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(Level B2 and above: On the difference between irony and sarcasm, with examples, quiz, videos and vocabulary exercise)

When we hear verbal irony, we often assume it is sarcasm – but there is one small difference between irony and sarcasm. Here’s a brief elucidation that we hope will help you spot the difference during your future comedy viewings.

(Level B1 and above: the Disney family ancestors were French)

We all know that Disney is American. It’s as American as apple pie and Mickey Mouse. But did you know that Walt Disney’s ancestors were more likely to have preferred a tarte aux pommes followed by du pain et du fromage ?

(Level B2 and above: the origin of Black Friday)

Black Friday has now become a global phenomenon. The Day of Deals. Bargains galore (à gogo) for the brave. But, why black? There are a few historical references. The most recent can be traced back to Philadelphia police in 1960s who called it a black day, feared and dreaded by law enforcement, public transport employees and taxi drivers....

(Level B2 and above: On the subjunctive, with examples, phrases and video)

In the 20th century, British English tried to avoid using the subjunctive, seeing it as old and pedantic, and promoted the use of “should” instead. But thanks to American English which kept the subjunctive alive and well, the use of “should” has declined on the islands as the subjunctive has returned.

(Level B2 and above. Expression: An albatross around one’s neck)

After the US mid-term elections, Donald Trump has earned a new title, “the albatross around the neck of the Republican Party“. This expression can be traced back to an acclaimed (and extremely long) poem – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. What does it mean and why has it been used to describe the former president ?

(Level B1 and above. Idioms and expressions involving dogs and cats)

Dogs and cats. Don’t we just love them? There are dozens of expressions or idioms that involves cats and dogs. Here is a list of some of our favorite dog and cat expressions with definitions and examples of how to use them.

(Level C1 and above. About Roger Federer)

Roger transcended tennis. Over the years, we all drained global supplies of superlatives to describe the phenomenon that will always be Roger Federer on a tennis court. Here are some accolades from sport writers, incredulous adversaries, gob-smacked fans and legends of the game.

Level B2 and above: On Liz Truss and British politics, with vocabulary and phrases, video

The appointment of Elizabeth Truss as UK Prime Minister on September 6 was almost immediately eclipsed by the death of Queen Elisabeth two days later. The Queen’s reign of 70 years is in sharp contrast to the revolving door (porte tournante) of Prime Ministers. Truss is the fourth in just over six years.

Level C1 and above. Rewriting history: The incredible story of King Richard III

History is written by the victors, in this case, the new Tudor dynasty. Richard’s death was end of the Plantagenet dynasty. 400 years later, a disparate group of UK historians revisited the parchments of the era and discovered that Richard was perhaps not such an evil overlord. Then his skeleton was unearthed from under a city car park.

Level B2 and above: Conspiracy theories: examples and explanations – with related vocabulary and videos

Conspiracy theories are good material to poke fun at – unless you are serious about them. Serious conspiracy theorists see a hidden agenda behind everything; and that’s no fun. No, sir. An evil elite is running the world, and carrying a gun at all time is the answer.

Level B1 and above: article and vocabulary connected to heatwaves, climate change and glass buildings

Scientists agree that global warming means more and more heatwaves. The world is already on average 1.1-1.3°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times and as we continue to use fossil fuel, it is set to get warmer yet. We have a wicked problem on our hands.

Level B1 and above: vocabulary around the word “problem” and different kinds of problems

Do you have a problem? Yes, we all do at one time or another.

A problem to solve (résoudre), a problem to unravel, a problem that is annoying, or maybe a problem that is driving you mad. If you believe the popular interpretation of Murphy’s Law which says, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” then you’re ready to handle (s’occuper de) the inevitable problems coming your way.

- With videos

Level C1 and above: all about the Australian elections in May 2022

Last month, democracy called on Australia, as this wonderful, but delicate creature does every three years.

The result was resounding. Australians voted to end a decade of toxic politics. Enough was enough.

Welcome back Australia. Bloody brilliant mate!

