Showing posts from February, 2013

FCE mock - U of E

Everyone complained that this was a particularly difficult test.

The results were mixed - some were good while others were disappointing.

As with every Use of English, collect the answers to each part while demonstrating evidence for them.

Part 1

1. some of these changes are caused by human activity ...

2. Snow and ice have a considerable impact on the environment ...

3. areas that experienceharsh winters ... (harsh ≠ mild)   to bear ≈ to tolerate eg I can't bear the pain.

4. when the pipes freeze, they crack and split because of the expansion  of the ice inside. (split = break)     to  riptear  eg. ripped jeans, tear a piece of paper ... to  peel - to take the "skin" of fruit or veg eg. peel an orange / a potato ...

5. ...water runs into exposed cracks...    to slide ≈ to slip   eg The children slid along the icy path.     I slipped on a banana skin.    to dash - to move quickly eg I must dash. I'm late for work.

6. The pressure of the ice swells the cracks, brea…

Passive of reporting verbs

Consider the following sentences:

(1) People say that the King has more than one mistress.

(2) It is said that the King has more than one mistress.

(3) The King is said to have more than one mistress.

(2) and (3) are passive forms which are often used in news reports. The Passive + Infinitive is the most common.

Other reporting verbs used in this way are:

assume, believe, claim, consider, discover, estimate, expect, hope, know, report, suppose, think, understand etc

With Present / Future reference:

The murdereris believed to be a local man.

The government is expected to announce some new measures to tackle the problem at a press conference later today.

It is estimated that unemployment will continue rising for another year or so.

With Past reference:

350 people are now known to have died in last week's earthquake.

Half of the country is thought to have watched the football match.

It is understood that the prisoner escaped with the help of a prison guard.

Present and Past Continuous Infinit…

Spanish fruit and veg expressions

An unripe pineapple Source: Wikipedia
I'm still on my vegetarian diet. I'm getting used to it slowly and I'm not really missing meat.

I've been thinking about fruit and veg expressions that you have in Spanish.

Here are some that I have translated literally. They do not exist in English. Can you explain them to me? When would you use them?

- They are counted beans.

- to be fresher than a lettuce.

- to be a cabbage

- to give pumpkins

- to give a pineapple

- to care a cucumber


Spain moves to give bullfighting special cultural status Spanish MPs have voted to consider giving bullfighting special cultural status - a move that could overturn regional bans on the age-old tradition.
In a 180-40 vote, the parliament backed a petition signed by 590,000 people.

If the idea becomes law, it may roll back the ban in Spain's regions of Catalonia and the Canary Islands.

It may also provide tax breaks for promoters of bullfighting (corrida). Opponents describe the tradition of killing animals as barbaric.

Source: BBC News


a move (=a step) -

to overturn -

a ban -

to back (=to support) -

to roll back -

a tax break -

to fine-tune -

to take place -

to hold (an event) -

blood-soaked -

to be in charge -

to award -

a tail -

a hoof -

to date back -

What do you think of this move?

Pope resigns

The Pope resigned yesterday or rather, he told us that he was going toresign at the end of the month.

Next month we will have a new Pope.

If you resign, you decide to leave your job.

It is thought that the Pope resigned because of ill health.

Politicians often resign because of some scandal.

During demonstrations last week, many people called for Mariano Rajoy's resignation.

Complete the following sentences:
The Pope ___ his resignation yesterday.Mrs Thatcher resigned ___ PM in 1990.I'm going to ___ in my resignation and look for a better job.After many years at the top, he decided to resign ___ the company.He resigned ___ to the high stress level he faced in his job.

Notice the difference in pronunciation between resign and resignation.

Here are some other job expressions:

He got the sack / was sacked for always arriving late.

100 people were made redundant when the factory closed down.

You lose your job in both of the above examples. In the first one, you lose your job because…


Millions prepare to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year Millions of people are preparing to celebrate Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, the most important annual holiday in much of Asia.
The new year begins on Sunday, when the new moon is seen in the sky.

In the Chinese zodiac, this year will be the year of the snake, taking over from the dragon of 2012.

In China, an estimated 200 million people are travelling to be with their families in what is considered the biggest mass human migration on Earth.

Source: BBC News Vocabulary:

to take over from -

far-flung (adj) -

a spike in -

to tune in -

a theme tune -

a low key affair -

in the wake of stg -

a crackdown -

to set off (fireworks) -

wisdom (n) -

pride (n) / proud (adj) -

vast(adj) -

a crowd / crowded (adj) -

to last -

to be on the move -

to bear messages -

to slice (v,n) -

noodles (n) -

throughout(prep) - 
Source: History Channel
Video Comprehension Questions:
How do they call the Chinese New Year in China?How long have they been…

Linkers for contrasts

But v However

But is more informal than however. You can use however at the beginning of a sentence. You can't use but at the beginning of a sentence in written English.
I can understand Italian but I can't speak it very well.I can understand Italian. However, I can't speak it very well.
Despite v In spite of

These linking words are the same. They are followed by a noun or a gerund.
We had a great time despite the rain.In spite of leaving school at 16 without any qualifications, he went on to have a successful career.
Despite the fact that v In spite of the fact that

These phrases are followed by a subject + verb.
We had a great time despite the fact that it rained all weekend.He has a successful career, in spite of the fact that he has no qualifications.
Although v Even though

These linking words are the same. They are both followed by a subject + verb.
She's rather shy, although she's not as bad as she used to be.Even though I was invited to the party, I didn't go.

Think about how to use think

I am thinking to go to London next summer. ✗

I am thinking in going to London next summer. ✗

I am thinking about/of going to London next summer. ✔

So what's the difference between "think of" and "think about"?

Sometimes, like in the above example, they can be used interchangeably.

"think of" is used when you think for a few seconds or you imagine something.
When I hear this song, I think of my ex.Can you think of five countries that begin with the letter "S"?I can't think of his name right now. Oh, my memory is getting worse and worse. "think of" is also you used to ask opinions.
What do you think of our new teacher?Have you read his latest book? What did you think of it?What do you think of my new haircut?listen to ‘Can't live if living is without you’ on Audioboo

Yes it shows.

No I can forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there
But then I let you go

And now it's only fair
that I should l…

Government faces corruption allegations

Top PP officials shown to have taken payments on the sideSource: El País in English

(1) El País said (that) politicians from the Popular Party had accepted illegal payments.

(2) El País accusedPP politicians of accepting illegal payments.

Rajoy on slush fund: “It is all untrue, except for some things”Source: El País in English

(1) Rajoy told reporters (that) it was all untrue.

(2) Rajoy denied receiving any illegal payments.

Spain Socialist leader Rubalcaba tells PM Rajoy to goSource: BBC News

(1) Rubalcaba said (that) Rajoy had to resign.

(2) Rubalcaba told Rajoy to resign.

(1) Reported Speech           (2) Reporting Verbs/Verb Patterns

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy denies slush fund allegationsSource: Newsy (video with transcript)

Spain: PM under fire over renewed corruption claimsSource: BBC News (video)

Here is the transcript for the above link. Before you listen, read it and choose the correct word(s). What is the difference between them? Then check to see if you are right.

This was one…