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Wednesday, 04 April 2007


Hi Ana Paula, and hi to everyone else who’s reading this!

Yes, I enjoyed the sunny afternoon very much, thanks. There’s a park near my house, and after I finished writing on Monday I strolled over there and soaked up some sunshine. I’m happy to say that today’s another very warm spring day in London. However, I think my idea of a ‘very warm day’ might be a little different from yours, Ana Paula – I just looked on the internet and found out that the highest temperature in London today was 18º C. In London, 18ºC is a very warm spring day! I suspect this may be different in Sao Paolo…

Do you get a holiday for Easter? If so, how are you going to spend it? I should explain that Easter is a traditional holiday in Christian countries. This year, Easter is from Friday the 6th to Monday the 9th of April. On Friday I’m going to travel up to the north of England, to the small town where my family live. In this particular small town, people traditionally celebrate Easter with a rather weird and bizarre sport, or game, called ‘egg-rolling’. I’ll tell you more about this next time.

You dropped a few hints about your job, and now I’m very curious about it. You said you wear heavy security clothes and boots – are you a security guard? Or a policewoman? Perhaps you work in construction (or in the petrochemical industry, like Aaron from Beijing)? Please tell us, or at least give us some more hints. I’m quite perplexed.

Your last blog was very well-written. You used some very good vocabulary (such as ‘exaggerate’ and ‘unbearable’) and expressions (for example ‘little by little’ and ‘it’s our own fault’) and most of your sentences were very grammatically accurate. However, many of your sentences are quite short, using only one clause.

In the future, to improve your writing further, I suggest you concentrate on connecting clauses and sentences together with words like ‘although’ or ‘however’.

In fact, I can see that you are already trying to do this, but you need to be very careful with these words because using them correctly is tricky. Let’s look at this sentence as an example:

“Although in some Brazilian families Paula can be a last name, however it isn’t my case.”

I can understand what you mean here, but the grammar isn’t quite right. We can use ‘although’ OR ‘however’ here, but we can’t use both, and we have to be careful because they have different grammar. If we use ‘although’, the grammar looks like this:

[although + clause], [clause]

So, for example, you could say:

“Although Alex is bald, he is extremely handsome.”

Or we can reverse the sentence, like this:

[clause], [although + clause]

So the example would look like this:

“Alex is extremely handsome, although he is bald.”

The grammar for ‘however’ is different. If we want to use ‘however’, we need to follow this grammatical pattern:

[clause]. [However, + clause].

So, for example:

“Alex is bald. However, he is extremely handsome.”

OK, now let’s return to the sentence you wrote. The original sentence was like this:

“Although in some Brazilian families Paula can be a last name, however it isn´t my case.”

There are three possible ways you could fix this sentence. If you want to use ‘although’, you could say:

“Although in some Brazilian families Paula can be a last name, it isn’t in my case.”


“Paula isn’t a last name in my case, although in some Brazilian families it can be.”

On the other hand, if you want to use ‘however’, it should be like this:

“In some Brazilian families Paula can be a last name. However, it isn’t in my case.”


A quick note to all the people who wrote comments last time:

Firstly, thank you very much indeed for all your generous, enthusiastic and entertaining comments! Several people asked questions, and I’m sorry I don’t have time to answer all of them now, but I’ll try to deal with as many as possible in the next few weeks. In particular, there were questions about the present continuous and future tenses. I will say something about these tense soon, I promise!

In particular, I’d like to thank Hyoshil from Lincoln, who wrote a hilarious comment, and Leila from Finland, who mentioned my hero, Darth Vader.

As many people guessed, a ‘love-hate’ relationship is a situation in which you love something and hate it at the same time, and having ‘the best of both worlds’ means having the advantages of two different situations at the same time (for example, Ana Paula’s hometown has the relaxed atmosphere of a small town, and but she can also enjoy the cinemas, theatres, etc., of Sao Paolo, a major city).

One more thing. Some of you mentioned that the man in the picture at the top of your screen DIDN’T look incredibly handsome. Please look again. If you STILL can’t see an incredibly handsome man, I think you probably have a problem with your computer. Or maybe a problem with your eyes.

All the best,



Today’s vocabulary:

‘To stroll’ means to walk in a slow, relaxed way.

‘To soak up’ means ‘to absorb’. For example, a sponge soaks up water.

‘Weird’ and ‘bizarre’ are both adjectives meaning ‘strange’.

A ‘hint’ is a ‘clue’, or a small piece of information which might help us to solve a puzzle. We can say, ‘give someone a hint’ or ‘drop (someone) a hint’; the meaning is the same.

‘Perplexed’ is an adjective meaning ‘puzzled’.

