Real English vs. Grammar-Book English (Part 3)

Sound More Natural & Understand More (part 3)

Zapping vs. Channel Surfing

“Zapping” is a bit like “footing” – I just haven’t found evidence that it exists in any form of English.  If you are changing channels frequently, you are “channel surfing”.

Invite vs. treat

Oh no!  This one is a classic and causes a lot of confusion.  “Invite” is to ask someone to a restaurant.  Maybe you will pay or maybe you will split the bill – it only means that you have asked them to the restaurant – nothing more.  To “treat” means to pay for the other person/people.  The Spanish “te invito” in English is “I’d like to treat you” or “it’s my treat”.

Why is this so relevant?  It is very confusion to us foreigners when we finish a lunch with a Spanish friend and they say, “I invite you to lunch!”.  We don’t know what you are talking about.  “But you have already ‘invited’ me and that is why I am here.  We wonder (preguntarse), “Is my friend drunk? Is he confused? Is he asking me to another restaurant? Oh my God, we just ate! Right now? Next week? What is going on?”

Funky vs. Funk

Funky is an adjective which can mean several things.  It can refers to music that originated in the 70s with lots of bass.  It also refers to things that are a bit extreme in aesthetic (wild and colorful, for example).  It can also (less frequently) refer to things that are old and smell funny.

Ex: This music is really funky – it’s great for dancing.

Ex: Desigual is a really funky brand – I love all the colors and creativity.

Ex: I think this Chinese food in the refrigerator is a bit funky – I am going to put it in the garbage.

“Funk” is a noun.  It refers primarily to the music.

Here is the problem: when you confuse the forms, you confuse us.  If you say:

Ex: I like funky. (This is not a complete sentence!)

We are waiting for the noun – the end of the sentence.  Funky clothes? Funky music? Funky furniture? Funky Shops? Funky buildings?  WhaAaAaAaAat!  Please, let us know what you are talking about.  Remember Adjectives must be followed by nouns.

Ex: I like funky cafes. (Wonderful sentence!  Now I understand what you are talking about!)

Punky vs. Punk

The rules for “punky” and “punk” are identical (grammatically speaking).  We are much less likely to use “punky”, though.  “Punk” is a noun and an adjective.

Ex: I like punk clothing.

Ex: Punk is dead – it has become too commercial.

Bitch vs. Prostitute

I don’t want to be vulgar, but this mistake is another classic that needs to be corrected.  Every Spanish boy and man will grin (smile broadly) in class as they say the word “bitch”.  This is  because they think that they are bad boys who know “real” English.  Sorry boys, you are translating directly and it just sounds weird.

“Bitch” in English refers to a disagreeable person or  a person who is in a disagreeable mood.  For whatever reason, it almost always refers to women.  A male equivalent might be “asshole”.  Strangely enough “asshole” isn’t used often for women – don’t know where these distinctions come from.

Ex: My boss is being a real bitch today – I don’t know what her problem is.

Prostitutes are men and women who exchange sex for money.  Since prostitutes have traditionally been women we sometimes say, “male prostitutes” or “escorts” when referring to men.

Web vs. Webpage

The “web” is the entire system of the Internet.  You can’t have the entire “web”.  You can have a “webpage” or perhaps many, but not the whole thing.  No one owns the web – not even Al Gore.

A: The web is great for downloading music

B: What webpage do you download from?


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