Where do you want to spend your holiday?

Enjoying the summer?

Why don’t you take a break from all the vacation craze and take a chance to learn some more vocabulary. This time, we are going to focus on homes and houses for the holiday!

Follow the link below and you will find some funny activities to learn a set of new words related to different kinds of buildings. Remember that you can play different games with the words, study the flashcards, test yourself and more:

Types of building

I hope you enjoy them! I’ll be coming back shortly for more fun!

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Vocabulary: holidays!

summer

Now that the summer has started, we are all thinking about our favourite holiday destination. Well, to help you plan your vacation, I have prepared a couple of tasks to revise and improve your vocabulary.

Click on the links below to study and play with:

Types of accomodation

and

Accomodation tariffs

You will find flashcards, different games and quizzes in the links!

Have fun!!!

 

Countable and uncountable nouns

Most nouns in English -as in many other languages- are countable. So, we can have one, two, three of them and so on:

flowers

However, there are some nouns which are uncountable. Many kinds of food, materials or abstract concepts tend to be uncountable:

uncountnouns

There are some nouns that can be both countable and uncountable, depending on their meaning:

countuncount

Can we use the same articles with both kinds of nouns? Well, let’s see:

articles

There are other determiners that we can use with nouns:

determiners

As usual, you can find the post in pdf format here.

Dealing with phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are among the worst nightmares for English students, especially those who are thinking about sitting the FCE.

What I usually recommend my students when dealing with phrasal verbs is to try to memorise them by classifying them.

Most of my students write lists of phrasal verbs classifying them by their verb. Something like this:

Phrasal verb

Meaning

look after someone take care of someone
look down on someone consider someone as inferior
look for something search for something
look forward to something await or anticipate something with pleasure
look up to someone admire someone

However, there are better methods. As I said elsewhere, using mindmaps is a very useful method to classify and memorise vocabulary. You can organise these mindmaps by verb; like this:give-phrasal-verbs

or by particle, like this:

phrasal-verbs-with-up

Another interesting classifcation is to organise phrasal verbs by meaning, rather than form. For instance, you can make a group of phrasal verbs that can be used to talk about human relationships, like this:

relationships-phrasal-verbs

Another useful tip when trying to memorise phrasal verbs -maybe the best so far, is to make up sentences where these phrasal verbs are used in context. For instance:

Phrasal verb Meaning Example
find out discover When I found out that my camera had been stolen I went to the police immediately.
check in register into a hotel or airport Before we can got up to our rooms, we have to check in at the reception.
drop out leave school John is thinking about dropping out after his bad marks last term.
call off cancel The meeting has been called off because some people could not attend.
count on rely on You know you can always count on your family when you are in trouble.

All in all, I think the best way to learn phrasal verbs is to combine all these methods above and work with the new verbs in an active way (by listing, classifying and using them in context).

As usual, you can find this entry in pdf form here.

Adjectives from participles and gerunds (II)

Participle adjectives

Some months ago I published a post about adjectives that come from participles and gerunds. It is time to practice what we learnt there a little bit. You will find a couple of exercises below. The solutions -and a printable version of the exercises- can be downloaded at the end of the text.

Fill in the gaps in these sentences with the adjectives in the list below.

disappointed, confusing, frightened, surprising, embarrassing, frightening, exhausting, exciting, excited, charming, tired

  1. I found the film really _________ . I had to sleep with a light on!
  2. I was so _________ by my exam results. I had studied for weeks but, then, I got so nervous during the exam that I forgot everything.
  3.  The situation was really _________ . Imagine, the day you meet you in-laws; you are having dinner at a posh restaurant the waiter drops all the soup onto you!!!
  4. The children were really _________ about the theme park. They couldn’t stop talking about it.
  5.  I don’t like watching horror films because I feel so _________ afterwards that I can’t sleep.
  6. The book I am reading is so _________ that I have read ten chapters already!
  7. Her story was really _________. I would have never dreamt of such an ending.
  8. The baby is so _________. Look at his rosy cheeks.
  9. Running the London Marathon is _________ . I have never been so _________ before.
  10. The instructions for the task are really _________. I don’t understand what we have to do.

Now choose the correct adjective for each sentence.

