Thursday, 10 November 2016

Lexical and grammatical collocations

A distinction may, if wished, be made between lexical collocations and grammatical collocations.

lexical collocation is a type of construction where a verb, noun, adjective or adverb forms a predictable connection with another word, as in:
  • adverb + adjective: completely satisfied (NOT downright satisfied)
  • adjective + noun: excruciating pain (NOT excruciating joy)
  • noun + verb: lions roar (NOT lions shout)
  • verb + noun: commit suicide (NOT undertake suicide)
grammatical collocation is a type of construction where for example a verb or adjective must be followed by a particular preposition, or a noun must be followed by a particular form of the verb, as in:
  • verb + preposition: depend on (NOT depend of)
  • adjective + preposition: afraid of (NOT afraid at)
  • noun + particular form of verb: strength to lift it (not strength lifting it)

Miscellaneous collocations:
TimeBusiness EnglishClassifiers
bang on time
dead on time
early 12th century
free time
from dawn till dusk
great deal of time
late 20th century
make time for
next few days
past few weeks
right on time
run out of time
save time
spare time
spend some time
take your time
tell someone the time
time goes by
time passes
waste time
annual turnover
bear in mind
break off negotiations
cease trading
chair a meeting
close a deal
close a meeting
come to the point
dismiss an offer
draw a conclusion
draw your attention to
launch a new product
lay off staff
go bankrupt
go into partnership
make a loss
make a profit
market forces
sales figures
take on staff
a ball of string

a bar of chocolate

a bottle of water

a bunch of carrots

a cube of sugar

a pack of cards

a pad of paper

Wednesday, 2 November 2016



1: 'As' can mean 'because/since'.
  • As it was raining, we didn't go out.
2: 'As' can mean 'while' or 'at the same time':
  • As I was walking down the street, I saw Jimmy.
3: We can use 'as' to talk about the way one thing is similar to another thing. In this case 'as' is a conjunction and needs to be followed by a subject and a verb or by a prepositional phrase. We invert the subject and the verb when using a formal register.
  • James loves pets, as do I.
4: We need to use 'as' with expressions like 'as much as' and by 'as +adjective +as'. This is also talking about similarity. These expressions can be followed by a subject and a verb or a noun or preposition.
  • John loves spicy food as much as I do.
  • Lily travels as much as me.
  • She's as clever as her sister is.
  • London's not as big as Mexico City.
5: 'As' can be used with a noun to show someone's position. This is especially common with jobs. In a similar way, 'as' can also be used to show something's function (what we are using it for). It must be followed by a noun.
  • She works as a teacher.
  • Don't use the knife as a screwdriver.
Watch out! You can't use 'like' for someone's real job. You need to use 'as'.
  • I work like a waitress.

1: 'Like' can be used to give examples. It means the same as 'for example' and is usually followed by nouns or pronouns.
  • Western European countries like France and Spain have high unemployment at the moment.
2: We can also use 'like' to talk about how one thing is similar to another thing. Here 'like' is a preposition and is followed by a noun or a pronoun.
  • John loves spicy food, like me.
  • Tokyo is a busy and exciting city, like London.
When we're talking about how things are similar, we often use 'like' with verbs such as 'look', 'sound' and 'smell'.
  • She looks like her mother.
  • It looks like rain.
  • That sounds like a car.
  • The kitchen smells like lemons.

'Like' vs 'as' for similarity

Often, we can use both 'as' and 'like' to talk about similarity.
  • I love coffee, like Julie.
  • I love coffee, as Julie does.
We need to follow 'as' with a clause (a subject and a verb). When we use 'as' for similarity, it's not followed by a noun or pronoun.
  • I love coffee, as Julie.
However, when we use 'as' to mean a role or job (it's followed by a noun in this case), then we can't use 'like'. Instead, 'like' is talking about similarity.
  • As your mother, I'm telling you not to go out now. (I am your mother and I am telling you this in my role as your mother.)
  • Like your mother, I'm telling you not to go out now. (I'm not your mother, but I am telling you the same thing as she is. I am acting in a similar way to your mother.)
Here's another example.
  • She works as the manager (= she is the manager).
  • She works like the manager (= she isn't the manager, but she works in a similar way to the manager).

Saturday, 10 September 2016


Como docentes, debemos preparar a nuestros alumnos lo mejor posible para que superen con éxito las reválidas LOMCE. En los meses de Mayo/Junio 2017 nuestros alumnos de 4º ESO y de 2º Bachillerato harán estas pruebas como "experiencia piloto", aunque no será hasta el 2018 que estas pruebas determinen la obtención o no del título de graduado en educación secundaria o de graduado en bachillerato.

Información general:

Las pruebas serán diseñadas por cada Comunidad Autónoma y se aplicará la misma prueba a todos los alumnos de esa Comunidad Autónoma. Los resultados de esta prueba contarán un 30% para su nota final mientras el otro 70% corresponderá a las notas obtenidas en su centro escolar. En el caso de bachillerato, los porcentajes serán 40% y 60%, respectivamente. 

Los alumnos podrán repetir la prueba si suspenden y también si quieren subir nota. Para ello, se contemplan cada curso una convocatoria ordinaria y otra extraordinaria.

Los resultados serán puestos en conocimiento de la comunidad educativa del propio centro, sin que puedan utilizarse en ningún caso para la elaboración de clasificaciones de centros docentes.

Las pruebas de lengua extranjera (inglés):

Parece que el examen de bachillerato no distará mucho del actual modelo de Selectividad. AQUÍ tenéis un modelo de un examen PAU 2016 en las Illes Balears. 

Según la normativa publicada por el MECD, el examen de secundaria (ESO) se centrará en las materias troncales y evaluará las siguientes competencias: comunicación lingüística, competencia matemática y competencias básicas en ciencia y tecnología, competencia digital, aprender a aprender, competencias sociales y cívicas, sentido de iniciativa y espíritu emprendedor, y conciencia y expresiones culturales.

Aunque cada Comunidad Autónoma desarrollará sus pruebas, es más que probable que las pruebas de inglés ESO se asemejen a las actuales pruebas libres para la obtención del graduado. 

Aquí os dejo varios modelos para que vuestros alumnos se familiaricen con el formato:

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Thursday, 8 September 2016


An initial test on the first week of class can give you some information about how much English your students know.

The results of this test should not be taken into account to mark the student's year progress. It's just a way to know about the students' level at the beginning of the school year. 

It can also help them realize what things they should study better. 

Here are some tests you can use:

An elementary speaking test HERE

An oral placement test from A1 to C1 HERE

1st ESO

2nd ESO

3rd ESO

4th ESO

1st bachillerato/ Vocational studies

2nd bachillerato/University students

A good placement test for adult learners HERE

A quick and a full placement test with answers HERE

A grammar and vocabulary placement test with key HERE

Some ONLINE level tests:

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Monday, 29 August 2016


Although English is a language with more exceptions than rules, we can improve our spelling by learning some basic rules and hope that the word we don't know follows the pattern.

1. The sound /ɪ/ ="ie", except after c
believe - receive

2. Plurals: changing "Y" into "IES"
When the word ends in a vowel + y just add ‘s’:

key → keys
delay → delays
trolley → trolleys
(because we can't have three vowels in a row)

If the word has a consonant before the ‘Y’, remove the ‘Y’ and add ‘IES’:

baby → babies
company → companies
difficulty → difficulties

3. Adding -ES to words ending in -s, -ss, -z -ch -sh -x:
This was added to stop the plural 's' clashing with these letters and it softens the 's' sound to a 'z' sound

bus→ buses
business → businesses
watch → watches
box → boxes
quiz → quizzes

4. The "consonant:vowel:consonant" doubling up rule:

put - putting, big-bigger, quiz - quizzes, swim - swimming...

When a word has one syllable and it ends in "consonant:vowel:consonant", we double up the final consonant with a vowel suffix:

sit - sitter, big - biggest, tap - tapping, shop - shopper/shopping, fat - fatten, fattening, fatter, fattest...

This happens in longer words when the stress is on the final syllable:

begin (beGIN) - beginner, beginning
refer (reFER) - referring, referred
occur (ocCUR) - occurring, occurred, occurrence

5. Drop the ‘e’ rule
We usually drop the final silent "e" when we add vowel suffix endings, for example:

write + ing → writing
hope + ed = hoped
excite + able = excitable
joke - joker
large - largish
close - closing
sense + ible = sensible
opposite + ion = opposition
imagine + ation = imagination

We keep the 'e' if the word ends in –CE or –GE to keep a soft sound, with able/ous

courage + ous = courageous
outrage + ous = outrageous
notice + able = noticeable
manage + able = manageable

6. Changing the "y" to "i" when adding suffix endings:
If a word ends in a consonant + Y, the Y changes to I (unless adding endings with "i": -ing/-ish, which already begins with an i)
beauty+ful > beauti+ful =beautiful, beautify, beautician
happy + ness = - happiness, happily, happier, happiest
angry + er = angrier, angriest, angrily,
pretty: prettier, prettiest BUT prettyish
ready: readily, readiness
dry: dried, BUT drying, dryish
defy: defies, defied, but defying
apply: applies, applied but applying

7. "-f" to "-ves" or "-s": Most words ending in "-f" or "-fe" change their plurals to "-ves"

calf - calves
half - halves
knife - knives
leaf - leaves
loaf - loaves
life - lives
wife - wives
shelf - shelves
thief - thieves
yourself - yourselves

BUT nouns which end in two vowels plus -f usually form plurals in the normal way, with just an -s:

chief - chiefs
spoof - spoofs
roof - roofs
chief - chiefs
oaf - oafs
EXCEPTIONS: thief - thieves, leaf - leaves

Some words can have both endings -ves or -s:

scarf - scarfs/scarves
dwarf - dwarfs/dwarves
wharf - wharfs/wharves
handkerchief - handkerchiefs/handkerchieves

Words ending in -ff you just add -s to make the plural:

cliff - cliffs
toff - toffs
scuff - scuffs
sniff - sniffs

8. Words ending in -ful
The suffix –FUL is always spelled with one L, for example:

grate + ful = grateful
faith + ful = faithful
hope + ful = hopeful

9. Adding -ly
When we add -ly to words ending in -ful then we have double "l":


We also add -ly to words ending in 'e':

love + ly = lovely
like + ly = likely
live + ly = lively
complete + ly = completely
definite + ly = definitely

