Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Irregular Verbs (at last!)

Irregular Verbs
Verbs come in two flavours, regular and irregular. If a verb is regular the past simple and the past
participle end in 'ed' - for example:
Infinitive: Clean finish use paint stop carry
Past simple: Cleaned finished used painted stopped carried
Past participle: Cleaned finished used painted stopped carried
we use the past participle to make the perfect tenses and for all passive forms.
Perfect tenses: (have/has/had cleaned)
I have cleaned the windows (pres perfect.)
They were still working. They hadn't finished. (past perfect).
Passive: (is cleaned/was cleaned etc.)
He was carried out of the room (past simple passive)
This gate has just been painted. (pres perfect passive.)
Irregular verbs.
When the past simple/past part do not end in 'ed', (for example: I saw/I have seen) then the verb is
With some irregular verbs all three forms - infinitive, past simple and past participle are the same - example, hit
With others the past simple is the same as the past participle but different from the infinitive: example, tell/told.
Last, with some others, all three forms are different: example, wake/woke, woken.
Some verbs can be both regular and irregular. There are 8 of them: burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spell, spill and spoil. They can be stated thus: burn: burned or burnt. In British English, the irregular form is more usual.
Do not be afraid of irregular verbs. There are far fewer of them than you might think, given the enormous number of words in the English language. In fact I have a list, and there are only 116 of them. That means they are easy to learn - at first you will have to consult a reference book, after that, you will find that you have learned them. There are some native speakers who get them wrong, sadly, so reading cannot always be your guide. Also as usual, there are differences
between American English (Am. E) and British English (B.E). An example is lighted/lit. Americans don't use lit as “Daria lit the lamp” but always say lighted. “She lighted the lamp”. If you want to learn British English, and I presume that you do, or you would not be reading my blog, then be aware of what you read. Otherwise, my advice is as usual - read and listen, every chance you get.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Some basics

I made this cheat sheet up, for a recent student who needed some help with the basics, even though she is a native English speaker!
It is likely to be a bit too simple for many of my readers, but it may nevertheless be useful. I hope so!
The first section, the rhyme about parts of speech comes from the book, 'I before e, except after c', a book of mnemonics, by Judy Parkinson.
Parts of speech - a way to remember...

Three little words you often see
Are articles: a, an and the

A noun's the name of anything,
As school or garden, toy or swing.

Adjectives tell the type of noun,
As: great, small, pretty, white or brown.

Verbs tell of something being done,
To read, write, count, sing, jump or run

How things are done, the adverbs tell
As: slowly, quickly, badly, well

Conjunctions join the words together
As: men or women, wind and weather.

The preposition stands before
a noun, as in or through a door.

The interjection shows surprise
As: “Oh how pretty!” “Ah, how wise!”

The whole are called the parts of speech
Which reading, writing, speaking teach.

What is a conjunction?
Conjunctions are words used to join together two independent clauses (parts of a sentence.) This FANBOYS memory hint helps if you want to remember them, the most important of which are 'and', 'or' and 'but':
For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
Commonly confused words with examples.
Part 1.

A. Aloud/Allowed.
Sarah decided that she would read the poem aloud so that she could hear the rhythm.
No skate-boarding allowed here!
“I can't accept that necklace as a gift! It's lovely but it's too expensive.
No skate-boarding allowed here except between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.
“His loud humming was affecting my ability to concentrate.”
“The sound of the falling rain had a calming effect, nearly putting me to sleep.”
B. Bought/brought.
Leon went to the supermarket today after work, and he bought eggs and butter so that he could make a chocolate cake.
When Sarah went to her sister's house-warming party, she brought a bottle of wine.
When you write an essay you have to cite the books you have used for information.
This is the site where the new offices will be built.
Sarah pays rates to the Auckland City Council.
Mrs Abernathy won the election, and is now a city councillor
When I counsel a student, I give her advice about her exams.
Fiona wanted to work as a therapist, a sex abuse counsellor.
E. Elicit/Illicit
To elicit, means to draw out information from someone. "Nora elicited examples of peoples' revolutions from her history atudents".
Illicit, means something is unlawful. "Mr Dawes was convicted of the illicit use of financial documents, by which he had stolen $60 0000".
F. Few/Less
Few is an adjective that means a small number, and is used about countable things: “This department has few employees”.
Less is used about uncountable objects. “If you eat less butter, and instead put hummus on your sandwiches, you will probably lose weight."
I. It's/its
“It's a shame that we cannot talk about its size”.
It's is short for it is, and its means something that belongs to it!
The storm was very loud and very close, I could tell because the lightning was folllowed almost immediately by a clap of thunder.
After the storm passed, the sky was lightening and I welcomed the sun.

There is of course, a Part 2 of the easily confused words list, as there are so many of these.