam! You’re a sight for sore eyes!  Haven’t seen you in a long

Raise eyebrows

If you raise your eyebrows at something, you show surprise or
disapproval by the expression on your face.
“When the boss arrived in jeans, there were a lot of raised

Not bat an eyelid

To say that somebody does not bat an eyelid means that they
do not seem shocked or surprised, nor are they nervous or
worried. They show no emotion.