grammatical expression: to take exception to

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Today, I want to go over the grammatical expression “take exception to”. We use it when we want to say that we don’t like what another person has said or done, and we feel offended by it. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

I take exception to the fact that you think I’m stupid just because I didn’t go to university.

A: You probably don’t understand modern music because you’re over 50.

B: I take exception to that!

I don’t know how to use polite forms in Japanese. I hope my coworkers in Tokyo don’t take exception to that.

Be careful what you say to Cheryl. She’s very sensitive and takes exception to many things.

We can use this expression in all types of sentences: positive, negative and questions.

We often put the words “the fact that” after this term. This is then followed by another sentence explaining the thing the person is offended by. This is the case of my first example.

It’s often used as a direct response to a statement. This is the case of my second example.

It’s not really clear why “take exception” means to be offended. Perhaps it’s because the word “exception” means that something is different. Therefore, “I take exception to that.” could be seen as meaning “I feel differently about that than other people do and am therefore offended by it.”

This term can be used in both daily conversations and business situations.

grammatical word: tackle

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This blog entry is about the verb “tackle”. We often use this word in business situations when we want to talk about starting to deal with a problem at work. Let me give you some examples of how to use it.

We’re having a big problem with the employees over the issue of vacation time. How do you think we should tackle this problem?

People are constantly late for work, and the boss said he would tackle the problem himself. I wonder what he’s going to do.

I’ll tackle the problem of low morale at the office if you deal with the customer complaints we’ve been getting recently.

Our sales have been going down steadily since January. If we don’t tackle this problem soon, we’ll go out of business.

It’s important to note that when we say we will tackle a problem, it means we haven’t started to deal with that problem yet. If the process has already started, then we say we’re handling the problem or dealing with the problem.

You might be interested to know that we can also use the word “tackle” when talking about American football. When a football player attacks a player from the opposite team in order to stop him from running with the football, we say he “tackles” him. So I suppose that’s why we use it when talking about problems; we are attacking a problem in order to stop it.

grammatical expression: in one’s sleep

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I have another interesting grammatical expression for you: “in one’s sleep”. We use it when we want to talk about something that we know very well, or something that we are very skillful at. Here are some example sentences using it.

I know the way to Stephen’s house very well. I’ve been there so many times I could get there in my sleep.

Sharon has fixed this kind of computer so many times that she could do it in her sleep.

A: Do you know how to make beef stew?

B: Are you kidding? I used to make it for my mother at least twice a month. I can do it in my sleep.

I’m going to train you very well. By the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to use this machine in your sleep.

As you can see from my examples, we use words such as “can”, “could” or “be able to” with this expression.

The idea with this expression is that we know how to do something so well that we could do it automatically even in an unconscious state. Obviously, this is not true, and if we are asleep, we could not do it. However, this is a typical example of exaggeration in English. We often use exaggeration as a way to emphasize something when we’re speaking. It’s used far more often in spoken English than in written English.

grammatical expression: in a row

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The entry for today is about the grammatical expression “in a row”. We use it when we want to talk about two or more things happening consecutively. In other words, they happen one after another with no breaks in between. Let me give you some example sentences using it.

Next week, I have four days off in a row! I’m so excited!

My favorite baseball team lost seven games in a row. All their fans are really disappointed!

My girlfriend has given me something really special for five birthdays in a row. I hope she gives me something nice again this year.

My family and I have gone on vacation to Hawaii for three years in a row. I really want to go somewhere different this year.

So, we use this to talk about time. We use such words as: days, weeks, months, years, etc.

We can also use it to talk about things that happen according to a regular schedule such as sports games or meetings at the office. My second sentence is an example of that.

In the case of my first example, there is a big difference between having four days off and having four days off in a row. For example, if we have Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday off, we would say “I have four days off”. We couldn’t use the expression “in a row” because we had to work on Wednesday. However, if it’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we use “in a row” because there is no interruption.

grammatical expression: time and time again

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This time I want to write about the grammatical expression, “time and time again”. We use it when we want to talk about a situation which happens very frequently. Here are some example sentences using it.

I’m so annoyed with Jack! He’s late time and time again when we make plans to get together.

Time and time again my sister says she’s going to break up with her boyfriend, but she never does.

Joyce comes over to borrow things time and time again. She’s really getting on my nerves.

This author uses water as a metaphor time and time again in his novels.

