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Adverbs of Degree in English + 4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

April 1, 2017

Adverbs of Degree in English

Adverbs of Degree in English

What are adverbs of degree in English? Adverbs of degree show the level of intensity of a verb in the sentence. Using them makes your writing and speaking much more effective (or can even change the meaning of a sentence)!

Here is an example of a sentence with and without an adverb of degree:

  • He won the race.
  • He almost won the race.

The meaning completely changes when we add this adverb.

The meaning doesn’t always change when we add adverbs of degree. Sometimes, these adverbs of degree just give us more clarification.

  • I love you.
  • I deeply love you.
  • I agree.
  • I highly agree.
  • You said what I was thinking.
  • You perfectly said what I was thinking.

In these cases, the verb is strengthened by the use of the adverb of degree.

Here is a list of some of the more common adverbs of degree.

almost absolutely  barely completely decidedly deeply enough enormously
entirely extremely fairly  far  fully greatly hardly highly
how incredibly indeed intensely just least less little
lots most much nearly perfectly positively practically purely
quite rather really scarcely simply   so somewhat  strongly
thoroughly  too totally utterly very virtually well

4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

It’s almost impossible to choose just four really awesome libraries in California. However, we are absolutely sure that these are some of the best in the state! Notice how we use these adverbs of degree in English for the descriptions of each library: the words on the adverbs list are in bold. When are these words being used as adverbs of degree?

The San Diego Public Library, Downtown SD

While some people believe that people barely read books these days, we highly disagree: San Diegans read enough that the city just finished an entirely new library! The completely new structure is one of the coolest architectural designs in SD: check out our article about this amazing place.

San Francisco Public Library, Potrero Branch

What a view! This structure was recently renovated in 2010 and offers beautiful city views, lots of natural lighting, free wireless internet, and many places for group meetings and individual study.

Los Angeles Public Library

The Los Angeles Public Library holds more than 6 million books: that’s well more books than any other public library in the U.S.! The building is an utterly beautiful piece of architecture (check out the simply gorgeous globe lamp!) that is worth a visit.

Hearst Castle Library, San Simeon

The Hearst Castle is extremely famous for being one of the most beautiful castles in the United States, so perhaps it is fairly unsurprising that the castle has an incredibly stunning library. The details of the warm and lavish structure are impressive!

Have you been to a library in California? Tell us about it on Facebook!

 

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California Dreaming! A Look at CISL’s Jr. Program California Coastal Trip

November 29, 2016

CISL offers English summer camps for teens in locations throughout the United States, including East Coast camps at prestigious Yale and Georgetown University and West Coast camps in sunny San Diego, exciting Los Angeles, and unique UC Berkeley!

After 2 or 3 weeks of English studies, students at our Los Angeles teen camp (held at beautiful Loyola Marymount University) have the option of taking our one-week California Coastal Trip, which gives students the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful cities and beaches in California. What’s on the itinerary for 2017? Check it out!

LMU Junior Program’s California Coastal Trip, 2017

Day 1 (July 15, 2017): From LA to SF!

Students begin their day in beautiful LA and end in San Francisco: this trip is already off to a great start! Students meet in the morning at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and then head north to SF. The San Francisco adventure begins by exploring iconic Union Square.

americas_greatest_city_by_the_bay_at_union_square_san_francisco_ca

San Francisco’s bustling Union Square is an excellent place for shopping and people watching.

Day 2 (July 16, 2017): The Best of SF

Students enjoy the “Best of San Francisco” tour, which includes visits to Downtown, Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, Presidio Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge before stopping at Fisherman’s Wharf. After exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, students take a walking tour of beautiful Chinatown for shopping, dinner, and free time.

Photo source.

The smell of the sea air and excitement of city life come together at beautiful Fisherman’s Wharf.

chinatown-lantern

Chinatown is rich in history, culture . . . and incredible food!

