Monday, June 28, 2010

“Have” vs “Having” in Certain Expressions

Why can I say “I’m having my lunch” but not “I’m having a headache”? Some explanations I’ve read indicate it’s all to do with possession. But every time I think I have it figured, I have to wonder why I must say “I have a cold” when I can’t say “I have a heart attack.” I’m sure you’ll be having a good explanation for me:-)

Here’s the usual rule given to ESL students concerning the use of “have” to show possession or to describe medical conditions:

Have should always be in the simple present tense for the meaning “to own,” or to describe medical problems. For example: They have a new car. I have a bad cold. It is incorrect to say “I am having a cold” or “I am having a new car.”

“I’m having a heart attack” does seem to contradict this rule.

I think that the difference between “I have a headache” and “I’m having a heart attack” may have more to do with duration than with either a medical condition or possession.

One can “have a heart condition,” but a heart attack is a singular event, usually over in a few seconds or minutes. One may say “I hope I won’t have a heart attack,” but in the event that one has one–and is capable of telling someone–”am having” is the only possibility.

A headache is generally of longer duration than a heart attack. It may last an hour, several hours, or days. The same applies to a cold. Both are events of indeterminate duration. You have them for a while.

If you’re seated at a table having your lunch, you’re engaged in an activity with a predictable end. You’ll stop “having lunch” when you’ve finished eating.

That’s my theory, anyway.

LUCKY EXPRESSIONS

The expression to luck out is an American coinage dating from 1954. It means “to succeed through luck.” Specifically, according to the OED, it is to succeed “in a difficult, testing, or dangerous situation.” For example: He really lucked out on that exam; every question he had studied for was on it.

The expression to be out of luck means “to be unfortunate.” For example: You’re out of luck: the last train has left the station.

Two other uses of luck as a verb are:

to luck into: to acquire by good fortune, without effort on one’s part. Example: He lucked into a sweet deal on that car.

to luck upon: to meet with, to find. Example: He lucked upon some old clothes he had wanted to give away…

The noun luck entered English in the 15th century from a Dutch word meaning “happiness” or “good fortune.” It’s related to German Gl├╝ck, “fortune, good luck.”

The multiplicity of expressions with the word “luck,” incorporate associations with Chance and Fortune in the sense of the powers that arrange the uncertain fates of human beings.

One can have good luck, bad luck, or ill luck. My father used the expression If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

People say that it’s good luck to find a four-leaf clover, but bad luck to break a mirror.

Some people are said to have good luck, meaning that they are generally fortunate, while some are said to have no luck, meaning that they are generally unfortunate.

Here are just a few more of the many expressions that employ the noun luck:

Good luck! –said to someone setting off to some uncertain undertaking like an exam or an audition.
Better luck next time! –said to someone who has failed to achieve some goal.
Just my luck! –said by someone who has missed out on something desired.
To be down on one’s luck –to be in straitened circumstances, for example, jobless.
Luck of the Irish –a contradictory expression that can mean either “bad luck,” or “extraordinary good luck,” depending on the context.
The Best of British luck –usually meant ironically, the way Americans might say Good luck with that. The sense is “go ahead and try, but you’re probably not going to succeed.”
Trust to luck –undertake a difficult task with insufficient preparation, hoping that all will go well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 HOLIDAY QUIZ 60

Irregular Verbs - 1

Click on the answer button to see the correct answer.

All of the table must load before the rest of the page is displayed. If you have a slow connection, please be patient.

gowentgone
become
began
blown
break
brought
built
buy
caught
chosen
come
cut
done
draw
drank
driven
eat
fell
felt
fight
found


2010 HOLIDAY QUIZ 59

Tag Questions - With Assorted Verbs

Match the tag questions on the right with the sentence on the left.
Write your choices in the boxes on the left. Click on the answer button to see if your answers are correct or let JavaScript check your answers.
1. You can't answer all the questions,
2. You will help me to do the dishes,
3. He believes you,
4. The teacher should explain the lesson,
5. The boy didn't know the lesson,
6. Bob frightened you,
7. You can speak English well,
8. She couldn't arrange that,
9. You won't tell him,
10. He shouldn't do it,

a. didn't he?
b. will you?
c. can't you?
d. doesn't he?
e. can you?
f. should he?
g. could she?
h. won't you?
i. did he?
j. shouldn't he?


2010 HOLIDAY QUIZ 58

Tag Questions - With Be

Match the tag questions on the right with the sentence on the left.
Write your choices in the boxes on the left. Click on the answer button to see if your answers are correct or let JavaScript check your answers.
1. He's waiting for you,
2. There are seven days in a week,
3. I'm not late,
4. These colors are pretty,
5. Her reasons weren't very good,
6. The doctor wasn't in his office,
7. The lights were very bright,
8. The idea is interesting,
9. There were a lot of books on the table,
10. The hole isn't deep,

a. weren't they?
b. is it?
c. am I?
d. weren't there?
e. isn't he?
f. were they?
g. isn't it?
h. aren't there?
i. aren't they?
j. was he?

2010 HOLIDAY QUIZ 57

Tag Questions - Have you? Are you? Do you?

Click the answer button to see the answer.
  1. You don't smoke, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  2. You haven't got a car, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  3. You don't know her, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  4. You aren't going to France, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  5. You haven't been to Japan, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  6. You don't like ice cream, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  7. You aren't twenty-two, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  8. You aren't still angry, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  9. You haven't been on vacation, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you
  10. You aren't from Thailand, ___?
    a. have you
    b. are you
    c. do you

2010 HOLIDAY QUIZ 56

Tag Questions - Does she? Doesn't she? Did she?

Click the answer button to see the answer.
  1. Fatimah works in a bank, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  2. Amy didn't eat anything, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  3. Siti doesn't talk much, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  4. She loves you, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  5. Tammy looks very beautiful today, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  6. She didn't go, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  7. Anna didn't close the window, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  8. She doesn't drive, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  9. Barbara doesn't want to go, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she
  10. She looks tired, ___?
    a. does she
    b. doesn't she
    c. did she