Grammar

Lesson 1.1

Our course is based on some simple, common words which we call grammar words. We will give them a better name later.
These words are:
is are am was were has have had do does did
Please memorise these words in the same order. This is the only thing you have to memorise.
Now, what is the opposite of plural?
‘Singular’, right?
How does that word start? I mean, the first letter.
‘S’ right?
In the eleven words you have memorised, there are four words which end in ‘s’, the first letter of the word ‘singular’
Which are they?
Right.
is, was, has, does
They go ONLY with singular words!
A boy is running.
A girl was dancing.
A worker has gone home.
A herbivore does not eat meat.
A plural usually ends in an ‘s’. And then the grammar words that follow them don’t end in an ‘s’
Boys are running.
Girls were dancing.
Workers have gone home.
Herbivores do not eat meat.
Isn’t that a pattern?
Yes, in a lot of English sentences, either the subject or the verb ends in an ‘s’. Not both of them together.
So much for today.
More about the grammar words in our next class.

Change the subjects in the following sentences into singular:
(Begin with ‘A’)
1. Mangoes are sweet.
2. Doctors have cured him.
3. Chairs were missing.
4. Trees are useful.
5. Girls were dancing.
6. The teachers have corrected this.

Change the subjects of the following sentences into plural:
1. An engineer is coming.
2. A machine was running.
3. A question has been answered.
4. A key is missing.
5. A plate has been bought.
6. A tale was told.

Lesson 2.1

We are so happy about the responses from our group members. It sounded like this was just the thing they were waiting for. Thank you!

The lesson we discussed yesterday is technically called subject-verb agreement. This is where most people make mistakes because this is not a big issue in some languages.

If subject-verb agreement is such a problem, you may want to ask: What does ‘subject’ mean?

Unlike in some other languages, it is conventional in English to place the most important word, the word that denotes the topic of the sentence, what we plan to talk about in the rest of the sentence at the very beginning.

Thus:

Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala.

when the topic is Trivandrum,

but,

Kerala’s capital is Trivandrum.

when the topic is Kerala.

Now, what is the another word for ‘topic’.

Yes, ‘subject’.

This is how it gets its name. It is mostly placed in the beginning of the sentence. It could be one word or many.

Examples:

1. My uncle’s neighbour’s wife works abroad. (Subject: My uncle’s neighbour’s wife, because she is the topic of discussion.)

2. His favourite English author is Virginia Wolf. (Subject: His favourite English author, because we are talking about that author in the rest of the sentence.)

Whatever comes after the subject is the predicate.

Good communication is supposed to follow three golden steps. Whether you are making a speech, writing a letter or even a single sentence, it is good to follow those steps. Right from those sales girls who come to sell knick-knacks at your door step to CEOs like Sundar Pichai and Sathya Nadella, all sales people are taught these steps, because communication is very important in business.

The golden steps:

1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. (the subject)

2. Tell them. (the predicate)

3. Tell them you have told them. (the full stop or a change in tone)

Now, here is a tricky question.

What kind of words does the predicate start with?

You will find that, in most cases, it starts with the 11 grammar words we discussed.

is are am was were has have had do does did

In some cases you may also find,

will would shall should can could may might

There is not much to discuss the second group since there aren’t many rules about them. Common sense is good enough.

So, let us say, the predicates start with these 19 words.

What if these words come not before the predicate but before the subject?

Then we have questions!
See:

1.(They are coming home.)

Are they coming home?

2.(Doctors have cured them.)

Have doctors cured them?

3.(Girls were dancing.)

Were girls dancing?

4.(He killed a snake.) (did is hidden in killed)

Did he kill a snake?

5. (She sings Hindi songs.) (does is hidden in sings)

Does she sing Hindi songs?

This is a very important rule in English but this rule is flouted very often.

Even when the sentence begins with a question word like ‘where, why, which, what, when or how’ we have to follow this rule.

So,

1. Where are you going?

2. Why is he doing that?

3. Which was his choice?

4. What do you call a young cat?

5. When is the show?

6. How did he do that?

Now, let’s refer to the 19 words from now on as OPERATIVES.

Most of the operatives are visible but ‘do does and did’ hide in other words. We have seen that.
How can we find them when they are hidden?

All sentences have operatives in them. When you don’t see an operative, you can be sure it is hiding. Just stare at the verb.

When you spot an ‘s’ at the end of a verb, you can be sure that ‘does’ is hiding in it.

If you see a ‘d’ at the end of a verb, ‘did’ is hiding in it. (or if the verb is in the past tense)

When you fail to find either of these, ‘do’ is hiding in it.

There is another way to find them. Try adding ‘not’ to the sentence, they unfailingly come out!

Now let’s do some practice!

Exercise 1

Add ‘not’ to these sentence to deny them.

1. My father works abroad.

2. She liked the food.

3. We play cricket every day.

4. My uncle lives in China.

5. Her neighbour organised a party.

6. They come here every day.

Exercise 2

Identify the subject in the following sentences.

1. A car is coming up the drive way.

2. Many of my friends have become writers.

3. Sam is good at games.

4. Many people have failed in this.

5. William Shakespeare was a great writer.

Exercise 3

Identify the predicate in the following sentences.

1. Wordsworth was a good poet.

2. Sugar tastes sweet.

3. Bird fly.

4. The number of deaths in the disaster was astounding.

5. Birds do not fly.

Exercise 4

Correct the following questions.

1. When he will come over?

2. Why they are not listening to you?

3. How old you are?

4. Where he is going to settle down?

5. How we can remedy this problem?

Exercise 5

Find the operatives in the following sentences.

