Cross-border Shopping and Rugby

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On today’s show, Jill and Mark discuss their weekend and answer a few questions about English from our Forum. Topics covered include cross-border shopping and the new strength in the Canadian dollar and the ongoing Rugby World Cup.

Mark: Hello again, Mark Kaufmann here for the EnglishLingQ Podcast.

As usual, I’m joined by Jill Soles.

Hi, Jill.

Jill: Hello.

Mark: How’s it going today?

Jill: Good thanks. How are you?

Mark: Not too bad.

Jill: Good.

Mark: What’s new with you?

Jill: I don’t know. We had a beautiful weekend here.

October 13th and 14th in Vancouver was just fantastic; I think about 15 degrees both days, maybe warmer even.

Mark: For sure.

Like Saturday some friends and I were out playing touch football, looking around, not a cloud in the sky and we kind of made the comment that we didn’t have too many days this summer with not a cloud in the sky.

Jill: Now it’s the middle of October.

Mark: At least there was not a cloud in the sky.

It was, yeah, pretty warm for October for sure.

It was a beautiful day.

Jill: Yeah and Sunday was beautiful too.

There was a little more cloud coverage, but it was warm and the air was fresh and, you know, the leaves are changing colors on the trees and it was just a beautiful weekend.

Mark: What did you get up to?

Jill: What did I do; not too much to tell you the truth. Not enough.

I did a lot of walking outside.

I live near the beach, so I went for a long walk on the beach and sat on a log for a while and just looked at all the boats on the ocean.

It was very nice; very relaxing.

Went out for dinner and went to a mall yesterday shopping, actually, and it was colder inside the mall then it was outside, so I was very happy to get outside.

I was warm again.

Mark: You’ll be disappointed or surprised to hear that I went down to Bellingham yesterday and didn’t do any shopping.

Jill: Oh, what a shame.

Mark: It’s too late now.

Because the Canadian dollar has appreciated so much against the American dollar…

Jill: …it’s worth more.

Mark: In fact, it’s worth more for the first time in, I don’t know, 30 some odd years.

There are a lot of Canadians driving down to the states to go shopping.

Their dollar buys so much more down there and really prices up here have not reflected that change, so things here are more expensive.

Jill: Right.

Quite a lot more expensive, you know.

Even something like a magazine that you can buy in the store, the price might be $3.95 U.S.

and sometimes $5.95 Canadian.

That’s two extra dollars on something that’s only a few dollars to begin with.

Mark: That’s a big difference.

Jill: Big difference, yeah.

Mark: … books in the bookstore.

It’s like we’re still paying for a .75 cent dollar.

Our dollar is worth more now, so there are a lot of cross-border shoppers.

Jill: And a lot of long, long line ups, waits at the borders; hours people are waiting to get across the border.

Mark: Yes they are.

Jill: Did you?

Mark: The reason that we went, my son and I, he had a hockey game in Bellingham, which was very irritating for me because there’s plenty of hockey teams within 20 minutes of our house.

Why are we driving an hour and a half to the states to play hockey?

I have no idea.

Somehow they are in the league.

If I knew who was responsible I would have strangled them.

Jill: Well, especially right now, to have to cross the border and it’s such a nightmare right now.

It just does not make sense to be forcing people to do that.

Mark: On a Sunday, you know, and the game was at three in the afternoon, so we were coming back at five.

Actually, it didn’t take us that long at the borders because we took a bus.

Jill: Okay.

Mark: The team got a bus, so buses do have some priority, but still.

You’re waiting and the guy hass got to come on the bus and, you know, it’s 45 minutes or whatever it is at the border on top of the trip.

Anyway, it’s just a long way to go for a hockey game for eight year olds.

Jill: Right.

Mark: Ridiculous.

Jill: Tell us how you really feel.

Mark: Disappointed that we went down to the states and no shopping.

Jill: No shopping? I am disappointed.

Mark: Wasted opportunity.

Jill: Yes, yes, yes.

