Showing posts from February, 2012

Common uncountables

Which of the following sentences is the only one that is grammatically correct? (question from Facebook poll)

Can you help me move the furniture? It's too heavy for me to lift. ✔

I have a good new - the boss isn't coming to work today. X

I have some good news - the boss isn't coming to work today. ✔

Have you corrected my homeworks yet? X

Have you corrected my homework yet? ✔

If I were rich, I'd go on a travel around the world. X

If I were rich, I'd go on a round the world trip. ✔

If you need an advice, you should ask your sister. X

If you need (some) advice, you should ask your sister. ✔

The informations that they gave me were wrong. X

The information that they gave me was wrong. ✔

Furniture, *news, homework, *travel, advice and information are all examples of uncountable nouns.

We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns, nor do they have plural forms.

*News is an uncountable noun that ends in "s" (it is not the plural of new)…

Fight over a load of old coins

Spain rejects Peruvian claim to shipwreck treasure
Spain on Monday rejected Peru's claim to a huge multimillion-dollar undersea treasure recovered from the wreckage of a ship that had left from Lima's port more than 200 years ago.

Spain recovered the nearly 600,000 coins – mostly silver but a few made of gold – on Saturday after they were flown to Madrid from the United States. That marked the culmination of Spain's five-year battle in US courts with a Florida deep-sea exploration firm that in 2007 found the remains of a ship believed to be the Spanish frigate Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes.

Source: Daily Telegraph

to reject -
a claim -
a shipwreck -
the wreckage -
remains -
off (a country) -
a booty -
the tip (of a country) -
packed (adj) -
a laundry-basket -
a treasure trove -
to stick (stuck) -
a chunk -
to store -
to be worth -
a haul -
last-ditch (adj) -
long-shot (adj) -
an appeal -
to be denied -
to mint (coins) -

Who do you think is the rightful owner o…

Shrove Tuesday - pancake recipe

Image source: User- Dave souza @ wikipedia

Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day in Britain, is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent - 'Shrove' stems from old English word 'shrive', meaning 'confess all sins'. It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes as pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.


to stem from -

a sin -

a stock of stg -

flour (n) -

melted (adj) -

to sieve -

a bowl -

a well -

to beat -

a lump -

to stir -

batter (n) -

to grease -

a frying pan -

a ladle -

evenly -

to coat -

to set -

to flip over -

to toss (a pancake) -

to sprinkle -

to squeeze -

to take your fancy -

As well as exploring the links above (remember to click on the main title too), have a listen to this explanation of Pancake Racing.

US restaurant lives up to its name

Man Has Heart Attack at Heart Attack Grill

A heart attack is no laughing matter... but this one’s a little ironic.

The Heart Attack Grill lived up to its name in Las Vegas — a customer was eating a “triple bypass burger” when he began showing signs of a heart attack.


no laughing matter -

to live up to stg -

to show signs of stg -

to pull (a stunt) -

a hospital gown -

staff (n) -

to mess around -

to sip -

to melt -

a straw -

lard (n) -

a milkshake -

French fries -

a warning -

stuff (n) -

to come to mind -

to be worth -

It's not the first time that Heart Attack Grill has been in the news. Listen to these two reports- the first: Free food to obese customers, and the second: Heart Attack spokesperson dead at 29.

It's party time!

Carnival in Spain
Banned during the Franco years, Carnaval is now undergoing a new popularity in Spain

Carnival, that explosion of colour, music and celebration which takes place just before Lent, is believed to owe its origins to the pagan festivals which were held by the Romans to celebrate the end of the harsh winter and welcome in the Spring. There are a number of theories as to the origins of the name itself: from the ‘carrus navalis,’ a wheeled boat which was used to carry the high priest of the god of wine, Bacchus, or from the Latin ‘carne vale,’ farewell to meat.


to ban -

to undergo -

to owe -

to hold (a festival) -

harsh (adj) -

to welcome in -

a priest -

farewell -

Lent -

as far as sb/stg is concerned -

trading links -

to carry on -

ahead of sb/stg -

a choir -

a heat -

to back (a group, singer) -

to make up (a group) -

to beat (sticks) -

an aim -

to herald -

sea urchins -

oysters -

to come along -

to witness -

a rehearsal -

packed full -


Int+ e-mail errors

The following exercise is really for my Mon/Wed Int+ class, but of course, anyone is welcome to have a go.

Correct the mistakes in the following sentences.

1. I hope you will come to Madrid, not other city.
2. Please let me know where are you going and we organize all.
3. I'm happy to know that your parents let you come here one year in France. I'm sure that you enjoy your experience.
4. Even if you don't know yet the place you'll be, we could see each other...
5. That's all for now but we keep in touch to give you more advices.

Look at the following letters/e-mails. Can you guess the missing words?

Hi Zoe,

How are things (1)? Sorry for not (2) in touch sooner but I have (3) really busy looking for a new job. Unfortunately, I (4) haven't found one but I have a couple of interviews next week, so fingers crossed!

Dear Caroline,

Thanks for your postcard. I wish I (5) have a holiday too because I'm really stressed out at work.


How about (6) for a coffee next …

First Garzón verdict : guilty

Spain Judge Baltasar Garzon vows to fight conviction
Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon has vowed to fight his conviction for authorising illegal phonetapping despite the court barring him from appealing.

In a statement, he said his rights had been "systematically violated" with the ruling, which saw him suspended from the judiciary for 11 years.

Hundreds of people protested in Madrid in support of the campaigning judge.

