English as a Second Language/Different


Dear Shannon,
I hope you enjoyed your holiday! Welcome back!
(1) Soup is a food and and a liquid at the same time. So what would we say, "Eat your soup" or "Drink your soup"?
(2) "Have you got any brothers and sisters?" I read it in the book "English for Starters 9" but I think it should be "Have you got any brothers or sisters?" (i.e. "or" instead of "and") Am I correct?
(3) In the Teacher's Book of "English for Starters 10",they answer the question "Who are Aisha's father and mother?" as "He is a diplomat and she is a university graduate". I think this is incorrect because to ask about the profession one should use "what" instead of "who" which is used to ask about the names. Please guide me.
(4) "The British people are an island people" or "British people are an an island people?" Do both sentences mean the same? When must we use "the"?

I sorry to bother you with all these question.

Cordial regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

Thank you, I had a great time :)

1. Usually we say "eat your soup," because you use a spoon, which is an eating utensil.  However, in some cases, people may pick up a cup and drink it as a liquid.  In those cases, it would be fine to say "drink your soup" because they are not using utensils.

2. It is better to use "or" since at the moment of asking the question, we aren't even sure they have one sibling.  It isn't wrong in colloquial English, however, to say "and."

3. We would typically say "What do Aisha's father and mother do?"  The book went a bit too far in assuming "Who are..." is sufficient.

4. We use "the" to be definite, to refer to something in particular, and oftentimes we omit "the" when the subject is something more general.  In this case, both are fine to use.  We would not say, "I like the hamburgers."  We would need to be more general in that case and omit "the."

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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