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Friday the 30th of May, 2008
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Good morning! Welcome to another Essential Weekly Vitamin!

Today we finish our look at introductions (presentaciones) in English.

Conocer algunas normas de protocolo de países angloparlantes es muy útil para no encontrarse en alguna situación embarazosa. Hoy os daremos unos breves consejos sobre cómo actuar cuando te presentan a alguien.

Como a lo mejor sabéis, es muy común dar un apretón de manos (handshake) o dos besos (kisses) en la mejilla (cheek) cuando presentamos o se nos presenta a alguien. Es un gesto (gesture) habitual y de buena educación dentro de la cultura española, pero no tanto dentro de la cultura anglosajona.

Los ingleses y americanos, por ejemplo, suelen ser muy reservados y poco propensos a las efusiones y mantienen la distancia física. A veces, el saludo (greeting) entre dos personas que acaban de conocerse se limita a cumplidos verbales. Así pues, en una situación informal, no pienses que a la persona que acabas de conocer le caes mal si no te estrecha la mano o no te da los típicos dos besos a los que estás acostumbrado/a.

Sin embargo, hay que decir que las nuevas generaciones han adoptado la costumbre de saludar con un beso o un apretón de manos y las generaciones más reacias se van acostumbrando. Así pues, en caso de duda, lo más sensato será que te limites a cumplidos verbales y mantengas la distancia física a menos que la otra persona dé el primer paso. En estos casos es mejor ser formal (to be polite).

That is all for today! Have a nice weekend!

Thursday the 29th of May, 2008
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Good morning.

Over the next few days we will look at some interesting vocabulary and expressions that came up during Ziggurat's last CommunicACTION Weekend in Viladrau. One of the best things about these high-quality immersions is the food prepared by Salvador Casaseca, gourmet chef and director of Xalet La Coromina; we discussed today's words during one of the many delicious meals that we enjoyed in La Coromina.

Today's words are: PIG and PORK

Meaning of PIG: an animal with pink, black or brown skin, short legs, a broad nose and a short curly tail. A pig is sometimes called a HOG, especially in US English.

Meaning of PORK: meat from a pig that has not been cured (cured = preserved using salt or smoke).

So we use the word pig to describe the animal (cerdo) and pork to describe the meat that comes from that animal.

Example 1:
Speaker A: Are you a vegetarian?
Speaker B: Yes, but I eat eggs and fish. However, I don't eat beef or pork.

There are certain dishes where we use the word pig instead of pork, such as suckling pig (cochinillo), but in general pig is used for the animal and pork for the meat.

Example 2:
When I was a child, we used to raise pigs for their meat. We often had fresh bacon, pork chops and sausages.

You may also want to look at the Daily Vitamin from January 15, 2007 when we looked at expressions that use the word pig.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please use the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website ( 

I hope you have a good day.

Wednesday the 28th of May, 2008
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Good morning.

Today, rather than send you a normal Daily Vitamin lesson, I am simply sending you the link to the May-June issue of the ZigNews! Here it is:

As always, in this issue Cris Rosa introduces us to yet another one of the many interesting English-speaking countries of the world (this time Scotland), and Kevin Connor gives us a couple more useful suggestions (one related to travel and the other related to a website that can help you to improve your English on the Net). Andrew Warner challenges us with an article that will help us to learn various interesting new vocabulary words, while laughing.  

This and much more in this issue of the ZigNews! I hope you'll download it and read it now.

Enjoy it!

Tuesday the 27th of May, 2008
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Good morning.

Today we will finish our comparison of standard US and UK English by looking at some vocabulary differences. This is really where we see the majority of the differences. We only look at a few examples to demonstrate the confusion that can be caused, but if you want more information you can consult Glenn Darrahg's book A to Zed, A to Zee (Editorial Stanley 2000) or Susan Stempleski's BBC American English OK! (Difusión 1998).

Chaleco (Esp.)
Vest (US) vs. Waistcoat (UK)

Camiseta de tirantes (para hombres) (Esp.)
Tank top (US) vs. Vest (UK)

Ascensor (Esp.)
Elevator (US) vs. Lift (UK)

Lata (Esp.)
Can (US) vs. Tin (UK)

Patatas Fritas (Esp.)
French Fries (US) vs. Chips (UK)

Patatas Fritas "de bolsa" (Esp.)
Potato Chips (US) vs. Crisps (UK)

IVA (Esp.)
Sales Tax (US) vs. VAT = Value Added Tax (UK)

Homosexual (US) vs. Cigarette (UK)

We could, of course, give a lot more examples. However, the objective is simply to make a point. Although there are very few differences between UK and US English with respect to spelling and grammar, there are differences in vocabulary that really can cause confusion. Although it's not worth becoming obsessed about these differences, it's good to be aware of some of them to avoid awkward situations and miscommunication.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please use the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (

Have a good day.

Monday the 26th of May, 2008
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Good morning. I hope you had a good weekend.

Today we continue looking at some of the minor grammatical differences between standard British and American English.

UK English favours needn't and American English favours don't need to for lack of obligation.

We have plenty of money; we needn't ask for a loan. (GB)
We have plenty of money; we don't need to ask for a loan. (US)

In UK English, but not US English, do can be used alone to substitute the verb after an auxiliary.

-Will you go to the party?
-I may. I haven't decided yet.

-Will you go to the party?
-I may do. I haven't decided yet.

There is variation in the use of prepositions in the two varieties.

They arrived at ten after three (3:10). US
They arrived at ten past three (3:10). UK

How many people were in the course. US
How many people were on the course. UK

My mother came over to see us. US
My mother came round to see us. UK

There are also differences in the use of articles.

My father is in the hospital. US
My father is in hospital. UK

My mother plays piano. US
My mother plays the piano. UK

There are, of course, a lot of other differences that we could cover, but it would take a long time and probably wouldn't be too helpful. The important differences between different dialects of languages generally come from vocabulary and pronunciation. Tomorrow we will look at some amusing vocabulary differences between standard US and UK English.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please use the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (

Enjoy the rest of your day.