Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Make up

If you make up something, it means that you are “inventing”, creating or fabricating a story, a lie or an excuse.
(1) Fix: To prepare food   (2) Ransom: The money that is demanded when someone is kidnapped or abducted   (3) Fibber: a liar    (4) See through: A phrasal verb meaning “to know or understand the truth”

1.  Do your friends and family know when you’re making up a story, or are you very convincing when you are joking? When I make up a story, it’s difficult for me to keep a straight face (not laugh).

2. In what situations is it OK to lie and make up excuses that are not true? Are you always perfectly honest about personal things when you have to explain something, or do you say, “Sorry, I can’t tell you.”?

3. When a child (or anyone) asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, do you sometimes make up an answer? Would you say to a curious child, “I don’t know.”?

4.  Can you make up a story on the spot (at the moment) or do you need some time to think about it? If you think quickly, you are able to “think on your feet.”

5. “Fiction” books are stories that are made up, as opposed to “non-fiction” books, which are factual. Very often, works of fiction can be used to illustrate truths that are difficult to explain. Do you know any books like this? C.S. Lewis was great at doing this. An example is, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

6. People like made-up stories, especially movies. Entertainment offers an outlet for our imagination - it allows us the chance to dream - to escape reality for a short while, to be inspired… or simply distracted.

7. don’t know how I’m going to hide the surprise from my wife. I’ll have to make up something to distract her or keep her busy while I finish the preparations. 

8.Do you believe any of the September 11th conspiracy theories that have been made up?  


  1. Hey, first of all, thanks for the post! =]

    When you write theses posts, do you make the examples up or you take them from a book?

    Can I say "make the examples up" or should it be "make up the examples"?

    A hug!

  2. Hey Marcos,
    "make up" is a flexible phrasal verb... you can separate it or keep it together... so both of your examples are correct.
    I make up 99% of the examples, mostly from my life experience, that's why I mention South Africa and Brazil often. I write a lot of questions because those are the questions I ask my students in my private English classes. I sit at home all day and speak in English. Not a bad job.
    If I'm curious about something, I might research it on Google to get the facts and include it in one of my examples... so the example sentences are a mix of practical and abstract topics.

  3. Good, thanks!

    Sitting at home all day and speaking in English would probably take my English to a higher (I guess) level a LITTLE BIT faster. =]

  4. Hi guys, I set it up so that "anonymous" users can now comment. It was like that before, but somehow it changed...

  5. Hello Frank,

    I want to say that your blog is marvelous and since I found out your space I've been reading all the posts. As a self study, I do lots of
    researches, trying to find interesting issues to learn – not only English, but also other topics. I’m sure that your blog is one of the
    most useful tools on web to learn English. I really appreciate your efforts! Thank’s a lot!!!

    Sometimes I find myself making some conversations up - only in my mind – trying to create news expressions with the phrasal verbs which I’ve been learning here. It can seems a bit crazy, however it works – at least works to me.

    By the way; Reading your posts I realized that you live on beautiful Fortaleza and I had the opportunity to visit that wonderful city on my
    early vacation… What astonishing place…

    I’m looking forward for your reply…

    Keep up with this useful and helpful job!

    Best wishes (Um abraço!)


  6. I'm glad you are finding the material useful Beto. Making up conversations in your head is a lot better than not having a conversation at all! It shows your determination to practice things you have learned... so... please feel free to put those "thoughts" in the comment section here and we can have a 2-way conversation!... you'll meet some other people here who also comment on the expressions and will also "strike up" (start) a conversation with you.

    Glad to have you here!

  7. I concur with Roberto on the point of making up conversations in your head. It's one of useful techniques to help yourself to memorize new expressions. An issue here, however, is that I usually remember today's idiom well, whereas the previous ones get gradually forgotten. I'm likely to create a deck of flashcards to firmly remember all the expressions and brush up on them once in a while. (If you don't mind, Frank.)

    A year ago, I read a rather big book in English, "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. It depicts a made-up story about businesses, competition, government in the US. Has someone read it? I'm impressed by the book!

    You must have big experience in English, Frank, for you can make up a dozen of sentences for each idiom/phrasal verb here, and for your classes. For me, it's usually not easy to think of an example to demonstrate a rule, word, or expression.

  8. Well pluton, Frank is a native English speaker.

    I can think of a lot of examples to explain Brazilian Portuguese expressions. =]

  9. Marcos, thanks, I wasn't sure about that. Frank is "originally from South Africa", but I have no idea what language is used there.

    I bet you can, since Brazilian Portuguese is your first language, isn't it? What about English?

  10. That's what I'm saying... You're able to easily make up examples in your first language, but in the second, third or whatever, it becomes a little harder. =]

    Actually I have in mind the stereotype about Africans having a great ability to learn many languages and that English is one of the languages they learn since their childhood.

    Yes, Brazilian Portuguese is my first language! Regarding my English, sometimes I can't even figure out how to say some basic things. =]

  11. Hi Eugene,
    sure... go ahead and make some flash cards... if you make a digital version, maybe you could share a download link with everyone. There are between 300 to 400 people who visit frequently and follow all of the posts. If you don't I will consider asking my wife to create some. Good idea. There's an expression, "If you don't use it, you lose it". I made flash cards when I was learning Spanish verb conjugations many years ago :)

    Sometimes it's not easy to come up with a number of examples for each expression... I really have to "rack my brains". The easiest is to talk from personal experience. I use the ideas that first come to mind when I think of the expression. The language comes naturally... just as it is easy for you to speak Russian, because it's your first language... but ideas are a little more difficult to come by.

    I think Marcos explained it well.

    Yep, I'm from South Africa (although I haven't been back for over 11 years now)... I'll be taking a 2-month trip there at the end of this year with many of my private English students. We'll spend some time in Cape Town.

    South Africans speak a mixture of languages. Those of European descent generally speak either English or Afrikaans (dialect of Dutch) as their first language. Very few speak an African language. Those of African descent speak a number of languages as their first language (Xhosa and Zulu being the most widely spoken). Most black people in South Africa will speak Zulu either as a 1st or 2nd language, plus their own language, for example Sotho... and on top of that will most definitely speak English and most likely Afrikaans too.

    So, as Marcos mentioned, the stereotype is absolutely true. Africans speak multiple languages... not only in South Africa, but over the whole continent. French, English and Portuguese are widely spoken, besides peoples' native tongues. I guess European colonization was to "blame".

  12. I've been using the Anki program for over a year now It allows you to memorize lots of stuff by creating flashcards and using a special algorithm to decide the period of time when every flashcard should be shown. A big advantage is that you can use it on a desktop, on a smartphone, and even on the internet. I'll try to figure out how to share a deck there and keep it updated.

  13. Hey Pluton,
    I've taken a (superficial) look at the site. It reminds me of the language program with BYKI (Before you know it), where you can share lists of flashcards with other users and record your voice etc:
    It works through their software though.
    If you do create something and we could find a way to attach audio to it, that would be great!

  14. Hi Frank and others.

    I'd like to create and share a deck in Anki from the blog posts. Yes, you can insert pictures, audio, and video in cards.

    I've done some research on how to share a deck in Anki. It's easy, you create a deck, fill it, and then share it. Unfortunately, updating a shared deck is somewhat a complicated matter at the moment. Basically, the update would overwrite your own copy (

    So, I can see three options regarding what to do:
    1. Wait for Anki 2.0, which should support partial updates, see the link above. Coming soon.
    2. Use this workaround to manually update your decks:
    3. Use another flashcard program.

  15. Thanks Eugene!
    I guess we need something to start with... and if you keep us updated in the latest posts, I'm sure people will see it... or I could make a special post to let people know about it. It would be interesting to do a generic English deck (expression + definition)... or later, certain people who are proficient in 2 languages could create/ modify a deck and make a bilingual deck to share with others, for example, Russian/ English, Portuguese/ English, Spanish/ English etc.
    I think there's tons of "potential" in this sharing idea... maybe you could do a few examples and then share the link.
    I really appreciate it!

  16. Quick question Eugene:
    Do you know if the flash cards are printable... I mean, does the site allow for user-friendly printing both front and reverse?

  17. OK, I've finally finished the first, testing version of the deck, and shared it. To download and try it out, run Anki, click Download button, enter "natively" in the search box, then download the deck of the same name as the blog. There should be 13 facts from Jan this year, plus the comics. Enjoy!

    Frank, regarding printing, I have found this feature neither in the web nor in the desktop version. It doesn't make sense for the developer (, however, it's possible it'll be available in future. One feature that can help you though is exporting facts to a text file. As to myself, I use anki mainly on my android smartphone.


  18. Hi Eugene,
    please take a look at 2 examples I uploaded to the Anki database, under "Nativelytest". I'd like to get your feedback on this as a general format for the future.
    -> You'll see that on the "front" I have the comic strip with the expression. I think the comic strip might stimulate people to remember the expression easier (visual stimulation).
    -> On the "back"/ answer side, I've given just the definition, and also whether it's a phrasal verb or an expression.
    -> Below the definition you'll see a link, which if people follow, it'll take them to the post on my blog to see some examples. The idea would be to bring others who find the material first on Anki to my blog... and also I think it's less cluttered... it will look more like a flash card if I keep it simple.
    -> Finally, you will notice (if you haven't changed the Anki settings) that there are some audio files that will play automatically. The files are not heavy since they are "text-to-speech" voices (They sound fairly realistic) which I exported to a sound file and added to the flash cards. It's fairly simple. I could record my own voice, however I think the resulting files might be too "heavy". I have about 15 different accents to play around with.

    Anyways, that's just my reasoning... but if you have any suggestions, please let me know, and I will try and add or take anything out.

    One question: is it possible to delete something from the online database? I'm asking, because if we have too many titles beginning with "Natively", it could be confusing, if that makes sense.

    Do you think the included audio would be obtrusive if played automatically?

    It took me a while to figure out how to use the HTML tags and get everything the way it is... but it will be really quick to make the next flashcards.

    Thanks a ton for the information!

  19. Hi Eugene,
    you'll notice that the link on the "pick it up" flashcard doesn't work... I'll adjust that later... but the other flashcard should give you a good idea of what I intend to happen.

  20. Hello again Frank,

    I've taken a look at your version. Iterating through the items:
    1. I agree on the "front" of the card. It is indeed better to have a phrase and a picture next to each other.
    2. "Back": for me, it's useless to specify whether it's an idiom or a phrasal verb, since they are easy to differentiate. I'd also leave one usage example after the definition.
    3. Agree about the link, it'll increase the popularity of the blog.
    4. Regarding the voice files. As for me, they are not very helpful, because they are computer-generated (although of decent quality). And I'm not comfortable with the files playing automatically. However, I don't know if you can disable that.
    5. Some more stuff. I'd create different fields for each part in the card layout, as it's done in my version. It'll be easier to change the layout later, if needed.

    Yes, you can delete your own shared decks via the web interface.
    About the HTML, I've never edited it manually there.


  21. Hey Eugene,

    Excellent! Thanks for the input!
    Good points... I agree... I think I could tag the flash cards with Idiomatic expression/ Phrasal Verb/ Grammar etc, but not have it as part of the actual card. Instead, as you also pointed out... maybe put up one example sentence.

    You can disable the sound files through the menu, but most people wouldn't think of doing so. Anyways, soon I will start up a section on my blog... or on another blog where I'll focus more on pronunciation... so I think I will exclude the sound files in the making of the flashcards for now.

    I'll have to investigate the fields thing... I'm not too clear on that.

    Here in Brazil we're in the middle of Carnival, so I'm in lazy mode, but will get some more posts out in the latter part of this week.

    Bye for now


  22. I've got a cousin of mine who's always making up stories.