Sunday, November 30, 2014

Relative infinitive clauses - uses and exercises

We can sometimes replace a relative pronoun and finite verb with an infinitive. This is sometimes called a relative infinitive clause, or infinitival relative clause. This happens more often with defining relative clauses, but can also occur with non-defining clauses:
  • The first person to speak at the conference was an expert on ...
    (= the first person who spoke ...)
  • Jenny is definitely somebody to keep an eye on.
    (= somebody who you should keep an eye on)
  • The chemist gave her some tablets, to be taken three times a day.
    (= which should be taken / were to be taken)

When can we do this?

There doesn't appear to be a lot of information about this in standard EFL books, but there seem to be two main contexts where we can use an infinitive in a relative clause.
The first gets some space in advanced grammar books, but the second gets hardly a mention, at least not in the context of relative clauses.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Modal past

There are three main ways of talking about the past using modals or their equivalents:
  • Past modals - mainly would and could
  • The use of other, similar verbs
  • Modal perfect - must have, can't have etc
Brush up your knowledge of modal past by doing a few exercises.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Verb patterns - quick quizzes

When one verb follows another they can follow one of several patterns, for example:
  • verb + to-infinitive
  • verb + -ing form (gerund)
  • verb + to--infinitive / -ing form
  • verb + object + (to-) infinitive
  • verb + object + -ing form
  • verb + that clause
There are unfortunately no hard and fast rules as to what pattern to use, although a to-infinitive often looks forward and/or involves an action - He decided to do it (he decided, then he did it), while an -ing form often looks back or is more about reactions, thought processes or emotions - She enjoys kite surfing (she enjoys the experience).
There's a link at the top of this page to a reference page with lists of verbs and their possible patterns, but the only real way to learn these patterns is through practice and exposure: ideally, 'afford to do' and 'admit doing', etc, should come as automatically to learners as 'sing, sang, sung'.
The exercises in this post (especially the first one), will hopefully help you practise these patterns, so that they become automatic. There are also a couple of quizzes to practise using dependent prepositions after verbs.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Inversion with so, such and as - exercises

Here are a couple of exercises on inversion with so, such and as, and a rather nerdy discussion of inversion after than. You can find out much more about inversion, and about why we use inversion and fronting, at a rather longer post I wrote recently (link below).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Teacher tools - Word shapes

Note - This is a bit of an experiment and is currently in testing mode
The program turns words into shapes, depending on the look of the letters. I'd seen this idea on a couple of websites offering stuff for kids, and I thought it might be fun to work something out.
You can choose between:
  • Word shape only (could be used with separate picture or definition cards)
  • Anagrams inline with word shapes
  • Words shown randomised in a box above word shapes
  • Pictures randomised in a box above word shapes
  • Word shapes with definitions
  • Pictures + anagrams + word shapes
  • Pictures inline with word shapes