‘To exaggerate’ means to ‘overstate’, or to say that something (or someone) is better, worse, more important, more interesting, etc., than it actually is. For example, if someone tells you that they can run a kilometer in thirty seconds, they are probably exaggerating.

We use the adjective ‘unbearable’ when something is too strong or too intense for us, and we can’t stand it.

‘Clause’ is a very important grammatical term. A clause is a subject, plus a verb, plus possibly some extra information. This sentence has only one clause:

“I like ice-cream.”

This sentence has three clauses:

“I like ice-cream and I love chocolate, but I hate salad.”

‘Tricky’ is an informal adjective, meaning ‘difficult’.

The adjective ‘bald’ describes someone who has no hair on their head.

‘Hilarious’ means very funny.

Your ‘hero’ is a person whom you admire and look up to. ‘Hero’ is the male form; the female form is ‘heroine’.

Can you guess the meaning of ‘little by little’ and ‘it’s our own fault’?


I would like to know the origin of your last name. It seems not to be English.

I don’t know what to say, I am very fascinated with your blogs, they are not only very informative but also hilarious… Thank you so much. I would like to answer your two questions: 1- 'little by little': Gradually/ Slowly/ Step by step. 2- 'it's our own fault': we are the ones to be blamed, because we are the ones who caused the global warming. Hence, we have to accept the results. A small request: Can you write us a little more about your daily life, please!

Hi,Alex Here is another bombshell for you. When I was listening "ask about English" in your voice my son asked me who the grandfather was. It was amusing and I couldn't stop laughing. I nearly fell off the chair due to laughing.After pulled myself together I explained who you were,but he was't still convinced the picture of you and your very deep voice all belong to you.I really enjoyed your blog and I am so glad that my humble comment gave you a pleasure.The weather has been very much changable here. We might take our son to seaside during the East holiday and are going down to New Malden which is near Wimbeldon to get some Korean ingridients for cooking. Have a wonderful holiday and l am looking forward to your colourful holiday stories.hyoshil

Hi ALEX, I have a bit something exciting when I saw my name appeared in your blog,it is realy unbelievable. Can you tell me a little more about Easter?Anyway,this festival is not so popular in easten countries,and people in eastern countries seldom know abut this festival or know only a little about it. By the way,can you tell me something about Darth Vader?why he is a hero in your heart?what kind of person he is?there must be some hero stories behind him,if you can give me some ideas,it will be very appreciated. Aaron

Hi Alex, your last blog made me amuse. I must admit, you have a good sense of humor. So, we will have the chance to know about you little by little from your blogs. 'little by little' is opposite to 'all at once', isn't it? We have to learn the rules of grammar little by little, we must not hurry, otherwise we will end up forgetting everything; if we are not so genius. Another thing is very important as you mentioned earlier-to learn from mistakes. But few of us have the courage to admit that we have made any mistakes or to say 'it's our own fault'. If we don't change this type of mentality we wouldn't be able to learn anything, let alone any language. Thank you for reading my comment (although boring!). Bye for now:).

Hi Alex, good to hear from you. The temperature you described as warm really is very different of the idea we, brazilian people , have of warm temperature. However it seems rather pleasant to enjoy a stroll in the park in such a delightful weather. Here it's been very hot. So hot we don't really feel like walking. But it's got its advantages too. It's good to enjoy a good holiday on the seaside which is what I intend to do. I'm eager to know more about egg-rolling. I can't imagine what this game is like. Best wishes from Brazil.

Hi, Alex. It is so great reading your blog after a pause of several weeks away from Internet. I am strongly interested in your hometown's Easter tradition and looking forward to more about it.

Hello Alex, you are a very good teacher as you explain things in very simple way, which is easy to understand. Although, we use this word "although" quite frequently but like Ana not in a correct manner. We learn from our mistakes, however we should not do them again and try to rectify them. Hopefully, you will have good time with your family while celebrating the Easter. As you asked little by little means step by step to learn some thing, to know about someone, to involve in an activity. Frankly speaking you have asked a tricky question, however, it is our own fault that we don't understand it properly. The man in the picture is really handsome, young and smart and the number of comments on the first blog proves the statement. So, you should not bother Alex just take care and enjoy your Easter holiday.

Hi Alex, Happy Easter!Enjoy your jouney. I feel glad that can share your life in this blog. Please tell ours about your life, work and life experience etc. By the way, I hope that you can teach some useful of english for ourselves. Thank you ! Let me introduce myselfe, I am Fanny from Hong Kong. I watched this blog about four months. I feel that it is very funny and worth to watching. Because it can help me to learn some useful vocabulary and how to write complex sentences. But I don't know how to improve the listening. It is a difficult question for me. Have you some suggestion for me. Thanks! Best Wishes!

Your 2nd blog was good until I read the last paragraph.It is offensive to me.I don't know you just wrote it as a HILARIOUS joke or not.Words sometimes can't express exactly what you say.It doesn't mutter you're incredibly handsome or not. I want to say please don't use the sentense like "maybe a problem with your eyes" There are many people who read BBC blog and one of them might not read it without a special computer tool or someone who reads aloud for him/her.I hope you just wrote the sentence as a joke.

Hi, our incredibly handsome teacher Alex, how are you today! Continue enjoying your sunshine, eh? Today in Beijing it’s cloudy. I hope tomorrow will be a sunny day. Does ‘little by little’ have the same meaning with ‘step by step’? ‘It’s our own fault’ I think it means we caused the result, especially something bad. Alex, please don’t let us wait a long time to read your update, because we are all eager to catch up with you. :) All the best! Jill.

Hello, Alex. Thanks for using 'to soak up some sunshine'. If you hadn't used it I wouldn't have notice it. It is a very nice expression (or idiom) because the word 'soak' is normally collocated with liquids. In my dicionary I found a simillar one: 'to soak up the sun'. Both of them probably mean exactly the same so I think it isn't the fixed expression. By the way, thanks for your grammar explaination on although and however. Best wishes.

As I am also going away for Easter, I want to wish you Alex a very enjoyable Easter time with your family. Also Happy Easter to you all! Although we joke and use a lot of light hearted humor in our comments, this site is very, very important for learning English. You people do extremely important work. I have wondered is this a business opportunity for BBC Learning English or is a just an unselfish and educational service you give to our benefit? Little by little we all progress with our own abilities with English; I am certain that others share my opinion, when I say, that we gain more confidence every day and it is due to you people. Thank you! It is our own fault, if we don´t take this opportunity to improve our language skills. The feeling one gets when something new has absorbed into one´s awareness, isr ewarding. The learning becomes fun. I was delighted to notice you liked Dart Vader Alex, he captivates me also a great deal; evil but so mysterious. One can recognize familiar (often hidden) characteristics in Dart Vader´s personality. Life is a tragedy.

I hope you are enjoying the spring. Even though christians are minorities in our country we have holiday on good friday. we will celebrate Easter. we will mourn Jesus's death on good friday. we will attend way of the cross in the church. the next three day will be a religious and cermonial one for us. but I will do reflection on myself that how christs are suffering today in many places today when sufferings are continuing among people.

Hi Alex! I can see you`ve soon become a very favorite teacher with lots of comments! A day I was downn in bed (in such lovely spring days). I was wondering what you are going to write about next. And I was right when I expected as cheerful lessons as your smile is! Your style is just fresh to draw my attention and grammar lecture is very easy to understand. Thank you! I am full of joyous mood with yours and Ana Paula`s blogs. Lovely days for both of you!

Hi,i like your sense of humour which can absolutely pick up inside your blog.Cool!!!I dont know how to speak of your incredible handsome face,so sorry.Frankly,It is hard to tell from for me on computer.However,i like you for God's sake.Hope you can send more photoes about you next time.I am so appreciated.Have a nice holiday back home.

I looked again, have to say that I indeed saw a inredibly handsome houmour guy.Happy Easter Day!

Hi, Alex! thanks for the lesson... i like catchphrases ...i try to pick up them from the films i see (watch)... ‘little by little’ -smth happens gradually...‘it’s our own fault’- when we're responsible for being wrong

Hello Alex!I've spent a good time reading your blog these days. Although I usually find difficult to deal with grammar, your explanations have been clear and brief. I think that "little by little" is an expresion that indicates that something happen slowly or step by step, and "it's our own fault" means that we are to blame for something. Let me know about "egg-rolling". I can't wait:)!

hi in iraq nobody wants to soak up sunshine ,everybody escape from it..because the sun is too violence however i have to go to uni every day ...we dont have the easter eve but these days are holy for us too as its the birth of prophet muhammad,,,we celebrate these days every year,, bye

Who is Darth Vader?

Hello,everyone!I just would like to know whether someone has heard something from Stephen Keeler,January's blog teacher?He promised he'd write something here on the BBC site,but I've found nothing yet..Best wishes to all of you BBC Learning English writes: You'll be pleased to know that Stephen's new column will be appearing later in April!

In the UK we're celebrating Easter, which means that we won't be in the office on Friday or Monday! We hope you enjoy the blog over the next few days. We'll be back on Tuesday and publish your comments then!

