Thursday, December 30, 2010


The structure for + object + to-infinitive (where the object is the noun, pronoun or noun phrase that receives or is affected by the action of the verb) is often used after certain adjectives.

It's important for me to finish this essay on time.
It's essential for him to sign the will in front of a witness.
Image: 'more writing
The same meaning could be conveyed by a that-clause and the subjunctive or the verb should + infinitive, but this is much more formal in style.

It's important that I (should) finish this essay on time.
It is essential that he (should) sign the will in front of a witness.

Notice the use of the subjunctive in the last example: we use sign, not signs, because in the present subjunctive the 3rd person singular does not add an s as in the present indicative. The form of the verb to be in the present subjunctive is be for all the persons:
It's important that he be here on time.

Before the for+object+to-infinitive structure there can be three different kinds of adjectives:
a) Adjectives that express importance: important, essential, vital, necessary, pointless...
It is essential for doctors to check all possible causes of this illness.
b) Adjectives that express frequency: common, normal, unusual, rare...
It is normal for a child to fall asleep when tired.
c) Adjectives that express personal reactions: anxious, eager, delighted... (in this case, sentences don't start with it's)
They'll be delighted for you to stay at their home.
I'm anxious for the summer to come.

The For+object+to-infinitive structure can also be used after certain nouns, for instance, plan, idea, suggestion, and even after a few verbs, such as, arrange, suit and take (time).

I think that's the best plan for us to take.
It took two hours for him to get home instead of the usual ten minutes.

For+object+to-infinitive is also used after too and enough.
This coffee is too hot for me to drink.
This coffee is not cold enough for me to drink.
Image: 'Love Coffee
In the following exercises we are going to transform sentences with the For+object+to-infinitive structure into that-clause sentences and vice versa. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Been or gone?

Compare the following sentences:
He's gone to London
He's been to London
Image: 'London Eye & Big Ben at sunset

Do they mean the same? The answer is no. Sometimes it's confusing for learners of English to use one or the other, especially when you can see both been and gone as the past participle of the verb to go in most manuals.
You use gone when you mean that the person has travelled to a place and not returned yet. But when you mean that the person has travelled to the place and is back, you use been.
The difference is quite clear for Spanish speakers when you translate the above examples:
Ha ido a Londres.
Ha estado en Londres
As the usage of ido and estado is the same as gone and been.
Imagine that you are in Spain and you want to ask a foreign person if he or she has visited the country before, what would you say:
Have you been to Spain before?
Have you gone to Spain before?
Image: 'La Sagrada Familia

The correct answer is the first one, because you are both in the same place.

Notice the use of the preposition to, as to go is a verb of movement and therefore it requires that preposition. But in the case of been, the preposition in can also be used when we want to enphasize the time spent in a place and not the fact of having been in that place. Compare:
My sister has gone to Australia. In fact, she's been in Australia for two weeks already.
My sister has been to Australia. She has just returned.

The following exercises will help you reinforce the difference between gone and been.

Need more exercises? Follow this link

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

The 26th of December is known in Britain as Boxing Day. There are several theories regarding the origin of the name, but it's probably called so because from remote times, servants and other workers used to receive boxes full of food and gifts as a present for the Chistmas period.
Boxing day is also St. Stephen's Day (which is how this festivity is known in Ireland), and legend has it, it was on this day when “Good King Wenceslas” went out to help a poor peasant. You can hear the story of this Bohemian saint, who was not a king but a duke, in this popular Christmas carol.

Today, many employers give their employees a Christmas bonus that can be money, gifts or even a vacation-type incentive. Besides, householders give some money or gifts to the tradesmen that regularly visit the house, such as the milkman or the dustman.
Traditionally, families get together on Boxing Day to watch sports, play board games or even go out for a walk in the countryside if the weather is not too wet. It's also a day devoted to outdoor sports and fox hunting (though it's now forbidden to kill the fox in Scotland, England and Wales, there are some places where this tradition is still alive).
'Vale of Clettwr Hunt'
Image in Flickrcc:
In recent years, people tend to go shopping on this day because it's the opening of the sales period and there are big discounts in clothes, shoes or electrical items, and it's becoming traditional to see big crowds gathering at the entrance of department stores waiting for the doors to open and pushing and fighting to get the best offers.

