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2 The First Days in Your New Home

Make yourself at home!

Exercise 2.1

Finally, after a long, exhausting journey, you are in your new home, safe and sound!

A) Let’s take a look around: what’s your new home like? How many rooms are there, is it a flat, row house, detached house..? Is the home fully furnished or do you have to go shopping?

Choose B or C, according to what you chose above.

B) As there is no furniture, you will need to go shopping. What pieces of furniture would you need the most? How would you like to furnish and decorate your new home? Luckily you have enough money to spend, so let’s just create a list of all the items you’ll need for furnishing your new home.

Before visiting the local furniture stores, it might be a good idea to plan a bit beforehand.
Create a list of all of the pieces of furniture you would need in your new home. Don’t worry about the costs, aim at about 50 words.

A tip: good places for collecting words are furniture stores’ pages. You can google stores using, for example, “furniture store” as a key word.

C) As the house is furnished, list here all the pieces of furniture there are already. To help you here, you can either use the pictures in the picture bank (Dropbox) , use your own photos or search the Net for pictures (remember to use only Creative Commons licensed pictures: for example in Flickr → advanced search → search only Creative Commons licensed material).

A tip: It is possible to download the pictures and make a picture vocabulary (e.g. using Skitch, making a PowerPoint presentation with pictures, a Google Docs document...). A picture vocabulary is an efficient way of learning new words!

Add your list here, and also translate the words into Finnish.
If you make a picture vocabulary, share the pictures in Dropbox by creating your own folder there. No need to translate the words into Finnish. Share the link to the folder in the box below.

Don’t forget to answer the question A, as well B / C (A+B or A+C).

Photo: Flickr / Zepfanman.com

While you are waiting for the delivery of your new furniture, you may as well work on your English course materials.

Go to your next grammar lesson (Grammar Lesson 2 ) now but come back to finish this housing section after you have studied the lesson.

Exercise 2.2

D) Use the pictures in the picture bank or other pictures (they can be your own or you can search the Net - remember to use only Creative Commons licensed material!) to describe your new home. Explain what is where, how things are placed, what the materials are... Aim at 200 words.

Pay attention to what you just learned in your first grammar lesson. Also, it might be a good idea to revise the prepositions of location:

Prepositions, Lesson 3b
Prepositions, Lesson 3c


Improve your grammar!


Welcome to the second online grammar lesson of this course!

The structure we are studying today deals with building a correct sentence in English. The main rule in an English clause is that it always requires a subject. In some cases there is no natural subject available, which leads us to use a so-called grammatical subject. It is a subject that doesn’t mean anything but is there just to fill in the gap in the clause. There are also some other cases where this “dummy” subject, also known as formal subject, is needed.

There are two formal subjects: there and it.

Let’s start with there

there + be + a noun

Typically this is called a “there is / are” structure, even though the verb “be” can be in any simple tense (present, past, perfect, plu perfect, future, conditional I and II), not just in forms “is” or “are”

We use a singular verb if the noun is in singular, and a plural verb if the noun is in plural:

There is a cat on the roof.
There are flowers in the garden.

When to use the formal subject “there”?

1) When we introduce a new topic, to tell that something exists:

  • There is a hole in my pocket.
  • There has been an accident.
  • There is so much to be happy about!

2) When we tell that something is somewhere:

  • There are some books on the desk.
  • There is snow on the ground.
  • There have been some rumours about a new concert.

When to use the formal subject “It”?

We use “it” when we talk about

1) time and dates:

  • clock
  • dates/days
  • months
  • seasons
  • moments

What time is it? It's a quarter to four.
It's the first of December. It's Monday.
It was already May.
It's summer again!
It's high time to start.

2) weather (verbs + adjectives)

  • It’s raining cats and dogs.
  • It’s lovely weather - for ducks!
  • It’s freezing here!

3) with adjectives

  • It’s lovely to be here!
  • It was interesting to hear his speech.

4) distance

  • It’s ten miles to the nearest town.
  • It’s a short stroll from here.

4) people we can’t see, to refer to ourselves when the listener can’t see us (e.g. on the phone):

  • It’s me, It’s Mary here!

