Level B1 to C1 (reading, grammar, vocabulary related to expressing change in English)
Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand, English trainer at The Language House
Game of Thrones fans among us are familiar with the expression, “Winter is coming”. Well, it certainly is here in Switzerland, but on the metaphorical level, this expression announces change; menacing change.
Change is good, change is hard, change is progress. Change is life. Changes demands letting go of the old, stepping outside one’s comfort zone, sacrificing safety, and facing an uncertain future. Even if we want to resist it, change is inevitable.
“There is nothing permanent except change,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
(See related blog: Now is the time to be stoic)
Let’s look at different ways we can talk about change in English with expressions, verbs and tenses (exercise and quiz included).
Scorpions – Wind of Change (with lyrics)
Idioms and expressions about change
I’ve been working from home all day, so now I want to go out for a walk and blow away the cobwebs. I’ve had a change of heart recently and decided I don’t like working from home that much after all.
I’ve started working for a new boss, who, compared to the last one, is like a breath of fresh air.
The old one was quite narcissistic. He is about to retire. Out with the old, in with the new, I say.
My new boss is an old hand in the game, but he has fresh ideas. The country needs new blood, but he’ll do.
We need him to shake things up and give the country a new lease of life. With him, we will get a fresh perspective on the pandemic situation. Maybe get back to square one on the trade relations with China. He’ll turn things around on the economic front. I hope he won’t change his mind about Obamacare. His government will certainly be a change for the better on all counts.
As they say, a change is as good as a rest, or as good as a holiday.
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Changes – David Bowie (with lyrics)
The best tenses to express change
The best tenses to express change are the present continuous and the present perfect (and present perfect continuous).
The present perfect can express change over time (you have changed since I last saw you) and the present continuous can express change that is happening now (we are using social media more and more). You can also use will to predict change (we will no longer travel by car next century).
(See related blog: You will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger)
Example: The tourism industry has suffered heavily from the pandemic. People are not travelling as much as they used to. Bookings have been dwindling since February and may not recover for a long time to come. Travellers have been more concerned about health and safety and may remain so for a long time to come. But the industry will adapt.
Lana Del Rey – Change (with lyrics)
Some verbs to express change
The verbs become, go, turn, get, come to are great verbs to describe change.
It’s becoming dark
My father is going grey
The leaves are turning yellow
And it’s getting cold.
We’ve come to realise
That Winter is upon us
Can you fill in the gaps with the verb in the correct tense – present continuous or present perfect? The first two have been done for you.
Disruptive technology is a buzzword and it means innovation in technology: for example, telephones have turned into (turn into) smartphones and have changed (change) the way we use that technology. Recent disruptive technology examples include e-commerce, online news sites, ride-sharing apps, and GPS systems. The automobile, electricity service, and television ……………. (be) disruptive technologies in the past.
Established companies focus on what they do best, says Investopedia, but start-ups increasingly ………………. (focus) on technology disruption. Start-ups …………… (take on) more business risks and ………………. (innovate) more. Older companies are more risk-averse, and as a result, some ……….. (lose) market share to new competitors that ………………. (discover) news ways to use technology.
My favourite example of disruptive technology is 3D printers. These days, everyone ……….. (talk) about 3D printers. They ………………. (change) ideas about industrial production in the future. Carmakers ……………… (start) experimenting with 3D printers, and more will follow. What is your favourite example of disruptive technology?
Disruptive technology is a buzzword and it means innovation in technology: for example, telephones have turned into smartphones and have changed the way we use that technology. Recent disruptive technology examples include e-commerce, online news sites, ride-sharing apps, and GPS systems. The automobile, electricity service, and television have been/were disruptive technologies in the past.
Established companies focus on what they do best, says Investopedia, but start-ups are increasingly focusing on technology disruption. Start-ups are taking on more business risks and are innovating more. Older companies are more risk-averse, and as a result, some are losing/have lost market share to new competitors that have discovered/are discovering news ways to use technology.
My favourite example of disruptive technology is the 3D printer. These days, everyone is talking about 3D printers. These printers are changing ideas about industrial production in the future. Carmakers have started experimenting with 3D printers, and more will follow. What is your favourite example of disruptive technology?
Jimmy Fallon does Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” (with revised lyrics)
Quiz: who said that?
There is an old Persian adage that says, “this, too, shall pass”. It basically means the situation will end, but on a more philosophical level it expresses the temporary nature of the human condition. The actor Tom Hanks used it in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some other quotes about change which you can link to their authors below.
- “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”
- “A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.”
- “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
- “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
- “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
- “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
- “We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.”
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
a. Mahatma Gandhi
b. George Bernard Shaw
c. Steve Jobs
d. Nelson Mandela
e. Leo Tolstoy
f. John F. Kennedy
g. Harrison Ford
h. Spanish proverb
1:e – 2:h – 3:c – 4:a – 5:b – 6:f – 7:g – 8:d
Well done. If you have arrived here, please find your reward below. Close the door and put on your headphones and turn up the volume.
Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come (with lyrics)