1. Where is he going?

2. She sings very well.

3. I have seen him many times.

4. We copied the answer.

5. They like Tamil songs.

6. I ordered him to go out.

7. He asked several questions yesterday.

8. She was reading very well.

9. It works fine.

10. People want jobs.

Coming up…

Two compulsory grammar problems in all tests

Lesson 3.1

Passive Voice, the monster in all job tests.

Our membership rose 150% in three days and our group is becoming more and more interactive. We are very happy to get your inspiring feed back. We also appreciate the questions asked, suggestions given, mistakes pointed out and the finished homework send to us. It is nice to see that no one is making a mistake in the homework they do.

When the British were in India, they managed the office work with Indians. Thus the kind of English they tried to teach and spread was mostly the formal, official version. The Indians had to be taught how to manage official correspondence in English.

In Indian languages, rearranging a word in a sentence may not change the meaning at all. Whichever word that needs to be emphasised can be placed in the beginning of the sentence mostly without making any other change at all. But, in English it is be a problem.

All official work is collective responsibility. Thus, we don’t even mention the name of the person who actually did it. We simply say that ‘it got done’, or ‘it was done.’

The active person who did the actual action, for example, the person who published the results of an examination, the real person who took the results to the press, the PRO, becomes unimportant and not even mentioned.

The results were published.

(Not ‘The PRO, Mr. Joseph, published the results.)

For this merely reversing the sentence as we do in Indian languages is not enough. It is a different structure. The passive entity, in this case the results which didn’t do a thing at all, is given importance by placing it in the beginning of the sentence. It does not start with the person who was actively doing it. His name is not even there. May be it can appear at the very end, as in,

The minister was welcomed by the MLA.

The bridges were built by the Neo Builders.

This structure in which the passive entity gets more importance is called the passive voice. Today, it is considered too formal and stilted as communication became more democratic. It is considered the short cut ‘to sound formal’. If a letter has to sound formal, we only have to use the passive voice more often in it.

However it is very useful. This is the structure that helps children announce that the window was broken without confessing that they broke the window. This is the structure that helps the newspapers to reveal that a girl was abused without revealing that it was an influential celebrity who abused the girl. We are born and buried in passive voice.

Passive voice becomes a household world not because of any of these reasons but because it is unsuccessfully taught for several years. Here is an easy way to master it based on your common sense and your knowledge of the previous lessons.

Do you remember the first five magical words, the operatives?

Yes.

is are am was were

Add the three forma of be to this

be been being

Now, we have eight of them

is are am was were be been being

(They all look different, but they are all just different forms of ‘be’)

Is this list hard to memorise in any order of your choice? Just eight words.

All you have to do is make sure that ONE of them is ADDED to the active voice sentence and you are sure to get it right.

Let’s try

I will write a letter.

Begin with ‘A letter’ and use the operative ‘will’

A letter will..

Now, which of those words will fit here? Just plain common sense. Don’t worry about the rules. If you were able to follow this much of English, you don’t need rules here. You are sure to be right.

Yes, ‘be’.

Now, completer it.

A letter will be written by me.

This way of doing things is called ‘playing it by the ear’. If it sound right, it is right.

Another one.

He is writing a letter.

A letter is ….

When you use the word ‘written’ don’t throw away the ‘ing’ part of ‘writing’. Add ‘ing’ to ‘be’ and use that one.

So,

A letter is being written by him.

The rules that you have learned so far should also be applied here.

Look, what if this is…

He is writing letters.

We can start with letters, but we can’t use ‘is’. There is that subject-verb agreement problem. In other words, there is an ‘s’ at the end of ‘letters’ and at the end of ‘is’. No, that won’t work. So, use another word for ‘is’, the one that goes with plurals, the one that does not end in ‘s’.

Letters ARE being written by him.

Now, have fun doing exercises to test yourself and master this forever.

Change into passive voice or begin with the underlined word.

They will play cricket.

She will rescue the victim.

We will save some money.

They have built a house.

She has planned her journey.

We had finished our work.

Most of them were reading books.

Some of my friends are writing stories.

She is singing a song.

He is repairing his bike.

My classmates are presenting their projects.

We have brought some gifts for you.

We have developed a scheme to help the poor.

They will sing the same song.

The lumberjacks have felled several trees.

He completed his work. (You don’t see an operative here, so forget it. Just choose a right word from the eight word list.)

We supported him.

They made a movie.

Exercise 2
Here is the text of an informal business correspondence. Make it as formal as possible using a change in voice.

I bought some books from your shop yesterday. When I took them home, I found that someone had torn most of the pages. So, I am sending back those books. I am requesting you to look into the matter. You may return the money. Or, I will file a complaint against you.
PS: You should acknowledge the receipt of this letter.

Now read both the texts and listen to the difference.

 

Lesson 4.1

We have finished three important topics which were long and heavy. But the interactions were good and we got a lot of finished homework which we corrected and returned with suggestions. It is heartwarming to see people determined to get it right even if they have to try several times. The is only one way to fail in anything you do – QUIT or GIVE UP. In every other way you have a chance to be successful some day.
So, to give some relief to everyone after three days of hard work, let us look at a simple, but important topic. Questions on this appears on every tests. The chance to go wrong is really high.
Tag Questions.
Do you remember the 19 words, the operatives? That is our manthra and all of you know how to find them from any sentence. There could be more than one operative in some sentences.
is are am was were has have had do does did will would shall should can could may might.

When you want to make sure what you said is right, or get a confirmation from your listener, all you have to do is to end your sentence with a tag question.
For this, in writing there are 5 tiny points
1. a comma
2. the operative
3. ‘n’t’, the short form of ‘not’ added to the operative
4. a pronoun that refers to the subject
5. a question mark

Samuel is coming to the party.
Here, Samuel is a boy and the pronoun that refers to him must be ‘he’.
The operative is ‘is’.
So,
Samuel is coming to the party, isn’t he?
Done.
(Your much coveted job may depend on this simple answer in a job test.)
In case the sentence already has ‘not’ or any negative word in it, or if the sentence sound negative, you can drop ‘n’t’
Samuel is not coming to the party.
Samuel is not coming to the party, is he?

