Monday, May 21, 2018

Be able to…

If you are able to do something, you have the ability to do it.
 (conseguir fazer)

1. How long are you able to maintain a consistent daily routine without giving up? Have you ever heard of Jerry Seinfeld’s strategy called, “Don’t break the chain!”?

2. Some Brazilians take oaths (promises), which usually involves abstaining from something for a long period of time, on the condition that they or a family member gets what they want - for example, passing a public contest. Would you be able to stop eating, say, bread for 4 or 5 years?

3. Very few people are able to admit that they are wrong. It’s not easy to swallow your pride.

4. My daughter is still not able to whistle. That’s only to be expected for her age. Is there anything you‘re still not able to do that most other people can do? I’m still not able to speak Korean.

5. Is there any process you‘re not able to currently complete because of bureaucracy? Have you come up against any dead ends and cannot continue moving forward?

6. Many Brazilians from the Northeast are not able to pronounce the letter “R” as they do in the South of Brazil… or as we do in English. What sounds in English are you not able to reproduce yet?

7. What things are you able to do that others can’t, because you’re highly skilled/ trained in that area? I’m able to play the harmonica pretty well and manipulate the CSS of blogs in general.

8. I’m not able to cook well, but I am planning to improve! What are you unable to do right now that you’re planning to get better at?

9. I am able to work on anything (or watch anything) for hours on end. What are you able to do for a number of hours without getting distracted, tired or giving up?

10. I was never able to finish my Math exams on time. I was not that bad… just a little slow. In what area of knowledge are you unable to process information quickly?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Learn (something) the hard way/ Live and learn

(Vivendo e aprendendo)

1. When you don’t pay a loan or for your credit card installments by the due date, the bank charges you interest. After a month they start charging interest on the interest. Pretty soon you can land yourself in unmanageable debt. Has that ever happened to you before? We live and learn.

2. Do you generally learn from your own mistakes and do better the next time, or do you keep making the same old mistakes? Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable - but in many such situations I tell myself, “You live and learn“.

3. One day in El Salvador, Central America, I drank water directly from the tap. I was too thirsty to care at the time… but I ended up getting typhoid fever shortly thereafter as a result. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way!

4. Have you ever gotten a traffic fine? If so, what was it for? Have you ever gone the wrong way down a one-way street, talked on your cellphone while driving or any other infraction? Sometimes the only way we learn is when we feel it in the pocket - when we get a hefty fine. We learn the hard way.

5. Not everyone can be trusted and not everyone has good intentions. Unfortunately most of us find this out the hard way.

6. Sometimes we learn more by failing and picking ourselves up and trying again. Often we live and learn through trial and error. Can you remember any lesson you learned the hard way?

7. The only way to really know what an ice-cream headache is like is to eat too much and suffer the consequences. We live and learn!

8. When I first came to Fortaleza, I was not prepared for the strength of the sun and the viciousness of the mosquitoes. I learned the hard way to use sun block and insect repellent.

9. After a month of unregulated use of any service, such as long-distance calls on a cellphone, air conditioning (higher electricity usage), etc., one may be shocked to receive a much higher bill than expected. We can then adjust our habits thereafter. We live and learn.

10. If one does not exercise or have a more-or-less healthy diet, it’s a matter of time before health problems start cropping up. If you don’t drink enough water, that may lead to kidney stones. The lesson is so painful, I am sure, that one will immediately increase their water intake to avoid the same happening in the future. We live and learn.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One out of...

One way to report statistics is to say, “One out of xxx people…”,  “One out of every xxx people…”,  “One in xxx people…” or “One in every xxx people…”
Another possibility: “For every 4 people in the world there is 1 Chinese person.”

1.      Worldwide, around 265 people are born every minute and 115 people die, for a net increase in population of 150 people every minute. So for every 2 people that are born, 1 dies.

2.      In a study of 3,000 people who made New Year's resolutions in 2007, only 12% stuck to them. The resolution with the greatest chance of success was "to enjoy life more". This means that only one in every 8 people stuck to their resolutions.

3.      Half of the population of Uganda is under 15 years of age… which means that 1 out of every 2 people is under the age of 15.

4.      One in every 10 YouTube videos is available in HD (High Definition) and 3 out of every 10  YouTube users are from the USA. 7 out of 10 users are outside of the USA.

5.      By 2030, the UN Population Fund says the number of city inhabitants will be over five billion, or 60% of world population. That’s 3 in 5 people!

6.      One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer, often before the age of 65.

7.      The countries with the highest populations of native English speakers are, in descending order: United States (215 million), United Kingdom (61 million), Canada (18.2 million), Australia (15.5 million), Nigeria (4 million), Ireland (3.8 million), South Africa (3.7 million), and New Zealand (3.6 million) - 2006 Census. Three out of every 4 English speakers are now non-native speakers.

8.      In New Zealand there are currently 40 million sheep and 4 million people. So there are 10 sheep for every one person. In 1982 it used to be 22 sheep per person. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


When we use a "NOUN + THING" combination, we are saying that the topic at hand has to do with that noun. It is connected to that noun. It is related to that noun. In the comic strip one shark comments that his going in circles and getting nauseous must be related to/ have to do with his age. It's a very common and easy way to connect ideas.

1. When women do not want to explain what they're talking about or joking about, they will say to guys, "It's a girl thing". It may be private, personal, embarrassing or difficult to explain. When a woman says that, do you get curious… or do you lose interest?

