A Song with Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense

* First, let’s look at the form (conjugation / spelling) of English verbs. They follow very simple patterns. English verb forms are much easier than many European languages like Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. The Turkish language also has many more verb forms than English. 

There are patterns in every language which, if you can see, make it so much easier to learn a new language than you think. If you can read this post, you are ready to see and understand the patterns in English verbs. Congratulations! Read on!


Patterns are Everywhere!


PATTERNS in English verbs:

Regular verb  TO WAIT: wait, waits, waited, waiting – only 4 forms!

• ALL regular verbs have the same 4 forms.


Semi-regular verb TO CRY: cry, cries, cried, crying – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + y have the same 4 forms.

Semi-regular verb TO FADE: fade, fades, faded, fading – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + e have the same 4 forms.


Irregular verb TO KNOW: know, knows, knew, known, knowing – only 5 forms!

• ALL irregular verbs have at most 5 forms. Some have fewer:

For example, TO MEET: meet, meets, met, meeting 4 forms.

For example, TO CUT: cut, cuts, cutting – only 3 forms!


Of course, there is  an exception:   the verb TO BE.

English is no different. The verb TO BE is an exception in many languages.

Irregular verb TO BE: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being8 forms. However, there is some good news: this is the only verb with more than 5 forms.



Irregular verbs are often the same verbs in every language: BE, HAVE, DO, GO etc. This is because they are the old, original verbs that everyone used hundreds or thousands of   years ago and the spelling has not changed very much. Verbs like to type, to email, to text, to skype, are not irregular, are they? The good news is that all new verbs will be regular. The number of irregular verbs is limited. Once you learn them, that’s it. Also, even irregular verbs follow patterns. Every other verb is regular – only 4 forms. Easy peasy! All English verbs, regular and irregular use the same auxiliary verbs.

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* Next, let’s look at the form (spelling) of Past Simple and Past Continuous:

Past SimpleRegular verbs end in ‘ed’.  

  Base infinitive + ed: Romeo talked to Juliet’s dad.

All Past Simple verbs, regular and irregular:
     Did + not + Base infinitive: Juliet did not know what to think.
   Did + Base infinitive: Did Juliet meet Romeo in town?


Past Continuous verbs all end in ‘ing’.  They all need an auxiliary verb (to make a complete verb) depending on the person: was for I, he, she, and it; were for you, we, and they.

+    Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: Juliet was crying on the staircase.
      Was / were + not + Base infinitive + ing: They were not waiting for permission.
?     Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: What was she waiting for?

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* Finally, read my earlier post on Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense.

It’s always useful to find a song that features the grammar that you are trying to understand and remember. The song Love Story by Taylor Swift is, as the name suggests, a story and like many stories, it uses a variety of tenses: past, present, and future. For this post, I’m going to focus on the use of Past Simple Tense (red) and Past Continuous Tense (green) in the song.

The story starts in the present when Juliet has a ‘flashback‘ and remembers how it all began:                                                                              http://wilsona2mediabchs.blogspot.com/2016/10/intertextuality-analysis-taylor-swift.html

 I close my eyes and the flashback starts:       
I’m standing there on a balcony in summer air.
See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns,
See you make your way through the crowd,
And say hello

The tense changes to the past and the events of the day when she fell in love with her Romeo:   

 Little did I know that you were Romeo.
You were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said “Stay away from Juliet”,
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you “Please, don’t go”.


I was crying on the staircase, begging you “Please don’t go”.

 Past Continuous Tense is the logical tense to use when you want to describe actions or states which were in progress (continuing, happening) at the same time as something else or during a specific time in the past.

When Juliet’s daddy told Romeo to stay away from her, (at the same time):

Juliet was standing on the staircase.

Romeo was throwing pebbles

When the above photo of Juliet was taken, (at a specific time):

Juliet was crying.

Juliet was begging Romeo not to go.

On the outskirts of town

 I got tired of waiting,
Wondering if you were ever coming around.
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town.

At the same time as her faith in him was fading: 

 Romeo surprised her when he met her on the outskirts of town.

