English proverb of the day

"The negative side of the American Dream comes when people pursue success at any cost, which in turn destroys the vision and the dream "

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  • Topic of this Week: "CAREER CHOICES - Follow your passion or follow your ability? (October 17, 2021)"

    Please refer to the steps below to join the discussion:
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    The online discussion will start at 3.00pm and close at 5.00pm on 17th, October 2021.
    CAREER CHOICES - Follow your passion or follow your ability?
    (the topic was once discussed on SEPTEMBER 22, 2016)

    Making a career choice is more than just landing a job. It is a decision that has a huge impact on our lifestyle and the way we achieve our lifetime goals. But how can we decide on a career path when our academic performance suggests an option but we desire otherwise?
    Imagine you make it through four years of college and get your degree; you graduate and get a job in a related field. But years later, you realize it was actually a mistake. What you are doing is not what you actually want to do. You feel bad having to get up each day and go to a job you do not like.
    That scenario is not rare. For many people, it may take years or more to find out what they are good at, and sometimes, their skills and abilities may not equal their interests and passions. That is one reason why many college students change their major halfway through college, and many never do the jobs related to their majors after graduation.
    The fact is that you cannot be successful at something you are not interested in, but if you have no special skill in something you are passionate about, you can be discouraged; your passion can be drained, and it can be another dilemma.
    1. Are you doing what you love for a living?
    2. Why do people sometimes do the jobs they hate?
    3. How do we know if a job is our true calling?
    3. What should we do to make a smart career choice?
    Topic maker: Giang Hải Đăng

    Enjoy and have a fruitful discussion!



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    Can, could and may

    (23:15:43 PM 18/03/2014)

     A student sent me a question about how to ask for permission in English:

    I have a question about when to use "Can I...?", "Could I...?", or "May I..."to ask someone for permission. For example, If I(a student) asked you (the teacher) to do something, should I use "Could I...?" instead of "Can I...?"

    This is a good question. It's confusing that English has all of these different ways of asking for permission. Here are some guidelines for using each expression:

    Can I..?

    "Can I...?" is the most casual way to ask for permission. It's common for talking to friends, coworkers, and family members:

    Can I see it?

    Can I get something to drink?

    In traditional English grammar, "Can I...?" was not used for asking permission. That's changed in the last 50 years, though. These days, it's the most common of the three expressions.

    May I...?

    "May I...?" is the most formal way to ask for permission in English. Formal language is useful for talking to strangers and when there's a large power gap between you and the person you're talking to.

    You can ask a stranger for a small favor like this:

    May I borrow your pen for a second? 

    Some teachers in elementary, junior high, and high school require their students to ask for permission using "May I...?"

    Student: Can I go to the bathroom?

    Teacher: "May I...?"

    Student: May I go to the bathroom?

    Teacher: Yes, you may.

    Could I...?

    "Could I...?" is a good way to ask for permission when you need to ask for something that's a "bigger" request. In other words, you don't feel as comfortable asking for it. For example, you might ask your sister:

    Could I borrow your other car when I'm in town?

    "Could I...?" is not as formal as "May I...?" but it's better for big requests.

    The big picture

    The differences between "Can I...," "Could I...," and "May I...?" are very small. It's not a big deal if you mix them up. So learn the differences if you can, but when you need to ask for permission, just choose the expression you think is best and ask confidently!

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