B.E.L.L. Tips – Thanksgiving

B.E.L.L. Tips – Thanksgiving

Issue #46

Learn English Here!

Tips and Tricks 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. For more in-depth language coaching, use the link below to schedule a 1:1 consultation.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Traditionally, it is a time for families to celebrate together by sharing a meal that is usually a roasted turkey or a glazed ham, accompanied by a lot of indulgent side dishes and desserts.

As children in school, we are taught a story about the first Thanksgiving of the starving Europeans that settled into the land, the Natives that taught them how to grow certain foods and hunt, and the European settlers were so thankful that they all sat down to a meal together. The true story is a bit too gruesome to teach children, so the mythical story continues to be a part of American folklore.

Unofficially, it is the kickoff of the “holiday season” in America, with “Black Friday” sales on the day after Thanksgiving. Which is now followed by Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Shop Small Saturday (anything to get you to spend your money). When Americans say “Happy Holidays,” they are generally referring to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah (and any other religious holiday celebrated during this time period), and New Year’s all rolled into one saying.

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Watch this fun video and play along! You will guess the Thanksgiving food before each picture is revealed.

video preview


Even though, Although, Despite and In Spite Of

We can use even though, although, despite and in spite of to communicate that something is surprising or unexpected.

We use despite/in spite of before a noun or gerund. We use even though/although before a subject and a verb.

Despite being sick, I came to work.
In spite of being sick, I came to work.
Despite I was sick, I came to work.
In spite of I was sick, I came to work. (We need the gerund or a noun after despite or in spite of.)

Although I was sick, I came to work.
Even though I was sick, I came to work.
Although being sick, I came to work.
Even though my sickness, I came to work. (We need a subject + verb after although or even though.)

The condition can come before or after the result. If the condition comes before the result, we need a comma.

having little experience, Shirley has succeeded in her new role.
Shirley has succeeded in her new role despite having little experience.
Even though Shirley has little experience, she has succeeded in her new role.
Shirley has succeeded in her new role even though she has little experience.

In spite of and despite can be used interchangeably. Despite is a little more formal.

Even though and although can often be used interchangeably. However, we often use even though as a stronger, more emphatic form of although.

We can use though instead of although. Although is generally considered more formal.

Although/though I was tired, I went to the event.
Note that though can be used as an adverb, but although cannot.

Time to practice!

Fill in the blanks with even though, although, despite, or in spite of. More than one answer may be possible.

  1. __________________being the CEO of a successful company, Nancy was always a humble, down-to-earth person.
  2. ___________________we’ve listed the job opening, we’ve had few qualified candidates for the position.
  3. Nothing has changed______________________ our recommendations.
  4. __________________the stiff competition, our firm has continued to succeed.
  5. __________________we advertised the job opening, we didn’t receive many applications.
  6. ____________________my best efforts, I wasn’t able to find an answer to the problem online.
  7. ____________________the growing popularity of travel web sites, many people still use travel agents.
  8. We opened for business_______________ it had snowed heavily the night before.
  9. ___________________we’ve made a lot of progress, we still have a long way to go.
  10. I refused the job offer_____________________ the salary was excellent.
  11. His performance has been mediocre_________________ being highly qualified for the position.
  12. _________________we rarely have meetings, our team communicates very well and we’re always on the same page.
  13. ______________his poor health, Gary maintains a positive attitude.
  14. I studied finance and accounting, ___________________I’ve been working in sales.
  15. Many people applied for the internship____________________ it was an unpaid position.

Reading Practice:

This is one of my favorite side dishes to serve at a Thanksgiving meal. Practice your reading skills by trying a new recipe written in English:


Weekly Challenge

For an extra reading feast this week, read this National Geographic Kids article about other Thanksgiving traditions in America:


Tip: As you learn English, practice reading publications and articles designed for kids. The vocabulary and sentence structure is usually simplified, making it easier to understand as you learn the language.

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