Modifiers with non-gradable (extreme) adjectives

Non-gradable adjectives cannot have different degrees of intensity because they are extreme or already maximum intensity. For example boiling means very hot so we cannot say very boiling! However, we can use some modifiers for emphasis!

Examples of non-gradable (extreme adjectives) are freezing, furious, hilarious, awful, terrified, starving, tiny and exhausted.

I’m starving!                   →                  This means I’m very hungry so I can’t say I’m                                                                          very starving!

I’m absolutely starving! →                 This means I could eat a horse! It’s emphatic!

The modifiers we can use with non-gradable adjectives are:









*When we use quite with extreme adjectives it means absolutely:

The film was quite terrifying.

You can review modifiers with non-gradable (extreme) adjectives in C1.1 Unit 1





Modifiers with gradable adjectives

Gradable adjectives are those that can have different degrees of intensity such as angry, bad, beautiful, big, cold, crowded, good, hungry and small.

My dog is very small.           →                       The modifier changes the intensity of                                                                                          the adjective

My dog is quite small.         →                        very small is smaller than quite small

The modifiers we can use with gradable adjectives are:









a bit

*We use rather with negative adjectives to mean bastante.

He was rather rude to me yesterday.

We use rather with positive adjectives to imply that it is surprisingly positive (sorprendentemente)

His performance was rather good.

You can review modifiers with gradable adjectives in C1.1 Unit 1





Carnival vocabulary

This week is Carnival week in many places around the world, although this year the events will be virtual. The most famous celebrations are in Brasil, Tenerife, Venice and New Orleans (Mardi Gras). These celebrations coincide with the beginning of Lent and traditionally people would celebrate with food and drink before fasting*.

Carnival is a colourful event with parades, beautifully decorated floats, dancers and of course costumes. Do you enjoy carnival? Do you dress up?

*fasting = el ayuno

Lent = cuaresma

I’m going to stop eating chocolate for Lent.

 Parades = desfiles

I would love to visit Brasil during carnival to watch the extravagant parades.

Floats = carrozas

During Mardi Gras, small gifts called throws (beads**, trinkets*** and small toys) are thrown from the floats into the crowds.

**beads – abalorios  *** trinkets – baratijas

Dancers = bailarines

Thousands of Samba dancers take part in the Brasil carnival.

Costumes = disfraces

My favourite part of the costumes in Venice are the beautiful masks.

Dress up = disfrazarse

Children always dress up for the school carnival parties here in Spain.

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Love is in the air…

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this Sunday (14th February), we bring you some love idioms. Can you think of any more?

Love at first sight = amor a primera vista

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Head over heels = enamoradísimo

Katy is head over heels with her new boyfriend – I’ve never seen her so in love!

Puppy love = amor de jóvenes

Look at those two! Isn’t puppy love so sweet?

A match made in heaven = hechos el uno para el otro

Tom and Rachel really are a match made in heaven! They are the perfect couple.

To have the hots for someone/to have a crush on someone = estar loco por

Jane has the hots for the new guy at the office! / Jane has a crush on the new guy at the office!

You can learn more about love and dating in B1.1 unit 9.





Super Bowl Sunday

This Sunday (7th February) is Super Bowl Sunday – the most watched American football event of the year! The Super Bowl is the championship game of the NFL and the winning team get the Lombardi trophy which is handcrafted by Tiffany & Co.

The Super Bowl isn’t only for football lovers either – the half-time show is as famous as the championship itself and has had many memorable performances from celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Prince, not to mention the iconic ads (commercials in US English) in which famous brands try to create the most impressive advertisements to reach the thousands of people watching.

Do you watch the Super Bowl? Can you think of a sporting event that is popular in Spain?

Championship = campeonato

I hope the Kansas City Chiefs win the championship! They’ve played so well this season!

 Trophy = trofeo

Did you know that the Lombardi Trophy is made of silver and is worth over $10,000?

 Half-time show = espectáculo durante el descanso

I loved Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s performance in the Super Bowl half-time show last year!

 Advertisements/commercials (ads) = anuncios

The big brands spend a lot of money on making great advertisements to be shown during sporting events.

You can learn more about sports in B1.2 unit 5.





Winter-themed expressions

This week we bring you some winter-themed expressions. Do you know them? Can you think of any more?

To be snowed under – tener muchísimo trabajo

I’m snowed under – I need to finish all these reports by the end of the month!

Break the ice – romper el hielo

What’s the best way to break the ice when you have a new workmate?

On thin ice – en una situación peligrosa

You’re on thin ice – you’ve been late for work three times this week – do you want to get fired?

Have/get cold feet – dudar/echar para atrás

They were about to get married when he got cold feet and postponed the wedding!

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Blue Monday

The 18th January is Blue Monday (the third Monday in January) – the saddest day of the year. Why is it the saddest day of the year? According to the psychologist Cliff Arnall it is a combination of the end of the festive period, the cold weather, having less money after Christmas and a lack of motivation post-holidays.

Do you get the winter blues? How do you cheer yourself up when you’re feeling blue?

The winter blues = depression invernal

It’s so dark and cold outside – the lack of light gives me the winter blues.

 Cheer up = animarse

Sitting by the fire reading a good book always cheers me up.

To feel blue = estar deprimido

My brother has been feeling blue since he lost his job last month.


Listen to the podcast Autumn blues on this app for some mood boosting tips!





Brrr….it’s cold!

Do you know these expressions to talk about the cold weather? Can you think of any more?

We can use these expressions to say it’s cold:

It´s chilly!

It’s nippy!

Take a coat, it’s chilly/nippy outside!


It’s very cold:

It’s freezing!

Turn the heating up, it’s freezing in here!

It’s bitterly cold!

Brrr, it’s bitterly cold today – I think it might snow again!


It’s extremely cold:

It’s below zero!

I had to scrape the ice off my car this morning – it’s below zero and frosty*!

It’s arctic!

I’m going to stay in my pyjamas and watch a movie by the fire – it’s arctic outside!

*frosty = escarchado

Stay safe and be careful with the ice and snow!




The Three Kings

The Three Kings

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Three Kings came riding from far away,

Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;

Three Wise Men out of the East were they,

And they travelled by night and they slept by day,

For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.