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Thursday the 30th of June, 2005
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BE LIKE

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Good morning. One of our Daily Vitamin readers, Rosana P., asked us how to describe people: their personality or character and their physical characteristics. she wrote: "I need different qualifying adjectives." This is a big topic and there are lots of different adjectives we can use, so we are going to answer your question from a general point of view, concentraining on the "grammatical" structures of descriptions. First we'll look at common questions that we use ask for descriptions of people and things. Then we'll give more specific information about adjectives themselves (for example, adjective order when describing someone or something) and use different adjectives to demonstrate how to create effective descriptions. Today's verb phrase is: be like We use it: to ask for a description or an opinion. When we refer to people, it is usually used to ask about personality. The verb be is used in the question and it can also be used in the answer (although there are other alternatives, such as the verb seem). The word like is only used in the question. In this case it is NOT a verb. It is a preposition. Example 1 A: What is the new director like? B: Jason told me that she is serious, but she certainly seems very friendly. Example 2 A: What is Barcelona like? B: It's an exciting city. It's got some beautiful architecture and it's a great place to visit. Example 3 A: I met the new neighbours yesterday. B: Really? What were they like? A: To be honest, they were very brusque. B: Well, maybe you just have to get to know them a little better. We will continue with this topic tomorrow. If you have any questions so far, please don't hesitate to contact us. I hope you have a good day!



Wednesday the 29th of June, 2005
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'SOMBRA' IN ENGLISH

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Good morning. Do you know how to translate the following Spanish sentences into English? i) Hace mucho calor. Vamos a sentarnos a la sombra. ii) Ese niño tiene miedo de todo, incluso de su propia sombra. The Spanish word sombra can be translated into English as SHADE or SHADOW, depending on the context. So, what is the difference between the two words? SHADE Definition: a dark area where the light from the sun does not reach because it is blocked by something, such as a tree or a building. Example 1: It is very hot. Let's sit in the shade. Example 2: I spent the whole day at the beach under the shade of an umbrella. SHADOW Definition: a dark shape made on a surface when someone or something is between that surface and a light. Example 3: That child is afraid of everything, even his own shadow! Example 4: Sometimes dogs will chase their own shadow. As you can see, Example 1 is a possible translation of sentence (i) and Example 3 is a possible translation of sentence (ii). Notice that when you are in the shade you can't see your shadow and you can't have shade without the sun, whereas a shadow could be created with the light from the sun, or other types of light (such as a lamp). Although the umbrella (in Example 2) can cast a shadow, in this example the interesting dark area is shade (which protects us from the sun). We are not interested in the form or shape of the dark area created by the umbrella. If you have any questions about the difference between these 2 words, please don't hesitate to contact us. Enjoy the rest of your day!



Tuesday the 28th of June, 2005
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'APROVECHAR' IN ENGLISH

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Good morning. Three weeks ago one of our readers, Meri, asked us the following question: Could you please translate and explain the different meanings of the word APROVECHAR? A similar question was asked by one of our readers several months ago. Therefore, to answer your question Meri, we have included that original Daily Vitamin below. I hope it is helpful. ********************************************* September 15, 2004 A couple of weeks ago, one of our Daily Vitamin recipients, Jose V., asked us three very interesting questions. Today's Daily Vitamin is based on one of those questions: 1. How do you say (in the middle of a meeting, for example) "Quiero aprovechar el momento para decir/hacer algo" or "Querer aprovechar la oportunidad (sacar provecho)"? The Spanish verb aprovechar can be translated in different ways, but perhaps the most common are: (1) to take advantage of (2) to take the opportunity to (do something) Following are two sample sentences with these expressions: Sentence 1: I'd like to take advantage of this moment to remind you that we have to finish this project by January 2005. Sentence 2: I'd like to take the opportunity to remind you that we have to finish this project by January 2005. ********************************************* If you have any questions about these expressions or if you have any suggestions or questions of your own, please don't hesitate to contact us. Have a good day!



Monday the 27th of June, 2005
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DRAWING LOTS

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Good morning. I hope you had a good weekend! One of our readers, Alberto, wrote to us to ask the meaning of an expression which he had heard TWICE in one day! However, this British-English expression is not that common, so you might have difficulty finding its meaning in a dictionary. Today's expression is: drawing lots Meaning: it's a method that can be used to decide who will do something. This method usually consists of selecting different-sized sticks (palillos) or straws (pajitas). The person who chooses or 'draws' the shortest stick or lot is the one who must do the action; they become the 'chosen' one (el elegido). You can also draw lots by taking small pieces of paper from a bag or bowl. (In some dialects you may also hear draw straws.) Example 1: The children drew lots to see who would go first in the game. Example 2: Since we can't decide who gets the last piece of cake, why don't we draw lots? Thank you to Alberto for sending us this interesting request. If you have any questions about this expression, please don't hesitate to contact us. Have a great day!



Thursday the 23rd of June, 2005
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IN THE END

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Good morning. Today we are going to contrast yesterday's expression at the end of something with an expression that looks very similar, but has a slightly different meaning. Today's expression is: in the end It means: finally or after a long period of time. Example 1: He spent eight years trying to pass the civil-service exams (oposiciones). In the end he gave up and decided to start his own business. Example 2: It was another typical Hollywood film. In the end, after lots of confusion and misunderstandings, the boy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. If you have any questions about this expression, please don't hesitate to contact us. Have a great day and an excellent weekend. Remember that tomorrow is a holiday in Catalonia so there will be no Daily Vitamin!