“Out” or “outside”?

Chinese speakers often say “outside” when they should really say “out.” (Both can sometimes be translated as “外面” in Chinese.)

The difference is simple. Out means (depending on context) either “not at home” or “not at one’s workplace.” Outside normally means “outdoors” — in other words, in the open air, not in any kind of house or building.

If you go to a restaurant, you’re “eating out” but probably not eating outside (although some restaurants do have tables outside). “Eating outside” could refer to a picnic, a barbecue, a sidewalk café, or something like that.

  • I don’t feel like cooking today. Let’s eat out.
  • The weather’s beautiful. Let’s eat outside.

When you “go out,” you leave your home. You might go to a store, go to the park, visit a friend, etc. When you “go outside,” you’re probably still at home but not actually inside the house.

  • He’s gone out to buy a few things.
  • He’s gone outside to mow the lawn.

Depending on context, “go out” could also mean leaving your workplace rather than your home.

  • I’m sorry, but Mr. Chen’s not in the office today. He’s gone out to visit a customer.
  • Our company has a strict no-smoking policy. If you want to smoke, please go outside.

A “night out” usually means going somewhere with your friends — for example, to a bar, to the movies, etc. — and coming home pretty late. If, on the other hand, you spend the night “outside,” you’re probably either camping or homeless!

  • They went to a bar on Saturday, and they were out all night.
  • They went camping on Saturday, so they were outside all night.


Want to learn more English? Next time you go out, stop by Eton and see which class is best for you!

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish


“In an hour” or “an hour later”?

“In” to count from the present

When we are talking about something in the future and want to say how far it is from the present, we usually use the word “in” (not “later”).

The meeting starts in five minutes. We’d better hurry, or we’ll be late!
The meeting starts five minutes later. We’d better hurry, or we’ll be late!

Here are some more examples.

  • Sorry, I can’t talk right now. Can I call you back in an hour?
  • My report is due in three days, and I haven’t even started writing it yet!
  • He just started tenth grade, so in three years he’ll graduate.

In all of these examples, we are counting time from the present. “In an hour” means one hour after the present, “in three days” means three days after the present, and so on.

“Later” to count from a past or future time

If we are not counting time from the present, but from some other point in time, we normally use “after” or “later” instead of “in.”

  • William Henry Harrison became president on March 4, 1841, and died a month later.
  • He met her when he was 18, and they got married five years later.
  • It started raining at about 8:00 this morning, but it stopped an hour later.

In the examples above, “later” is being used to count from a past point in time. Harrison died one month after March 4, 1841 — in other words, on April 4, 1841. They got married five years after they met — that is, when he was 23. The rain stopped an hour after 8:00 — so it stopped at 9:00.

In the following examples, “later” is used to count from a future point in time.

  • I have a math test next Wednesday and an English test two days later. (i.e., next Friday)
  • We’ll take a short break at 3:00 and start the class again 10 minutes later. (i.e., at 3:10)
  • I finish work at 5:00, and I’ll be home 20 minutes later. (i.e., at 5:20)

“In” to say how much time is needed

There’s another common use of “in” + time expression. We can use it to say how much time is needed to do something. This could be in the past or future, or in general.

  • Roger Bannister was the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes.
  • I have some things to do tomorrow, but they won’t take much time. I should be able to finish in about an hour.
  • Puppies usually reach their adult weight in one to three years.

“Later” without a time expression

If we use “later” without a time expression, it just means “sometime in the future.” It doesn’t say exactly when. Usually the main meaning is “not now.”

  • I don’t have time to wash the dishes now. I’ll do it later.
  • I have to go now. Talk to you later.

I hope you’re finding these posts helpful. I’ll be posting another one in a few days. See you all later!

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish

Avoiding mistakes with “join”

Chinese speakers who are learning English often make the mistake of always translating “參加” as “join.” In most cases, this is not the correct translation. Let’s talk about how to use “join” correctly and about other words you should sometimes use instead of “join.”

1. Tests

Let’s get this out of the way first: In English, you should never talk about “joining” a test, exam, quiz, etc. In American English, the correct verb is “take.” In British English, the verb “sit” is often used.

I will join the GEPT next month.
I’m taking the GEPT next month. (US)
I’m sitting the GEPT next month. (UK)

2. Joining a group vs. attending an event

“Join” often means to become a member of a group. Here are some examples.

I’ve been a member of the Lions Club for a long time. I joined in 2007.
Two new employees joined our company this week.
Trump joined the Republican Party in 2012.

We do not normally use the word “join” to talk about showing up for an event. Instead, we use “attend” or “go to.”

