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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, January 13, 2006


Here is a chance for you to have your questions answered by Doctor English. Today’s question is:

When do I use Who or Whom?

There is much confusion about when to use who or when to use whom. The basic rule for the use of “who” and “whom” is simple - “who” is the subject form of the pronoun and “whom” is the object form. “Who was eating that sandwich at lunchtime?” is correct because “who” is the subject of the sentence.

If you are having difficulty identifying the subject or object, you can try a little trick – “he/she” can replace “who” and “him/her” can replace “whom”. Try this if you are unsure which to use.

However, keep in mind that it is now becoming less common to hear people use “whom” and often times even native speakers do not use it in the grammatically correct form.

Thank you for sending your questions. If you have any further queries, please email Doctor English at drenglish@vec.ca.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Do you find learning Slang Expressions confusing? Well, don’t worry - you are not alone. Most students struggle with the many slang expressions in the English language.

The best way to learn new slang expressions is to listen to how and where they are being used. The most important thing for a non-native English speaker is to UNDERSTAND slang expressions, not necessarily to use them. If you do try to use a slang expression, use it in the SAME situation in which you heard it being used and do not try to apply it to other situations. This is how slang expressions are often used incorrectly.

Here are some slang expression related to color:

The grass is always greener…
Out of the blue
Caught red-handed
Once in a blue moon
Seeing red

See you if you can find out the meanings of these slang expressions and in what situations you might use them. Dr. English will provide the answers in the next edition of WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


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

A handshake is often the first type of communication you have in business, regardless of the culture. Even in culture where other types of greetings are common, such as bowing or kissing on the cheek, a handshake is still the universal way to greet a business contact.

When you shake hands with someone, make sure you have a firm handshake. Your handshake should not be too strong, as to overpower the person, but should also not be too weak. You can practice your handshake with a friend.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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 key idea to focus on for your overall communication is to speak English as much as possible. Remember that there are two important parts to improving your spoken English – fluency and accuracy. Fluency is speaking at a natural speed and accuracy is using the correct grammar. Both should be practiced in order to help your communications skills.

Try to make an effort to use your English as often as possible each day and think about your fluency and your accuracy. Most students always focus on either fluency OR accuracy, so don’t forget that both are equally important. However the most important thing is just to speak English whenever and wherever you can.

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


Welcome to the year 2006! I hope that you had a great celebration with family and friends to welcome in the New Year.

A common tradition for New Years Eve is to make a resolution. A resolution is something that you promise to do in the New Year for yourself. For example, you might make a resolution to exercise more, or eat healthier, or to quit smoking.

For this year, Doctor English would like to ask you to make a resolution to practice and improve your English skills. Go back and read some of the BLOGS from last year and focus on the areas of your English that you would like to improve on. Then, make a resolution to work on those things for 2006 and make this the year to focus on improving your English skills with Doctor English!