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Ask Doctor English
Your ESL and English language learning specialist. Ask Dr. English whatever you like about the English language.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Friday, July 1st, 2005

Today is a special edition of Ask Doctor English, as we celebrate Canada Day, which is a statutory holiday throughout Canada. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Day is known as Memorial Day.

Canada Day was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day. It is a celebration of the day in 1867 that the first colonies of British North America entered Confederation and became the Dominion of Canada.

Other names used in the past for Canada Day include: First of July, July the First, Confederation Day, and Dominion Day. On October 27, 1982, July 1st, then known as "Dominion Day", it was decided by Parliament to become known as "Canada Day".

Canada Day is often celebrated with barbecues, parades, music, and fireworks in the evening. You will also likely hear the Canadian national anthem sung on Canada Day.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

If you would like more information, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


One of the challenges of learning English is that the language changes depending on the English-speaking country in which you are in. Whether you are in Canada, the United States, England, Australia, or any of the many other countries in which English is the primary language, you will find the language changes. Not only are there distinctions in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, but there are also many cultural differences which affect how we use the language.

There are many differences in vocabulary between British English and North American English. This can sometimes make communication, even between native English speakers, a challenge.

I lived in England for nearly one and a half years and during that time learned many lessons about what vocabulary to use. My biggest mistake was using the Canadian word "pants", which is equivalent to the word "trousers" in England. In England, "pants" are what you wear under your trousers and what we in Canada call "underwear". When I realized my mistake I never said "pants" in England again!

If you have any examples of vocabulary mix-ups, please email Dr. English with your stories. If you would like more information on CANADIAN, EH?, you can email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Using English for business purposes can be challenging. Typically speaking business English is more formal than the language used in everyday situations. However you need to consider not only the use of the language, but also the culture when using English in a business environment.

One of the areas that many business students struggle with is resume writing. This is because there are many differences in the style of resumes in North America, versus other countries.

The key difference in North American style resumes is that we do not include any personal information in our resume. That includes date of birth, martial status, cultural background, or religion. As well, it is rare to include a picture with you resume, unless you are applying for a job as a model or actor. The main reason for this is to avoid discrimination when applicants are applying for a job. It means that the employer can only compare candidates based on their education or experience, not age or race.

If you would like more information on BIZ TALK, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


There are some English words that are similar but have very different meanings. These words can be confusing and therefore are often used incorrectly by non-native speakers of English.

A common example of this are the words INTERESTING and INTERESTED. The word INTERESTING is an adjective which means that something attracts your attention, perhaps because it is exciting or unusual. The word INTERESTED is also an adjective, but it means that something is important and you are keen to learn more about it or spend time doing it. (Collins Cobuild Dictionary).

We can say that someone or something is INTERESTING, meaning that it attracts our attention. For example, your English class may be interesting or your teacher may be interesting. You can used INTERESTED to show a deeper meaning of importance in something. For example, you might be interested in learning English or other skills. Note that INTERESTED is followed by the preposition IN and then the gerund form of a verb or by a noun.

If you would like more information on WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Monday, June 27, 2005

T.I.P.S – To Improve, Practice Skills

Tired of studying English through basic grammar practice? There are many other creative ways to practice and improve your language skills than just by using a textbook.

A dictionary can be a very useful tool in helping students to learn English. Not only can it provide definitions for unfamiliar words, but it can also include information such as phrasal verbs, whether nouns are count and non-count and common prepositions to use with words.

Be careful when purchasing a dictionary, to make sure that your dictionary gives you more than just the definition of words. Electronic dictionaries, although more convenient are not always as accurate as paper dictionaries. If you are a high intermediate to advanced student, an English-English dictionary is the best choice to help you advance your skills and to avoid translating from your native language.

If you would like more information on T.I.P.S for English, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.