Don't get too carried away by the sales!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas holiday is drawing near and everywhere there are lights and decorations that cheer the dull winter evenings. Santa Claus movies are back on television and Christmas carols can be heard in supermarkets and malls. There's hardly a festive season that is more widely celebrated all over the world than Christmas.
Cheering up is what we need during exam time and if there is a feelgood Christmas song that can make you dance, that's Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you". Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to pronounce the final -ed in verbs

The final -ed in verbs in the past or past participles has three different pronunciations, depending on the sound that precedes it.
Those verbs ending in /d/ or /t/ need to have another syllable so that people realise that they are in the past.
decide /dɪ'saɪd/ --> decided /dɪ'saɪdɪd/
want /wɔ:nt / --> wanted /wɔ:ntɪd /
In the above examples -ed is pronounced /ɪd/.
In the rest of the verbs, -ed is pronounced either /t/ or /d/, but how do we know which? It depends on the final sound of the verb: if it is voiced (sounds in which the vocal chords vibrate), the suffix is pronounced /d/, because it is a voiced sound as well. If the consonant is unvoiced (no vibration of the vocal chords), it is pronounced /t/, as it is also an unvoiced consonant. As you can see, it is very simple: the suffix takes the sound that is easier to pronounce in each case.
Voiced consonants are: /b, v, ð, d, z, ʒ, dʒ, g/
Unvoiced consonants are: /p, f, θ, t, s, ʃ, tʃ, k/
Put your hand on your throat as you say the consonants above and you will feel the difference.

Try doing this exercise and check how much you have learned.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Basic vocabulary crosswords

Let's do some crosswords to revise basic vocabulary of different semantic fields. Click on the labels under the images to open the crossword page. Once there, click on a number in the grid to see the definitions. If you get stuck, click on "hint" and you will be given a letter.
 Have fun!
Hat tip to El Tinglado. Images in



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The present perfect versus the past simple

It's quite easy to learn the tenses in English, but I think the present perfect tense is the most difficult, at least for Spanish speakers, because it is not always translated by the same tense in that language: it is usally translated by "pretérito perfecto compuesto", but in some cases you must use the present simple, and even a verbal periphrasis. Some examples:

I have never been to a theme park.
Nunca he estado en un parque temático. (pretérito perfecto compuesto)
We have known each other for ages.
Hace mucho tiempo que nos conocemos. (present simple)
They have just met
Se acaban de conocer. (periphrasis)

The present perfect is usually learnt in contrast with the past simple: if we say when something happened, we have to use the past simple, but if we don't give a definite time, we use the present perfect.
I lost my keys last night, but thank God I have found them!
Image by Shutterstock 

The present perfect has a simple form:
Have / has + V-ed (3rd column, if it is an irregular verb)
and a continuous form:
have / has been + V-ing

Today we are going to revise the usage of the present perfect simple versus the past simple. Have a look at this presentation and then do the exercises below.


Finally, there is an excellent exercise in which you will complete the lyrics of the song "What can I do" by The Corrs and then a short text about the group. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This blog is one year old!

It's one year and a couple of weeks since I started writing in this blog, and to celebrate it, what about having a look again at the best cartoons of the week? Most of them have been taken from Time and others from the web So much I hope you have found them funny, witty and thought-provoking.

I would also like to snatch the opportunity to thank my teacher Antonio González García, Onio, for introducing me to the world of blogging and the basics of web 2.0.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA on the 4th Thursday of November. It is a celebration in which families get together for a wonderful dinner that includes turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie and they give away presents and later watch the football on TV.
Image in

Related to other Harvest festivities, Thanksgiving  dates back to 1621 when the Mayflower pilgrims thanked God for helping them survive the harsh winter when many of them died of cold and famine. I suppose they also thanked the indians that taught them to grow corn and other vegetables.

It was Abraham Lincoln who, foreseeing the importance of a national day that could unite the country, decreed that it should be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.

