Alberto took one look at his new neighbours and knew that his life was going to get more difficult. There they were, two of them, as big and as noisy as their car – and smelly and stupid as well.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the story and do the exercises.

Alberto took one look at his new neighbours and knew that his life was going to get more difficult. He watched them arrive in their big, noisy car and watched them get out. There they were, two of them, as big and as noisy as their car – and smelly and stupid as well.

'Terrible!' he thought. 'How am I going to put up with them?' He went to tell Mimi. Mimi was the friend he lived with.

'Have you seen the new neighbours?' he asked her.

'No,' she said. 'Who are they?'

'Two of them. The ones we don’t like. Big and noisy and stupid and smelly. Just like they always are.'

'Oh no,' said Mimi. 'How awful! Still, I suppose we can just ignore them.'

'I suppose you're right,' agreed Alberto. 'We'll just have to ignore them.'

For a few days, then, Alberto and Mimi tried to ignore their new neighbours. When the neighbours went out for a walk, Alberto and Mimi didn't say hello to them. When the neighbours were in their garden, Alberto and Mimi went inside. This was OK for a few days, but, perhaps inevitably, things didn't stay this way …

One day, Alberto woke up from his sleep to find one of the neighbours in his garden. 'Mimi!' he shouted. 'Have you seen this!? He's in our garden!!!! Look!'

'How terrible,' said Mimi. 'Let's call our staff and make sure they get rid of him immediately!'

Mimi went off to call their staff. Two minutes later, Alberto and Mimi's head of staff was out in the garden trying to get rid of the unwelcome neighbour. 'Go on!' he shouted. 'Get out of here! Go home!' The neighbour didn't say anything but gave Alberto and Mimi's head of staff a dirty look, then he went back into his garden. Alberto and Mimi felt better and then asked their head of staff to prepare their lunch for them.

However, it wasn't enough. Over the next few days, Alberto and Mimi often found one or other or both of their new neighbours walking around their own garden. It was terrible. To show how they felt, Alberto and Mimi went into their neighbours' garden at night, when the neighbours were inside, and broke all the flowers.

The next morning one of the neighbours came to talk to Alberto.

'Hey!' he said. 'Hey, you!' Alberto ignored him, but he continued talking. 'You came into our garden last night and broke all the flowers!' Alberto didn't say anything but gave his neighbour a dirty look. 'Now I'm in trouble!' continued his neighbour. 'They think I did it!'

'Who are "they"?' asked Alberto.

'My owners, of course,' replied the neighbour.

'Owners!?' said Alberto. 'You have "owners"?'

'Course we do,' said his neighbour. 'Don't you?'

'Oh, no,' replied Alberto. 'We have staff.'

Alberto went to tell Mimi that the neighbours didn't have staff but owners.

'That's not a surprise,' said Mimi. 'That explains everything. That's why they're so noisy and smelly and stupid. We need to make their owners become staff.'

The next day, Alberto and Mimi were actually very friendly with their new neighbours. They tried to explain how to make their owners become 'staff'.

'Listen,' said Alberto to them. 'It's very easy. First, understand that the house is your house, not theirs.'

'And second,' said Mimi, 'make sure that you are always clean.'

'Make sure they give you food whenever you want!'

'Sit on the newspaper while they are reading it!'

'Sleep as much as possible – on their beds!'

'And finally, try not to bark but to miaow instead.'

But it was no good. The neighbours just didn't understand. After a week, they gave up.

'It's no good,' said Mimi. 'They'll never understand – dogs have owners, cats have staff.'

Chris Rose



Language level

Intermediate: B1


Lol.... I didn't get that they were animals until the cat Mimi said set in their newspaper.
And I was confused when they said "We need to make their owners become staff."
But now everything is clear hhhhhh

same confusion here also :D

Lol,it was funny story,at that point when the neighbours mentioned that we have owners instead of having staff, I remember once my teacher in the university said that dogs are good they never betray you they will remain with you whether you feed them or not the will stay with you, but pets like Mimi means cats are not like dogs they think you are working for them and when you feed them and give them comfortable place the will remain but once you refused to do so then they will leave you.
so that was the point at first I got it so story is funny and awesome like always good work buddies.

So funny. Thank you!
Actually it was at the very end, at first the following sentence rang a bell: 'Sit on the newspaper while they are reading it!', and afterwards: 'And finally, try not to bark but to miaow instead.', made everything clear who the characters were.

'It's no good,' said Mimi. 'They'll never understand – dogs have owners, cats have staff.' This is what made me think of Mimi and Alberto being cats and their neighbors dogs after reading the whole story.


At the beginning, the first sentence tells us the main characterize named Alberto who sew the new neighbors realized that his wife will have difficulty time coming.

So. there are at least 4 people are involved in this story, they are Alberto, his wife, and new neighbors.

Mentioned it is 2 neighbors came out of the old big noisy car, confirmed 2 new neighbors.


I and my wife live in a country cottage with our ten dogs. Yes, ten pets. All were rescued from the streets. I can't imagine my life without my dogs.

when we say "asked", do we need to pronounce the /k/ sound? I mean, how do we pronounce "asked": /a:skt/ or /a:st/?. And I thought it would be "make their owners become staff" instead of "make their owners to become staff". thank you.

Hello wangyao,

You are quite right about the text - it should be without 'to'. I apologise for this slip. The audio does not have 'to' in it and it is not grammatical to include it. Unfortunately such typos do slip though from time to time. Thank you for pointing it out to us.

As far as the pronunciation goes, a lot depends on the speaker's dialect. My dialect is a fairly weak northern English dialect and I do not pronounce the /k/ sound. I only pronounce the /t/ sound in two situations. First, when I speak very slowly or want to particularly emphasise the word 'asked'. Second, when the next word begins begins with a vowel sound. Thus I say:

asked you /a:s ju:/

asked Eve /a:st i:v/


Of course, other dialects may be different.



The LearnEnglish Team

thank you very much.