We recently got a great question from a Culips listener via email (Thanks Ana!), so I thought I’d share my answer here, in case other people are wondering about the same thing.
Ana wanted to know more about the verbs to ship and to deliver, and the differences between the two. This is a great questions, especially these days, when ordering things online is becoming so common!
The verbs to ship and to deliver have similar meanings, but there are some small differences. However, in some situations, people use them as synonyms, so it can get confusing.
To ship something means to cause it to be transported by someone else. For example, if you move to another country, you can ship your clothes there by sending them through the mail. You’re not the one transporting the clothes yourself, but you are causing them to be transported by paying the post office to do it for you. To ship something usually means to send it somewhere by getting someone else (like a company) to transport it for you.
The verb to ship is usually only used to talk about transporting something over a long distance, such as from one city to another, or across the ocean. If something doesn’t need to be transported very far, you can instead say that you have it delivered or get it delivered. For example, you could get flowers delivered to your mother on her birthday by calling a flower shop in your town and placing an order.
So this brings us to the verb to deliver…
To deliver something means to take something that somebody gives you and transport it to someone else. So you are the one who ships your clothes to another country, and the postal service delivers them. Even though you’re shipping the clothes, you aren’t delivering them, because you’re not the one who’s actually moving them. Similarly, when you get flowers delivered to your sweetheart, a flower shop employee is the one who delivers them.
When to ship and to deliver are used as synonyms
Sometimes these verbs are used interchangeably. For example, the website of a company that sells chocolates online might say “We’ll ship to anywhere in the world.” But it could also say, “We’ll deliver to anywhere in the world.” This is because the chocolate company might pay someone else to transport the chocolates (that is, the company ships them), or the company might have employees who transport the chocolates themselves (so the company delivers them).
But companies sometimes also say that they deliver even if they pay another company to do it.
Using to ship and to deliver in your daily life
When it comes to normal people (not companies), you should only say that you’re delivering something if you’re actually carrying the object from one place to another yourself. If somebody else transports the object for you, then you’re shipping it or having it delivered.
I hope this explanation is helpful. It’s definitely one of those things that can be confusing in English! If there’s anything about these verbs that’s still unclear to you, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to clear it up.
Over at the Culips Facebook page, we’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about why in English we don’t use the preposition to with words like home, downtown, and outside. (You can check out the Culips Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CulipsPodcast.)
So why do we say “I’m going to school” but not “I’m going to home”? Instead, we say “I’m going home,” with no preposition.
As many English teachers (and probably all English students!) will tell you, English can sometimes be a weird language, and there are some things about it that you just have to get used to by listening and reading as much as you can until things start to sound natural to you.
But that explanation isn’t very helpful when you just want to know WHY something is the way it is. So here’s my attempt at explaining why we don’t use the preposition to with certain words, like home, inside, and away.
When we say, “I went home,” the word home isn’t being used as a noun. It’s not a specific, physical place the way that school is. It’s more of an abstract, general idea. So in this case, the word home is actually an adverb (“an adverb of place” is the technical term), which doesn’t require a preposition. There are other adverbs of place like this too, and we don’t use a preposition with any of these words either.
Some examples are:
• inside/outside – It’s too cold out here. Let’s go inside.
• downstairs/upstairs – Can you please go downstairs and turn the TV off?
• downtown/uptown – Yesterday we went downtown to do some shopping.
• here/there – How was your vacation in Hawaii? I really want to go there someday!
• somewhere/anywhere – I don’t feel like going anywhere today. Let’s stay home.
• abroad – Last year I went abroad to study English.
• away – Go away. I don’t want to talk to you right now.
• back – I forgot my hat at the restaurant, but I went back and luckily it was still there.
But unlike with the words listed above, you can also use the word home as a specific place, but then you have to add the preposition to, and you also have to specify whose home it is. For example, if your friend came over for dinner, you could say, “She came to my home last weekend.” If you only said “She came home last weekend,” it would sound like you both share the same home. For example, you could say, “My wife was visiting her parents out of town, but she came home last weekend.”
We can think about this abstract/general concept to explain why we sometimes do and sometimes don’t use a preposition with home, but the truth is, it can be confusing. This is definitely one of those things that you just get better at the more you use and hear the language, but maybe this little explanation will help you to remember until then!
Hello Culips listeners!
We recently received a great question from one of our listeners in the United States. Luis’s first language is Spanish, and he was wondering about how native English speakers pronounce the words should’ve, would’ve, must’ve, and could’ve, which are contractions of should have, would have, must have, and could have.
It can be difficult to describe pronunciations in writing, so we’ve put together a little recording of Maura explaining and pronouncing these words. Check it out at the end of this post!