BUT not in truly (true + ly) This is a common misspelled word.
We change the end 'e' to 'y' in these "-le" words:

gentle > gently
idle > idly
subtle > subtly

10. When we add "all" to the beginning of words we drop the "l":

all + so = also
all + most = almost
altogether (adverb=in total, on the whole, completely)

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Saturday, 16 July 2016


Son muchas las maneras de mejorar nuestro inglés cada día. Algunos miráis series de TV en inglés, otros leéis la prensa en inglés y muchos seguís blogs como éste (gracias por seguirlo!).

En general todos tenemos poco tiempo que dedicar al estudio de nuevas palabras o al repaso de construcciones gramaticales. Por eso abrí una cuenta en Instagram en el año 2015 (@englisharound), en la que pongo 1 imagen al día para recordar palabras o expresiones en inglés.

Podéis seguir la cuenta AQUÍ. Si no tenéis Instagram podéis guardar la página en favoritos y seguirlo desde el ordenador (en realidad se ve mejor que en el móvil).

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The use and understanding of idioms is essential to successful communication in English. The student can study grammar and vocabulary, but without a working knowledge of such idioms, even the best student's speech will remain strange to a native speaker.

It's not a question of including an idiom in every sentence, but idioms are widely used in the English language. I'm sure you'll recognise some of these:

A penny for your thoughts
A way of asking what someone is thinking
Actions speak louder than words
People's intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say.
Add insult to injury
To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation.
An arm and a leg
Very expensive or costly. A large amount of money.
At the drop of a hat
Meaning: without any hesitation; instantly.
Back to the drawing board
When an attempt fails and it's time to start all over.
Ball is in your court
It is up to you to make the next decision or step
Barking up the wrong tree
Looking in the wrong place. Accusing the wrong person
Be glad to see the back of (somebody)
Be happy when a person leaves.
Beat around the bush
Avoiding the main topic. Not speaking directly about the issue.
Best of both worlds
Meaning: All the advantages.
Best thing since sliced bread
A good invention or innovation. A good idea or plan.
Bite off more than you can chew
To take on a task that is way to big.
Blessing in disguise
Something good that isn't recognized at first.
Burn the midnight oil
To work late into the night, alluding to the time before electric lighting.
Can't judge a book by its cover
Cannot judge something primarily on appearance.
Caught between two stools
When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.
Costs an arm and a leg
This idiom is used when something is very expensive.
Cross that bridge when you come to it
Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.
Cry over spilled milk
When you complain about a loss from the past.
Curiosity killed the cat
Being inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.
Cut corners
When something is done badly to save money.
Don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched
This idiom is used to express "Don't make plans for something that might not happen".

Don't give up the day job
You are not very good at something. You could definitely not do it professionally.
Drastic times call for drastic measures
When you are extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.
Every cloud has a silver lining
Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.
Far cry from
Very different from.
Feel a bit under the weather
Meaning: Feeling slightly ill.
Give the benefit of the doubt
Believe someone's statement, without proof.
Hear it on the grapevine
This idiom means 'to hear rumours' about something or someone.
Hit the nail on the head
Do or say something exactly right
Hit the sack 
To go to bed.
In the heat of the moment
Overwhelmed by what is/was happening in the moment.
It takes two to tango
Actions or communications need more than one person
Jump on the bandwagon
Join a popular trend or activity.
Keep something at bay
Keep something away.
Kill two birds with one stone
This idiom means, to accomplish two different things at the same time.
Last straw
The final problem in a series of problems.
Let sleeping dogs lie
Meaning - do not disturb a situation as it is - since it would result in trouble or complications.

Let the cat out of the bag
To share information that was previously concealed
Miss the boat
This idiom is used to say that someone missed his or her chance
Not a spark of decency
Meaning: No manners
Not playing with a full deck
Someone who lacks intelligence.
Off one's rocker
Crazy, demented, out of one's mind, in a confused or befuddled state of mind, senile.
On the ball
When someone understands the situation well.
Once in a blue moon
Meaning: It happens very rarely.
Picture paints a thousand words
A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.
Piece of cake
A job, task or other activity that is easy or simple.
Put wool over other people's eyes
This means to deceive someone into thinking well of them.
See eye to eye
This idiom is used to say that two (or more people) agree on something.
Sitting on the fence
This is used when someone does not want to choose or make a decision.
Speaking of the devil!
This expression is used when the person you have just been talking about arrives.
Steal someone's thunder
To do something that takes attention away from what someone else has done
Take (whatever they say) with a grain/pinch of salt
This means not to take what someone says too seriously.
Taste of your own medicine
Means that something that you have done to someone else also happens to you, or it is done to you, 

To hear something straight from the horse's mouth
To hear something from the source.
To go the whole nine yards
Everything. All of it.
Wouldn't be caught dead
Would never like to do something
Your guess is as good as mine
To have no idea, do not know the answer to a question