Hello again Ana Paula, and everyone else.
Sorry to hear you found 300 so disappointing. I didn’t think it was great, but on the other hand I didn’t think it was that bad. Maybe it’s just a ‘boys’ film’. I went to see it with a couple of male friends; none of my female friends had any interest at all in watching it.
Anyway, I promised last week to tell you something about the Easter tradition of egg-rolling. To be honest, this isn’t a very widespread English tradition; in fact, it’s traditional in my family but most of my other English friends have never heard of it. Anyway, it works like this: on Easter Sunday, the whole family gathers together for lunch. After lunch, everyone is given a hard-boiled egg. Paints are placed on the table, and each person decorates their egg. Some people personalize their eggs with colourful patterns or traditional Easter symbols such as rabbits, but others choose more off-beat designs. This year I couldn’t decide what to draw on mine, so I asked my four-year-old cousin Lydia for advice. “You should draw a wolf,” said Lydia, so I attempted to draw a fearsome and terrifying wolf. Unfortunately, I’m not a particularly good artist, so the result was neither fearsome nor terrifying.
After lunch, when the eggs have all been decorated, we all walk together to the top of a nearby hill, and then the egg-rolling begins. Somebody shouts, “three… two… one… ROLL!”, then everyone rolls their egg down the hillside. The winner is the person whose egg rolls the furthest. The problem is, the eggs tend to break as they roll. By the time they reach the bottom of the slope, they have normally disintegrated into a mess of egg-white, yolk and painted shell, so it’s impossible to see which egg has actually won. The game usually ends with all the children of the family shouting, “my egg won!”, “no, my egg won!”, “no, MY egg won!”, while the adults pick up the broken pieces of egg and try to calm the kids down.
You asked about favourite books, Ana Paula. It’s difficult to choose just one, but if I had to, I think I’d choose the famous novel ‘The Trial’ by the Czech writer Franz Kafka. I first read this book many years ago, when I was at university, and I immediately fell in love with it; I’ve re-read it many times since then, and I never get tired of it. It’s quite a dark, strange story, and very dream-like – a man called Josef K is arrested, and the book described his attempts to discover why he has been arrested and how he can get off the hook.
OK, it’s time to move on and talk about language. I noticed some very nice sentences in your last blog, Ana Paula. I particularly liked this one:
"The Clarice Lispector´s book that I like most is " Uma Aprendizagem Ou O Livro dos Prazeres ( A Learning Or The Book Of The Pleasures), which tells the story of Lóri, a woman in search of herself, and in search of the understanding of just "being"."
This sentence makes excellent use of relative clauses (“that I like most”, “which tells the story of…”). In fact, it’s almost perfect; the only grammatical problem in the whole sentence is the phrase, ‘the Clarice Lispector’s book’. This should be ‘the Clarice Lispector book’. Similarly, ‘my favourite Hitch’s films’ should be ‘my favourite Hitch films’ (or ‘my favourite Hitchcock films’) and ‘my favourite Dostoievski’s novel’ should be ‘my favourite Dostoievski novel’.
I’d also like to say a little about the present perfect and the past simple. The present perfect is looks like this:
“I´ve read Capitães de Areia (Capitains of Sand).”
The past simple looks like this:
“On Saturday I went to the movies.”
Many students find it difficult to know when they should use the present perfect and when they should use the simple past. The simple rule is this: the present perfect is for actions or situations which are not finished, or for actions or situations which are finished but we don’t know when they happened. Therefore, I could say,
“I’ve lived in London for three years.” (This is not finished. I still live in London now.)
I could also say,
“I’ve read ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ .” (I’m not reading this book now, so it’s finished, but it’s not clear when I read it. Maybe it was last week, maybe it was ten years ago).
We use the past simple to describe actions or situations which are finished and we know when they happened. So I could say,
“I lived in Manchester ten years ago.” (I don’t live in Manchester now, so this is finished, and we know when it happened – ten years ago).
Please look again at this sentence:
“Later, when I was at home, I´ve picked one of my favourite Hitch films to watch, Rebecca.”
This sentence is about picking a film to watch. Is this action finished? Yes it is. Do we know when it happened? Yes, “when I was at home”. Therefore, you need to use the past simple here, like this:
“Later, when I was at home, I picked one of my favourite Hitch films to watch, Rebecca.”
Also, there’s this sentence:
“Many of his novels were adapted for TV.”
Here, the sentence describes an action which is finished but we don’t know when it happened – maybe they were adapted last month, maybe they were adapted twenty years ago. Because it’s finished but we don’t know when it happened, we need to use the present perfect here:
“Many of his novels have been adapted for TV.”
OK, I’d better go and plan my lessons now. More soon!
All the best,
PS Thanks very much for your sympathy and helpful suggestions for my toothache. It’s much better now, thanks!
Widespread is an adjective meaning ‘common’.
A hard-boiled egg is an egg which has been boiled for a long time, until it’s completely solid and hard.
To personalize something means to change it in order to make it uniquely your own. Many of my students personalize their textbooks with pictures, stickers, etc.
Off-beat is an informal adjective, which we use to describe people’s ideas or behaviour. It means unusual, unexpected or unconventional.
Fearsome and terrifying are both adjectives meaning frightening or scary.
If something tends to happen, that means it normally (but not always) happens. For example, I tend to write my blog after lunch – that’s the time when I normally write it.
If something disintegrates, it breaks apart into many small pieces.
An egg has three parts: the yellow yolk in the centre, the white (or egg-white) around it, and the shell on the outside.
To calm down means to become calm and peaceful. So, to calm someone down is to make that person become calm. For example, if someone is shouting and behaving in an angry way, people might say, “Hey! Calm down!”
The prefix re- means ‘again’. Therefore, to re-read a book is to read that book for the second time (or the third time, or the fourth… )
The informal phrase off the hook is used when someone has avoided some kind of punishment or unpleasant task. For example, maybe I tell my students to do some homework and they don’t want to do it. If they persuade me to cancel the homework, I might say, “OK, I’ll let you off the hook.” In this case, I ‘let the students off the hook’; the students ‘get off the hook’.
The verb to pick has several meanings; here, it means to choose or to select.
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