Well, it’s actually, you know, it’s true.

I keep wanting to go down there because there are things that I want.

I want some new running shoes, I want some new boots, things like that and usually I pay quite a lot of money for those items because I want good-quality shoes and ones that are comfortable.

There are these boots I want right now that are $250.00 in Canada and you can get the same ones in the states for $70.00.

Mark: Is that right?

Jill: So, that’s a huge savings.

Mark: I mean, in general, equivalent products tend to be cheaper in the states.

Now with the dollar the way it is they are even cheaper, so there’s certainly a lot of incentive to go buy stuff down there.

I guess you can buy stuff online.

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: It’s still cheaper to buy online, have it shipped and pay the duty.

It’s still cheaper than buying it here, but if you can avoid paying the duty, yeah, that’s even better.

Jill: Yeah, that’s right.

Mark: So, anyway, I did that on Sunday.

Saturday we, like I said, played a little football.

Watched the…the rugby world championships were on.

Jill: That’s right.

Mark: And I’ve really been enjoying the rugby.

Yeah, I paid for the, whatever, rugby channel.

It’s kind of fun, actually; all the announcers, all the Irish announcers.

Actually, you’ve got a sprinkling of Irish and English and Australian, mostly Irish, but it kind of makes it fun with all the different accents when they’re announcing the game.

It’s just a fun event and all the different countries that are in it and it’s an exciting game.

Boy, it’s exciting.

Jill: I’ve never watched a rugby game, actually, a professional rugby game.

Mark: Right.

Jill: I know we were forced in P.E. class in high school to play the odd rugby game, you know, boys and girls mixed.

Mark: You played rugby?

Jill: Well, no, we had to in P.E. class, but I don’t think I participated much.

It’s not something I’m interested in, but maybe to watch, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, no, I played it in high school, actually, for whatever, five years and I really enjoyed playing it.

You know, it’s never been much of a spectator sport here; like it hasn’t been on TV much.

Jill: No.

Mark: But whenever I had watched I liked it and so this time, actually every world cup, rugby world cup, I watched, but this time I probably watched more than I have in the past and I really enjoyed it and still am enjoying it.

The final is next week.

Any of you, I guess French in particular who might be listening to this podcast, that was a tough loss on Saturday to England.

Jill: To England and Argentina played somebody didn’t they?

Mark: Yeah, I haven’t watched the second half of that game. I don’t know the score.

Jill: Oh, okay.

Mark:  South Africa. Don’t tell me.

Anyway though, so that was fun.

Jill: Good.

Mark: Anyway, we thought today we would spend a few minutes answering some questions that we’ve had on our Forum from our members on English; English questions that they’ve asked us, so maybe…Jill, you’ve scoured the Forum and found some good questions.

Before we do continue, any of you listening who would like your English questions answered by us, please submit them.

It’s a little difficult right now because we don’t have our Forum operating on LingQ, but we will have it up, hopefully, later this week.

If you do have a question otherwise that you’d like us to talk about, please just send us an email at Support at and we’ll, assuming it’s a good question, talk about it here.

Anyway, go ahead.

Jill: So, I just picked out a few, three, meaning that’s what we mean when we say a few; generally, is three questions.

Mark: Two or three.

Jill: A couple, though, is two.

Mark: You think few means three?

Jill: I think few means three.

Mark: Wow!

Jill: I think a couple means two and a few means three.

Mark: You know, I mean, we might have to work this out.

Very rarely Jill and I have these disagreements, but honestly, I (don’t) think few means two, but two or threeish.

Yeah, it’s a small number.

Jill: A small number, right; exactly.

So, I have three, I guess, phrases really that people asked us to explain to them.

The first one comes from one of our Japanese members named Ioko and the question she is asking about is “in the same vain.” Mark?

Mark: Yeah, in the same vein.

I’m trying to think of a suitable, similar phrase that means the same thing.

Jill: Along the same lines, which people might be confused by as well, so meaning on the same topic; on the same subject.

