168.2 - Irregular Verbs with The Statue of Liberty

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Words that are bolded in red are suggested vocabulary words for this episode.

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Hi everybody. My name is Shana and this is the American English Podcast. My goal here is to teach you the English spoken in the United States. Through common expressions, pronunciation tips, and interesting cultural snippets or stories, I hope to keep this fun, useful and interesting. Let’s do it!

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Imagine you are on a ferry slowly approaching Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The sky is a brilliant blue with just a few clouds drifting overhead. There’s a cool breeze; it’s hitting your face, and the smell of salt from the ocean water is around you. To your right is the New York City skyline. Lower Manhattan is magical with all of its high rises, but nothing compares to the Statue of Liberty ahead of you.

She’s massive! In fact, if she were a building, she’d be about 20 stories high. Being in front of her, Lady Liberty is surreal because she’s so well-known and such a powerful symbol of hope, freedom, and democracy. She’s also a symbol of the United States, but what’s her story?

In today’s lesson, you’re going to hear a short story about the Statue of Liberty. In it, you’ll hear ten irregular past tense verbs.

An irregular past tense verb doesn’t have an ed ending.

  • It was cold outside, so I changed into warm clothes. Changed is a regular past tense verb, it ends in ed.
  • In December, my family moved to North Carolina. Moved is a regular past tense verb. Once again, it ends in ed.

Irregular verbs, so the opposite of regular verbs, don’t have ed endings in the simple past tense.

  • Yesterday my daughter drank a glass of milk before bed. Drank. Drank is irregular.
  • Last week I ate a big cheeseburger and got a stomachache. Ate and got are irregular. They don’t end in ed. 

Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s get to the story. After the story, we’ll go through each of the ten irregular verbs. Some are repeats from previous lessons, and I repeated them because I wanted to review them; they’re common. Then, you’ll do a quiz, and then you’ll hear the recording one last time to reinforce what you’ve learned. At the very end, I’ll share fascinating facts about the Statue of Liberty that you might not know. Be sure to stay tuned so you don’t miss out on that.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

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The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States in 1886, and it commemorates not only the centennial of American independence but (also) the friendship between the two nations.

It took about nine years to make. The exterior was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and the statue’s internal structure was engineered by Gustave Eiffel—who later designed the Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty is now informally known as Lady Liberty.

The creators made her out of copper, and she was originally a shiny copper color similar to a new penny. Over time, the copper oxidized, giving it the green patina we see today. She wears a robe like the Roman goddess of liberty, Libertas, and her crown has seven spikes, symbolizing the seven seas and seven continents. In other words, freedom should be universal. In her right hand, she holds a torch, in the left hand, a tablet inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776.

How in the world did Lady Liberty travel from France to the United States? She was disassembled, of course. The designers broke Lady Liberty into pieces and brought her to New York Harbor on ships. Then, workers rebuilt her from the ground up. Upon completion, the statue and its pedestal stood at 305ft tall (that’s 93m).

So how did this gift become such a strong symbol for the U.S.?

From 1892 to 1954, millions of immigrants arrived to Ellis Island, the island right next to the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island, at the time, was the primary immigration station in the U.S. Those who fled their home countries often saw Lady Liberty as a beacon of hope. In fact, upon arrival, she was the first sight on the horizon. It’s said that her torch led the way to liberty, a new beginning, and a life free from economic hardship, political unrest, and religious persecution.

So why not visit? You can even climb up into the crown and enjoy a panoramic view of New York Harbor through its 25 windows.

Thanks, France!

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