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Fast or Quick?

When you’re really late for school, do you take a quick shower or a fast shower? Well… Is there a difference? Yes, there is. Maybe not in terms of meaning, but in terms of collocation. Collocation happens when two or more words and phrases together sound more correct to the people who have spoken the […]

Review: Second Conditional

The second conditional is used to talk about hypothetical situations in the present. Suppose I think I’m too short to play basketball. I would probably say: “If I were taller, I would play basketball.” What I mean is that I don’t think I can play basketball because I’m not tall enough. I use the verb in the […]

Money Idioms

Idioms are expressions that are natural to a native speaker of a language and they are typically metaphorical. They make our point clear and they are an economical way of getting the point across. Also, idioms are very widely used in spoken English by native speakers and because of that it is very important to […]

Which is Which: Connotation vs Denotation

Novice English learners usually try to relate the meaning of new words to their equivalent in Portuguese, but sometimes the definition of some words are confusing even in their own native language.  Connotation and denotation are examples of such problem. They are similar words used to describe related topics. Connotation is the meaning of a word which depends […]

Verbalizing nouns

How making use of nouns as verbs is a reality.

Apps to Gamify Your English Practice

When you feel a little unmotivated to practice English, gamification, the concept of implementing elements of games into non-game contexts, might be the answer to give a boost to your language learning. Here are two very good examples of gamified practice in free apps for Android and iOS. Duolinguo has several lessons involving English practice to improve your […]

Review: Present Perfect vs Simple Past

Hello, dear reader, Here is the second part in our review series. There’s great confusion among language learners when they have to differentiate between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past. Most of these problems originate from the need a student might have to translate these tenses into his/her own language to better understand how […]

Review: Past Perfect

Here’s my third piece of review, and it’s a good one. The Past Perfect is an interesting verb tense. It does not happen alone. It comes together with the Simple Past. As the saying goes, they go together like a horse and carriage Look at this sentence: “When I got home, my wife left for work.” In this sentence […]

Review: Zero Conditional

Conditional sentences are sometimes confusing, so I am going to try to make them as clear as possible to you, reader. Let’s start with the first one. It’s called zero conditional. You only use the present tense in this time of sentence. “If you don’t eat, you get sick.” “If you eat a lot, you put on weight.”  As you can probably […]

Review: First Conditional

Hello again, dear reader, The first conditional is one of the most common in the English language. We use the simple present after if and the simple future in the next clause. “If I get home early, I will do my homework today.” As you can see, the first conditional is used to express a future action that depends on another […]

What kind of movies do you like?

Hello, dear reader, In this post, I propose we talk about vocabulary that is commonly used in English to talk about movies. Many are the words used to describe how we feel about a movie, how it was made, the kind of movie it is, etc. Without further ado, let me jump right in and […]

Numbers vs Periods & Hyphens

Hi, dear reader, The title of this post might sound puzzledly mathematical, but its content does not require prior knowledge of advanced calculations. In English, periods and hyphens are frequently used when numbers need to be set to paper: Periods:  Periods are used to separate the number from its decimal ($ 3.35) . This period […]

Résumé, summary and resume

Some words tend to cause confusion among students. For instance, resume, résumé and summary. Let’s start with the last one: summary is a brief statement that gives the most important information about something. Say, she was called by the police and gave them a summary of the accident.As an adjective, summary is the same as […]

Confusing words: all together vs altogether / aid vs aide

Hello, dear reader, Here are two pairs of words that are often confused. What is the difference between altogether X all together and aid X aide ? Well, they are really different: Altogether  is an adverb that means completely, totally. “His latest business plan for the second trimester is an altogether new approach to our deficit problem. All together means […]


Hello, dear reader, Yes, I know that this blog post title may seem confusing. After all, we have different words which are, according to the tile of this post, the same? Don’t fret over it. Let me explain what I mean. Obviously, really, pretty, and very  are different words. For example, “That test was very difficult!” “Sophia […]

Confusing prepositions (at, in, on)

Hello, dear reader, It’s a week-know fact that prepositions in English can be tricky. Sometimes their use is quite simple, as when they are used to show placement, e.g. The book is on the table. However, there are times when their use can be quite a challenge as in He’s on a bus to Portland. Why is he on a bus […]

Pronunciation tip: Silent L

Hello, reader, The English language has plenty of silent letters, and one that is often forgotten by speakers of Portuguese is the silent l. It’s common for people who speak Portuguese to overlook that because in Portuguese silent letters are not common. Take for example the following words: Salmon, half, calm, talk, would and should […]

How do you say that here?

How do you say that here?   In English, as in other global languages, there is more than one word to describe the same action, object, feeling, etc. Let’s look at the word bucket. The dictionary defines bucket as a “deep , cylindrical vessel, usually of metal, plastic, or wood, with a flat bottom and […]

Are you rich or wealthy?

When we say that a person is rich, we mean that he/she has material possessions and money. “Wealthy” means the same thing, but the word is less common than rich. So, we can say “My uncle is rich” or “My uncle is wealthy” with no change in meaning. Now, “a rich meal”, for example, implies […]

Learning from Movies 1 – Now You See Me

Are you a movie lover? Many of my students love learning from movies, and I love preparing movie activities  because motivation level is high and we learn more when this happens! Have you seen ‘Now You See It’? Yes? It’s great, right? No? Maybe you should give it a try! The plot is very interesting […]

Idiomatic fruits

We all know idioms are widely used in English. All types of words can be part of an idiom, and a special group is the one about fruits. Apples, pears, bananas, peaches, cherries, etc. They can all be used idiomatically. For this post, I have selected the most common so that if you ever come […]

Animal sounds

Do you know what an animal sounds like in English? No, I am not suggesting that animals can talk. What I’m saying is that the sound an animal makes in English is most likely different from the sound the same animal makes in your language. Take Portuguese, for example. In Brazil, a dog says au, […]

Saying Dates in English

It is surprising when an advanced student still hesitates when saying dates in English. We assume that dates are learnt/taught in the basic level, so it is strange to notice this difficulty in an advanced student.   Here are some of the difficulties I have observed among my students:   1) Wrong pronunciation.   We […]

Review: Will vs Going to

Hi, dear reader, As the year is coming to an end, I think it’s high time we reviewed some of the basics about English grammar. First, I would like to talk a little about the differences between using will and going to when talking about the future. Basically, what you should know is: Use will when you want […]

What is “TGIF”??

The most celebrated day of the week is probably Friday: it is the end of the working week, when people are finally free to catch a movie, go out with their friends, or get some well-deserved rest. The popularity of this weekday gave rise to an interesting expression: TGIF, which stands for “Thank God it’s […]

English Expressions with Nerve

Who generally gets on your nerves? Expressions are an important part of any language. Learners need to be aware of them, learn and keep practicing their use in context. We´ve prepared this poster to help you with expressions related to nerve. Watch out because some expressions use nerve and others take nerves.

How do you say “concurso” in English?

 This week I was watching TV when I saw an ad for a new Brazilian movie that has just come out: “O Concurso.” I haven’t watched this movie (not yet, anyway!), so this is not a review. I’m just mentioning the movie because it got me thinking about a very common mistake Brazilian students make […]

TED Talks

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences put together to show “ideas worth spreading.”  TED talks are available online and they offer  the chance to listen to short talks delivered by inspiring speakers about many different topics. It’s a weekend ritual: I sit on my couch and watch a TED talk , […]