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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Father's day: let's learn some idioms containing the word 'father'.


Today is a very special day for me, not only because it's Father's day and I'm a father myself, but, rather, because my eldest son turned 4 today. Indeed, I first became a father on Father's day four years ago. Isn't it awesome? To celebrate this special day and to pay homage to fathers, I have decided to write an entry on some English idioms containing the word 'father'. 

1. Father knows best: This idiom is used to indicate that a father (and extensively a mother) instinctively knows what to do in a given situation. This expressions strengthens fathers' experience in life. 

E.g. - My dad considers I should not go parachuting because it's really dangerous.

- You know, father knows best. 

2. Like father, like son: This expression is used to refer to the fact that children take after their fathers. 

E.g. - He is a great basketball player, much like his father.

- You know what they say: like father like son. (Spanish: de tal palo tal astilla).

From: Idiom Land — “Like father, like son” means “sons are very... (

3. Old enough to be one's father: This expression is said of a man who is much older than his partner, which people find shocking.(Spanish: si podría ser tu padre).

E.g. Jane's new boyfriend is old enough to be my father! 

From: Everyday Idioms!!!: Old Enough To Be Your Mother/Father (

4. The sins of the father are visited upon their children: This expression coming from the Bible implies that children typically suffer the consequences of their parents' wrongdoings. 

E.g. - His father was a ruthless man. No one in the company would be pleased that his son takes over. The sins of the father are visited upon the children.

From: Norman Vincent Peale Quote: “The Bible tells us that the sins of the fathers are passed to succeeding generations. The virtues of the fathers can be ...” (

5. Success have many fathers. Failure is an orphan: This self-explanatory idiom indicates that no one want to admit failure, but everybody is happy to show success to the rest of the world.

6. To be the founding father of // To be the father of: This idiom is used mataphorically when a man was decisive in the creation of something, in other words, when something would have never been possible without a given man's intervention, e.g. Alexander Fleming was the (founding) father of modern medicine.

From: The Founding Fathers | CK-12 Foundation (

Last but not least, I'd like to refer to the fact that the word 'father' in English is not jsut a noun, but it is also used as a verb (by means of conversion). In that case, 'father' means 'begetting', in toher words, giving life to someone (or something), e.g. he fathered three children // he fathered the business plan. 

I hope you've learnt a lot from this entry. If you want to know more vocab on parenthood, check out my entry on parenthood vocab.

See you around.

Sunday, February 5, 2023



Now that the wintry weather is making us freeze, I'm bringing you an interesting and cultural entry...related to Groundhog Day. You'll have to excuse me, because I wanted to write this entry before, but I had no time...

First of all, I might need to explain what a groundhog is. A groundhog or a woodchuck is a rodent similar to a squirrel, which hibernates and lives in a burrow. Actions speak louder than words, so I'll post an image. 


Well, in some parts of North America and Canada, they have a weird tradition involving this cute animal. The most famous celebrations take place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where thousands of attendees witness the event...

On February, 2nd, in Punxsutawney and other parts, a groundhog typically named Phil, is taken out of its burrow with the ardous task of predicting how long the winter will last. Wow! Too much responsibility on one small animal. If the groudnhog sees its shadow, it will go back to its burrow and that will mean there are (apparently) six more weeks of winter ahead Americans. If groundhog Phil doesn't see his shadow, it means winter is probably over and the spring season will start in no time! But how does the groundhog communicate its prediction? Well, it has to speak its language (groundhogese) to the president of the inner circle and, based on that, the vicepresident will take the scroll with the prediction and will read it aloud.

Well, sounds crazy but the whole ritual is worth seeing: people shouting Phil's name in unison; spectators thrilled about its "predictions..." 

It goes without saying that from a scientific point of view, this ritual has no value. In fact, poor Phil has only been right 34% times. 

Again, actions speak louder than words, so, here you have the video of Graoundhog Day 2023:

On this video, you have a full explanation of Graoundhog Day, including its origin:

Last but not least, here you have the trailer to the film: Groundhog Day, which made this tradition popular. In it, the protagonist is trapped in Groundhog Day and lives it again and again and again. 

Well, I really hope you liked this entry. 

See you around.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What are pantomimes and why are they important at Christmas?


 Merry Christmas to you all!

I hope you've been good enough and I hope the red plump man has brought you tons of presents.

Today I'm writing the traditional Christmas blog entry and this time I have decided to feature pantomimes (or 'pantos', its short clipping).

