Sunday, July 31, 2011

Prepositional verbs revisited

This post is a fairly detailed, and for me at least quite technical, discussion / exploration aimed mainly at teachers and possibly grammar freaks, and is a continuation of an earlier discussion / rant I had at When is a phrasal verb not a phrasal verb?.
If you were looking for some exercises with prepositional verbs, you could try my earlier posts, Lesson on prepositional verbs and Random stories - Prepositional verbs
In a lesson post on prepositional verbs, I stressed that their definition seemed to be somewhat elastic. Having learnt from Language Leader Advanced, Market Leader Advanced and other sources, however, that prepositional verbs appeared to be more or less the same as good old fashioned Type 3 phrasal verbs, I accordingly based my lesson on that idea in good faith.
I have now discovered a rather different story in The Teacher's Grammar of English, written by Ron Cowan and published in 2008 by Cambridge, who call it – 'a comprehensive resource text designed to help ESL/EFL teachers understand and teach American English grammar'.
What's more, his idea seems to have some support from other writers. I confess to now being thoroughly confused and I might well have to eat humble pie.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

More 'intelligent' words

Merriam-Webster have another 'Top Ten' list, of what they call 'Simple but intelligent' ways to spruce up your conversation.
Intelligent as they may be, some of these are far from simple, and might even get you funny looks if you brought them up in conversation. After all, you might want to sound intelligent, but you don't want to sound pretentious.
So treat them with care, and perhaps keep them for your passive vocabulary.
First go over to Merriam-Webster and cycle through the definitions, then come back here for the exercise.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Phrasal verbs with go

English Phrasal Verbs in Use (Cambridge University Press) lists some forty phrasal verbs based on the verb 'go'. Here are some exercises to help you learn some of them in context.
I've divided them according to the four main structural types, and then brought them together in a little story at the end.
I suggest you just plunge straight in, without looking them up first. If you want to check their meanings just use one of the dictionaries on the right. Oxford Advanced Learner's lists phrasal verbs further down the page after the main meanings and idioms. There's a link to it below.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Exploring misplaced and dangling modifiers

This is my attempt to get to grips with the subject of misplaced and dangling modifiers. I freely admit to being at the edge of my comfort zone here, and to not necessarily knowing all the answers. But although my opinions may be a bit wobbly, I don't think I've made any huge errors.
This is quite a detailed exploration, so you might want to dip in and out rather than take it all in at one sitting.
We will look at the following aspects using the occasional exercise for illustration:
  • What is a modifier?
  • The placing of modifiers
  • Is it misplaced or simply dangling?
  • Misplaced modifiers, and how to avoid them
  • Different types of dangling modifiers
  • Dangling participles, and how to fix them
  • Identifying dangling modifiers
  • What is a squinting modifier?
  • Some natural sounding danglers
  • Two case studies from language blogs

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tools - Quick gapmaker

Note This is not a gap fill generator but a tool for rapidly making gaps in a text or questions, which can then be used in one of my gap fill generators. It simply adds square brackets to words you click on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Exploring grammar - types of clause and how they are connected

We read about and study this sort of clause and that sort of clause: conditional clauses, relative clauses, subordinate clauses etc. And as advanced students you'll be coming across terms like participle clauses, clauses of concession and noun clauses. But how many types of clause are there? How do they fit into the big picture? That's what I'm going to try and find out here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tools - Gapfill generator

  1. Printable / saveable gapfill exercise generator for teachers
  2. Interactive gapfill tester for students (see 'Making an instant exercise')

Please note - there is now a new improved more printer-friendly version here.

Top Ten British Words 2 (according to Merriam-Webster)

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary have issued a second set of ten British words they like. This has given me the impetus / excuse to do another little exercise, this time in the guise of a very short story. It's meant to be quite colloquial, so don't take it as an example of excellent English to follow.

A small number of quantifiers are a bit confusing, perhaps.

Doing some research for a post I want to do on linking verbs, I came across this sentence:
There is a small number of other copular verbs
which just happened to be on an English university grammar course website, which is a bit ironic.
Now I was pretty sure I'd say 'There are a small number', even though it doesn't seem at first sight to be grammatically correct – we have that 'a', after all. So I started checking on the web.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Q & A When do we use 'whom' instead of 'who'.

I'm tempted to say almost never, but I'll try to be a bit more objective.
Basic answer - in spoken and informal English, most native speakers use whom very rarely. This is because for most of us whom sounds excessively formal and rather old fashioned.
Nowadays it is normally only used after prepositions, but we usually try to avoid doing even that by putting the preposition at the end of the clause or sentence whenever we can. This, however, isn't always possible, and in these instances using whom sounds perfectly natural. The trick is knowing what these appropriate whom moments are.