Tutor profile: Amanda B.
I hate the subjunctive! Why does it exist and how do I figure it out??
The subjunctive mood can be very frustrating for English speakers, but it doesn't have to be! As I once read in a novel, "the subjunctive is the heart speaking". Nearly everything in the subjunctive boils down to emotion, and if you can understand that you're halfway to mastering it. Words like "hope" and "want" often trigger the subjunctive. "I do the homework" is not subjunctive, "Hago la tarea", because there is no heart and soul to it. However, "The teacher wants me to do the homework" is subjunctive because now we have a desire, "El profesor quiere que yo haga la tarea". This can be applied to every aspect of the subjunctive, from the very basic example above to something more complex, such as "If I had known, everything would have turned out fine", "Si hubiera sabido, todo habría salido bien". We are expressing regret, which is an emotion, so we use the subjunctive mood. Regardless of where you are at with the subjunctive, there is a way of looking at it that makes it much less daunting. Once you get the hang of it you, too, will be speaking from the heart.
Subject: Gender Studies
Aren't sex and gender the same thing?
Not at all! In the simplest terms, sex is biological and gender is cultural. Your sex is your physical anatomy. Your gender is how you present yourself. The reason that many people think they are the same is because a majority of people are cisgender, meaning their gender "agrees" with their biological sex at birth; however, this isn't always the case! Many individuals don't present their gender according to their sex. In this case, their sex and gender "disagree". And this is fine, because gender is all in your head! It is important to understand the difference in the terms, as referring to someone's physical anatomy as their "gender" is not only incorrect, but it could cost you some points in class or credibility in a professional setting. Sex and gender are still two separate concepts even if you are cisgender!
Subject: English as a Second Language
What is the difference between the "sh" sound and the "ch" sound?
This is a challenge that many non-native speakers come across! The word "watch" may be practically indistinguishable from "wash" to the untrained ear! The difference is subtle, so let's start with listening. I like to start off by reading a famous children's book, Goodnight Moon. Then, once we have the relaxed feel of the book, we'll focus on the phrase "a quiet old lady whispering hush". When we make the "sh" sound, try to think of how the quiet old lady would say it. From there, we can more easily hear the difference in the more punctuated "ch" sound. With more practice, the sounds will gradually become distinct.
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