You will get more information in this video. - Thanksgiving Glitter Graphics

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't touch my junk!

Have you heard this expression recently and don't know what it means?

You have surely heard about the new scanners that are being installed at airports that show images of bodies in detail and are rightfully criticized by those who want to preserve some degree of privacy? Well, apparently, one of these people who opted out of the full body scan, called John Tyner, was reticent about  the pat-down search he had to undergo and he told the TSA* agent: "You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested.”

In the USA, the word “junk” is used colloquially to mean “things” or “stuff”. It is clear that in this case John was referring to his private parts, as these days they carry out body searches in a very thorough way, even probing up to the genital areas.

John recorded the whole search with his mobile phone and then he posted it to his personal blog. Since then, the phrase “Don't touch my junk” has become viral and even appears on T-shirts and magnets, representing for many people a cry against the oppression we are all going through in the name of security and freedom.

*TSA means Transportation Security Administration.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prepositions of time: at, on, in.

With this presentation you will learn the use of at, in and on before time expressions. In the last slide there are some exercises that will help you check what you have learnt.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

An interview with Emma Watson

This week has seen the premier of the latest Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”, which is going to be the penultimate movie in the series. It is based in J. K. Rowling's last book, but the movie version has been divided in two parts and we won't be able to see the end of the story till 2011.
All the Potter books have been really successful and so have the films starred by Daniel Radcliff (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson (Hermione). We can see the latter in a recent interview by Times journalist Radhika Jones, in which she answers some questions posed by young fans from all over the world.
After watching the interview you can do the listening comprehension exercise and see how well you have understood Emma.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

You probably have seen many people wearing paper poppies on their lapels these days.
Photo: "Lest We Forget" 
The red poppy stands as a symbol of remembrance: by wearing it on our chests, close to our hearts, we remember those people that died at war. But, of all the flowers, why the poppy? Because it was the only plant that grew in the barren fields of northern France and Flanders after the great battles of the First Workd War, in which so many soldiers were massacred.

These poppies are mainly worn from the end of October up to Remembrance Sunday, which is the second Sunday in November, that is, the nearest one to Remembrance Day (November 11th).

Remembrance Day used to be called Armistice Day because it commemorates the signing of an armistice that put an end to the First World War. The date was declared a national holiday by many countries and today, not only the soldiers that died during that war are remembered, but also all those that lost their lives at any armed conflict.
Poppy wreath
On Remembrance Day, special services are held at war memorials and churches throughout most Commonwealth countries. In London, Queen Elizabeth II lays a wreath of poppies at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
The Cenotaph at Whitehall, London

So many lives lost, so much blood spilled... what for? What is war good for?
Photos in FlickrCC

Friday, November 5, 2010

Past tenses

In English there are four past tenses:
  • Past simple:  I worked / you studied / we did (irregular form)
  • Past continuous:  I was working / You were studying / He was doing
  • Past perfect:  I had worked / you had studied / He had done 
  • Past perfect continuous: I had been working / you had been studying / We had been doing
The present perfect tense (I have worked) is not, strictly speaking, a past tense. It is a tense that relates the past and the present. We use it to express either actions that began in the past and continue up to the prensent (1), or finished actions that have some present importance (2). Examples:
  1. I've lived in San Pedro since 1990. (I came to San Pedro in 1990 and I still live here).
  2. I can't play football because I've broken my leg. (I broke my leg some time ago, but I use the present perfect because the result of this action has importance in the present).
With the following presentation you will learn the different uses of the past tenses.
Past tenses
View more presentations from IES.

