1. Warning: Bad grammar!
Passing this sign outside a restaurant on London’s Drury Lane, I couldn’t help but wonder if they are only serving food now, at the moment. It says they do so before and after shows, but by using the -ing form, they give the impression that this is not a regular service.
Better would be to have written: We serve fresh, homemade food. In using the present simple, a momentary offer becomes a permanent fact.

    Warning: Bad grammar!

    Passing this sign outside a restaurant on London’s Drury Lane, I couldn’t help but wonder if they are only serving food now, at the moment. It says they do so before and after shows, but by using the -ing form, they give the impression that this is not a regular service.

    Better would be to have written: We serve fresh, homemade food. In using the present simple, a momentary offer becomes a permanent fact.

  2. Turning nouns into verbs. It’s one of the best things about English, and what makes the language so flexible and fun to use. Here are two great examples from the streets of London.

    In the first photo, the city wants to keep the streets clean. Gum should go in the bin (trash or garbage, as it’s better known in the U.S.) — not spit out onto the street.

    The ad could say, “Throw away (or: throw out) your gum”, but that is too long, and doesn’t fit very well on an ad. Better “to bin your gum” — short, clear and active.

    American English works the same: Trash (verb) your gum. Where? In the trash (noun), of course.

    The second photo shows an ad from a local electronics store. It plays with the noun, know-how — a fancy synonym for “knowledge” or “expertise” (e.g., technical know-how). Adding the infinitive form, to help, turns know-how also into a verb. So the electronics store employees have know-how, but they also know how to help.

    The company is so proud of its use of language, they’ve trademarked the word.

  3. Think there’s only one “English”? Think again. Came across this word, busking, for the first time in my life, today while walking the streets of London. It struck me immediately as British English — the mere sound of it in my head was of the Queen, not a cowboy.
In any language — yours or another’s — there are tricks to learning the meaning of words you don’t know. Using context and environment are key. Here, I was near a large construction site. It was clear the authorities wanted to keep the area clear, no one hanging around.
What sort of people hang around? Homeless and beggars. Also musicians and street performers.
Check the dictionary: How close was I?

    Think there’s only one “English”? Think again. Came across this word, busking, for the first time in my life, today while walking the streets of London. It struck me immediately as British English — the mere sound of it in my head was of the Queen, not a cowboy.

    In any language — yours or another’s — there are tricks to learning the meaning of words you don’t know. Using context and environment are key. Here, I was near a large construction site. It was clear the authorities wanted to keep the area clear, no one hanging around.

    What sort of people hang around? Homeless and beggars. Also musicians and street performers.

    Check the dictionary: How close was I?