Past Continuous Tense describes real life. Life does not happen one action after another; there are always multiple things going on at the same time. We need the correct language to accurately connect and report all this activity. 

If we just use Past Simple Tense, we just have a series of photos.

If we use Past Simple Tense and Past Continuous Tense, we have a movie! Watch the video below and see what I mean. Click here for the video with lyrics.

For practice exercises, click here.

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Defining Relative Clauses: #6

For Grammar Rules about Defining Relative Clauses see my post  .


  • RIHANNA  sings a song with Eminem called ‘Monster’. There are  Defining Relative Clauses in the chorus. Have a look:


1. I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed.

2. (I) Get along with the voices inside of my head.

3. You’re trying to save me.

4. Stop holding your breath.

5. And you think I’m crazy.

6. Yeah, you think I’m crazy (crazy).

The Relative clauses in Lines 1 & 2 are clearly Defining Relative Clauses because they are obviously necessary in the sentence. You know they are necessary because if you take them out, the sentences have no meaning:

I’m friends with the monster. 

I get along with the voices.    

If a friend said to you, “I’m friends with the monster”, you would ask, “Which monster??”    

The Defining Relative Clause tells us which monster.    

If a friend said to you, “I get along with the voices”, you would ask, “Which voices??”

The Defining Relative Clause tells us which voices.

Also note that Rihanna sings about “THE monster”, “THE voices”. “THE” is the Definite (defining!) Article. We use THE when it is clear which noun we are talking about, but if we just say, “I’m friends with the monster”, it is NOT clear which monster. If we just say, “I get along with the voices”, it is NOT clear which voices. We need to define which monster and which voices. We need Defining Relative Clauses.

*** Defining Relative Clauses do not use commas because commas (like these brackets) separate the Relative Clause from the Independent Clause and we don’t want to separate the Relative Clause because the information is important for meaning. 

*** Non-Defining Relative Clauses use commas because the Relative Clause provides extra, separate information (like extra information we sometimes put in brackets).

The song ‘Monster’, which I like, is sung by Rihanna and Eminem.

‘which I like’ is a Non-Defining Relative Clause. It doesn’t tell us which song. It’s extra information.

Rihanna and Eminem, who are very successful, sing a song called ‘Monster’.

‘who are very successful’ is a Non-Defining Relative Clause. It doesn’t tell us who Rihanna and Eminem are. It’s extra information about them.

Take out the Non-Defining Relative Clauses and the sentences have meaning:

The song ‘Monster’ is sung by Rihanna and Eminem.

Rihanna and Eminem sing a song called ‘Monster’.

I highly recommend that you sing the chorus of ‘Monster’ (video below) a few times until you know it well. Then, whenever you need an example of a Defining Relative Clause, one will be easy to recall.


  • Now, let’s look at two more Defining Relative Clauses.

Adam Levine & Maroon 5

  • MAROON FIVE sing a song called ‘This Love’. The first few lines contain Defining Relative Clauses:

1. I was so high I did not recognize

2. The fire (which/that was) burning in her eyes,

3. The chaos that controlled my mind.

Here you can see that the Relative Clauses are vital for meaning. Take them out and the song has no clear meaning:

I was so high I did not recognize the fire, the chaos .. Which fire?? Which chaos??

*Note again the use of the Definite Article: THE fire, THE chaos.

I highly recommend that you sing the chorus of ‘Monster’ (click here for the video) and the lines from ‘This Love’ (lyrics video) a few times until you know them well. Then, whenever you need an example of a Defining Relative Clause, you will be able to recall one or more easily.

You could also check other examples in songs by clicking here.

If you have any questions or would like more examples, just leave a comment  below.


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Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Relative Clauses, Songs, TOEFL, TOEIC | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Words to use instead of ‘When’

Here’s a lesson, with a delightful song, to help you remember some words and expressions you can use instead of ‘when’. They are highlighted below in green and blue.

I’m not going to even mention the G word (shhh! … grammar), but if you really must have a (grammar) fix, click on the green and blue links in the song lyrics.

The lyrics for the song, I say a little prayer, (by Burt Bacharach and Hal David)  are written under the video, which is my favourite version of the song, from the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding.

After the lyrics, I have provided more examples of words to use instead of ‘when’  with the same or similar meanings.

 Song: I Say a Little Prayer  

The moment I wake up, 
Before I put on my makeup,
I say a little prayer for you.
While combing my hair, now,
And (while) wondering what dress to wear, now,
I say a little prayer for you:

Forever, and ever,
You’ll stay in my heart and I will love you.
Forever, and ever,
We never will part; Oh, how I love you.
Together, forever, that’s how it must be.
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me. 

I run for the bus, dear.
While riding, I think of us, dear.
I say a little prayer for you.
At work, I just take time,
And all through my coffee break-time,
I say a little prayer for you.


My darling, believe me.
For me, there is no one but you.
Please love me too.
Answer my prayer. (Answer his prayer.)
Answer my prayer now babe, oh-oh. (Answer his prayer.)


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Song Lyrics

More examples


The moment I wake up, …


The moment
I saw you,…


The moment
I finish the test, …



The moment you buy a new computer,

As soon as I wake up, …

Immediately after I wake up, …

As soon as I saw you, …

The first time I saw you, …

The last time I saw you, …

After I finish the test …

Straight after I finish the test, …

Immediately after I finish the test, 

As soon as you buy a new computer, ..

Next time you buy a new computer, …

While combing my hair, …



While eating my lunch …

Whenever I comb my hair, …

As I comb my hair, …

Every time (that)I comb my hair, …

lunch time, …

During lunch time, …

While riding (the bus), …


Whenever I ride the bus, …

Every time (that) I am on the bus,..

At work, I just take time …


At the market
, I always buy … 

While working, I just take time…

While I’m at work,I just take time..

Whenever I’m at the market, I buy ..

All through my coffee break time, …



All through the night, …


All through
my childhood, 


During my coffee break, …

Every coffee break, …

Whenever I have a coffee break, …

the night, …

Throughout the night, …

my childhood, …

Throughout my childhood, …


Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Vocabulary | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

20 English Idioms of Courage

On New Year’s Eve, many of us make New Year Resolutions in an effort to improve ourselves or make a positive change.  Maybe you want to exercise more, lose weight, or just get more organised. Not so easy! It takes a lot of determination and intestinal fortitude to change habits. After the year we’ve had, I admire anyone who has the energy to even think about New Year Resolutions!

So, to help you courageous types stick to your resolutions, I have found some superb idioms for you: 20 English Idioms of Courage by purlandtraining.com. Click on the picture below for inspiration and encouragement. Good luck! 

  Wishing you all a Happy & Prosperous New Year  
  filled with Love & Laughter!  

             

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Christmas!

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, a unique individual who was the perfect role model, practising compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness. While many are not interested in the religious aspect of Christmas, it’s fair to say that the spirit of Christmas prevails. I find that people are friendlier, kinder, and more tolerant during this time. It’s my favourite time of the year! I’d like to share my favourite Christmas Carol with you, the uplifting “O Holy Night”:

Wishing you a Very Happy Christmas

with your loved ones

& a Prosperous New Year!

      

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Advanced Reading & Listening: Our World Today

Photo by Glen Carrie

Today, I have two reading texts and two short videos, all timely and thought-provoking. All are outstanding and varied examples of the use of English language.

♦ The first reading is a fact-based text which defines, and provides examples of, Stockholm Syndrome: a psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands. (https://www.britannica.com/science/Stockholm-syndrome)

♦ The second reading is an opinion piece provided by Australian musician Nick Cave on his website The Red Hand Files. He tackles the issues of Cancel Culture and Mercy.

♦ The first video is an articulate and witty discourse in defence of  Free Speech by Rowan Atkinson. (Excellent subtitles)

♦ Finally, delivered with wit, insight, and understandable frustration, a short video by Katie Hopkins outlining the absurdity of some typical ‘Coronavirus Rules‘. 



