Monday, May 30, 2016

Using "For", "Since", and "Ago" in the English Language

If you're talking about time, "for", "since", and "ago" can be some of the most painful and awkward words to try to wrap your head around. To make things clearer, today we thought we'd have a go at explaining how each of these words works.


When talking about time, "for" is used to denote a measurement of time. It can be used with pretty much any tense to explain the length of an activity. When you use the word "for", it must be followed by a measurement of time or an expression that refers to a measurement of time. For example...

On Saturday I played football for an hour.
He has lived there for ten years.
We're going on holiday for two weeks.

You can also use expressions like "for ages" and "for a long time".

The Mona Lisa was painted 500 years ago.

The word "since" tells us when an event started in the past. Unlike "for", you can't use measurements of time, just points in the past. The word "since" can be used with any date or time, as well as with clauses using the past simple. For example...

He's lived there since 2006.
I've played football since I was a child.
We haven't seen him since yesterday.


We use the word "ago" to count backwards from the present. You can use "ago" with the past simple to explain when events started in reference to the present. When you use it, you must make a reference to the past.

He lived there 5 years ago.
65 million years ago dinosaurs roamed the earth.
I was having breakfast an hour ago.

We hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have concerning "for", "since", and "ago"!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Country Profile: The Languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina

It's been a couple of weeks since we did our last country profile on the languages of Oman, so we thought we'd end the week with a quick look at a different country. This time our focus is on Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small country in southeastern Europe.

The Official Languages

Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages, which conveniently all happen to be mutually intelligible: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. All three languages are standard varieties of the Slavic macrolanguage known as Serbo-Croatian to linguists.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular of these languages is Bosnian, which is the native language of over 1.1 million Bosnians. Serbian, the sole official language of neighboring Serbia, is the native language of about 850,000 Bosnians. There are also over 300,000 native speakers of Croatian, the sole official language of Croatia, which borders it to the north.

Other Languages

The Prenj mountains in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Ethnologue only lists two other native languages for Bosnia and Herzegovina: Aromanian and Vlax Romani. A significant number of Bosnians, over 380,000 people, are native speakers of Aromanian. Unlike the country's official languages, Aromanian is a Romance language. It is closely related to Romanian, but has been influenced more by Greek, while Romanian's lexicon has been influenced more by Slavic languages.

Vlax Romani, on the other hand, is only spoken by about 4,000 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is classified as an Indo-Iranian language, and is the most spoken Romani language in the world, with over 470,000 speakers worldwide.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to Properly Capitalize Titles by Amy Cowen

When writing any kind of document, it can be difficult to know how to properly capitalize the title. There are many styles of title capitalization that each depend upon the type of writing being titled. Add to this the fact that the publication could be written in Associated Press style, Chicago style, or MLA style; it gets very confusing as each style has its own titling rules. The first step is to look at what type of written work you are creating.

Title Case

If your publication is an article or web content, it will often be titled differently than a book. The standard rule of thumb for titling this type of content is to use what is known as title case. Simply put, this means you will capitalize the first word of the title, the last word of the title, and all important words in between. The Wizard of Oz is a good example of a title that uses title case.

In addition to this rule, there is a standard regarding which words are important and which are not. You should always capitalize any nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs that are in your title. Conversely, you should not capitalize the articles and conjunctions in your title.

Sentence Case

With this being said, some essay writers actually prefer to use sentence case when titling their articles. Sentence case titles require that the first letter of the first word be capitalized, and then only proper nouns. In this scenario, a title would be capitalized thus, “My trip to Rome”. Generally, this is really a matter of personal preference for the author. For more information about correctly titling an article, visit for a thorough explanation of capitalization rules.

Figuring out which words to capitalize in the title of a book is much easier. When titling a book, such as Memoirs of a Geisha, the rules are quite simple. In book titles, the first and last words are always capitalized. Secondly, all nouns, verbs, and adjectives within the title are capitalized as well. The only words that do not get capitalized in book titles are articles, conjunctions, and prepositions. However, there is an exception to this rule. If the title of the book begins with an article (a, an, or the), a conjunction (such as and, for, or so), or a preposition (like down or below), that word is always capitalized. WikiHow will give you a more in-depth look at the process of titling a book.

