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Pretty – A short story using Comparatives and Superlatives

Pretty – A short story using Comparatives and Superlatives

“Mommy, am I pretty?”

In a world where things were more and more aesthetic, Sofia had grown concerned about her looks. She didn’t need to be the prettiest girl at school, nor did she aspire to be prettier than anyone else, she simply hoped to be as pretty as the rest of her friends.  

Claudia sighed. She imagined this day would come sooner or later, though she had hoped for later. It killed her to hear self doubt enveloping the voice of her 8 year old daughter. She wanted to take her into her arms and assure her she was beautiful, but that would simply add wood to the fire. Little boys and girls were placing more and more value on their physical appearance these days and compliments like, “you are beautiful,” only reinforced the absurd concept that physical beauty was a virtue.

Fighting the urge Claudia said, “Do you remember that time we went on vacation to the south, and camped for the entire month?”

“Of course I do mom,” Sofia replied.

“It was pretty amazing wasn’t it?”

“Yep, more amazing than any other vacation.”

“And do you remember the night when we laid on our backs and watched the stars shoot across the sky?”

“How could I forget. I wished on every single one!”

“That was pretty incredible wasn’t it?” Claudia continued.

“It was one of the most incredible nights of my life so far,” Sofia responded.

“And do you remember when that terribly ugly dog decided to adopt us for the month and everyone said he was horrible, but you thought he was the most beautiful dog you had ever seen?”

“Billy was not ugly mom!” Sofia exclaimed.

Well, all of those pretty amazing and pretty incredible things you experienced, all of those beautiful moments you continue to experience, can only be appreciated because you encompass beauty. Not the kind of beauty that can be found in the shape of your eyes or the color of your hair, but true beauty, the kind you wear on the inside. We are mere projections of what is inside of us. Like mirrors, we simply perceive in others what we carry inside. And you, my sweet girl, are filled up to the brim with beauty, which is why you see the beauty in all things. Even that ugly dog you named Billy.

Sofia looked as though she was about to cry.

Claudia held her breath. She hoped she had been clear, hoped she had sent the right message.
With tears in her eyes Sofia looked up at her mom and said, “so that means you are filled up with beauty too mommy.”

Written by Stephanie Cariker

Director at English in Rosario

Present Perfect Theory

Present Perfect Theory

The perfect tenses are perhaps the most confusing for English as a foreign language learn, especially Argentineans. The reason for this is that very few people in Argentina utilize the castellano equivalent.

The problem I have seen over the years with the use of these tenses is not necessarily in understanding the theory but rather in knowing when to apply it.

So let’s begin to break it down.

Present Perfect is: Have/Has + Past Participle

  • Unspecific. So, we will frequently use it with words like: before, once, already.
  • Repetitive action in the past (unspecific): many times, a few times, twice.
  • Unfinished. This means it started in the past but is unfinished: since, for, up to now, yet, never, ever, so far.
  • Something that has just happened: just, recently.

But, when we use it the most is for asking question we have no know way of knowing the answer to. Have you ever been, have you seen, have you tasted, etc. 

The confusion comes when deciding whether we should use Past Simple or Present Perfect and it is VERY important to know the difference because we can make huge mistakes like the following.

Imagine you are looking to “pick someone up” in a bar and so you are getting to know them. Read the dialogue and see if you can detect the difference between the two tenses.

Scenario #1

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I was married for 10 years.

This person is clearly divorced after having been married for 10 years.

Scenario #2

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I have been married for 10 years.

This person is STILL married and has been married for 10 years.

Do you see how incredibly important it is to know the difference?

Look at the activities below to see if you can decide between Past Simple and Present Perfect.

  1. Last night I _____________________(lose) my keys so I had to call my flatmate to let me in.
  2. Doctor: Do you smoke cigarettes?
    Patient: Yes, I _______________________ (smoke) since I was 15 years old.
  3. I ___________________(traveled) to Paris three times.
  4. Last year I _______________________(visit) my cousin in Milan.
  5. Melanie and I are best friend. We_________________ (meet) in 2001. I can’t believe we ______ (be) friends for so long.
  6. Sorry I ___________________(write) in so long! I___________(be) really busy with work because one of the other secretaries ________________(quit) last week.
  7. I _________________(play) Hockey since I was a child. I’m not professional but I am pretty good!
  8. My mom _____________________ (celebrate) her fiftieth birthday this month.
  9. _________ you already _______(eat) ? I _______________(make) a delicious stew!
  10. I _________never___________ (saw) that movie.

