Answer in The Tense of The Question

When speaking English as a second language, it’s often difficult to decide how to answer a question. 

Begin by thinking about “when”, or the time frame which the sentence is referring to.

The easy way to do this is to look at the tense of the question–like this:

A: What did you do today?

B: I bought socks.

The questioner using the helping verb did, which tells us the question is about the past, so the answer should be in the past, too. Thus the answerer uses the simple past form of buy.

Here, a girl and her father are in a restaurant. The girl is watching a waiter and asks about her.

 Daughter: What is she doing–the waiter?

    The girl is asking about what’s  happening now.

Father: She taking the man’s order.

   So the father answers in the same style–the tense of the daughter’s question….

Daughter: That’s her job?

So the father answers in the that same tense:

Father: Yes it is–and bringing the food.

Now the daughter switches to the present Simple–asking about usual activity:

Daughter: She takes order and brings food all the time?

Father: Yes.

Daughter: What‘s she doing now?

Father: She‘s going to the kitchen, now.

Birthdays And Dates


Adam: When’s your birthday?

1. Jimmy: August; you know that. It’s ___ the 11th.

J: When’s yours?

2. A: Now you’re the stupid one. It’s ___ August too!

a. on

b. in


  1. a (on)

How to remember this: The 11th is a date we write on the calendar.

My birthday is on the 11th.

We write a note about it on top of–or over–the day-square (on the calendar marked) 5th)

2. b (in)

My birthday is in August.

How to remember this: If we do not know or give the exact date, we know that the birthday must be inside (in) the time–the month–of August.

Someone or Some People?

From Twitter

Jess The Old Secretary: __________ came today to see you–a new person.
Bill The New Doctor: Without an appointment?
Jess: Yes; sometimes __________ come in off the street to check us out.
a. Someone
b. Some people
c. anyone

The answers are (in order):

1st someone*

2nd: (some) people**

*Though not always, someone often applies to a specific unknown person;

“Someone came in today and asked about electric cars.”

EXCEPTION: in Simple Present Tense Hypothetical Narratives

“(Imagine) someone comes in and asks about electric cars; what should I tell him or her?”

**Some people refers to hypothetical people.


To come in off the street means to come or visit with no reservation, plans or schedule.

Continue reading “Someone or Some People?”

Asking about Others

From Twitter


In English-speaking culture it’s customary to ask about someone when s/he asks about you. Not doing can be considered rude:


Jon: Hi, Don! How are you?

D: I’m good, thanks for asking. And you?

J: Great! Thanks!

Continue reading “Asking about Others”

Issue: AI

Many people–famous people–scholars, scientists, engineers, philosophers and neuro-scientists are concerned about AI。People such as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Sam Harris, the late Stephen Hawking、Nick Bostrom …. Here, Don and Jon are discussing AI too:
Don: What’ya have against AI?
“What’ya” means “what do you…”  / “What do you have against…” means Why don’t you like___?
Jon: Not AI–unregulated AI.
Jon is saying: It’s not AI that I am talking about/that I don’t like; it’s unregulated AI. / Regulation (“unregulated”) is government laws that protect us from companies and the damage they do when they only think about profit-or when they overlook safety, citizen rights and the environment. Jon is concerned about AI developing without limits on its power.
Don: Leave it to the consumer!
Leave it (to) ____ means “let ____ take care of it.” Don is saying: Let the market decide what AI will be like.
Jon: Like the Internet?
This should be “Like with the internet?”)
Don: What’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong with the internet?)
Jon: Fraud, no privacy, election-tampering, cancel-culture, doxing?
All the things Jon mentions are examples of what Jon thinks is wrong with the internet; he mentions this to say that the internet–though we love it–compromises our lives at the same time that it helps us.This is a big issue among philosophers, scientists and other academics.
Cancel-culture is the situation where netizens and social media platforms ban users because they don’t like what those users have said–even if what they said was just the truth, or scientific facts or sensitive.
Doxing (from “document dropping”) is taking someone’s personal information–or a company’s corporate information–and releasing it on the internet in order to bring harm to that person or company.
Don: I don’t know what that means.
Don is not into issues, particularly AI, so doesn’t know what’s going on  about that issue or the internet.
Jon: We need regulation.
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More on this later….

Staff or Staffs?

Maria: We need to hire more staffs.

Tony: Yeah. There’s too much work.

Amber: Sticks?

Maria: Huh?

Tony: What?

Amber: You say we need staffs.

Maria: Right! T: Mmm.

Amber: Look: staffs are sticks.

Tony: “…”

Maria: No, they’re clerks.

Amber: No; ‘staffs,’ with an `s` means “sticks.”

And the reason? 


‘Staff,’ as in “company staff” is a non-count noun, thus a company, restaurant or shop wanting to hire more workers must refer to them as staff, as not “staffs,” as in:

Sony Hiring Additional Staff

Hiring Additional Staff

Most companies and restaurants–as well as other shops which put signs in the windows simply write:

Now Hiring

So every time you see a shirt in Japan or Korea that reads “Staffs”, it can correctly only mean:

‘the entire body of employees at several companies’



…in the minds of the native English speakers who see them–or at least that is what they think for a moment!

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Will or Going To

From Twitter

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Care For And Care About

If we accept the enormous challenge of moving to another country, we find that how we are treated there is more important than the charms of our new home; we need people to care ____ us.
a. of
b. for
c. about
There are 2 possible answers, but they have different meanings.

The answers–according to Standard English Style–are b and c.

To care aboutsomeone means to be concerned for his or her well-being. To careforsomeone is to tend totake care of that person, as a mother, wife or nurse does–or other loving family members and professionals do.
1. Whenever I was sick during my childhood, my mother cared for me every day that I was home from school. She would bring me meals and hot tea in bed, give me medicine and check my temperature.
2. My father had to work during the day and early evening, so when he got home he cared about me by asking my mother whether I had drunk enough water and had taken my medicine, then he would come visit me in my room and ask me the same questions–just to make sure.
Notice in  example 1. that the speaker’s mother is actually tending to, or taking care of him physically; she is there, bringing him things and examining his condition–in the room. This is caring for.
Notice in  example 2. that the speaker’s father asked questions about his convalescence (his getting better — his recovery. He is not actually doing something. This is caring about.
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【会話で使える過去完了】The Past Perfect 

We use the the Past Perfect only when talking about an event in the past that occurred before another event in the past. We don’t use it to talk about one event in the past.

  1. I had lived in Korea before I moved to Japan. (2 Past Tense Events Expressed)

2. Actually, I went home to America, first. (1 Past Tense Event Expressed)

3. So, I had lived in New York for five years before coming to Japan. (2 Past Tense Events Expressed)

NOTE to Number 3: In the second part of the sentence we use a gerund of come–which is the noun form of that verb; you can see it has ing  the end, with before providing the context of a simple past event.

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【使い分け】”Most of” or “Most?”

In each statement (numbers 1 and 2), which version  (A or B) of each is Correct?
Statement 1.
Option A
Most of Koreans like Kimchi.
Option B
Most Koreans like Kimchi.
Statement 2.
Option A
Most of Koreans like Kimchi prefer fresh Kimchi.
Option B
Most of the Koreans who like Kimchi prefer fresh Kimchi.
In statement 1 we do not need `of ` because ‘most’ directly modifies ‘Koreans;’ How many Koreans?  … 90% (meaning most). The answer is B.
In statement 2 we need `of `+ the Koreans who, because we are talking about a subset, or a group within (or coming from) a another group. We could also phrase it this way:
Of the Koreans who like Kimchi, most prefer fresh kimchi.
Do you like kimchi; what kind?
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