Level C1 and above: the history of pirates

PIRACY is one of our most enduring activities.

First came the boat and piracy quickly followed. It spread across the seven seas and into airspace (aircraft hijacking) and cyberspace where even you, dear reader, have probably indulged in a little piracy.

(Level B2 and above, pardon my French)

My mother was a most polite woman. Her language was always temperate. She rarely lost her temper. However, if someone or something did make her blood boil (made her very angry) she was likely to exclaim:

Pardon my French, but I think he’s a damn idiot! or Pardon my French, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard for a long time !

(Level B2 and above: origins and meaning of the term “gaslight”)

Gaslighting is denying reality, with the intention to make another person doubt themselves. It is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. The term is often treated as a modern buzzword, although it has appeared in decades of psychoanalytical studies.

(Level C1 and above: All about that famous song, A Whiter Shade of Pale) (March 2022)

In 1967, one of most played songs in the history of pop and rock was released. The man who sang and co-wrote the music died last month. His name, Gary Brooker. In April 1967, he formed a new band. That same month they went into a London studio. One of songs they recorded was called A Whiter Shade of Pale.

(Level C1 and above: The fall of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson)

Goodbye, Boris. It was short and not sweet. It was tumultuous and riddled with lies and hypocrisy, which was what we expected from you. You were Boris. True to nature.

(Level B2 and above: Wordle, the new word game)

There’s a new word game in town. It’s the infectious phenomenon called Wordle, a web-based game developed by Josh Wardle. Twitter has identified it as the first major viral trend of 2022. Wordle is unlike most modern-day website games. It makes you think.

(Level B2 and above: Latin words commonly used in the English language, with exemples)

Many Latin words are used in their original form in many languages, including English. Here are some that are used quite commonly in the English language.

Level C1 and above

Novax Djokovic is in “detention” in a nondescript hotel in Melbourne, Australia, while squads of lawyers decide if his pandemic papers are valid for him to play in the Australia Open. Djokovic shares his immigration detention hotel, with real victims, who really have been crucified by populism… The world’s number one has been in hotel detention for a less than a week. Many of the guests on adjoining floors have been in detention for about nine years.

Level C1 and above

For the first time ever, a bona fide millipede was discovered in Australia. This millipede has 1036 legs, easily overtaking the leggiest millipede weighing in with a paltry 750 limbs. Millipedes deserve a bit more compassion and respect. After all, they first appeared about 400 million years before the first mobile telephone.

Level C1 and above

The third smallest sovereign nation in the world, after the Vatican and Monaco, is the tiny island of Nauru. The 21 square kilometre island was once a lush tropical paradise. Today, the island is sick and its people are sick. Paradise lost.

Level C1 and above

What did Groucho Marx and Winston Churchill have in common, apart from their love of cigars? Answer: They were both brilliant with words and wordplay (jeu de mots) and remain today, the great princes of paraprosdokians.

Level C1 and above

Thanksgiving was a feast of thanks for the first harvest, celebrated by the newly arrived Plymouth colonists, a group of religious refugees known as separatist puritans in 1621. The population was just 50. The majority of the guests were in fact the indigenous people; Wampanoag chief Massasoit and 90 of his men are said to have supplied five deer for the feast.

(Level A2 and above: past simple and past continuous)

Mr. Bernstein is a brilliant pianist. Last night, while he was eating in a restaurant with his wife, somebody came into his house and destroyed his very expensive grand piano with a chainsaw (tronçonneuse). The piano was completely demolished, a total mess.

– With stories, exercises, vocabulary, and songs

On se sent fier aujourd’hui. Vachement content même.

Cet article que vous êtes en train de lire est le 100ème à être publié sur notre blog Et Maintenant in English.

(Article in French and English)

Level A2 and above

When they found out they had to fill in all these forms, Jill and Peter gave up on the idea that they should get married…

There are 12 phrasal verbs in this story. Find out what they mean and why they are so important.

