Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wish + past simple

When we use “wish”, the grammar is identical to the “2nd conditional”: we need to use the past simple form of the verb. Both are called “present unreal conditionals”. We use it for imagined situations.
* To express a regret in the past using “wish” we use the past perfect tense.

1.      I wish I had an iPhone. Then again, if I had one, I probably wouldn’t even use 10% of its features. (This example was written over a year ago, and I do use more than 10% of my iPhone's features :-) ... You see, dreams do come true!)

2.      Don’t you wish that everyone in the world could just get along? Do human beings have it in them?  

3.      I wish the city hall in Fortaleza would build a world-class zoo. Every now and then I want to see a real lion.

4.      The most popular thing to write on a postcard is: “Wish you were here”. Do you think people are being sincere when they write that, or are they bragging about their exotic destination?

5.      Example created over a year ago: Recently (November 19th) Barack Obama gave a speech in Burma and said the following: “As president I cannot just impose my will on the congress of the United States, even though sometimes I wish I could.” Is this is a political gaffe? At the very least, his opposition will take it out of context and make a mountain out of a molehill (make a big deal out of something small/ exaggerate).

6.      I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. What would you do with the extra time if there were 26?

7.      Do you wish you were younger or older, taller or shorter or that you had different color eyes or darker or lighter skin? There are many people who wish they had some of your features.

8.      * I’m sure that many celebrities are now wishing that they hadn’t gotten botox injections or had plastic surgery done

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


If you tinker (around) with something, you play with it, experiment with it, test it, adjust it, rearrange it, reorganize it, reorder it, fix it, adapt it, improve it, modify it, add to it, etc.

1. Most guys like tinkering with applications on their cell phones. It's nice to figure out how something works and how you can use it. What apps do you like tinkering with?

2. I like tinkering with task management applications to see what features they have and how I can adapt them to my organizational needs. I find it mentally stimulating to "play around" with productivity applications. Here is a blog post I wrote this year on the Gneo Blog:

3. Usually, tinkering with something is a process of trying to find the most efficient way to use something or familiarize yourself with it. You can change and adjust something until you feel it is almost perfect. When you get a new computer or device, do you like to tinker around with it until you feel comfortable, or do you just use it for the most basic things?

4. Some people like to tinker with old cars and restore them. They will spend hour upon hour working on the engine, the paintwork and absolutely every little detail imaginable.

5. A tinker was originally a tinsmith (someone who works with tin), who mended (fixed) household utensils. Often people find it satisfying to work with their hands and tinker around fixing things. Is there anything that you like fixing?

6. If someone enjoys computer programming, you can say that they love tinkering around with code. I like tinkering around with a blog template until I have it exactly the way I want it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Modal Auxiliaries: Should, Would & Could

Should:  deveria
Would:   compraria/ iria/ faria
Could:    poderia

Should have: Deveria ter + Participle
Would have:  Teria + Participle
Could have:   Poderia ter + Participle

1.      We should always “do for others what we would like them to do for us”, but it’s kind of difficult, isn’t it?

2.      I should be watching more TV in Portuguese, listening to more Brazilian music and reading Portuguese books. Despite my excuses, I really should make the effort because it’s pretty important for me.

3.      In theory, the people that we elect to government should be honest, transparent and trustworthy, but in practice it doesn’t always work out that way. Do you think all people are corruptible?

4.      I shouldn’t have eaten that burger and those French fries today. I’m still feeling a little sluggish.

5.      I would love to live in a mosquito-free area. Mosquitoes are such a pain in the butt!

6.      I would be really happy with two more children. “The more the merrier.” For me, 3 is the perfect number.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The mood of a person is the state of mind they are in at any given time. It might depend on their emotions or feelings. The mood of a place or thing is the atmosphere or feeling that it expresses.

1. If we say that someone is not a morning person, it could mean that they are generally in a bad mood in the morning. Do you know someone (or are you someone) who is often in a bad mood when they wake up?

2. When you are in a bad mood, how long does it last for? Are you able to change your "frame of mind" easily or does it usually affect your whole day?