  1. I feel really bored/boring today. I don’t know what to do.
  2. The documentary about modern technology was fascinated/fascinating.
  3. Jane was so annoyed/annoying by her argument with Pete that she didn’t come to the party.
  4. After his break-up with Judy, Mark was depressed/depressing for a while, but eventually he started going out again and met his current girlfriend.
  5. I have some amazed/amazing news!
  6. This is a stimulated/stimulating exercise. You should try it!
  7. I found the exhibition really interested/interesting.
  8. The clown’s performance was very entertained/entertaining.
  9. His words are always flattered/flattering but I wouldn’t trust him much.
  10. I’d be so moved/moving by a such a show of affection.

You can download the exercises and their solutions.

Frequency adverbs

  • I sometimes write posts about grammar.
  • I always write them in English.
  • I never joke about learning languages.

Today we are going to learn how to use frequency adverbs. To start with, let see some of them:

frequencyadverbs

In the chart above, you can find the most comonly used frequency adverbs ordered from the most to the least frequent. When three of them appear in a column, it means that they have a similar meaning.

Now it’s time to learn to use them in a sentence. First of all, you have to distiguish between frequency and other kinds of adverbs. The former (frequency) follow their special rule about word order in the sentence. In general, word order is very strict in English. The general rule is that the order in a sentence has to be:

Subject + Verb + Objects (Direct and Indirect) + Complements (time, place, manner ….).

Examples:

  • I went to the shop quickly.
  • Jane was sitting on the sofa lazily.

We can make some exceptions to this rule by placing the adverb at the very beginning, but the idea is that the less important complements do not interfere with the Subject+Verb+Object rule.

  • Luckily, we could find the keys.

Frequency adverbs work in a different way. They have to appear just before the main verb. If the main verb is the verb TO BE, they have to be placed after it.

  • Sue never reads the newspaper.
  • We sometimes play computer games.
  • Children hardly ever listen to their parents.
  • Jack does not always come to class.
  • Do they often work on Saturdays?
  • I’m always very happy at Christmas.
  • She isn’t usually here in the mornings.

Again, there might be exceptions to this rule and. Sometimes, adverbs might be placed at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma.

  • Sometimes, I feel like having a break from work an travelling all over the world.

There are other adverbs that follow the same rule that frequency adverbs. Some of these are already, also, ever, just…..But we will deal with them in another post!

Finally, there’s only one thing left to say about frequency adverbs. Have a look at the chart at the beginning of the post again, please. Did you notice that some adverbs are positive, while others are negative?

This is because those called “negative” make the sentence negative. In other words, if we use use “hardly ever, seldom, rarely or never”, the sentence becomes negative, which means that we cannot use a negative adverb.

  • Mary never uses the phone when she is having lunch.
  • Mary doesn’t never use the phone when she is having lunch.

I hope you always use frequency adverbs correctly from now on!

Possessive ‘s / Saxon Genitive

Today’s blog is going to deal with how we express possession in English. We are going to focus on one structure; Possessive ‘s or Saxon Genitive.

To start with, let’s see some examples:

  • I like Mary’s jacket.
  • John’s new car is very fast.
  • My father’s dog is very big.

As you can see we use “’s” after a noun or a name to show that an object belongs to someone. So, the jacket belongs to Mary, the car belongs to John and the dog belongs to my father.

When we have a noun with a final -s (because it is plural, or not), we may only add the apostrophe (‘).

  • My friends’ house is very near.
  • Charles’ sister is coming to the party.

If you try to translate these sentences into Spanish or Catalan, you will see that we use a completely different structure:

  • English: possessor + ‘s + object
  • Spanish or Catalan: object + de + possessor

If we used these sentences following the structure in our language, we would be making a mistake:

  • I like the jacket of Mary. (No!!!!!!)
  • The new car of John is very fast. (No!!!!!!)
  • The dog of my father is very big. (No!!!!!!)

However, in English, we sometimes use the structure of + object. Check these
examples:

  • The end of the street is very crowded.
  • The employees of the new supermarket are doing training week.
  • The leg of the table is broken.

In these cases, we can use of + object, because we are talking about a part of a thing, so the relation is not that of possession.

Did you notice that the name my blog contains an example of the possessive ‘s?