Gramática: Maria from Barcelona asks us to talk about the difference between present simple and present continuous
1. The present continuous (present progressive) can be used to talk about things that are happening now:
“Craig and Reza are talking into a microphone.” (now).
2. The present continuous can also be used to talk about the future:
“Tomorrow I’m visiting my friend Pedro.” (a planned intention)
“I’m going to see my family this weekend.” – “I’m travelling to Madrid next week.” – “Reza is having soup for his dinner tonight.”
3. “Reza’s mum is always shouting at him for being messy.” ( something that annoys you, and happens often)
Pronunciación: /a/ cat – /u/ cut
hat / hut (cabaño, refugio)
cap / cup
sack (saco, despedir) / suck (chupar)
(¡OJO! There are regional variations in English pronunciation)
Reza’s Hot Tip: Learn words in groups / word families / aprende el vocabulario en grupos
SPORT: competitor – player – half-time – kickoff
FOOD: rice – sandwich – bread – soup
Vocabulario: Expressions with Make and Do
do good / do harm
do well / badly
do (s.o.) a favour
do exercise (at the gym) / do an (English) exercise – Reza does exercise in the mornings.
make a change /changes / make a complaint / make a decision / make progress / make an effort / make an excuse
make love / war / peace
make a mistake / make a noise / make a phone call / make a suggestion / make an offer
Phrasal verb: take on
to take someone on – engañar – The electrician took Reza on. He charged him double.
to take on new staff – emplear – The British Council are taking on new staff.
The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called See You Later – licensed by creative commons under a by-nc license at ccmixter.org.
FULL TRANSCRIPTION (kindly contributed by Angélica Bello from Madrid)
PRESENT SIMPLE/PRESENT CONTINUOUS
R: Hola! y bienvenidos todos a Learn English with Reza and Creig.
C: Aprender Inglés con Reza y Craig. Episode 2!
R: So Craig, here we are again.
C: Here we are!
R: How are you?
C: In Valencia, very well, did you have a good week?
R: I did thanks, I did, very good. And now I’m just relaxing, taking it easy.
C: Good! Pleased to hear it. So, let’s begin this week with our grammar focus, Reza, what have you got for us this week?
R: Wow! If you remember last time, we were talking about the present simple.
C: That’s right!
R: …and its various uses. We had present simple for repeated actions, we had the present simple for things that are always true, they are permanent, they never change, like the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. We had present simple for characteristics like my mom is very houseproud, is a characteristic. We had it for timetables, like my plane leaves tomorrow at 3 pm.
C: My lesson starts at six.
R: Exactly, timetables, horarios. Well now! I was thinking about talking about another present tense today but the present continuous.
C: That’s interesting because we received an e-mail from Maria from Barcelona, who asks us to talk about the difference between the present simple and the present continuous.
R: OK. So, the present continuous, we think about the word continuous …something continuous, that means it’s not over, it’s happening now, so the present continuous is generally used more or less, to talk about things which are happening now. They are in progress. In fact, some people called it the present progressive, for things in progress. They are happening now.
C: We are speaking together, we are sitting down, we are talking into a microphone, we are making a podcast. Preset continuous.
R: Right, we don’t make a podcast everyday, that’s present simple, we don’t do it everyday, but we are doing it right now. Present continuous, we are doing.
C: And are there any other uses of the present continuous? Se puede emplear por otras cosas…hablando del futuro?
R: Yeah, exactly, el futuro, the future, is a very common use of the present continuous. That’s a tricky one, because it doesn’t seem logical. The present isn’t the future. Well, that’s true. However, we do say things like let’s see…tomorrow, I’m visiting my friend Pedro. Tomorrow, that’s the future, but I said I’m visiting, that’s the present continuous, I’m visiting. But it isn’t happening now, no, no, it’s going to happen tomorrow, but you can use the present continuous for that. I guess in Spanish you’d say mañana voy a visitor.
C: So, if something is organized, it’s not when you suddenly decide now you are going to do something, it’s something that is planned for the future.
R: That’s right, is a plan or an intention. It isn’t spontaneous; I know that Pedro is expecting me tomorrow. That’s present continuous.
C: I’m going to see my family at the weekend. I’m writing an e-mail later this afternoon.
R: Exactly, I’m travelling to Madrid next week. I’m having soup for my dinner tonight.
C: Ah! Are you?
R: yes I am actually. All those are future plans. Now, it may not go according to plan, but it’s my plan , it’s my intention.
C: I see.
R: There is one common use of the present continuous…
C: tell us, tell us!
R: or present progressive if you like …oh! patience, patience! Ah, what if I say to you “my mom”…here we go, always talking about my mom, …”my mom’s always shouting at me”.
C: Is she?
R: For being so messy, she’s always shouting at me.
C: You said that last episode.
R: I know I talked about my mom but we were practicing the present simple then. I said that my mom tidies up a lot and things like that.
C: And she is very houseproud.
R: She’s houseproud, yeah! But now I’m using a present continuous, I’m saying: my mom is always shouting at me for being messy. No, my mom, she isn’t shouting at me right now at this moment. Thank goodness she’s in Ireland and I’m in Spain, so that’s not the case, but it’s something that she does a lot, and it’s kind of irritating for me, that is a case when we often use the present continuous in English.
C: Creo que entiendo, entonces si algo te molesta, o te da ira o te…
R: si algo te molesta y suele ocurrir mucho, con frecuencia o se repite, y hay este elemento de irritación, suele ser present continuous. Muy a menudo con un adverbio como always…my mom’s always shouting at me, and it’s really annoying.
PRONUNCIATION SPOT (5:28)
C: Moving on to our pronunciation spot, last episode we spoke about the schwa sound, the sound in English. Today, I’d like to speak about two sounds which can cause problems for Spanish speakers, one sound is /a/, for example “cat”, and the other sound is /u/, for example “cut”. So /kat/, gato, or /kut/, cortar. Now, you’ve studied a little Valenciano, haven’t you Reza?
R: I have, yeah.
C: Is it correct to say that the /a/ sound doesn’t exist in Castellano, but it does exist in Valenciano and Catalán?
R: I think so. I think so. Like Valencià.
C: Yeah, Valencià. So that /a/ is the sound you need for words like cat or hat or cab, /a/. And the difference is with /u/ for cup, the mouth is open wider, and the tongue is forward, la lengua es un poco mas hacia adelante. With the other sound, /a/, la lengua va un poco detrás de la boca y está un poquito más cerrada la boca. Entonces repite /u/ /a/. Cat, cut. Hat and hut. Hat sombrero, and hut, I think is cabaño o refugio (Pizza Hut). And cap and cup for example. And sac, saco, or to sack someone, despedir, and suck, chupar. For example, to suck the head of the prawn, which in Spanish is …
R: “chupar la cabeza de la gamba”?
C: chupar la cabeza de la gamba! Which I hate doing and I hate watching. This is some people eating paella, with a gamba, and they suck the juice out of the brains, out of the prawn. Do you do that? Do you suck the prawn?
R: Nooo, no way man, noo.
C: I know people who do that, I have to turn away, I have to, I can’t, I can’t watch it.
R: You know? Something I just thought of Craig, would you say word in English please, gato? Say it in English.
R: Cat. Say it again?
R: Cat. Do you think you and I say it exactly the same?
C: say it again?
C: Nooo, your pronunciation is somewhere in the middle of my cat and cut.
R: Yeah…I’d said so, and that’s I think original variation because I come from Belfast, and in Belfast we don’t pronounce that c/a/t , that sound, I’m trying to make an effort to say it, well, we don’t normally pronounce it that way in Belfast. We say something like cut, which isn’t quite exactly what the Oxford English Dictionary will tell you, but, that’s original variation.
C: Oh! That’s interesting because the English ID usually is London English from the south of England, and off course you have American English, Canadian English, English from the north of England, from Liverpool, Scotland, Manchester, Ireland, so, yeah, to remember that.
R: And isn’t there some weird pronunciation up in the north of England of words like, can you say the word for me Craig in English baño?
R: and if I came from Manchester mightI say, or Lancashire somewhere, buth?
C: Exactly bath.
R: Slightly different pronunciation isn’t it?
C: I’m having a bath. Very different.
R: I’m having a buth.
C: Having a buth
R: I mean, I’m exaggerating folks, people don’t really speak like that but kind of, kind of.
C: no you are right, but usually there is a, usually the context of what you are saying is clear. If you say to someone I’m going to put a hat on my head, then obviously you realize is hat, and not hut. But I wanted to explain it because it’s a problem sometimes with Spanish speakers, confusing the /a/ and the /u/.
R: So the context gives the meaning. Even if there are little variations, like original variations.
C: yeah. Except if somebody looks at you with a look that you..no! they didn’t understand a word that you said, then you have to seriously work harder on your pronunciation. But usually, this little vowel changes are not a big deal.
HOT TIP FROM REZA (10:18)
C: Moving on Reza to your tip, what’s your hot tip today?
R: Ok, well there is another tip about vocabulary, and it’s difficult to remember vocabulary, and if you write words in a random way, it makes it even harder. So, my tip for this week is learn words and write them down in your notebook in groups.
C: In families.
R: For example families, groups, whatever is an easy way for you. For example, imagine you learn the word competitor, you are talking about sport. Make a page or two in your notebook for sport, so write competitor, write player, write half time, that’s the break between the two parts of the game in the middle, write kick off, cuando empieza el partido… all of these things you can write under sport. You can have another page or two, you can have many pages for food in fact you can have lots of pages. Where you begin, rice, el arroz, la horchata, not quite sure I have to translate into English. May be tigernut drink? ..but you get the idea.
C: yeah! Sandwich, bread, soup….
R: in families. And you’ll find the word more easily when you have to revise it then, because you think, mmm …tomorrow I need to talk with someone about business, for example, so go to your section on business…and hopefully there you find useful words like make a profit, do a deal, etc, under the business section of your notebook. So that’s my tip for this week.
C: ok! very good tip. Learn your words in groups, in families.
COLLOCATE WITH CRAIG (12:12)
C: Collocate with Craig this week, so more expression with make and do. Last episode we spoke about some words which go together with make and do, and here there are some more. You can do good, or you can do harm. You can do somebody good or you can do somebody harm. You can also do well or do badly, you could do well in the exam or you can do badly. And do someone a favor. We do someone a favor you put the object after do. So, could you do me a favor?
R: Sure, what is it?
C: Could you make me a cup of tea?
R: Yeah! I just put the cattle on there.
C: thank you very much. Reza is going to do me a favor.
R: Le hago un favor.
C: And another collocation with do is to do exercise. You can do exercise, thinking about sport, you can go to the gym and do exercise, and you could also do an exercise, you can do an English exercise. But exercise collocates or goes together with do. Have you done any exercise this week?
R: Exercise yes, every morning I do exercise, as soon as I get up.
C: What kind of exercise you do?
R: I exercise my arms, my legs, my knees, my neck, twenty minutes of easy stuff, just to, to limber up a bit. Limber up means get your body moving.
C: Do you do exercise to music?
R: Oh yeah! Always, is boring without music. I just do it at home, I don’t go to a gym, you know?
C: And some collocations with make, you can make a change, hacer un cambio, you can make a change, make changes, and if you are not happy in a restaurant or a hotel, you ask for the manager and you…
R: make a complaint.
C: You make a complaint. And if you decide to do something you have made…
R: made up your mind?
C: You made up your mind or you’ve made a decision.
R: so two expressions,
C: two expressions, make up your mind and make a decision.
R: Craig! Our students are learning a lot of useful vocabulary here, do you think they are making progress?
C: I think they are definitively. I hope they are making progress, especially if they are there writing down these words in word families. So, all the make words together, all the do words together. How do you say in English “hacer un esfuerzo”?
R: To make an effort.
C: Right, make an effort. Try very hard, make an effort to learn these words. Make an excuse if you are late for a meeting may be you make an excuse. Love, war and peace, all of those, you make. Make love, not war. Make peace. And make a mistake, and you can probably hear that the neighbors upstairs are making a noise; the woman is walking, can you hear? She is walking along the floor in high heels, “tacones”, and she is making a noise.
R: But there is nothing we can do about it.
- Yes there is! Because I know her phone number, so I can pick up the phone and I can make a phone call. Now, you’ve made a suggestion before, so that’s another collocation, to make a suggestion, right? And, would you like a cup of tea?
R: Yes, I think the cattle it’s just boiled.
C: So I just made an offer, offered Reza a cup of tea. Make an offer is another collocation.
R: Hey I put the cattle on,
C: That’s right! You made the offer to me! So, if you remember The Godfather, “El Padrino”, they made an offer that you can’t refuse. I’m gonna make you an offer that you can’t refuse.
PHRASAL VERB SPOT (16:21)
C: Reza, your phrasal verb spot. What’s your phrasal verb for this week Reza?
R: Wow! Do you remember last week we talked about take up, like take up a hobby, that means started it, begin it, take up time, take up space, and we also said that the electrician may have to take up my floor boards, that means lift them up. Well, this week’s phrasal verb also uses the verb take but we are using a different preposition, this week is on, take on, not up. Now, by changing the preposition in a phrasal verb you completely change the meaning. Now, I told you about that the electrician who have to come and might have to take up my floor boards. Well, he did come, and you know what?
C: When did he come?
R: He came last week, last Friday.
C: Ok, and did he do the job?
R: He did but you know what? He took me on! He took me on Craig. He charged double what most people should charge for a really terrible job. That’s to take someone on, to fool, engañar, me engañó.
C: Oh man, I’m really sorry, how much did he take you on for?
R: Double, double, he really fooled me.
C: These electricians…That’s the job we should be doing, we should be electricians, no English teachers, then we can take other people on.
R: Yeah, exactly. Now I got some other meanings of take on for you. It’s the start of a new academic year and the British Council in Valencia, where Craig and I work, they are taking on new staff. Taking on new staff.
C: That means to employ. You give work to someone.
R: That’s right, take on new staff. Coger, emplear personal nuevo.
C: Añadir a la plantilla.
R: Exactly, that’s better, more precise meaning. Another very common meaning of take on is to take on work. So I said that the British Council takes on staff, that means they give work, but you can say that the employee takes on work, that means he accepts work.
C: Ah! so if you are doing too much work and then you agree to do more, you take on more work, may be you take on too much work.
R: people often say that Craig, they say: “Oh I’m really tired because I’m taking on too much work”. I’ve been taking on, I’ve accepted. He aceptado demasiado. I’ve taken on too much work.
C: Let me ask you something, do you now think now, be honest, do you think you’ve taken on too much to do this podcast with me?
R: No, not at all. It’s great fun, is a pleasure.
C: that’s good to hear.
R: I’m really enjoying it!
C: Hopefully in the future we will be able to take on one or two sponsors.
R: Ah! I do hope so! And who knows Craig, maybe we’ll become so famous that we can take on our biggest competitors and be the number one. To take on a competitor means to challenge someone. To take on an oponent.
C: Well, I hope that happens. Just by now, I’m going to make the tea.
R: Let’s have some tea. Good Idea!
C: Thank you for listening and we’ll see you in the next episode.
Julio Albertro Serrano Ocampo
Dear Editors. I am glad to find so much interesting information and podcasts from La Mansión del Inglés. Since I got your web site I asked for the monthly editions that you kindly make. They all are very important but most important is the thing that you are teaching English worlwide. I am from Puerto Vallarta, México and I will be more than happy to know more from you. With my best regards. Mr. Serrano.
Thank you for your kind words Julio. We’re very happy that you like our podcasts. Please tell us if you want us to talk about anything particular, or if you have a question about English grammar, vocabulary etc.
Hi boys! I,m a new listener of your podcast and i,d like to give you thanks for this fantastic conversations, learn english lenguage is very important for me and you make it easier and funnier than other methods. I,m from Asturias then I have a question, have you tested asturian desserts? If not, I will think about a solution. Bye and grettings for your podcasts. Maite.
Hi Maite. We’re very happy that you find the podcasts useful. I have tasted some Asturian desserts (I have a very sweet tooth!), but I can’t think of any right now. Reza and I have recorded the podcasts for this summer already, but when he comes back from Belfast in September, we’ll speak together about Asturian desserts on a podcast. I’m sure Reza has tasted a few!
Ana Arminda Marrero Henríquez
Good evening, Reza and Craig:
Although I’m listening to your podcasts for a while I have a doubt revising this old one. Recently, I have read in several forums that “make a decision” is commonly used in US. However, “take a decision” is the way Brits collocate the word decision.
Some of them say that they’re both correct, but “take” is more formal. Now, I’m in doubt!
Please, would you clear it up?
Thanks a lot!!
I loooove your podcasts!!
We looooooove that you listen to us, Ana!
I don’t agree that take is more formal. I think they both have neutral formality. They are definitely both correct.
Hi Craig and Reza, Thanks for your podcats, they are very very good. Thanks.
You say that “to take on” is like “to fool”, but I dont’t find that translation in anywhere. Is it possible that this is a little common translation?
Hi Carlos. I think this meaning of ‘take on’ (to cheat) must be a colloquial London meaning. I can’t see this definition in the popular online dictionaries. I heard this very often when I was growing up in London: “I was taken on when I paid 700 pounds for this car.” Thanks for pointing this out.