Make sure you find the right operative.

They know the answer. (the operative is ‘do’)
They know the answer, don’t they?

They knew the answer. (the operative is ‘did’)
They knew the answer, didn’t they?

Happy weekend! We will resume our lessons on Monday. It is time to discuss TENSES in English.

Lesson 5.1

Tenses

All of you had a day’s rest. And still we find that some of you were working hard on finishing the homework. We got a good number of finished home work. There wasn’t much to correct and this shows that the lessons were easy to follow. Feeling so happy about that!
Tenses make everyone tense. It is so confusing and never stays in our mind.
The problem again lies not in the topic but the way it is taught and unsuccessfully learned.
It is riddled with misconceptions. Let’s correct some of them from a practical, functional point of view.
There are three basic categories that refer to time, past, present and future. Each category has 4 subcategories (simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous) and that makes it twelve.
Since the names were originally Latin, they sound funny. For example, it is not simple past but past simple! This is the first of the twelve tenses. Try writing the names of the other 11 on your own.
But it is better to separate tenses from the concept of time. It is better to forget the main categories and consider tenses as twelve in number. They are twelve different structures which can add a different meaning to our sentences. They have different uses.
Let’s learn to identify them.

1. If you see the operative ‘will’, you can be sure that it is future tense.
2. If you see ‘had, did, was’ or ‘were’, you can say that the tense is past.
3. If you don’t seen any of them, then it must be present tense.
We have got the first name of the tenses. But some of them have middle names and surnames too. Let’s find them.
4. If you find ‘has, have’ or ‘had’ then ‘perfect’ is the surname of the middle name
5. If you find and ‘ing’ form (reading, going), the surname is ‘continuous’
6. If you are able to find or dig out ‘is, are, am, was, were, do, does, did’ the surname is ‘simple’.
Always go from top to bottom. By the time you reach the 5th line, you might get the full name. Try the 6th line, only if you haven’t.
Practise this a few times and you will be able to name the tense without ever making an error. It is a rare feat. Even teachers find it hard.

Exercise 1
Find the tense of the following sentences:

1. We are going to school.
2. When will you come to school?
3. He sings very well.
4. He had done his duty.
5. They have gone home.
6. We had been waiting.
7. We decided to go home.
8. She will be reading it today.
9. She will have come home.
10. We have been trying to reach you.

Exercise 2
Find the tense of the following clauses:

1. They are coming to the party,
2. Harold was a strange fellow,
3. He played well till the end,
4. She made many good friends,
5. Mary will help you cook,
6. People come here very often,
7. It can’t be true,
8. You couldn’t help him,
9. He carried it home,
10. They owned a nice house,
11. We were in a hurry,
12. He is a smart fellow,
13. They are playing cricket,
14. They do a lot of mischief,
15. He shows some interest now,
16. John likes tea,
17. He sells good cakes,
18. You speak softly,
19. She swims well,
20. He takes English lessons,
21. They often go to the pictures,
22. It costs fifty rupees,
23. She swims well,
24. They try to understand,
25. He walks to work,
26. I do it well,
27. You sleep well,
28. They play football,
29. He loves his wife,
30. We believe him,
31. Carrie spilled the soup,….
32. I run faster than any turtle in the world,
33. You will always remember this lesson,.
34. We’ll invent a better mouse trap,
35. I am the man, …
36. John forgot his password,
37. Sandpaper makes poor facial tissue,
38. Kevin and Travis hauled the boat out of the water,
39. We love your chocolate chip cookies,
40. I’ll tell you a secret that you won’t believe,
41. William knew the story,
42. Yes, we were here yesterday,
43. I think you don’t know,
44. I know who said that,
45. The geese will fly north in the spring,
46. He wasn’t angry,
47. Fred found fifty frogs floating in the fudge,
48. Ashley was the best speaker at the meeting,
49. They poured mustard on my peaches,
50. We left after Marvin found his glasses,

 

Lesson 6.1
Tenses and their uses

So happy to see that all are eagerly waiting for the lessons. We have started a facebook page for older posts, so that there won’t be much cluttering from reposts. Please follow the link given and read the earlier lessons there.
Tenses and their uses always offer a tough time. We have learned to identify them in our last class and here we will discuss how to use them properly.

Even Though there are twelve tenses, only ten of these are frequently used. The future perfect and the future perfect continuous tenses are rarely used. How to use a few of them is explained below.

1. He got a job. He applied for it.
This sounds like he applied for the job only after he got it. This cannot be true.
This error, a sequential error, can be corrected either by changing the order of the sentences, or by changing the second sentence to past perfect.
He got a job. He had applied for it.
See, now it sounds correct. This is how the past perfect (with a had in it) is mostly used. Whenever there is an error in sequence (and in English there is always this error) use past perfect to talk about what happened first even if it is mentioned last.

2. He was looking for his keys. He hasn’t found them. He is still looking for the keys. It has been an hour.
All these ideas can be expressed in one sentence if we use the right tense.
He has been looking for his keys for an hour.
This sentence carries the meaning of all the four sentences.
So, when we want to talk about what was happening and what is still happening, we should always use this tense.
(‘For’ and ‘since’ are often found in such sentences.)
3. Look at these sentences:
1. A dog is standing near the gate.
2. A man is standing near the gate.
3. A tree stands near the gate.
4. A memorial stands in the center of the city.
5. A policeman is guarding it.
6. Two men are standing near the memorial.

