Grammar

Grammar

Nouns which are only singular


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Most nouns in English have both singular and plural forms. However, there are some nouns that are only used in the singular form. These are:

  • Names of particular people, places, events, etc.

Peter, Johnson, Trafalgar Square, Easter, Saturday…

Although, you can use them in the plural if you think of them in a ‘countable’ way:

We never work on Saturdays.

The Johnsons are coming for lunch this evening.

  • Most uncountable nouns: water, furniture, advice, hair…

Water is cold today.

Good advice is better than rubies.

  • Some nouns ending in ‘S’: politics, Emirates, crossroads, measles, physics, maths,…

Emirates is charging for seat selection.

Politics is not my cup of tea.

How common is measles in your country?

Grammar

WHO or WHOM?


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Who and whom are interrogative pronouns. Many people live their lives without using WHOM at all, thinking that whom should be used in formal situations only. If you want to speak English properly, then you need to know about usage of both WHO and WHOM.

The rule is:

WHO is used in the subject position in a sentence:

Who bought you that ring?

WHOM is used in the object position:

The man whom you invited to dinner.

We also use WHOM after prepositions:

For whom the bell tolls.

To whom you want to talk?

How can you tell whether to use WHO or WHOM? It’s simple! If your pronoun can be replaced with ’he’ or ’she’, then use WHO. If it can be replaced with ’him’ or ’her’ or any other object pronoun, then use WHOM.

Who took my pen? (He/she took my pen – subject)

Whom is the book about? (About him – object)

In order to perfect your knowledge, try and do the quiz below:

WHO and WHOM QUIZ

Grammar

Reciprocal Pronouns: Each Other & One Another


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We use reciprocal pronouns each other and one another when two or more people are acting on each other.

Rhina and Sam saw each other yesterday.

The boys helped one another do their homework.

They talk to each other in French.

Both each other and one another refer to either persons or things.

They connected the two computers to each other.

High mountains were facing one another.

Each other used to refer to two people and one another to more than two people. However, since this distinction is disappearing in modern English and the two phrases are becoming interchangeable, we may feel a bit insecure when deciding which one to use.

Romeo and Juliet loved each other/one another.

People communicate to each other/one another over the Internet a lot today.

We can also use the possessive form of each other and one another:

Tom and Sally helped look after each other’s/one another’s children.

Grammar

Prepositions of Place


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Prepositions of place refer to a location of something. They answer the question ‘where’. Take a look at these prepositions of place:

Above — over or higher than

There was a mirror above his head.

Below — in a lower level

The temperature dropped to 10 degrees below zero last night.

Beside — near, at the side of

Our house was built right beside the park.

Next to — right beside, close to

The building next to ours was painted green.

(In) between — in the space that separates two places, people, or objects

The child was sitting between his parents.

In front of –– before of someone or something

Susan was waiting in front of the restaurant.

Behind — at the back of

Paul sat behind Alice.

At – next to

The students were sitting at their desks.

On – in a position above and touching it

There are some books on the shelf.

In — inside

There were two apples in a bowl.

Inside — within a space

They put a kitten inside the basket.

Outside — not inside

It is raining outside.

On top of — over, upon

There was a vase on top of the fridge.

Over – directly above

 He put his hands over his head.

Under — below

A dog hid under the bed.

Underneath — directly below

She put her bag underneath the chair.

Grammar

Reflexive Pronouns


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The reflexive pronouns are:
Singularmyself, yourself, himself, herself, itself

Pluralourselves, yourselves, themselves

Reflexive pronouns are used after certain verbs such as: cut, burn, enjoy, hurt, look at, amuse, dry, kill, satisfy, teach, etc. We use them when the subject and the object of the verb are the same person.

I made myself a salad.

He cut himself while shaving.

Enjoy yourselves!

We are looking at ourselves in the mirror.

Notice the difference between yourself and yourselves:

Milly, you can hurt yourself with this sharp knife.

Rebecca and Alex, you can hurt yourselves.

We do not use reflexive pronouns after the verbs relax, feel, concentrate, meet.

I feel nervous. I can’t concentrate. (not I can’t concentrate myself).

Shall we meet at 5 o’clock? (not shall we meet ourselves)

Reflexive prepositions cannot be used after a preposition of place. We normally use object pronouns after them.

I don’t have my telephone with me.

He saw a man standing next to him.

We can use BY to emphasize that the subject of the verb did something alone.

I cleaned the house by myself.

Mary travelled to Turkey all by herself.

Take a look at these expressions with reflexive pronouns:

Enjoy yourselves at the party!

Start behaving yourselves, children!

Make yourself at home!

Help yourself to a drink!

