🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “A Christmas Carol”

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 “A Christmas Carol”.

Study hard!

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.

Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry?”

“What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.

Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal?

“keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”

warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped. Not so much in obedience as in surprise and fear

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that

But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country‘s done for.

Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years.

And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral

Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!

Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire

Foul weather didn’t know where to have him.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you?”

no children asked him what it was o’clock

It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal

and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of strong imagination, he failed

I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!

and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute.

He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge

There’s another fellow,” muttered Scrooge, who overheard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas.”

We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices

and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered

The brightness of the shops, where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows

Foggier yet, and colder

The office was closed in a twinkling,

newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s book

the other rooms being all let out as offices.

also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the City of London

Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley since his last mention of his seven-years’-dead partner that afternoon

And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door

though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue

He did pause, with a moment’s irresolution

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach and six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall, and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy

There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that.

But, before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.

It’s humbug still!” said Scrooge. “I won’t believe it.”

How now!” said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. “What do you want with me?”

sit staring at those fixed glazed eyes in silence, for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it

A very little more is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere.

mark me;—in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole

At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said, “I suffer most”

Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode?

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.

Hear me!” cried the Ghost. “My time is nearly gone.”

“Couldn’t I take ’em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?” hinted Scrooge.

and fell asleep upon the instant

He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.

“Your welfare!” said the Ghost

“But she had a large heart!”

“So she had,” cried Scrooge. “You’re right. I will not gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid!”

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it. “Know it!” said Scrooge. “Was I apprenticed here?

considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven,

and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow

“I am a mortal,” Scrooge remonstrated, “and liable to fall.”

and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would

with a little weather-cock surmounted cupola on the roof

Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables

and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks

then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well

the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly

You wouldn’t believe how those two fellows went at it!

Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore

In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master

in they all came, any how and every how

people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.

the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him)

she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher, and I’ll use it.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig

He was older now; a man in the prime of life

Another idol has displaced me; and, if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.

“Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then? I am not changed towards you.”

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him to observe what happened next.

Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this room

unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty.

What would I not have given to be one of them!

And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips

despoil him of brown-paper parcels

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort

“Look upon me!” Scrooge reverently did so.

“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge. “To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time of day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure

the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint, and subsequently bilious

but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the door

crashing their wicker baskets wildly

and came running back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes

For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas-day. And so it was! God love it, so it was!

who are as strange to us, and all our kith and kin

and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen “Bob” a week himself

Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot

the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves

in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!

with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too,

Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it.

Scrooge was the Ogre of the family.

from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, and sang it very well indeed.

where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter—artful witches, well they knew itin a glow!

and water spread itself wheresoever it listed

frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night.

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe

with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that, while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.

“He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live!

Bless those women! they never do anything by halves. They are always in earnest.

a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be kissed—as no doubt it was

I couldn’t be angry with him if I tried.

he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge’s niece’s sister—the plump one with the lace tucker, not the one with the roses—blushed.

he encouraged them in their merriment, and passed the bottle, joyously.

For they were a musical family, and knew what they were about when they sung a Glee or Catch

and played, among other tunes, a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes)

And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots.

wherever she went, there went he!

Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was very great, and, to the secret joy of Scrooge’s nephew, beat her sisters hollow

“Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did!” “That’s true, indeed!” said the laundress. “No man more so.

“Well!” said the first. “Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey?”

he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, and everything he saw

the people half naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly.

“I wish it was a little heavier judgment,” replied the woman; “and it should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything else.”

Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has happened.

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard.

“Eh?” returned the boy with all his might of wonder.

“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the directions where to take it.”

Make up the fires and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father.

and it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge

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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