Today a story for English learners – suitable for Upper Intermediate (B2+) level. There’s a word bank at the bottom of the article with some discussion of some of the grammar and vocabulary. Enjoy!
Leandro couldn’t believe his eyes. A beautiful young woman, exactly his type, had walked into the store. “She’s so gorgeous. I just have to talk to her,” he said to himself.
Actually it wasn’t quite those words, as he was visiting town from Italy, and he hadn’t spoken English for a while. In any case, he grabbed a basket and checked her out once more. “I wonder if she’s in a bikini on instagram each morning,” he wondered, getting distracted and a little nervous.
She glanced up at him and her eyes met his, but without changing her expression she then made her way towards the fruit section. He followed.
“Excuse me, um, I don’t know what to say. I wanted to come over and say ‘hi’. I’m Leandro,” he said, and gave her a little smile.
Her name was Sonia. As she introduced herself, he could see she was a bit surprised. Maybe her boyfriend was waiting outside in the car. Maybe she just didn’t want to meet someone. Or maybe she did. He was curious to find out.
– “Y’know Sonia, I haven’t met a woman in the fruit section before.. well, not like this.”
– “At least not this week I hope, Leandro,” she replied. She started to sound a bit playful with him. He was glad he’d put on his favourite Armani shirt and had his Ben Affleck stubble. He often worked out, he was fit, and felt good.
– “I like it when I see someone take care of themselves. I like to eat well too. Have you ever worked on a farm?” he asked her.
She looked puzzled. “Er, no, how come you ask?”
– “Well, I have. You see those lemons there? They look good, but they’re not what you’d find at a family-run farm. They look like they’ve been sprayed a thousand times…And same for the apples.”
She was drawn to him for some reason. Although he was still very much a stranger, she already felt safe with him. And she just loved a man with strong arms.
– “So are you cooking anything special tonight?” she asked him. She went a bit red as she didn’t mean to sound like she was flirting.
– “Hmm,” he smiled, “There’s an idea. I’m staying just next door at my sister’s place. Why don’t we finish up our shopping, get a nice wine, and have lunch? I can do a good carbonara, just like back in Italy.”
– “So you’re Italian? I was wondering what your story was. I’m an Aussie but my family were born in Argentina,” she went on, “But isn’t this a bit crazy? I don’t think I’ve met a guy in the fruit section before.”
– “Yeah,” he smiled, “At least not this week I hope, Sonia. C’mon, it’ll be fun.”
– “Ok, you’re on.” she replied.
– “Great, then there’s just one more thing we need to get now.”
A few moments later, they were at the new automatic checkout counter.
– “So I think we’ve got everything, Sonia. Wine, cheese, bread, pasta..”
– “Ace,” she replied, though her mind was already wandering off, having thoughts of 50 Shades of Grey.
– “Have you read any good books lately?” he asked.
She gulped. “Umm, not really.. Hey, is your sister in this afternoon?”
She really didn’t know what she preferred to hear, that his family might be home or that they’d have the whole place to themselves.
– “I think so. But after lunch we can always lie by the pool..”
She gulped again and her mouth went dry. She felt like she was an actress in her very own film, and even though she knew where it was headed, she was afraid of losing control..
Interview With Leandro & Word Bank
I gave Leandro a call while Sonia was in the bathroom. Here’s what he had to say:
David: Hey Leandro, thanks for your time today. How do you feel after meeting Sonia?
Leandro: Yeah, pretty good. She’s a hottie and seems really sweet too.
David: We noticed that you used the present perfect in your conversation.
Leandro: Yeah, I call the present perfect ‘the pick up tense.’ I remember what my teacher said, that you can use it to ask someone about their life experience or their experience up until now. I was naturally curious about Sonia so I asked her a few ‘have you ever’ questions.
David: For example, you asked her:
“Have you ever worked on a farm?” and “Have you read any good books lately?”
Leandro: Yeah, it’s a nice way to find out about someone. You say have you + the 3rd form of the verb.
David: Do you find grammar hard to learn?
Leandro: Well, that’s the thing. I don’t really think much about the rules. I just know when I want to find out about what someone has done during their life or even recently, I can ask these questions. Often the verbs are common spoken verbs too so maybe I just see them as phrases. For example:
Have you been to ..(Sydney)..?
Have you worked ..(in a cafe)..?
Have you visited ..(New Zealand)..?
Have you travelled to ..(Adelaide).?
Have you read ..(The Ghost Monster)..?
Have you seen ..(the new George Clooney film)..?
David: Good stuff.
Leandro: Also I don’t remember those silly lists like speak-spoke-spoken, take-took-taken. That just confuses me! Instead, I practise the structure the way it’s really used, like: “Have you been to Sydney?” or as I asked Sonia: “Have you read any good books lately?”
David: Speaking of Sonia, what are you plans for today?
Leandro: Well, we’ll see. We might laze by the pool.
David: No worries. We’ll leave you to it. Hope to chat to you and her too a bit later!
Leandro: No worries, take it easy mate! Catch you later!
He grabbed a basket – grab is used a lot in spoken English (Aus, UK) to mean ‘have’ or ‘take’.
eg “let’s grab a drink.”
He checked her out – he looked at her with interest
To get distracted – to lose concentration; to think of something else
She glanced up at him – glance means to have a quick look
Her eyes met his – they made eye contact
You can also say: He caught her eye
She then made her way towards the fruit section – she walked towards the fruit section
“I wanted to come over and say ‘hi’. I’m Leandro,” he said – a polite way to say what your intention or purpose is.
eg “I wanted to ask you about..”
“I was wondering/I wondered if you could help me with..”
He gave her a little smile – he smiled at her
Started to sound a bit playful with him – in this context it means she started to open up to him and see the fun or light side of the situation
A bit is used a lot in Aussie and UK English:
I’m a bit tired
I’m a bit nervous
He had his Ben Affleck stubble – men have stubble when they don’t shave for a few days. In Australia some call it ‘3-day growth’.
He often worked out – he goes to the gym
I like to eat well too – here like to is used to show a preference or habit.
She looked puzzled – surprised or confused
“How come you ask?” – How come is another way to ask why.
She was drawn to him for some reason – she was attracted to him
She went a bit red – she was a bit embarrassed
“There’s an idea” – a phrase used to confirm that someone has made a nice suggestion
“So you’re Italian? I was wondering what your story was” – what’s your story? is another way of politely asking what someone does or what they’re doing, where they come from, etc.
“Ok, you’re on” – a phrase to agree or accept an offer
“Ace,” she replied – Aussie phrase, meaning ‘great‘
Her mind was already wandering off – wander means to go, walk or go in another direction without really paying attention to where you’re going, to travel without purpose. Here it means she’s thinking of other things.
She gulped – to swallow air because you’re surprised, afraid or.. excited.
“Hey, is your sister in this afternoon?” – is she at home
She really didn’t know what she preferred to hear, that his family might be home or that they’d have the whole place to themselves – that they would be alone
eg We had the whole place to ourselves
What About You?
Have you ever gone on a date with someone who you’d just met?
What do you think will happen next between Leandro and Sonia..?