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Grammar Lesson of the Month: Latin in English

September 1, 2016

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit (everything changes, nothing perishes).”
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

People often say that English comes from Latin. But how “Latin” is English? According to experts, English is about 29% Latin. Understanding the origins of English (and specifically how Latin works within it) will help you have a better understanding of the English language.

Origins of English Pie Chart

According to this “Origins of English” chart, English is nearly 30% Latin!

Latin in English

How is Latin working in English? Latin is used in English in the form of expressions, terms related to law and science, and with adjectives related to nature and biology. Let’s take a look at each.

Common Latin expressions

Here are some Latin expressions commonly used in English:

  • e.g. (exempli gratia)
    • Definition: for example
    • Example: Most of San Diego’s main beaches (e.g. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach) have boardwalks.
  • etc. (et cetera)
    • Definition: and other things; and so forth
    • Example: We did all the major touristy things: the SD Zoo, the beaches, Balboa Park, etc.
  • i.e. (id est)
    • Definition: which means; in other words
    • Example: I’m super pale, i.e. I need a tan!
  • N.B. or n.b. (nota bene)
    • Definition: note well; take notice
    • Example: As you can see from the report, the weather in SD is beautiful year-round, but n.b. the cooler evenings. You will need a sweater.
  • P.S. (post script)
    • Definition: an addition remark at the end of a letter
    • Example: P.S. Did I mention that I love you?


Latin in law

Latin is commonly found in terms related to law . . . but you don’t have to be a lawyer to use these terms!

  • ad hoc
    • Definition: translated to “for this,” used to describe something created or used for a specific purpose.
    • Example: They created an ad hoc agreement for the new client.
  • affidavit
    • Definition: translated to “he has sworn,” used to describe a formal statement.
    • Example: I have a signed affidavit from the witness.
  • bona fide
    • Definition: translated to “in good faith,” used to show someone’s good intentions regardless of a situation’s outcome.
    • Example: The man said he thought he was buying a bona fide autograph of Michael Jordan, but it was a fake.
  • de facto
    • Definition: translated to “from fact” or “in fact,” used to reference something that is true in practice, but has not been officially instituted or endorsed. (This is often applied to an unofficial position someone works without being given an official title.)
    • Example: He worked as the de facto manager until a new one was hired.

Latin in adjectives

An interesting way English has preserved Latin is found in the use of some adjectives. In many cases in English, there are both German and Latin nouns for one thing. The Latin word is often more formal and is related to science. It is often both an adjective and a noun (depending on its use) and typically serves as the adjective form of the Germanic noun. In the examples below, the Latin version serves as an adjective.


Here are some examples in relation to nature and biology:

  • bee/apian
    • I am allergic to bees. (noun)
    • Apian allergies are common. (adjective)
  • bird/avian
    • I love to watch the birds in the morning.  (noun)
    • Avian sciences are fascinating. (adjective)
  • cat/feline
    • I’m a cat person. I’ve always had cats.  (noun)
    • My dog sometimes acts like a cat. I say she has feline tendencies. (adjective)
  • dog/canine
    • My dog is 10 years old.  (noun)
    • There is nothing more impressive than canine loyalty. (adjective)
  • horse/equine
    • Have you ever ridden a horse? (noun)
    • I am studying equine diseases. (adjective)
  • man/masculine
    • I met a man from Kentucky. (noun)
    • This cologne has a very masculine odor. (adjective)
  • moon/lunar
    • There will be a full moon tonight. (noun)
    • Did you see the lunar eclipse? (adjective)
  •  sun/solar
    • I need some sun! (noun)
    • The car is powered by solar energy. (adjective)
  • water/aquatic
    • I’m afraid of dark water. (noun)
    • Have you been to the new aquatic center? (adjective)
  • woman/feminine
    • He married a wonderful woman from Germany. (noun)
    • What a beautiful and feminine dress. (adjective)



A few others, just for fun:

  • boat/naval
    • Do you know how to drive a boat? (noun)
    • I just learned about this interesting naval battle in history class. (adjective)
  •  book/literary
    • That was a great book. (noun)
    • I always appreciate a literary man or woman. (adjective)
  • house/domestic
    • They just bought a new house. (noun)
    • I prefer domestic chores to chores outside, like mowing the lawn. (adjective)
  • town/urban
    • Do you live in a town or in the country? (noun)
    • I had a very urban childhood. (adjective)

 Can you think of ways that Latin lives in English? Tell us on Facebook!

