Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How to Speak English Fluently

1. Get rid of the fear of speaking English in public. Unless you can overcome this fear, you won’t learn. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. So, be confident and speak.

2. Observe the mouth movements of those who speak English well and try to imitate them.

3. Everyday read aloud in English at least for 30 minutes. Read newspapers, magazines, books, poems, short stories, articles, whatever you like. Start with the easy ones and gradually progress towards difficulty.

4. Interact and converse with English speaking friends and colleagues regularly.

5. Watch English movies, television serials, news. Carefully follow the accent. Listening to fluent good English will unknowingly improve the way you speak English.

6. Try singing English songs.

7. Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes. Doing this will help you become conscious of the mistakes you are making.

8. Take your time. Do not expect instant results. You can change the way you sound if you are willing to work really hard. Be patient.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

5 Tips on How to Approach Grammar Exercises

1. Use as many kinds of grammar exercises in textbooks and websites as possible. By doing this, you will get to achieve several grammar skills.

2. Read the instructions carefully, so that you are confident about which language structures or grammar rules you are supposed to use in each exercise.

3. Review and recycle previously learned grammar rules with the new ones you learn. Practice the exercises in a rising level of difficulty as even simple grammar rules can be applied in more difficult and complicated contexts.

4. Identify grammar structures or grammar rules in your reading and try to understand why the author has chosen them over other rules or structures.

5. Give equal importance to grammar and vocabulary. Do not get too obsessed with grammar and neglect vocabulary, reading, and writing activities.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

English Grammar Secrets

May / Might


We can use 'may' to ask for permission. However this is rather formal and not used very often in modern spoken English

• May I borrow your book?
• May I come?

We use 'may' to suggest something is possible

• It may rain in the evening.
• David may come with us.


We use 'might' to suggest a small possibility of something. There is a little difference between 'might' and 'may' and 'might' is more usual than 'may' in spoken English.

• Rita might be at home by now but I'm not sure at all.
• It might rain this afternoon.

For the past, we use 'might have'.

• John might have tried to call while I was working.
• Rebecca might have dropped it in the street.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Improve Your English Grammar and Vocabulary by Studying a Foreign Language

As a native English speaker, I had never realized how complicated the language was until I began studying Spanish and Japanese. Interestingly enough, I have found that learning a foreign language has given me a better grasp of the English language and all of the little grammatical idiosyncrasies that come with it. Here are some of the ways you can improve your English through foreign language study.

"How do I say this in English?"
When you're first learning a new language, you will naturally compare it to your own. While learning the basics of any language, you are taught how to construct simple sentences, verb tenses and vocabulary. The rules you'll be applying to this new language will force you to take a closer look at English. When and why do we put have or had before a verb in the past tense? Where do we place the subject in a sentence? Can you identify the conditional tense and do you know when to use it? You apply these rules everyday when speaking English, but you may not even notice until you start studying the rules of a new language.

A Latin-based language is especially helpful for vocabulary
Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese all share Latin root words, suffixes, prefixes and other common language constructions with English. For example, the Spanish word for have or keep is tener. You can see a derivative of the Latin -ten in words like sustain, maintain and retain, which are all different meanings of the word have. To this end, learning a Latin-based or romance language can help you to improve your vocabulary or recognize the meanings of words in English.

Language Exchange programs
Doing a language exchange can allow you to practice speaking and listening in another language with a native speaker of that language who is trying to practice speaking and listening in your language. Many times, you will have to teach and explain basic grammar principles to your language partner, such as rules of tense, idioms, and tricky stuff like prepositions. With a language exchange program, you have the benefit of improving at another language while teaching English to someone else. Teaching will give you a better understanding of the way your own language is properly spoken.

Foreign languages have similarities and differences to English which can give you a better understanding of grammar and vocabulary. Whether you're a native speaker or not yet fluent in English, you may find that learning another tongue can help you in improving it, understanding it and teaching it to others.
About the Author: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Unique or An Unique?

Just a point about the challenges of the English language. Why "a unique..." rather than "an unique..."? When a "u" word is pronounced as though it begins with a "y" (yoo nique), it's treated more like the consonant sound of the y. So, "a unique..."

a unique tool, an umbrella, a usual day, an unusual day.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Gerund

A Gerund is that form of the verb which ends in –ing, and has the force of a Noun and a Verb.

Read the following sentence:

Reading is her favourite pastime.

The word reading is formed from the verb read, by adding ing. Here, it is used as the subject of a verb, and hence does the work of a Noun. It is, therefore, a Verb-Noun, and is called a Gerund.

