A DRIVING LESSON
I can still remember my first steps in driving. When I was 16 my father gave me a couple of lessons on country roads. It was his task to teach me how to start a car, how to turn, reverse (= drive backwards) – generally how to keep the car on the road, which was more difficult than I had thought. For me it was quite hard to coordinate my movements – you have to look ahead and at the same time push pedals in order to accelerate (= go faster), brake (= go more slowly or stop) or change gear.
However, after my Dad’s lessons, I was not that green when I started attending a driving course. But then came another challenge: driving on a real road, with other cars on neighbouring lanes (= one of the parts of a road for cars). There I learnt how to overtake (= go faster than another car), even swerve (= turn suddenly to avoid hitting sb) and of course, how to park my car. And, surely enough, I passed my driving test on the first attempt. My father was really proud! And with time I got the hang of other skills indispensable for driving and now I’m quite an independent driver who can fill the car up (= fill the car with petrol) and doesn’t panic when I need to change a wheel on my car. I have done it twice already!
More contexts for the new words:
• Can the effects of their decision be reversed? (= to change the order of a process, events or a situation to be the opposite of what it was)
• The decline of her health seemed to suddenly accelerate. (= happen at a faster rate)
Decide if the sentences below are true of false. Correct the false ones.
1. You can fill a car up at a petrol station.
2. When you swerve, you turn very rapidly.
3. ‘Accelerate’ and ‘brake’ are synonyms.
4. When you reverse, you change into lower gear.
5. A lane is the white line painted on the road.
6. The usual reason for changing a wheel is that there’s a hole in it.
Match the question halves, then answer the questions.
1. Do you know how to change a) to fill a car up in Poland?
2. Have you taken a driving b) test? How did it go?
3. How much does it cost c) a tyre?
ENGLISH IN USE
I wouldn’t be surprised if you asked me a question about one of the structures used in today’s lesson, namely why there is 'when I started attending a course' used and not 'when I started to attend a course'?
Well, to be honest, it’s quite a matter of choice since both options are acceptable and grammatically correct. They mean exactly the same; the only factor that may influence your choice can be the tense of the whole clause, e.g. 'it was starting getting dark' doesn’t sound as good as 'it was starting to get dark'.
'Start' can be used with infinitives or gerunds without any difference in meaning, so you may say both of these:
They are planning to start building a house next year.
They are planning to start to build a house next year. (but again here, '-ing' would be better because of the structure of the rest of the sentence)
A/ The school authorities decided to PUT A BRAKE ON students smoking cigarettes.
B/ It’s good they finally did something to tackle the problem.
When you put a brake on something, you prevent it from developing or making progress.
PHRASAL VERBS CLOSE-UP
1. A PILE-UP is a crash involving several cars.
There was a massive pile-up on the motorway.
Have you heard of the pile-up in Aleje Jerozolimskie?
2. A TAILBACK is a long line of traffic that is moving very slowly.
The accident has caused a 10-mile tailback.
Sorry for being late – I got held up in a tailback on the Siekierkowski Bridge.
The citizens of Warsaw are celebrating as the city’s authorities have finally opened Dźwigowa Street, a major thoroughfare connecting the northern and southern parts of Warsaw. The street was first closed for traffic over a year ago, when a water pipe burst open and flooded a stretch of the road running in a tunnel. The water pipe was promptly repaired, the tunnel was re-opened, only to be closed down soon again due to another flooding – this time, it turned out that the water table was too shallow to have the tunnel dug there in the first place. And then the road was closed for a year or so. Luckily, all the roadworks are now over, and you can get from Włochy to Bemowo in ten minutes instead of an hour. Enjoy it, before they close the road again!
– thoroughfare – a main road through a place
– promptly – quickly
– water table – the level below the Earth’s surface where water is found
– roadworks – repairs that are done to the surface of a road.
KEY TO EXERCISES
3. False – they are opposites
4. False – you drive backwards
5. False – it is the area between white lines