English Inversion #2: Question Tags

Melania Trump

How do you say something or make a statement in your language? What is the word order: which word do you say first, second, third, etc? Here are two examples of common English word order:  

Melania Trump was born in Slovenia. 

→  Subject + verb 

She speaks more than five languages.

→  Subject + verb 

How do you ask questions in your language? What is the word order: which part of speech do you say first, second, third, etc? Here are three examples of common English word order in questions:

♦ Was Melania Trump born in Slovenia?        →  Verb + subject 

♦ Where was Melania Trump born?                →  Question word + verb + subject 

♦ How many languages does she speak?        →  Question words + verb + subject

When we change the word order from subject + verb to verb + subject, we call this Inversion. You may be used to questions like those above, but we can also add a little question at the end of a statement.

Sometimes, when we ask questions, we are checking information or making conversation, often both. Imagine that you are meeting Melania Trump. You could say:

You were born in Slovenia, weren’t you     → subject + verb, … verb + subject

https://unsplash.com/photos/yBd5AUhaO_M

 You were born in Slovenia, weren’t you?

When we are checking information, we can make a statement and then add a Question Tag at the end. We say what we believe is true and then check that we are correct. How do you ask this in your language? Many languages, like French and Hindi, have the same tag for all statements, with the meaning isn’t that so? We have a few more tags in English. They won’t take long to learn.

Using Question Tags is a convenient way to make conversation and / or check information. Imagine that you are introduced to someone and you make a statement like, ‘You travel a lot’. What do you expect the other person to say? He or she will probably just look at you, perhaps say, ‘yes’. End of conversation.

https://unsplash.com/photos/Qk25-xoJtpI

You travel a lot, don’t you?

However, you could say, ‘You travel a lot, don’t you?’ Now you have engaged the other person in a friendly way and you can expect a response. ‘Yes, I do. It’s part of my job.’ The conversation continues. 

We use Question Tags constantly in everyday life: checking timetables, schedules, meetings, arrangements, and asking for something when we don’t want to ask a direct question:

∗ Wife: You won’t be late for the school concert, will you?
Husband: Of course not! You don’t expect me to wear a suit, do you?

∗ Ka-men: Fernandas coming to the party tonight, isn’t she?
Patricia: Yes, of course. She’s bringing the music.

∗ John: The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?
Sarah: Yes, it does. All the sales staff are coming, aren’t they?
John: Well, they don’t have to. It’s up to them.
Sarah: You can come to the conference, can’t you? I really need your input. We’ve been working on this report for weeks. I think that we should present it together, don’t you?

photo-1507890512529-4b15a5a02988

You can come to the meeting can’t you?

We add Question Tags to the end of statements to turn them into questions. The statement is the easy part but there are a few things to remember about how to form the tag:  

♦ If the statement is positive, the tag is a negative contraction :

The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?

♦ If the statement is negative, the tag is positive:

You won’t be late for the school concert, will you?

♦ The Question Tag is always an auxiliary verb with the same tense as the statement:

Do & does with Present Simple 

The conference starts at 8:00 am on Monday, doesn’t it?

You don’t expect me to wear a suit, do you?

Am, is & are with Present Simple

Im the lead actor aren’t I (Not amn’t I – simply because it sounds so bad.)

Im not a vampire, am I?

Edward isn’t a vampire, is he?

Vampires aren’t real, are they?

https://unsplash.com/photos/hIj6fAUuMd8

Fernanda is really enjoying herself, isn’t she?

Did with Past Simple

You didn’t forget to bring the beer, did you?     
Fernanda organised the party music, didn’t she?

Was & were with Past Simple

Fernanda wasn’t late, was she?

You were there, weren’t you?

Has, have & had with Perfect Tenses

You haven’t forgotten the food, have you?

Shes organised the party music, hasn’t she?

Shed been trying for months to get the venue, hadn’t she?

Am, is & are with Present Continuous

They‘re  failing the course, aren’t they?

Im not studying enough, am I?

Fernanda is really enjoying herself, isn’t she?

Was & were with Past Continuous

Fernanda was really enjoying herself, wasn’t she?

The students were singing and dancing all night, weren’t they?

Will with all Future Tenses

You won’t forget the beer, will you?