3. Do you think "Seu Lunga" is always sarcastic because he's in a bad mood... or do you think he is sarcastic no matter what mood he's in?

4. When someone is unusually or unexpectedly happy, you could say to them, "Wow, you're in a good mood today!" Are people pleasantly surprised when you are in a good mood?

5. What situations or circumstances put you into a bad mood? When someone insults you? When it's a rainy day? When you're hungry or tired?

6. If someone is very temperamental and their emotions go up and down, you could say that person is "moody". Do you "wear your heart on your sleeve"? In other words do you let your emotions show easily?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Stand up to/ Stand up for

If you “stand up to” someone, you are defending yourself. If you “stand up for” something you are claiming your right or demanding fair treatment. To “stand up against” is to confront someone in defense of.

1.      Do you remember who sang the following song:
              “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights…
              get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” ?

2.      It’s good to stand up for your rights, but we all need to “pick our fights”. It’s just not beneficial standing up for some rights we think we have, because sometimes they are really insignificant or unimportant and it’s not worth the conflict. Have you ever stood up for your rights by getting involved in a demonstration or protest?

3.      Sometimes it is good to stand up to a “bully”… and sometimes there are disastrous consequences, especially in the case of a smaller or weaker country standing up to a bigger country. Some people portray the USA as a bully. Do you think this is really the case?

4.       Mahatma Gandhi was a fascinating character. The way in which he stood up against discrimination in South Africa and in India using passive resistance and non-violence, makes him stand out as one of the most important examples of resolving conflict peacefully.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Out + Verb

If you outrun someone, you run faster than them. If you outplay your opponent, you play better than them. If you outfish someone, you catch more/ bigger  fish. 

1.      By far, my favorite TV series is a reality show called “Survivor”.  About 20 contestants are castaway on an island or isolated somewhere in the wilderness. The contestants are split into tribes and have to survive the elements, construct shelter, build fire, look for water, and scrounge for food and other necessities for the entire filming period which is around 39 days. The show uses a system of progressive elimination, allowing the contestants to vote off other tribe members until only one final contestant remains and wins the title of “Sole Survivor” and a million dollar cash prize. The slogan for the series is: “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.” To become the Sole Survivor, one contestant has to be smarter, play better and last longer than everyone else.

2.      Children grow so quickly that they outgrow their clothes on a regular basis. Also you can outgrow something as you get older and more mature or get more experience. Have you outgrown your job?

3.      When it comes to speech recognition technology, Google is outperforming Apple’s assistant, “Siri”. On the other hand, however, it doesn’t actually do anything except search.  Google can tell you the height of the Golden Gate Bridge faster than Siri, but it can’t set appointments, take dictation, or make a phone call.

4.      When you do a phenomenal job with something or made more effort than usual, people can say that you have outdone yourself. London really outdid itself with the last Olympics. It was really first class!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Whatever - Any thing (This could also be every thing)
Whenever - Any time (This could also be 'every time')
Wherever - Any 'where' (Anywhere or everywhere).
Whoever - Anyone (Any person or every person, or sometimes used to refer to a person unknown to the speaker)
Whichever - Any 'which' (Choice between a group or set).
However - Any 'way' (In any manner or way, regardless of how).

Basically each one means: "It does not matter what / when / where etc." OR "An unknown thing / time / place etc."

1. The genie said something like this to Aladin: "I'll give you three wishes… You can wish for whatever (anything) you want and I will give it to you." I know it's one of those cliché questions, but if you could have whatever (anything) you wanted, what three things would you wish for?

2. Whatever you do, just don't touch that red button over there! (This means that you can do anything you want with the exception of touching the red button.) This is often used in giving advice.

3. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could just take a nap whenever we get tired, no matter where we are?

4. Whenever I get less than six hours of sleep I literally walk around like a zombie the whole day. 

5. "There's no place like home" is an expression which means that wherever you go in the world, you will never find a place quite like your hometown, home city or home country. It will always be a part of you. Do you think you could immigrate and live in another country for the rest of your life?