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Friday the 29th of September, 2006
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THE BIG FISH

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Good morning.

In Spanish when we want to refer to someone important, colloquially, we often say "el pez gordo" (the fat fish). In English, we use the big fish or the big cheese.

Today's expression is: the big fish

It is used: to refer to important people.

Example 1:
Joan: Who is that?
Mark: You don't know who that is? That's the big fish...the new CEO.

Example 2:
I was going to go camping with my brother this weekend, but he has to meet some big cheese from his company on Saturday morning who's coming in from New York. Oh well, we'll go next weekend.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website. If you have any questions about how to use the Daily Vitamin Plus! section or would like to receive a Daily Vitamin Plus! manual, please contact us.

Have a good day and an excellent weekend!



Thursday the 28th of September, 2006
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MORE PENNY EXPRESSIONS

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Good morning.

Yesterday we looked at the expression a penny for your thoughts. Today we will look at the meaning of three more expressions with penny in them.

Today's 1st expression is: in for a penny, in for a pound

It is used: to say that you intend to finish something that you have started, or that you intend on doing it thoroughly. Like "a penny for your thoughts," it is mostly used in conversation and is informal.

Example 1:
Janet: If you don't want to stay to finish the report, I'll understand. I can do it.
Frank: No no. In for a penny, in for a pound. I'm going to stay here until this is finished.

Today's 2nd expression is: not to have a penny to your name

It is used: to say that you have no money.

Example 2:
Louise: Hey. We're going to have a drink after work tonight. Would you like to come?
Lisa: I'd like to come, but I haven't got a penny to my name.
Louise: That's okay. I'll buy your drinks.

Today's 3rd expression is: penny-wise, pound foolish

It is used: to say that you are not willing to spend small amounts of money, but likely to spend large amounts for stupid or unimportant things.

Example 3:
He spends very little money on food during the week, then he spends all his money drinking at the weekends. He really is penny-wise, pound-foolish.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website. If you have any questions about how to use the Daily Vitamin Plus! section or would like to receive a Daily Vitamin Plus! manual, please contact us.

I'll see you tomorrow.



Wednesday the 27th of September, 2006
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A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

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Good morning,

Last week we received a question from one of our students, Antonio A.:

Hi, Some time ago, I heard the expression "a penny for your thoughts." Can you comment about it? Thanks.

Today's expression is: a penny for your thoughts

It is used: to ask someone what they are thinking about.

This expression is used in spoken conversation, for the most part.

Example 1:
Jason: Boy... you are sure quiet today. A penny for your thoughts.
Alice: Oh no...it's nothing. I'm just worried about the speech I have to give tomorrow.
Jason: Don't worry; I'm sure it will go fine.

A penny, as you may know, is a small coin in the US or Canada that is worth one cent. (There are 100 cents in a dollar.) The plural of penny in the US and Canada is pennies, and in the rest of the English-speaking world it is generally pence, although it's actually a bit more complicated than that. For more information, I invite you to visit Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pence).

There are many expressions in English that use the word penny, and other money-related words:

-in for a penny, in for a pound
-not to have a penny to your name
-penny wise, pound foolish

Can you guess what these expressions mean? I will go over them tomorrow.

Thank you very much for your question Antonio. Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website. If you have any questions about how to use the Daily Vitamin Plus! section or would like to receive a Daily Vitamin Plus! manual, please contact us.

Enjoy the rest of your day.



Tuesday the 26th of September, 2006
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DURING vs. WHILE

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Good morning,

On Friday we looked at the difference between the words for and during. Today we are going to look at the difference between while and during.

Remember that we said that during is used before an activity to indicate that a parallel action is happening at the same time as that activity. Below is one of the examples from Friday.

Example 1:
I fell asleep during the film because it was so boring. (The sleeping happened at the same time as the film.)

Notice that during is followed by a noun, which often represents an activity (during + the film).

While is used to refer to a background period of time in which another activity happened. It is very similar to during, but it is followed by a sentence (while + subject + verb...), so they are not interchangeable.

Example 2:
Stan: When did you lose your credit cards?
Mark: I think it was while I was shopping in Boulevard Rosa.

Example 3:
Rachel: I'm sorry to hear your husband has a broken leg. What happened?
Nancy: He fell off the ladder while he was painting the ceiling.

Example 4:
We can prepare the dessert while the meat is cooking.

To use during in the above sentences, we have to change the structure of the sentence. Consider example 4(a):

Example 4(a):
We can prepare the dessert during the cooking of the meat.

It is more common to use the word when in the place of while, especially in informal conversation.

Example 4(b):
We can prepare the dessert when the meat is cooking.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website. If you have any questions about how to use the Daily Vitamin Plus! section or would like to receive a Daily Vitamin Plus! manual, please contact us.

Have a great day!



Friday the 22nd of September, 2006
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FOR vs. DURING

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Good morning.

It is quite common for English students to confuse the prepositions FOR and DURING when talking about periods of time or events.

DURING is used: before an activity to indicate that a parallel action is happening at the same time as that activity.

FOR is used: before a period of time to indicate the duration of an activity.

Example 1:
I fell asleep during the film because it was so boring. (The sleeping happened at the same time as the film.)

Example 2:
I feel great! Last night I slept for 9 hours straight.*

*
Notice that you CANNOT say "I slept during 9 hours..." This is incorrect.

Example 3:
Olga: Are you tired?
Alex: Are you kidding? I slept for almost two hours during the film. I feel great. Let's go have a drink.

I hope you do lots of fun things during the weekend. I'll see you on Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday in Barcelona.

Have a great weekend!