– With stories, exercises and songs

Level A2 and above

There are lots of expressions in English that involve fish (poisson). They are informal expressions.

But they can be used to make your conversations more colourful and interesting.

Like a fish out of water: This expression or metaphor is self-explanatory.

Level C1 and above

The Cosmic Medical Centre was busy, but Humanity had to wait just five minutes before the nurse called them.

“Humanity? Earth, isn’t it? This way please.”

Level B2 and above

Empathy is kind of a beautiful thing. It is about recognising another and thereby sharing someone’s experience. And we all do it to a greater or lesser extent; it is part of our nature. But can we learn empathy?

– With quotes, phrases, vocabulary quiz, videos and songs

Level B2 and above

“Time” is one of the most-used words in the English language. We talk about time all the time. You can lose time, find time, save time, spend time, make time, take time, give time, call time and run out of time. You can even kill time. 

- With phrases, reading, exercise, video, songs, quotes quiz and vocabulary quiz

Level C1 and above

Coffee break, June 16, 2021, Villa La Grange, Geneva.

  • Vlad: Two sugars and a dash of almond milk isn’t it, Joe?
  • Joe: Vlad, you’ve got your spies everywhere, haven’t you?

Level C1 and above 

I like La Marseillaise, the French national anthem (hymne nationale). It’s inspiring and exhilarating. But then, I found a translation…

Level B1 and above 

‘Sorry’ is not just about expressing remorse. It is also used to express sympathy, to acknowledge an unfortunate circumstance, or to show a non-confrontational stance, humility, to create trust, to get someone’s attention, and to require clarification.

- With expressions, quote quiz, vocabulary quiz, and songs.

Level B2 and above 

Old English learning books for the French speakers.

Level B2 and above 

The adventures of a traveller during the COVID pandemic: a true horror story.

Level B1 and above 

It pays to reflect on one’s sins (péchés) every now and then. Are you envious? If so, you are a sinner and you are suffering from one of the seven capital sins, according to Christian theology.

- With expressions, quotes quiz, vocabulary quiz, and songs.

Level C1 and above 

When I hear the different musical intros to France Culture programmes, I have a Pavlovian reaction.

- With music and videos

Level B1 and above 

Bernie Madoff, the Manhattan Ponzi czar, died this week. Question: How could you invest your millions in a man called Madoff? 

- Phrasal verbs and expressions with ‘make’.

Level B1 and above 

Have you ever been to a dinner party where someone mentions the Euro Millions? I bet you a lottery ticket that you have.

- First and second conditionals in English, with exercises

Level C1 and above 

The British empire was bankrolled by the highly addictive drug opium.

Level C1 and above 

Australia is grappling with a run of misogyny and violence against women which has shocked the nation and will cause irreparable damage to the country’s reputation.

Level B2 and above 

The word restaurant was originally the name of a soup... Thanks to the French revolution – restaurants, as we know them today – started to take off.

Level C1 and above 

Denis Lavant has one of French cinema’s most instantly recognisable faces – a real sacrée gueule.

Level B1 and above 

It’s St. Valentine’s Day. Time to talk about love. Do you remember the last time you fell in love?

- With expressions and vocabulary about love, with quotes, and songs.

Level C1 and above
Ms Battaglia’s stark black and white photos over the last 40 years have documented and denounced the atrocities of the mafia.

Level A2 and above 

To and for are two innocent-looking words, but for French speakers, they are not so simple. They can be quite confusing. When do you use to and when do you use for in a sentence?

- With exercises.

Level C1 and above 

Seventy-two players are now in full quarantine-lockdown in hotels rooms for 14 days, hitting balls against bedroom walls.

Level B2 and above

Today, Nico Meury, aged 28, is the CEO of independent Geneva recording studio and label, Evidence Music and is also the founder and partner in one of Europe’s hardest working reggae sound systems, Little Lion Sound.

Level B1 and above 

The World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens think they are.

- With vocabulary and expressions related to happiness, and exercise.

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