Outside the UK, a pantomime is "any of various dramatic or dancing performances in which a story is told by expressive bodily or facial movements of the performers." However, in the UK, pantomimes are a bit more specific and, as seen on the online Merriam Webster, a pantomime is "a British theatrical entertainment of the Christmas season based on a nursery tale and featuring topical songs, tableaux, and dances." Yes, when the Christmas season is around the corner, it is mandatory to see a pantomime at the theatre. They typically begin in December and are usually on until New Year's Eve. But, what are the typical characteristics of British pantos?

  • Reinterpretation of a fairy tale (Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladin,...)
  • They star some jaded celebrities (or some still unknown celebs)
  • Cross-dressing (men dressing as women, or the other way round)
  • High camp, that is, exaggerated or artificial parodies
  • Audience interaction: the audience is expected to take part in the action of the play and will play an active role by telling a character something, or warning about some forthcoming dangers... There's even singalong (audience should sing songs with the characters of the play)
  • Even if ideally thought for children, these pantos are more often than not enjoyed by grown-ups
  • Tradititonal elements of fairy tales: good-hearted protagonist, villain, fairies, animals...
Sounds interesting, doesn't it? I haven't had the opportunity to attend a Christmas pantomime event myself, but if I could, I would definitely check one out! Here you have the link to some of the most popular pantos this Christmas, involding Aladdin, Peter Pan, the Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and many more fairy tale characters

If you want to learn more about Christmas pantomimes, here you have a very interesting link with plenty of information...

Happy New Year!
See you again in 2023!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

An unforgettable English pronunciation pattern: double consonants in English prevent diphthongisation


Hello again!

Last August I wrote and prepared this fresh new entry, which I intended to publish during the first days of September. Man! I've been so busy going back to work that I haven't had time to publish an already prepared entry!

I will write my first entry in September (although I'm publishing it today on September, 29th) about a very interesting English pronunciation pattern. As you know, English can be daunting for Spaniards because of its tricky pronunciation, but there are certain patterns or secret rules that can be learnt in order to guess how a given word might be pronounced. 

Today I'm sharing with you one of these patterns involvind double consonants -and by double consonants I mean, two identical consonants together.

In English, every time we have the pattern: vowel + consonant+ vowel, there's usually a diphthong involved :

1) a + consonant + e: DIPHTHONG [eɪ]. Examples: plane, cake, name, same, plate, base...

2) i + conosonant + e: DIPHTONG [aɪ]. Examples: time, file, bike, ride, hide,...

3) o + consonant + e: DIPHTHONG [əʊ]. Examples: phone, code, rode, gnome, coke, scope...

However, this rule or pattern is broken whenever there's a double consonant involved. In this case, the double consonant prevent the previous vowel from diphthongising. A good example to explain this is 'apple'. Being spelt with double 'p' this word can never be pronounced [*'eɪpl] and it is pronounced ['æpl]. Sounds complicated? Let's see this with some other practical examples:

