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Tuesday, 17 April 2007


Hi Ana Paula and everyone else,

I'm worried today. In particular, I'm worried about some of the people who read these blogs and write comments on them.

I think you'll agree that, in general, our readers seem to be particularly smart, good-natured people who have their heads screwed on. Their comments are intelligent, supportive, and often very funny.

However, several readers have commented on the 'cheese with fudge issue', and I'm sorry to say that almost all of them think that cheese with fudge is a good idea. What is wrong with these people? I think you are having a bad influence on them, Ana Paula. Of all the readers who commented on this subject, only Spanish Antonio from Belgium agreed with me that cheese with fudge sounds terrible. Spanish Antonio from Belgium, you are a scholar and a gentleman, thanks very much for your comment.

I'm writing quickly today I'm afraid, as I have to go out soon - I'm going to a concert tonight. When I was younger, I used to like loud, nasty, aggressive music, and in fact I used to play the guitar in a punk band with some friends. The band was absolutely awful, with no musical ability at all, but we had a lot of fun playing together. When I turned thirty, though, something very strange happened. Suddenly, almost overnight, my musical tastes changed. I no longer wanted to listen to strange, evil-looking men screaming and making horrible noises on electric guitars. Instead, I wanted to listen to people in cowboy hats singing sad songs about mountains and horses and things like that. I don't know how and I don't know why, but at the age of thirty I suddenly became a country and western fan.

Weirdly, the same thing happened to my friends from the punk band - when they turned thirty, they lost interest in punk music and got into country music instead. Now we have another band, playing country music together. We're still awful musicians, but we still have fun playing music together. And this evening we're all going together to listen to some country singers.

What kind of music do you like, Ana Paula? Actually, before you tell me I'm going to guess. I think you're a fan of the American band Nirvana. Why do I think you're a Nirvana fan? Because of one small mistake which you've made a couple of times recently. In English, we sometimes use the phrase 'never mind' when we want to say that something doesn't matter or that it is not important. Please note that 'never mind' is two words. However, when Nirvana used this phrase as the title of their album, they put the two words ('never' and 'mind') together and made one word, 'Nevermind'. I don't know why they did this, but I've noticed that you often do the same thing - you write 'nevermind' when you mean 'never mind'. Did you pick this up from the title of the Nirvana album?

I asked you to correct this sentence:

'If the Minas cheese wouldn’t be perishable, I would send a Fedex straight to Oxford Street.'

You wrote this:

'If the Minas cheese wasn't perishable, I would send a Fedex straight to Oxford Street.'

Well done, this makes a very good second conditional sentence. However, it's important to remember that this is an informal sentence. In the second conditional, we can make the sentence more formal by changing was to were, like this:

'If the Minas cheese weren't perishable, I would send a Fedex straight to Oxford Street.'

Both are good sentences, and the meaning is the same; we just use them in slightly different situations.

I'd like to continue from Monday and say a little about the third conditional. The third conditional looks like this:

['if' + past perfect] + ['would have' + third form of the verb]


['would have' + third form of the verb] + ['if' + past perfect]

So, I could say:

'If it had rained yesterday, I would have got wet.'


'I would have got wet if it had rained yesterday,'

As we can see from the word 'yesterday', the third conditional is about the past. The important thing to remember in this example is that it did not rain yesterday. We use the third conditional to imagine something, in the past, which did not happen. Here's another example:

'If I hadn't gone to work this morning, my boss would have been angry.'

In fact, I did go to work this morning, and my boss wasn't angry. In this sentence I'm imagining a situation in the past, and I'm imagining the results of that situation, which are also in the past.

I hope that's clear to all the readers, because I'm going to set an exercise for everyone today. please rearrange these words to make correct English sentences. I've done the first one for you, to give you an example.

1. FEEL / IF / SUN / I / SHINES / HAPPY / THE = If the sun, shines I feel happy.




Have fun! I've got to go, or I'll be late for the concert. As the cowboys say, so long!


The adjective smart sometimes means well-dressed (and it suggests that someone is wearing more formal clothes). However, it can also mean 'intelligent', and that's what I mean in this sentence.

If someone is good-natured, they have a nice personality.

I've included a couple of more complex idioms in today's blog. The first is an informal one, to have (his / her / their / etc) head screwed on. If people have their heads screwed on, this means that they are sensible, and aware of the world around them.

The second idiom is 'you are a scholar and a gentleman'. This is a compliment; it simply means, 'I think you are a good person'. It's a formal and old-fashioned idiom, but sometimes it's fun to use formal, old-fashioned language.

Nasty is the opposite of nice.

Punk is a particularly loud and aggressive style of music. Probably the most famous punk band was the Sex Pistols.

I turned thirty means that I became thirty years old. We can use the verb 'to turn' with any age, in this way - for example, my cousin Lydia will turn five this year.

