B.E.L.L. Tips – Cicadas

B.E.L.L. Tips – Cicadas

Issue #72

English Tips for:

Business English Language Learners (B.E.L.L.)


Each week, I will send out some handy tips and useful exercises for adults learning to navigate and use the English language. Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues.

Parts of the U.S. are being overrun by Cicadas right now. They are a very noisy bunch and right now there are trillions of them in some areas of the U.S. as two different groups are emerging at the same time. This spring, the 13-year Brood XIX and the 17-year Brood XIII will co-emerge in north-central Illinois for the first time since 1803. They are not harmful, but the noise can be overpowering. Learn more about Cicadas with this video:

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Writing Tip

Language Level -All levels

Practice writing sentences in English while reviewing adjective word order. Here’s another chart to help you remember:

Now, use the prompts below to write your own sentences, using 3-5 adjectives in each one:

  1. Write a sentence about Cicadas.
  2. Write a sentence about the design of the home.
  3. Write a sentence about the city where you live.
  4. Write a sentence about the clothing you are wearing.
  5. Write a sentence about your favorite music.
  6. Write a sentence about your business.
  7. Write a sentence about the last book you read.
  8. Write a sentence about the uniforms of your favorite sports team.

Grammar Tip

Language Level C1

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is a form of verbs that helps express various states of unreality, such as wishes, doubts, hypothetical situations, and emotions. It is used to describe things that are not necessarily true or real but rather imagined or desired.

The subjunctive mood is formed differently depending on your sentence’s verb tense and subject. Here are a few examples:

  • “I insist that he arrive on time.” (present subjunctive)
  • “If I had known, I would have left earlier.” (past subjunctive)
  • “It’s important that she be here for the meeting.” (present subjunctive)
  • “I suggest that they not spend too much money.” (present subjunctive)
  • “I wish I were taller.” (past subjunctive)

Rules and guidelines for when to use the subjunctive:

  • Use the subjunctive after certain verbs such as suggest, insist, demand, and recommend. For example, “I recommend that he be more careful next time.”
  • Use the subjunctive after certain expressions such as if, unless, and as if/as though. So, “If I were you, I would take a break”.
  • Use the subjunctive after certain adjectives, such as important, necessary, and urgent. For example, “It’s important that he arrive on time.”
  • Use the subjunctive after certain conjunctions, such as before, so that, and in case. For example, “He left early in case there be traffic.”
  • Use the past subjunctive (were) instead of the past tense (was) in certain situations, such as in hypothetical statements. For example, “If I were a fish, I would swim away.”

To help you recognize when to use the subjunctive mood, here are some common phrases and verbs that often trigger its use:

  • It’s important that…
  • It’s necessary that…
  • I suggest that…
  • I demand that…
  • If only…
  • If I were…
  • Unless…
  • So that…
  • In case…

Let’s begin by identifying if a sentence uses a subjunctive verb or not.

Remember, subjunctive verbs express wishes, hopes, desires that are imaginary or doubtful.

Example: I wish she would feed the dog.

NOT: She fed the dog. (fact)

She might feed the dog. (possibility)

Feed the dog! (command)

Did she feed the dog? (question)

For each sentence below, identify if it uses the subjective verb or not:

  1. If I were in charge, I would let everyone go home early.
  2. She was swimming in the pool when her phone rang.
  3. I hope you will come to the party this weekend.
  4. They may be able to pass the test without much effort.
  5. Don’t you dare talk to her that way.
  6. If I had been there, I would have stopped the fight.
  7. I suggest that Lee sing at the reception.
  8. It’s crucial that she arrive on time to start the presentation.


Language Level B1

Read the article about Cicadas:https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/cicada

Then study the vocabulary from the article:

  1. Invertebrates – animals without backbones
  2. Herbivore – an organism that eats only plants
  3. Buzzing – a low, humming sound
  4. Burrow – to dig a hole or tunnel into or under something
  5. Dormant – inactive or sleeping
  6. Emerge – come out into view from concealment (being hidden)
  7. Periodical– occurring or appearing at intervals or at regularly spaced times
  8. Camouflage – the act of concealing the identity of something by changing its appearance

You can use this quizlet to study the vocabulary periodically.

Weekly Treat

Language Level B2

Watch this intriguing Ted Talk about how language shapes the way we think. If you want to challenge yourself, don’t just listen with the subtitles, but read the transcript and identify new vocabulary as well.

video preview

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