You’re talking about something very similar.

Mark: Right and so if we were talking about the weather, I would chime in then, along the same vain, or in the same vain I hear we’ll be having a thunderstorm tonight.

Jill: Right, so we’re still talking about weather. It’s still the same topic.

Mark: And, actually, maybe it would be a slightly different direction for our conversation.

In the same vain or in the same topic, so my example might not have been that accurate there.

If we were talking about the weather than maybe along the same vain we would maybe talk about…

Jill: …the beautiful weather they’ve been having back east.

Mark: Yeah, exactly.

Jill: So that October has…you know, we’ve had beautiful weather.

Other places have had beautiful weather so, yeah, talking about the same topic, really.

Mark: Exactly, a related topic.

Jill: Right.

Mark: Yeah, so that’s right, in the same vain; on the same subject; along the same lines.

Jill: Right.

Mark: And those are very common phrases to hear and good phrases to use and any of you listening, save these phrases.

You know, notice these phrases, use these phrases and you’ll start to sound more natural, more fluent.

Jill: Right. The next one comes from Naomi in Japan as well.

She was asking about the phrase “came in dead last.” She also asked if you could just say “came in last” or “came in dead.”

Mark: Came in dead last, presumably.

Jill: Came in dead last.

Mark: Hopefully, you’re not coming in dead; probably not from a marathon.

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: You feel dead.

Jill: So, yeah, I mean I gave her the example of “I ran a marathon last year and I came in dead last,” which means I was the very last person, so if there were 2,000 people in the run I was the last person to cross the finish line. I came in dead last.

Mark: Naomi, I hope this wasn’t you. I hope this was from one of your content items.

Jill: No, I gave her this example. I made it up.

Mark: Well then Jill, I hope it wasn’t you.

Jill: It wasn’t me.

Mark: Yeah, it’s typically not a good thing to come in dead last, but I guess, you know, in the case of a marathon at least you did it.

Jill: That’s right.

Mark: Yeah, so it just emphasizes the fact that you weren’t just towards the end, you were dead last.

Jill: You were the very last person.

You finished in last place.

I mean, there are a number of ways we could say this, but yeah.

Mark: Really, just to emphasize.

The word dead, I guess, can be used in other instances to emphasize.

Like a “dead heat” when you are in a race and you’re tied with someone else, you’re in a…it’s called a dead heat.

There is no way to decide who won.

You know, a photo finish type of idea, except if it’s a dead heat there is no obvious winner.

Jill: So, that’s came in dead last and then another phrase that I think, actually, is quite common as well and useful came to us from Israel in Spain and he asked about “to come across.” You can come across people or situations and it just means that you encounter or you meet those people.

Mark: It’s just sort of a more casual way.

I don’t know about casual, but it’s another way of saying, you know, I met, I found or I encountered.

“Came across,” it’s a nicer way of saying or more powerful way, yeah.

Jill: Yeah, I mean, you could say I came across…I was reading your manual and I came across some errors, so I’m just going to point them out for you.

That means, you know, you noticed some errors.

You spotted, you saw, you encountered some errors.

Mark: Right or I was cleaning up the kitchen yesterday and I came across some old photographs of my trip to Spain. Boy, you sure look goofy, you know.

Jill: Exactly.

Mark: Something like that anyway, yeah.

Again, a nice phrase to learn and you’ll come across it quite often I think.

Jill: There you go.

You’ll encounter it quite often.

Mark: I think that was good.

I thought those were all good phrases.

Again, any of you listening, please, if you’ve got questions, phrases, words, questions about English, whatever you’re curious about, we’re going to start answering our listener questions, both LingQ members, EnglishLingQ listeners, all of you out there, on our podcast, so please send them in and we’ll be happy to discuss them and you can listen for your answers.

With that, I think that’s all we have time for today, so thanks again, Jill.

Jill: Thank you.

Mark: All you listeners, we’ll hope to see you soon at LingQ.

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