If something happens suddenly or very quickly, we can say that it happens overnight.

Country and western is another style of music, but it's much softer and quieter punk. Country and western music (sometimes called 'country music') comes from the southern USA, and is associated with cowboys.

The adjective 'weird' means 'strange', so the adverb weirdly has the same meaning as 'strangely'.

To lose interest in something means to stop being interested in this thing.

To get into something means to become interested in this thing.

An album is a group of songs or pieces of music which have been put together. for example, if you buy a CD, the music on it will probably be an album.

So long is American slang for 'goodbye'. If you watch cowboy films, you will probably hear this phrase!


Hi Alex! Once my PC is back again from repair and with a bit of luck I am more or less successively attached to the net. And what I see what can I read between new and new erruption of laughter. My sweet philosophy-daydreaming teacher without any artistic gift should write film scripts very soon! I like comedies with Jean Reno whom I could immediatelly imagine in your first production. But excuse me please, teacher, exercises are too much as my mind turned fifty. Come here and play with your band on a shore of lake right by my flat. Good night!

Hello Alex, I'm new here on BBC blog and I consider blogging a great thing for improving my English. Thank you for your advice and the exercise as well. Here my solution: 1. If the sun shines, I feel happy. 2. If I stay out late tonight, I will be tired tomorrow morning. 3. If I ate cheese with fudge, I would probably feel sick. (Me too, let's meet at the doctor's!) 4. If I had gone for a walk in the park today, I would not have written this blog instead. Sunny greetings from Austria, Andrea

Hullo, Alex. You says that the readers seem to be particularly smart, good-natured people who have their heads screwed on. I'm not certain about others but as for me I'm astounded by you accurate description. You've never had any oportunity to meet me and you description fits me so accuratelly. You are a scholar and a gentleman, Alex. As for the music I think you should begin to practise classical music in case your musical tastes changed overnight. Best wishes.

Hi teacher, good evening. My answers: 1- It has been done for me. 2- "If I stay out tonight, I will be tired tomorrow morning." 3- "I would be probably quite healthy if I ate just a little bit of fudge and Minas cheese." 4- "I would have gone for a walk in the park instead if I had not have written this blog today." PS: the 4th is more difficult so I have done one more time: 5- If the teacher had agreed with us on the fudge with cheese issue, we would not have thought that his taste buds were severely damaged." :) Good night and good dreams!

Hi Alex,How cunning you are! Oops!!! I am so rude, am I? Sorry, Sorry! You are laying a trap for ... "If the sun, shines I feel happy." Don't dream of us falling right into yours. Here are the answers: 2. If I stay out late tonight, I will be tired tomorrow morning. 3. I would probably feel fineee, If I ate cheese with fudge. 4. If today I had not gone for a walk in the park, I would have written this blog instead . Thank you for your superb lesson. Best wishes,

hi.Alex.The following is the answers: i,If i stay late tonight,i will be tired tomorrow morning. ii,I probably would feel sick,if i ate fudge with cheese. iii,If i had not written this blog today,i would have gone for walk in a park instead. Well,i think you must enjoy the concer very much.Is there a tiny mistake in your exercise example?If the sun shines,i feel happy.Don't worry about us---smart and good-natured peole who have their heads screwed on.Haha..Let's talk about weather and music.Undoubtly,weather here is very nice;accidentally,i love country music in my early twenties.But i don't think punk or Rock&Roll or any kind crazy music is nasty.You can play bass and guitar,right?Wow,It should be a good way to vent your emotions,which i do envy.You are a scholar and a gentleman!So long,cowboy!

Hi Alex, thanks for your compliments. I am not surrendering to Ana Paula but, maybe we could make an effort and taste it. I am happy to read that I am not the only one that at a certain moment , maybe turning thirty, changed his musical tastes. When I was younger I couldn’t listen to classical or operas. I like vocal jazz, blues, country … I won’t try to do the exercise because I have already seen the results in Ana Paula’s blog. By the way, I think in the third sentence she added a word, doesn’t she ? ;-))

“If music be the food of love, play on: Give me excess of it” as William Shakespeare wrote. Sex Pistols were very vicious and rotten, right? But Emmyloy Harris is an angel, at least I think so. Exercise: 1. If I stay late out tonight, I will be tired tomorrow morning. 2. If I ate cheese with fudge, I probably would feel sick. 3. If I hadn’t written the blog today, I would have gone for a walk in a park instead.

Good morning! 2.If I stay late out tonight, I will be tired tomorrow morning. 3.I would feel sick probably if I ate cheese with foudge. 4.I would have gone for the park a walk today instead if I had not written this blog.?? Nice people all teachers but why are they so insistent with the exercises? My head feels dizziness yet now despite this I have to rush for a session. Look forward to the next as always!

Hi Alex, that’s funny, because I’ve also observed how my music tastes evolved over the years. I started with the rock music to change it radically to a modern music (performed at 'Warsaw Autumn' festival every year – you know I was a student with ambitions to enter the world of ‘high culture’), but just for a moment. Soon I switched to modern jazz which much to my surprise has become my favorite type of music for many years, and still is though these are classical music concerts I attend more frequently. Weirdly, I’ve also started to love opera (which I hated previously) and enjoy enormously gospel music, especially while singing with the amateur choir (those who sing and dance gospel know quite well what I mean). I also know what does it mean to do music while being aware that you are just a humble amateur ...

Hi Alex, and averyone else. Since the first day of this month, I've entered this blog every day. I really like your sense of humor and the way you interact with your students, I also would like you to know that I've learned English in a very pleasant way with the blogs. uh! I was about forgetting: I am your fan on writting and I really wish I could write like you some day. Hugs and good look!

Hi Alex, and averyone else. Since the first day of this month, I've entered this blog every day. I really like your sense of humor and the way you interact with your students, I also would like you to know that I've learned English in a very pleasant way with the blogs. uh! I was about forgetting: I am your fan on writting and I really wish I could write like you some day. Hugs and good look!

Hi Alex!You seem very similar to my brother!He plays in a punk group like you did some years ago. He's 32..and he still likes the same music? when do you think he will give a chance to other music stiles? :D I'm waiting for the solutions to the exercises below. Last sentence is too long!!I tried to do my best and I hope I'll be right, won't I?

Alex, for me it's a bit confusing that we use such words as 'today' or 'this morning' in the clauses stated in Past Perfect - I understand that this just a consequence of conditional mood. Or not? Best regards,

Dear Alex Gooch, You don´t know me cause you are a a novice in this blog business, however, I reckon I can call me a veteran. I was away for some time but when I saw your photo I could not resist(Just kidding!! I have thechronological age to be your mum). Although nowadays this does not seem to be a problem any longer, at least here in Brazil.What matters apparently is you soul age!! Is it the same in England? Well,as for the sudden change in your music taste, I guess, I have an explanation. When we are adolescents, we are rebels, not always with good causes, but anyway we want to express our desire to change the world, we are full of energy and idealism!! Then the maturity brings responsabilities and we start to settle down and all those days of turbulence start becoming calmer emulating the rhythm of country melodies. I don´t blame you for turning into a country and western man. Who can resist the charm of Willie Nelson singing Stardust and Unchained Melody? I´m also fan of Johnny Cash. I loved the film ablot his life that was on recently. Have you seen it? So congratulations on your change of taste. This is life we are always changing and that´s the fun of living!! Thanks for your nice contributions to my English improvement. By the way, I like your weird surname. Is it English? Cheerio, Monica

What you wrote are very well, I like to read the explaination of some new words or phrases, but how could I remember them?

Hi,Alex Life is definitely unfair because you have a strikingly handsome face(still my son doesn't agree with you or me), have a very rich taste in music and have friends to play the music what you want which I always dream of.what a wonderful life you have been leading and how interesting life lies ahead of you.I used to listent to Country and western music and felt very cosy and warm. I have listened to Nursery songs and rhymes a lot since my son was born and actually the songs make me tranquil sometimes.Anyway my favorite bands are Snow patrol and Pink at the moment.hope you had a great time and so long!hyoshil

Hi Alex, I am the one learning English on my own. learning Engilish is my hobby. When I get a new grammar, spelling, word, phrase, I am being very happy. beleive me learning English takes place in my life much more than other things. but I have difficulty in, particularly, speaking and writing. I am able to work out grammar and structure by studying on my own. but as for speaking and writing, it is very difficult for me to deal with by myself. I live in Turkey. My native language is Turkish and there is nobody around me speaking English. can you imagine what difficult stiuation I am in. how important you and Ana Paula are for me and of course, other virtual friends. YOu are door that gives access to English. Thanks a lot. I'd like to ask you some question; in this sentence, you replace they instead of someone. "If someone is good-natured, they have a nice personality" someone can be replaced "she, he or it can't it? can you please explain the reason of it? Thanks a lot in advance. Sevinç

Hello Alex, I'm appreciated when I read your blow because your teaching way is polite and cautious. We're not native speaker like you and we sometime made many mistakes to use in English. Teacher should be patience and reliable as you did. Today's blos is interesting and funny. I couldn't help to stop laughing becuase of an aweful band you had. I definetly agree with you that English men don't have a good ablity at dance at all. A English friend likes to dance with punk and rock'ol music at the pub but he's totally bad at dancing. He made me laughing and we spent whole night for dancing and drinking. I think you're probably a good guitarist even though you're not professional. I hope listening to the music you made if you don't hesitated. It's raining in Seoul. Most my colleagues feel almost melancholy except me. I don't care what the weather is. Raining or shining is not affected to change my feeling.

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

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