I join Lions Club meetings regularly.
I attend Lions Club meetings regularly.
I go to Lions Club meetings regularly.

My job involves joining a lot of meetings.
My job involves attending a lot of meetings.
My job involves going to a lot of meetings.

Sometimes the same word can refer to either a group or an event. For example, “class” can mean a group of students who are taught together, or it can mean an event at which students meet together and are taught by a teacher. “Join” is correct for the first meaning, but not for the second one.

A new student joined our class last week, so now there are 12 students in the class.

I join my English class a week two times.
I attend my English class twice a week.
I go to my English class twice a week.

“Church” is another word that can be used both ways. It can mean a Christian religious organization (a group), or it can mean worship services (an event).

My cousin became a Christian last year and joined a local church.

My cousin joins church every Sunday.
My cousin attends church every Sunday.
My cousin goes to church every Sunday.

3. Joining someone for something

We can use the pattern “join someone (for something)” to talk about doing something together with someone.

Would you like to join us for lunch? (= have lunch with us)
A bunch of us are going shopping this weekend. Would you like to join us? (= go shopping with us)
I’m joining some friends for coffee after work. (= have coffee with some friends)

When you use “join” this way, the object should always be a person or people, not an event or activity.

Would you like to join lunch with us?

4. Joining in an activity

“Join in” can be used to talk about participating in an activity. The object of “in” should be a word that refers to an activity — something you do — rather than an event like “meeting” or “class.” The object can be omitted if it is clear from context.

Everyone in the class joined in the discussion.
John heard us arguing about politics and joined in the argument.
He sang a song, and the audience joined in the chorus. (= sang the chorus together with him)
We finished the work quickly because everyone joined in. (= joined in the work)

If you want to learn more about English, come to Eton and find out which of our classes would be the best one for you to join. You’ll learn a ton!

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish

Come or go?

Chinese has words corresponding to “come” (來) and “go” (去), but the way they’re used is a little different from English. For this reason, using the English words correctly can be a challenge for Chinese speakers. Let’s go over some of the basic rules.

1. Come here. Go away!

The first and simplest rule is that we use “come” when we’re talking about “here” and “go” when we’re talking about other places — but “here” could be “here” for the speaker or “here” for the listener. Look at the example conversation below. Ann is speaking to her boss on the phone. Ann is at home, and the boss is at the office.

Ann: Hi, boss. It’s me, Ann. I’m really sorry, but I can’t come to the office this morning. A repairman is coming to fix my air conditioner at 10:00, and I have to be here when he comes.

Boss: But Mr. Chen is coming this morning! He’s an important customer, so I want you to be here. Can’t you ask the repairman to come in the afternoon?

Ann: I already asked him, but he can’t. He has to go to Taichung in the afternoon. Maybe I can go to Mr. Chen’s company this afternoon and talk to him there.

Boss: Yes, that should be okay.

Notice that both Ann and her boss use “come” when they talk about Ann’s home (“here” for Ann) and the office (“here” for the boss). When they talk about other places (Taichung and Mr. Chen’s company), they use “go.”

2. Come with me/you

We also use “come” to talk about accompanying the speaker or the listener somewhere.

  • I’m going to the park. Do you want to come with me?
  • Where are you going? Can I come, too?

3. Go = leave, come = arrive

If you mention a specific time with “go,” it should be the time you leave. If you mention a specific time with “come,” it should be the time you arrive.

  • I usually go to work at 7:45 and arrive at 8:00.
  • I leave work at 5:00 this evening, so I’ll probably come home at about 5:15.

4. Bring / take

The difference between “bring” and “take ” is similar to the difference between “come” and “go.” You bring things when you come, and you take things when go.

  • When you come to class next week, please remember to bring a pencil.
  • When you go home, don’t forget to take your pencil.
  • When my dad comes home from a business trip, he always brings gifts for us.
  • When I go out, I always take my cell phone.

If you’d like to learn more about English grammar and usage, just come to Eton You’ll learn a ton!

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish



How to use “send”

The word “send” is often misused by Chinese speakers who assume it is the same as the Chinese “送.” I often hear people say things like this:

  • I have to get up very early to send my children to school before I go to work.
  • I sent my mother some flowers for Mother’s Day.

Both of the sentences above are good English and could be correct in some situations, but as Taiwanese speakers use them, they are usually mistakes.

When Taiwanese speakers talk about “sending” their children to school, they generally mean giving them a ride to school in a car or on a scooter — in other words, taking them to school. If you send your children to school, it means you tell them to go to school, and they go — but you stay home.