Each of these four words (should’ve, would’ve, must’ve, and could’ve) are made up of two syllables, unlike other contractions like can’t, don’t, it’s, and he’s that are only one syllable.
The ‘ve part of the words almost sounds like the word “of” (which actually has a “v” sound, not an “f” sound—English is confusing!) So if you say “should of” you will be pretty close to pronouncing the word “should’ve” like a native English speaker.
I found a website that lets you type in a word and then plays the pronunciation for you. The speaker on the website has a slight British accent, so the pronunciations might be a little bit different than what you would hear in the US or Canada, but his accent isn’t very strong, so it should still be a good way to practice.
You can check that out here: http://www.howjsay.com/
Another good website for pronunciations is Google Translate. On this site, if you change the language you type in to “English,” you can type anything you want and then click the little speaker icon in the bottom right corner of the box and it will read it back to you. Since it’s a computer putting together the words, full sentences don’t always sound very natural the way they fit together, but the individual words are recordings of a human speaker, so each word is pronounced correctly. The speaker has a North American accent.
That website is here: http://translate.google.com/
Now check out how Maura says the words!
Thanks again to Luis for the excellent question. We love answering listener questions, especially if we can use the answer in an episode or post it here on our blog to help other English learners. So keep ’em coming everyone!
You can ask us questions in a few different ways:
1. Use the question form on our website, at: http://esl.culips.com/contact-culips/ask-culips/
2. Email us at Contact@culips.com
3. Post your question on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CULIPS-Fun-and-Practical-English-Learning/251023217147
Talk to you again soon!
Culips English Learning Podcast
Do you remember the time before portable music? Only being able to listen to music while inside?
Well, I still remember my first portable cassette tape player; it was a hand-me-down from my older sister. It was amazing to me to be able to listen to the radio and music while walking around outside. Then I remember getting a portable CD player. I felt so fancy and modern.
The last time I went to visit my parents, I saw my old CD player and it looked so big and bulky. After this, I moved on to (much smaller) MP3 players, and now I listen to music and podcasts on my cell phone; everything in one small device!
It still amazes me that now, with such small devices, we can listen to music and podcasts wherever we want. At the last Culips meeting, we were discussing an email from a listener. She mentioned that she listens to our free Culips ESL podcasts while she’s out walking her dog. We got an email from another listener who listens on the train to work.
Where do you listen to Culips? We’re going to make a short video using photographs of Culips listeners listening to Culips all over the world in all kinds of places. If you’d like your photo to be a part of the video, send us a picture of yourself listening to Culips anywhere, whether it’s the place you normally listen, or the craziest place you can think of!
Here’s a picture of me listening to Culips last weekend while enjoying the warmth of the fire at my friend’s cabin. We’ll be adding more pictures to our Facebook page soon!
I just finished listening to this week’s Culips ESL podcast episode, hosted by Harp and Maura, and I really enjoyed it! It’s a Chatterbox episode about the art of telling stories in English.
If you haven’t heard the episode yet, check it out here (for free, as always): The art of telling stories in English
In this episode, Maura and Harp both share some funny, interesting stories from their own lives and discuss how people tell stories in English in general. They give you some great ways to grab people’s attention at the start of a story and talk about how people often exagerate when telling a story.
Listening to Harp’s and Maura’s stories put me in the mood to tell a funny story of my own. My story relates to language, so I thought I’d tell my story in the form of a Culips blog post!
So, do you want to hear a funny story?
A couple of years ago, I was visiting one of my favourite places, the Science North Science Centre in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. They have all kinds of neat science exhibits there, including some live animals that are native to Canada, like beavers, porcupines, turtles, snakes, frogs, flying squirrels, and birds.
I was visiting the Science Centre with my mom and we were exploring the area with all the animals. I was looking at a beautiful bird, called a rough-legged hawk, and my mom was looking at something else. I had never seen a bird like that so close before, and it was really neat. I wanted my mom to come over and look at it with me, so I said “Hey mom! Come see this. It’s so cool!”
She came over and we looked at the bird for a while, then moved on to the next part of the exhibit. As we were walking away from the hawk, a little girl, maybe about 8 years old, walked up to the cage and said to her mother, in French, “Maman! Regarde! C’est une socool!” which in English translates to “Mom! Look! It’s a socool!”
The little girl had overheard me calling my mom over before, but because she didn’t speak English, when I said the bird was “so cool” she had thought I was telling my mom the bird’s name! I wish I could have heard the rest of the conversation between the little girl and her mother, because there’s no such thing as a bird called a “socool”!
This story gave me a good laugh when it happened, and it reminded me how easily misunderstandings can occur in different languages.
Do you have a funny story that you’d like to share? It could be about a language misunderstanding, or about anything at all! Share it in the comments section of this blog post!