Source: BBC News

excluir a algn de algo -

escucha telefónica -
un comunicado -
un fallo / una decisión -
enfrentarse a -
una lucha -
una detención -
además de  -
ponerse una  multa-
condenar -
sobornar (una politico) -
recurrir a algn -
daño -
si eso no resulta -
esperar, aguardar -
un proceso, un juicio -
incumplimiento -
un soborno -
estar acusado de algo -
congregarse -
digno de elogio -
el fin justifica los medios -
perseguir -
acusar -

What the Dickens...?

Today the 200th anniversary of Charles Dicken's birth is being celebrated.

What do you know about him and his works?

Read this summary of his life and watch the video that follows:

Source: adonais9991 (You Tube) key words: life charles dickens bbc Video Vocabulary:

siblings -

adulthood -

an ambitious drive -

widespread (adj) -

to set sail -

to be mobbed by crowds -

upon his return -

a refuge -

spellbound (adj) -

fateful (adj) -

the injured -

to retrieve -

wrecked carriage -

shaken (adj) -

a while -

to fail (health) -

a stroke

to be buried -

Now answer the following questions about the video:
How many brothers and sisters did he have?When did the Dickens family move to London?What did Charles' work consist of in the "blacking" factory?Why was Charles' father sent to prison?What job did he begin in 1827?What job did he begin in 1831?What two things happened to Charles in 1835?What were the rumours that circulated as he became more famous?What inspired his writing while in Ame…

Who wants to join the civil service?

Archbishop of Granada attacks youngsters who want to be civil servants
He criticised those who expected their problems to be solved for them by others
The Archbishop of Granada, Javier Martínez, has attacked youngsters who want to become civil servants, considering the Spanish mentality of a ‘subsidised society’ as a ‘social illness’, especially in a time of crisis such as now.

Source: typicallyspanish

a civil servant -
such as -
to hold (an event) -
current (adj) -
to carry out -
a survey -
faith (n) -

Do you agree with the bishop? Why/why not?

60 years on the throne

Image source: @ wikipedia
The moment a princess became a queen

It is exactly 60 years since Princess Elizabeth, on a trip to Kenya, became Queen. What were the events that followed, and how prepared was the 25-year-old?

It was February 1952 and Princess Elizabeth was enjoying a short break in Kenya with Prince Philip, her husband of five years. It was a brief respite from their royal duties.

They were standing in for George VI on a long-planned international tour that was to also take in Australia and New Zealand. The 56-year-old King, thousands of miles away at Sandringham, had been too ill to travel.

Source: BBC News


a brief respite -

duties -

to stand in for sb -

to take in (places) -

a game-viewing lodge -

a watering hole -

surrounded by -

to pass away -

thrilling(adj) -

an aide -

to break the news to sb -

the grounds (of a place) -

to put aside -

grief (n) / to geieve -

bravely -

to stand up to sb/stg -

slacks(n) -

a draft -

distress (n) -

to quote sb/stg -

to bri…

It's bloody freezing!

Image source
Here is a handy list for when it's cold outside - I hope I haven't left anything out! :-)

an avalanche - a large amount of snow that falls down the side of a mountain

below freezing - under zero ºC
bitterly cold - extremely and unpleasantly cold
biting (adj) - extremely cold weather that can cause pain
a blizzard - a severe snow storm with strong winds

a chill (n) - a feeling of cold
chilly (adj) - cold
a cold spell - a short period of cold weather

degrees - measurement of temperature
a drop in temperature - a fall in temperature

a flurry - a sudden, light fall of snow, blown in different directions by the wind
to freeze (froze, frozen) - when stg goes below 0ºC and becomes hard
freezing cold (adj) - very cold
frost (n) - a white, powdery layer of ice
frosty (adj) - very cold, with ice crystals
frostbite (n) - skin condition (on toes and fingers) caused by severe cold
frozen solid - turned to hard ice

hail (n)/ hailstones (n) - small balls of ice that fall from t…

Infinitive of purpose - why?

Which of the following sentences is/are correct?(question from Facebook poll)

I phoned my wife for to tell her the news. x

I phoned my wife to tell her the news.  ✔

The minister resigned for spend more time with his family. x

The minister resigned to spend more time with his family. ✔

We're going to the theatre on Friday to see a musical. ✔

I get up earlier on Thursdays for going to English class.x

I get up earlier on Thursdays to go to English class. ✔

The above examples demonstrate the Infinitive of Purpose (to + verb) structure. You use it to give the reason for an action. I think you use "para + verb" in Spanish.

A: Why did he phone his wife? B: to tell her the news.

A: Why did the minister resign? B: to spend more time with his family.

A: Why are you going to the theatre? B: to see a musical.

A: Why do you get up earlier on Thursdays? B: to go to English class.

Write the following 5 sentences that you hear:

Then write some examples of your own examples of the Infiniti…

The Prado's Gioconda

Image source
Mona Lisa copy reveals new detail
A painting thought to be the earliest replica of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa has been discovered at Madrid's Prado Museum.

The Prado said it did not realise its significance until a recent restoration revealed hidden layers.

The artwork features the same female figure, but had been covered over with black paint and varnish.

The painting is thought to have been created by one of Leonardo's students alongside the 16th century original.

Source: BBC News
hidden (adj) -
a layer -
a thriving business -
to hang (a painting) -
cracked (adj) -
enticing (adj) -
landscape (n) -
the backround -
to lead sb to stg -
to carry out -
findings (n) -
to allow -

Grammar point:
" It actually makes her look much younger" (than she is)
We use "much"before comparatives, when there is a big difference between the two things that we are comparing.
Other examples: My English is much better than this time last year.He is much more ha…