2. Likewise, when men don't have the patience to explain why they like watching football, going fishing or having a beer with their friends… They say "It's a guy thing". Are there certain things that you don't have the time or patience to explain because you think people won't understand anyway?

3. When a conversation is interrupted by a telephone call, once the person is finished chatting, if the call was from a colleague at work and was very technical, normally we explain to the other people, "It's a work thing". That way no one will think it is interesting and will probably lose their curiosity. Do you say something similar in your own language?

4. Anything we find difficult to relate to or explain, we use the "noun + thing" construct. For example, "It's a teenage thing." Are you totally out of touch with teenagers these days… or do you understand the trends and issues they are facing?

5. Often parents say to the children, "Don't worryIt's an adult thing." Do you now understand all the things your parents wouldn't explain to you when you were a child? Would those things have been difficult to understand when you were younger?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Supposed to...

If something is supposed to be a certain way or happen in a certain way, it “should” be or happen that way. It is “meant to” be like that. We are talking about the intended purpose or result.
-> É para; Era para/ deveria/ supostamente/ pressupõe-se/ se supõe que/ é suposto para

1.      I am supposed to brush my daughter’s teeth before she goes to bed, but sometimes she falls asleep before I can brush them. What can I do?!

2.      The Metro in Fortaleza was supposed to have been completed years ago. What excuse did the local government give?  Hopefully it gets completed soon!

3.      According to the Mayan calendar, the world was supposed to end on December 21st 2012. NASA said that the solar flares that were supposed to hit the earth in 2012 would hit us in 2013.

4.      In many cultures, the groom is not supposed to see the bride’s wedding dress before the ceremony. What is not supposed to happen according to superstitions related to weddings in your own country?

5.      We are not supposed to download movies etc. from the internet… but we do it anyways, with little to no consequence. Personally, when it comes to the ethics of pirating, it is a very “gray area” for me.   

6.      The United Nations is supposed to be an international body that arbitrates in important matters, especially crises… however, it’s a complicated affair trying to come to a resolution, because “too many cooks spoil the broth” – too many opinions make it extremely bureaucratic, if not impossible, to reach a consensus.

7.      We are supposed to “eject” the devices connected to our computers before pulling them out… most commonly with USB devices/ pen drives. Honestly, what will happen if we don’t go through this process?

8.      I know that I am supposed to separate my “whites” and “coloreds” when washing clothes, but I think it makes little difference when we’re doing a “cold wash”, so I bundle everything in together, “no mess no fuss” – no problem. What things are you supposed to do that you often ignore on purpose?

9.      We are supposed to throw trash in trash cans/ rubbish bins and not litter (throw trash on the floor in public). Someone who does this is called a “litterbug”. Be honest… have you littered recently?

10.  I was supposed to become a photographer for the National Geographic (It was my destiny in the abstract sense). What were you supposed to do with your life? Do you have any regrets? 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When... (future)

When we talk about the future using “when + verb”, it’s not necessary to use “will”… we simply use the simple tense of the verb.

1.      When I am rich, I’m going to buy a little beach house somewhere along the coast in Ceará.

2.      Have you thought about what you would like to do one day when you retire? Would you like to take up a new hobby, invest in a business… or just relax?

3.      When my daughter is a teenager I will need to get some good parenting advice from others who have “been there before”. I have another 9 years more or less to prepare myself.

4.      One day when I visit Rio de Janeiro, I’d like to experience all of the tourist attractions. What would you say is the number one thing that everyone has to do when they go to Rio?

5.      When I get my Brazilian Citizenship, I will be able to travel throughout South America without a passport. If only the traveling itself weren’t so expensive!

6.      When we have a new governor and mayor, do you think they will do a better job than the current ones?

7.      It will be a sad day when Nelson Mandela dies. He is 94 years old this year… and “time waits for no man”. When you die, what would you like people to say or think about you? (This example was written months before his death)

8.  When I get a credit card I will be able to accumulate miles. The more I spend, the more miles I’ll get!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just because... it doesn't mean...

Just because... it doesn't mean..." is an expression  we use to look beyond the obvious and expected. It shows us that there are other alternatives, possibilities, options or outcomes.

7. Getting divorced just because you don't love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do. - Zsa Zsa Gabor

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A "nice touch"

A nice touch is a small detail that improves the appearance/ atmosphere/ quality/ comfort/ design/ idea, etc. of something.  

1. Do you pay attention to small details at home? Do you decorate your home with nice little things or putflowers on the table? Having some plants, especially in your living room... or at the entrance, is a nice touch.

2. If you've ever been to a wedding celebration, you will have noticed small finishing touches everywhere... from flowers, linen and silverware to placeholders. I think a nice touch is giving the guests some type of keepsake to remember the special day. 

3. Can you remember a nice restaurant or hotel that you stayed in where they paid attention to detail? Was there anything particular or exceptional about the room service or service in general that you could say was a nice touch? Some hotels fold their towels into the shapes of animals and put them on your bed. Some people think that's a nice touch. Personally, I think it's weird.

4. On some flights, after you have finished eating, the air hostess hands out some hot, scented napkins/ towels for you to clean your hands. More recently, flights in Brazil have dispensed with those nice little touches… now, if you are hungry, you can buy ruffles and the sort of snacks that you can find in a vending machine in-flight. I think it's something to do with cutting costs.

5. Putting a cherry on top of a cake is generally a nice touch. If you want to ask someone very nicely to do you a favor, you can say, "Pretty please with a cherry on top!"