Youll be bringing the music, won’t you?

She will have finished her test by now, won’t she?

They will have been drinking for hours, won’t they?

Modals with every verb                             

https://unsplash.com/photos/Q5ZjqF6Wd3k

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?!

We can’t smoke here, can we?

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?

You shouldn’t have used my computer, should you?

I wouldn’t have if I had my own, would I?

You could have asked me, couldn’t you?

Dogs must be trained, mustn’t they?

Everybody, Somebody, Nobody

Everybody is coming to the party, aren’t they?*

Somebody knows the address, don’t they?*

**Nobody has forgotten the date, have they?*

*Everybody, somebody and nobody are all singular subjects and usually take singular verbs. However, in English we don’t have a neutral singular pronoun, so in Question Tags, we use they with a plural verb.

**Nobody is negative (no + body) so it takes a positive tag. Statements with these negatives also use positive tags: no, nothing and neither.

Nothing could be done to save the house, could it?

Neither of us knew about the insurance, did we?

I have no choice, do I?

♦  The subject in all Question Tags is a pronoun:

Lorenzo can swim, can’t he?

Dogs must be trained, mustn’t they?

♦ Note that the positive tag is not a contraction. The negative tag is always a contraction, unless you want to sound formal. If you do, you will need to change the word order:

We are now going to review our legal obligations, are we not?

Im the boss, am I not? 

Surely, they can help us, can they not?

* For practice exercises, click here.

* To learn more about Inversion, click here.

樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂 樂

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

The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Tara Moore/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

How do your friends behave at social events? Is one of them the life and soul of the party, chatting, laughing and dancing with everyone? Or perhaps you know a party pooper, someone who spoils other people’s enjoyment by refusing to join in and have fun. This week we’re looking at language that relates to spending time with other people socially.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

English Idioms in Pictures #8

Click on the picture below to find out the meaning of the idiom HAVING A WHALE OF A TIME. Once on the site, you can click on Follow at the bottom of the page to receive more pictures and explanations of idioms FREE.

WHALE OF A TIME

whale of a time

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

It’s Christmas Time!!

It’s time for Christmas Carols! Carols is the name we give to Christmas songs, especially religious Christmas songs. https://unsplash.com/photos/Iiu-ZlpdwSI

For many people, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For others, it is simply a festive time to spend with family and friends. For many Christians, it is a combination of both. 

I am featuring two of my favourite Christmas carols this year. Firstly, Oh! Holy Night, sung by one of my favourite singers, Josh Groban.  Click on the picture on the right for a lovely video to watch as you listen. Click here for a video with lyrics.
Oh! Holy Night is a very old carol (1847) so the word order may seem a little strange.

Secondly, I have chosen a cover of the Mariah Carey carol, All I Want for Christmas is You. The version I like best is the one sung by the young girl in the movie Love Actually. Click on the picture of the amorous couple below to listen to and watch the video from the movie. For those of you who are keen on revising grammar, I provide details of the lyrics below the picture. Until my next post … 

 I wish you a Very Merry Christmas 
and
 a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year! 

 Every sentence in this song is a Simple, Compound, or Complex sentence. They are colour-coded as follows:

Simple Sentences       Compound Sentences       Complex Sentences

Dependent Clauses – underlined

Song: All I Want for Christmas Is You from the film  Love Actually

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Posted in Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

147 Words to Use instead of “Very”

GrammarCheck.net header image

How often do you use the word “Very” to add emphasis to an ordinary word?

How about trying out some dynamic new words? (Don’t you think that “dynamic” is preferable to “better”?)

Once again, GrammarCheck.net  have created an easy-to-use, helpful Infographic to boost your English. Keep in mind that the recommended words are not the only possibilities, and that some in the “very … ”  group are examples of incorrect usage; for example, “very complete” and “very raining”.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Reflexive Pronouns ∼ Easier than You Think!

Do you think that Reflexive Pronouns are confusing? If so, read on. The good news is that they are limited in number and limited in use. We only use Reflexive Pronouns to reflect back on someone or something, just like a mirror.

https://unsplash.com/photos/GBEHjsPQbEQ

The monkey can see its reflection.

Look at the monkey in the picture. 

