‘EL ÚLTIMO DÍA’ ISN’T ALWAYS ‘THE LAST DAY’:

In Spanish ‘el última día’ can mean ‘la última vez’ or ‘last time (we met/we did an activity)’. If ‘el última dia’ has the sense of the last time you did something/met then in English you do not want to say ‘the last day’. Only use ‘the last day’ if you are really specifically talking about ‘a day’. Do not use ‘the last day’ if you are talking about the last time you did something. In this case you need to use ‘last time’.

For instance, often in our Skype English classes students say something like ‘the last day we studied modal verbs’. This is wrong. It would be: ‘last time we studied modal verbs’. Have a wonderful day!

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PROBLEMS TRANSLATING ‘BAR’:

Most of our Skype English students translate ‘bar’ with ‘pub’. Most of the time this is wrong since a ‘bar’ in a non-English speaking country is rarely similar to a ‘pub’ in appearance and ambience. So you want to translate the word ‘bar’ with ‘bar’ unless the establishment in question is actually an ‘Irish/Scottish/Australlian/English… pub’, in which case you can use the word ‘pub’ as a translation of ‘bar’. To help understanding, the first image in this post is a ‘pub’, the second would be typical of a ‘bar’.

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WHEN YOU WANT TO SAY ‘PUEDE SER’ DON’T SAY ‘CAN/COULD BE’:

Our Skype English students at Clasesinglesonline.com in Spain make this error a lot. If you just want to say ‘puede ser’ by itself in response to an affirmation, it is much better to say ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’ or ‘possibly’.

For example, if I say ‘creo que la economia esta creciendo’ and my partner says ‘puede ser’, it is much better to ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’ or ‘possibly’ since we are expressing doubt. ‘can/could be’ are OK and while you will be understood, it is not very natural. Hope this helps!

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DON’T SAY ‘TO GO/COME WALKING’, USE ‘ON FOOT’:

Students in our skype English classes from Spain often translate ‘ir/venir andando’ with ‘to go/come walking’. Whilst you will be understood you want to avoid this structure. Please use ‘on foot’. For example, ‘he venido a la clase de inglés andando’ should be ‘I have come to the English class on foot’. Similarly, ‘iré andando’ must be ‘I will go on foot’. Hoping that helps!

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COMMON ERROR BY STUDENTS IN OUR SKYPE ENGLISH CLASSES: COMMON VERBS WITH A PREPOSITION IN SPANISH BUT NOT IN ENGLISH:

This group of verbs is very problematic for students because you have a preposition after the verb in most, if not all cases, in Spanish. In English a preposition is not employed. So with the literal translation which students use at lower levels they nearly always get it wrong. So the phrase ‘he llamado a mi cuñada’ must not be translated by ‘I have called/phoned to my sister in law’. It should be ‘I have called/phoned my sister in law’. So there is no preposition after the verbs ‘phone/call’ neither after the verbs ‘access’, ‘attend’, ‘contact’, ‘trust’, ‘enter’, ‘influence’ ‘threaten’ or ‘ask’. However, be careful. Sometimes the verb can have a preposition switching the meaning of the verb. For example, when ‘attend’ means ‘asistir’ no preposition is used but when it means less commonly ’to deal with or help something or someone’ then we use the preposition ‘to’. For example, ‘the staff will attend to any problems you may have’.

Also, ‘to ask’ is a special case like ‘to attend’ as it can take a preposition in one context. This changes the meaning. For example, when you ‘ask for something or someone’ then the verb does in fact have a preposition and as you might have guessed, the preposition ‘for’ should be employed. An example would be when you ‘ask for a return ticket to Oslo’ or ‘she asked for 2 beers’. This can be roughly translated by ‘pedir algo’ in the sense of ‘to request something’. However, when you ‘preguntar a alguien’, ‘to enquire’ or ‘ask somebody’ then the preposition ‘for’ should be omitted. There should be no preposition directly after ‘to ask’ in this instance. For example, ‘I asked Jim to help’ or ‘she asked the police officer about the crime’. Another example is with the phrase ‘he preguntado a mi jefe’. It must not be translated by ‘I have asked to my boss’. It should be ‘I have asked my boss’.

A list of some of the most common verbs (along with their meanings in Spanish) that don´t take a preposition in English but can in Spanish, can be found below.

To discuss (discutir sobre)

To assist/help (asistir a)

To approach (acercar a)

To appreciate (apreciar a)

To stop (dejar de)

To invite (invitar a)

To remember (acordarse de)

To regret (arrepentirse de)

To cease (cesar de)

To leave (salir de, dejar de)

To pay (pagar a)

To affect (afectar a)

To visit (visitor a)

To contact (contactar con)

To convince (convencer a)

To impact (impactar a)

To control (controlar a)

To teach (enseñar a)

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COMMON ERROR BY STUDENTS IN OUR SKYPE ENGLISH CLASSES: ‘UNA OFERTA’ IS NOT ALWAYS ‘AN OFFER’ IN ENGLISH:

One can translate ‘oferta’ in English using ‘offer’ if we are talking about a reduction in price. However, if you are using ‘oferta’ in the sense of how many products are available or talking about supply (in the sense of quantity or range), then one must not employ ‘offer’ as many of our English students do. So you can’t say ‘there is a big/wide offer of cars’ but you can say ‘there is a big/wide range of cars’ or ‘a big quantity of cars’. Thanks for reading!

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COMMON ERROR FROM OUR SKYPE ENGLISH CLASSES: ‘BEFORE’, ‘AFTER’ AND ‘WITHOUT’ MUST BE FOLLOWED BY THE GERUND:

This is a common problem in our English Skype classes. If you want to use a verb after ‘before’, ‘after’ or ‘without’ it must be in the gerund form (ing) and not in infinitive. Thus, to say ‘antes de ir al evento necesito comer’ would be ‘before going to the event, I need to eat’. Definately don’t say ‘before to go…’. Similarly, we’d say ‘without/after going to the event…’. Hope that helps. Have a great day.

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COMMON ERROR FROM OUR SKYPE ENGLISH CLASSES: TRANSLATING ‘EN BREVE’

So we wouldn’t say ‘in brief’ to translate ‘en breve’ when you are talking about doing something soon. We’d use the term ‘shortly’. For example, ‘I will contact you shortly to arrange our next class’. That’s all for now. Have a great 2017!!

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COMMON ERROR FROM OUR SKYPE ENGLISH CLASSES: CHRISTMAS PREPOSITION (‘IN/ON/AT?’)

In our Skype English classes many students say ‘in/on’ Christmas when the preposition should be ‘at’. Why do we use ‘at’? Well we can’t use ‘on’ here since ‘on’ is for individual days (‘on Christmas day/Halloween/Wednesday/on the 2nd of January’ for example) as a preposition of time. ‘In’ is used as a preposition of time for months (in May), years (in 1978) and seasons (in spring) and decades (in the 80s), centuries (in the 21st century) and also with ‘in the morning/afternoon/evening’.

‘In’ can additionally be used for periods of time longer than one day: ‘in advent’, ‘in lent’, ‘in san fermin’ etc.

So as far as I know we use ‘at’ as a preposition of time in 4 instances in English: ‘at night’, ‘at Easter’ and ‘at Christmas’ and for times, for example: ‘at 17h45’.

However, if you are ever in doubt with the correct preposition you can always employ the word ‘during’: ‘during Christmas we will sing carols’.

Hope this helps and Merry Christmas!

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