MLA Style

The most commonly used style of writing (unless you are a journalist by trade) is MLA style. This style is what is expected of not only students, but also many different businesses. The MLA style guide has incredibly strict rules in regards to titling. Similar to book titling, you should always capitalize the first and last words of a title. Also, you should always capitalize adjectives, verbs, nouns, adverbs, pronouns, and subordinating conjunctions. You shouldn’t capitalize any articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or “to” infinitives unless they are the first or last word of the title. Two examples that meet this criteria are “How to Play Football” and “Down and Out”.

The MLA style guide also contains strict rules for the use of capitalization in regards to hyphenated words and the use of colons. If using a colon or a hyphenated phrase, the word immediately following the punctuation should always be capitalized. For example, “America the Beautiful: Why Americans Strive for Beauty”. To learn more about the many rules when using the MLA style guide, look at Armed with this information, you should always be able to title your document correctly.

Amy Cowen writes about all things related to education and student life, but her main passion is technology and different tools. You can find her providing assignment help at Aussiewriter or giving career advice to students.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Going Crazy? Using "Go" in the English Language

Aside from the verbs to be and to have, I reckon the verb to go is one of the most useful in the English language. However, it can be a little tricky to use sometimes because you need to know whether it needs a preposition or not, and if it does, which preposition.

Go + -ing

If you want to talk about your hobbies, to go will probably become your favourite verb. When we talk about most hobbies and activities that end in -ing, we don't need to use a preposition with go. For example:

"I like to go running"
"I went kayaking yesterday"
"I think I will go swimming tomorrow".

Of course, English wouldn't be English without exceptions. Don't forget that "boxing" doesn't use to go but rather to do.

When you need a preposition to use with go, there are four main ones we use in English: to, for, on, and with. Let's look at how we use them:

Would you like to go to Easter Island?
Go + to

We use go to when we talk about places and events. The word to is used as a preposition of movement in this case, which means that you leave where you are and travel to a place or event. For example:

"John went to the beach last week."
"Have you ever been to France?"
"We are going to a concert tomorrow."

Go + for

You mainly use go for when the activity you're talking about is a noun. For example, drinks, meals, walks, runs, etc, will all use go for like this:

"Would you like to go for a drink?"
"When was the last time you went for a meal?"
"I'm going to go for a walk."

Go + on

When we use go on, it's usually with travel words that are nouns. Words such as trip, journey, voyage, tour, holiday, vacation, etc. Here are some examples:

"He often goes on business trips."
"We're going on holiday to Spain this summer."
"Did you go on many sightseeing tours last year?"

Go + with

I reckon our last preposition is the easiest. We use go with when talking about the people who accompany us. For example:

"John often goes with Jane."
"Who do you go with?"
"I think I'd rather go with my family."

We hope you've found this rundown of go useful. Remember to keep practicing, and sooner rather than later, you won't even need to think about it! Good luck!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vote for The Lingua File in the Top 100 Language Lovers 2016!

We truly love talking about languages, linguistics and translation here at The Lingua File, and feel incredibly lucky to have such a great group of fellow language lovers who interact with us, be it via the comments section, our Twitter account, or our Facebook page.

Today we hope you don't mind us taking a day off to invite you to vote for us in the Top 100 Language Lovers 2016 competition run by and Lexiophiles. We've been nominated in two different categories this year, and would love to find ourselves near the top of the lists when the results come out next month!

To vote for us in the Language Learning Blogs category, just click the button below (you can find us in the third column):

Vote the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2016

Likewise, to vote for us in the Language Twitter Accounts category, you can click the button below (again, we're listed in the third column):

Vote the Top 100 Language Twitterer 2016

While you're there, we also suggest checking out some of the other excellent language blogs and Twitter accounts nominated alongside us, as well as the nominees in the three other categories: Language Professionals Blogs, Language Facebook Pages, and Language YouTube Channels.

If you'd like to learn more about how the nominees were chosen, when the results will be revealed, and what this year's prizes are, you can read this informative post by Lexiophiles.

