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Sep 17 2017

TOEFL Grammar PRACTICE -Reflexive Pronouns

TOEFL Practice for Grammar; Reflexive Pronouns

Private English Lessons Houston



He, She ,It -Himself/herself/itself



They – Themselves

The reflexive pronoun is used


  1. To emphasize the subject noun or pronoun it refers to and to emphasize the fact that the subject did the action alone.

He does the work himself.  OR   He himself does the work.

  1. As the object of a verb when the subject and object are the same.

They travel together to work to save themselves the high cost of gas.

  1. As the object of the preposition when the subject did the action alone.

My elderly father is unable to dress himself.

Complete the sentences with the correct reflexive pronoun.

  1. University students push ____________ to make better grades.
  2. To protect ________________ from a lawsuit, the doctor asks her patients to sign a release form.
  3. The professor rides his bike to and from his classes by _________________.
  4. A young baby penguin is not able to feed ______________.
  5. Unlike animals that live in cold weather and have heavy fur, we cannot protect _________ from the cold without wearing protective clothing.
  6. I enjoy going by ____________ to the beach on Saturdays.
  7. I know you can learn to play guitar by ____________ if you will lessons on YouTube.
  8. Students, I know you can find your way to your next class by _________________.


  1. Themselves – students is plural
  2. Herself – we know that the doctor is a female because of “her patients”
  3. Himself – because the professor rides “his bike”.
  4. Itself – because a penguin is an animal and the gender is not known.
  5. Ourselves – because “we cannot” is plural
  6. Myself – because “I enjoy”
  7. Yourself – because of “you” and “your” in the sentence. Note:  we don’t know if the speaker is talking to one person or more than one person, so “yourselves” would also be correct.
  8. Yourselves – because the teacher is talking directly to the “students”.

Please continue to practice with reflexive pronouns, because they will be on the TOEFL test.

If you would like SKYPE lessons or live in or near the Houston, Texas area, please contact Worldwide English for lessons at (713) 993-6511.


Good luck to you on your TOEFL Test!

Jun 29 2017

English Lessons Houston – Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Nouns – Countable and Uncountable


Hi Students!  Here is a lesson on countable and uncountable nouns.  Please study these so that you will understand the differences.


Countable nouns are the names of objects you can count. You can use a/an with countable nouns. Countable nouns also have plurals.


  • I would like to eat an orange
  • This material weighs three grams
  • I am familiar with a few cultures in Africa.
  • My wife wants to buy several acres in Arizona.
  • Last year, volunteers planted a million trees in California.


Uncountable nouns are the names of objects that you cannot count. They may represent mass nouns (such as oil), abstract ideas (such as leadership) or general words (food, etc.). We cannot use a/an with uncountable nouns and there in no plural form.


  • I need to buy some flour to make cookies.
  • Please cut the grass
  • The new iPhone features the latest
  • I would like to have some more
  • When there is rain, sometimes you can see lightning in the sky.

Countable and Uncountable

A bit of, a lot of, some, any, and the can be used with countable and uncountable nouns. Advice, equipment and information are uncountable nouns. We do not use these nouns with a/an, and they have no plurals.


  • I could give you a lot of advice on that topic for your interview.
  • Could you give me any information?
  • She brought some equipment with her.

You can use a countable noun before an uncountable noun if you want to quantify it.


  • Could we buy two bags of flour?
  • We need a new piece of information.

Some nouns have countable and uncountable forms with different meanings.


  • I love chocolate.

(uncountable – chocolate in general)

  • That store sells healthy chocolate.

(countable – varieties of chocolate)


  • She ordered a coffee.

(countable – referring to one cup of coffee)

  • Would he like to order coffee?

(uncountable – coffee in general)


  • There is no truth in those rumors.

(uncountable – quality/state of being true)

  • The fundamental truths about food and digestion are simple to understand.

(countable – referring to facts/beliefs that are accurate)


Some nouns tend to be uncountable in general usage and are often used as countable nouns in more of a technical sense.


  • new radiation technologies
  • We produce music.

Often, the countable noun and its uncountable equivalent are completely different words.


  • We’ve got to make rolls before our guests arrive.


  • We’ve got to make bread before our guests arrive.



  • Lighting was spotted crossing the sky at 4 o’clock in the morning.


  • A flash of lightning was spotted crossing the sky at 4 o’clock in the morning.



Good luck with your practice of countable and uncountable nouns!


If you are in Houston and would like to have private English lessons in your home or office, please contact Julie at julie@englishlessons-houston.com  or call 713-993-6511.  We also offer SKYPE lessons.  There are many qualified American tutors at Worldwide English!

Jun 18 2017

English Lessons Houston – What is the Difference between Will and Going To?

Talking about the Future – Will vs. Going to

Hi Students!  Many of you ask me about when to use will and when to use going to, when you are talking about the future.  So, here are the rules for will and going to and I have given you some examples to help you understand the differences.

Here are the rules for using going to:

Use going to for intentions, plans and decisions that have been made before the moment of speaking.


  • I’m going to have lunch with my supervisor on Thursday.
  • Next week, I’m going to fly to Barcelona for a convention.
  • My colleagues are going to start the project on June 21st.
  • What are you going to do this weekend?
  • Today, I’m going to talk to you about the new budget for 2018.

Use going to when you are making a prediction based on present evidence.


  • My boss isn’t going to be happy when he hears about the delay in the shipment.
  • Our gross sales are going to be very good this year.
  • We have a lot of items to talk about on our agenda, so let’s get started.


Students, there are several rules for using the word will.  The first rule is the most important one.

 Here are the rules for using will:

*Use will for sudden or quick decisions made at the moment of speaking.


  • Will you help me finish this report?
  • I will call you back in a few minutes.
  • I’ll send you all the details in an e-mail.

Use will for arranged events that are not personal.

  • Our CEO will speak at a conference this afternoon.
  • The meeting will be at 3:00 p.m. today in the large conference room.
  • My flight to Japan will leave at 7:00 p.m. this evening.

Use will when you want to confirm something, like a call or a meeting.

  • So, you’ll contact me next Friday and let me know your decision?
  • Don’t worry, I won’t forget our meeting next Thursday.
  • Yes, I’ll do it right away.

Use will for predictions with the verbs think and expect.

  • I don’t think I will go to the basketball game tonight. I’m not feeling well.
  • I think our project budget will be very high this time.
  • I expect that she will leave the company at the end of the year.

I expect that these rules will help you to know when to use going to and when to use will to talking about the future.  Also, listen to how native English speakers use will and going to and that will help you a lot?  Good luck, students!


Students, I wish you great success.  If you would like to have SKYPE lessons or if you live in the Houston area and would like to have private lessons, please contact Worldwide English at julie@englishlessons-houston.com or give us a call at 713-993-6511.

Jun 14 2017

Business English – Phrases for Presentations

English Lessons Houston – Phrases for Presentations

Hi students of Business English!  Here is a lesson on transition words and phrases that you might use in your job, especially for presentations.  These phrases are common in the American business environment.  They will help your English speaking and writing to be more professional. When you use transitional words and phrases, your presentation will flow more smoothly.

To introduce a presentation or outline a structure:

I’ve divided my talk into…..

First of all, I’ll….

After that, I’ll…..

I’ll conclude with…..

Here’s an example of how to use these phrases:

I’ve divided my talk into three sections.  First of all, I will give you a current update on how the project is going so far.  After that, I’ll discuss the changes that the head office has suggested.  I’ll conclude with our timeline and will take questions and answers after that.

Beginning the presentation:

I’d like to start by saying…..

Example:   I’d like to start by saying that the project is running on time and the head office is very happy with the work we’ve done so far.

I’d like to start by saying that our supervisor, Mr. Chu, couldn’t attend the meeting today in person, but he will be joining us by teleconference.

Talking about the future or past in a presentation:

As I said earlier…..