California Life Featured Lessons San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Suggested student activities

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + “Paddle” Idioms

August 28, 2016

“Always behave like a duck. Keep calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle like hell underwater.”

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

San Diego is a dream for water sports lovers: the warm weather makes it possible to enjoy the water longer than other parts of the U.S., and the city’s many beaches provide the perfect places to surf, bodysurf, kayak, swim, snorkel, kitesurf, and sail! (Don’t know all of those vocabulary words? Check out our article on Beach Vocabulary and Activities to learn more!)

Stand up paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is a Hawaiian sport that has become popular for many San Diegans. With this fun water activity, you stand on a large flat board and use a paddle to move. Many variations have been created, like SUP yoga, SUP while surfing small waves, and SUP with fishing. Creative!

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach

Mission Bay is an excellent place to try SUP: the protected waters of the bay are calmer than other areas. Rent a paddleboard at one of the local shops and give it a try! (Click on this link for a list of all the places you can rent SUPs in Mission Beach and Mission Bay.)

Paddleboarding in Mission Beach + "Paddle" Idioms

English Expressions with “Paddle”

Before trying SUP, check out these idioms with “paddle.”

Paddle one’s own canoe

Definition: To be independent and self-sufficient.

Example: After a month of training, it’s time for you to paddle your own canoe. Good luck!

Doggy paddle

Definition: An elementary swimming stroke in which the swimmer uses his/her hands to swim in a manner resembling a swimming dog.

Example: Last year I could only doggy paddle: this year, I can finally swim!

Example: The kids can doggy paddle, but they can’t really swim.

Up the creek without a paddle

Definition: To be in a difficult situation with no apparent solution.

Example: I lost my cell phone and my wallet, and I was in a strange part of town. I was up the creek without a paddle.

Example: When the presentation began, his computer froze. He was up the creek without a paddle!

Note: this expression can be shortened to “up the creek.”

Example: You’re going to be up the creek if you don’t start saving your money now!

Keep (on) paddling

Definition: To continue something that is difficult; to persevere and not give up.

Example: I know studying for this test is hard. You just have to keep on paddling. You’ll pass!

Example: It took weeks to finish the project. They just kept on paddling, and eventually, they finished.


American Traditions California Life Featured Learning Materials Lessons San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Activities Suggested student activities

“Heat” Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

August 1, 2016

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

The weather is heating up, but in California there are plenty of places to cool off! In addition to exploring California’s many beautiful beaches, lakes, and rivers, CISL students have the option of enjoying some of the world’s best water parks. Check them out: but first, learn some expressions with “heat!”

Expressions with “Heat”

In the heat of the moment

Definition: Doing something quickly and without thinking, usually because you are overcome with anger or excitement.

Example: In the heat of the moment I said some things I regret.

Example: I forgot my phone was in my pocket, and in the heat of the moment I just jumped into the pool! Oops.

Take the heat (for something)

Definition: To take the blame or criticism for something.

Example: I broke the window, but my brother took the heat for me.

In a dead heat

Definition: Tied while in competition; neither side seems to be the winner.

Example: Right now both Olympic teams are in a dead heat for the gold medal.

Example: The horses were in a dead heat until the very last seconds of the race!

Turn up the heat

Definition: Increase the pressure to do something or complete something.

Example: Production is low, so we have to turn up the heat and get the workers to perform better.

Example: She really turned up the heat in our exercise class today! I’m exhausted!

Beat the heat

Definition: To escape the heat and cool off.

Example: We would beat the heat in the summer by going to the local pool.

Example: I beat the heat in the summer by sipping on cold drinks.

Grammar Quiz

You just learned some new expressions with the word “heat,” but can you use them properly? Check out the following sentences and decide which ones have mistakes with the expressions and which ones don’t. The answers are at the bottom of this post.

  1. It was in the heat of the moment that I decided to buy a ticket and fly to Italy.
  2. This summer we have beated the heat by staying at the pool every afternoon.
  3. It looks like the two teams are in dead heat.
  4. I need you to turn up the heat on Tim so that he sells more this month.
  5. Who is going to take the heat by this failed project?

Water Parks in California

How do you beat the heat in the summer? We suggest checking out some of these spectacular water parks in California!

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

Waterworld (Concord, Bay Area)

Bay Area’s most popular water park just might be Waterworld: it has more water slides than any other park in Northern California! It has some of the scariest water slides, which makes this park a dream for the adventure-seeker!