Why are 1, 2, and 5 different from 3,4 and 6?
The difference is that a dog, a man, a policeman or two men will not continue to stand there for long. But the tree will be there for long and so will be the memorial.
(So, an action which will not continue is talked about using the present continuous tense. Funny! Wrong name.)
Thus, those that will continue to be the way they are for long are talked about using the present simple tense.

See, hear, smell, feel and taste are usually used in the present simple. But, what you understand from such sensations are talked about in the present continuous tense.
I hear thunder but I do not see any rain. It is surely raining somewhere.
I smell some delicious spice. Some one is cooking.

4. What tense do we see in history text books?
India achieved independence in 1947.
The Second World War ended in 1945.
Right, the past simple.
The past simple contains raw information about happenings at a certain time or on a certain date or in a certain year. It is very straight forward. Nothing to guess or figure out.
5. But, a happening can also be mentioned in the present perfect.
See:
The summer has come to an end.
The country has achieved independence.
These events are over but since we are using the present perfect, the time or date or year cannot be mentioned. Present tense with a past time reference? No.
Not just that. These sentences do not mean what they say. They mean something else. They, in fact, do not refer to the events as such, but to the consequences of those events.
Thus when we say,
I have a built a house.
We are actually implying or suggesting that we have the experience of having built a house, we don’t have to live in a rented house or pay rent, that we have reasons to be proud as the owner of a house and so on. The actual house building which happened in the past is the last thing we express here. If we wanted to say just that, we should have chose the past simple tense.
I built a house last year. Done.

Look at this conversation:
We achieved Independence is 1947
Before 1947, we used to give customs duty to the British.
Now, we don’t. Why?
Because we have achieved independence.
Why such a sudden change in the choice of tense?
Why does it sound better? It sounds better because the choice of tense (present perfect) suggests that ‘we don’t pay customs duty to the British as a consequence of our becoming independent’.
In our every day life, as different from the history text book, we are more concerned about the results or consequences of our past actions rather than the actions themselves. So, the present perfect is used more than the past simple to refer to what we did or what happened.
6. Suppose you plan to write a novel and you are sure you will finish writing it in 2019.
You can express this accurately as:
By 2019, I will have written a novel.
Of course, the future perfect tense which is used to refer to an action which will be completed on a certain time in the future.
7. What if you already started writing the novel in 2010.
Answer this question:
When you finally finish that novel, how long will you have been writing.
(By 2019, I will have been writing that novel for nine years.)
Of course, the future perfect continuous tense, an elder brother of the present perfect continuous. It is used to talk about the time taken for an action which began in the past and ended in the future. Thank god we don’t need it so often.
8. I will talk about two other tenses now. I am going to tell you how to predict.
The future simple is used for predictions. But there are two other tenses which you can use for this purpose.
The present simple can be used if you want to sound formal and sure and the present continuous (with reference to time) can be used if the prediction is informal and not so sure.
The school commences on June 2.
I am going abroad next week.

Exercise
Fill in the blanks with the right tense forms:
Once there lived a monk who 1 (decide) to make his followers always laugh. People flocked to him to listen to his jokes and 2 (return) home laughing. The monk would make fun of himself and of others, 3 (make) sure that there 4 (be) not a single gloomy face in the crowd. After some years when he 5 (die) and yet cheerful, his followers asked him how he 6 (manage) to be happy even on his deathbed. He did not reply but made a last wish that he should be cremated with his clothes on. He wished that he should be kept on the funeral pyre with the same clothes he 7 (wear). His wishes were carried out, and to every one’s surprise, when the pyre was 8 (light) it was found that the old monk had 9 (hide) firecrackers under his clothes. Even on his cremation pyre, he 10 (entertain) people.

Lesson 7.1
Reported Speech

English teacher: This is a very important lesson.
Our English teacher said that this was a very important lesson.
The first sentence contains the actual words of the speaker. Usually this appears in quotations, like,
The English teacher said, “This is a very important lesson.”
However, when you go home and tell this to your mother, you will change some of the words.
Our English teacher said that this was a very important lesson.
This way of reporting someone else’s speech is called reported speech. There will not be any quotation marks in reported speech.

Examples:
1. My father said that he was very tired.
2. The conductor said that there was no more space in the bus.
3. The old man said that he wanted to catch the town bus.
4. My uncle said that he would come to visit us the next day.
5. My brother said that he was feeling much better.

When we change direct speeches into reported speeches we change the original words into past tense.
‘I, we, you, me, my, us, our,’ and ‘your’, are not usually seen in reported speeches. They become ‘he, she, they, his, her, him, their’ and ‘them’.
Instead of ‘today, tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’, we use ‘that day, the next day’ and ‘the previous day’.
The following changes also occur:
Now becomes then
Here becomes there
This becomes that
These becomes those

In English, we use four different basic structures we use to express our thoughts and ideas. Each of them serve a different purpose.

Imperative sentences or command and requests, usually called the fourth type. Since they are the easiest, let’s look at them first.

Imperative sentences are used to get things done by other people. We either request or order. It is the same structure, but when we request, we insert the word ‘please’ in that sentence.
This structure is basically a question which got cut short.
Eg:
Will you come and sit here?
Will you please come and sit here?

Will you / come and sit here
Will you / please come and sit here

If you remove the first two words, they are not questions anymore and the question mark is not needed anymore.

Come and sit here.
Please come and sit here
When we report them we only have to add the word ‘to’.
He said to me, “Listen to me.”
He asked me to listen to him.
He said to me, “Please listen to me.”
He requested me to listen to him.

Exclamatory Sentences (Surprises)

We also express our surprises. Then our sentences still follow the normal sentence format, that is the operative comes just after the subject, but we start with ‘What’ or ‘How’.
What a wonderful idea it is!
How early you are!
Now, when ,you say these sentences, what is the thought in your mind?
It is a really wonderful idea.
You are very early.
So, when we report our surprises, we only have to refer to these thoughts. But use past tense.
He said, “What a wonderful idea!”
He exclaimed that the idea was really wonderful.
The word exclaims is used as a substitute for the exclamation mark which we remove.
He said , “How early you are, Sophy!”
He exclaimed that Sophy was very early.

Interrogative Sentences (Questions)
We also ask questions. Now, questions have a different structure. In questions, the operative comes before the subject.

Statement: They are coming.
Question: Are they coming?
Before we report a question, we should change the order back to that of a sentence.
Let’s try changing some questions into statement clauses.
1. Where are they going?
Where they are going
2. When will he come here?
When he will come here
3. What is the name of that movie?
What the name of that movies is
4. Which is your book
Which your book is
5. How did they manage it?
How they managed it
6. Which language does he speak?
Which language he speaks
(No full stops because they are not sentences but clauses.)

We should insert whether if there is no question word in the given sentence. (a ‘wh’ word like when or where)
Are they coming. (whether they are coming?)
He asked me, “Are they coming?”
He asked me whether they were coming.

Declarative sentences

The answers to such question or statements are reported without much change other than what is common for all kinds of sentences.

Exercise
Report these sentences:

1. Paul said, “I find this very easy.
2. Abijith said, “I want to found a charitable society.”
3. Prajna said, “There were five hours left for the train.”
4. Ananya said, “Who founded the charitable society?”
5. Elizebeth said, “Everyday my parrot lay two eggs.”
6. Usman said to Vishnu, “Where did he lie?”
7. Vivek said, “ What a wonderful idea it was!”
8. Julia said, “I have finished all my work.”
9. Jai Pavithra said, “We were not listening to the instructions.”
10. Sanjana said to Puja, “Where did my puppy go?”
11.Aditya said, “I am not going there tomorrow.”
12 Our teacher said, “I am going home.”
13.She said, “My child is sick.”
14.He said, “They are looking for me.”
15.She said, “I can’t find my shoes.”
16.They said, “We have a lot of work to finish.”
17.Seena said to her brother, “You are very smart.”
18.Sonia said to her father, “My mother is calling you.”
19.Arun said to his teacher, “I have finished my work.”
20. Tanya said to her friend, “Both my parents are abroad.”
21.Somu said to his brother,” You stay here till I come back”.
22.Seema asked her son, ”Where were you when I called you?”
23.Senan asked his teacher, ”Will you come and meet my father today or the next day?”
24.Suresh said, ”I must go and see my father.”
25.Syama said to her daughter, “Please bring me a glass of water.”
26.The commander said to him, “Come and see me in the morning.”
27.The leader said to the followers, “I met the minister yesterday and we discussed this issue in detail.”
28.My mother said, “What a wonderful idea!”
29.My father said, “How bright she is!”
30. The little girl said, “I am going to play a new game.”
31. The man said, “ We were looking for a gap in the wall to get out from this place.”
32. Manu said, “I already have enough troubles of my own.”
33. The teacher said, “The Americans speak English and the Chinese speak Chinese.”
34. My uncle said, “I have a Chinese friend who speaks Spanish.”
35. My cousin said, “There will not be any programme after today’s meeting.”
36. The old woman said, “My son came to my rescue.”
37. The constable asked the old man, “What were you doing here?”
38. My neighbour asked me, “Did you see my friend?”
39. Leela asked me, “Didn’t you see him?”
40. Tanya asked her, “Have you seen my puppy?”
41. Kavya asked her, “Do you go there often?”
42. Balu asked him, “Were you playing football?”
43. Anita asked him, “Did you see my bag?”
44. Amu said, “Let’s watch a movie.”
45. Anu asked her friend, “Is it true that you are going abroad?”
46.“When will you come and see me?” the boy asked the manager.
47.“What did you pay for this old car?” the manager asked the young man.
48.“How can I repair this violin which my father gave me?” the boy asked his friend.
49.“Do you know where your mother puts the old clothes?” the father asked the boy.
50.“Did you recognize your student when you saw him?” the man asked his friend.
51.“Does your employer pay you well?” the husband asked his wife.
52.“Why does it rain every June?” the teacher asked the students.
53.“What a wonderful idea!” the young man said.
54.“Please ask your friend to call on me when he comes this way,” he said to me.
55.“How smart that man is!” my father said.
56. “Will you help me take these books home?” the little girl said to the man.
57.Seema asked her son, “Where did you go after school?”
58.Divya said, “We must come to an agreement.”
59.Suresh said, “I must go and see my father.”
60.Syama said to her daughter, “Please bring me a glass of water.”
61.The teacher said to us, “Please go and ring the bell.”
62.The doctor said, “Kiran, please tell me how you feel.”
63.The commander said to him, “Come and see me in the morning.”
64. The inspector said, “Students, get back to your classes right now.”
65. Our teacher said, “Students, who can help me find the answer?”
66. My father said, “How will they come?”
67. She said, “Doctor, what is wrong with me?”
68. He said, “Meera, where is your notebook?”
69. She said, “Sneha, when do you go to school?”
70. They asked the officer, “Who has done this to us?”
71. Seena asked her brother, “Where were you?”
72. Sonia asked her father, “Where did you go yesterday?”
73. Arun asked his teacher, “How did I do in the test?”
74. Tanya asked her friend, “Whom did you visit there?”
75. The students asked the foreman, “How does the machine work?”
76. The old man said, “Friends, what can we do now?”
77. “When will you come and see me?” the boy asked the manager.
78. “What did you pay for this old car?” the manager asked the young man.
79. “How can I repair this violin which my father gave me?” the boy asked his friend.
80. “Do you know where your mother puts the old clothes?” the father asked the boy.
81.“Does your employer pay you well?” the husband asked his wife.
82. “Why does it rain every June?” the teacher asked the students.
83. “What a wonderful idea!” the young man said.
84. “Please ask your friend to call on me when he comes this way,” he said to me.
85. “How smart that man is!” my father said.
86. The coach said, “Boys, play cricket till it rains.”
87. Seema asked her son, “Where did you go after school?”
88. Kashyap asked Nevin, “When is our PT period today?”
89. Rahul said, “Friends, please find my note book.”
90. Christopher Robin said, “Piglet, where did Pooh go?”
91. Rani said to her sister, “Keep the stove hot till the water boils.”
92. Bambi asked the bears, “Why did you run away?”
93. I asked him, “Will you come to our house tomorrow?”
94. Senan asked his teacher, “Will you come and meet my father today?”
95. Pooh asked, “Christopher Robin, shall I find you again?”
96. Eyore said to Tigger, “Will the skullasaurus eat him up?”
97. Samyukta said, “I have to go there.”

