Monday, August 5, 2013

New Site and New Address!

I've finally gotten set up, so please go there for new posts. This Blogspot page will still work, especially for the Common Errors and False Friends pages, but I won't be updating it. Also, be sure to check out Sitzman ABC on Facebook, which I update most of all. 
Thanks for your reading and support!
-Ryan Sitzman

Thursday, February 14, 2013

15 Great English Phrases For Valentine's Day

Hello everyone!

It's actually been a few months since my last post on this site, but I do have a good excuse. I've been trying to move Sitzman ABC to a different internet domain, but it's taken a lot more time than I imagined. When that is finished, I'll tell you, but I wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive by writing this post today.

Today is Valentine's Day. Love it or hate it, it's a very well-known holiday in many parts of the world. So I decided to talk about 5 good phrases that you can use today, even if you're not romantic.

1. to flirt

The verb "flirt" means to talk romantically to a person that you're interested in. It could be to start a relationship, or it could just be for fun. Sometimes this action is also called "hitting on." Note that "to hit on" is very different from "to hit"! For example, you can say:

"Tony got in trouble with his girlfriend Jenny last night. Jenny saw him talking to Sally, and Jenny thought he was flirting with her."


"Maria doesn't like to go to bars because guys always try to hit on her, even when she's not interested in them."

2. to date, to go out, to ask out

The verb "date" indicates that two people are in a relationship. It usually indicates a longer period of time:

"Tommy and Gina have been dating (each other) for about a year."

"Date" can also be a noun, as in: 

"Tommy and Gina are going on a date tonight."

A very similar phrase is "to go out," as in: 

"Tommy and Gina are going out."

Finally, "to ask (out)" means that one person asks another to go on a romantic date, or to an event like a dance:

"Tommy met Gina at the gym. She was flirting with him, so he asked her out on a date."

3. to be in love

This phrase is usually used when two people love each other. For example:

"Romeo and Juliet just met each other last week, but they both already say they're in love."

If you start to love a person, you "fall in love." Fall is an irregular verb, conjugated fall-fell-fallen. If people fall in love immediately, it's called "love at first sight":

"Romeo and Juliet fell in love immediately. It was love at first sight."


"I don't really believe in love at first sight. I think people need to spend time together before falling in love."

If the romantic relationship is very short, not very serious, or immature for some reason, it's sometimes called "puppy love" (a puppy is a baby dog). For example, you can say:

"Romeo and Juliet say they're in love, but I think it's just puppy love. Both of them fall in love with new people all the time, so I don't think it's serious."

4. to break up, to dump

Sometimes love doesn't last forever. When that happens, here are some phrases to use when a relationship ends. If both people decide to stop the relationship, you can say that they "broke up" ("broke" is the past form of "break"):

"Did you hear the news? Melissa and her boyfriend John broke up last week."

However, if only one person makes the decision, you can say that he or she "dumped" the other person. With this phrase, one person dumps, the other person gets dumped. Note: "dump" is also a verb used with trash, so be careful using this phrase around a person with a broken heart

"Did you hear the news? John got dumped last week! Melissa said she saw him hitting on a girl in the park, so she dumped him!"

Well, that's a lot of vocabulary to remember, so let's list the words one more time just to review.

Can you explain what each of these phrases means and give an example of how to use them?

-love it or hate it
-to flirt (with someone)
-to hit on (someone)
-to be interested in (someone)

-to date, to be dating
-to go on a date
-to go out
-to ask (someone) out

-to be in love (with)
-to fall in love
-love at first sight
-puppy love

-to break up
-to dump
-to get/be dumped

That's all for today. If you're in a relationship, then have a happy Valentine's Day. If not, then you may enjoy this Queen song (turn the volume all the way up before starting the video):

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Transportation: Trains

All Aboard! Today we'll be talking about trains. This is the main train station in Beijing, China.
(Picture by Ryan Sitzman)

Hello! You may not know it, but two things I really like are trains and maps (yes, I know, I'm strange). So when I found this picture yesterday, I thought was cool:

Picture by Annie Mole, via Flickr. Click on picture for details.

Obviously, this isn't a real map, but it is interesting and fun to look at. It also inspired me to talk a little bit about transportation. Today we'll look at travel related to trains and identify possibly new and useful vocabulary. Then in a few days, we'll look at vocabulary related to subways, metros, and trams.

This train is on the island of Langeoog, in the North Sea off the coast of Germany. It's a very nice train but a very small system: there are only two stations! (Picture by Ryan Sitzman)


Trains are large vehicles that move passengers and cargo. A train normally has two parts: an engine, and multiple cars. Generally the word train refers to the engine and all of the cars, but it can also refer to the entire system. Trains move over rails (the two long metal pieces) and tracks (the metal, plus the structure that supports it), so for that reason train systems are also called railways or railroads.

These are some (old) train tracks in Colorado. "Tracks" refers to the whole structure, and "rails" refers to the two pieces of metal that the train's wheels sit on. (Picture by Ryan Sitzman)

There aren't really many trains in Costa Rica, unfortunately. There is a commuter train system connecting San José and Heredia, but that's about all. I think that in the Limón province you can sometimes see freight (cargo) trains, but they're not common in the rest of the country. Passenger trains are also uncommon in most of the US, except in the northeast. However, there are lots of freight trains in the whole country. 

A passenger train in Switzerland. (Picture by Ryan Sitzman)
A freight/cargo train in Colorado, probably carrying oil or gas.
(Picture by Ryan Sitzman)

If you want to see lots of nice, new trains, one of the best places to go is Europe. Most countries have their own well-developed rail systems, and those systems connect to other countries. You can find long-distance trains, as well as railways that serve individual cities or regions. Additionally you can see smaller rail systems like subways and streetcars. It's also possible to call those individual vehicles "trains."