1. The monkey is looking at itself.   

 2. It is looking  at itself.

3. Itself is looking at itself.  

4. The monkey is looking at the monkey.


Reflexive Pronouns cannot be subjects in a sentence because …

First, a different word is the subject, and second, the Reflexive Pronoun refers (or reflects back) to the subject. So, sentence #3 is incorrect.

Sentence #4 seems to refer to two monkeys, so the meaning is incorrect. 

Reflexive Pronouns:

Singular:  ♦ myself    ♦ yourself    ♦ himself    ♦ herself    ♦ itself     ♦ oneself   

Plural:  ♦♦ ourselves    ♦♦ yourselves    ♦♦ themselves

https://unsplash.com/photos/0DPyb8t_KfI

Mi Pham is really enjoying himself. In fact, all the children are enjoying themselves.

https://unsplash.com/photos/h5rgWo1_F_U
A: “Would you like to try some of this delicious bread?  made it myself.”

B: “Really? You made it yourself?  Of course I’d love to try some!”                                                                                          ∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼

 

“Try  some   of   our   new https://unsplash.com/photos/0VLn5nrp6hERosé. We sell most of the wine we produce but of course we keep quite a bit for ourselves!

Do you like the wine label? Louise designed it  herself.

Help yourselves to whatever you feel like! As you can see, there is plenty of luscious food and wine, most of it produced by us here on the farm.”

∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼

∗ Can you see the subject in the sentence?

Help yourselves to whatever you feel like! 

No? You can’t see the subject?! Don’t all sentences have to include a subject?!

Yes, that’s right. English Sentences must include a subject and a verb. The only time that you don’t see the subject is in Imperative sentences where it is implied. The subject is always You and the sentence starts with the verb:

(You) Help yourselves to whatever you feel like!

(You) Enjoy yourself at the party.

(You) Take care of yourself.

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The Reflexive Pronoun myself is often used incorrectly as a subject.

For example:

The top chef and myself made a Christmas cake. X

The top chef and I made a Christmas cake. 

We made a Christmas cake. 

 Remember that Reflexive Pronouns cannot be subjects in a sentence. Also, the top chef and myself are two different people, so myself does not refer to anyone. Reflexive pronouns are like a mirror reflection. They reflect back on someone or something. Reflexive Pronouns cannot be used alone!

The Reflexive Pronouns myself and yourself are also often used incorrectly as an object. 

For example:

The chef made the cake for myselfX

The chef made the cake for me. 

I‘ve done all this work for yourself. X

I‘ve done all this work for you. √

If you would like more information, you can contact myself anytime. X

If you would like more information, you can contact me anytime. 

If I need more information, how can I contact yourself? X

If I need more information, how can I contact you? 

It would be worthwhile for both yourself and your husband to inspect the apartmentX

It would be worthwhile for both you and your husband to inspect the apartment. 

Other Reflexive Pronouns are sometimes used incorrectly; however, myself causes the most problems! This is because native speakers get confused with ‘I’ and ‘me’. For more information, click here.

However, Reflexive Pronouns can be used  correctly as an object. Look at the difference between correct and incorrect usage:

For example:

1. I should look after myself better. 

https://unsplash.com/photos/wyMDFE1qezg

She is not cooking mussels for herself.

2. I should look after me betterX

3. Did you hurt yourself

4. Did you hurt youX

5. Madonna loves herself

6. Madonna loves herX

7. We can look after our children ourselves

8. We can look after our children usX

9. The mother is cooking mussels for the family, but not for herself. She doesn’t like mussels. 

10. The mother is cooking mussels for the family, but not for sheX

11. Does one ever truly know oneself? (formal / non-specific) 

12. Does one ever truly know oneX

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For more information, examples and practice exercises, click herehere, here, and here.

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

English Pronunciation: 20 VOWEL-SOUNDS IN 20 Minutes

https://unsplash.com/photos/1YmRIhxjvns

New Zealand fur seal,  “All my words are vowel sounds!!”   Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash.com

Back by popular demand is a lesson I did four years ago. Follow my instructions, practise regularly, and your pronunciation will improve. The practice is necessary as you are training your mouth to make new, different movements. It is physical practice like learning to surf or drive a car.