Lesson 8.1

Phrases and Clauses

Now that the older lessons are on the FB page, they are kind of going viral and we are grateful to God for making that happen. So far, the lessons were more or less aimed at tests and questions. Today’s lesson, on the other hand, is mostly academic in nature.

By the way, today’s lesson was the first discovery we made way back in 1987. The conundrum regarding phrases and clauses is very disturbing for students and teachers alike. The clue we discovered to solve this issue was the corner stone in the date base we have today.

Thanks to that rebel of a student who challenged the difference between a phrase and a clause.
Let’s finish this now once and for all!

Phrases are group of words in a familiar order.

Thus,

front of in

is not a phrase. It is only a group of words, while ‘in front of’ is a phranse because we see a familiar order here.
If a phrase contains an operative or a support, then the phrase becomes a clause.

Thus,

This being my idea

is a phrase, while,

This is my idea

is a clause since it contains the operative ‘is’

If you name the first hundred numbers and end up with

‘ninety-nine and one hundred’

you have uttered a phrase with a hundred and one words in it.

But if you end up like,

‘ninety-nine and one hundred are the first hundred numbers.’

you have a clause with ‘are’ as the operative.

It is easy to change a clause into a phrase. All you have to do is, just take out the operative, and put a participle or an infinitive, or a comma in its place.
A participle is an -ing’ form or an ‘–en’ form of the verb. An infinitive is a ‘to’ form of the verb. And a comma looks very much like a comma.

Reverse this process if you want to change a phrase into a clause. Such changes are necessary to spice up your language. Varety is the spice of life, says Shakespeare.

Sentences

A sentence should contain at least one clause. Most sentences contain more than one clause. The previous sentence contains only one clause.
You can count the number of clause by counting the number of operatives.
If a sentence has only one operative, it is a simple sentence, no matter how many words it has. If there are two or more than two operatives in a sentence, it could be a complex sentence. Complex sentences that use ‘for, and, neither, but, otherwise,yet’ or ‘so’ are called compound sentences. They also use co-ordinating conjunctions like ‘not only.. but also’ or ‘as soon as’ and the like. All the clauses in a compound sentences are equally important. You can change one kind of sentences into another by adding or taking away the operatives.

Exercise
Say whether the following groups of words are phrases or clauses.
1. two apples, three oranges and a banana
2. he killed a snake
3. saw them going home
4. the best book in that book shop
5. going home after the accident
6. he ran to the door
7. dropping his mother’s letter
8. slowly and carefully the rabbit
9. she lowered the ladder
10. there is a beautiful flower vase
11. on a shelf in the opposite wall
12. the bear padded down
13. the leaves of the neem tree
14. blades of grass
15. a ray of sunlight bounced off the plate
16. swinging his head from left to right
17. they watched
18. when he had reached the middle
19. that their bear-chase would displease her
20. getting to the deep and dark well in the village

Lesson 9.1

Participles

What we usually refer to as ‘-ing’ form has different names. It is also called present participle or gerund. Of course, there is a difference and it is good to know that difference. But, here, for the sake of convenience, we are not bothered about what its name is. We think only of what it does. We use it mostly in continuous sentences.

We are familiar with ‘past participle’, or at least we all know it by the other name, ‘the third form of the verb’. So, when we consider eat, we know that eat is present, ate is past and eaten is past participle. For many words, the past and the past participle are different. The past participle usually ends in ‘-en’ as in broken, shaken, taken. But in a lot of other words there is no difference between the past and the past participle. For example, verbs like kill, boil, furnish. All modern words follow this pattern.

We use the past participle of a verb mostly in passive voice sentences.

Both participles, the present participle (the ‘-ing’ form) and the past participle are useful when we have to combine sentences.

Please keep in mind that the ‘ing’ form of ‘is are am was and were’ is ‘being’ and that of ‘had’ is ‘having’.

Now, let’s have some fun. Look at the following sequence of events.

He sat under a tree.

He heard a sound.

He got up.

He looked around.

He saw a snake.

He got scared.

Sitting under a tree, he heard a sound. Hearing a sound, he got up. Getting up, he looked around. Looking around, he saw a snake. Seeing the snake, he got scared.

Sounds tight, though not very good because too much of anything is good for nothing. Still, this could be used as a model for the next practice exercise.

He heard the alarm.

He woke up.

He turned off the alarm.

He got off the bed.

He looked for his towel.

He found his towel.

He draped it around his shoulder.

He went to the bath room.

Can you do the same? See whether you can relate a whole day’s experience like this.

Exercise

Combine using a participle (an ‘ –ing’ form)

He opened the door. He went in and sat down.

He found his revolver. He loaded it.

The people gave him their full support. They elected him.

He was walking in the forest. He saw a wild elephant.

I finished my work. I went for a walk.

I found it very hot and sultry. I remained in my room.

I was very busy. I couldn’t meet them. (Remember to use ‘being.)

He decided to go home. He bought a ticket.