More examples of Gerund:

1. Playing cards is not allowed in the conference hall.

2. She likes reading poetry.

3. Ron is fond of hoarding money.

In sentence 1, the Gerund, like a noun, is the subject of a verb, but like a verb, it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has also the force of a verb.

In sentence 2, the Gerund, like a noun, is the object of a verb, but, like a verb, it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has also the force of a verb.

In sentence 3, the Gerund, like a noun, is governed by a preposition, but, like a verb, it also takes an object.

As both the Gerund and the Infinitive have the force of a Noun and a Verb, they have the same uses. Thus, in many sentences, either of them may be used; as,

Teach me to dance.
Teach me dancing.

Compare the following 2 sentences:

1. Do you mind my sitting here?
2. Do you mind me sitting here?

In the first sentence, the word preceding the gerund is in the possessive case, while in the second sentence, it is in the objective case. We can use either the possessive case or objective case of nouns and pronouns before gerunds.

Use of the Gerund

1) Subject of a verb; as

Hunting deer is not allowed in this city.

2) Object of a transitive verb; as,

Stop dancing.

3) Object of a preposition; as,

Maria was punished for telling a lie.

4) Complement of a verb; as,

What I most dislike is smoking.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Correct Use of Some Adjectives

An Adjective is defined as a word used with a noun to add something for its meaning.

The correct use of some Adjectives

Some, Any

To express quantity or degree, some is used normally in affirmative sentences, whereas any is used in negative or interrogative sentences.

Rebecca will buy some bananas.
I will not buy any mangoes.
Has he brought any mangoes?

Note: Any can be used after if in affirmative sentences.

If you need any help, give me call.

Some is used in questions which are offers/ requests or which expect the answer "yes".

Offer – Will you have some custard?

Request – Could you lend her some money?

I expect you did – Did you buy some clothes?

Each, Every

Each and every are similar in meaning, but every is stronger word than each; it means, 'each without exception'. Each directs attention to the individuals forming any group and is used only when the number in the group is limited and definite. Every directs attention to the total group and is used when the number is indefinite.

Every chair was taken.
Ten girls were seated on each bench.

Little, A little, The little

Little = not much (i.e. hardly any)

David showed little concern for his nephew.

A little – some though not much.

A little tact would have saved the situation.

The little – not much, but all there is.

The little information she had was not quite reliable.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Conjunctions and Their Uses

"A Conjunction is a word which merely joins together sentences, and sometimes words."

Some Conjunctions and their uses:

Since, as a Conjunction means-

1) From and after the time when; as

Many things have happened since I left college.
I have never seen her since that sad incident happened.

Note: Since, when used as a Conjunction in this sense, should be preceded by a verb in the present perfect tense, and followed by a verb in the simple past tense.

2) Seeing that, in as much as; as

Since you will not work, you shall not eat.

Or is used-

1) To introduce an alternative, as

She must work or starve.

Note: There may be several alternatives, each joining to the preceding one by or, presenting a choice between any two in the series.

You may study medicine or architecture or engineering, or you may enter into business.

2) To introduce an alternative name or synonym; as,

The violin or fiddle has become the main instrument of the modern orchestra.

3) To mean otherwise; as,

We must go now or we will be late.

4) As nearly equivalent to and; as,

The soldiers were not lacking in strength or courage, but they were badly fed.

If is used to mean-

1) On the condition or supposition that; as,

If it rains, I will not go.

2) Admitting that; as,

If I am stupid, I am at least honest.

3) Whether; as,

I asked her if she would help me.

4) Whenever; as,

If you have any doubt, let me know.

If is also used to express wish or surprise; as,

If I only knew!

Than as a Conjunction, follows adjectives and adverbs in the comparative degree; as,

I see you oftener than (I see) her.

While is used to mean-

1) During the time that, as long as; as

While she was sleeping, a thief entered the house.

2) At the same time that; as,

The boys danced while the girls played.

3) Whereas; as

While Tom has no money to spend, Peter has nothing to spend on.

Only as a Conjunction, means except that, but, were it not (that); as,

A very handsome man, only he squints a little.
The evening is pleasant, only rather cold.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Sequence of Tenses

The Sequence of Tenses is the principle in accordance with which the Tense of the verb in a subordinate clause follows the Tense of the verb in the principal clause.

1. A Past Tense in the Principle Clause is followed by a Past Tense in the subordinate clause; as,

Philip replied that he would come.
She never thought that she should see him again.

However, there are two exceptions to this rule:-

A) A Past Tense in the Principal clause may be followed by a Present Tense in the subordinate clause when the subordinate clause expresses a universal truth; as,

Galileo maintained that the earth moves round the sun.
Robert said that honesty is the best policy.