♦ Stockholm Syndrome

WRITTEN BY Laura Lambert

Stockholm syndrome, psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

The name of the syndrome is derived from a botched bank robbery in StockholmSweden. In August 1973 four employees of Sveriges Kreditbank were held hostage in the bank’s vault for six days. During the standoff, a seemingly incongruous bond developed between captive and captor. One hostage, during a telephone call with Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, stated that she fully trusted her captors but feared that she would die in a police assault on the building.

The most infamous example of Stockholm syndrome may be that involving kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. In 1974, some 10 weeks after being taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army, Hearst helped her kidnappers rob a California bank. But it was during the hostage crisis in Iran (1979–81) that the Stockholm syndrome worked its way into the public imagination. Read more … 



♦ Cancel Culture & Mercy

On his website The Red Hand Files, (ISSUE #109 / AUGUST 2020) Nick Cave answers two questions: What is mercy for you? What do you think of cancel culture?

Dear Valerio and Frances,

Mercy is a value that should be at the heart of any functioning and tolerant society. Mercy ultimately acknowledges that we are all imperfect and in doing so allows us the oxygen to breathe — to feel protected within a society, through our mutual fallibility. Without mercy a society loses its soul, and devours itself. Read more … 


Further Recommended Reading:

♦ Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Published 1932 

Aldous Huxley himself said that “the theme of Brave New World is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals” (written in the preface of Brave New World).

1984 by George Orwell, Published 1949 

the novel examines the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated.  Parallels have been drawn between the novel’s subject matter and real life instances of totalitarianismmass surveillance, and violations of freedom of expression among other themes.[9][10][11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four 




♦ Rowan Atkinson in Defence of Free Speech:


♦ Katie Hopkins on the Absurdity of some Coronavirus Rules:

*  As you can see above, YouTube has cancelled this video of Katie Hopkins. Why? She voiced her opinions on some of the coronavirus restrictions in Britain. Perhaps, you and your friends don’t agree with the restrictions that prevent you ordering a glass of wine in a pub? It seems that it’s okay to order wine if you also order a “substantial” meal. If you just order a packet of Crisps, you can’t order a glass of wine. In the above cancelled video, Katie was asking how this restriction would help prevent covid. 

To replace the cancelled video, here is a more recent one where Katie points out how sport is a unifier while politics divides people. Whether you agree with her or not, surely in a Western Democracy, she is entitled to express her opinion. Watch the video below and decide for yourself. 


Further Recommended Video:

            Aldous Huxley and Brave New World: The Dark Side of Pleasure


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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Listening, Reading, Speaking & Pronunciation | 3 Comments

How to Follow a Process / Instructions

Here in Australia, it will soon be summer. On the Gold Coast, where I live, it’s like summer most of the year! However, for many of you, winter is fast approaching so I thought you might enjoy a short video by Vocabulary in Chunks about Hygge and learn some English at the same time.  

As the name suggests, Vocabulary in Chunks is a website that focuses on learning English in chunks: in groups of words rather than learning new words one at a time. The focus this time is on Describing a Process; for example, how to make a warm, cozy blanket, how to prepare warm, soothing drinks, and a few more suggestions for making your life more comfortable and cozy. 

Take note of the sentence structure. Giving instructions usually involves starting sentences with ImperativesWarm up 2 cups of …, Measure the height of …, Use a large piece of …, Cut the board … etc.  While you read the instructions, you will learn new vocabulary in context. 

I hope you enjoy this lovely little video. I’m looking forward to making the Chunky Wool Blanket. However, I don’t recommend lit candles on the bed!

Vocabulary chunks to learn from video :
∗ being comforted and cozy
∗ decorationg style
∗ sweet treats
∗ warm soothing drinks
∗ part of the lifestyle
∗ how to make

Continue reading

Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading, Vocabulary | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What is a Comma Splice?! 📝

Comma Splices are a common mistake I see in my students’ writing. 

I understand why they make them: they are not a mistake in their languages!

Rachel Schultz has written a very easy-to-follow guide on how to fix this error. Read on!

English with Rachel

Comma splices -what are they ? They sound like a good thing (the name reminds me of a delicious ice-cream🍦I loved as a kid) but they aren’t .They are punctuation mistakes often made by English native speakers and non native speakers alike. Yes, native speakers make this mistake too!

