A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!


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GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

29 de mayo de 2012


¨English has no such mood¨, ¨there's no subjunctive in English¨. Possibly two phrases that have come up to your mind when reading this post headline. And I must admit you are partially right, for when we compare the elaborate Subjunctive Mood in languages like Spanish or French to the English subjunctive mood, we realise that the English language has done away with this mood in everyday language and nowadays it is noticeable mainly in three instances:

  1. The mandate subjunctive, which is used in that-clause sentences expressing a demand, a recommendation, a proposal or an intention. Thus, verbs like demand, insist, recommend, advise, propose, request, suggest, ask, desire, urge, command are followed by THAT + BASE FORM.
The local government demanded that the company pay the homeless families for the damages.
We insist that they apologize publicly for what they said. 
I urge that the council reconsider his decision.
You may have noticed that the examples above convey a formal register. This use is more common in the US English than UK English. UK English tends to use THAT + SHOULD 
The local government demanded that the company should pay the homeless families for the damages.
In everyday English you would hear statements like: 
I urge the council to reconsider his decision.
“I don’t demand that the government does this for me,” he said. “I don’t feel like I need the government.” This example is found in an article I googled. 

2. The formulaic subjunctive is used in expressions like:
God save the Queen.
Long live the King.
Come what may...
Be that as it may... 
3. The hypothetical If I were... in which the verb form were is a remnant of the English subjunctive:
If I were you, I'd certainly tell him.
If it were expensive, he wouldn't even think of buying it.
In everyday language it is more frequent to hear If it was... 
Other interesting sites (and my thanks to the authors for their work) I recommend to you where you can read more about the subjunctive and do some practice:


19 de marzo de 2012


These three verbs are very similar in meaning to their equivalents in Spanish (explicar, recomendar, sugerir respectively), and shouldn't imply much difficulty by a Spanish-speaker when using them in English. Unfortunately, they do because Spanish-speakers tend to use them applying the Spanish-verb pattern.

So teachers keep correcting their students when they say statements like:
Could you explain me the difference again?  (¿Podrías explicarme la diferencia de nuevo?) 
I recommend you this film; it's really good.  (Te recomiendo esta película.)
I suggest you that you go and see that film. (Te sugiero que vayas a ver la película.)
(The last example needs some more explanation, which I will tackle in this post as well.)

Verbs like explain/recommend/suggest need to be followed by the preposition to before the indirect object (i.e. to whom you explain, recommend or suggest something), otherwise this object is taken as the direct object. Thus, we can say:
recommended him for the job. (¨him¨ is the direct object)
He explained the lesson in a very easy way so all the students understood it straight away. (¨the lesson¨ is the direct object)
suggest a coffee before we go in. (¨a coffee¨ is the direct object)
We must remember to place to before the person to whom we are explaining, recommending or suggesting something
I recommended the new film to him.
He explained the lesson to the new students. 
El blog para aprender inglés has published a very good post on the verb recommend, which I encourage you to read:

For more instances of recommend and explain please check these online entries:

Regarding suggest I suggest that you read the online entry below (check my own example just given as well):

So the verb suggest can have three different patterns:
  • suggest something (to somebody)
  • suggest (to somebody) that + clause *
  • suggest doing something
* clause = (1) subject (should) infinitive
                (2) subject + verb form (present/past, depending on the verb tense of suggest)

I suggested a coffee before our visit.
He suggested (to me) that I should call before leaving.
We suggested going to the cinema that evening.
We suggested that he went home straight away.

Lastly, I recommend that you watch this video uploaded by Jennifer ESL explaining the uses of advise, recommend and suggest

27 de febrero de 2012

After reading THE LOTTERY (1)

There is a lot written about this shortstory and I have selected two pieces/links from the web as a follow-up for those of you who would like to go a little bit more into the story itself and the authoress.

The first one is The Power of Symbols by Dr Randy Laist. He discusses the symbolism in Shirley Jackson's story.

The second link provides more information on the authoress and her story SHIRLEY JACKSON  You will be able to read about the background to The Lottery and Jackson's "response to questions about the 'meaning' of the story".

On a coming third post I will write about the way my advanced students and me will tackle this story from a language perspective. The use of verb tenses, adjectives and adverbs, and how the different paragraphs are laid out to walk the reader out of their comfort zone which previously set them in by both the title and the peaceful summer day-scenario. I can still recall the disturbance and unease Mrs Hutchinson's last words provoked in myself. Last but not least, when you read the story a second time, those stones the children are gathering playfully at the beginning become deadly premonitory.

26 de febrero de 2012

My favourite shortstory: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

Ever since I did North American Contemporary Shortstory in my 4th year at university I have kept The Lottery as my favourite one. There are quite a few more I like but somehow this one got itself "the place" in my own top reading-list and even if others have come along and have also marked the path of my reading, what makes The Lottery so special to me is the disturbing unease I was left with when I finished its reading. Since I am trying not to give away the story itself, I will stop using adjectives to describe my opinion and suggest that you should read and listen to the story yourself -provided that you haven't read it yet!

If you google The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, you get 644,000 hits. After some browsing, I have chosen the links below to lead you into the story itself, both in text and audio, and also a film version uploaded on YouTube which, I must say, would never have been my choice. In my opinion some written stories should never be transferred into pictures for it is the reader's own vision that makes them so unique. This is what I also felt when I read Frankestein; the horror Mary Shelley wanted to convey when wording the creature's appearance would never match any visual image created on the screen.

This first link will direct you to the text courtesy of Classic Short Stories

This second link features one of The New Yorker fiction podcasts, in which A. M. Homes reads the story and discusses it with The New Yorker's fiction editor Deborah Treisman:

Lastly, here are two YouTube links on which you can watch a film version of the story:

29 de diciembre de 2011

Singing to friendship: COUNT ON ME by Bruno Mars

Here's a song to say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012. 
We need to take care of our friends for good friends always take care of us.

28 de diciembre de 2011

Economics, politics and the idiom ¨mad as a hatter¨

The field of economics has taken the front line as a daily topic in worldwide newspapers, whatever the language.  Obviously, we all know the reason so I will skip any further comment. What's more, due to this fact, many economic terms wander freely in my mind at least in the form of passive vocabulary. I have had to get used to absorbing obscure terms such as ¨subprimes, hedge funds, GDP, bonds¨ -to name but a few-, and yet, I cannot say I do understand the world of economics. To be honest, reading about it hasn't deepened my knowledge in this field; I am still (and guess I will always be) in shallow waters, although I must say the reading has become lighter somehow.

One of the authors I like to read most is the Nobel Prize for Economics Paul Krugman; for a layman like me I find his writing didactic and it makes quite some good sense. Yesterday reading his article Springtime for toxics, published in the International Herald Tribune, my interest in the content was immediately diverted to a piece of language he used as a way to illustrate the toxicity and harmful effects of mercury on the population. Basically, in his article, Krugman welcomes the good news of the EPA's new regulating standards, which also has some economic benefits. He goes on to link this decision to American politics, the second theme he wanted to discuss.

However, my featuring his article on this post has mostly to do with that ¨language diversion¨ and which I quote next:
...As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result. ...
Being a teacher and so interested in languages, it simply fascinates me to learn the origin of idioms we have acquired as part of our vocabulary. I knew this idiom but not its origin and, of course, it now makes so much sense. Furthermore, it proves my belief that when you are a teacher, whatever your field or rank, the pedagogue in you emerges constantly in your writing as it is the case of Paul Krugman.