Language learning, science, and art...

A curiosity about the F-word in Google Ngram Viewer
Google Ngram Viewer is a tool you can use to plot how common a word or a phrase was through years in literature. I use it a lot to learn (...)
September 17, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Used to’ vs. ‘would’ in English
Both “would” and “used to” can be used to speak about an activity that someone did regularly long time ago: Every Sunday, I used to go (...)
September 15, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Will’ after ‘whether’ in English
You were probably taught that you shouldn’t use “will” after “if” in conditional clauses, for example: If you don’t receive the (...)
September 13, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
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Will computers ever be smarter than humans?
When I was a child, I was fascinated by the idea that some day, we will be able to construct computers that will be smarter than us. (...)
September 12, 2014 – Jakub MarianBlog, Cognition
‘Hear doing’ vs. ‘hear do’ in English
Verbs of perception (such as “hear”, “see”, “feel”, and others) can be used both with the -ing form (e.g. “hear doing”) and with the (...)
September 11, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Percentage of EU population able to hold a conversation in Italian (map)
The following map (based on Eurobarometer 386, 2012) shows a few interesting trends. Probably the most surprising is how low the (...)
September 9, 2014 – Jakub MarianItalian, Maps
How to use “Mahlzeit!” in German
Imagine the following situation: You work in the morning until 1 PM, stand up, go for a lunch, and meet a colleague in the hall. He says (...)
August 30, 2014 – Jakub MarianGerman
Do nutritional supplements equal bad diet?
I saw the following comment under one of the typical vegan-bashing posts: “Show me a vegan that actually looks and feels healthy (without (...)
August 28, 2014 – Jakub MarianNutrition
‘Many’, ‘much’, ‘a lot of’, and ‘lots of’ in English
These four phrases, “many”, “much”, “a lot of”, and “lots of”, all express a similar idea of a large amount of something, but they are not (...)
August 24, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘He wants that I do’ vs. ‘he wants me to do” in English
If you want to express that someone wants “that someone else does something”, the idiomatic way to do that in English is using the phrase (...)
August 18, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Many money’ vs. ‘much money’ in English
Just like water, sugar, or love, money (in its most common sense) is an uncountable noun. This means, in particular, that we can’t have “a (...)
August 15, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Why are English words so short?
Being a user (and a passive reader) of several languages, I’ve noticed that English words tend to be shorter on average than words in (...)
August 9, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Are Witches and Wizards in the Harry Potter universe selfish?
I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Spanish (for language learning purposes), and there’s one thing that (...)
August 9, 2014 – Jakub MarianBlog
Spanish verb conjugation cheat sheet (PDF + image)
I wanted to have a concise ready-to-print cheat sheet with all conjugated forms of regular Spanish verbs. Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to (...)
August 6, 2014 – Jakub MarianSpanish
‘Lend’ vs. ‘borrow’ in English
The verbs “lend” and “borrow” are among the most commonly confused words in the English language. Why? Because they are often translated (...)
August 4, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Several thousands of’ vs. ‘several thousand’ in English
The words “hundred”, “thousand”, “million”, etc. when they are used in the names of numbers (i.e. when they are preceded with a number) (...)
July 31, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘To be good in’ vs. ‘to be good at’ in English
When you want to express that you are well capable of doing something, the usual collocation is “to be good at something”, e.g. He is (...)
July 30, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Map of the percentage of population able to hold a conversation in Spanish in the EU
Spanish is a Romance language, so one would expect it to be spoken mostly in countries where other Romance languages are spoken, and the (...)
July 28, 2014 – Jakub MarianMaps, Spanish
‘Look good’ vs. ‘look well’ in English
Sentences with the verb “look” (in the sense of “appear, seem”) have a different structure than many English learners think “Look” is (...)
July 27, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Will’ after ‘when’ in English
We never use the future tense in time clauses (introduced by phrases like “after”, “as soon as”, “before”, etc.) in English (you can read (...)
July 24, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Pronunciation of the Greek alphabet in English
Greek letters are widely used in mathematics and other science fields. There are a couple of differences in pronunciation of the names of (...)
July 21, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Beer consumption in Europe by country per year per capita (map)
The following map shows interesting geographical trends in beer consumption in Europe. I used several sources, as I wasn’t able to find a (...)
July 21, 2014 – Jakub MarianMaps
‘Get off’ vs. ‘get out of’ vs. ‘take off’ vs. ‘exit’ a bus in English
One of the most common activities and still causing trouble; do we get off, out of, take off, or exit buses, trains, planes, and cars? The (...)
July 20, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
‘Continue doing’ vs. ‘continue to do’ in English
Apparently, there’s popular a belief among English teachers in China that “continue to do” and “continue doing” mean two different things. (...)
July 17, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Map of the percentage of population able to speak French in the EU by country
French is a Romance language, and as such one would expect the percentage of its speakers to be much higher among native speakers of other (...)
July 14, 2014 – Jakub MarianFrench, Maps
Names of numbers above 1000 in English
First, we should note that there is a certain oddity in modern English in the nomenclature for numbers like “one thousand million”, “one (...)
July 13, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
Percentage of the EU population able to hold a conversation in English (by various criteria)
In my visualization of the percentage of the EU population able to hold a conversation in English, I presented separate percentages for (...)
July 10, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish, Maps
How big are Greenland and Russia in comparison to Africa?
We are all used to seeing the following kind of maps in Google Maps and other map providers (this one, in particular, is taken from Google (...)
July 7, 2014 – Jakub MarianMaps
Genders in English – Are animals and things he, she, or it?
Unlike most other European languages, Modern English has no grammatical genders. When we speak about an inanimate object, we always refer (...)
July 6, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
The meaning of ‘nothing but’ in English
The meaning of “nothing but” in English is closely related to the usage of “but” in all/anything/everything but, which is more idiomatic, (...)
July 5, 2014 – Jakub MarianEnglish
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