Friday, 27 May 2011

Verbs + ing

The Queen's English
Friday 27th May 2011
Debby Kean
There are two ways to use a verb that I will be discussing here.
• One is the infinitive - 'to + verb' example: “I love to walk around when we have a sunny
• The other is the verb + ing - example: “I love walking around in the sunshine”.
There are three times when we use verb + ing.
• As a gerund. (That means, the 'ing' form of a verb used as a noun) Example, “Smoking is
• In the continuous tense. Example, “Tomorrow I will be going to the library, I have a book to
• As an adjective. “Sarah gasped when she saw the shining gems against the black velvet of
the display”.

There are some rules learners can use in order to tell which structure is used.
After a preposition, always use verb + ing.
Example: Are you interesting in going for a swim?
I am looking forward to finishing this course
After certain verbs, always use the infinitive. Some of these verbs are: afford, arrange,
beg, ask, decide, fail, hope, promise, refuse and which.
After certain other verbs, you must always use the verb + ing form. These are: Avoid,
delay, detest, dread, enjoy, forgive, miss, postpone, resent and resist.
With some verbs, either the infinitive or the verb + ing form can be used :
I began working/I began to work.
You will need to consult your dictionary to find out which is which! Although this seems onerous,it is really the only thing to do.

Here is an exercise. Complete the sentence with the correct form, gerund or infinitive
1. I intend _________ to Brazil in August go)
2. I arranged ____________ my vacation during the last two weeks (take)
3. I considered _______ to Venezuela or Argentina first. (go)
4. But I decided _________ them for next year. (leave)
5. The government has demanded me/I ______ a visa to go to Brazil (get)
6. That involves _________ in a long line at the Consulate. Stand)
7. I didn't mind _______ the $45.00 fee. (pay)
8. But I hate ________ in lines (wait)
9. I also detest _________ passport photos. (get)
10. I really wanted _______ the country, so I did it. (see)
11. I haven't begun ______ yet. (pack)
12. I'll start soon, because I can't stand _________ in a rush (pack)
13. I remembered _______ my neighbour to take care of my cat.. (ask)
14. She really doesn't mind _______ behind (stay)
15. But she always loves _______ us come back!(see)
Answers to exercise.
1. To go
2. to take
3. going
4. to leave
5. I get
6. standing
7. paying
8. waiting
9. getting
10. to see
11. packing
12. packing
13. to ask
14. staying
15. seeing/to see (either is acceptable)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Queen's English May 2011
Debby Kean
This entry is simply based on a number of things I have heard or read recently that make me cringe.
You know that feeling you get when you bite into something very cold? Or someone makes you a cup of tea, you take it gratefully, only to find out, with the first sip, that they have put 3 spoonfuls of
sugar in it?
You suck in breath through your teeth, and try to smile. It's not easy!
So - to begin...
Based off - no! Something is based on something else. It cannot possibly be based off, or worse, based 'off of', something else.
Bias/biased. For this one, I am offering an example and my answer to the man...
“You can't get true information from any articles... . Because they are bias in their results.
Man, you're 'bias'!”
“The word you want is 'biased'. Bias is the noun, biased is the adjective”.
(The person thanked me for the grammar lesson. I think he was probably being sarcastic, but he ought not to have been. I had taught him something!)
I have discovered that it is, sadly, quite common for people to confuse noun, adjective and adverb.

Contradictory versus contradictive and I quote : “Just seems kind of contradictive to me”. There is simply no such word as contradictive!
There/their/they're - there's no excuse for a native speaker to mistake these words.
• There - refers to place “Would you bring me that book over there by the radio?”
• Their - an item or items belong to 'them'. “Sarah and Laura both forgot to take their umbrellas to work today”
• They're means 'they are'. “David and Sarah are going to see the travel agent this afternoon. They're going to Dunedin for Labour Day weekend”
Example of misuse is: “while we watch the ignoramuses Walk there ignoramus strut?”

Your/You're - another mistake for which there is no excuse! “That would be my birthday so I hope your wrong.”
Your - belonging to you. “Hey, did you bring your mobile phone?”
You're - You are. “As a newly enrolled student, you're required to have a copy of the New Headway Intermediate student's book by the time class begins next week.”

Plurals with apostrophes
That is a very big no! It is sadly obvious that many people just don't know when to use apostrophes and arguably more important, when not to use them. Apostrophes have two purposes - to express the possessive
“It is Jim's bag over there”, and to stand in for omitted letters, in a contraction - “I can't (cannot) phone now, but I'll (I will) do it when the line is free”. No other use is permitted! Not this for instance: “so a case of Rules for Radical's here”.
(It used to be known as The Grocer's Apostrophe” as grocers (those selling groceries) would have chalkboards outside their shops, advertising specials, such as “Potatoes 59 cents a kilo”. Well, that's what it ought to have said, but
many times the shopper would see a board like this:
• Potato's 59 cent a kilo
• Carrot's 12 cents a kilo
• Newspaper's and bus ticket's also available.
It was amazing also, the creative ways grocers had of spelling the word Potatoes!
More than enough infelicities for now - sadly, I am sure there will be more!

Present simple and other tenses

The Queen's English
Debby Kean

Present simple:
This use is so called, because it's very simple! No, that's not why it's called Present Simple, but as can be seen, it is simple. Maybe it is the first thing a learner knows - “I am a girl” for instance. A baby learns her name, she learns to say Mama and Daddy, and then she learns “I am hungry”. “Eat!” (she means “I (want to, I am, I have) eat/eating/eaten.
You will have learned that in your native language...
Present simple is used in the following situations.
To refer to a regular repeated habit : “We swim every day”
To refer to a future event, (used in temporal/conditional subordinate clauses): “If she comes I'll stop writing”
To refer to a general truth: “Many flowers blossom in spring”
To refer to a fixed event - 'time table tense': “The plane leaves at 10.00”
To refer to events in the past (often used in vivid headlines): “Whina Cooper dies” (This is known as the “historic present”. Whina Cooper was an important person in New Zealand's recent history. )
Past simple
This is used to refer to an event in the past that happened at a particular time: “She left at 5 o'clock”.
Future tenses
Are also very simple - English does not have a future tense as such. What if we want to talk about the future? We need to use modal auxiliaries such as the verbs to have, to be, and would, should and must/might.
To express a decided intention: “We will go swimming every day”
To express a hope with a condition: “If he sends me a text message with his address then I'll be able to send him a birthday present”.
To express a rule and the means of complying: “In order to sit NCEA level 3 physics, you must be enrolled and pay your exam fee by the 7th of October this year”.