1950 Waterworld Pkwy
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 609-1364

Waterfront Park (Little Italy, San Diego)

One of the newest additions to the Embarcadero on San Diego Bay is the beautiful Waterfront Park. Have a picnic on the grass while looking at the boats and cruise ships on the Bay, or jump into some of the water fountains and cool off!

1600 Pacific Hwy
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-7275


Belmont Park’s Wave House (Mission Beach, San Diego)

"Heat" Expressions in English + Water Parks in California

We’ve often written about Mission Beach’s Belmont Park and Wave House: it’s a favorite for CISL students! Sip on some cool drinks, take a dip in the ocean, attend one of the concerts or events, or try to surf on the artificial wave maker. There’s always something fun to do at the Wave House!

3125 Ocean Front Walk
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 228-9283

Sea World’s Aquatica (Chula Vista, San Diego)

Sea World is known for its marine life and animal shows, but there’s something new to check out: its awesome water park! Formerly called Knott’s Soak City, the new Aquatica is entirely renovated and is now a summer “must” for San Diegans. Swim in the pools, take a ride down the lazy river . . . or get crazy and try one of the intense water slides!

2052 Entertainment Cir.
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(800) 257-4268

Quiz Answers

How did you do on our little quiz? See if you found all of the grammatical errors for our expressions with “heat.”

  1. It was in the heat of the moment that I decided to buy a ticket and fly to Italy. Correct! (Note: you could also remove “that” from the sentence: click here to learn about Relative Clauses.)
  2. This summer we have beated the heat by staying at the pool every afternoon. Incorrect: “beated” is an incorrect past participle of “beat.” The tense, the Present Perfect, is correct: click here to learn more about the Present Perfect.
  3. It looks like the two teams are in (a) dead heat. Incorrect. You are in A dead heat because “heat” is a noun.
  4. I need you to turn up the heat on Tim so that he sells more this month. Correct! In this case, Tim works in sales and needs to improve his earnings.
  5. Who is going to take the heat by (for/on/with/regarding) this failed project? Incorrect: we must use one of the words given (for, on, with, regarding) and we cannot use “by.”
Dining Featured Lessons San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Student Life Suggested student activities Vocabulary

San Diego burger joints + burger and toppings idioms

July 16, 2016

American food isn’t all about cheeseburgers and fries, but let’s be honest: the burgers and fries here are absolutely delicious! Sometimes you just need a classic cheeseburger topped with all the “fixings” (melted cheese, ketchup, mustard, crisp lettuce, onions, and tangy pickles) and some warm, crispy, and salty fries . . . and San Diego has some one of the best burger joints* for you to satisfy your cravings. Check out these locations, which are all within walking distance of SD’s residence halls, and then be sure to read (and use) these idioms about the things you find on or with burgers.

*burger joints = slang for restaurants that serve burgers

In N Out double double

San Diego’s Best Burger Joints


Located in East Village and just a short walk from CISL’s Broadway campus, Hodad’s is popular with both CISL students and staff! The relaxed atmosphere, quick service, and tasty and affordable burgers are a great combo. If you go, get the frings (half fries, half onion rings). You won’t regret it!

945 Broadway (between 3rd Ave & Harbor Dr)
San Diego, CA 92101


Burger Lounge

The highest quality meats are used in this delicious burger, and you taste the difference! Located in Little Italy (just a few streets from CISL’s Vantaggio Residence Hall), Burger Lounge is a favorite of Converse students. Enjoy the classic burgers with your choice of cheese, or try something more original, like the vegetarian burger made with quinoa. You can choose between a salad or fries as a side, depending on if you’re feeling slightly more healthy . . . or slightly more indulgent.

1608 India St (between Date St & Cedar St)
San Diego, CA 92101

Neighborhood Bar and Grill

The classic burger gets a makeover at Neighborhood, which is located Downtown in the East Village (just a few streets from CISL). The restaurant is known for its impressive selection of beers on tap (try some San Diego local brews!) and its excellent service. But the one thing you won’t get at Neighborhood? Ketchup! The restaurant refuses to serve this condiment. This doesn’t always make the customers happy, but they forgive Neighborhood after trying the delicious burgers and fries.

777 G St (between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
San Diego, CA 92101

 In N Out ingredients

Burger and burger topping idioms

Flipping burgers

Definition: Working a job that doesn’t pay very well and doesn’t have much career potential.

Usually this expression is used to motivate people to get an education.

Example: If you don’t finish your degree you’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life!

Example: I knew I didn’t want to flip burgers forever, so I decided to go back to school.


A few fries short of a Happy Meal

Definition: Not very intelligent.

A Happy Meal is the meal from McDonald’s for children. If you are “short” (missing” a few fries, you are suggesting that a person is missing an important part of himself or herself. In this case, the Happy Meal is a metaphor for the brain.

Example: We got terrible service, but the waiter was a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Example: He’s a really good dog, but I think he’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal.


Big cheese

Definition: An important person, usually at work.

Example: I have a meeting with the big cheese later. I’m so nervous!

Example: For my second interview, I spoke with the big cheese. It went well.


Can’t cut the mustard

Definition: Not able to handle the job.

Example: This old computer just can’t cut the mustard. I need a new one.

Example: The new employee couldn’t cut the mustard, so they fired him after one week.


To be in a pickle

Definition: To be in a difficult situation; to be in trouble.

Example: I told two people I could go to their birthday parties on Saturday. I’m really in a pickle now!

Example: My car was broken and so was my cell phone, and I was in the middle of nowhere. I was really in a pickle.


To bring home the bacon

Definition: To make money.

Example: I don’t love my job, but someone has to bring home the bacon.

Example: My husband stays at home and I work and bring home the bacon.

If you aren’t in the mood for a sit-down dining experience, check out the best fast food in the U.S.: In N Out! Our article on In N Out burgers and California Slang Out provides the “ins and outs” of this delicious, fresh fast food joint, and also includes from California slang every English student needs to know.

Cover photo and burger toppings photo from Shutterstock; burger photo from In N Out via Facebook. 


Featured Lessons Listening Practice Student Life Suggested student activities Vocabulary

Daily habits to improve your English + Synonyms for “daily”

July 8, 2016

When you are a CISL student in San Diego or San Francisco, you attend class, complete your homework, and speak English inside and outside of class: you therefore have plenty of opportunities to practice English throughout the day! But what else can you do to improve your English skills? Incorporate these daily habits into your life and you will improve your English even more!

Daily habits to improve your English

Make sure that English is your background music. Do you play music? Play it in English! Do you listen to music on your way to work? Listen to English music! Check out our articles on Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” U2’s “With or Without You,” and the Summer Jams you need to hear.

Learn a new phrasal verb each day. Why not? Check out our 30 Day Phrasal Verb Challenge for some common phrasal verbs you should know, and take this challenge to improve your understanding and use of these tricky components of the English language!

Dedicate a few minutes to a learning app like Duolingo. How often do you use your smartphone during the day? If you are constantly on your phone, dedicate a few minutes towards practicing English on an app. Check out this article about great apps for learning English and try them out!

Think in English for a specific amount of time. While driving, commuting, cooking, or walking, try to think in English for a few minutes.

In English, try to:

  • Tell yourself what you did today
  • Talk about your future plans
  • Describe the situation around you
  • Explain a news story that is currently happening

Keep a line-a-day journal. Use a small notebook to record what you do each day. You will learn and record new words daily! Read the notebook every few weeks to study your new vocab (and remember past experiences).

Student Studying Writing Computer

Keep a daily journal and your vocabulary and writing skills will improve tremendously!


Synonyms for “daily”

To describe your new daily English habits, try using some of these words!

Everyday (adjective): happening or used every day

  • My everyday morning activities include waking up at 6, having coffee, going to the gym, and then showering before work.
  • This is an “everyday” wine: it’s not special, and it’s something you can drink on a Tuesday while eating pizza.

Every day  (adverb): each day

  • Every day I wake up at 6, have coffee, go to the gym, and shower before work.
  • Do you drink wine every day?

Regularly (adverb): in a regular manner; on a regular basis; very often

  • regularly go to the dentist.
  • Do you regularly go to the gym?
Gym Exercise

Do you exercise every day? Every other day?

Per diem (adverb): for each day (used in financial context)

  • Her per diem rate is $50.
  • Are you paid hourly or per diem?

Once daily: happening once each day

  • I take my vitamins once daily each morning.
  • Once daily I take the time to relax and meditate.

Quotidian (adjective): of or occurring every day, often to refer to something boring.

  • The quotidian grammar activities we do are actually really helpful!
  • The quotidian life of the academic year is over: summer is here!