Verbs

May 1, 2009

When we want to talk about what the subject of a sentence does, we use a verb. Verbs tell us about an action. Here are some simple verbs:

run, walk, read, talk

When we use verbs, we can change theirtense and form to change the meaning:

I work; She works; I worked; I have worked; I am working

This change tells us when something happens (past, present, future).

To make sometense changes, we use different forms of the verb:

I was working.

I worked.

I work.

Some verbs are continuous or progressive, and some are simple; they have the same time reference but have different meanings:

I was working yesterday.

I worked yesterday.

We can also use modal verbs to tell us about how we feel about something happening:

You should see a doctor.

It must rain soon.

Some verbs always go with the same preposition:

I succeeded in passing my driving test.

She listened to the radio last night.

When we join two verbs to make a verb phrase, we use certain patterns:

I want to go.

I must go.

Sentences

May 1, 2009

In every sentence there is a subject. The subject is the theme of the sentence; it is what we are talking about.

Life is beautiful.

Arsenal lost the match.

Along with the subject, we also have the predicate. This is what we want to say about the subject.

Life is beautiful.

Arsenal lost the match.

In a statement, these two parts usually follow this pattern:

{subject} + {predicate}

Life + is beautiful.

Arsenal + lost the match.

A sentence always starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, a question mark or an exclamation mark (see punctuation).

Questions

May 1, 2009

All questions begin with a capital letter and end with a question mark. There are two main ways of asking questions in written English: inversion and using do:

statement: You are Spanish.
question: Are you Spanish?
statement: You speak Spanish.
question: Do you speak Spanish?

If the verb in a sentence is be, we use inversion to make a question. This means we change the positions of the subject and the verb:

statement: {subject} + {be} …
question: {be} + {subject} …
statement: They were Spanish.
question: Were they Spanish?

We also use inversion to make questions with modal and auxiliary verbs:

statement: {subject} + {auxiliary/modal} + [auxiliary] + {main verb}
question: {auxiliary/modal} + {subject} + [auxiliary] + {main verb}
statement: You can see England from here.
question: Can you see England from here?
statement: They should be arriving soon.
question: Should they be arriving soon?

When the verb in a sentence is not be or modal or auxiliary, we use do to make questions.

statement: {subject} + {verb}
question: {do} + {subject} + {infinitive}
statement: You know Simon.
question: Do you know Simon?
statement: He likes pizza.
question: Does he like pizza?
statement: She broke the record.
question: Did she break the record?

Notice that do changes for the pasttense and when we talk about he, she or it in the presenttense:

Do you like…

Does she like…

Did she like…

We can also make questions by using a rising intonation at the end of a statement. This is very common in spoken English:

statement: You’re going. [falling intonation]
question: You’re going? [rising intonation]

Alternative questions. These questions are the same as above and use or before the last alternative:

Is she wearing blue or green?

Should we take a bus, the car or a taxi?

Prepositions

May 1, 2009

Prepositions are a closed class of words. A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that the preposition introduces is called the object of the preposition. A preposition usually locates its object in space or in time. This is why we talk about prepositions of place and prepositions of time.

Prepositions of place tell us where something is or happens:

on the sofa

under the bed

We use prepositions of time to tell us when something happens:

at Christmas

in July

Some words are often followed by the same prepositions:

listen to

succeed in

Some verbs take a preposition to make a new verb. These are called phrasal verbs:

put up with

hand out

Passive Voice

May 1, 2009

The most important information in a sentence usually comes first. We use the passive voice to change the order of the information in a sentence:

active Elsa ate the cake.
passive The cake was eaten by Elsa.

The passive voice is used in writing much more often than in speech. It can be found in newspapers and magazines’ articles, and it is very common in scientific and technical writing. Overall the active voice is more widely used than the passive. These are the two forms:

active {subject} + {verb} + {object}
passive {object} + {be} + {past participle} + {by} + {subject}

There are three steps to making a passive sentence:

1 – make the object of the active sentence (the cake), the subject of the passive sentence:

active Elsa ate the cake.
passive The cake

2 – make the verb passive; we do this by using be and the past participle:

active Elsa ate the cake.
passive The cake was eaten

3 – make the subject of active sentence (Elsa) the object of the passive sentence – we introduce it with by:

active Elsa ate the cake.
passive The cake was eaten by Elsa.