Let’s have a look at an example of one :

I love studying English, my teacher is amazing.

You may think this sentence looks correct and you have probably seen similar sentences. However, this is a comma splice and if you want to write correctly (you may have an IELTS or Cambridge exam coming up) , then please make sure you avoid this mistake.

So what exactly are comma splices and how can we avoid them?

They are two independent clauses (parts of sentences which can stand alone) joined together by a comma.

I love studying English, my teacher is amazing

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Leave a comment

Freedom of Speech

 Free speech is the whole thing,
the whole ball game.
Free speech is life itself.
                         SALMAN RUSHDIE

Language is communication. Language is so vital to the human condition that those who cannot physically speak or hear have found other effective ways to communicate.


Photo by Daniel Fazio

Sign language is a true language with the grammar, vocabulary, and subtleties of meaning found in the most complex spoken languages.   To be able to communicate and be ‘heard’ is a basic human need.

Freedom to voice one’s opinion, to argue, to debate, to challenge popular and sacred beliefs with impunity ∼ these are the hallmarks of civilisation.

We have taken this freedom for granted for so long that many of us are unaware that it is being steadily eroded.

Universities used to be institutions that welcomed independent thinking and debate. Everyone, no matter his or her views or political opinions could speak and be heard. 

This is no longer the case. Independent thinking is not welcome in universities or society in general in the current political climate with its sinister cancel culture. Diversity of thought can result in being ‘cancelled’: being deleted on social media, being ridiculed and targeted on mass media, losing one’s job,  livelihood, even losing one’s home and worse.

     Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.
………………………………………………………………………………………………….GEORGE ORWELL

Joy Villa was invited to speak at Congress (USA) recently. She referred to “… laws protecting race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexuality and disability …” and implored Congress to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include political affiliation as a protected class. Her very real concern is that “political bigotry is silencing the voices of Americans”. Joy Villa is an excellent speaker: articulate, well-informed, and passionate about her country and its traditional ideals.

Click on the picture for her presentation:

Recommended reading:
Animal Farm (1946) by George Orwell
1984 (1949) by George Orwell 

First they ignore you;

then they ridicule you;
then they fight you;
then you win.


蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Listening, Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Describe an Experience … in 4 Easy Steps

How would you describe an experience? How would you start? Which experience would you like to recount: a new job, a meal at a restaurant, a party you went to?

Imagine that you want to describe a recent holiday; where would you start?


♠ Step #1
What do you want to say? Start by asking
Wh …‘ questions:

Who … ? Where … ? What … ? When … ? Why … ? Which … ? How … ?

The answers to theWh … ?’ questions will provide you with a description:

Question Answer
1. Where did you go?
    Where did you stay?
Mexico City
El Gran Hotel, 5 nights
2. When did you go? Last month
3. Who did you go with? My girlfriend/boyfriend/family
4. Why did you go there? To see museums and a UNESCO site


UNESCO site -The ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan – situated some 50 km north-east of Mexico City.

Question Answer
5. What did you do there? We visited:
* The ancient pyramids at the         ..UNESCO site
* El Museo Frida Kahlo
* El Museo del Tequila y Mezcal
* El Palacio de Bellas Artes
6. What was the best part of your holiday? El Museo Frida Kahlo
7. Why? She’s my favourite Mexican artist. 

♠ Step #2
Use the information above to write some sentences:

Last summer, I went to Mexico City with my girlfriend Josefina. 

We stayed at El Gran Hotel for five nights.

We wanted to see some museums and a UNESCO site.

We visited ancient pyramids,  El Museo Frida Kahlo, El Museo del Tequila y Mezcal, and El Palacio de Bellas Artes. 

I enjoyed El Museo Frida Kahlo the most.

Frida Kahlo is my favourite Mexican artist.

The museum used to be her home. She was born there and died there.

We saw some of her most famous paintings in the museum.


♠ Step #3:
Improve the sentences:

To do this, add information that will engage the reader. Was there anything unusual, impressive, or amusing about your holiday? Make notes* next to your sentences. For example:

Continue reading

Posted in IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment