Monthly Archives: February 2015

Useful Spanish expression: Lo + adjective

Lo + adjective = “The … thing”

Lo + adjective in Spanish is a really useful way to say “the …. thing”. This is a very typical Spanish way of speaking, making you sound more like a native speaker. Also, if you are studying for GCSE, A2 or A-level Spanish if you can use this type of more difficult structure, you will gain higher marks.

Here are some examples of ways to use this expression:

Lo importante es que …: The important thing is that …

Lo bueno es que …: The good thing is that …

Lo malo es que …: The bad thing is that …

Lo mejor de mi ciudad es que …: The best thing about my city is that …

Lo peor del hotel era que …: The worst thing about the hotel was that … Continue reading

It’s Carnival time in Spain!

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival: PartyWhen is Carnival?

The week leading up to Lent in late February is when Spain celebrates Carnival (Carnaval) when some of the wildest parties take place.

Why is it celebrated?

There are various ideas as to the origins of the Carnival celebration. Some believe the word “Carnival” comes from the term “farewell to the flesh” referring to the excesses which led to Lent. Others believe it is related to the Roman Solstice event, the “Saturnalia” during which people drink and dance to excess.

Read more about the origins behind the Carnival celebrations here. Continue reading

Chinese Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is a celebration observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, including China.

In China, there are so many different festivals already, and a lot of western festivals are also celebrated in China, personally I think it is a reflection of the Chinese hospitable culture that people love to take any opportunity to get together and have a good time.

Did you know there is also a Chinese Valentine’s Day, which is on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, and people call it the double seventh night. Continue reading

Valentine’s day in Brazil or Portugal?

Valentines heartFebruary in Brazil is all about Carnival! Huge parades, parties and general indulgences are the norm for this month in South America´s largest country. So it´s no surprise that Valentine´s Day isn´t really a big thing over there. Actually in Brazil they celebrate their ‘Dia dos Namorados’ (Lovers´s Day) on the 12th June. Celebrations are similar to those in the UK and the US: exchanging chocolates, flowers and having a lovely romantic dinner.

In Portugal however, they do celebrate the 14th February as Saint Valentine´s day. They also celebrate in similar style to those of us in the UK or US by sending chocolates, cards and flowers. Some lucky lovers however take it one step further. It is traditional in Portugal to send women gift baskets full of gourmet goodies and for women to send men similar baskets filled with delightful liqueurs!

So if you have the chance to spend Valentine´s day abroad this year, I know which of the two I would go to!
Just remember that in Brazil you tell your loved one ‘Te Amo’ and in Portugal you tell them ‘Amo-te’!! Just one of the other slight differences between these two historically, linguistically and culturally linked countries!

That’s Amore!

ValentinesSome tips to impress Mr/Mrs Right on Valentine’s Day

In Italy, as in most of the rest of the western world, Valentine’s Day takes over every year on 14th February. Everywhere you look there are cuoricini (little love hearts) and pupazzi (teddy bears)! Italy has a reputation for beauty and charm, so maybe we should take a leaf out of their book and try some of the lingo. Here are my top tips for an Italian San Valentino pieno d’amore (Valentine’s Day full of love!); Continue reading

‘Used to’ + infinitive vs. ‘be used to’ + -ing verb


When we move to a new country, life changes, doesn’t it? Last year, my daughter left university in England and went to live in the north of Honshu, Japan. How is her life different now? How has her routine changed? What does she find difficult?

In England, ………….

she usually got up at 8 o’clock in the morning
she often cycled to the university campus from home
she cooked chicken casserole or spaghetti bolognese most nights
she studied music and Japanese at university
she didn’t understand Japanese very well
she liked watching films

In Japan, ………………..

she usually gets up at 6.30 am.
she always drives to work
she sometimes cooks sushi or spaghetti bolognese
she teaches English in a school
she understands Japanese much better
she likes watching films Continue reading