Participles as Adjectives

April 23, 2009

We can often make an adjective from a verb. We do this by using the -ing and -ed participles:

verb -ed participle -ing participle
interest interested interesting

We use the -ed participle as a subject adjective; it describes how the subject of a sentence feels:

She was interested in the program.

The disappointed candidate felt cheated by the result.

We use the -ing participle as anobject adjective; it describes theobject of the sentence:

The program was interesting (for her).

The candidate objected to the disappointing result.

Nouns

April 23, 2009

When we want to talk about something, we use a noun. A noun is the name of the thing we can see. Here are some common nouns:

book, telephone, airplane, teacher

There are only two forms of nouns: singular and plural. Book is a singular noun, this means it refers only to one book. If we want to talk about more than one book, we must use a plural noun:

books, telephones, airplanes, teachers

To make a plural noun, we usually add -s to the end of the singular noun.

Negatives

April 23, 2009

We make negatives in two ways. Either using not or by using do not:

I am not going to answer that question.

He did not telephone me in time.

When the verb we are using is be we make the negative by adding the negative particle, not:

{be} + {not}

She is not English

They were not here.

With other verbs, we make negatives by using do not or does not and the infinitive:

{do} + {not} + {infinitive}

I do not live in London.

She does not live in London.

They did not telephone.

The do verb shows the tense and number of the main verb which is in the infinitive:

positive negative
I live here. I do not live here.
She lives here. She does not live here.
He lived here. He did not live here.

When we use a modal or auxiliary verb, we add not after the first part of the verb:

{auxiliary/modal} + [auxiliary] + [auxiliary] + {infinitive}

I can dance but she can not dance.

I will not be seeing him next week.

Arsenal have not won a match this season.

In informal situations, we usually use n’t instead of not:

is not = isn’t
are not = aren’t
would not = wouldn’t
have not = haven’t
had not = hadn’t

There are exceptions:

I am not = I’m not
will not = won’t
shall not = shan’t

The negative of can is can not. This is sometimes made into one word, cannot:

can not = cannot = can’t

Sometimes we change words from positive to negative use:

positive negative
I have a lot of money. I don’t have much money.
I have already gone. I haven’t gone yet.
I want some too. I don’t want any either.
I have some money. I have no money.

Miscellaneous

April 23, 2009

When we talk about eternal truths (situations which are always true) such as scientific facts, we can use this pattern:

{if} + {present tense} | {present tense}

If water reaches 100°, it turns into steam.

If you go, I go.

When we give orders, we use:

{if} + {present tense} | {imperative}

If the car breaks down, telephone me.

Let me know if you are in trouble.

When we offer or give advice we can use:

{if} + {present continuous/present perfect} | {modal}

If the car is acting up, you should telephone me.

You ought to let me know if you are thinking of moving to London.

When we give suggestions we can use:

{if} + {modal} | {modal}

If you can’t get your perfect job, you should go for anything.

When we talk about improbable future actions we can use:

{if} + {should} | {modal/imperative}

If the car should break down, telephone me.

You ought to let me know if you should change your mind.

When we talk about willingness or wishing, we can use if + will. This is often used to make offers:

{if} + {will/would} | {modal}

If you will come with me, I can show you the way.

If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to talk to you.

In these examples, will has nothing to do with future meaning.

We can also makeconditionals by using words other than if.

If we had more money, we could buy a new car.

Supposing we had more money, what would you buy?

Take the umbrella in case it rains.

Don’t leave unless I tell you to.

supposing = if
in case = if by chance
unless = if … not

We can also leave out if in informal situations:

You make any more trouble (and) I’ll call the police!

Should the car break down, call me straight away.

We can use happen to to suggest that something happens by chance:

If you happen to see Kevin, tell him to call me.

We can also use it with should when there is even less chance of something happening:

If you should happen to bump into the Prime Minister, tell him to give me a tax rebate.

either…or

April 3, 2009

When we join two clauses, this is used for positive or negativesentences with two alternatives (clauses):

{either} + {clause} + {or} + {clause}

Either listen to what I’m saying or leave me alone.


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