Finally, we'd like to thank everyone who reads the blog, shares our posts, leaves us comments, and interacts with us on Twitter. We enjoy sharing our love of languages, but it's so much more rewarding with such wonderful followers.

We hope you enjoy these truly adorable hard-working kittens as a thank you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Key to Freelance Success: Apply, Apply, Apply

It might seem obvious, but one key to developing a successful freelance career is applying for jobs. Constantly. Filling out applications, writing cover letters, and submitting bids for projects can be time-intensive and incredibly boring, but it really is the only way to get your career started.

When I first started freelancing, I spent hours each day looking through job postings and applying for anything and everything that seemed like it might fit my skills. While my goal was to work full-time as a translator, I also occasionally applied for copywriting and editing jobs as a way to supplement my income. I ended up getting a couple of long-term flexible copywriting jobs that weren't particularly interesting, but they were incredibly important because I always knew that if I didn't have any translation work, I could rely on them for income.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Over the past year and a half, I've done translation jobs of every type and size, from 200-word marketing translations to an ebook on web programming. Some clients have only hired me once, others have contacted me a second or third time, and a handful have become regular clients who send me work frequently. As a freelancer, the goal is obviously to have a group of regular clients who keep you busy full-time, but I think that's something that takes several years to attain.

While there are some weeks that work from regular and repeat clients manages to keep me busy, it's still incredibly important that I keep applying for jobs. However, now that I have more experience and know that I have some clients I can rely on to send work, I can be a bit more discerning. A year ago I was a bit more flexible in terms of rates, but now I have a better understanding of the value of my work, so I'm more confident in sticking to my standard rates, even if it sometimes means not getting a job because the budget is too low.

In any case, my advice to new freelancers out there is to apply for every job that a) fits your skills b) meets your payment expectations and c) you feel confident you can complete to a high standard. It may be monotonous constantly filling out job applications, writing professional cover letters, and emailing résumés to prospective clients, but it's the only way to grow your client base. It's easy to become complacent once you've found a few regular clients, but it's important to remember that you can't count on them to always send you work, since it's only natural in freelancing that clients will come and go over time.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Linguistic Diversity of Eurovision 2016

If you love cheesy songs and over-the-top performances, we hope you had the chance to watch the Eurovision Song Contest this past Saturday! While this year's songs seemed a bit more subdued than usual, there was still plenty to enjoy, including a performance by a young German girl who seemed to be wearing every hair accessory in existence.

As we've mentioned in the past, Eurovision has become increasingly monolingual in recent years, with most songs being performed in English. This year was no exception, but there were a handful of songs in the final that displayed a bit of linguistic diversity, so we thought we should look at them today.

First, there's Austria's entry, which was the only song in the final that consisted entirely of lyrics in a language other than English. However, it was somewhat surprising to learn that the song was in French instead of German, the country's official language. "Loin d'ici" was sung by ZOË, an Austrian singer, songwriter and actress, and finished in 13th place.

Not quite as surprisingly, France also performed a song in French, with a bit of English thrown in for good measure. Its upbeat entry was "J'ai cherché" by Amir, a French-Israeli singer and songwriter, with lyrics that include "You're the one that's making me strong, I'll be looking for you like the melody of my song". It ended up in 6th place overall.

One of the stranger performances of the evening was Italy's "Nessun grado di separazione". Italian singer Francesca Michielin performed the song while standing in the middle of some sort of enchanted garden, and ended the song holding an onion. Primarily in Italian with a short section in English, the song finished in 16th place.

Yalta, a city on the Crimean coast.
Another multilingual entry came from Bulgaria, which submitted the song "If Love Was a Crime". While almost all of the lyrics were in English, singer Poli Genova did include a few lines in Bulgarian as well. The song finished in 4th place, making it Bulgaria's highest scoring entry ever.

Last, but certainly not least, there's Ukraine's entry, "1944". Despite causing controversy due to the song's political undertones (since Eurovision songs are not allowed to be political), this haunting song written and performed by Ukrainian singer Jamala won the competition. It was inspired by the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea in the 1940s, including the singer's great-grandmother. It features lyrics in both English and Crimean Tatar.

If you're interested in seeing all of these songs (and more), you can find plenty of videos on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel.