Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Does it Look Like? (Part 1)

Why do many language students often sound uninteresting when they talk or write about their experiences? In many cases, learners of English have a good understanding of the language, but they forget to make what they are saying or writing interesting. How can these students overcome(1) this problem? What can make the speaker or writer more interesting to read or listen to? The answer is usually by describing the people, places or things, in more detail. This will help the listener or reader to visualize the message. What we need are some adjectives.

The Importance of Adjectives
OK everyone; imagine you have just won the lottery and you want to spend some of your winnings(2) on a new car. You could not go to the car dealer(3) and say “I have been dreaming about a car since I won. I know exactly what I want. Please give it to me.” Of course the car dealer would think you were a little crazy, but he would also ask you a very important question: “What does your dream car look like?” You would need to describe it to the car dealer, or you would get the car that the car dealer could not sell. And that would not be your dream car, but the car from your worst nightmare!(4)
Fortunately, you can use adjectives to describe the car of your dreams. They are an excellent way to make your writing or speaking a lot more interesting. Think about the following sentence: “I want to buy a car”. Is this an interesting sentence? Does it describe the type of car you want to buy? In both cases the answer is definitely no. The listener or reader does not know what type of car you want. Do you want a big or a small car? A fast or slow one? One that is new or second-hand, red or black? It is anyone’s guess.(5) It is not only poor writing, but also very boring. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be fixed(6) with a little practice.The salesman would probably ask you to be a little more specific about the type of car you want.

You could say: I want to buy an Italian car. I want to buy a fast car. I want to buy a red car.
The adjectives Italian, fast and red are all used to describe cars. These three sentences suggest you want three different cars. However, if you only want one car, how could the sentences be combined into one sentence? The answer is to put all the adjectives together. You could say: I want to buy an Italian fast red car. Is that correct? Are there any problems? Yes, there are! There is an order for adjectives that native speakers of English usually follow instinctively, and in the above sentence the order of adjectives is wrong! Below is a table that offers a guide to the order for adjectives. Although certain other combinations may be acceptable, this is the correct order in most cases.

The Adjective Order Table

Number/Article-Opinion -Size- Age -Colour- Material- Origin-Purpose -Noun

Two pairs of black leather(7) riding boots
Six beautiful old African lions
An attractive tall Brazilian model
A modern red brick(8) house
A small ceramic flower pot

Following the instructions of the above table, we can put the three adjectives together to form the following sentence:I want to buy a fast [opinion] red [colour] Italian [origin] car. This sentence will indicate to the car dealer what type of car you want to buy.

Now watch the video to learn more about the order of adjectives !!

(1) to overcome – superar
(2) winnings – ganancias
(3) car dealer – concesionario de coche
(4) nightmare – pesadilla
(5) to be anyone’s guess – ¡Vete a saber!
(6) to fix – arreglar
(7) leather-cuero


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Only the English Could Have Invented This Language

(here’s a poem article that’s been floating around the internet for a while)

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burnsdown,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop,?
how come Mother's not Mop?

I would like to add that if people from Poland are called Poles
then people from Holland should be called Holes.
And the Germans Germs!!!

Subtitled YouTube Videos

Now it's possible to watch Youtube videos in English with English subtitles! What better way to improve your listening skills than with entertaining YouTube videos. To find out how to install subtitles in the videos, click onto the link below.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

False Friends (part 2)

Here are some more of those mean false friends!

1.Spanish largo vs English large
Spanish largo means long, while English large means grande or importante.

  • Tienes que medir el largo del pasillo. = You have to take measurements to find out how long the hall is.
  • I have a very large garden = Tengo un jardín muy grande.

2. real vs English real
Real means royal, while real translates as vervadero or auténtico.

  • La familia real vive en Madrid. = The royal family lives in Madrid.
  • You’re a real friend. = Eres una verdadera amiga.

3. raro vs rare
Raro usually means strange or odd, while English rare means poco común or excepcional.

  • Mi vecino tiene un perro muy raro. = My neighbour has a strange dog.
  • These stamps are very rare. = Estos sellos son excepcionales.

4. recordar vs record
Recordar means remember or recall, while record means grabar.

  • Tienes que recordar lo que me prometiste ayer. = You have to remember what you promised me yesterday.
  • You need to record that in the CD. = Tendrías que grabar esto en el CD.

5. suceso vs success
Suceso is an event, incident or outcome, while success refers to un éxito or triunfo.

  • El fatal suceso se comenta en todas partes. = The fatal incident was talked about everywhere.
  • Their latest work has been a success. = Su último trabajo ha sido un gran éxito.

And as I mentioned before this is just a small taste of all the false friends you can find out there in the English/Spanish world!