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Friday the 21st of July, 2006
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HAVE A WONDERFUL SUMMER!

LISTEN TO THE DAILY VITAMIN HERE:

Good morning.

Today is the last Daily Vitamin until September 12th. However, we will be checking our email in July and August, so feel free to contact us if you need anything or have any questions.

If you are a Ziggurat student or a Daily Vitamin Plus! subscriber, these months might be a good time to:

1) review and revise the almost 600 Daily Vitamins that we have created since October 2003.
2) listen to Daily Vitamin sound files to improve your pronunciation and listening skills.
3) do the monthly activities that we have created, which will help you to consolidate the content covered for each month.

Whatever you do this summer, remember to include some English activities. You won't be sorry.

Have a great summer and we'll see you in September! 



Thursday the 20th of July, 2006
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INDIRECT QUESTIONS

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Good morning, everyone.

Today we're going to look at a frequently occurring error amongst students. Consider the following incorrect sentence: 

1)  ***Let's ask where is the restaurant.***

Can you see what's incorrect about this sentence?

The problem is with WORD ORDER. The second verb (IS) is positioned before the subject, like a normal interrogative sentence. However, the second part of the sentence is NOT an interrogative. It is part of an INDIRECT QUESTION. The correct version of sentence (1) is sentence (2) below:

2) Let's ask where the restaurant is

Compare the following questions:

Direct Question --> Where is the restaurant?
Indirect Question --> Do you know where the restaurant is?

Because we first learn question words in the context of the interrogative, we associate them with the interrogative pattern of verb + subject. However, it is not correct to use this word order when we are not making a question.

Here is another example of an incorrect sentence:

3)  ***He knows what is the problem.***

The correct version of sentence (3) is sentence (4) below:

4)  He knows what the problem is.

It's difficult to catch yourself making these mistakes when you are speaking, but if you begin to pay attention and watch out for these indirect-question patterns, I'm sure you will be able to avoid this error in your English over time.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

I hope you have a good day!



Wednesday the 19th of July, 2006
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AUXILIARIES IN QUESTIONS

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Good morning,

Almost two months ago we received the following query from Pilar N.

Hello, I have a doubt that perhaps you may clarify. I'd like to know when it is necessary to put an auxiliary on questions formed with a question word. I've realized that sometimes the auxiliary is not used and other times it is. Can you give me the key to doing it correctly?

Consider the sentence below:

Katie bought a skirt.

If we form questions based on this sentence, I think it will help you to see when we need to include an auxiliary. We can make at least two different questions:

Question 1: What did Katie buy?

In this example, we use the auxiliary, "did," because we are asking about the object of the verb (skirt).

When we ask about the person who bought the skirt, that is, the subject of the verb, we don't use an auxiliary.

Question 2: Who bought a skirt?

Now compare the questions and answers in examples (A) and (B) below:

A: What does Pierre speak? He speaks French. (What = object)
B: Who speaks French? Pierre.

In (A), what is asking about the object of the verb.
In (B), who is asking about the subject of the verb.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When asking a question like the one in (B) we always use the third person singular, although the answer may be plural.

C: Who speaks German? Johan and Fritz speak German.

I hope that helps Pilar.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website. If you have any questions about how to use the Daily Vitamin Plus! section or would like to receive a Daily Vitamin Plus! manual, please contact us.

Enjoy the rest of your day!



Tuesday the 18th of July, 2006
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GRIND YOUR TEETH

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Good morning, everyone.

A few weeks ago we received a query from Olga P. She wrote:

I would like to know the meaning of this: "Let me sleep so my teeth won't grind" I suppose that it means "dejame domir aunque me rechinen los dientes". It is correct? Thanks in advance and enjoy your weekend!

Today's expression is: Grind your teeth

It means: to rub your top and bottom teeth together in a way that makes noise.

Example 1:
My husband has a strange habit of grinding his teeth when he's watching television.

We think the example that Olga sent to us comes from an Alice in Chains song:

Example 2:
"Let the sun never blind your eyes,
Let me sleep so my teeth won't grind,
Hear a sound from a voice inside." 

Olga's translation is not exactly correct. It should be "dejame dormir para que no rechinen los dientes."

Learners of English often ask us about the meaning of song lyrics, but it's not always possible to give a logical explanation because they are very often impressionistic, poetic and open to interpretation. This is certainly true of Olga's example.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a good day!



Monday the 17th of July, 2006
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LEARNING TIPS: KEEP ENGLISH 'FRESH' IN SUMMER

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Good morning. I hope you had a good weekend!

Last week we reviewed four Ziggurat paradigms or philosophies that any English student should have in mind if they are serious about learning AND maintaining their English. Today I want to focus, one more time, on paradigm 2:

Ziggurat Paradigm 2: The most difficult thing about learning a language is maintaining what you've already learned.

As summer holidays move closer and the weather improves, there is a tendency to forget about English. We are planning our holidays, finishing up projects at work and slowly disconnecting from the "rat race." (See Daily Vitamin 07/05/04 for an explanation of "rat race.") Disconnecting from the rat race is a good thing, but treating English like a seasonal activity, rather than a daily, lifetime activity, could be the thing that is keeping you from reaching your desired level!

Imagine coming back after summer with your English at the same level or even better than when you left. It is possible, but you have to make the choice to do something with English during the holidays and WRITE IT DOWN! Don't just say it, write down a plan, follow it and keep track of your progress during the summer.

There are literally thousands of simple things that you can do to improve your English during the summer. Last Wednesday, when we talked about paradigm 2, I included a document with ideas for maintaining your English. Today I'm attaching another document; some of the ideas are similar, but there are more suggestions. Besides, repetition is an important element of any learning process; so please read it!

Maybe you have some favourite ideas for keeping your English "fresh" in the summer, too. If so, write us and tell us and we will share them with the other Daily Vitamin subscribers.

If you have any questions about today's Daily Vitamin, please post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a relaxing day.