Example:  As I said earlier, we will be adding three employees from our finance department to help us develop the budget.

I’ll return to ……… later

Example:  I’ll return to the discussion about the timeline later.

I’ll say more about ……. in a moment

Example:  I’ll say more about the McDermott  reorganization in a moment.

Just to digress for a moment…..  (digress means to change the subject)

Example:  Just to digress for a moment, I will explain the recent budge changes.

Going on to a new section of the presentation:

Ok, moving on……

Example:  Ok, moving on to the issues of transporting goods to Sudan.

Turning to……

Example:  Turning to the diagram of the well-flow over the past six months, I will explain the situation and how we will solve the issue.

That brings me to……

Example:  That brings me to my next section, which is the change in the deadline for the year-end reports.

Concluding a presentation:

And this is my key point……

Example:  And this is my key point, that the new equipment will increase production and enable us to meet our delivery dates.

To sum up…..

Example:  To sum up, I believe we can finish this project on time if each of you can work until 6:00 p.m. this week.

I’ll be happy to take any questions now.


Students, I wish you great success.  If you would like to have SKYPE lessons or if you live in the Houston area and would like to have private lessons, please contact Worldwide English at julie@englishlessons-houston.com or give us a call at 713-993-6511.


Jun 11 2017

Tipping in the USA

Here is a lesson on tipping in the USA from Worldwide English, a company that offers English lessons in the Houston area.


If you are living in the USA, you will need to understand the practice of tipping.  Sometimes it can be confusing.  Tipping in the USA is voluntary; that is, you do not have to leave a tip if you don’t want to.  Leaving a tip is a way of saying “thank you”.  The word tip is both a noun and a verb.

Here are examples of how to use the word “tip”.

As a noun:  It’s a good idea to give your waiter a tip.

I left a big tip for my waiter because he did a very good job.

As a verb:  In a restaurant, Americans usually leave a tip for the waiter.

At Starbucks, I sometimes leave a tip in the glass jar.

There is another meaning for the word tip.  Tip can also mean “extra information” or “advice” that is helpful.  But in this lesson, the word tip is a small amount of money that you leave as a “thank you” for service.

How much should you tip?

In a restaurant where you receive full service:

In most areas of the USA, 20% is considered acceptable for good service.  If you feel that you did not receive good service, for example, if your waiter was slow or rude, you can choose to leave less.

Here’s a tip on tipping in a restaurant:  Be careful not to tip on the “total”.  Look at the “subtotal”, which is the total before the tax is added.  That is the total that you should figure the tip on.

For example, If your total bill is $20.00, look at the total before the tax is added.  The actual amount of your food and drink might actually be $18.50, so you would pay 20% of 18.50, not 20% of $20.00.

Also, if the number of people in your party is more than five or six, the tip might already be added to your bill, so be sure to check and if so, you do not need to leave more.

At a restaurant where there is a buffet:

A restaurant that has a buffet, does not offer full service.  But the waiter will usually bring you a drink and remove your dishes when you are finished.  So the typical tip for service at a restaurant with a buffet would be about 10 %.

At a bar:

When you are service by a bartender or waiter, the usual tip is $1.00 for each drink that you order.



For a taxi driver:

The usual tip for a taxi driver is 15-20%.    





For a hotel (for the person that cleans your room):

The usual tip is $3.00 per person per night.  On the day you leave the hotel, you can leave the tip in your room and the maid will pick it up when he or she comes to clean the room.

For a valet that parks your car:

Most valet service is free, but the tip is usually $3.00-$5.00.

At the airport, for someone who helps you with your bags:

The usual tip is $1.00 for each bag.

For places that have a tip jar:

Many places, like Starbucks or small sandwich shops, have a tip jar near the cash register.  In this case, you are free to leave any amount, but most people leave $1.00 or less.

Other places that you can tip:

Your barber or hairdresser, restaurant delivery, tour guides.  A good rule for tipping is 10-15% of your bill.

There are several “tip calculator” apps that you can download to your mobile phone. This will make it easy for you to figure the amount you should tip.




If you’re interested in SKYPE or private classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at http://www.englishlessons-houston.com.    We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.




Jan 24 2017

Passing the TOEFL Reading Test



Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL test?

As you know, there are four parts to the TOEFL test and one of those parts is a reading test.  In this lesson, I will give you some hints to help you do very well on the Reading portion of the test so that your score on this test will improve.

 Here are some facts you need to know:


Practice before the test!








  • The Reading section is Part 1 of the TOEFL test.
  • On the TOEFL IBT or PBT Reading Test, you will be able to skip some questions and come back and answer them later.
  • There are 3-5 reading passages, but usually 3.
  • You have 60-100 minutes for this test, but usually 60.
  • There are about 39-56 questions, but usually 39.
  • Most questions are worth 1 point and some questions are worth more than 1 point.
  • The questions test your ability to understand main idea, details, inference, sequence and vocabulary.
  • You do not need to know about the topics in the reading section before you take the test.
  • The reading test is challenging!

Study new vocabulary!

Here are some ways you can prepare:

  • Read academic material as much as possible. Choose topics that you are not familiar with.  Read passages that are about 700 words.  Science, psychology, medicine and behavioral sciences are good topics to choose from.
  • Practice reading faster to increase your reading speed. Use a timer and choose passages that are about 700 words.
  • Learn and practice “skimming”. Read the first line of each paragraph carefully.  Then quickly “skim” through the rest of the paragraph to pick up a few details and the main idea.  You don’t have to understand everything and you don’t have to understand every word.  When you answer the questions, you will go back to these paragraphs and read more carefully to find the answer.
  • Increase your advanced vocabulary. You may not see vocabulary words you have studied on the test, but knowing more vocabulary will help you to figure out the prefixes and suffixes of words and this will help you answer the vocabulary questions.

For example, if you know that anti- is a prefix that means “against something or not something” and you see the word “antisocial”, you will understand that this probably means not social, or someone who does not enjoy going out with friends or to parties.

  • Take as many TOEFL Practice Reading tests as you can. For the first two or three, just take your time.  And then use a timer to learn how to finish the entire test in the time given.  Keep practicing until you can finish in the amount of time given.
  • Increase your reading speed!

Here are some strategies to improve your TOEFL Reading test scores:

  • If you have 60 minutes to read three passages, divide your time into 16-18 minutes for each passage. That comes to about 38-54 minutes.  That will leave you 6-12 minutes to go back and look at your answers again and answer any questions that you skipped.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read the passage carefully before answering the questions. Most students don’t have time to do this.  As I wrote before, learning how to “skim” through the material is very important so that you will have time to answer the questions.
  • Don’t spend too much time on one question. Skip it and come back to it at the end of the test.
  • To answer questions about main idea, pay close attention to the first and last paragraph to answer this question.
  • To answer questions about details, read the numbered lines carefully that are given in the question. Then read the sentences before that and the sentences that come after that.  This will give you a better understanding of what the details are and will not take very much time.
  • To answer questions about phrases and vocabulary, again, ready the numbered lines but read before and after so that you will understand the context. Look at the prefix and the suffix of the word, if there is one.  Decide which answers are incorrect and then decide which one makes the most sense if this word or phrase is new to you.
  • Remember, “the easiest answer is usually the correct one”. Don’t overthink it!  In other words, don’t think too much about the answer – it usually causes you to get it wrong!
  • I have found that the first answer that students choose is usually the correct one.

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us for private English lessons to prepare for the TOEFL test.  For more information, visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com

Copyright©2017 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.   

Jan 22 2017

Business English Lessons in Houston – Idioms and Expressions to Discuss a Difficult Decision

Hi Students,

Here are some examples of idioms and expressions that you will sometimes hear when people are discussing a difficult decision.

  1. Back and forth on this issue – changing one’s mind about an issue, unable to decide

Example:  We are trying to decide if we should move our factory to China.  We’ve been back and forth on this issue for six months!




  1. Of two minds – conflicted, having two different ideas about an issue

Example:  I need to buy a car, but I’m of two minds about it.  Should I buy a new Lexus for more money, or a used Lexus that won’t last as long?

  1. Test the waters – to try something out before making a commitment to it

Example:  HEB is going to start making its own beer in the store.  We are going to test the waters in three of our stores to see if this product is popular.

Test the Waters












4.  The best of both worlds– a situation that offers two different advantages at the same time

Example:  If our head office moves to New York City from London, we will have the best of both worlds.  We will have the same office hours and will be able to travel there and back in one day!

  1. Weigh the pros and cons– to think about the advantages and disadvantages of a situation

    Weighing the pros and cons

Example:  American Airlines is thinking about changing its health plan.  We are weighing the pros and cons and making a list of the advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Keep our options open – when you wait to make a decision until you know all of the choices you have.

Keep our options open

Example:  So far, four new vendors have given a bid for construction of the new bridge in Amsterdam.  But we are keeping our options open to see who else will make a bid, before we make our final decision.







  1. On the fence– not able to decide about something

Example:  My wife needs to learn English.  But she is on the fence about whether to take classes or private English lessons with a tutor.

On the fence

8.Bite the bullet – to deal with a difficult situation

Example:  We don’t want to close our branch in Paris, but sales have fallen and we must bite the bullet and close in March of next year.

  1. Six of one, half a dozen of the other– both actions will have the same results

Example:  Sales will be the same if we stay in Houston or relocate to Los Angeles.  We think it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

  1. Tough call – a difficult decision

Example:  Samsung had to make a tough call and stopped making the Galaxy mobile phone because of the battery.

Students, practice using these idioms and expressions so that you will become more fluent in American English.  Good luck!


If you’re interested in online or in-person classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at http://www.englishlessons-houston.com.    We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.

Dec 05 2016

Business English Expressions and Idioms – Talking about Business Success: English Lessons Houston

Business English Lessons Houston

Business Expressions and Idioms – Talking about Business Success

Hi Students,

Here are some examples of idioms and expressions that you will sometimes hear when people are talking about success in business.

  1. Recording breaking

    – to do better than one has done before

Examples:  Verizon Wireless had a record-breaking first quarter.  The sales were the highest in the company’s history.

Business Success 1

  1. Pan out – to have a good result

Example:  Wells Fargo encouraged its employees to open new accounts and it panned out.  Four hundred new accounts were opened last month!




  1. A pat on the back – words of gratitude or encouragement

Example:  The boss gave Rodrigo a pat on the back for his hard work last month.

Business Success 2

  1. Kudos

    – compliments for a job well done

Example:  Kudos to the employees of Bank of China for bringing in a lot of new customers.


  1. Through the roof

    – very high amounts


Example:   The number of sales of the new Apple IPhones are through the roof!  The number of phone bought is much higher than we expected.


  1. Share the credit

    – to mention that you had help from colleagues

Example:  Thank you for the pat on the back!  But I want to share the credit with my colleagues who worked with me on this project.

Business Success 4

  1. Make a killing

    – making a lot of money


Example:  I bought stock in AT&T when the price was low, and I made a killing.  The price is very high now.


  1. Break even

    – when expenses are equal to profits

Example:  We had a lot of expenses in our first year in business, so we just broke even.  Next year, we will make a profit.

Business Success 3

  1. To have the lion’s share

    – to have the largest share in the market

Example:  Chevron Corporation has the lion’s share of service contracts in the oil and gas industry.

  1. Hit pay dirt – make money

Example:  After breaking even for three years in a row, we finally hit pay dirt in 2016 and made very high profits.



Students, practice using these idioms and expressions so that you will become more fluent in American English.  Good luck!


If you’re interested in online or in-person classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at Worldwide English.   We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.

Nov 28 2016

Business English Expressions and Idioms – Talking about Scheduling

Business English Lessons in Houston
Business Expressions and Idioms – Talking about Scheduling.

Hi Students,
Here are some examples of idioms and expressions that you will sometimes hear when your colleagues are talking about scheduling.

