Thursday, 28 February 2008

Auxiliary Verbs....Help!

Auxiliary...what's that? Well, it's Latin again. It's from auxilium which means 'help' so these auxiliary verbs are help verbs.

And what do they help? In English they help to form different kinds of sentences; perhaps a negative sentence or a question or a Present Continuous...

So, what are these strange mysterious "auxiliary verbs"?

To do, to be, to have.

Hang on a minute, you know them already: I do my homework, he is on holiday, I have a Ferrari...

That's all fine BUT these verbs have a second job in English as auxiliary verbs. And when they are doing this job they don't have their usual meaning; they only have a function.


I have a Ferrari.
I have seen a Ferrari.

In the first sentence 'have' means have but in the second 'have' doesn't mean anything; it is only there to form the Present Perfect tense.

So, 'to have' helps to form the Present Perfect:
you read English is Easy?
We haven't met before.
I have known John for years

'To be' helps to form the Present Continuous:

I am reading English is Easy.
Is she watching TV?
They aren't listening

And 'do' is for questions and negatives in the Present Simple and Past Simple:

Do you read English is Easy every week?
I don't live in
New York

Did you read English is Easy last week?
He didn't eat his breakfast.

Auxiliary verbs? Easy!!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Be Nice to My Grammar (2)

Another thing to remember about grammar is that it isn't as complicated as it sounds. The names of the things sound complicated, "indefinite article", "past perfect continuous", but it is only terminology...and terminology - which is a big word for "complicated name" - can make anything sound difficult.

I am sure you are interested in things which sound really complicated if you try to explain it to a friend who is new to the subject.

When I listen to my kids talking about PlayStation or X-box it sounds like a language from another planet!

So, the thing is don't panic when you see the name for a bit of grammar - it's only a name !

For example:

Me: What is the "first person singular nominative personal pronoun"?

You: WHAT????!!!!

Me: The "first person singular nominative personal pronoun"!

You (running out of the room): Aaaaaaarrrgghhhhhh!!!!

Well, the answer is 'I'!

'I' as in "I live in
Munich", "I Did it My Way"

('My' is the first person singular possessive personal pronoun!)

You see, the grammatical name for that one little letter 'I' is "First Person Singular Nominative Personal Pronoun".

You can impress your family and friends by telling them:

You: Hey, last night I learned the first person singular nominative personal pronoun!!

Friend: Wow!!

You (in pathetic, exhausted voice): Today in class we learned the first person singular nominative personal pronoun!

Mother/Father/Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Wife/Husband: Oh, you poor thing! Sit down, I will make you a drink!

Grammar is GREAT!

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