  •  Dinner ['dɪnə] vs diner ['daɪnə]: These two words are indeed similar in orthography but different in pronunciation and meaning: 'Dinner' is the meal normally eaten at night and 'diner' is the typical American restaurants where you can have sandwiches and lots of coffee. 'Dinner' is spelt with double n, so there's no possible diphthong. The word is pronounced ['dɪnə],whereas 'diner' ['dɪnə] is written with just one 'n', so it follows the pattern described in number 2, that is, i + consonant + e, hence it is pronounced with the diphthong [aɪ]. The same happens to the words 'dining' (room), and the verb 'dine'
  • Writing ['raɪtɪɳ] vs written ['rɪtn] // Biting ['baɪtɪɳ] vs bitten ['bɪtn]:  The verb 'write' and its gerund 'writing' are spelt with one 't', so they follow the pattern in number 2 and are prounced with the diphthong [aɪ]. The participle 'written', however, is spelt with double 't', so there's no possible diphthong and the vowel before the double consonant is shortened [ɪ]. During my career as an English teacher, I have seen the word 'writing' misspelt thousands of times! Most of my students write it with double 't' (*writting). I always tell them if that word were spelt with double 't' it would be pronounced *['rɪtɪɳ]. The same thing goes with 'biting' (gerund of 'bite') and 'bitten' (British participle of 'bite')
  • Riding ['raɪdɪɳ] vs ridden ['rɪdn]: This example is similar to the previous one. The verb 'ride' is pronounced with the diphthong [aɪ]. However, its participle, being spelt with double 'd', is pronounced without the diphthong. 
  • Plane [pleɪn] vs planned  // cane [keɪn] vs canned [kænd] // bane [beɪn] vs banned [bænd]: 'Plane' (the means of transport with wings), 'cane' (the object some elderly people need to walk) and 'bane' (destruction, Batman's enemy) fit in the pattern described in number 1: a + consonant +e, hence they are pronounced with the diphthong [eɪ]. However, 'planned' (the past of the verb 'plan'--make plans), 'canned' (put food in cans -- canned food), and 'banned' (prohibited) are spelt with double 'n', which makes the diphthong impossible. Instead, they are pronounced with the short vowel [æ].
  • Mike [maɪk] vs Mickey ['mɪki] // biker ['baɪkə] vs bicker ['bɪkə]: This case is quirky, as the examples here do not technically refer to a double consonant, but the letters <ck>, which both represent the same sound [k], as if they actually were a double consonant. Let's begin with the hypochorisms of my name. 'Mike' fits in the pattern of number 2: i+consonant + e, hence it is pronounced with diphthong [aɪ]. However, the word 'Mickey' is spelt with <ck>, which technically works as double [k] sound and this prevents the diphthong. The same thing occurs with 'biker' (the person who uses a bike) and 'bicker' (argue).
  • Sitting ['sɪtɪɳ] vs citing ['saɪtɪɳ]: Yet another example of gerunds. 'Sitting', being spelt with double 't' is pronounced with the short sound [ɪ], whereas 'citing' (the gerund of the verb 'cite') is pronounced with the diphthong [aɪ], as it fits in the pattern of number 2. 
  • File [faɪl] vs filled [fɪld] // mile [maɪl] vs milled [mɪld]: 'File' and 'mile' are pronounced with the diphthong [aɪ], as they fit in the pattern explained in number 2. However, the words 'filled' (past of 'fill') and 'milled' (past of 'mill'), being both spelt with double 'l', are pronounced with the short sound [ɪ].
  • Winning ['wɪnɪɳ] vs whining ['waɪnɪɳ]: 'Winning' (the opposite of 'losing') is spelt with double 'n', hence there is no diphthong, whereas 'whining' (complaining) does have a diphthong as it is just spelt with one single 'n'.
  • Pale [peɪl] , vale [veɪl], vile [vaɪl] vs pallor ['pælə] , valley ['væli] and villain ['vɪlən]: I love these examples as they refer to closely related words, but they sometimes have a dipthong and they sometimes have a short sound. The adjectives 'pale' and 'vile' are both uttered with a diphthong as they fit in the pattern described in numbers 1 and 2 and they are spelt with one single 'l'. Their nouns 'pallor' and 'villain', however, are uttered with short sounds as they are spelt with  double 'l', which prevents diphthongisation. The words 'vale' and 'valley' are synonyms. 'Vale' has the diphthong [eɪ], but 'valley', being spelt with double 'l' has no diphthong. 

Well, I hope this English pronunciation trick has been useful for you. This is the trick I use to tell my students why 'apple' has no diphthong at all...

Here you have the link to other entries involving English pronunciation: minimal pairs;  difficult geographical words to pronounce; difficult words to pronounce; same or different?; 10 tricks to improve your English pronunciation; homographs; pronunciation of -ed forms; exercises on -ed endings; double consonants in English prevent diphthongisation; 

See you around.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Capytonims III: other capitonyms

Hello there!

Some time ago this year, I wrote two entries about capitonyms, words whose meaning changes depending on the capitalization of their first letter. I wrote an entry related to capitonyms involving geographical places; another entry about capitonyms involving proper nouns or surnames and I vowed to write another entry on other capitonyms. I promised to write it soon and I said this in February... Well, August is here and I have, at last, found some time to finish with capitonyms.

1) March vs march

From: and

The first one obviously refers to the third month of the year, while the second one is the action of marching, that is, moving steadily and rhythmically. 'The soldiers' march took place in March.' 

2) Titanic vs titanic



The word with capital 't' refers to the well-known cruise ship that would undergo a tragic fate... The word with lower case is a synonym of 'colossal' or 'gigantic': 'The Titanic was a titanic ship that sank in the sea.'

3) Lent vs lent


The capitalised word depicts the 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, when people are expected to fast and not to eat meat on Fridays. The lower-case word is the past form of the verb 'lend': 'During Lent, John always lent a helping hand to his neighbours.'

4) August vs august


The former refers to the eighth month of the year, whereas the latter makes reference to someone or something possessing great dignity or grandeur: 'This august mansion was built in August.' 

5) Earth vs earth



While the first word refers to our planet, the second word refers to the ground. 'The Earth's earth is just 29%.' 

6) May vs may



The word with capital 'm' is the fifth month of the year. The word with lower-case 'm' makes reference to the modal verb which expresses probability: 'It may rain in May.'

7) New Year vs new year



You see how capitalising changes things? 'New Year' refers to January, 1st, whereas 'new year' refers to any year that has just begun (any new year, so to speak). 'On New Year's day, I can only think of the resolutions for the new year.'

