Friday, 29 January 2010

Do You Like English Is Easy?

It's funny how on some days you have to teach the same thing 3 or 4 times!
Today it was:
Do you like...?
Would you like...?
I teach in companies and I often hear the question:
Do you like a coffee?
The people who say this are being friendly, so it is difficult to say,
"That's WRONG!!!"
But, it IS wrong!

Why is it wrong? Well, if you say, "do you like coffee?" you are asking for the other person's opinion...e.g.
Do you like classical music?
Do you like dogs?
Do you like reading English is Easy?
So, you want to know what the other person thinks of these things.
If you want to be friendly and offer your poor English teacher a cup of coffee (or tea or beer or more money) you should say:
Would you like...

You can see the difference in the answers:
Do you like English is Easy? Yes, I love it!
Would you like a grammar lesson now? Oh yes, please!!

I would just like to say that I like getting comments and questions so if you would like to comment or ask anything, you can, if you like!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Words Right Order The In Put The...

Word order is VERY important in English!! VERY, VERY important!!!

A sentence is made of words and we have to know how the words fit together to understand the meaning. We need to know what the subject is and the object; what the verb is, etc.

In some languages the words have different endings which show us what is what. Latin for example:

Canis mordet hominem - the dog bites the man

The word order is not important because we know from the ending that canis is the subject and hominem is the object. So:

Hominem mordet canis also means the dog bites the man and so does:

Canis hominem mordet or mordet hominem canis etc etc...

In English WE CAN'T DO THAT!!!!

All those different Latin sentences up there can ONLY be translated as:

The dog bites the man

If we change the order the sentence is either wrong or has a different meaning:

Bites the dog the man - is wrong and;

The man bites the dog - is the opposite meaning!

In English the subject comes first; "the dog"

then the verb; "bites"

then the object; "the man"

To help remember the order in English we often say SVOPT.

This means: subject S, verb V, objetc O, place P and time T.

The dog (S) bites (V) the man (O) in the street (P) at 10 o'clock (T).


I (S) read (V) English is Easy (O) on my PC (P) every day (T).

How does your language show the differences between subjects, verbs and objects?

Monday, 12 October 2009

We Have Got a Problem with “We Have Got”

Many learners I know have got problems with “I have got”. For some it’s the form of the construction; for others the tense; but for most the problem is “what’s the difference between “have got” and “have”???????

Good question!

I have a headache / I have got a headache

I don’t have a car / I haven’t got a car

Do you have to go? / Have you got to go?

What’s the difference???

In some grammar books the authors bend over backwards (<- idiom = try very hard) to find a difference; I think some even invent differences!!

Here is my solution:

I have and I have got mean the SAME!

Now, that is not so difficult, is it?

What I have noticed is that people use I have got more in Britain and not so much in USA.

The form of I have etc is the same as any normal verb – see: Present Simple / Past Simple etc.

So we say:

I have … / he has …

I don’t have … / he doesn’t have …

Do you have …? / Does he have …?

The form of I have got etc is the same as the Present Perfect.

So we say:

I have got … / he has got …

I haven’t got … / he hasn’t got …

Have you got …? / has he got …?

This means it is maybe a little more complicated than I have. Also we normally don’t use I have got in the past tense:

I have got a meeting at 10 today (present of have got)

I had a meeting at 10 yesterday (past of have)

In my courses I tell people that it is enough to know that have got exists and that people use it but – and this is the GOOD NEWS – you don’t need to use it and therefore you don’t really need to learn it!!

Just use have and that’s enough!

English is Easy! does it again!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

What Are You Doing??!! (Present Continuous)

English children probably first experience the Present Continuous when their mother or father come into the room and find them drawing on the wall or cutting the cat's fur or generally making a mess...

"Oh my goodness...what are YOU doing???!!!"

The construction is also a bit of a mess! You use '
to be' as the auxiliary verb and then the '-ing' form of the main verb.

I am reading 'English is Easy'.
Are they learning vocabulary?
She is not listening to you.

Here is a table with the different forms:


you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing...?

Now, the main problem is, when do we use this tense?

All the examples above tell you about something which is happening at the moment, i.e. NOW!

So, right now I could say, "I am sitting in front of my PC at the moment."

If I go into the kitchen to make a coffee then I cannot say that because at that moment I am not sitting in front of my PC - I am standing in the kitchen.

Just why we English need a special tense for things which are happening right now I don't know but we do!

We use the Present Simple for things which go on all the time or every day or sometimes...i.e. general things and the Present Continuous for things happening right now.

My friend John is a smoker. So, have a look at these conversations:

YOU: Does John smoke? (Present Simple)

ME: Yes, he does.

(Because we are talking about a general situation)

YOU: Is John smoking? (Present Continuous)

ME: I don't know, he isn't here at the moment.

(because we are talking about a situation NOW)

If you don't have a special tense like this in your language (and you probably don't) I'm afraid you will make lots of mistakes until you get the feeling for it. So when you read a text and find a present continuous stop for a moment and try and work out why the writer has used it and slowly you will get the idea!

Finally, a question to think about; if you are in a room with an Englishman or woman and you ask:

Is it raining?

What do you think they do ??

Sunday, 22 June 2008

If You Don't Know Me By Now...(First Conditional)

In the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' the characters often talk about the 'interconnectedness' of everything. If a butterfly flaps its tiny wings in Asia today there will be a hurricane tomorrow in the West.

Things are connected...
if I miss my train tomorrow, I will be late for work... and if I am late for work, the boss will shout at me...

Ok, before we go on just think for a moment how you would say that in your language...think about the verbs and which form and which tense you use..

It's like one domino knocking down the next one...and so on...isn't it? Ok, so in these sentences there is a condition...and it comes in the "if" part of the sentence ('if' clause):

If I miss my train, I will be late for work..

If I catch my train, I will be on time...

If you read English is Easy, you will learn English...

Life is full of situations like this and I bet you make these kind of sentences lots of times every day. Because there is a conditon in the 'if' clause, these sentences are called
conditional sentences.

In this case the
First Conditional (there are second and third conditionals and even a general conditional - but we will worry about them later).

Right, how do you make a First Conditional in English?

You just need a simple present in the 'if' clause and a simple future in the other part (the main clause).

If it rains (simple present) at the weekend, I will stay (simple future) at home

It can be negative too:

If it doesn't rain (simple present negative) on Saturday, we will go out (simple future) for the day.

They can also be the other way round when the 'if'' clause comes second:

I will throw my PC out of the window, if it doesn't stop crashing...

Listen out for this grammar in comes quite often:

...if you don't know me by now, then you will never ever know me...

If you have an English teacher, maybe he or she will sing it for you!!

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