Earlier this semester, I received an anonymous email from a student who wanted to tell someone the following:
"In today class, I felt very boring."
In my response, before I addressed the content of the student's email, I had to do a quick grammar lesson. I couldn't help it. It's a wonder I didn't send the student an entire worksheet on the topic.
Here's the thing. My anonymous pen pal may indeed be a very boring person, but I'm 99.9% sure that the student felt bored rather than boring.
So how do you explain the difference to a confused ESL student? Without making things more confusing?
I used to try to explain that things/situations are boring, interesting, exciting, etc. and that people are bored, interested, exciting. However, this explanation would fall short because we all know people who are boring or interesting. It's not just a people vs. things distinction.
The difference really has to do with cause and effect. Bored, interested, excited--these are all effects of a boring, interesting, or exciting situation or set of circumstances.