English Grammar: English Lesson no.7

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1 – Quiz
Complete the following sentences using Few, A Few, Little or A Little.  Answers are in section 8.  Studying Part 5 will help with this exercise.

a) She has ______ money in the bank.  She is very poor.
b) There are ______ countries in the world smaller than Andorra. 
c) I’m hungry.  Could I have ______ chocolate?
d) She bought ______ books at the bookstore.
e) This coffee is bitter.  It needs ______ sugar.
f)  Are you finished the test?  No, I need ______ more minutes.
g) I’m going to the library.  I need ______ information for my report.
h) I traveled to Brazil ______ months ago.

2 – New Words From The Vocab Club
Our Daily Vocab Club has learned seven new words this week. Here are the seven new words:

reasonable = not extreme or excessive. (adjective)
sink = to go to the bottom. (verb)
thirsty = deficient in moisture. (adjective)
unite = to form a single unit. (verb)
virus = an infective agent. (noun)
wink = to shut one eye briefly. (verb/noun)
authentic = conforming to fact or reality. (adjective)  

 3 – Student Essay  
This essay was submitted by Anca.


That is a interesting question. Now I am a mother of a ten years boy. According to my experience a child should become independent
at age eighteen.  Firstly at age eighteen it is a important for
a child transfering into a teengeras well as they finish high school edcation. Most people will entrance college for farther education.  They may choose a college near their home. So they still can stay with their family. But many
people choose a college far away their home.  So they have to be apart from their family.  Secondly they must keep their budget. That is very important thing for them to manage their daily expense. If they spend money as water
their parents will be worried about their affording.  In my opinion the earlier a child is independent the more benifets for both of them. A child will 
understand to know how it is hard to make a live.

4 – Comments about the Essay
This is a good essay.  In this writing we can read a mother’s perspective on a child’s independence.  The writer expresses some personal ideas and important arguments for us to consider on the topic such as the child’s 
moving away, understanding finances, and learning about the difficulties life presents us with.  This essay is well done and contains many important 
points on this topic that we can relate to and appreciate.

There are some points which we should consider in order to improve the structure of this writing.  In the beginning you should say “I am the mother 
of a ten year old boy…”.  This is how we usually express age.  You use 
a great English idiom in this essay.  You should say “If they spend money 
like water…” or something like this. “Money as water” is a little different.  
Also, be careful of spelling: transferring, teenagers, education, and benefits.  Apart from these points, this essay is well done and an interesting read.  
Keep going with your English study – it really looks great!

Good Work Anca!

5 – Using Few, A Few, Little and A Little
The use of few and little can be confusing to those studying English.  Look at the following guides for using these words.

The phrases a few and a little have a positive meaning.  They talk about something that you have or something that exists.  

  She has a few friends in her new class.  (Positive: She has some friends.)

  George drank a little water because he was thirsty.  (Positive: Some water)

The words few and little have a negative meaning. They talk about something that you don’t have or something very small, almost nonexistent.  

           She is not popular.  She has few friends in her new class.
        (Negative: She does not have many friends; almost no friends)

                George drank little water and now he feels sick.
        (Negative: George drank almost no water; very little water.)

You can use Very to make the negative idea stronger or the amount seem smaller.

                They are very poor.  They have very little money.
        (Negative: They practically have no money; almost nothing.)

Important:  Few and a few are used with plural countable nouns.
                  Little and a little are used with uncountable nouns.

6 – New Year Traditions

Not all countries celebrate New Year at the same time, nor in the same way. This is because people in different parts of the world use different calendars. Long ago, people divided time into days, months, and years. Some calendars are based on the movement of the moon, others are based on the position of the sun, while others are based on both the sun and the moon. All over the world, there are special beliefs about New Year.

Long Ago Festivals

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, New Year was celebrated at the time the River Nile flooded, which was near the end of September. The flooding of the Nile was very important because without it, the people would not have been able to grow crops in the dry desert.

At New Year, statues of the god, Amon and his wife and son were taken up the Nile by boat. Singing, dancing, and feasting was done for a month, and then the statues were taken back to the temple.


Babylonia lay in what is now the country of Iraq. Their New Year was in the Spring. During the festival, the king was stripped of his clothes and sent away, and for a few days everyone could do just what they liked. Then the king returned in a grand procession, dressed in fine robes. Then, everyone had to return to work and behave properly. Thus, each New Year, the people made a new start to their lives.

The Romans

For a long time the Romans celebrated New Year on the first of March. Then, in 46 BC, the Emperor Julius Caesar began a new calendar. It was the calendar that we still use today, and thus the New Year date was changed to the first day of January.

January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was always shown as having two heads. He looked back to the last year and forward to the new one.

The Roman New Year festival was called the Calends, and people decorated their homes and gave each other gifts. Slaves and their masters ate and drank together, and people could do what they wanted to for a few days.

The Celts

The Celts were the people who lived in Gaul, now called France, and parts of Britain before the Romans arrived there. Their New Year festival was called Samhain. It took place at the end of October, and Samhain means ‘summer’s end’.

At Samhain, the Celts gathered mistletoe to keep ghosts away, because they believed this was the time when the ghosts of the dead returned to haunt the living.

Jewish New Year

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when people think of the things they have done wrong in the past, and they promise to do better in the future.

Special services are held in synagogues, and an instrument called a Shofar, which is made from a ram’s horn is played. Children are given new clothes, and New Year loaves are baked and fruit is eaten to remind people of harvest time.

Muslim New Year

The Muslim calendar is based on the movements of the moon, so the date of New Year is eleven days earlier each year.

Iran is a Muslim country which used to be called Persia. The people celebrate New Year on March 21, and a few weeks before this date, people put grains of wheat or barley in a little dish to grow. By the time of New Year, the grains have produced shoots, and this reminds the people of spring and a new year of life.

Hindu New Year

Most Hindus live in India, but they don’t all celebrate New Year in the same way or at the same time.

The people of West Bengal, in northern India, like to wear flowers at New Year, and they use flowers in the colors of pink, red, purple, or white. Women like to wear yellow, which is the color of Spring.

In Kerala, in southern India, mothers put food, flowers, and little gifts on a special tray. On New Year’s morning, the children have to keep their eyes closed until they have been led to the tray.

In central India, orange flags are flown from buildings on New Year’s Day.

In Gujarat, in western India, New Year is celebrated at the end of October, and it is celebrated at the same time as the Indian festival of Diwali. At the time of Diwali, small oil lights are lit all along the roofs of buildings.

At New Year, Hindus think particularly of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

The Far East


In Vietnam, the New Year is called Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet for short. It begins between January 21 and February 19, and the exact day changes from year to year. They believe that there is a god in every home, and at the New Year this god travels to heaven. There he will say how good or bad each member of the family has been in the past year.

They used to believe that the god traveled on the back of a fish called a carp, and today, they sometimes buy a live carp, and then let it go free in a river or pond. They also believe that the first person to enter their house at New Year will bring either good or bad luck.


In Japan, New Year is celebrated on January 1, but the Japanese also keep some beliefs from their religion, which is called Shinto. To keep out evil spirits, they hang a rope of straw across the front of their houses, and this stands for happiness and good luck.

The moment the New Year begins, the Japanese people begin to laugh, and this is supposed to bring them good luck in the new year.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is celebrated some time between January 17 and February 19, at the time of the new moon, and it is called Yuan Tan. It is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world, and street processions are an exciting part of their New Year. The Festival of Lanterns is the street processions, and thousands of lanterns are used to light the way for the New Year.

The Chinese people believe that there are evil spirits around at New Year, so they let off firecrackers to frighten the spirits away. Sometimes they seal their windows and doors with paper to keep the evil spirits out.

New Year in the West

New Year’s Day processions with decorated floats and bands are a part of New Year, and football is also played all over the United States on New Year’s Day.

In Europe, New Year was often a time for superstition and fortune-telling, and in some parts of Switzerland and Austria, people dress up to celebrate Saint Sylvester’s Eve.

In AD 314, there was a Pope called Saint Sylvester, and people believed that he captured a terrible sea monster. It was thought that in the year 1000, this sea monster would escape and destroy the world, but since it didn’t happen, the people were delighted. Since then, in parts of Austria and Switzerland, this story is remembered at New Year, and people dress up in fantastic costumes, and are called Sylvesterklauses.

In Greece, New Year’s Day is also the Festival of Saint Basil. Saint Basil was famous for his kindness, and Greek children leave their shoes by the fire on New Year’s Day with the hope that he will come and fill the shoes with gifts.

In Scotland, New Year is called Hogmanay, and in some villages barrels of tar are set alight and rolled through the streets. Thus, the old year is burned up and the new one allowed to enter.

Scottish people believe that the first person to enter your house in the New Year will bring good or bad luck, and it is very good luck if the visitor is a dark-haired man bringing a gift. This custom is called first-footing.

The song, Auld Lang Syne is sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and this custom is now celebrated all over the world.


7 – Interesting Facts

1) 4,000 people are injured by tea pots every year.
2) A 60-minute cassette contains 565 feet of tape.
3) A coat hanger is forty-four inches long if straightened.
4) A good typist can strike twenty keys in a second.
5) A toothpick is the object most often choked on by Americans
6) A typical double mattress contains as many as two million house dust mites.
7) All hospitals in Singapore use Pampers diapers.
8) An average of 200 million credit cards are used every day in the United States.
9) As of 1983, an average of three billion Christmas cards were sent annually in the United States.
10) Colgate faced a big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command “go hang yourself.”

8 – Quiz Answers
Here are the answers from section 1:

a) little
b) few
c) a little
d) a few
e) a little
f)  a few
g) a little
h) a few

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