Day 3 (July 17, 2017): Bay Cruise + Exploring SF

It’s time to see San Francisco from a different perspective: the water! Students embark on a Bay Cruise and have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and see the SF skyline from the San Francisco Bay.

GoldenGate.SF.SanFrancisco.Bay

Many travel over the Golden Gate . . . but how many have traveled UNDER it???

That afternoon, students have the option of the following:

  • Renting bicycles and riding along the San Francisco Bay
  • Shopping at Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, and the Galleria
  • Exploring Haight-Ashbury for a trip back to the 60s
  • Taking a ride in one of SF’s iconic cable cars
San Francisco Cable Car Bay View

Don’t leave SF without taking a ride in one of these historic cable cars!

Students then meet up again at the Hard Rock Cafe for a final dinner in San Francisco. Although it’s sad to say goodbye to this amazing city, the rest of California awaits!

Day 4 (July 18. 2017): Monterey to Carmel to Santa Barbara!

It’s time to see another stunning coastal city of California: Monterey! Students leave for this beautiful town in the morning and spend several hours exploring the Monterey Pier, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the California souvenir shop.

fishermans-wharf-Monterey-CA-California-Coastal-Trip-Teens

Many tourists visit locations such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, but few are lucky enough to explore cities like Monterey, which is a beloved gem to Californians.

After having lunch in adorable Carmel, students head to Santa Barbara and spend the evening exploring its charming Downtown.

Santa.Barbara.Beach.Water

Day 5 (July 19, 2017): Santa Barbara Beaches and Fun

After waking up in gorgeous Santa Barbara, students relax on its sunny and sandy beaches and have the choice of the following:

  • Enjoying a quiet beach day
  • Learning how to surf
  • Renting bikes or roller-blades

Surf.Surfing.Beach.Sunset.Water

The day of the fun in the sun ends with an evening strolling through beautiful Downtown Santa Barbara to see why this city is called “The American Riviera.”

Day 6 (July 20, 2017): Santa Barbara Morning; LA Evening

Visit-Santa-Barbara

Beach fun continues on the last day of the trip! Students head back to the Santa Barbara beach in the morning and then go shopping at the outstanding Camarillo outlets: the deals on designer clothing are crazy!

While heading back to Los Angeles, the trip makes two stops at beautiful, must-see locations in California: star-studded Malibu Beach and breathtaking Santa Monica. The day ends back in Los Angeles for some relaxation before heading home.

Hollywood.Sign.LA.LosAngeles

Day 7 (July 21, 2017): Final Goodbyes/See You Next Year!

English-Junior-Program-Teens-California

Students say goodbye to the friends they’ve made on this trip and then head back to their home countries with souvenirs, photos, memories to last a lifetime . . . and the ability to speak English confidently!

Would you like more information on CISL’s Junior Programs or the California Coastal Tour? Check out these resources:

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Grammar Lesson of the Month: The Modal “MUST” + 5 Things CISL Students Must Do in 2016

January 1, 2016

A New Year means New Year’s Resolutions: do you have any for 2016? When you are studying English in San Diego or San Francisco, there are so many fun resolutions to make! For January’s Grammar Lesson of the Month, we are looking at the modal MUST and 5 things you simply MUST do while living in California.

California Palm Trees

The Modal MUST

The modal MUST is used to show obligation.

  • Employees must always treat customers with respect.
  • You must always bring a passport when you travel.
  • You must not smoke when inside.

MUST is also used when giving strong advice.

  • You mustn’t worry so much about the future.
  • You must see the new Star Wars movie! It’s so good!

When using MUST to give strong advice, we often speak about things we love and want our friends to see or do.

  • When you are in San Diego, you MUST go to Mission Beach. It’s so beautiful!
  • You MUST try fish tacos while you are in San Diego!

For this reason, we use the modal MUST to describe the “Must-do” things for travelers. The following list includes CISL’s “Must-do’s” for 2016. How many of these will you make sure to do while you are studying English at CISL?

“Must-do’s” for CISL Students in 2016

San Diego Beach Sunset Surf

Watch a California sunset

Is there anything better than watching the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean? To Californians, watching the sun set is an almost religious experience. Grab your friends, sit on the beach (or get a table at your favorite beach hangout), and toast to the end of a beautiful California day.

Read about restaurants with the best ocean views in SD and the best rooftop bars in SF.

Burrito-culture-SD-SF

Eat a burrito (or three!)

Burritos are a big part of California culture, and depending on where you live, your burrito will be different. What’s your preference: a Southern California carnitas or California burrito with avocado, or an SF-inspired Mission burrito with cilantro rice and black beans?

To learn the differences in burritos, read all about California’s Burrito Culture.

MuseumsinSF-ESL-students

Check out the local museums

San Diego and San Francisco are packed full of incredible museums, and entrance is often discounted for young adults or students. Talk to the CISL Front Desk for information on discounts, or read about the museums in San Diego’s Balboa Park and San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. The latter is an awesome museum unlike any other!

Road Trip Ocean

Plan a road trip

It might be hard to leave a city as beautiful as San Diego or San Francisco, but the rest of California is calling! Take a trip to Los Angeles, cross the border into Nevada and hit up Las Vegas, see beautiful Yosemite, wine taste in Napa Valley, go skiing in Big Bear or Lake Tahoe, explore sunny Santa Barbara . . . your options are seemingly endless when it comes to exploring the West Coast.

Click here to learn about renting a car if you are an international student.

BalboaPark-hiking

Get outdoors

Californians love nature, and San Diego and San Francisco offer many trails, national parks, and beautiful beaches to enjoy. Enjoy our Guide to Hiking In and Around San Francisco before hitting the trails!

 

What are your resolutions for 2016? We would like to wish our students a Happy New Year! We are looking forward to helping you improve your English skills while studying at CISL . . . all the while enjoying the beauty of California.

All photos from Shutterstock. 

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The Hollywood Sign + TOEFL Reading Section 1 Practice

June 30, 2015

In a previous article, we looked at the types of questions that students can encounter in the TOEFL Reading Section 1. Today we are applying this information to a practice test on an article about the history of one of the most famous California icons: The Hollywood Sign.

This practice test contains all of the question types that were discussed in the previous article, and the questions have been labeled for you. In the real TOEFL test, these question types will not be labeled. You also might not have all of these question types in each exam.

Good luck!

TOEFL Reading Section 1 Practice: The History of the Hollywood Sign

Adapted from The Hollywood Sign organization. Read the entire story at hollywoodsign.org.

(1) Imagine a time when the only stars in Hollywood were found in the crystal-clear night skies arching over rolling hills. Before Hollywood became the world’s entertainment mecca, it resembled other west frontiers–a landscape of farmers, cowboys, prospectors, bandits, and mostly undeveloped land. All land north of Sunset Boulevard, for example, was considered useless for anything but grazing.

(2) All was quiet until 1907, when bad weather drove a small Chicago film company westward to complete a shoot. The first real studio, Nestor Film Company, soon followed from New Jersey, cranking out three pictures a week – one ‘western,’ one ‘eastern,’ and one comedy – for a grand total of $1,200. By 1912, word of Hollywood’s ideal film-shooting climate and landscape spread, and at least 15 independent studios could be found shooting around town. Old barns were turned into sound stages and Hollywood’s quiet time was over.

(3) With more and more Easterners drawn by the promise of sunny skies and mild, dry weather, the area’s bedrock industry – real estate – soon kicked into high gear. Subdivisions begat more subdivisions, and by the end of the 19th century Hollywood was taking on the contours of a recognizable town. Thanks to Daeida Wilcox, it also had a name. In 1887, Mrs. Wilcox, wife of town founder Harvey Wilcox, met a woman on a train trip who referred to her Florida summer home, “Hollywood.” She was so struck by the name that she suggested it to her husband…and the rest is history.