Hello Alex, When I read the last pragraph in your last blog I couldn't be able control my laugh, because you had written that if you don't see the incredibly handsome man on your computer screen, you have problem in your eye site or some problem in your computer. I think you are a very funny and interesting person to get along. I wish I were in your interactive life teaching class to learn english.I have seen your name in some other site in learning english web site, in those your explanations are fantatic.Today I studied from your site 'ask about english' the topics the objective tone and thesubjective tone. I never heard about this before, your have explained that objective tone is very important for acaemic writing. I don't know how to write in objective tone. I have to goto work now. Have great easter holiday.

Hello Alex! I'd say I cannot keep my eyes off your blogs, Anna's, and your comments. Interesting and hilarious! There is so much sunshine where we live that We might be badly burnt. I have no idea how to enjoy the feeling of soaking up the sunshine because I always disguise myself from head to toe as if an astronault when being out in the sun. You're lucky! I wish you have a nice Easter holidays. I am not a christian so I'm eager to know how to play "egg-rolling" game. It must be jolly, musn't it? Anyway, to your phrases,I think "little by little" is used to refer to somthing that goes or develops slowly or gradually. We can use step by step in this case. As for "It's our own fault", it means we, who abuse the nature, are the original cause of the global weather changing nowadays. Truely, We "sow the wind and reap the whirlwind". I am looking forward to your next lesson. By the way, I overheard your voice at "ask about English" is like... Makes me curious. I'll go to listen. Bye

Hello Katya, thanks for your question. I'm going to let (part of) the cat out of the bag and tell you that Stephen will be with us again before the end of April. What will he be doing? Well, that is still a secret. More details very soon... Paul

haha,you are incredibly handsome and more humorous too!I can promise that!:)

Hi Alex, it's great to see your blog has updated:) wow, 18 degree is pretty cold for me, haha. You are going to the north England? It seems you may reached there now. Hope you enjoy your holiday, and the reunion with your family. Don't forget to write your journey in north England, tell us what was happen in these few days. bye:)

hello, is also a very warm spring day here in Jilin china.i love this mild weather neither hot nor cold.but according to the forecast,it will be snowy and rainy in the next two days,so this is the spring it is easily changeable. thanks for your useful blog,acturally i read it for many times so that i can remember the important words and sentences ,i think it will be helpful for my writing.and for your question,"little by little "is it mean"gratually"or" do sth step by step".and "it is our own fault"means"we do sth wrong, and we should take the responsibility for that". have a good wishes.

Good evening teacher. I'm looking forward to read about the traditions of your country, particularly in this holiday. Let's wait for the next post...good night and nice dreams!

Hellow everybody this is my first comments. Sir i want to improve my written english as well as spoken. Please guide me. I personally feel that most of the people lack confidence and positive attitude to face the life situvation. I thik if you send your blog for 2 months continuesly about the entire personality development tools which requires for everybody in all walk of life. We get two things we will improve our english and form a new attitude which brings new thought process to improve our overall situvation in life. For that a caliber teacher like you can frame this new vision. I hope you thigs will give new shape in the next block With Regards Syed Tameem

hollo,great filing with you blog ,i am chinese,i wannato profound my english,it is prety boggly job ,my experience in term of study english,firstabile i ask you use the verb which is diversity meannings,such as "drop" in the dictionary,no less then 10 meaning,in addition the slang,"drop down " "drop off"ext, when i hear this words,so hard to quick take ,so qustion is ,what sort of reaction emerge in you mind ,it is a picture to let you immiage the it or other best way to intent,at china perspective,we say something is concretly when we use the verb,but at your asspective,verb need to be immage it or saying this that is putting the word to the context,so perplexy,so please ,give me a lamp! thank a lot you faithful sum 2007-4-12

Hi! Alex Thanks for your help, it`s very interested your comments, and I looked again your picture at the top of my screen, and certainly, I saw an incredibly handsome man, although, I have a problem with my eyes or maybe it is your brother`s picture. Thanks and bye

Who is Darth Vader? He was a Jedi knight of old republic in a galaxy far, far away long long time ago. He learned the ability to use Force from Jedi master Obi-won Kenobi. The Force is a kind of mystery which surrounds us. The men/women who use Force to maintain peace in the universe are called Jedi. Jedi has several ranks, including apprentice, Jedi knight, Jedi master and others. The original name of Darth Vader is "Anakin Skywalker", who was be believed that he would bring balance to the Force and destroy Jedi's enemy "The Sith". Sith also knew how to use Force but they believed the dark side of the Force can help them to get more power. Why Anakin turned to his side from Jedi to Sith? Because he believed that the dark side of the Force could bring his wife, Padme, away from death. If you want to know more about him, please go to Blockbuster and rent a series of movie which name is Star Wars. ^_^

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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