hobbies and studies

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In a recent report, we asked readers and listeners from around the world to write to us about theirs hobbies and study.

In this week everyday grammar, We will share part of a message from Evgeny in Ukraine. Evgeny wrote about his school and his favorite hobby: chess. You’ll learn how Americans describe schools and grades, and how to talk about when you started your hobbies.

Evgeny’s message

Here is part of Evgeny’s message:

“My name is Evgeny … I study in the 11th grade of the Pearl comprehensive school. I am chess player. I’ve been playing this wonderful game since I was 9. I’ve won many city and regional tournaments and also participated in many national championships…”

Let’s start with the phrase about Evgeny’s studies:

“I’m learning ‘Perle’ in the 11th grade of the comprehensive school”.

We propose to delete the present progressive verb “to study”.

Generally, Americans use only the verb BE to identify grade level in school. We also use the preposition “at” instead of “of” when identifying a school.

For example, you might hear an American student say, “I’m in fourth grade at Park Hill” or “I’m in 10th grade at Western High School.”

Evgeny’s sentence could be changed to something like this:

“I’m in 11th grade at Pearl, a comprehensive school.”

This form of the sentence might be a bit clearer to an American English speaker:

“I’m in 11th grade.”

The reason we made that point about American English is because Evgeny used the term “comprehensive school,” a type of school that is generally unfamiliar to Americans.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a comprehensive school is a British term for ‘a school for children of all ability levels who are over the age of 11’.

Evgeny’s hobby: chess

Now let’s examine how Evgeny describes his hobby.

“I’m a chess player. I’ve been playing this wonderful game since I was 9 years old. I have won many city and regional tournaments and also participated in many national championships…”

Evgeny did a great job organizing his statements. He started with the most general information and then gave more details in the following sentences.

We recommend adding a little more information to the second sentence: “I’ve been playing this wonderful game since I was 9.”

Generally we only use numbers to describe times of day, as in “I woke up at five” or “I’ve been here since eight”.

We generally add the past tense of the verb BE to describe an age.

So Evgeny’s sentence could be updated as follows:

“I’ve been playing this wonderful game since I was 9 years old.”

Or:

“I’ve been playing this wonderful game since I was 9 years old.”

Evgeny described his success in chess like this:

“I have won many city and regional tournaments and also participated in many national championships.”

We recommend using the term “local” instead of “city” and replacing “region” with “regional.‘ We also suggest replacing the phrasal verb ‘participated’ with a verb such as ‘participated’ or ‘competed’.

The updated sentence might read something like this:

“I’ve won many local and regional tournaments and also competed in national championships.”

Final Thoughts

Towards the end of his message, Evgeny wrote:

“I think chess can help kids improve their skills focus and concentration Skills…”

We agree with Evgeny’s statement. We also wish him the best of luck with his English studies and future chess games.

If you would like to receive writing suggestions in a future report, please send us a brief description of your favorite book. Explain why you like the book and what it means to you. You can write to us in the comments section or email us at [email protected]

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

hobby – n. an activity that a person engages in for pleasure when not working

regional – adj. describes a part of a country, world, etc. that is in some way different or separate from other parts

focus – n. a primary purpose or interest

concentration – n. the ability to focus your attention or thought on a single object or activity: the ability to concentrate

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