B) When the subordinate clause is introduced by than, even if there is a Past Tense in the principal clause, it may be followed by any Tense required by the sense in the subordinate clause; as,

Mary liked you better than she likes me.
Rohan valued his friendship more than he values mine.

A Present or Future Tense in the Principal Clause may be followed by any Tense required by the sense; as,

Peter thinks that Maria is happy.
Peter thinks that Maria was happy.
Peter thinks that Maria will be happy.

Peter will think that Maria is happy.
Peter will think that Maria was happy.
Peter will think that Maria will be happy.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kinds of Adverbs

An Adverb is a word which modifies the meaning of a Verb, an Adjective or another Adverb.

Kinds of Adverbs

Adverbs may be divided into the following classes, according to their meaning:-

1. Adverbs of Time (which show when)

She hurt her ankle yesterday.
Tom has spoken to her already.

2. Adverbs of Frequency (which show how often).

Rahul often makes mistakes.
I always try to do my best.

3. Adverbs of Place (which show where)

She looked up.
My mother is out.

4. Adverbs of Manner (which show how or in what manner)

The essay is well written.
The man works hard.

5. Adverbs of Degree or Quantity (which show how much, or in what degree or to what extent).

Rebecca sings pretty well.
You are quite wrong.

6. Adverbs of Affirmation and Negation

Mr. Das certainly went.
I do not know him.

7. Adverbs of Reason

Paul therefore left college.
Saira is hence unable to perform the task.

Some of the above Adverbs may belong to more than one class.

Thomas sings delightfully. (Adverb of Manner)
The water is delightfully cool. (Adverb of Degree)

Don't go far. (Adverb of Place)
Reema is far better now. (Adverb of Degree)

Now we will see that Adverbs are divided into three classes according to their use:

1) Simple Adverbs - Simple Adverbs are used to modify the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. For eg.,

She is quite wrong.

2) Interrogative Adverbs - Interrogative Adverbs are used to ask questions. For eg.,

How many students are in his class?

3) Relative Adverbs - Relative Adverbs refer back to a noun as their antecedent. For eg.,

Show me the house where he was born.


A Simple Adverb merely modifies some word.

An Interrogative Adverb not only modifies some word, but also introduces a question.

A Relative Adverb not only modifies some word, but also refers back to some antecedent.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Verbs of Incomplete Predication

The verbs in both the following sentences are Intransitive:

1. The baby sleeps.
2. The baby seems happy.

But, the first sentence "The baby sleeps" makes complete sense, whereas the other sentence "The baby seems happy" does not make complete sense.

The Intransitive Verb seems require a word (e.g., happy) to make the sense complete. Such a verb is called a Verb of Incomplete Predication.

The word happy, which is required to make the sense complete, is called the Complement of the Verb or the Completion of the Predicate.

Verbs of Incomplete Predication usually express the idea of being, becoming, seeming, appearing. The Complement usually consists of a Noun (called a Predicative Noun) or an Adjective (called a Predicative Adjective). When the Complement describes the subject, as in the following sentences, it is called a Subjective Complement.

1. The earth is round.
2. Roses smell sweet.

When the Subjective Complement is a noun, it is in the same case as the Subject, i.e., in the Nominative Case.

Certain Transitive verbs require, besides an Object, a Complement to complete their predication; as,

1. Her parents named her Priya.
2. The girls made Shreya captain.

Here, the Complement describes the Object, and is, therefore, called an Objective Complement.

Note: when the Objective Complement is a noun, it is in the Objective Case in agreement with the object.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Interrogative Pronouns

The Pronouns that are used for asking questions are called Interrogative Pronouns.


Whom do you want?
What is the matter?
Which is the pen?

In the following sentences, Interrogative Pronouns are used in asking indirect questions:

She does not know who is there.
Ask what she wants.

Who is used of persons only, which is used of both persons and things and what is used of things only.


Who is knocking at the door?
Which is your best friend? Which are your clothes?
What do you want?

Note: In such expressions as, "What are you?" "What is he?" the word what does not refer to the person but to his or her profession or employment.

Question: What are you?
Answer: I am a doctor.

Question: What is she?
Answer: She is an architect.

Which and what are also used as Interrogative Adjectives; as,

Which book are you reading?
What pranks are you playing?

In the following sentences, the words in italics are used as Compound Interrogative Pronouns:

Whoever told you so?
Whatever is she doing?

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Demonstrative Pronouns

The Pronouns that are used to point out the objects to which they refer are called Demonstrative Pronouns.


This is a gift from my friend.
Both dresses are good; but this is better than that.

Note: This, that, etc. are (Demonstrative) Adjectives when they are used with nouns; as,

This card is mine.
These pencils are yours.

