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The Best of the Blog

Aprile 2015
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us (preferably in English) at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

Teachers and professors
What is the difference between a professor, a teacher and a lecturer? Thank you.

A teacher is a generic term, but it usually refers to schools. Lecturers and professors tend to teach at universities. Most people in teaching jobs at universities are lecturers, but if their careers go well they can be promoted to a professorship.

Post codes

I would like to know the meaning of those codes in a typical English address like this: Mr. X, 27 Kimberley Road, Nottingham “NG16 1DA” England. What does “NG16 1DA” mean?

This is the post code, a system that was introduced in the UK between 1959 and 1974. The first part is called the outward code. It refers to the postcode area (in this case NG is short for Nottingham) and the postcode district (in this case 16, which is a particular district in Nottingham). The second part, which is more complicated, is called the inward code: this indicates a street, or a very small area of land within the post code district. In the past post codes were mainly used for the delivery of mail. Today they are essential for Sat Nav: if you order a taxi they will probably ask for your post code.

In most reliable school coursebooks we find the rule that like, hate etc are followed by a gerund to say we enjoy or don’t enjoy something (ex: I like swimming = mi piace nuotare). However, we can also use I like, hate etc + to-infinitive (ex: I hate to keep people waiting). What’s the difference in meaning? I’m a teacher and I’m struggling to make it clear to my students. Thank you!

The fact of the matter is that English grammar is far more flexible than most Italians think! OK, there are some subtle differences. With “to hate,” for example, “I hate going to the dentist” is generic, whereas “I hate to say this, but you’re wrong!” refers to a specific situation. But the English themselves are less obsessed with (and less knowledgeable about) grammar than the Italians and they probably wouldn’t even notice if you mixed up the two.

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