 

Dream Job

Dream Job

Read the following short story to see if you can detect the perfect tenses in context.

“So tell us a little bit about yourself Kyle,” a voice boomed from the long lacquer table of black suits and bow ties. All eyes were on him. He had never done this kind of interview before. He felt intimidated being the center of attention.

“Well, I’m originally from Chicago. I have been living here in New York for the last two years, but I have lived all over really. I spent some time in Europe and South America, and have lived in California off and on again for the past 20 years. But like I said. I was born in Chicago.”

He was nervous. Being called for an interview by the New Yorker Magazine was something he had only fantasized about. Yet, here he was sitting before the board; the board who has published the first works of nearly all best selling authors in modern literature. The magazine who, since 1925, has evolved in establishing itself as the number one forum for serious fiction literature and journalism.

“And what brings you to New York?” asked the short brunette with cat eyed glasses.

“Oh um, my grandmother died a few months ago. She left me an apartment here so I thought I would try my luck. She always used to say, “you haven’t lived if you haven’t lived in New York.” So here I am, living.

“And have you always wanted to be a writer?” inquired the slightly balding Jack Nicholson look alike.

“I have never wanted anything more. I have kept a journal since the time I learned how to write. I still carry it everywhere with me. In fact, it is hard to believe I am even here right now. I have dreamed about this moment for so long. To be honest, I actually pinched myself to make sure this moment was real.”

There was a murmur of sophisticated giggles.

“Well, we were quite impressed with your writing,” said Jack’s twin. “Which is why we have decided to offer you a full time position here at the magazine. Your schedule would be from 9-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and when we have a heave deadline, we may ask you to work overtime. The salary starts at $45,000 a year. How does that sound to you?

Surprise painted his face. He hadn’t expected this. He had drawn this day in his mind and acted it out in his sleep, but he had never imagined he would be living it as a reality.

“It has been said, that good things come to those who wait and while that may ring true, as I have been waiting most of my life for this moment, I think that time must be accompanied by hard work. I have worked hard to get here and will continue doing so. It has not always been easy but I would have to be a fool to say no to the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We are happy you have accepted, they sounded in unison. “Welcome aboard.”

Written by Stephanie Cariker

Director at English in Rosario

Find the Phrasal Verb

Find the Phrasal Verb

Sara, Sara Weisman. Ah how I admired her. She was my best friend’s older sister and I looked up to her as though she were my own. She was three years older than we were and she looked out for us during all those tough high school years, making sure the older kids treated us with respect. Looking back now, I don’t think I was alone in my admiration; I think the entire school admired her. They certainly respected her. She was so beautiful. She had long curly red hair, piercing blue eyes and long ballerina legs, but more importantly, she was sharp, smarter than most.

After finishing school, she began meeting men of all kinds; men who promised things they could not give her. She saw through most of them, all of them except for one: Theo. No one could understand what she saw in him. He had an abrasive aspect to his personality. He wasn’t aggressive, but he wasn’t exactly docile either and he always seemed like he was hiding something.

With time, Sara began looking into his past and found that he hadn’t been entirely honest with her and so, she made a decision. She wasn’t looking forward to it and it wasn’t going to be easy, breaking up with someone never was.

Theo responded like everyone knew he would. First by shouting, in attempt to deny the truth, then by crying as he slowly confessed to his lies. But Sara was not swayed, it was too late, her heart was already moving on.

Watch, Look and See – How to Know the Difference

Watch, Look and See – How to Know the Difference

Let’s start with look and see.

The fundamental difference between these two verbs is the intention behind them.

Seeing is “unintentional.” Meaning, I may see things even when I do not want to or am not trying to.

Looking is “intentional.” Meaning I am focusing my attention on something.

So, if I am looking AT you, I am focusing my attention on you, but that does not mean I will not see other things that are moving and taking place around me.

To have a clearer idea of this, imagine a camera lens. When you take a photo you capture everything that enters in the frame. Some things may be in focus and others may be out of focus. You can still see everything in the image, but you are looking at (focusing) on one specific thing.

To watch is a bit different. The verb “watch” means you are looking at something as it moves through time; you are staring at something for a prolonged amount of time.

I watch the television, a soccer game, a movie…

You can watch the clock but you can also look at the clock. The difference is, if I look at the clock I do so for an instant, long enough to see the hour. If I watch the clock, I sit staring at the clock as the second and minute hands move.

Then of course there are dozens of phrases like “watch out” meaning be careful or “look for” meaning to search for something.

Look can be used to describe the appearance of things. For example, “It looks like it will be a beautiful day.” “You look really pretty today.”

It takes some getting used to but with time, you will find, these three verbs are easier than you think!

Can you complete the following exercises with the appropriate verb?

I cannot ____________________. It is so foggy today.
Denise lost her keys. She has been_______________ for them for hours.
Did you_____________the movie last night?
_______________ at me when I am speaking to you!
When you are traveling, you must ___________________ out for pickpockets.
I look forward to ________________ you tomorrow.
It ______________ like it might rain, doesn’t it?
Hey, what’s wrong? You ________________ really unhappy.

Daydreaming

Daydreaming

Are you a daydreamer who looks up at the sky? Do you watch the clouds pass by and look at their shapes, imagining them as something else? When I was younger I used to stare at the sky on cloudy days, watching big, fluffy clouds that in my mind became animals, people, or rocket ships. I always had more fun doing this with other people because we never saw the same thing and we could look for twice as many discoveries. Our imaginations helped us to see different things and create other possibilities. Although I loved pointing out new shapes to people, what I enjoyed more was seeing the shapes they found, floating across the sky. I was amazed that two people looking at the same cloud could see two completely different things. That’s the beauty of seeing things from new perspectives. I still look forward to cloudy days when I can watch new shapes emerge right before my eyes. Now I watch the weather forecast hoping for cloudy days because to me, the sky looks more beautiful when it’s painted with clouds.

By Karen Forsythe

Watch, Look or See – Short Story

Watch, Look or See – Short Story

“What are you watching?”

“Nothing,” she responded in apathy, her gaze never veering from the screen.

“Have you seen my keys?”

Marcelo misplaced his keys on a daily basis and Lucia always seemed to remember having seen them. She had that kind of memory. Photographic. She never had to look for anything.

“On the counter top in the kitchen, next to the fridge,” she said. Her enthusiasm was less than zero as she stared into space. The images bounced around on the television but she wasn’t watching them. To her, they were just lights dancing across a screen. She paid no attention to them.

“Are you O.K.?” he finally asked.

“I’m fine.”

But she was not fine. She hadn’t been fine in months and he didn’t know how to fix it.

“I’m going to the store.”

“Watch out for strangers,” she said.

“Very funny. Do you want me to pick anything up for you?”

She tilted her head and turned to look at him. There were tears in her eyes. “You don’t have to try to cheer me up Marcelo.”

Ever since Lucia had lost her job, she had been like this, depressed, distant, lethargic, the opposite of how he knew her to be. This Lucia, this sad Lucia, was not the woman he knew. But it was the woman he loved. He saw her for who she really was. Saw through all the distractions and definitions that one might use to distinguish a personality. In good times and bad.

“You’re right, I don’t have to try Lucia; I want to try. There is no obligation involved in my actions, only love.”

She breathed out, relaxing enough to allow the faintest hint of a smile to creep across her lips.

“I love you too,” she said “but this has nothing to do with you Marcelo, I have been looking for a job for weeks. Each morning I wake up early, read the paper, search the internet classifieds and find nothing. No one is hiring. I have never been so frustrated.”

“Something will come along, Lucia, you are a talented beautiful hard working woman, when the time is right, when you least expect it, you will find something. In the meantime, do you want anything from the store?”

“If you see those new chocolate filled Oreo cookies, will you bring me a pack?” I saw a commercial for them just now and they sound delicious,” acquiescing from hint to smirk.
“I will look for them. No no, I will search for them!” he exclaimed. “Through distant and dangerous lands! If you would only flash me that smile again!”

She could not resist and grinned from ear to ear. He had that effect on her, and she would do almost anything for chocolate.

By Stephanie Cariker

Say vs Tell – Short Story

Say vs Tell – Short Story

“Come on over here my boy. Sit down beside me. I want to tell you a story, a story about a time when I was young.”

“Ah Grandpa, not the story of how you met Grandma again! You always tell me the same story,” said the young boy.

“No no,” said the old man, “this is a secret story. I’ve never told it to anyone and you have to promise never to say anything to anyone about it. Do you promise?” said the grandpa.

The boy loved secrets and prided himself on being able to keep them. He never told anyone his secrets, not even his best friend Spot.

“I love secrets!” cried the boy. “ I swear I won’t tell a single soul!”

“The story is about a hidden treasure, a treasure I found nearly 48 years ago. A pirate’s treasure.”

“A treasure!” exclaimed the boy. A pirate’s treasure? Full of gold coins and jewels?” now excited to listen to the story.

“Oh, it was golden, that’s for sure, a chest full of gold with diamonds staring back at me, two, to be exact.”

“Wow! Where did you find it? In a cave on a deserted island?” asked the boy. “Tell me tell me!” he said, now anxious to know the details.

“I was out for a walk one day and simply stumbled upon it. There it was, out in the open, sitting under a tree in the park, just waiting for someone to claim it as their own.”

“What? Out in the open? You mean you didn’t have a map? I thought you said it was a pirate’s treasure!” The boy grew suspicious.

“Oh, it was a pirate’s treasure,” assured the grandpa, but love doesn’t need a map. You just follow your heart. It knows the way.”

“Grandpa!” whined the boy. “Are you talking about grandma again? I thought this was a real pirate’s story!”

The old man chuckled. “Well, she was my treasure. She had a golden heart and eyes that sparkled just like diamonds, though I am not sure who was the pirate. It is tough to know who was doing the stealing. Maybe we both were pirates. We certainly sailed together over the years.”

As the boy watched is grandfather grow nostalgic he leaned in, hugged his grandfather tightly and said, “I liked the story Grandpa, even if you were telling a bit of a lie, even if it wasn’t really about pirates.”

Written by Stephanie Cariker

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Say versus Tell – Theory and Activity

Say versus Tell – Theory and Activity

Common misuses of “say” and “tell” by Spanish speakers

The verbs “say” and “tell” are commonly misused by English students whose mother-tongue is Spanish. Why? Because, even when they are usually translated into “decir” and “contar” the uses and meanings not exactly the same.

When “telling a story” there is no problem, in Spanish it is exactly the same. The problem appears when they want to express a concept such as “Me dijo que el café estaba listo” or “¿Te dijo la profesora que mañana no hay clases?” In these cases it is very common that the students translate directly from Spanish by saying “She said me that the coffee was ready” or “did the teacher say you that tomorrow we don’t have classes?” The correct way to say this would be “She told me the coffee was ready” or “Did the teacher tell you that tomorrow we don’t have classes?” Tell almost always goes with an object pronoun whereas say NEVER does.

Another very common mistake is to use tell without the indirect object, like, “I want to tell something” (instead of saying “I want to tell YOU something” or “I want to SAY something <to you>”). Or, perhaps the indirect object is present but for some reason we add a preposition, for example, “I want to tell to you something.” We would never say “tell to someone.” We would say “tell HER to come here.”

Finally, there are some expressions in English that are always used with the verb “tell.” You always tell a lie, tell time, tell the truth and tell a secret. You would never say any of those things.

Now that you know the rules, read the following passage and see if you can find the errors. Some may be simple misuse of the verbs say and tell, be sure to also check the tense!

The other day I was talking to my sister. She was saying a story about something that happened to her at school. But there was something that didn’t seem right. She kept looking to the left as she said the story and I knew she was saying a lie. She was telling that her teacher began yelling at her for no reason, that he was crazy. She said he told to her that she wasn’t going to pass the exam, that she would have to repeat the year.

I asked her if there was something she wasn’t saying me and she responded by yelling at me. After ten minutes, of her crying and me sitting in silence, she told to me that, her teacher was so angry because she had been caught cheating on the exam. I knew she wasn’t saying the truth! I guess it was just a matter of time before her conscious began to bother her. She never could keep a secret, she always ended up saying someone.

The answers will be published in next month’s newsletter. If you haven’t already, you can sign up by clicking here.

Storytelling Lab

Storytelling Lab

El 13 de julio en Espiria Bar a las 17:00 English in Rosario juntos a Gotas de Tinta – taller de literatura y escritura – presentaremos el primer laboratorio de cuentacuentos en inglés.

Un se preguntará, ¿por qué contar cuentos?

Según estudios,, el arte de narrar, hoy en día, es un aprendizaje no precindible. Va mucho más alla de transmitir anectdotas y cultura, hace que uno se exprese con más claridad, que logra ser mejor lector quien escuchará mejor y tendra más confianza en uno mismo.