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Bulls and dogs

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Nuala Nuala | 08:00 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

Hi Emilio,

Welcome to our new-look blogs! It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm looking forward to learning more about you, the city of The Sun Also Rises and life with your lovely mutt Urko. Today we'll look at some common verb patterns, as well as looking at some of the differences between the past simple and the present perfect.

I suppose the first question I have to ask is have you ever run with the bulls? I'm sure I speak for all our blog followers when I say we want to hear about the famous running of bulls. Do you think it's incredibly exciting, something just daft tourists do or something that's cruel to animals? What's your take on this slice of Spanish life?

I've never done anything as dangerous as bull running. I've never done anything scary really - not a parachute jump, fire walking or anything like it.
What a wimp, I know!

One more thing I'd like to ask is - what do you do? You said that you're a 'sysadmin' but that's not a word I know. Is that perhaps a specialised job title? Something to do with computers clearly but what, exactly? Please tell us a bit more about your job when you've got time.

Turning now to some of the language aspects of your blog, I thought we'd look at some verb patterns. There's no real rule to follow. I'm afraid it's just a case of noticing them when you see or hear them, and then trying to memorise the patterns.

Verb patterns
1. After verbs like love, hate and like, we use either to + base verb or verb+ing. For example:

I love reading.
I like to walk on beaches at sunset.
She hates to see children smoking.

2. We use to after marry, listen and invite. For example:

She got married to him last summer.
Have you listened to that new CD yet?
They invited me to their house next weekend.

3. We can use about after read, talk, know and have a discussion. For example:

We read about it in the paper this morning.
They talked about their plans last night.
What do you know about computers?
They had a discussion about the situation.

Now for your first task. Have a look at these sentences from your posting and see if you can correct the prepositions. One sentence has two mistakes.

1. I got married almost 3 years ago with Mayte.
2. I have plenty of ideas with different topics to speak this month.
3. I like feel good.
4. We like travel a lot
5. We love spend our time with our doggy.

The past simple and present perfect
Now, let's have a look at the past simple and contrast it with the present perfect.

We use the past simple for things (actions or states of being) that are completed or finished in the past. For example:

Callum wrote a staff blog yesterday.
I lived in Glasgow when I was young.
She went to Edinburgh university.

One of the ways we use the present prefect is to connect something that started in the past and is still going on now. And we make the present perfect with has or have + the past particle (or the third form of the verb) - written, walked, seen - or with has or have + been + verb+ing. For example:

I've lived in London for almost ten years.
Callum has been working in BBC Learning English since 1998.
We've been looking forward to summer for ages now

Your homework challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to look at these five sentences from your blog. They are all in the past simple or present perfect tense. Some of them are correct, some of them aren't. If they are correct, you don't have to do anything. If they're wrong, you have to re-write them correctly.

1. I have been working for five years in the University of Navarra.
2. I got married almost 3 years ago
3. I am working as a security guy in a Spanish start-up for almost three years.
4. We knew each other when we were 17 years old.
5. New York possibly was the city we have enjoyed.

That's all for now. Looking forward to your next posting,


mutt - (informal) dog (often used to talk about a dog whose parents are of different breeds)
incredibly - very
daft - (informal) stupid, not clever
cruel - not kind
take on - opinion or interpretation of,
slice of - part of
parachute jump - jumping out of an aircraft with a parachute (a large piece of special cloth which is attached to someone so that they can fall slowly and safely to the ground)
scary - frightening
a wimp - (informal) a person who's not very brave
a case of - a situation or example of
contrast - looking at the differences between two things


  • Comment number 1.


    Is mutt pejorative?


  • Comment number 2.

    Ola Emilio
    We were there in Saint Fermin day in Pamplona some years ago.I remember very well our impression from the fact that almost every one was dressing white dress with red ribbon : children and adults.Almost every one held a bottle of home made Sangaria.We were in a park outside the city and we watched the opening of the Fiesta on a big screen.The atmosphere was very happy.My impression is that it is an authentic event and not a touristic one.In this park just us were tourists among thousands of the city citizens.
    A qustion to Naula : Is not it understatment to explain cruel as not kind? Look at this definition :willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others. 2.enjoying the pain or distress of others: the cruel spectators of the gladiatorial contests.
    Thanks for the blog and for the teacher.It's great!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Team,

    I recently found this website extremely helpful in selecting materials for my kids to learn English. We live in Taiwan where English comprehension is considered to be basic skills. And yet most people are educated with English since the age of 13 through 18 and up. But most people do not speak, though reading is fine.

    I am very happy to use this and I will continue to use, and of course, if there are things that come out of my head which I can contribute, I certainly will do so.

    All the best to the Team.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Nuala,

    When I showed my daughter an article to my daughter last night, her first response to the word "programme" was "I thought there was only one m in the word".

    What was the historical reason behind "favor" and "favour", "program" and "programme" and so on? They only guess I have is the people on the other side of the Atlantic are lazy.

    Please tell me.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for the tips Nuala.

    I will try to make the correct sentences:

    (BAD) I have been working for five years in the University of Navarra.
    (CORRECTED) I worked at University of Navarra for 5 years.

    (BAD) I got married almost 3 years ago
    (CORRECTED) I got married to mayte 3 years ago.

    (BAD) I am working as a security guy in a Spanish start-up for almost three years.
    (CORRECTED) I have been working in a Spanish start-up as a security guy since 2007.

    (It is correct -I think-) We knew each other when we were 17 years old.

    (BAD) New York possibly was the city we have enjoyed.
    (CORRECTED) New York was possibly the city we have enjoyed


    I am going to write my second post..

  • Comment number 6.

    hi ,
    I registered this website just three days ago.I think this will be very useful both me and my students.I'm a language teacher in Turkey.I teach English as a second language.This page is very helpful ıf ı can contribute sth ,I'll be grateful...

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Nualla! It´s my first contribution on this new blogs and I´m finding everything wonderful! Apart from that, I´m glad to know you´re our teacher blogger this month.
    All the best,
    Ana Paula.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi,Naula! I'm so happy to see u here and it's my first time to visit ur blog. I hope u could teach me something about preparing for IELTS,I mean some skills.
    Thank u!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Hello Naula... Just two days before i noticed this site. I am very poor in english.. I hope this blog and this site will help me to improve my language... I am from Kerala (said to be The God's Own Country) in India.. I am here to improve my english.

    Thank you

  • Comment number 10.

    Very nice to join this community. I am new here and I am from Malaysia.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Naula,

    This is my first day in this world of learning english. And, this one is the first blog, I have ever read in this site. This really have impressed me in a new way. It's a nice blog, I think, and surely I will be benefitted if I can keep in touch.


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