It’s important to note that this expression is often used to complain about something or someone. I think this is clear with my first three example sentences. However, in the case of my last example, when the person says the author uses that metaphor “time and time again”, it sounds a little negative and as if he/she doesn’t like that habit of the author. If the person wants to sound less negative, they would say something like “This author often uses water as a metaphor in his novels.”

adjectives: temperamental

Baby Einstein

This blog entry is about the adjective “temperamental”. We use it to describe a person or a machine which is very sensitive and unpredictable. Let me give you some example sentences using it.

I heard that actress is really temperamental, so nobody wants to work with her.

My new boss is supposed to be really temperamental, so I’m really worried about working for him.

Please be aware that this photocopier can be quite temperamental. Sometimes you have to hit it to make it work.

I’m really frustrated with my car these days. It still works, but it’s become really temperamental.

When we use this word to talk about a person, as in my first two examples, they are very sensitive emotionally and their behavior cannot be predicted.

When we use this word to talk about a machine, as in my last two examples, it is very sensitive physically and whether or not it works properly cannot be predicted.

In English, both ways of using this word are equally common. In all cases, this word is considered negative.

grammatical expression: slowly but surely

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This time I’m going to write about the expression “slowly but surely”. We use it when we want to talk about making gradual progress with something when trying to achieve a goal. Here are some ways to use it in sentences.

I’m still not great at speaking Spanish, but I’m improving slowly but surely.

If you keep working hard, slowly but surely you’ll become successful.

This is a difficult problem to figure out but, if we work together on it, we can do it slowly but surely.

When I first moved to this city I didn’t have any friends. However, slowly but surely I was able to make friends here.

As you can see from my examples, we can use this expression to talk about situations that are happening now, in the future or in the past.

We can place the expression “slowly but surely” either at the end of the sentence or in the middle. We can even put it at the beginning of a sentence, but it’s usually placed after a word such as “however”. This is the case of my last example.

In this expression, “surely” means “definitely”. Therefore, the meaning of this expression is that something will definitely happen, but it will take a long time.

grammatical expression: a mile a minute

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Today I’d like to write about the expression “a mile a minute”. We use it when we want to talk about something or someone going very fast. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

That tour guide was talking a mile a minute, so I couldn’t understand her at all.

I’m so excited right now. My heart is beating a mile a minute.

Bob and Dan were going a mile a minute on the hike, so I couldn’t keep up with them.

I don’t like to use my Spanish when I go to Mexico because when people respond to me, they usually speak a mile a minute. I have to improve my listening skills.

We usually only use this expression in grammatically positive sentences.

The feeling this expression has is usually a little negative, but sometimes it can be neutral in tone, as in my second example.

We often use this expression when we want to express the idea that a person is speaking very quickly. This is the case of my first and fourth examples.

Please note that we always use the word “mile”, but we cannot substitute the word “kilometer” for it. This would sound very strange in English.

grammatical expression: if only

if-only

For this blog entry, I’d like to write about the short expression, “if only”. We use it when we want to express a strong desire for something. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

I really hate my job! If only I could get another one.

If only I could find a girlfriend. I would be so much happier than I am now.

A: I wish Dan wouldn’t be late all the time.

B: If only! Unfortunately, that’s his nature.

If only my parents would stop pressuring me and my wife to have a baby! My life would be much less stressful!

As you can see from my examples, we often put “I could” after the term “if only”. This is the case of my first two examples.

After “if only” we can also put “would”, as in my last example. In these cases, we don’t put “I” between them; it must be another person or other people.

Sometimes, we use “if only” in a sentence by itself. In these cases, it’s used as a response to another person’s statement. This is the case of my third example.

The term “if only” is very close in meaning to “I wish”, but it’s a little bit stronger and more formal.

As I mentioned, this is used to express a strong desire for something. Please note that the desire can be either a positive thing the person wants, as in my first two examples, or it can be something negative that the person wants to stop, as in my last two examples.

idiom: on the mend

on the mend

Today, I’d like to write about the expression “on the mend”. We use it when we want to talk about someone or something which is recovering from something bad. Here are some ways to use it in sentences.

I was very sick last week, but I’m on the mend now.

A: I heard Jack had to have an operation! Is he ok?

B: We were very worried for a while, but fortunately he’s on the mend now.

My sister’s boyfriend broke up with her and totally broke her heart! She’s a strong woman though. I’m sure she’ll be on the mend soon.

The economy was in deep trouble, but there are signs now that it’s on the mend.

So, as you can see from my examples, we usually use this expression to talk about people recovering from a physical or emotional problem such as an illness, an injury or a broken heart.

However, as you can see in my last example, we can also use it to talk about the economy when it recovers from a recession. This is a less common way to use it, but we sometimes hear this in the news media.

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