30 Sep 2014

Saxon genitive ('s) or of + noun?

B2, C1

"Saxon genitive ('s) or of + noun?... that is the question."

Choosing between the Saxon Genitive ('s) or the structure "of + noun" can sometimes be difficult. Below I include all the factors that influence the choice. I'm sorry if the explanation is a bit too technical, but it's the only one there is...

To start with, it is important to note that there are lexical, syntactic, communicative and relational factors influencing the choice between the Saxon genitive and a prepositional phrase (of).

  • Lexical factor (related to vocabulary)
When the possessor is a person, the genitive is preferred, e.g. John's boat.
  • Syntactic factor (related to grammar)
If the noun has a very long modifier, we prefer the of-construction, e.g.
The answer of the student who was sitting next to the window
(NOT The student who was sitting next to the window's answer).
  • Communicative factor, depending on where we want to lay emphasis:
The world's economy --> emphasis on economy.
The economy of the world --> emphasis on the world.
  • Relational factor (related to the relation between the words)
- Partitive meaning: the of-construction is preferred --> A glass of water; a pint of beer

- Object relation: it favours the of-construction: The imprisonment of the murderer  (they put the murderer in prison - object)

- In subject relations both are equally used: the arrival of the train / the train's arrival (the train arrived - subject).

Well, I hope this explanation has been useful!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


26 Sep 2014

How much / many?; some / any

Hello everybody!!

How are you? I hope you are enjoying the weekend!

Today we're going to talk about the difference between some words that are normally difficult for Spanish learners:
  • Much / Many
  • Too much / Too many
  • How much...? How many...?
  • Some / any
Much and many are used for quantities, and they mean "a lot of". The only difference is that much is used for uncountable nouns (always singular), and many for countable nouns (always in plural after many):
I don't want much sugar in my coffee.
There are many children playing in the street.

If there is more than we would like, we use the expressions too much / too many
There is too much noise in this room. I can't sleep.
There are too many students in the class.
And to ask about quantities, we have the question words how much / how many...?
How much water do you drink every day?
How many sandwiches do you want today?
As you can see, much is always followed by uncountable nouns, and many, by countable nouns.

Check this video to revise this a little bit more:

You can do this exercise to practise the difference between how much / how many.

Finally, both for countable and uncountable nouns you can also use some or any. Which one do you use? It depends if the sentence is affirmative (some), negative or interrogative (any).

Click if you need more information about some and any. Finally, you can practise here and here!

Happy learning!!

15 Sep 2014

What is a Level C1?

Hi there!

As you know, in the last years people are increasingly enrolling in C1, but many of them don't really know what it is asked for at this level.

For many it's a continuation of level B2, but once you start you'll realise there's a big jump between one and the other. Therefore, from the very beginning of the year I believe it convenient for you to get acquainted with what C1 level really means.

With this purpose in mind I've selected this information from the Common European Framework, which perfectly sets the objectives in the different skills.

Now that you know what we have ahead this year... pull your socks and get down to work! :)