5) To emphasize:

  • It was John you saw coming, not Pete.

 Photo: Wikimedia

Grammar: The formal subject - A short summary in Finnish

Exercise 2.3

Fill in the Subjects and the verb BE in the past tense in the following sentences.

I will never forget it! 

1. a great Saturday morning.

2. birds singing in the trees.

3. +24 degrees centigrade in the shade.

4. no clouds in the sky.

5. summer and 6. nothing to worry about.

7. a perfect day for a wedding.

8. a lot of relatives there.

9. plenty of food and dancing.

10. anyone who didn' t enjoy the beautiful, joyful day.

11. the most important day of my life, my wedding day.

Exercise 2.4

Fill in the correct formal subject and the correct form of the verb “be”: 

1.  easy to ride a bike.

2.  some tricks, however, on how to ride it safely.

3. Firstly,  important to remember to wear a helmet.

4. Secondly,  traffic rules to follow.

5.  too many accidents due to reckless driving in the past years.

6. But  helps to follow the rules if you just remember that should you collide with a car,  you who gets hurt, not the car.

7.  many car drivers who respect bike riders.

8. However,  even more of them.

9. Nevertheless,  safer to ride a bike in the future, as the awareness among the car drivers grows.


Exercise 2.5

Fill in the correct formal subject and the verb “be” in the correct form. Pay attention to the tense needed in each case! Your teacher will evaluate this exercise as part of your portfolio. 

Greetings from New York!

I just returned from New York: 1)  just amazing! I have to say 2)  nothing like NYC! First of all, the cultural diversity of the city is staggering: 3)  a multitude of distinct neighborhoods in a rather small geographic area: Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, just to name but a few. And what about Central Park, it totally blew my mind: 4)  a surprise for me to find such a huge green park in the middle of the city.


5) Generally speaking,  something striking about the contrast of that green area and the metropolis around it. And to call it just a green area is quite an understatement: although 6)  lots of typical park features like walking paths, gardens, artificial lakes, meadows and even a couple of ice rinks, 7) For many,  quite an experience to find real woods in the middle of Manhattan. Thank you Messrs. Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Waux for creating this amazing park! And eating and dining in New York: 8)  news to me as well that 9)  so many interesting restaurants in the world where we can tease our taste buds: 10) many fancy restaurants but also plenty of places that won’t empty your pocket. Pizza, hamburgers, pancakes, dumplings... They sure know how to treat a hungry traveler!

Photo: Flickr / DoctorWho


1. Word stress 

During the days you’ve spent in your new home you’ve heard a lot of English around you.
You’ve probably been sweating with the speed the natives sometimes speak, as well as with the rhythm and intonation of English.

One of the most striking features of spoken English is word stress. It means that certain syllables in a word are emphasized: these syllables are longer and louder whereas other syllables are unstressed, muted. For example, in Finnish it is usually the first syllable of the word that gets the word stress. In English it is not that simple: the place of the emphasis varies.

It’s important to be able to place the word stress correctly: it can be difficult for a native speaker to understand you correctly if the word stress is on a wrong syllable.

There are some rules on where the stress is laid in words, but as the rules can be rather complicated and there are many exceptions, it is always important also to hear the word when learning it. So, whenever you encounter a new word and you are not sure of how it is pronounced, check for example www.howjsay.com

Watch and listen to this video on word stress

2. Pronunciation: th - voiced / unvoiced

“Th” is a very common letter combination in English. At the same time it is quite a challenging sound to pronounce. Actually, it is two different sounds: it can be voiced or unvoiced.



Exercise 2.6

Pronunciation exercise:

After learning about word stress and the voiced and unvoiced th-sounds, practise reading the following passage. Use howjsay.com to make sure you know how the words are pronounced. Practise reading the text more than once, pay attention to th -sounds. Then record this text for your teacher to evaluate and comment on:

On Thursday morning I realized I had forgotten to buy toothpaste. It’s one of these things that happen just when there really is no time for such. I was aware of every tooth in my mouth and surely my breath didn’t smell like roses either. Fortunately my brother lives next door and again, he saved my day!


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