 

Exercise:

Fill in the gaps with the appropriate pronoun:

  1. Norman is looking at _________ in the mirror.
  2. I can’t pay for_______. Would you lend me some money?
  3. Oliver and Terry had to amuse _______ while their mother was in the kitchen.
  4. I’m so sorry I didn’t bring my camera with ______.
  5. If you want to succeed, you must believe in _______.
  6. We enjoyed _______ at the party last night.
  7. Laura is drying ______ with a towel.
  8. The cat is licking ________.
  9. Our children prepared lunch __________.
  10. I could never do it ________!

 

Key: 1.himself, 2. myself, 3. themselves, 4. me, 5. yourself, 6. ourselves, 7. herself, 8. itself, 9. by themselves, 10. by myself

Grammar, Mistaken Words

Across vs Over vs Through


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ACROSS  and OVER are both prepositions and adverbs. They are in most cases interchangeable.

Look at these sentences:

They had to go across the river to get to their house.

We walked over the bridge in the misty morning.

However, when the meaning is ‘from side to side’, ACROSS is preferred:

I ran across the street.

Juliana folded her arms across her chest.

When moving from one side to another in a surrounding environment, across is replaced by THROUGH:

I made my way through the bushes.

The Red Riding Hood went through the woods to get to her grandma’s house.

Don’t use THROUGH when talking about periods of time. In these cases, OVER is preferred.

I haven’t seen Tom much over the last three years.

Articles, Grammar

The Oxford Comma: yes or no?


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The ‘Oxford comma’ or the ‘serial comma’ is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ or ’or’ in a list:
They have a dog, a cat, and a hamster.
 
Do you have this shirt in black, white, or grey colour?
The reason it is called the Oxford comma is because it was primarily used at the Oxford University Press.
There are lots of arguments about the topic. Some linguists think the Oxford comma is unnecessary, while some believe that it provides clarity and helps avoid misunderstandings.
For example: I love my family, Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder.
Without the Oxford comma at the end of the list it seems that Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder are your parents.
I love my family, Angelina Jolie, and Winona Ryder.
It is now clear what you meant.
I love Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder and my family.
This one is clear as well, even without the Oxford comma.
As it is not obligatory, you probably wonder whether to use the Oxford comma in your writing, or not?
Whatever you decide, try to be consistent in it.
Happy writing!
Grammar

-ED and -ING Forms of Adjectives


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We sometimes use verbs ending in –ed and –ing as adjectives:

I like painted furniture.

Do you like smoked meat?

The police are looking for a missing person.

Some people say Leonardo da Vinci invented first flying machine.

Many –ed and –ing adjectives describe feelings, but we use them in different ways. We use:

  • -ed adjectives to describe how we feel:

I’m confused.

The students are interested.

  • -ing adjectives to describe the thing that causes our feelings:

The rules are confusing.

It’s an interesting lesson.

We often use –ing adjectives to ask about or give an opinion about something:

Do you think horror films are frightening? (= or they frighten you?)

My cousin is really boring. (= He makes me feel bored)

We don’t use –ing adjectives to talk about how we feel;

Tell me more about the course.  I am very interested.

Grammar

The Definite Article THE


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The Definite Article THE is the most frequently used word in English. It is the same for all genders in singular or plural.

Definite article is used to refer to a particular phenomenon or a thing. It can be something already mentioned or something specified.

We use THE:

  • with the words beach, cinema, theatre, world, weekend… (We’re going to the beach every day).
  • before the names of the cinemas (the Cineplex), hotels (the Four Seasons), theatres (the Rex), museums (the Louvre), groups of islands/states (the Philipines, the United Kingdom), etc…
  • with the names of rivers (the Danube), seas (the Mediterranean), mountain ranges (the Himalayas), the oceans (the Atlantic), deserts (the Sahara).
  • before musical instruments (I can play the piano).
  • with names of people, families, nationalities (the Smiths, the French)
  • with titles without names (the Prime Minister)
  • with superlative forms of adjectives (the most popular)

We don’t use THE:

  • with proper nouns (Sabin is travelling to China).
  • before names of sports, colours, meals, etc… (They play tennis on Saturday mornings)
  • with names of countries (Thailand), streets (Oxford Street), mountains (Mont Blanc), lakes (Albert Lake ), etc…
  • before titles with names (President Mujica)

The Definite Article

Grammar

When and how to use HAVE/HAS BEEN


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We normally use HAVE/HAS BEEN in the Present Perfect Continuous Tense. HAS BEEN is used if the subject is third person singular (he/she/it) and HAVE BEEN is used for all other persons (I/you/we/they).

The Present Perfect Continuous refers to an action that started in the past and is still continuing in the present.

Examples:

Maria has been studying for her exam since 8 o’clock. (and she still is)

We have been running for an hour. (and we still are)

How long have you been living in Chester?

HAVE/HAS BEEN is also used as a form of “to be” in Present Perfect Simple / Continuous passive constructions.

Examples:

They have been robbed.

She has been named after her grandma.

The toys have been being tidied up by the children all morning.