SMS: Mom, can you pass me the salt, please?

It’s a fact that our lives are way different from our parents´ lives 20 years ago. It’s easy to notice because now we have something called smart phones.  But how has this device affected our lives? And what does it have to do with families? Well, the answer is simple. It has to do a lot. It’s funny how parents use technology as nannies. Every time I go to a family reunion, I can see the adults on one side of the house and the children on the other side taking pictures with their cell phones, twittering or posting something on Facebook. It seems that the remedy to prevent offsprings from jumping and hanging around you is to give them a cell phone and they will leave you alone.

Some days ago in a restaurant something funny caught my attention. There was a family sitting around a table, each member with a smart phone. They were minding their own businesses and not talking to each other at all until one of the kids talked to his mother and said, ¨there you are, I left you a message on your Facebook wall mom¨, and then the rest of the ¨quality time¨ remained in silence.

I’ve got to be honest. I have one of these gadgets at home. Fortunately for me, I haven’t become dependent on it yet.  People will say I am just exaggerating, but cell phones have such an influence on our lives that even a new phobia has been created. I’m talking about the Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia) which consists on the fear people have when not having a cell phone. I could see that when the Blackberry service collapsed and all its network broke down. It was really pitiful to hear a person saying, ¨My God! What am I gonna do now? How am I gonna survive without my cell phone?” It made me wonder how dependent people are on their cell phones in the present time and how much they will be in 10 years. It is really outrageous and scary to think that in the future people will use their cell phones to “talk” to each other even when sitting around the same table.

I don’t pretend to tell you what to do. I just want to say that every minute you spend talking to your parents or friends is priceless. Think about it before sending a message saying “I love you” to your friend. It’s better to say it to that person directly. It will grant you a hug or even better a kiss.

Vocabulary

Break down (v): Stop working

Collapse (v): Fail.

Gadget (n): An electronic item.

Grant (v): To give.

Offspring (n): Formal way to refer to children or kids.

Outrageous (adj): Shocking, unpleasant.

Pitiful (adj): Pathetic.

Prevent someone/something from doing an action (v): To stop someone/something from doing something.

Priceless (adj): Really important, with a lot of value.

Remain (v): Prevail invariably.

Are you nomophobic? Have you ever been without a cell phone? What did you do?

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INDIRECT QUESTIONS

Direct Question: How dependent are people on their cell phones?

Indirect Question: I  wonder how dependent people are on their cell phones.

When we want to know something we can use a direct question (What time is it?) or we can also use an indirect question (Could you tell me what time it is?).

Both have the same meaning but we use indirect questions when we want to be more polite or more formal.

An indirect question is a question that is part of a statement or another question.

I don’t know what his name is. (part of a statement)

Do you know what his name is? (part of a question)

We form the indirect questions following the same order as a positive sentence (Subject+Verb).

Direct: Where are you from? 

Indirect: Can you tell me where you are from?

Since we are following the same order as a regular sentence, we don’t need the auxiliary DO.

Direct: What does she want?  

Indirect: Do you know what she wants?

NO:         Do you know what does she want?

Direct: Where did she go?   

Indirect: Do you know where she went?

NO:         Do you know where did she go?

When the direct question doesn’t have a question word (who, what, when, etc), we need to use if or whether in the indirect question. For example:

Direct: Is there any coffee?         

Indirect: Can you tell me if there is any coffee?

Direct: Did she go the party?       

Indirect: Can you tell me whether she went to the  party?                                                                   

Here are some of the most common phrases used for asking indirect questions:

Can/Could you tell me … ?
I wonder / was wondering ….
I have no idea …
I’d like to know…

I don’t know…

I’m not sure…

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