English Listening Lesson 010 ‘My Library Books are Always Late!’

by Melanie on November 16, 2010

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010 My Library Books are always Late

 

Story:

I can never remember to return my library books on time.

Pronunciation Lesson:

The reduced form of the preposition ‘to’

 
This podcast is for intermediate to advanced English learners. I use core vocabulary to tell you a story about something that happened in my daily life in Canada. Each podcast also includes a pronunciation lesson that explains something I said in the story. You’ll hear the story twice. The first time, the story is a little slower than normal. After the pronunciation lesson, you’ll hear the story again, but at a regular speed. I speak naturally and with a standard American accent.

 

Transcript:

[I speak with a standard American accent, but sometimes my spelling is British. That's the way we do things in Canada!]

 
I can never remember to return my library books on time. It’s a terrible habit. I’m surprised my local public library hasn’t cut me off yet! The library lets people borrow books for three weeks at a time. However, I can go to the library’s website and renew the books for another 3-week period, and then another after that. Yet, I can never remember to renew or return any borrowed books on time, and I always end up paying late charges.

I like to read anything and everything: fiction, biographies, history books, books about politics…you name it! Brand new books in Canada are expensive. There’s nothing worse than spending $20-$30 on a new hardcover book, only to find out the book is awful and a waste of my money! It makes more sense to take out books from the library instead since it’s free! If I like the book and I think I’ll read it again, then I’ll buy it.

I also don’t have much room for any more new books. I have two large bookcases that are full. Every once in a while I clean them out and take the books I don’t want anymore to the second–hand bookstore. If the store can resell the books, the manager will pay me cash for the books or give me credit to buy books at the store. Any books that the store doesn’t want, I donate to a local thrift store.

The local public library has a very impressive collection of books! It always seems to have whatever I’m looking for, no matter how obscure the book is! If the book I’m looking for is already checked out, I can request the next available copy and the library will notify me as soon as it becomes available. Since the library offers so many services for free, the least I could do is return my books on time!

 

Pronunciation

Listen carefully to some sentences from the story:

I can never remember to return my library books on time.

I like to read anything and everything…

It makes more sense to take out books from the library…

Did you hear the word to in those sentences?

The preposition to is a function word. It’s a grammar word. The sentence would not be grammatically correct without to, but it’s not an important word. Within a sentence, function words are unstressed. The vowel sound changes to the unstressed vowel sound /ə/.

When the preposition to is before a consonant sound, it’s pronounced /tə/.

Listen again:
I didn’t say “I like to read” I said “I like /tə/ read”
I didn’t say “to take out books” I said “/tə/ take out books”

Can you hear the difference?

Listen to some sentences from the story again:

I can never remember to return my library books on time.

I like to read anything and everything…

It makes more sense to take out books from the library…

Before a vowel sound, to is usually fully pronounced:

…I donate to a local thrift store.

Listen to the story again. Can you hear more examples of the reduced form of to?

 

Related:

How to practice listening

 

Reference Vocabulary:

public library
I’m surprised my local public library hasn’t cut me off yet!
= a public library is a place where residents of a town or city can go to borrow books for free

You name it!
I like to read anything and everything: fiction, biographies, history books, books about politics…you name it!
= there is a long list of things to choose from; any genre of books you can name, I probably like reading those kinds of books!

a hardcover book
There’s nothing worse than spending $20-$30 on a new hardcover book,…
= when a book is first published, it is sold with a book with a stiff, hard cover; later the book is sold with a soft paper cover (a paperback book)

second-hand bookstore
[I] take the books I don’t want anymore to the second–hand bookstore.
= a bookstore that sells used books (books that people have read)

resell
If the store can resell the books, …
= sell again; sell something you bought

a thrift store
= a store, usually a charity, that sells used goods (clothing, books, toys, furniture, etc.) for a low price

 

Phrasal Verbs:

cut (someone) off
“I’m surprised my local public library hasn’t cut me off yet!”
= to not allow someone to do something anymore
= “I’m surprised that the library still allows me borrow books even though I always return them late.”

end up
“Yet, I can never remember to renew or return any borrowed books on time, and I always end up paying late charges.”
= to be in a situation as result of doing something (unplanned or unexpected)
= “…and the result is that I have to pay late charges”

find out
“There’s nothing worse than spending $20-$30 on a new hardcover book, only to find out the book is awful and a waste of my money!”
= to discover / become aware of / learn the truth about something

take out
“It makes more sense to take out books from the library instead since it’s free!”
= to borrow books from the library

clean out
“Every once in a while I clean them out and take the books I don’t want anymore to the second–hand bookstore.”
= to clean a place (a room, a closet, a bookcase, etc.) by removing unwanted items

check out
“If the book I’m looking for is already checked out, I can request the next available copy and the library will notify me as soon as it becomes available.”
= to borrow books from the library

 

Core Vocabulary:

(What is core vocabulary?)

3***
remember
return
library
terrible
habit
surprised
local
public
period
charge [noun]
history
politics
expensive
worse
spending
waste
sense
instead
free
clean
manager
pay
cash
credit
local
whatever
matter
request
available
copy [noun]
offer [verb]
service [noun]
least

2**
borrow
website
renew
fiction
awful
impressive

1*
people
biography
brand new
bookcase
bookstore
donate
obscure
notify

 

Collocations:

(What are collocations?)

library books
return books to the library
on time
public library
borrow a book from the library
late charge
brand new
There’s nothing worse than …
a waste of money
make sense
take out books from the library
once in a while
a collection of
look for something
no matter how
the least I could do
on time

 

Listen to more lessons here!

 
 

 


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Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with your fellow English learners! It’s because of you that this podcast is such a success, and I am grateful for your support!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pablo March 5, 2013 at 5:27 am

Hi Melanie! Thanks you for sharing this material!!
My question is the following:
is the following sentence right?
I like to read anything and everything:…
because I read that after like the verbs must go with -ING.

Thanks you!
Pablo.

Reply

Melanie 2 Melanie March 25, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hi, Pablo!

Good question! ‘Like’ is a unique verb. It can be followed by BOTH an infinitive & a gerund:
http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/gerund_or_infinitive_same_list.htm

So, both sentences are correct:
“I like to read anything & everything.”
“I like reading anything & everything.”

= )

Reply

3 roya May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Hi,Melanie
This is my first time visiting this site,which is enjoyable, informative and friendly.Could you please explain the difference between could+have+p.p and can+have+p.p when they are used to make deduction and certainty ?
Thank you.
Roya

Reply

Melanie 4 Melanie May 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi, Roya,

Can you give me some example sentences? What does ‘p.p.’ mean? Past participle? (It could also mean ‘present participle.) ‘Have + past participle’ is the present perfect verb tense. Do you mean how are ‘could’ & ‘can’ used for deduction & certainty?

Here’s an article on this website about using ‘could’ to guess information:
http://www.englishteachermelanie.com/grammar-using-could-to-guess-information/

= )

Reply

5 Siriwan August 6, 2013 at 3:28 am

Hi, Teacher Melanie
Thanks for your podcast.
I have a question about reading in some word. “I ‘ll buy it” in this sentence how can I pronounce ” ‘ll = will ” ? or is it a sort of silent sound too ?

I am looking forward to your answer.
Regards.
Siriwan

Reply

Melanie 6 Melanie August 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Hi, Siriwan!

The best thing to do is listen to that part of the episode as many times as necessary and try to imitate what I say. This is the best way to learn how to say ‘I’ll.’

In normal, everyday speech, ‘I’ll’ is pronounced as one syllable. In the sentence in the story, ‘I’ll’ is unstressed & reduced. It sounds like /əl/.

= )

Reply

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