Indefinite Pronouns

The Pronouns that refer to persons or things in a general way, but do not refer to any person or thing in particular are called Indefinite Pronouns. Example:

One hardly knows what to say.
Somebody has stolen my hat.

Note: Most of these words may be also used as Adjectives; as,

She will take you there one day.
Some milk was spilt.

Distributive Pronouns

Each, either, neither are called Distributive Pronouns because they refer to persons or things one at a time. Therefore, they are always singular and follwed by the verb in the singular. Example:

Each of the girls gets a prize.
Either of you can sing.

The position of the pronoun each should be noticed. It may have three positions:

1. Each of the women received a reward.

2. These men received each a reward.

3. These cows cost five thousand rupees each.

The third order is usually after a numeral.

Note: Each, either and neither may also be used as Adjectives and they are follwed by nouns of the singular number; as,

Each boy took his turn.
Neither accusation is true.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Question Tags, Short Answers, Etc.

Question Tags - In conversation, we often make a statement and ask for confirmation; as, 'It's very cold, isn't it?' The later part ('isn't it/') is called a question tag. The pattern is (1) auxiliary + n't + subject, if the statement is positive, (2) auxiliary + subject, if the statement is negative.

1. You are busy, aren't you?

2. James can not swim well. Can he?

Note that the subject of the question tag is always a pronoun, never a noun.

Short answers - The most useful form of short answers to verbal questions (i.e. questions beginning with an auxiliary) are as follows:

Yes + pronoun + auxiliary
No + pronoun + auxiliary + n't (not)

1. Are you going to college ?

Yes, I am.
No, I am not.

2. Does Rebecca work hard?

Yes, she does.
No, she does not.

Agreements and Disagreements with Statements

1. Agreements with affirmative statements are made with Yes/So/Of course + pronoun + auxiliary.

Ken has already left. - So he has.

2. Agreements with negative statements are made with No + pronoun + auxiliary + n't/ not.

They haven't danced well. - No, they haven't.

3. Disagreements with affirmative statements are made with No/Oh no + pronoun + auxiliary + n't/ not.

He is joking. - Oh no, he isn't.

4. Disagreements with negative statements are made with (Oh) yes/ (Oh) but + pronoun + auxiliary.

You don't know him. - Oh yes, I do.

Additions to Remarks

1. Affirmative additions to affirmative remarks are made with So + auxiliary + subject.

Thomas was late for the event. So were you.

2. Negative additions to negative remarks are made with Nor/ Neither + auxiliary + subject.

Peter doesn't like fruits. Nor do I.

3. Negative additions to affirmative remarks are made with But + subject + auxiliary + n't/not.

She knows how to sing. But her husband doesn't.

4. Affirmative additions to negative remarks are made with But + subject + auxiliary.

Derek can't play hockey. But I can.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Comparison of Adjectives

Adjectives change in form (tall, taller, tallest) to show comparison. They are called the three Degrees of Comparison.

The Adjective tall is said to be in the Positive Degree.

The Adjective taller is said to be in the Comparative Degree.

The Adjective tallest is said to be in the Superlative Degree.

Formation of Comparative and Superlative

Most adjectives of one syllable, and some of more than one, form the Comparative by adding er and the Superlative by adding est to the Positive.

Positive: Clever
Comparative: Cleverer
Superlative: Cleverest

When the Postive ends in e, only r and st are added.

Positive: Large
Comparative: Larger
Superlative: Largest

When the Postive ends in y, preceded by a consonant, the y is changed into i before adding er and est.

Positive: Heavy
Comparative: Heavier
Superlative: Heaviest

When the Postive is a word of one syllable and ends in a single consonant, preceded by a short vowel, this consonant is doubled before adding er and est.

Positive: Thin
Comparative: Thinner
Superlative: Thinnest

Adjectives of more than two syllables form the Comparative and Superlative by putting more and most before the Positive.

Positive: Difficult
Comparative: More Difficult
Superlative: Most Difficult

The following Adjectives are compared irregularly, that is, their comparative and Superlative are not formed from the Positive:

Positive: Bad
Comparative: Worse
Superlative: Worst

This is called Irregular Comparison.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Order of Words

In English, the order of words is of the first importance. The following is the usual order of words in an English sentence:-

1. The subject usually comes before the verb; as,

The man ate the apple.

2. The object usually comes after the verb; as,

The queen wears a crown.

3. When there is an indirect object and also a direct object, the indirect precedes the direct; as,

Give me your hat.

4. When the adjective is used attributively, it comes before the noun which it qualifies; as,

Few dogs like cold water.

