Learn English the Hard Way with “Cat’s Cradle”

Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books.

I know the drill. Take me right to the sentences.

Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English?

Look no further.

However, there is a catch.


Who is this article intended for?

For English language learners, as they, all too often, tend to skip a lot of subtleties while reading books / reading stories / reading comics / watching movies /watching game movies, thus slowing down and negating their language progress. I

The catch has to do with the “THE HARD WAY” of learning English, right?

I can’t promise improving your English through this article will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it, provided you work through ALL THE SENTENCES down below. And by the way, to make it even more challenging for you, no answers are given and you are to find them on your own. There’s a reason this article is called “Learn English the Hard Way”, don’t you think?

Still no clue what I’m supposed to do…

If you’re still not really sure what’s going on here, I highly recommend you read the description of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge.

russia-flag Для чего эта статья и что нужно здесь делать?

По своему опыту могу сказать, что когда в освоении английского приходишь на всё готовенькое, то интеллектуально расслабляешься и не особо вникаешь в детали и тонкости языка.

А вот когда, мы “пропускаем язык через себя”…

  1. внимательное чтение книг, просмотр фильмов, т.д… не знаем, что то или то означает, почему так написано, вообще не догоняем, что происходит, значит отмечаем находку
  2. анализ “любопытных” предложений, конструкций, выражений (грамматика и прагматика наши лучшие друзья)
  3. прогонка проработанного материала через правое полушарие
  4. задействование “освоенных” предложений, конструкций, выражений на письме, в устной речи (идеально, с носителями языка)
    …то результаты будут совершенно иными, нежели чем “со всем готовеньким”.

А именно, выработка силы воли, языковой интуиции, внимательности, любопытства и реальное улучшение навыка английского языка.

Ниже представлены предложения, которые заинтриговали меня при прочтении книги / прочтении рассказа / прочтении комикса / просмотре фильма / просмотре игрофильма. То есть, я сделал первый пункт из четырех выше и поделился результатами с Вами. За Вами остаются остальные три.


If you feel like up to the challenge, then below is my list of the cherry-picked sentences with curious grammar and vocabulary findings from the book “Cat’s Cradle”.

Study hard!

I don’t think he ever read a novel or even a short story in his whole life, or at least not since he was a little boy.

Conveyances and motives, both conventional and bizarre

His fingers made the string figure called a ‘cat’s cradle.’

Next morning. Here I go again, fresh as a daisy after eight hours of sleep.

They were right to flunk me out. I would have made a lousy doctor.

I am a midget, for instance—four feet tall.

There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.

I LOAFED ON MY BOOK about the day of the bomb.

a bum came in and tried to scrounge a drink

The stop-and-go signs, garish ghosts in the sleet, went through their irrelevant tomfoolery again and again

Her smile was glassy, and she was ransacking her mind for something to say

A winded, defeated-looking fat woman in filthy coveralls trudged beside us

“Magic,” declared Miss Pefko.

“I’m sorry to hear a member of the Laboratory family using that brackish, medieval word,”

Miss Naomi Faust was a merry, desiccated old lady.

I thought that what you were after was a fair, objective biography of Felix Hoenikker—certainly as significant a task as a young writer could assign himself in this day and age. But no, you come here with preconceived notions about mad scientists.

I was surprised and mawkishly heartbroken.

“He loved ten-cent stores,” said Miss Faust.

I can see he did.”

“Maybe he really was a Martian,” I suggested.

That would certainly go a long way toward explaining his three strange kids.”

The marker was an alabaster phallus twenty feet high and three feet thick. It was plastered with sleet. “By God,” I exclaimed, getting out of the cab with my camera, “how’s that for a suitable memorial to a father of the atom bomb?” I laughed.

And there on the shaft in letters six inches high, so help me God, was the word: MOTHER

Sleet was still coming down, acid and gray.

I found a little institutional joke in the showroom: over a stone angel hung mistletoe

“If somebody offered you enough,” said the driver, “you’d take it, wouldn’t you?”

Might. But it would take a lot of money.”

He was a cadaverous man, a serious man, a dirty man, and he coughed a lot.

He had been absolutely unselfish for twenty years

I gathered that I had said a fat-headed thing.

“And you think things will be better in San Lorenzo?”

“I know damn well they will be.”

THERE WAS A SMALL SALOON in the rear of the plane and I repaired there for a drink.

They don’t have the government encouraging everybody to be some kind of original pissant nobody ever heard of before.