So what do you do when you want to travel by train? When you want to catch a train or ride (on) a train, you generally have to go to a train station. There you can buy your ticket and find your train. If it's a large station, you need to figure out what track or platform your train will be leaving from. When you find the correct platform, you can board or get on the train, and then the fun begins.

Passengers in the Main Train Station in Berlin, Germany wait to board their trains. (Picture by Ryan Sitzman)

Well, sometimes. But normally trains are more relaxing than driving, since you can sit back and read, listen to music, sleep, or talk with other people. That's why trains are nice for long-distance transportation. Some even have dining cars or, for very long distances, sleeping/sleeper cars. Those cars have beds and are basically like moving hotel rooms --but of course hotel rooms usually are bigger, nicer, and have less ugly curtains!

In September my wife Angela and I took a trip to China. This is Angela in our sleeper car on the train between Hangzhou and Beijing. The beds were very comfortable --but ugly! (Picture by Ryan Sitzman)

Finally, when you get/arrive to your destination, you get off the train. From there, you can find other types of transportation to get to your final destination. If you're in a big city, one option might be a subway or metro. We'll talk about vocabulary related to those systems in a few days.

So, let's review today's vocabulary:

1. train
2. engine
3. car
4. rail
5. track(s)
6. railway/railroad
7. commuter
8. passenger
9. freight
10. by train
11. station
12. catch a train
13. ride a train
14. track
15. platform
16. board a train
17. dining car
18. sleeper car
19. subway
20. metro

Can you define or explain each of these words? Try to do it, just for practice!

We'll be back in a few days to look at more transportation vocabulary but in the meantime, happy travels! Thanks for reading!

Angela took this picture of me in front of the "Maglev" (magnetic levitation) train in Shanghai. The track is very short, and only connects the city to the airport, but it's very fast: it can go up to 430 km/h! You can see a shaky video here. I guess it's technically not a railway, though, since the train doesn't really run on rails. Instead, it uses magnets to "float" above the tracks. It's a pretty cool train! (Picture by Angela Jimenez Mora)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. I made this last Thanksgiving.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's possibly my favorite holiday (read more about holidays in general here), but most people here in Costa Rica don't know anything about it. So today let's explore what the holiday is about! Many of these words --especially about foods-- may be new or strange for you, so I'll include definitions or explanations for the bold words at the end of the post.

First of all, Thanksgiving is an old holiday. The history of Thanksgiving is a bit complicated, though, and there are different ideas about the "first Thanksgiving." You can watch this video or any of the others on if you want more general information about the holiday's history. For today I just want to focus on the modern celebration.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of every November. Most people generally have Thursday and Friday off from work or school, so generally people try to get together with friends and family for a big meal (sometimes called "Thanksgiving dinner" or a "feast"). Different people eat different foods for Thanksgiving, but the most common food is definitely turkey. As sides, people often eat cranberry sauce together with the meat --it may sound weird, but it's delicious! Additionally, people often eat mashed potatoes with gravy, bread or rolls, stuffing, and save the most delicious thing for dessert: pumpkin pie

It's a special time of year, and I think one of the best things about the holiday is that it's not commercial, and that it's just about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for the good things in your life. Many times people take turns saying what they're thankful for in their lives.

At the old school where I used to teach, the students wrote what they were thankful for on a paper leaf. What are you thankful for in your life?

Let's go over some of the vocabulary for today. Before you read the definitions, though, can you explain what each of the words means?

have ____ off
get together (with)
cranberry (sauce)
pumpkin pie
spend time
loved ones
be thankful for
take turns

Now, let's look at some definitions or explanations for each of the vocabulary words:

Thanksgiving - a holiday at the end of November in the US
holiday - a special day; normally people don't have to work on holidays (see here)
have ____ off - if you have a day off, it means you don't have to work or go to school
get together (with) - to meet with someone
meal - a time when people eat food; the three meals are normally breakfast, lunch, and dinner
dinner - the name for the main meal at Thanksgiving (sometimes it's at lunch time, though)
feast - a very large, special, or elaborate meal
cranberry (sauce) - a cranberry is a tart fruit (see here)
mashed - "mash" is very similar to "smash" or "crush"
gravy - a thick sauce made from meat juices; often served with meat and/or potatoes
rolls - small, individual pieces of bread
stuffing - a mixture of bread cubes, celery, and other ingredients; often cooked inside the turkey
pumpkin pie - a dessert made from pumpkin, a type of gourd
spend time - we normally use the verb "spend" for time (not "pass")
loved ones - people who are important or special to us
be thankful for - to appreciate someone or something
take turns - when different people do something in order, one person at a time

So, what about you? What are you thankful for? I'm thankful for you, for reading this blog! If you have any comments or questions, please leave a comment. Thanks again for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Culture Tab

You may have noticed that there's a new "Culture" tab near the top of the screen, below where it says "Sitzman ABC":

If you click on the Culture tab, you'll find Sitzman ABC posts related to "cultural" aspects of language. The topics there include holidays, communication, names, and other things that are difficult to classify. I'll also plan on adding more posts to this section in the near future.

Don't forget, there are also tabs that will take you to pages with lists of Common Errors, False Friends, and "Fun" ("Fun" includes things like songs, videos, and other activities).

So have a look around, and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Time Is It?

If you've been my student recently, you've probably noticed that the question I usually ask right before class is: "What time is it?" There's always one correct answer, no matter what the clock says. If you don't know the correct answer, it's hidden in the picture below--can you find it?

So, what time is it? That's right, it's ENGLISH TIME! 

I took this picture when I was in Istanbul, Turkey on a recent trip. I thought it was a funny and interesting coincidence, so I decided to share it here.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that English Time is your favorite time!