Lesson 96 – The War of Currents – Adverbs and adjectives

Cours d’anglais gratuit C2




IN YOUR LANGUAGE (Top right > Select language > Click on the flags).


  • Electrical engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Home craft tools
  • Mechanical appliances
  • Epic poems
  • Eidetic memory
  • Before receiving financial backing
  • To develop
  • A range of electrical devices
  • Alternating current
  • The railway air brake
  • A pioneer
  • Direct current
  • Patents
  • To gain the upper hand
  • War of Currents
  • Incandescent light bulb
  • Electrical distribution system
  • To provide power for lighting
  • To be scaled up
  • A transformer
  • Power output
  • Reducing power loss
  • Alternating current induction motor
  • Hydroelectric power
  • To pursue his ideas
  • Wireless lighting
  • High-voltage
  • High-frequency
  • Pronouncements
  • Wireless communication
  • It laid the foundations
  • Outweighed
  • Out of the running
  • Electrocuted
  • To prove its deadliness
  • Cruel and unusual punishment
  • The jailers
  • He failed to discredit
  • Pivotal
  • Hydroelectric Generating Plant
  • Involved in patent battles
  • It was becoming dire
  • Royalties
  • They were taking its toll
  • To prise
  • Licensing agreement
  • A lump sum payment
  • Electrical resonant transformer circuit
  • Low-current
  • To conduct experiments
  • Phosphorescence
  • X-ray generation
  • Phenomena
  • Electrotherapy
  • Coil circuits
  • Radio transmitters
  • Wireless telegraphy
  • Medical equipment
  • Violet ray devices
  • Radio transmission
  • Widely regarded as
  • Overturned



-The war of currents-

Lesson 96 – The war of currents

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist. Tesla’s mother, Đuka Tesla, had a talent for making home craft tools, mechanical appliances, and the ability to memorise Serbian epic poems. The latter, a manifestation of the eidetic memory possessed by Tesla. This, along with his creative abilities, he directly attributed to his mother’s genetics and influence.

Croatian born, Tesla began working for the Continental Edison Company in France, in 1882, designing and making improvements to electrical equipment. Tesla emigrated to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City, before receiving financial backing which allowed him to set up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Much of Tesla’s support and financial backing came from George Westinghouse, Jr. who was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. He was also one of Thomas Edison’s main rivals. Edison’s insistence on the superiority of the direct current (DC) was in contrast to the ideas of Westinghouse and Tesla. Westinghouse purchased Tesla’s patents and worked to gain the upper hand with the advancement of alternating current (AC) usage. This rivalry became known as the “War of Currents”.

In 1879 Edison invented an improved incandescent light bulb, and realised the need for an electrical distribution system to provide power for lighting. In 1882, Edison switched on the world’s first electric power distribution system, providing 110 volts direct current (DC) to 59 locations in lower Manhattan. Westinghouse investigated Edison’s work, but decided that it was too inefficient to be scaled up. He believed that, with the use of a transformer, an AC power system could be regulated for its use and increases its power output whilst, at the same time, reducing power loss.

After patenting his alternating current induction motor in 1893, Tesla used it to light the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Then in 1896 the world’s first hydroelectric power was sent from Niagara Falls to light the city of Buffalo. Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs and made early pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. These exhibitions laid the foundations of the power system used around the world to this day.

Edison perceived AC power as extremely dangerous and attempted to prove as much despite Westinghouse’s insistence that the risks could be managed and were outweighed by the benefits. A disturbing occurrence of this “war of currents” came after Edison was approached by the state of New York and consulted on the best way to execute condemned prisoners. Initially, Edison wanted nothing to do with it. In the meantime, Westinghouse’s AC networks were clearly winning the “War of Currents” and Edison saw an opportunity to take his rival out of the running. He arranged public demonstrations in which animals were electrocuted by AC current, in order to prove its deadliness. He pushed this brutal method of execution on to the state who adopted it.

In response, Westinghouse hired the best lawyer of the day to defend a convict named William Kemmler who was to become the first man to be executed by electrocution. The lawyer condemned electrocution as a form of « cruel and unusual punishment ». The defense was unsuccessful and Kemmler was sentenced to death. However, the first burst of the current failed to kill the convict, much to the horror of the jailers. A second burst finished the job. When asked about the execution, Westinghouse commented:

« I do not care to talk about it. It has been a brutal affair. They could have done better with an axe. »

Edison failed to discredit AC power and Westinghouse was able to build pivotal projects such as the Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant in 1891 and the original Niagara Falls Adams Power Plant in 1895 which proved to be a success.

By 1892 Edison’s company was consolidated into the conglomerate General Electric by financier J. P. Morgan and the new company was involved in patent battles with Westinghouse Electric. Westinghouse’s financial situation was becoming dire, the cost of licences and royalties to Tesla and others was taking its toll. In 1897, Westinghouse approached Tesla and explained that his loss of control of Westinghouse Electric would mean that Tesla would have to prise his future royalties from the hands of the bankers. Tesla decided to release Westinghouse Electric from the licensing agreement over his AC patents in exchange for Westinghouse Electric purchasing the patents for a lump sum payment of $216,000.

