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Friday the 13th of July, 2007
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ENGLISH IN THE SUMMER

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

As you know, today is the last Daily Vitamin until September 17th. However, we will be checking our email in July and August, so feel free to contact us if you need anything or have any questions.

If you are a Ziggurat student or a Daily Vitamin Plus! subscriber, these months might be a good time to:

1) review and revise the almost 800 Daily Vitamins that we have created since October 2003.
2) listen to Daily Vitamin sound files to improve your pronunciation and listening skills.
3) do the monthly activities that we have created, which will help you to consolidate the content covered for each month.

Last September I had a student return from summer holidays with a stronger level than when he left. (This is a true story!) During the summer he read in English, watched films and DVDs in English and went to Scotland with his family (among other things). There is no reason not to improve your English in the summer.

To help give you ideas, I'm attaching a document (in Spanish) with some suggestions for Summer English activities. I hope you find them useful.

Have a great summer and we'll see you in September! 



Thursday the 12th of July, 2007
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RELATIVES

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning everyone.

Today's word is: relative (noun)

Meaning: a person who is in the same family as someone else. 

Example 1:
Her nuclear family is quite small, but she has a lot of relatives that live in southern Spain.

Another common error that I hear amongst Spanish- or Catalan-speaking English students is translating the word parientes directly into English as parents. Doing this creates problematic sentences like the one in the following example:

Example 2:
She was born in London, but she has lots of parents in Barcelona, and she speaks Spanish and Catalan.  

Example 2 should be "...she lots of relatives in Barcelona..." Normally we only have one or two parents (a father and a mother), so it sounds strange to say that you have "lots of parents."

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th and will be the last Daily Vitamin before the summer. Tomorrow I will send you some ideas for keeping your English alive during the holidays.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a great day! 



Wednesday the 11th of July, 2007
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PARENTS

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning everyone.

Today's word is: parent

It means: a person's father or mother.

This word is usually found in the plural form (to refer to both parents).

Example 1:
My parents are not home, so we can have the party at my house.

In Example 1 we could also use my "mother and father" in place of parents.

Example 2:
My mother and father are not home, so we can have the party at my house.

One of the most common errors I hear amongst Spanish- or Catalan-speaking English students is translating the word padres (pares) directly into English as fathers. Doing this creates strange sentences like the one in the following example:

Example 3:
He's thirty years old and he still lives with his fathers.

Example 3 should be "...he still lives with his parents."

Tomorrow we will look at the confusion between parientes (in Spanish) and parents (in English).

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Enjoy your day.



Tuesday the 10th of July, 2007
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PEDIR IN ENGLISH

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

How would you translate the following Spanish sentences to English?

i) Pedí una hamburguesa con patatas para la comida.
ii) Pedí una bicicleta a Santa Clause.

The Spanish verb pedir (demanar in Catalan) can be translated as order (in a restaurant) or ask for (in other contexts).

Example 1:
I ordered a hamburger with chips for lunch.

Example 2:
I asked for a bicycle from Santa Clause.

Meaning of order: a request for food or drinks in a restaurant (Example 1) or to ask for goods or services to be made or supplied.

Meaning of ask for: to speak or write to someone because you want them to give you something (Example 2).

With these definitions in mind, you could use ask for in Example 1 and it would still sound okay.

Example 3:
I asked for a hamburger with chips for lunch.

However, using order in Example 2 sounds strange, since we don't normally order goods and services from Santa Clause or the Reyes Magos. They are not a business.

Example 4:
ordered a bicycle from Santa Clause. (??)

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

For more information about language related to ordering in a restaurant, see the Daily Vitamin from July 12, 2005. For information about the difference between ask and ask for, see the Daily Vitamin from September 6, 2005.

Have a nice day.



Monday the 09th of July, 2007
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SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning. I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

This week will be the last week of Daily Vitamins before the summer. We will start the week off by answering a question that we received recently from Daniel:

Dear Matthew,
I remember you answered an email from me some time ago. It was about the “taking advantage” expression as well. You suggested "seize the opportunity" as a more appropriate term though. Could you please further explain the best use of such expressions? Thanks a lot in advance and congrats for your excellent and educative job.
Best regards, Daniel Merino

Today's Expression is: to seize the opportunity

It means: to be quick to make use of a chance or an opportunity.

We also say take the opportunity or seize the moment.

Example 1:
He decided to seize the opportunity and ask her to marry him, before she accepted the job abroad.  

Although there is some relation between the expressions seize an opportunity and take advantage of something, they are not always synonyms and cannot always be used interchangeably. We would have to make some changes in example 1 in order for take advantage to work, for example.

Example 2:
He decided to take advantage of the situation and ask her to marry him, before she accepted the job abroad.

I hope that answers your question, Daniel. If not, please post your questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Enjoy your day.