Likewise, many of my students who tell me they “sent” their mother something for Mother’s Day are children who still live with their mothers! What they mean is that they gave her something. When you send a gift, you don’t give it in person; you have it delivered by mail.

The key thing to remember is that when you send something or someone, you don’t go with it/them. When you send your kids to school, you don’t go to the school with them. When you send your mother a present, you don’t go with it to your mother’s house.

If you send a person somewhere, it normally means you have authority over that person and can tell him or her where to go.

  • My boss is sending me to China for a two-week business trip.
  • The president has decided to send more soldiers into Syria.
  • My mother sent me to the supermarket to buy some milk.
  • If you want your children to improve their English, send them to Eton Royal English School.

If you send a thing somewhere, it normally means you have it delivered by the postal service or a shipping company. We also use “send” to talk about faxes, emails, text messages.

  • The phone company sends me a bill every month.
  • My parents send out a lot of Christmas cards every year.
  • I sent you an email, but you didn’t reply. Did you receive it?

Any questions? Send them to me by commenting below.

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish

“Toast” is a false friend

A “false friend” is a word that is similar to a word in your language but doesn’t quite have the same meaning. You assume you know what it means, but in fact you may have the wrong idea. One such false friend for Chinese speakers learning English is “toast.” You probably assume it has the same meaning as the Chinese “吐司,” but it doesn’t.

As the comic strip shows, in English it isn’t “toast” until it’s been toasted in a toaster. Toast is brown and crispy. Before you toast it, when it’s still soft and white, it isn’t toast; it’s bread. If you specifically want the meaning of “吐司” rather than “麵包,” you can say “sliced bread.”

The joke in the comic strip can’t be translated into Chinese, because there’s nothing strange about putting in “吐司” having “烤吐司” come out. But in English, “bread” and “toast” are different words, so the boy assumes they’re two totally different things.

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish

“Try to + V” vs. “try + Ving”

Do you ever feel confused about the difference between “try to + V” and “try + Ving”? Try reading this post and see if it helps. I’ll try to explain everything clearly.

When you try to do something, you make an effort, and you hope you will be able do it. Maybe you will be able to do it, and maybe you won’t.

  • Sorry I’m late. I’ll try to be on time in the future.
    (I hope I can be on time, but I can’t be sure; maybe I’ll be late again.)
  • I’m trying to find my keys. Have you seen them anywhere?
    (I hope I can find my keys, but I can’t be sure; maybe I won’t find them.)

When you try doing something, you just do it. Maybe it will have the effect you want, and maybe it won’t.

  • I have a headache. I’ll try taking some Panadol.
    (I’ll take some Panadol. I hope it will make me feel better, but I can’t be sure; maybe it won’t help.)
  • A: I don’t understand this word.
    B: Have you tried looking it up in a dictionary?
    (You can look it up. I hope that will help you understand it, but I can’t be sure; maybe it won’t help.)

Compare these pairs of examples. What’s the difference?

    • I tried to open the window, but it’s stuck.
    • I tried opening the window, but it’s still hot in here.
    • I try to go jogging every morning, but sometimes I don’t have time.
    • I’ve tried going jogging every morning, but I still haven’t lost any weight.

In the sentences with “try to,” maybe I’m not able to do the action. I wanted to open the window, but I couldn’t. I want to go jogging every morning, but sometimes I can’t.

In the sentences with “try + Ving,” I do the action, but maybe I don’t get the result I wanted. I opened the window, but it didn’t make the room any cooler. I went jogging every morning, but I didn’t lose weight.

Often we use “try to” to talk about a problem we want to solve and “try + Ving” to talk about possible ways of solving it. You can give people advice by saying “Have you tried…?” or “Why don’t you try…?” with Ving.

  • A: I’m trying to fix my computer, but I don’t know what to do.
    B: Have you tried turning it off and on again? Sometimes that works.
    A: Of course I’ve tried that, but it still doesn’t work!
    B: Why don’t you try calling technical support?

  • A: I’ve been trying to improve my English, but I’m not making any progress. Do you have any ideas?
    B: Well, have you tried taking a class at a language school?
    A: Yes, I’ve tried taking classes, but it didn’t help much. My teacher’s pronunciation was pretty bad!
    B: Maybe you should try studying with a native speaker, then.
    A: I’ve tried doing that, too, but my American teacher couldn’t explain grammar. I’ve tried to find a foreign teacher who understands grammar, but it’s just impossible!
    B: I think you should try signing up for a class at Eton Royal English School. You’ll find just what you need.
    A: Really? Okay, I’ll try that!

Eton Royal English School
Phone: (04)727-2177
E-mail: eton.changhua@gmail.com
Facebook: @etonenglish