The students who were in my class (from Asia, Europe and South America) were all able to produce the 20 Vowel Sounds during the lesson. However, if they didn’t practise after the lesson, they would have forgotten most of it because the practice also retrains your brain. It is important for this new information to be stored in your long-term memory and this can only happen with repetition and revision.

When you watch television, repeat phrases or words you hear. This is an easy, convenient way to practise and check your progress. Press PAUSE and repeat difficult sounds until you are satisfied with your pronunciation.

Are you ready? In just 20 minutes you will learn the 20 English Vowel Sounds.

For a clear picture of the English File Phonetic Chart, click here and for practice exercises, click here.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Pronunciation Videos, Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged | Leave a comment

This is why he plants every day

Vocabulary in Chunks

Prudential

Assam Province, India –  read more HERE

assam

maps of india

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Posted in Children, Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3) | Leave a comment

Descriptive Language & Persuasive devices – Advanced & Proficiency Level Students

In a post published April 26, 2015, I recommended A guide to understanding persuasive language, provided by the University of New South Wales, Australia. This guide provided excellent advice on developing writing and speaking skills.

Unfortunately, this link is no longer available, but don’t despair! I have found a well-written, concise guide on Literary Techniques by the BBC which focuses on how to use descriptive language techniques effectively. Click on the picture below for the link.

              

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

A song with Collocations and Idioms

https://unsplash.com/photos/-Xv7k95vOFA

                          Making friends                                      Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash.com

Photo by Bùi Thanh Tâm on Unsplash

        This university graduate has high hopes.           Photo by Bùi Thanh Tâm on Unsplash.com

The English language is full of collocations and idioms.

By collocations, I mean words that naturally go together like high hopes,heavy rain, and ‘make friends. We don’t say ‘tall hopes’, ‘huge rain‘ or ‘produce friends‘. 

Idioms are expressions whose meaning cannot be predicted by the words in the expression; for example, to kick the bucket which means ‘to die’; and to be under the weather(‘to feel sick’).

Today, I’m focusing on a song which contains numerous collocations and idioms. This means that you can enjoy fabulous music and improve your English vocabulary at the same time. Too easy!

Have a look below at the lyrics to the song High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco. 

The collocations are shown in pink and the idioms are blue. Sometimes, it’s not clear whether a group of words is a collocation or an idiom. Don’t worry. Think of them all as expressions that need to be remembered as a fixed chunk. The idioms are linked to an online idioms dictionary. As always, you can listen to the song on YouTube. Click here for the official video. Click here for the video with lyrics. 

Song: High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco. 

[Chorus]
Had to have high high hopes for a living;
Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing.
Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision;
Always had high high hopes.
Had to have high high hopes for a living;
Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling
I was *gonna be that one in a million; (*going to)
Always had high high hopes.

https://genius.com/Panic-at-the-disco-high-hopes-lyrics

Brendon Urie

[Verse 1]
Mama said                             
Fulfill the prophecy.
Be something greater.
Go make a legacy.
Manifest destiny.”
Back in the days,
We wanted everything.

Mama said
“Burn your biographies.
Rewrite your history.
Light up your wildest dreams,
Museum victories.”
Everyday,
We wanted everything.

[Pre-Chorus]
Mama said
“Don’t give up; it’s a little complicated.

All tied up, no more love and I hate to see you waiting.”

[Chorus]

[Verse 2]
Mama said
“It’s uphill for oddities,
The stranger crusaders
*Ain’t ever **wannabes.  (*aren’t / **want-to-be)

http://alterock.net/brendon-urie-panic-at-the-disco-high-hopes/

“No matter how hard your dreams seem, keep going. You might even have to climb up the side of a building in downtown LA, but it’ll all be worth it at the top.
Stay up on that rise … ” Brendon Urie

The weird and the novelties
Don’t ever change.”
We wanted everything.

Stay up on that rise.
Stay up on that rise.
Never come down.
Stay up on that rise.
Stay up on that rise.
Never come down.

[Pre-Chorus]

[Pre-Chorus 2]
They say it’s all been done but they haven’t seen the best of me,
So I’ve got one more run and it’s gonna be a sight to see.

[Chorus]

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment