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Friday the 30th of October, 2009
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VERBOS MODALES-6

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Good morning.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre las siguientes frases?

1) I can speak English. (Puedo hablar inglés.)
2) I am able to speak English. (Puedo hablar inglés.)

Realmente, no hay ninguna diferencia de significado, aunque el verbo modal can (que indica capacidad/habilidad) es más común y utilizado.

Sin embargo, igual que ocurre con otros verbos modales "puros", can no se puede conjugar y se utiliza be able to para expresar ability (habilidad) en otros tiempos verbales. A continuación doy un par de ejemplos.

PRESENT PERFECT
3) I haven't been able to practise English this week because I have been ill.
(No he podido practicar inglés esta semana porque he estado enfermo.)

FUTURE
4) I won't be able to practise English tomorrow because I have to work.
(No podré practicar inglés mañana porque tengo que trabajar.)

Recuerda que el pasado de can se expresa a veces con el verbo modal could.

5) I couldn't understand you when you were speaking to me.
(No te pude/podía entender cuando me hablabas.)

También tenemos la opción de usar be able to en este ejemplo.

6) I wasn't able to understand you when you were speaking to me.
(No te pude/podía entender cuando me hablabas.)

Could como pasado de can para expresar ability es especialmente común con verbos de sensación como see, hear, feel, etc. o para hablar de ability (o falta de ability) en el pasado.

7) I couldn't speak English when I was young.
(No podía hablar inglés cuando era jóven.)

Lo dejamos aquí para no alargar demasiado esta Vitamin. La semana que viene explicaremos por qué a veces no es posible usar could para ability en el pasado, y debemos utilizar be able to.

Hasta entonces, si tienes alguna pregunta sobre el contenido de la Essential Weekly Vitamin de hoy, por favor haz un comentario en la sección de la Daily Vitamin en nuestra página web.

I hope you have a great day and an excellent weekend!



Thursday the 29th of October, 2009
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PHRASAL VERB GRAMMAR-3

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

Today we finish our study of phrasal verb grammar by looking at some inseparable and intransitive phrasal verbs.

INSEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS
Some examples of inseparable phrasal verbs are get over (recuperar; superar), look forward to (esperar con ilusión) and walk out on (abandonar a alguien). Study the following examples with the verb look forward to.

1) I'm looking forward to my holidays.
2) I'm looking forward to them.

Here we don't separate the main verb (look) from its particles (forward to), even if the object (my holidays) is replaced by a pronoun (them).

NOTE: Any phrasal verb with two or more particles is always inseparable.

Here are some more example to consider.

3) He walked out on his wife. 
4) It is taking me weeks to get over this flu.

Some other inseperable phrasal verbs are call on (visitar), go over (repasar) and look after (cuidar).

Remember that with intransitive phrasal verbs, you don't have to worry about the separable/inseperable issue, since there is no object. Look at the following examples with show off (presumir) and keep away from (mantener la distancia).

5) He always shows off when he is with women.
6) Please keep away from the oven; it is very hot.

I hope you have found this phrasal verb grammar summary useful. If you have any questions about anything we've covered, you can post your comments in the Daily Vitamin section on our website. Also, remember to read the phrasal verb article included in our Resources section: Trying to Organise the Phrasal Verb "Chaos". I include the link to the section one last time.

http://www.ziggurat.es/es/recursos_ingles.asp

Finally, remember that tomorrow we will send the Essential Weekly Vitamin for Spanish-speaking students of English.

Enjoy the rest of your day.



Wednesday the 28th of October, 2009
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PHRASAL VERB GRAMMAR-2

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

Today we continue our look at phrasal verb grammar.

SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS
Some examples of separable phrasal verbs are blow up (estallar; explotar), fill out (rellenar) and hand in (entregar). Study the following examples with the verb blow up.

1) He blew up the building with dynamite.
2) He blew the building up with dynamite.
3) He blew it up.
4) ***He blew up it.*** (incorrect)

When a phrasal verb is separable, usually the main verb and the particle can be separated by the object or not (that is... you have a choice). However, if we use a pronoun (it) in the place of an object (the building) we are obliged to separate the main verb from its particle with the pronoun (see example 3). If we don't separate the main verb from the particle with the pronoun, the sentence is incorrect (see example 4).

Here are some more example to consider.

5) He filled out the form
6) He filled the form out.
7) He filled it out.
8) ***He filled out it.*** (incorrect)

Tomorrow we will finish by looking at some inseparable and intransitive phrasal verbs. Remember, also, to read the phrasal verb article included in the Resources section on our website: Trying to Organise the Phrasal Verb "Chaos". I again include the link to the section.

http://www.ziggurat.es/es/recursos_ingles.asp

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post your comments by clicking on the "Add a Comment" button in the Daily Vitamin section on our website (www.ziggurat.es).

I hope you have a nice day.



Tuesday the 27th of October, 2009
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PHRASAL VERB GRAMMAR-1

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

Last week I gave you some tips for learning phrasal verbs and their meaning. This week I want to talk about the grammar of phrasal verbs.

As you know, a phrasal verb always includes a main verb combined with an adverbial particle. Some examples are look up, take care of, get up and look forward to. (I've underlined the adverbial particles.) When you learn a phrasal verb, not only do you have to learn the meaning of the verb, but you need to be aware of the structure of the phrasal verb and how the main verb and particle position themselves with respect to the object (if there is an object).

TRANSITIVE vs. INTRANSITIVE
In English there are verbs that take one or more objects (transitive verbs):

1) He threw out the rubbish.
2) He threw the rubbish out.

In examples 1 and 2, "the rubbish" is the direct object of the transitive phrasal verb throw out. Notice that the object can separate the main verb from its particle and the sentence is still grammatically correct.

Some verbs are intransitive and don't take an object:

3) David woke up at 7:00 AM this morning.

In example 3, the phrasal verb wake up does not have an object. (If a phrasal verb is intransitive, then obviously you don't have to worry about the position of the object with respect to the main verb and the adverbial particle.)

So, we can divide phrasal verbs into three structural categories:

1) Transitive and Separable (the object can separate the main verb from its particle)
2) Transitive and Inseparable (the object cannot separate the main verb from its particle)
3) Intransitive (the main verb does not take an object)

Over the next couple of days we will look at some examples and give more information about the "grammar of phrasal verbs. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the phrasal verb article included in the Resources section on our website: Trying to Organise the Phrasal Verb "Chaos". Here is the link to the section.

http://www.ziggurat.es/es/recursos_ingles.asp

You will need to login to the ZigSpace section on our website, so I have included your login and password at the end of this message.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post your comments by clicking on the "Add a Comment" button in the Daily Vitamin section on our website (www.ziggurat.es).

Enjoy the rest of your day.



Monday the 26th of October, 2009
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SUCCESS LISTENING ACTIVITY-3

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Good morning. I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Today I wanted to suggest another short video about success from www.ted.com. It is very similar to last week's selection. In fact, it is the continuacion, some years later, of Richard St. John's talk about what leads to success. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/richard_st_john_success_is_a_continuous_journey.html#

This time Mr. St. John explains that success is not a "one-way street" but a "continuous journey". (If you stop striving for success, you will fall again.) I also recommend reading the section "About Richard St. John" to the right of the video.

Remember our suggestions for watching these videos:

STEP 1) Watch 1-3 times without subtitles to see what you can understand. (Watch difficult-to-understand segments more if you would like.)

STEP 2) Watch the video 1-3 times more, with English subtitles.

STEP 3) If there is something that you still don't understand, activate the Spanish subtitles, or the subtitles of another language that you understand better than English (Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese...) and watch one more time.

If you really want to improve your English, you should be doing listening activities (like this one) every day, or almost every day. TED videos have very interesting content, so you can practice your English while learning about all sorts of interesting topics.

Have a nice day!