The eggheads sit around trying to figure out new ways for everybody to be happy.

Other examples of granfalloons are the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows—and any nation, anytime, anywhere.

suited him to confront the world with a certain barnyard clownish-ness

I hope San Lorenzo is every bit as good as you’ve heard it is

I don’t say it’s good,” said Crosby, “but I don’t say it’s bad, either

A sign like that is just catnip to kids

“Honey, you should have showed me that letter,” she scolded.

“Sorry,” said Newt. “I didn’t think.”

“I know the term,” I said, “but it obviously doesn’t have the ding-a-ling associations for me that it has for you.”

The shed was neat and new, but plenty of signs had already been slapped on the walls, higgledy-piggledy.

“I believe in obeying the laws of whatever country I happen to be in.”

You are not telling me the news.”

“If you tell,” he said, and he put his cheek to the floor and looked up at me beseechingly, “if you tell, we’ll die on the hy-u-o-ook-kuh!”

“Self-taught, are you?” Julian Castle asked Newt.

Isn’t everybody?” Newt inquired.

“Very good answer.” Castle was respectful

“Not many things do work, you know.”

I suppose not.”

“He had escaped, had evaporated, had lived to preach another day. Miracle!”

They both became, for all practical purposes, insane.

ANGELA AND NEWT were on the cantilevered terrace with Julian Castle and me.

Both Angela and Newt, it appeared, were fairly heavy drinkers.

his days as a playboy had cost him a kidney, and that he was unhappily compelled, perforce, to stick to ginger ale.

“This is a poor country—in case you haven’t noticed,”

She was on the edge of a crying jag.

He was panicky about my slipping out of his grasp.

Unrelieved villainy just wore him out, is my guess

told us that power failures were common in San Lorenzo, that there was no cause for alarm.

It was a heavy thing, about the size of an unabridged dictionary. It was written by hand. I trundled it off to my bedroom, to my slab of rubber on living rock

What would you say to a hundred thousand dollars a year?”

“Good God!” I cried. “What would I have to do for that?”

“I’m a pretty good judge of character, if I do say so myself, and I like the cut of your jib.”

“We’ve both got things that mesh.”

Am I to understand that … that you are offering me some kind of job here, here in San Lorenzo?”

People are unkind sometimes without meaning to be

I imagined what the taunters had been like, imagined where Fate had eventually goosed and chivvied them to.

And the listless life of an ink-stained hack….

“Maybe I’ll climb it.”

Go ahead. Nobody’s stopping you.”

SO I BECAME BETROTHED at dawn to the most beautiful woman in the world.

“You mind telling me what, in a purely technical way, is planned for this day of days?”

“In one of two ways,” he said, “petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system.”

Neither one very pleasant, I expect,” I suggested.

I was compelled to canter down the stone spiral staircase in search of a bathroom

“GENERAL,” I told Frank, “that must be one of the most cogent statements made by a major general this year”

Angela had him by the arms, and she wouldn’t let him go.

How could you!” She shook him.

He had a written speech with him—fustian and bombast, I imagine

Their cries and the sounds of others, panting and running, came gabbling to me through a corridor of the castle

In that ad, a trusting boy and girl looked up at their father

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,”

they had set out on foot for the House of Hope and Mercy in the Jungle to give whatever hope and mercy was theirs to give.

“Soft pipes, play on,” I murmured huskily.

Wow, it seems you’ve made it to the end of this new-vocabulary-grammar-intensive article… But did you actually work through all the findings?  No shirking? Sweet! That’s what I call being persistent at mastering English!


russia-flag Вы дочитали и проработали статью до конца? Так держать!

Если Вы дочитали до конца эту статью, то я уверен, что Вы узнали много нового про английский язык (при условии, что Вы действительно проработали предложения выше).

Проработать так много материала это совсем не шутки, а вполне серьёзный подход к делу.

Теперь же дело за малым: эффективно всё перенести в речевой актив и начать всласть применять новые знания на практике (пункт 3 и 4, соответсвенно).

Спасибо за то, что уделили время.

Удачи в Вашем языковом путешествии!


I am crazy enough to do the whole nine-yards over again. Please bring me to the beginning of the sentences. Yeah!

Did you know that you are more than encouraged to go ahead and tell me in the comments section below how the whole process went?

With that, thanks for taking your time accepting the challenge, reading and working through the article.

Until next time!


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