5. When the adjective is used predicatively, it comes after the noun; as,

The boy is asleep.

6. The adjective phrase comes immediately after the noun; as,

The tops of the mountains were covered with snow.

7. The adverb is generally placed close to the word which it modifies; as,

Rahul is a rather lazy boy.

Note: When an adverb is used to modify the sentence as a whole, it is placed at the beginning of a sentence; as,

Certainly Rebecca made a fool of herself.

8. All qualifying clauses are placed as close as possible to the words they qualify; as,

Mrs. Jeremy Daud died in the village where she was born.

The normal order of words in a sentence is sometimes altered for emphasis; as,

Blessed are the merciful.

Owing to faulty arrangement of words, a sentence may be turned into perfect nonsense; as,

A man has a cow to sell who wishes to go abroad.

To conclude, it is essential that all qualifying words, phrases and clauses should be placed as near as possible to the words to which they refer.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Adjectives Used as Nouns

A Noun is a word used as the name of a person, place, or thing. An Adjective is a word used to add something to the meaning of a Noun. But, Adjectives are often used as Nouns.

1) As Plural Nouns denoting a class of persons; as,

The rich (=rich people) do not know how the poor (=poor people) live.

2) As Singular Nouns denoting some abstract quality; as,

The future (=futurity) is unknown to us.

3) Some Adjectives actually become Nouns, and are used in both numbers:-

a) Those derived from Proper Nouns; as, Italians, Canadians.

b) Some denoting persons; as, juniors, seniors, elders, criminals.

c) A few denoting things generally; as, solids, liquids, totals, secrets.

(Some adjectives are used as Nouns only in the plural; as, sweets, valuables.)

4) In certain phrases; as,

I do not want any more at present.

In short, we know nothing.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct Speech - When we quote a speaker's actual words, it is called Direct Speech.

Indirect Speech - When we report what a speaker said without quoting his exact words, then it is called Indirect Speech.


Direct: Rahul said, "I am very happy today."
Indirect: Rahul said that he was very happy that day.

While changing the above direct speech into Indirect, certain changes have been made. They are as follows:

1) In Direct Speech, we have used inverted commas to mark off the actual words of the speaker, whereas in Indirect Speech, we do not use inverted commas.

2) The conjunction that before the Indirect statement is used.

3) The pronoun I is changed to he.

4) The verb am is changed to was.

5) The adverb today is changed to that day.

Rules for changing Direct Speech into Indirect

When the principal verb is in the Past Tense, all Present Tenses of the Direct are changed into the corresponding Past Tenses.


Direct: He said, "My sister is reading books."
Indirect: He said that his sister was reading books.

a) A simple present becomes a simple past
b) A present continuous becomes a past continuous
c) A present perfect becomes a past perfect

Please note that the shall of the Future tense is changed into should. The will of the Future tense is changed into would or should.

Also, the Simple Past in the Direct becomes the Past Perfect in the Indirect.

Direct: He said, "The cow died in the morning."
Indirect: He said that the cow had died in the morning.

The tenses may not change if the statement is still relevant or if it is an universal truth.


Direct: The teacher said, "The earth goes round the sun."
Indirect: The teacher said the earth goes/ went round the sun.

In reporting commands and requests, the Indirect Speech is introduced by some verb expressing command or request.


Direct: John said to him, "Please wait till I return."
Indirect: John requested him to wait till he returned.

In reporting exclamations and wishes, the Indirect Speech is introduced by some verb expressing exclamation or wish.


Direct: She said, "Alas! I have lost my parents."
Indirect: She exclaimed sadly that she had lost her parents.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Use A Positive Form

Stating things positively draws the reader's attention. Watch for the word not and try to restate the idea more effectively.

Negative: She often did not eat on time.
Positive: She often ate late.

Try to replace a word or phrase plus not with its antonym. See the following examples:

Negative: was not present
Positive: absent

Negative: did not remember
Positive: forgot

Reserve the negative form for those cases where it produces the desired effect:

"Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable." - Samuel Johnson


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Avoid Double Negatives

What are Double Negatives? When two negative words are present in a sentence, they tend to cancel each other and create a positive meaning, which may not mean the same thing as what you are thinking.

Wrong: The discussion is not going nowhere.
Right: The discussion is going nowhere or The discussion is not going anywhere.

Be careful when words other than no or not express negation.

Wrong: The absence of concentration was noticeably lacking.
Right: The lack of concentration was evident.

Avoid complicated negative constructions.

Poor: I couldn't see how it was not a torture.
Better: I could see that it was a torture.

Note: Neither/ nor does not constitute a double negative. It is more in the spirit of a list of two negative elements.

Neither this nor that...