Now you can check how much you have learnt with the following exercise.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The parts of the body

With this basic presentation you will learn the parts of the body. There are some exercises at the end to check how much you have learnt. Have fun!
Parts of the body

View more presentations from Inma Dominguez.
The following presentation can help you remember the words you have just learnt.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The spookiest night of the year is getting nearer. Thousands of children dressed up as little devils, vampires or witches will go out to the streets to terrorize the neighbourhood: “trick or treat”, they will say and people will fill their bags with sweets and even money.
This anglo-saxon tradition is quickly spreading to other countries thanks to the influence of American films and culture. However, it is not originally an American custom. We can trace it back to the Celts.
The Celts were Indo-European tribes that spread across Northern and Western Europe from the 6th century BC onwards and still remain (or at least their language still remains) in certain areas such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. Following the invasion of Germanic tribes after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Celts migrated to the West where they found refuge in mountainous areas and managed to keep their language and floklore. Today, Irish and Welsh, two languages of Celtic origin are widely spoken.
Map showing the expansion of Celtic tribes in Europe.
Source: Wikipedia.
For the Celts, October 31st was the end of the summer and the beginning of the darker part of the year. They believed that on that night the spirits would come back. They welcomed the good spirits but kept away the bad ones by wearing masks and costumes and carving turnips with faces to put on window sills. They also made bonfires and slaughtered their livestock so as to have food throughout the winter.
With the arrival of Christianity, these pagan rites mingled with the festivity of All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, celebrated on November 1st, and this is where the term “Halloween” derives from: All Hallows eve or evening.
It was the Irish immigrants that took the tradition of Halloween to America and there it evolved and mixed with other cultural elements until it became the celebration we know today.
You can learn the basic Halloween vocabulary with this simple presentation.

The origins of Halloween are explained in this video. Check what you have learnt with the exercises below.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Arrive in, at or to?

One of the typical mistakes my students make is using the preposition "to" with the verb "arrive".
For example: *We arrived to London.
The preposition “to” can never follow the verb “arrive”, because it is a preposition of movement and the verb is not. Instead of “to”, we can use “at” or “in”, but, when should we use one or the other? The answer is easy:
  • We use “at” when we get to a small place such as an airport, station or village.
Ex.: The children arrived at school quite late.
  • We use “in” when we get to a large place such as a country or a city.
Ex.: The Vikings arrived in Britain in the 8th century.

Sometimes it's not so easy and you can find examples like:
They arrived at Cardiff
Being Cardiff a big town, "in" should have been used, but "at" is correct because we actually mean arrive at Cardiff station or airport.
Photo: Cardiff Bay, by Ian Britton

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prepositions of place and movement

A preposition is a part of speech that links nouns, pronouns or phrases to other words in the sentence. There are three types of prepositions:
  • Time prepositions, used to show a point in time.
  • Place prepositions, used to indicate a location or position.
  • Direction prepositions, used to show movement from one place to another.
Sometimes it's difficult for a learner of foreign languages to use prepositions correctly, because they don't always translate as the same word in every context. For instance, my students get confused with words like in, into, at or on.
In the following presentation the images will help you realise the exact meaning of the preposition. In this case, only prepositions of place and movement are described.

 With this other presentation by Patricia Pérez Miguel you can practise what you have learnt, and at the same time revise your Halloween vocabulary. Try to answer the questions and have fun!

More exercises:
Prepositions of place:
Prepositions of movement:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

John Lennon: a dreamer

If he hadn't been killed on December 8 1980, John Lennon would have turned 70 today.

Born in Liverpool, he was co-founder of one of the most famous bands of all times, The Beatles, for which he composed numerous songs, most of them with his friend Paul McCartney.
In a few years, the band became famous all over the world, and their singles topped the charts in many countries. But, unfortunately for their fans, The Beatles split up in 1970 and its members began solo careers.
John became a peace activist and two of his songs,“Give peace a chance”, written as a way of protest against the Vietnam war, and “Imagine”, have become peace anthems worldwide.
For five years, from 1975 till 1980, he retired from public life, devoting himself to raising his child Sean, and it was just when he had released a new single, “Just like starting over”, when he was murdered outside his home by a demented fan.
His early death, at the height of his fame, has turned him into a myth and he still lives in our hearts through his music. May these lines serve as a little homage to a great man. Long live John Lennon!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

There is / there are


Monday, September 27, 2010

Personal Pronouns and the verb "to be"

This is a basic presentation for beginners. I use it with my ESPA (adult) students. There are some follow up exercises at the end.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Summer reading

Lying on a sunbed under the dappled shade of a tree by the sea or the swimmingpool with a book in my hand is my idea of a relaxed, happy summer time. During the school year, with so many things to do and think about there is but little time to spend in leisure reading and, by the time I go to bed, I'm so tired that I can manage just a couple of pages before falling asleep and in that way I hardly enjoy a book. But summer is different: the long summer days offer plenty of time to spend in sundry activities and reading is one of my favourite.

This summer has been a special one for me in that respect for, by the end of the spring, I was presented with a box full of books that someone who was moving back to England was throwing away as they wouldn't fit in the removal van. The content of the box was quite eclectic with titles ranging from juvenile reading like Harry Potter to classics like the Brontë sisters. But the bulk of them were novels written by contemporary writers of whom I knew nothing whatsoever (I've read English literature at university but the most modern authors in the curriculum were the likes of Joseph Conrad or Graham Greene). Intrigued, but, I must admit, with a sneer in my face, I picked one of these, written by Carole Matthews, and was immediately absorbed into it. I just needed two days to finish it and then picked another and then another... and it's been like that the whole summer! You can imagine I had a whale of a time!

Image in:

Of the new authors I've “discovered”, three stand out from the rest: Carole Matthews, Catherine Alliott and, above all, Marian Keyes. They are funny, witty and very good writers. They write romantic novels with a twist, and their stories are not just about love, but also about family and friendship relationships in the modern world. They are termed as “chick lit” because the protagonists are women but it doesn't mean that they don't write for men as well!

I won't make odious comparisons but I'd dare say I've enjoyed these novels almost as much as I enjoy re-reading my admired Jane Austen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trip or travel?

Sometimes my students get confused when using these two words. The difference is quite simple: “travel” is mostly used as a verb, whereas “trip” is a noun. Thus, you can say: 
“I will travel to Croatia this summer.” “ I will go on a trip to Croatia this summer.”
“Travel” can also be used as an uncountable noun meaning “travelling in general”:
“People say travel broadens the mind”
“Air travel is much cheaper these days”

The plural “travels” means a long trip in which several places are visited, as in “Gulliver's Travels”, the book by Jonathan Swift in which the doctor Lemuel Gulliver embarks on several voyages that take him to faraway, exotic lands with even more exotic dwellers: Lilliput, the land of tiny people, Brobdingnag, the land of gigantic people, etc.
Another related word is “journey”, which means the movement to and from a place, whereas “trip” also implies a visit to the place you've gone to.
“I hope you have a safe journey”
“I really enjoyed my trip to Rome last year”.

Depending on the means of transport, different words can be used instead of “journey”:

  • Voyage (pronounced/'vɔɪɪdʒ/) is a long journey on a ship or boat. “The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage”

  • “Crossing” is a short journey in a boat or ship. “The ferry crossing to Ceuta took fifty minutes”.

  • “Flight” is a journey in a plane. “Our flight was delayed due to air controllers' strike”

  • “Drive” is a journey in a car. “Madrid is a five hour drive from Malaga”.

  • “Ride” is a short journey by car, bike, horse. “Let's go for a ride in my new car”
Now you can do this exercise to see how much you have learnt:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Waka Waka

Images in FlickrCC: and

Well, it's over! The World Cup is over. 32 countries sent their best footballers to South Africa with just one goal in mind: to be the winners. During the five or six weeks that the competition lasts, millions of people all over the world place their expectations in a group of footballers that represent their nation. Their victories are felt like their own, and their defeat is a source of sorrow.
I'm not a football fan, but I've felt that a whole nation can vibrate and get united thanks to this sport, forgetting about the hard times we are going through, at least for a few days.
But there can only be ONE winner and this time it was Spain. In the way, so many dreams have been shattered! It's a shame there can only be one winner, because all of them deserve to hold the cup and hoist it up in the air.

The Colombian singer Shakira has sung the official World Cup song. Can you successfully complete this listening comprehension exercise?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Clairvoyant octopus

It's unbelievable! Half the world has been following the predictions of an octopus for the winners of the South Africa World Cup matches. I must admit it's the first time I hear about a gastropod that predicts the future in the way of a Roman augur or a sibyl at Delphi.

Marine life mosaic in Pompei Museo Archaeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The thought of an animal willingly choosing one of two urns displaying the flag of a country seems to the modern mind just ludicrous. Yet, there is historical evidence that man has always believed that the prediction of the future is possible. Going back 2500 years, in ancient Greece, people used to travel to Delphi to consult the Oracle. It was a priestess called the Pythia or the Sibyl who, inebriated with a gas that emanated from a chasm in the rock, would say an enigma that was later “translated “ by a priest. One of the most important predictions of the Sibyl was that of Oedipus: when consulted by Laius and Jocasta, a childless royal couple, she said that they would have a son that would slain his father and marry his mother, and even though Laius tried to avoid it by getting rid of his son, we all know that the prediction came true.

Delphi Sibyl by Michelangelo in the Sixtine Chapel
Some time later, Julius Caesar would never dream of going into battle if the augurs were not favourable. By studying the flight of birds, the priests could tell if the gods were on their side or not.
In the Renaissance, Nostradamus wrote about terrible disasters and predicted the end of the world in such a vague way that one needs an interpreter to understand his prophesies, and it's only when something has actually happened when it seems clear what he meant in his verses. In this way, he is said to have even predicted the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Eerie!

In our days, hordes of fortune tellers, clairvoyants and horoscope readers earn a living and become rich by flattering people's ears and assuring them that they will meet the love of their lives or get a fabulous job. It's amazing how many people spend their money in this blooming industry of make believe!
In this day and age of modern, state of the art technology, an octopus is the centre of all attention because up to date it never failed a prediction. It's become so famous that it's been offered a €10000 contract to promote the delicious Galician octopus around the world and it's the king of Facebook and Twitter.
Anyway, it has chosen the Spanish flag for the Final and how I wish it doesn't fail this time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Few / a few, little / a little, fewer /less

Sometimes it's difficult to know when to use few or a few, little or a little. First of all, we should know that few is used with plural nouns, whereas little is used with uncountable nouns, which are always singular.
There are few apples in the basket.
We have little hope of success.
Without articles, few and little have a rather negative meaning: not much / many.
In the above examples:
There are few apples in the basket = There are not many apples
We have little hope of success= There is not much hope.
On the other hand, a few and a little (with the article) have a positive meaning: there is not much or many, but at least there is something!, which is better than nothing.
In the example:
We don´t need to go shopping: there's a little milk in the fridge and a few apples and eggs. That will do for dinner.
We can notice how the use of a before little and few gives us a positive feeling.
Fewer is the comparative form of few and less is the comparative of little.
There are fewer students in my class this year.
He earns less money than me.
However, many English speakers use less with plural  nouns, which is considered incorrect by many gammarians.
The superlative form of few is the fewest; the least is the superlative of little
This antidepressant has the fewest side effects.
Don't thank me. That's the least I could do for you.
Few / a few / little / a little
fewer / less, etc.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Adverbs and adjectives

Adjectives qualify a noun while adverbs modify verbs. In fact, the word "adverb" means "next to a verb" in latin. 
Many adverbs derive from adjectives. Most of them are formed by adding the suffix -ly to the adjective. The adjectives ending in -ble just drop the final -e and add  -y, while those adjectives that end in -y drop it and add -ily. Some examples are:
quick   quickly
comfortable    comfortably
happy     happily
good     well 
fast      fast
hard    hard*

*We shouldn't confuse the words hard  and hardly. They  are both adverbs but have different meanings: hard means rough or difficult, whereas hardly means barely or not much. Can you see the difference between "working hard" and "hardly working"?

Watch this presentation and do the exercises below:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The present perfect tense

Watch this presentation and then do the exercises below:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Present perfect test

Friday, May 7, 2010

Countable and uncountable nouns

Watch this presentation about countable and uncountable nouns and then do the exercises below.

Decide which nouns are countable and which nouns are uncountable
Food partitive exercises
Partitive crossword
Choose the correct partitive
A /an / some /any

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vale a pena ficar de olho nesse blog award

This blog has just received this award from one of the persons I've been following since I started blogging five months ago: Patricia Pérez Miguel, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This means that for her, this blog is one of ten blogs worth visiting and I feel honoured! Thank you very much Patricia!
Here is my list of ten blogs worth visiting:
The English You Need Blog
Free Technology for Teachers
Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the day
A Walk in the Words
Alpozo's Phonetic Blog
Mi cuaderno digital
Pasión en el hielo

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A volcano of unpronounceable name, the Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland, is causing havoc in airports in Europe and all over the world. Who doesn't know a person that has been caught in this nightmare of cancelled flights and left stranded in a foreign country, or at home deprived of the long-awaited holidays?

Image: 'Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland April 17+[Detail]'

I have always been intrigued by volcanos. They are one of the biggest and most powerful mysteries of Nature. The old Romans believed that the god Vulcanus, son of Jupiter, had his smithy underneath Mount Etna, in Sicily. So whenever this volcano was active, they thought it was Vulcanus, the blacksmith, hitting on the iron to manufacture arms and armours for the heroes. Isn't it fantastic how mythology interprets Nature?

The Forge of Vulcan, by Diego Velázquez

In 1783, another volcano in Iceland, called Laki, produced so much poisonous gas that it killed thousands of people, and the consequences were felt not only in Iceland, but also in far away places like Egypt, where one sixth of the population died of famine caused by the low flow of the river Nile, due to the alterations of the African monsoon.
To know a bit more about the different types of volcanos watch this video and then answer the questions.

What's the weather like?

Learning weather words in English is not as easy as it seems. Because it is a recurrent conversation topic and, in great part, due to the changeable nature of the weather in Britain, the variety of weather words in English is considerable. So much so, that sometimes it's difficult to find an equivalent in Spanish.
In the following video we are going to hear some people talk about the weather. Some of the adjectives they used are written below with a translation into Spanish. The list of words is not complete, but it's a good starting point!
hot (caluroso), warm (calentito), cool (fresco), cold (frío), chilly (fresco), crisp (frío), mild (templado).
windy (ventoso), breezy (con brisa)
Sun or absence of sun
sunny (soleado), cloudy (nublado), overcast (cubierto), dull (gris, feo), grey (gris), bright (brillante, soleado).
rainy (lluvioso), damp (húmedo), dry (seco)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten horse idioms

From Queen Boudicca to the races in Ascot, the horse has always been part of life in Britain. The Celts, who arrived in Britain around 500 BC, worshiped horses and carved them on chalk hills in southern England. It is not known how many of them have been lost through the years but it is believed that there were hundreds of them.

The white horse and the horseshoe are said to bring good luck. It is still common for the bride and groom to receive a lucky horseshoe at weddings.

Being so important culturally, it is not strange that many English words and phrases derive from the horse. Today we will be having a look at ten idioms that use the word horse. In brackets, a translation to Spanish. But I'd be delighted if you could suggest better translations!
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink = you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you cannot force him or her to do it if they do not want to.
  • To bet on the wrong horse = to support someone or something that cannot  win or succeed. 
  • To change horses in midstream = to make new plans  in an activity that has already begun. (no cambiar de caballo a mitad del río).
  • To hold one's horses = to be patient. (Tranquilo, ve con calma)
  • To lock the barn door after the horse is gone = it's too late now. (A buenas horas mangas verdes)
  • To eat like a horse = to eat a lot. (Comer como una vaca)
  • Straight from the horse's mouth = directly from a dependable source. (de fuente fidedigna)
  • To flog a dead horse = It's useless now. (hacer un esfuerzo inutil)
  • To look a gift horse in the mouth = to complain if a gift is not perfect. (A caballo regalado no le mires el diente)
  • To put the cart before the horse = to do things in the wrong order. (Empezar la casa por el tejado)
In this video you can get further explanations about some of the idioms above. After watching it you can do the exercises to check how much you have learnt.

Now you can try this exercise to check what you have learned.
In this exercise there are mixed animals idioms.

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