Thursday, June 23, 2011

Confusing words - there

Sometimes I get written work from my students with sentences like these:
  1. I come from Gdańsk and there still live my parents.
  2. I studied in Kraków. There is one of the oldest universities in Europe.
While both sentences are perfectly understandable, a native speaker would never say or write either of them. They are not 'well-formed' and therefore are not correct.

In this lesson we look at:

  • Why these sentences aren't correct and how to fix them
  • The adverb of place there
  • The introductory construction there is, there are and why it is so useful
  • There is / are with relative clauses
  • There is / are with participle clauses
  • There is / are with nominalisation

And practise with various exercises

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Exploring grammar - the Subjunctive

You will occasionally hear or read about the Subjunctive, although in British English (BrE) we don't use it very often. And because we don't use it much, I sometimes wonder if we actually know what its forms are. I'm being disingenuous here of course, by 'we' I mean 'I'.
Of course we know about 'If I were ...' and 'If he were ...', but could we say what all the other forms are? For us Brits it's largely academic, but I thought it would be fun to find out. In fact it turns out to be pretty simple. Please see the links section below for my sources. It should be noted that Subjunctive seems to be used rather more often in American English (AmE) than in British English (BrE).
These notes are not meant to be a lesson, nor a definitive explanation of the Subjunctive, but rather an exploration of what I understand to be the principles, with lots of examples.
There are no exercises associated with this post, but I hope to do some separate exercises on the Subjunctive a bit later.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Random stories - Three-part phrasal verbs

Random Stories
Illustrating a language point with a story, no doubt with varying degrees of success.
This little story will give you some practice in using three-part phrasal verbs. It includes just about every three-part phrasal verb listed in English Phrasal Verbs in Use (Cambridge). If you need to brush up on your three-part phrasal verbs first, you can look at my previous set of exercises, which includes some grammatical explanation, here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Future in the Past - Lesson and exercises

Future in the Past is sometimes described as 'the future seen from the past'. But it's really more like 'the future seen from the past which is in turn seen from now':
  • Somebody thinks about the future:
    - I will be meeting her later on.
  • Sometime later we look back at him thinking about the future:
    - He knew he would be meeting her later on.
  • I think about the future:
    - I'm going to buy a new computer today
  • The next day I remember:
    I was going to buy a computer yesterday, but then I realised I couldn't afford it.
  • The newspapers announce something that's going to happen:
    - There is to be a tax cut.
  • Sometime later I remember reading about it:
    - I read that there was to be a tax cut.
That's just about the the basis of it. Learn more by doing these exercises, and at the same time brush up your knowledge of future forms, future expressions with the verb to be and future time clauses.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Verbs from prepositions - exercise

I'm always interested to see the search terms used by people who land up on my blog, and this one caught my eye - verbs from prepositions. Are there any, I wondered. After going pretty carefully through the extensive list of prepositions at English Club, I would say they are pretty few and far between. Six in standard English that I can find, and one of them - except - it would be difficult to say which came first - the preposition or the verb.
The way these verbs are used is fairly restricted, mainly in set expressions and idioms. But here's a little exercise anyway, it'll give you practice at verb tenses, if nothing else.

Top Ten Words 2 - 'Simple but intelligent' conversation boosters

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary have recently issued another Top Ten Words list - 'Simple but intelligent' words to make your conversation sparkle.
This could help you boost your word power. But remember, the best way is to read, read, read. Anyway, have a look at their definitions at Merriam-Webster first (you can cycle through them all), then come back and do the two short exercises.