Sunday, December 4, 2016

Past simple or continuous?


Most verbs form the past simple by adding the suffix -ed to the infinitive or root. However, there is an important group of verbs that do no follow the rule, therefore they are irregular and we must learn them by heart. Here is a quite complete list of over 200 irregular verbs, and here is a list of irregular verbs with their tanslation in Spanish.

In the following presentation you can see how the simple past of regular verbs is formed, as well as the negative and interrogative forms of both regular and irregular verbs:

The past continuous is formed with the verb to be in the past and the -ing form of the verb we want to use. Let's see the forms in this presentation:


The past simple is used to express completed actions in the past: We met our friends in the park.
The past simple is also used for actions that happened one after the other in the past: He came in, took off his coat and sat down.
The past continuous is used to express an action that was in progress at a certain time in tha past: She was having breakfast at 8 o'clock.
The past continuous is used to express two actions that were happening at the same time: Mary was cooking dinner while John was washing the dishes.Note that we use while to connect the two simultaneous actions.
Sometimes a longer action, expressed in past continuous, is interrupted by a shorter action, expressed in the past simple: I was having a bath when somebody knocked on the door.
The past continuous is used in stories to set the background: It was a lovely night. The stars were shining and they were walking hand ind hand when suddenly he kissed her.

In the following song by The Krystals we can hear many verbs in the past simple and some in the past continuous:

Finally let's do some exercises to practise what we have learnt:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Seven years old!

The fact that I haven't been wrting in this blog for a while, doesn't mean that I lost insterest or gave up blogging. It's simply that I have been quite busy with my other blog in Spanish and other things. For the past two years, I have been teaching beginners who couldn't understand grammar explanations in English. That's why I started a blog in Spanish called PrincipEnglish (English for Beginners, or "Principiantes" in Spanish). This year, however, I have a group of advanced students and that will surely make me write in this blog again.

As every year, to celebrate that my blog is a year older, I post a selection of the "Cartoon of the Week" section. They come from the usual sources: Wronghands, So much pun, Cartoon Movement and Brainless Tales, whose author, unfortunately, has stopped posting new cartoons on it. I'll miss it!

Thank you very much to all the readers. This scrumptious cake is for you!
Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Word formation: adverbs

In most languages new words can be created by adding suffixes and /or prefixes. This is called morphological derivation and it can help create new words of the same or different categories. For example, if you add the suffix -ly to an adjective you get an adverb: quick --> quickly.
Cheetahs run very quickly

Today we are going to have a look at the affixes (suffixes or prefixes) that create adverbs.

The most productive suffix for adverbs is -ly, but there are others: -wards, -wise and -ways. Besides, there are also adverbs starting with the prefix: a- :

-ly is added to adjectives to create adverbs. Most adverbs just take ly, but there are certain spelling rules:
  • The -y ending after a consonant usually changes to i before the suffix: happy--> happily, easy-- easily. Exceptions are one-syllabled: shy--> shyly, sly-->slyly. Dry can have two spellings: dryly and drily.
  • The adjectives true, due and whole drop the final e: truly, duly, wholly.
  • Adjectives ending in -ple, -ble, -dle, -tle drop the silent e and take a y: simple--> simply, probable--> probably, idle--> idly, gentle--> gently.
  • Adjectives ending in -ic add -al before -ly: fantastic--> fantastically. Exception: public--> publicly.
  • Adjectives already ending in -ly such as lovely, friendly, silly, lively, jolly, heavenly, leisurely... do not take the -ly sufix. In fact, they do not change into adverbs, but an adverbial phrase is used instead: He greeted me in a friendly manner. He is behaving in a silly way.
Adverb Wordle

Same form as adjectives
  • Some adjectives are used as adverbs with no change of spelling: fast, straight, hard...: That´s a fast car (adjective). He drives very fast (adverb). It's hard work (adjective). He works hard (adverb).
  • Some adjectives ending in -ly that are related to time are also used as adverbs: weekly, hourly, daily, monthly... remain unchanged: A daily newspaper (adjective) He comes here daily (adverb).
  • A few adjectives ending in -ly remain the same as adverbs: deathly, only, bodily, masterly. He is an only child (adjective). I've seen him only once (adverb).
-wards or -ward
  • This suffix can end in s or not. Generally, -wards is used in British English, while -ward is preferred in America. However, some of these words ending in this suffix can also act like adjectives, in which case, they always end in -ward: Let's go forward(s) (adverb). The forward movement of History (adjective). When forward is used in phrasal verbs, it never ends in s: I look forward to hearing from you. The meeting has been brought forward to this Friday.
  • -wards is usually added to prepositions or nouns to give the idea of direction: upwards, downwards, forwards, backwards, inwards, onwards, outwards, eastwards,southwards, seawards... The back garden faces seawards so you can always have a pleasant view. 
Onwards and upwards by Eugene Summerfield

  • The suffix -wise is usually added to nouns to form adverbs and adjectives. It gives the meaning of "in the manner of" or "in the direction of": clockwise, anticlockwise = counterclockwise, likewise, lengthwise, crabwise, contrariwise, otherwise,... It can also mean "concerning": Things aren't too good businesswise (i.e. concerning the business)
  • This suffix also means "in the direction of": edgeways, sideways, lengthways, breadthways...  Do not confuse it with the compounds of the noun way (meaning "road"), such as carriageway, causeway, highway, railway... When in doubt, bear in mind that such compounds can be used in the singular as well as the plural, whereas the adverbs always end in s.

  • We shouldn't confuse this prefix with the prefix a- of Greek origin that means "not", as in apolitical, amoral, asexual.... In this case, the prefix a- which forms adverbs comes from Old or Middle English and is no longer productive, so no more words are being created with it. Usually added to addjectives or nouns, it gives the meaning of location: "on", "in"; afoot, abed, abroad, along, aloud, around, ahead... Sometimes it means "of": anew, akin
Compound adverbs
There are quite a few adverbs that are formed by combining here, there and where with various prepositions, all of which are old-fashioned and mainly used in formal language. Here are some of them:
  • Here- compounds: hereabout, hereafter, hereby, herein, hreof, hereto, herewith, etc.
  • There- compounds: thereabout, thereafter, thereby, therefrom, therein, thereupon, therefore, etc. The latter is the only one of these which is still widely used.
  • Where- compounds: whereat, whereby, wherefore, whereof, whereon, whereupon, wherewith, etc.

For more information on adverbs and their position in the sentence, visit Lola Dominguez's blog.

The logical song by Supertramp is full of adjectives, but among them are a few adverbs. Can you spot them?

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