(4) It wasn’t just sunny skies that spurred the mass film migration to Hollywood. In 1897, famed inventor and early movie mogul Thomas Edison began suing rival producers who were utilizing filmmaking-projection devices based (he felt) on his Kinetoscope technology. Many of these movie ‘pirates’ fled from New Jersey (home of the Edison Company and the original movie capital), first to Cuba, then to California for good.

(5) By 1915, America was officially film crazed, and Hollywood was shaping into the glamorous, sometimes surreal landscape we’ve come to know and love. Hopeful actors and actresses filled the streets, dazzled by a new American dream: film stardom. Studios, meanwhile, sprung up like wildfires and engaged in a cutthroat battle for survival. As the industry matured, many of these independent companies merged, forming the big studios that would shape and control the industry moving forward.

(6) By 1920, 40 million Americans were going to the movies each week. As the industry blossomed, Hollywood strove to keep pace physically. L.A. history buffs (and fans of the movie Chinatown) know the key to the area’s explosive development during the early 20th century was the Owens Valley Aqueduct System, spearheaded by William Mulholland (who was the head engineer of the Municipal Water Department) and initially completed in 1913.

(7) The controversial and violently opposed project diverted water from the Owens River, the lifeblood of a farming community. Furious Owens Valley residents (allegedly) dynamited the L.A. Aqueduct in 1924 and, later that same year, seized control of a critical aqueduct gate, shutting off the flow of the river. These acts of sabotage continued sporadically until 1928, when the chief backer of the opposition movement, the Owens Valley Bank, collapsed.

(8) Still, the water flowed (usually), and Hollywood flourished. During the 20s, a whimsical skyline of movie set-inspired hotels and apartments rose along the big boulevards. The more prestigious addresses, including the opulent Garden Court Apartments, Chateau Elysee and Garden of Allah Villas, were imbued with the glamour of the stars that called them home.

(9) The rise of the film aristocracy also meant suave new restaurants and nightclubs up and down Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Extravagant movie palaces completed the iconic Hollywood landscape. Hollywood, which by now represented not just a city, but also an industry, a lifestyle and, increasingly, an aspiration, was officially crowned when the “Hollywoodland” sign was erected in 1923. Built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler as an epic $21,000 billboard for his upscale Hollywoodland real estate development, the Sign soon took on the role of giant marquee for a city that was constantly announcing its own gala premiere.

(10) Dates and debates swirl about when the Hollywoodland Real Estate development – and the massive electric sign that advertised it – actually came into being. But a review of local newspapers from the era (i.e., The Los Angeles Times, Holly Leaves, Los Angeles Record, Los Angeles Examiner and the Hollywood Daily Citizen) clears up any confusion. For instance, a Hollywoodland ad in the Los Angeles Times (June 10, 1923) states that the real estate development launched in late March of that year and that by June, 200 men were employed, 7 miles of road had been cut and 300,000 cubic yards of dirt had been moved. And while some sources still cite that the Sign was born in 1924, the correct date is indisputably 1923. The earliest found mention of the Sign appeared on December 14, 1923 in a Holly Leaves article about the Mulholland Highway soon to be built, which would extend from “…from the western end of the (Griffith Park) road, under the electric sign of Hollywoodland, around Lake Hollywood and across the dam.” Just two weeks later another Los Angeles Times article (December 30, 1923) with the headline “Hollywood Electric Sign Reached by Car,” reported on actor Harry Neville’s epic, experimental trip to test whether a motorcar could reach the Sign on the unpaved grade, and whether the car’s brakes would work on the precipitous path down. According to the article, “A motley crowd of hillclimbers, workmen, salesmen and curiousity thrill-seekers …stood by with fear and trembling as the loose dirt began to give way but Neville stuck by the ship…” to make it safely back to the “wide smooth roads of Hollywoodland.”

(11) A) There has also been debate about whether the Sign was originally erected without lights (with the thousands of bulbs added later). B)Bruce Torrence, curator of the photo collection, notes that the shape of the light boxes indicate that these sections were probably part of the letter “A” and possibly the “L.” C) Confusion solved: by the end of 1923, the Hollywood Sign was fully erected, a high-profile beacon – lights ablaze – for the fast-growing Los Angeles metropolis. D)

(12) The “billboard” was massive. Each of the original 13 letters was 30 feet wide and approximately 43 feet tall, constructed of 3×9′ metal squares rigged together by an intricate frame of scaffolding, pipes, wires and telephone poles. All of this material had to be dragged up precipitous Mt. Lee by laborers on simple dirt paths.

(13) Few know that a giant white dot (35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the Sign to catch the eye. The Sign itself featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart. At night the Sign blinked into the Hollywood night: first “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land,” punctuated by a giant period. The effect was truly spectacular, particularly for pre-Vegas sensibilities.

(14) Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has endured more than eight decades – and is still going strong.

Questions

Detail/Fact Question

1. According to Paragraph 2,

a. The rise of Hollywood as we know it was quick.
b. Nestor made it a point to make an array of films because that is what the public demanded.
c. Low-cost production appealed to the East Coast production companies.
d. The California climate appealed to production company workers.

Negative Fact

2. According to the passage, which of the following is not one of the reasons that Hollywood attracted filmmakers?

a. The beautiful weather.
b. The landscape.
c. Issues over camera patents.
d. The low cost of production in California vs. the East Coast.

Inference/Implication

3. In paragraph 6, the author implies that

a. Hollywood had to physically grow in order to host the growing industry.
b. Expansion of Hollywood was not without its issues.
c. Water has always been a serious problem in California.
d. Those opposing the aqueduct were wrong.

Vocabulary 

4. The word diverted in paragraph 7 is closest in meaning to

a. used
b. moved
c. stole
d. purchased

Author purpose

5. The author mentions suave new restaurants as an example of…

The sentence is: “The rise of the film aristocracy also meant suave new restaurants and nightclubs up and down Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Extravagant movie palaces completed the iconic Hollywood landscape. Hollywood, which by now represented not just a city, but also an industry, a lifestyle and, increasingly, an aspiration . . .”

a. how new money in Hollywood spent their money.
b. how the financial success film industry changed the area.
c. the tastes of the rich and famous.
d. the culinary excellence of the city.

Reference questions

6. The word precipitous in paragraph 10 refers to…

a. the driver
b. the car
c. the road
d. the situation

Inserting a sentence into the reading

7. Where would the sentence fit best?

However, historic photos from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph collection, taken just as the Sign was being erected, show workers carrying parts of the Sign that include the original lights in frames or “troughs.”

A.
B.
C.
D.

Simplifying the sentence

8. Which of the following best provides the important information in the highlighted sentence from the passage?

 Confusion solved: by the end of 1923, the Hollywood Sign was fully erected, a high-profile beacon – lights ablaze – for the fast-growing Los Angeles metropolis.

a. The Hollywood Sign was completed by 1923, acting as a high-profile beacon for the growing city of Los Angeles.
b. Completed in 1923, the Hollywood Sign–which looked like a beacon above the city of Los Angeles–was erected.
c. By 1923, the sign was completed and stood as a high-profile beacon of light for the city.
d. To Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign–completed and erected by 1923–stood as a beacon for the quickly-growing city.

Summary

9. An introductory sentence for a summary of the passage is found below. Complete the summary by choosing the THREE answer choices that contain the most important ideas in the passage.

The Hollywood Sign is closely related to the history of Los Angeles’ rise to worldwide fame.

a. The area’s name came from the wife of a developer.
b. The film industry sparked a boom in jobs and real estate.
c. Hollywood quickly became a playground for the rich and famous.
d. East Coast filmmakers realized that the climate of California was perfect for movie-making.
e. High-end restaurants and hotels soon popped up.

Complete the chart

10. Complete the table in order to summarize the information about Hollywood and its famous sign.

Sentence: Several factors contributed to the population boom in Hollywood. 

a. Filmmakers recognized that the California climate was well-suited to shooting movies.
b. The beautiful weather attracted East Coast residents.
c. It rained too much on the East Coast, therefore production was more expensive.
d. People were fascinated by the magical name “Hollywood.”
e. California proved to be a haven for those escaping Edison’s camera patent allegations.

Answers

Detail/Fact Question

1. According to Paragraph 2,

a. The rise of Hollywood as we know it was quick. (From 1907 to 1912)
b. Nestor made it a point to make an array of films because that is what the public demanded. (They did make an array of films, but public demand is not mentioned.)
c. Low-cost production appealed to the East Coast production companies. (The low production cost is mentioned, but it is not stated as something that appealed to the companies. It might be that this cost is surprising only to the modern-day reader.)
d. The California climate appealed to production company workers looking to live somewhere warmer. (The climate did in fact appeal to the companies, but because it allowed for easier shooting, not because it allowed for a better environment to live.)

Negative Fact

2. According to the passage, which of the following is not one of the reasons that Hollywood attracted filmmakers?

a. The beautiful weather.
b. The landscape.
c. Issues over camera patents.
d. The low cost of production in California vs. the East Coast. (The two are not compared.)

Inference/Implication

3. In paragraph 6, the author implies that

a. Hollywood had to physically grow in order to host the growing industry. (This is stated directly, not implied.)
b. Expansion of Hollywood was not without its issues. (The aqueduct.) 
c. Water has always been a serious problem in California. (Not implied.)
d. Those opposing the aqueduct were wrong. (Not implied.)

Vocabulary 

4. The word diverted in paragraph 7 is closest in meaning to

a. used
b. moved
c. stole
d. purchased

Author purpose

5. The author mentions suave new restaurants as an example of…

The sentence is: “The rise of the film aristocracy also meant suave new restaurants and nightclubs up and down Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Extravagant movie palaces completed the iconic Hollywood landscape. Hollywood, which by now represented not just a city, but also an industry, a lifestyle and, increasingly, an aspiration . . .”

a. how new money in Hollywood spent their money. (This could be inferred by the author but is not why it is included in the paragraph.)
b. how the financial success film industry changed the area. (The sentence directly states the relationship between the two.) 
c. the tastes of the rich and famous. (This could be inferred by the author but is not why it is included in the paragraph.)
d. the culinary excellence of the city. (This could be inferred by the author but is not why it is included in the paragraph.)

Reference questions

6. The word precipitous in paragraph 10 refers to…

Just two weeks later another Los Angeles Times article (December 30, 1923) with the headline “Hollywood Electric Sign Reached by Car,” reported on actor Harry Neville’s epic, experimental trip to test whether a motorcar could reach the Sign on the unpaved grade, and whether the car’s brakes would work on the precipitous path down.”

a. the driver
b. the car
c. the road
d. the situation

Inserting a sentence into the reading

7. Where would the sentence fit best?

However, historic photos from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph collection, taken just as the Sign was being erected, show workers carrying parts of the Sign that include the original lights in frames or “troughs.”

A.
B.
C.
D.

Simplifying the sentence

8. Which of the following best provides the important information in the highlighted sentence from the passage?

 Confusion solved: by the end of 1923, the Hollywood Sign was fully erected, a high-profile beacon – lights ablaze – for the fast-growing Los Angeles metropolis.

a. The Hollywood Sign was completed by 1923, acting as a high-profile beacon for the growing city of Los Angeles.
b. Completed in 1923, the Hollywood Sign–which looked like a beacon above the city of Los Angeles–was erected.
c. By 1923, the sign was completed and stood as a high-profile beacon of light for the city. 
d. To Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign–completed and erected by 1923–stood as a beacon for the quickly-growing city.

Summary

9. An introductory sentence for a summary of the passage is found below. Complete the summary by choosing the THREE answer choices that contain the most important ideas in the passage.

The Hollywood Sign is closely related to the history of Los Angeles’ rise to worldwide fame.

a. The area’s name came from the wife of a developer.
b. The film industry sparked a boom in jobs and real estate.
c. Hollywood quickly became a playground for the rich and famous.
d. East Coast filmmakers realized that the climate of California was perfect for movie-making.
e. High-end restaurants and hotels soon popped up.

Complete the chart

10. Complete the table in order to summarize the information about Hollywood and its famous sign.

Sentence: Several factors contributed to the population boom in Hollywood. 

a. Filmmakers recognized that the California climate was well-suited to shooting movies.
b. The beautiful weather attracted East Coast residents.
c. It rained too much on the East Coast, therefore production was more expensive.
d. Movie stars helped to attract people from other parts of the country.
e. California proved to be a haven for those escaping Edison’s camera patent allegations.

Cover photo “Aerial Hollywood Sign” by Jelson25 – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Northern California vs. Southern California slang

May 25, 2015

If you ask a Californian, they will tell you that Northern California and Southern California are different worlds. Because California is such a large state, it is split by different climates, different cultures, and (of course) different language. Do you know the difference between Northern California and Southern California slang? While it is difficult to define words that are used exclusively in one region, Northern California slang is closely associated with both the technological and Bay Area rap scenes. Southern California, on the other hand, is heavily influenced by the surfer culture. We asked many locals from both San Francisco and San Diego, and here are the terms that they agreed are almost exclusively “Nor Cal” or “So Cal.”

“The” 5 vs. I-5

How can you tell if a person is from Northern California or Southern California? Ask them for driving directions. Southern Californians put “the” before the name of a highway or freeway, while Northern Californians do not. For example, a Southern California native would say, “Take the 5 South and get off at the Balboa Exit” and a Northern Californian would say, “Take 5 North and get off at Madison Avenue.”

“PCH”

Southern Californians know that this stands for the Pacific Coast Highway. They also know to avoid it during high traffic times!

ESL-Imperative-Voice

“PB/The OC/OB”

In addition to shortening “Pacific Coast Highway” to “PCH,” Southern Californians also shorten the names of cities and regions. For example, Orange County is referred to as “The OC,” and San Diego’s Pacific Beach is “PB” and Ocean Beach is “OB.”

“Hella/Hecka”

These are perhaps the words that most clearly split Northern California from Southern California. Northern Californians use these words in place of “really” or “very.” For example, “He is hella mad” or “That is hecka cool.” Southern Californians despise this word and often make fun of Northern Californians for saying it! But Gwen Stefani, who is from Los Angeles, sings about it in a No Doubt song, so we aren’t sure we can say that ALL Southern Californians dislike the word (even though we have yet to meet a Southern Californian who uses it).

bakerbeach

“So Cal” vs. “Nor Cal”

Southern Californians do not refer to their region as “So Cal,” while many Northern Californians call the southern part of their state by this name. Similarly, most Southern Californians do not use the name “Nor Cal” while it is embraced by many Northern Californians.

“Hyphy”

“Hyphy” was originally a type of uptempo rap music and dance that originated in the Bay Area, but it has evolved to also be a slang word meaning “high-energy.” Often, this is used as a collocation with “get”: for example, “This party is going to get hyphy.”

“Bro/Dude”

The surfer culture heavily influences the use of these two terms in Southern California. “Bro” is produced more like “bra” and is used for men; dude is fairly universal.

“What’s up, bro?”

“What’s up, dude?

“Dude” is also used an expression of surprise.

“Dude! Did you just see that dolphin jump out of the water?”