He staggered back. He fell to the ground.

We started early. We arrived at noon.

This structure is very useful when we have the same subject in both sentences and when we want to show ‘fast action’ while telling a story.

How can we slow down the action? We can slow down the action by using ‘having’ in the first sentence.

1. He finished his job. He collected his things to go home.

2. He learned a good lesson. He decided not to repeat his mistake.

3. He saw the enemy approaching. He prepared to meet him.

4. She calculated the price correctly. She found it easy to bargain.

5. I prepared my breakfast. I waited for my brother to arrive.

6. I enjoyed my time there. I found it hard to leave.

7. She prepared properly for the exam. She found it easy.

8. I left my clothes to dry. I went back to take another dip in the river.

In all these sentences, we use the subject only once to avoid repetition. Both sentences have the same subject. However, if they have different subjects we need to keep both of them.

So, it is a mistake to convert,

It was a rainy day. I took an umbrella.

into

Being a rainy day, I took an umbrella.* (This sounds like I was a ‘rainy day’)

‘It’ is the subject of the first sentence and ‘I’ is the subject of the second sentence. We need to keep both.

It being a rainy day, I took an umbrella.

Let’s try some exercises:

1. He was tired. I helped him walk.

2. The teacher was absent. We went to the library.

3. The selection committee was dishonest. I didn’t get that job.

4. The book was boring. I gave it back.

5. It was a hot day. I turned on the ac.

If the first sentence of a sequence is in passive voice, it will sound better if you combine the sentences using this construction. Try it here:

1. He was brought up in another country. He is not familiar with out customs.

2. The plan was rejected by most of the members. It had to be shelved for some time.

3. Pure water was marketed as an elixir for cold. It sold like hot cakes.

4. The song was composed by A R Rahman. It had all it takes to be popular.

4. The document was written in invisible ink. It had to be sent to the lab to make the letters appear.

5. The garlic in the plate was crushed and roasted. It had a distinct flavour and aroma.

Take random sentence sequences that you see in newspapers and test whether it is possible to improve them using these structures. Try to use them in your every day speech and writing too.

Saying that we will call it a day!

Lesson 10.1

Negative Sentences

This was one of the first lessons we learned, how to add ‘not’ to a sentence so that it means the opposite. We saw that in almost all instances, ‘not’ comes after the operative.

Try the following exercises:

Exercise 1

They have come.

They sing well.

They looked at it.

We were worried.

They have gone.

He sells caps.

He stepped in.

I see him everyday.

They are reading.

She succeeded.

They failed.

They hunt birds.

She works there.

He has an idea.

They have a car.

They speak fluently.

Now, it is possible to start the sentence with negative words.

‘No’ and ‘not’ are not the only negatve words.

Seldom, hardly, scarcely, barely are also considered negative.

When we start a sentence with a negative word, we have to change the order of words as if the sentence is a question.

‘Only’ also follows this pattern.

Now, what do we do in a question? Right, the operative is placed before the subject.

They were going to Kollam.

Where were they going?

The same structure is applied here too.

Such sentences are called inverted sentences.

I have never seen him.

Never have I seen him.

Barking dogs seldom bite.

Seldom do barking dogs bite.

He hardly referred to that.

Hardly did he refer to that.

As soon as he saw us, he ran away.

No sooner did he see us, than he ran away.

Exercise 2

Rewrite the following sentences beginning with the negative word in each sentence.

I have never visited this place.

He had never seen us before.

They barely greet us.

We seldom go to see him.

She hardly understands the problems.

He scarcely goes to work.

It was only then that I saw him.

I barely knew it was his plan.

Barking dogs seldom bite.

They hardly visit such places.

 

 

Lesson 11.1

Negative Sentences

This was one of the first lessons we learned, how to add ‘not’ to a sentence so that it means the opposite. We saw that in almost all instances, ‘not’ comes after the operative.

Try the following exercises:

Exercise 1

They have come.

They sing well.

They looked at it.

We were worried.

They have gone.

He sells caps.

He stepped in.

I see him everyday.

They are reading.

She succeeded.

They failed.

They hunt birds.

She works there.

He has an idea.

They have a car.

They speak fluently.

Now, it is possible to start the sentence with negative words.

‘No’ and ‘not’ are not the only negatve words.

Seldom, hardly, scarcely, barely are also considered negative.

When we start a sentence with a negative word, we have to change the order of words as if the sentence is a question.

‘Only’ also follows this pattern.

Now, what do we do in a question? Right, the operative is placed before the subject.

They were going to Kollam.

Where were they going?

The same structure is applied here too.

Such sentences are called inverted sentences.

I have never seen him.

Never have I seen him.

Barking dogs seldom bite.

Seldom do barking dogs bite.

He hardly referred to that.

Hardly did he refer to that.

As soon as he saw us, he ran away.

No sooner did he see us, than he ran away.

Exercise 2

Rewrite the following sentences beginning with the negative word in each sentence.

I have never visited this place.

He had never seen us before.

They barely greet us.

We seldom go to see him.

She hardly understands the problems.

He scarcely goes to work.

It was only then that I saw him.

I barely knew it was his plan.

Barking dogs seldom bite.

They hardly visit such places.

Lesson 12.1

Comparison of adjectives (positive, comparative and superlative)

In English, all the adjectives, the words that make nouns more specific (like red in red book or blue in blue sea), has three levels of intensity: strong, stronger, strongest. This is called the levels or degrees of comparison. The magic is that we can use any of these words and can have almost the same meaning.

Practically speaking, this is not very important. But this is a sure questions in exams.

Anand is the strongest boy in the class.

Or, Anand is stronger than any other boy in the class.

Or, No other boy in the class is as strong as Anand.

See, they all mean the same, though we have used three different degrees of comparison.