1. Ahead of schedule– doing something faster than expected
Example: The engineering department is ahead of schedule on the drawings for the new bridge. They will probably finish earlier than we expected.

2. Behind schedule – doing something slower than expected.
Example: FedEx is rarely behind schedule on its deliveries. They are almost always on time.
3. Crunch time – When there is not very much time left to get something done.
Example: It’s crunch time! The financial analysis for the project in the Permian Basin is due tomorrow. We should hurry!


4. Down to the wire – To complete work just before something is due
Example: In order to finish the model on time, we will need to work down to the wire. We will all work late tonight. The project is due tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.  schedules-2

5. Fast track – to try and finish something quickly

Example: The client wants this completed by next Friday. We will have to fast track the project to get it done on time.

6. Mess around – waste time
Example: We are behind schedule on the Janus project. We need to quit messing around and get back to work!


7. Get up to speed – to learn the latest information about something

Example: Mr. Chu, please bring us up to speed on the project for Berkshire-Hathaway.

8. Working against the clock – to try to do something in a short amount of time
Example: In order to fill these orders for Walmart by December 1st, we will be working against the clock to get it done.

9. 24/7 – to do something 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Example: In order to complete the project, everyone is working 24/7 to get it done on time.

10. Cutting it close– to complete something with not enough time
Example: Jerry has to deliver the contract to before 5:00 p.m. today. He will be cutting it close and I’m not sure he can do it.


Students, practice using these idioms and expressions so that you will become more fluent in American English. Good luck!


If you’re interested in online or in-person classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at http://www.englishlessons-houston.com. We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.

Business English Lessons

Oct 09 2016

Private English Lessons in Houston – Business Idioms and Expressions for Financial Issues


Hi Students,

Here are some examples of idioms and expressions that you will sometimes hear when people are talking about financial issues.

  1. Ballpark figure – a guess about how much something will cost that could be more or less, but will be close.

Examples:  Anadarko Petroleum Company is asking its financial department for a ballpark figure of what it would cost to build a new refinery in Algeria.

A Ballpark Figure

A Ballpark Figure

  1. Crunch the numbers – to perform financial calculations

Example:  Devon Energy is planning to invest in new equipment for off-shore drilling.  The Vice-President has asked the Financial Department to crunch the numbers so that they can include the equipment in their 2017 budget.





  1. In the red – when expenses are higher than company revenues

Example:  For the past six months, our expenses have been higher than our income and now the company is in the red.


  1. In the black – when revenues are higher than expenses


Example:  Our first quarter sales were great!  We will be in the black for all of 2016.

In the Black

In the Black


  1. Break-even – when revenue equals expenses; a company doesn’t lose money and doesn’t make money.


Example:   When Ben and Jerry first began their ice cream company, they broke even for the first two years.


  1. A Pretty penny – a high price

Example:  The new warehouse purchased last year close to the ship channel cost the Hess Corporation a pretty penny.

Nickel and dime

Nickel and dime

  1. Nickel and dime someone – making a company pay for small expenses


Example:  I don’t think we should sign the contract to do business with our client.  They are nickel and diming us over every small detail.  We won’t make any money from this deal.


  1. Break one’s budget – to cost more than one can afford to pay

Example:  The cost of investing in Peru at this time will break our budget.  We will have to wait until 2018.


  1. To get more bang for the buck – more return on one’s money, more value for an investment

Example:  If we use the vendor from Norway, we will get more bang for our buck.

  1. Back -of-the-envelope calculations – approximate calculations done quickly
    Back of the envelope calculations

    Back of the envelope calculations

Example:  Based on back-of-the-envelope calculations, Royal Dutch Shell should be able to build four new off-shore drilling rigs in 2018.


Students, practice using these idioms and expressions so that you will become more fluent in American English.  Good luck!


If you’re interested in online or in-person classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at http://www.englishlessons-houston.com.    We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.

Business English Lessons

Copyright©2012 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

English Lessons Houston