8) Mass vs mass



The capitalised 'Mass' refers to the religious liturgy of Eucharist. It is frequently capitalised but it is not compulsory. The lower-case 'mass' may refer to a great quantity or amount of something, or simply the main part or bulk. 'During Sunday Mass, they talked about mass hysteria'.

Well, with this entry I have concluded the capitonyms issue. I hope I haven't bored you to death he he. 

See you around

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Some collocations with the word 'heatwave'


How's your summer going? How are you coping with this sultry weather and sweltering heat? It seems that the world is seeing an uncommon heatwave that is lasting longer than usual, for example, the temperatures in London have soared to 40ºC, which makes it one of the hottest summers ever!

I'm pretty sure you all have noticed that this summer is hotter than usual... This situation has encouraged me to write this post in which I'll be dealing with some words that collocate with 'heatwave'.

I'll start with a definition of 'heatwave'. Merriam Webster defines it as "a period of unusually hot weather".  This current heatwave is flooding the media and journals, radios and TVs are all reporting this unexpected surge in temperatures. After reading some of  this news, here you have some of the most common collocations with the word 'heatwave', I have gathered:



There are some adjectives that describe the big temperatures linked to the heatwave:

- Stifling heatwave: 'Stifling' is something that kills by deprivation of oxygen. "Stifling heatwave grips central United States" (Reuters, 15 June 2022)

- Scorching heatwave: 'Scorching' can be defined as something that causes intense heat. "Brits brace for another scorching heatwave next week"  (Express,  6 August 2022)

- Suffocating heatwave: If something is suffocating, it means you die by being unable to breathe. "Is Spain's suffocating heatwave finally ending?" (The Local, 27 July 2022)

- Torrid heatwave: If something is torrid, it gives off intense heat, especially from the sun. "Torrid heatwave sends mercury soaring" (Times Now, 26 April 2022)

- Searing heatwave: The adjective 'searing' refers to something very hot. "Searing heatwave to spark huge lightning blasts across Britain." (Express, 28 July 2022)

- Gruelling / grueling heatwave: If something is 'gruelling', it is exhausting. "Gruelling heatwave sears Pacific north-west." (The Guardian, 27 July)

There are some adjectives that describe the intensity of the heatwave:

Ferocious / fierce / intense/ deadly / severe / extreme / powerful / brutal are all adjectives that collocate with the word 'heatwave'. 

Other adjectives depict the duration of a heatwave: 

Long / prolonged/ extended / unprecedented heatwave


A heatwave can 'hit' or 'strike' a country / 'sweep' or 'spread' across a country / 'grip' or 'hammer' a country. A heatwave can also 'bake' or 'cook' a country.

"UK set for record temperatures as heat wave hits Europe" (The Washington Post, 18 July 2022)

"Record temperatures in Shanghai as heatwave strikes China" (Uca News, 14 July 2022)

"Extreme heat wave sweeps across many European countries" (USA Today, 18 July 2022)

"Europe swelters as heatwave spreads" (BBC News, 13 July 2022)

"Heatwave grips Europe, temperatures set to soar past 40ºC" (Outlook, 7 August 2022)

"Heatwaves hammer megacities in China's Yangtze River basin" (Reuters, 14 July 2022)

"Unprecedented heatwave cooks western Europe" (Euronews, 20 June 2022)

"Record-breaking heatwave bakes Americans" (Inquirer News, 21 July)


Combat / endure / face / prevent / survive / survive / cope with  a heatwave

Now that there are said to be more and more heatwaves every year, I hope you can use these collocations to talk about heatwaves more accurately! 

You can also see other entries related to this: summer vocabulary; holidays vocabulary; holidays collocations; hot weather; frolicking in the water.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Practise your listening: women inventors to celebrate International Women's Day!

Today it's Match, 8th, which means it's International Women's Day.
It is crystal clear that we have a long way to go to achieve total equality. Nowadays women still earn less than men;they are worse regarded when it comes to their children's upbringing; they can't roam the streets alone at night without being afraid of what might happen to them; they are somehow forced to tuck their careers away when they become pregnant; and they are -still in the twenty-first century-  battered and killed to death by their jealous, abusive partners, not to mention the hard situations that women in western countries have to endure... What is clear is that women today have to fight harder to gain the exact sale recognition than men; they have to struggle in order to get their place in history.

And here you have a very good example of five outstanding women inventors that need remembered and recognised...

Here you have the exercise I used in the past with my students of B2.

Match women 1-5 to the correct sentence A-. There are some sentences you won't need.



Answers: 1D 2E 3C 4G 5A

To finish this entry, here you have another video about women inventors that will make you reflect a little bit.

See you around!