Another of Tesla’s most innovative inventions was the Tesla coil, an electrical resonant transformer circuit. It is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Tesla used these coils to conduct experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires. Tesla coil circuits were used commercially in spark gap radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920s, and in medical equipment such as electrotherapy and violet ray devices.

Tesla used the coils to experiment in radio transmission and even today, at the very heart of every radio, you will find a circuit exactly like that used in the Tesla Coil. It is interesting to note that although Marconi is widely regarded as the inventor of radio, in 1943 the United States Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent on radio because Tesla’s work had predated Marconi’s.



Interactive Video Comprehension Quiz 1

Summary Statements Comprehension Quiz 2

Drag and Drop Quiz 3: 



The purpose of today’s grammar point is twofold. Firstly it aims at discovering the main types of interference errors that students make when using adverbs in English. Secondly, attention will also be paid to the word classes associated with those errors – adjectives and adverbs.

There are frequently occurring errors with wrongly used adverbs and adjectives – showing an alternation in:

The word order of the clause
The form (choice between adjective and adverb)

In English there is a clear distinction between adjectives and adverbs. However, many people make mistakes in their choices of adjectives and adverbs as the incorrect versions are often used in informal speech.

An adjective is a word that modifies or adds more information about a noun or pronoun.

An adverb is a word that modifies the meaning of a verb, adjective or another adverb.


Clear distinction between adjectives and adverbs, for instance, doesn’t appear in Spanish (words like: “mucho”, “solo”…) or other languages, as the following examples show:


He has very problems.

I am much happy to finally meet you.

He has a lot of problems.

I am very happy to finally meet you.

Literal translation of “mucho” in Spanish which corresponds to the English “very” and “a lot”.
Yesterday in the night, I was only at home. I was alone at home. Literal translation of “solo” in Spanish which translates as “alone” and “only”.
He speaks English good. He speaks good English.He speaks English well. Confusion between the adjective (good + NOUN) and the adverb (VERB + well).
He came here before two months. He came here two months ago. “Ago” is used to date back from the time of speaking. “Before” is used to date back from a point of time in the past.
He is a workaholic: he hardly works. He is a workaholic: he works hard. “Hard” here means “alot”, whereas “hardly” means “very little”
He is lazy: he works hard. He is lazy: he hardly works. “Hard” here means “alot”, whereas “hardly” means “very little”.
This story is too interesting.Ted is very much interested. This story is very interesting.Ted is very interested. “Too” has a negative meaning (=”more than is good or desirable or necessary for a specific purpose”) unlike the general sense of “very” or “much”.
This is more easy. This is easier. Comparative
This is more easier. This is much easier. Comparative with insistence.
He must speak slowlyier. He must speak more slowly. Adverb with insistence.

He comes here always.

He speaks English never.

He goes to the Zoo often.

He has said always this.

He has been never skiing.

He had spoken often to them

Had his father been always there for his son, he may not have got into trouble.

He always comes here.

He never speaks English.

He often goes to the Zoo.

He has always said this.

He has never been skiing.

He had often spoken to them

Had his father always been there for his son, he may not have got into trouble.

Adverbs like “always, before, never, often” are placed before the verb. When the verb consists of an auxiliary and a principal verb, the adverb is placed between the two; if there are 2 auxiliaries, the adverb is placed after the first auxiliary.
She is so tall as him. She is as tall as him. Comparative

He is interesting in visiting London.

The film is so bored that Toby is boring.

He is interested in visiting London.

The film is so boring that Toby is bored.

Confusion(Different meaning)

I have ever come here before.

She hasn’t got no time.

I don’t know nothing about the matter.

I know anything about this.

I couldn’t help not seeing it.

I have nevercome here before.

She hasn’t got any time.

I don’t know anything about the matter.

I know nothing about this.

I couldn’t help seeing it.

Double negative

She did it friendly.

They spoke lively.

They laughed silly.

She did it friendily.

They spoke livelily.

They laughed sillily.

She did it in a friendly manner.

They spoke in a lively way.

They laughed in a silly fashion.

She did it in a friendly manner.

They spoke in a lively way.

They laughed in a silly fashion.

Some words ending in -ly are adjectives and not normally adverbs. To modify the verb’s meaning, we use the adverb phrase: “in a + ADJECTIVE + way/manner/fashion”
That is real sad. That is really sad. It is necessary to use an ADVERB to modify the sense of an ADJECTIVE, not an adjective.
This is the worse. This is the worst. Superlative
She is worst than her. She is worse than her. Comparative

I feel badly.

This music sounds badly.

This dish smells badly. 

I think it is off!

It tastes well.

The dog has problems breathing and smells bad.

You are looking badly!

I feel bad.

This music sounds bad.

This dish smells bad. 

I think it is off!

It tastes good.

The dog has problems breathing and smells badly.

You are looking bad!

Despite modifying the sense of a certain verbs (such as: “sound, feel, look, be, taste, smell”), one must use an adjective and not an adverb.

I’ll see you in the nearly future!

We are near fluent!

I’ll see you in the near future!

We are nearly fluent!

Confusion between adjective and adverb.
He is a friend good. He is a good friend. Wrong word order.



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