After replacng an adjective of one degree with on of another degree, just check the meaning logically. This exercise is not a test of language but a test of your logic. Correspond three fingers on one of your hands with the degrees if you are not sure of the degree of the adjectives. Your middle finger is the longest, your ring finger is longer that the little finger and your little finger is just a long finger, nothing much to it!

Now, you can say that none of the fingers is as tall as the middle one. (Look at your fingers)

Your middle finger is taller than the other fingers.

It is the tallst finger!

Now imagine their quality is not how tall they are but how hard they are or even how cold they are! Try the same pattern.

Exercise 14

Use the other two degrees in each case:

Very few people in India are as rich as me.

Are you the richest? No. There are other people as rich as you,but they are very few, right?

So, you are only one of the richest people, right?

Just say that!

Now, are you richer than ALL the other people? No, because then you would have been the richest guy. Here, you are only richer than most of them. A few are as rich as you. Just say that!

I am richer than most of the other people in India.

Try that for the following sentences too!

Very few books are as interesting as ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.

Very few languages are as simple as Spanish.

Very few places are as famous as Mumbai.

This idea is the best.

Mt. Everest is the tallest peak.

‘E’ is the most common letter English.

Australia is the smallest continent.

Honey is the sweetest produce.

No other girl in my class is as studious as Rekha.

No other continent is as large as Asia.

No other land animal is as big as the elephant.

No other ocean is as deep as the Pacific.

No other person earns as big a salary as Satya Nadella.

Sumesh is smarter than all the other boys in the class.

The Himalayas is larger than any other mountain range.

The Mariana Trench is deeper than any other place in the sea.

Samsung is more popular than any other smart phone.

The Nobel Prize is more coveted than any other prize.

He speaks faster than everyone else.

 

Lesson 13.1

Expressing Conditions

‘IF’ is the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling. This word is a very popular one in every day conversations.

In English, there are some strict rules about using this word.

Let’s look at them one by one.

You are leaving home to your school or office. You may or may not get the bus.

What will be your thought as you leave your home?

I may get the bus. Then I will reach my office on time.

(………) I get the bus, I will reach my office on time.

Just say this sentence aloud and the word ‘if’ will come up in your mind.

If I get the bus, I will reach my office on time.

If he gets his bus, he will reach his school on time.

In each case, there is a chance in the future for you or him to get the bus. No denying it.

Look at the tense in each clause.

In the first clause, the ‘if’ clause, it is present simple.

In the second clause it is future simple.

This is one of the rules.

Now, let’s create some sentences in this pattern.

Complete the following sentences with the suggested words given in the brackets:

If Nivedha sees Parvathi, (tell story her the she).

(If Vimeena invite party to me the), I will go.

If you paint a masterpiece, (world you famous become).

If Charumathy’s father gives her some training, (she match the win).

(If Meena’s cousin meets the station her at), he will offer her a lift.

(If earlier the come monsoon), Shakthipriya’s garden will look better.

(a If see Balagopal monster), he will run away.

If Vignesh asks Yogesh about Gurubalan, (he him tell).

If Sathyavedan calls Mathew to play, (he come surely).

(If know the Srinivas answer), he will tell Narendran.

(pay me if well work for the he), I will be very happy.

(learn If Muthuraman painting oil) (will they him select)

Lesson 13.2

Conditional Clauses

 

It is also possible for a certain condition of situation exist in the past. If it has the same consequence whenever it happened, this is the way to express it. This structure is not so frequently used.
The ‘if’ clause will be in the past tense and the following clause will take would as an operative.

1. I studied in his school. I greeted him whenever I saw him.
If I saw him, I would greet him.

2. Joseph was my classmate. We went to school everyday together.
If Joseph went to school, I would go with him.

Complete the following sentences:
1. If you ate the magic fruit, __________________________________ .

2. If __________________________, there would be enough water.

3. If I played well, __________________________________________ .

4. If __________________________, the river would overflow.

Exercise
Complete the following sentences with the suggested words given in the brackets:
1. If they saw him, (tell police the they).

2. (If friend my invite party to me the), I would attend it.

3. If you painted a masterpiece, (world you famous become).

4. If my father gave me some training, (I match the win).

5. (If met Sruthy’s cousin her the station railway at), he would offer her a lift.

6. (If early the come monsoon), my garden would look better.

7. (the if see the poor monster man), it would feel sorry for him.

8. If they asked me the question, (I it answer).

9. If you cooked it properly, (it good taste).

10. (my had brother school same join), it would be good for me.

11. (pay me if well work for the they), I would be very happy.

12. (mistake make I) ( blame they me)

Lesson 13.3

Conditional Clauses

It is also possible for a condition to go unfulfilled in the past and its expected consequence also didn’t happen.

1. Is it true that you were ill? I didn’t know that.

If I had known that, I would have visited you.

2. I hear that he needed some money. Nobody told me. So, I didn’t know.

If I had known that he needed money, I would have given him some.

This structure is very useful when we have to express our apology for something that didn’t happen or didn’t happen properly. This is also used to express irritation and frustration over failed projects!

Exercise

Complete the following sentences with the suggested words given in the brackets:

  1. If they had seen him, (tell police the they).
  2. (If friend my invite party to me the), I would have attended it.
  3. If you had painted a masterpiece, (world you famous become).
  4. If my father had given me some training, (I match the win).
  5. (If Sruthi’s cousin meet her the station railway at), he would have offered her a lift.
  6. (If early the come monsoon), my garden would have looked better now.
  7. (the if see the poor monster man), it would have felt sorry for him.
  8. If they had asked me the question, (I it answer).
  9. If you had cooked it properly, (it good taste).
  10. (my had brother school same join), it would have been good for me.
  11. (pay me if well work for the they), I would have been very happy.
  12. (learn I painting oil) (have they me select)
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