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Lessons for topic Grammar

Frequency Adverbs

There is a standard set of adverbs (words that modify verbs) that describe how often something happens, from not at all (never) to all the time (always). Let's see some examples from Yabla English.

 

I've never done that in my life. 
Caption 70, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie

 

I very rarely have a day off.
Caption 11, Sharon Stone: Jimmy Carter interview 1994

 

Do you have someone who can take the air out of your tires occasionally?
Captions 40, 41: Will Smith: Enemy of the State

 

I sometimes will write it on a piano.
Caption 27, Bee and Flower: Interview

 

Whales feed at depth in waters that are often pitch dark.
Caption 19, Sustainable Human: How Whales Change Climate

 

I usually leave it to simmer a little bit.
Caption 85, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives: Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen

 

It is always held in Leicester Square.
Caption 25, In London with Lauren: Piccadilly Circus

 

The adverbs are written in bold above in increasing order of frequency: never, rarely, occasionally, sometimes, often, usually, always.

 

Further Learning
Search for examples of frequency adverbs on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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Infinitive Verbs - Part 1

Infinitive Verbs - Part 2

An infinitive verb is the plain form of a verb that is not conjugated and often has the word "to" before it. It is good to know the plain or base form of a verb, since that is the form that is typically the main listing for the word in a dictionary. You may hear the infinitive "to sit" conjugated as "sat" or "sitting," but the form of the word you will need if you care to look it up is the infinitive "sit." In standard usage, the infinitive will always be preceded by another verb.

 

The Japanese tradition is to sit on the stool in front of the faucets.
Caption 22, An apartment: in Japan

 

In the example above, the infinitive is "to sit." Infinitives preceded by "to" are called "full infinitives."

 

You can sit right here. -Thank you.
Caption 5, Jessica and Liz: in a Restaurant

 

In this example, the infinitive is the verb "sit." An infinitive without the "to" is called a "bare infinitive."

 

It's really exciting to know that I'm setting a good example for young people.
Caption 24, peta2 Interviews: Vegan Surfer Tia Blanco

 

You did well to tell me. We must know everything.
Caption 35, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie

 

In the first example above, you see the full infinitive "to know," and in the second example the bare infinitive "know."

 

Further Learning
Read this in-depth article on infinitive verbs, then search for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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English Gerunds

A gerund is a noun that has been formed by adding the suffix -ing to a verb. The gerund will often function as a verb within the clause, but in the context of the complete sentence forms a subject. Progressive active participle verbs also end in -ing, but retain verb form. Let's learn to tell the difference between a gerund (noun) and a progressive active participle (verb).

 

But believing ends in seeing.
Caption 43, Katie Melua: A Happy Place

 

You will be seeing them again.
Caption 37, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four - BBC TV Movie

 

In the first example, "seeing" and "believing" are gerund nouns. Try placing the definite article "the" before the words and see if the sentence still makes sense: "But the believing ends in the seeing." The fact that it works grammatically shows that both "seeing" and "believing" are gerunds. But in the second example, "You will be the seeing them again" would be grammatically incorrect, because in this case "seeing" is a verb. 

 

I'd like your opinion about fast driving on the highway.
Caption 21, James Dean: Interview & Famous Drive Safely Spot

 

I'm in a truck, we're driving through the bush.
Caption 23, Kiting For Conservation: Kenya

 

In the first example, "the fast driving" works, so it is a gerund noun. In the second example, "we're the driving..." does not work grammatically, so it's a verb.

 

Further Learning
Try taking examples of some English verbs and adding -ing to the end of them to make the gerund nouns, then search for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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Irregular Verbs - Part 3

Irregular Verbs - Part 1

Irregular Verbs - Part 2

In the previous lessons, we saw how a regular verb conjugates into the past tense and past participle by simply adding -ed to the end of the infinitive: ask/asked, talk/talked, watch/watched, etc. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, each follow their own set of rules of conjugation. There are, however, some basic patterns that can help you remember how to conjugate some of these irregular verbs.

Some verbs with "ea" as the central vowels may (or may not) have an added -t at the end in past and past participle forms, but all of the past and past participle forms have in common that the "ea" is changes pronunciation. "I am reading a book" (pronounced "reeding"), but "I have read a book" (pronounced "red"). 

Many of the challenges can't be dealt with by individual companies alone.
Captions 29-30, The British Monarchy: Global Sustainability

You can finally live the life you always dreamt of.
Caption 10, Movie Trailers, Bruce Willis: Surrogates

I meant what I wrote, shall we meet?
Caption 1, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie

The father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people.
Caption 84, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day: Obama's Speech

In all of the cases above, the present tense verbs "deal," "dream," "mean," and "read" have the long "ee" sound like "reed", but change in the past and past participles to the short "e" sound like "red."

Further Learning
Go back to the lessons for Irregular Verbs Part 1 and Part 2 and review some of the patterns that can help you learn English irregular verbs. Find examples of the verbs listed above in their past and past participle forms and learn them by searching for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 
 

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Irregular Verbs - Part 2

Irregular Verbs - Part 1

Irregular Verbs - Part 3

In last month's first part, we saw how a regular verb conjugates into the past tense and past participle by simply adding -ed to the end of the infinitive: ask/asked, talk/talked, watch/watched etc. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, each follow their own set of rules of conjugation. There are, however, some more basic patterns that can help you remember how to conjugate some of these irregular verbs. 

Some verbs switch their central vowels to an "o" in the past and past participle, such as the verbs "to break" (broke, broken),"to choose" (choose, chosen), "to forget" (forgot, forgotten), "to freeze" (froze, frozen), "to get" (got, gotten), "to speak" (spoke, spoken), "to tear" (tore, torn) "to wake" (woke, woken) and "to wear" (wore, worn). Here is the verb "to steal" in the past and past participle:

Then they took you away, stole you out of my life.
Caption 41, Lana Del Rey: Blue Jeans

They've stolen my heart away.
Caption 49, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four: BBC TV Movie

Many verbs with "ee" as the central vowels change to a single "e" in past and past participle, and these are made easier in that the past and past participle forms are the same: "to bleed" (bled), "to feel" (felt), "to keep" (kept), "to lead" (led), and "to meet" (met). A few more examples using the verbs "to sleep" and "to feed":

The Frog slept all night.
Caption 8, Fairy Tales: The Frog King

They have fed quite well.
Caption 53, Nature & Wildlife: Search for the Ghost Bear

Further Learning
Find examples of the verbs listed above in past and past participle and learn them by searching for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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Irregular Verbs - Part 1

Irregular Verbs - Part 2

Irregular Verbs - Part 3

regular verb conjugates into the past tense and past participle by simply adding -ed to the end of the infinitive: ask/asked, talk/talked, watch/watched etc. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, each follow their own set of rules of conjugation. There are, however, some basic patterns that can help you remember how to conjugate some of these irregular verbs. 

Many verbs ending in -ow are made past tense changing the -ow to -ew, and past participle by adding an -n the -ow, such as grow/grew/grown, know/knew/known, and throw/threw/thrown. Here is the verb "to know" in the past and past participle:

Don't think you knew you were in my song.
Caption 31, David Bowie: Five Years

David Jones, now little better known as David Bowie.
Caption 1, David Bowie: Interview at 17!

Here too you have to be careful though, as some verbs ending in -ow are regular, such as tow/towed/towed and flow/flowed/flowed, and some irregular ones ending in -ew in the past tense and -own in the past participle don't end in -ow in the infinitive form, such as fly/flew/flown. 

Another pattern can be seen in irregular which end in -ght in the past and past participle, such as buy/bought/bought, teach/taught/taught, and think/thought/thought. Here is the verb "to think" in the present and past tense:

Well, I think we're all fairly tolerant.
Caption 16, David Bowie: Interview at 17!

I never thought I'd need so many people.
Caption 19, David Bowie: Five Years

Further Learning
Study this list of English irregular verbs and find examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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Active and Passive Voices

In English grammar, the "voice" describes the relationship between the verb and its participants. If the subject of the sentence does the action, the verb is in the active voice. If the subject does not actively participate in the action described and the focus is on the action itself, not the subject, then the verb is in the passive voice.

It is important when you write in English that you distinguish between the active and passive voice. If you want the focus to be on the subject, or actor, use the active voice. If you wish the emphasis to be on the action itself, and not the actor, use the passive voice. 

Here are two examples of the active voice from Yabla English: 

He created the mythology.
Caption 54, New Zealand 100% Pure: “The Hobbit” cast talks about New Zealand

Now, we'll have a demonstration from some of your instructors.
Caption 15, Karate Kids, USA: The Little Dragons

In the first example, the focus is on the subject "he" having created the mythology. It is usually easy to make a passive voice sentence out of the active by using the verb "to be" and the past participle of the original verb. In this case, we can write it in passive voice thus: 

The mythology was created by him. 

The mythology did not do the creating. The focus here is not the fact that he created it, but the fact that it was created

In the second example, we can render it passive like this: 

Now, there'll be a demonstration for us from some of your instructors. 

"We" are no longer emphasized as the ones who will be the audience of the demonstration, but rather the fact of the demonstration is the most important thing.

Further Learning
Read more about the active voice and the passive voice and find examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context.

 

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Verb, Noun, or Adjective?

Whenever you see what appears to be a verb in English ending in -ing, you have to be careful as to how you interpret the sentence, as it may wind up that this apparent verb is actually a noun or an adjective! In English, gerunds and present participles are formed by adding -ing to the infinitive form of the verb ("to surf" becomes "surfing"), or for verbs ending in -e, dropping the -e and adding -ing ("to love" becomes "loving"). A gerund is a verb that acts as a noun in sentence. A present participle is a verb that is used to make a verb phrase or an adjective.

Therefore an English verb ending in -ing can either be noun (gerund), an adjective (formed from a present participle), or a verb (a present participle). This all sounds a bit complicated, but if you look at some examples, it's pretty easy to tell the difference!

I've always loved surfing.
Caption 19, Kiteboarding, Rider Profile: Tom Court

What does he love? He loves surfing. In the above example, the subject of the sentence is "I," and the object of the sentence is "surfing." Since you can make a noun out of "the surfing" as used here, it is a gerund.

We watch a couple of surfing videos.
Caption 26, Kiteboarding: Sam Light Interview

What kind of videos is he watching? Surfing videos. Here it is clear that "surfing" is an adjective that is modifying the noun "videos."

The four of us have just been surfing different spots.
Caption 10, Naish SUP: Aloha Big Island!

What have they been doing? They have been surfing. In this last example, by pairing the verbs together, you get "have been surfing." This is the verb "to surf" in its form as present participle verb.

Further Learning
Write down some of your favorite verbs, add -ing to them, following the rules above, and search Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context as either a gerund, adjective, or present participle verb.

 

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Irregular Verbs

Regular verbs in English consist of a base verb from which all different tenses can easily be formed. For example, the verb "to learn": present tense: learn; continuous present tense: learning, perfect tense and past tense: learned. As you see, all tenses of the regular verb "to learn" can be formed by adding the endings -ing and -ed.

 

English irregular verbs, however, have no definite rules, and although some irregular verbs have certain patterns in common, the best way to learn them is by looking at each individual verb. Let's look at the irregular verb "begin" in its simple present tense as an example.

 

Starting today, we begin again the work of remaking America.
Captions 26, 27: Barack Obama's Inauguration Day: Obama's Speech

 

As you see, in the simple present tense it remains the same. But in the present continuous tense:

 

It's beginning to turn into a lovely red color!
Caption 28: Tara´s recipes: Chilli Prawns and Golden Couscous

 

Just like a regular verb, this irregular verb adds -ing, but with an extra '"n": However, in the past tense:

 

She got a fright when the clock suddenly began to strike twelve.
Caption 15, Fairytales: Cinderella

 

The base verb "begin" changes to "began." And as a past participle:

 

Bottled water sales have begun to drop.
Caption 67, Nature Preservation: The Story of Bottled Water

 

The base verb "begin" changes to "begun."

 

Further Learning
Take a look at this list of English irregular verb forms, and search Yabla English for some of your favorite English irregular verbs to see them used in a real-world context.

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The Continuous Tense

The continuous (or progressive) tense comprises two parts: the verb "to be" in the present, past, or future tense, combined with the present participle of the main verb. It is a common verbal form in the English language, actually more common than the simple tense in the spoken language.

 

Let's find an example on Yabla English of the present continuous tense:

 

Time is running out.
Caption 29, George Clooney: Video diary from Sudan and Chad

 

To form the above present continuous tense, the present tense of the verb "to be" ("is") is combined with the present participle of the verb "to run" (by adding "ing," or in this case "-ning") to the end of the verb. The present continuous tense expresses something that is presently incomplete or unfinished. In the above case, there is still time enough now, but soon there will not be.

 

And the past continuous tense:

 

I was laughing so hard.
Caption 42, Jim White: Interview

 

To form the above past continuous tense, the past tense of the verb "to be" ("was") is combined with the present participle of the verb "to laugh." The past continuous tense expresses something that is incomplete or unfinished in the past. In the above case, laughing was occurring during a past event.

 

And lastly, the future continuous tense:

 

This is where you will be working from.
Caption 14, Business English: Starting on a new job

 

To form the above future continuous tense, the future tense of the verb "to be" ("will be") is combined with the present participle of the verb "to work." The future continuous tense expresses something is incomplete or unfinished that will happen in the future. In the above case, work will be performed at some point in the future.

 

Further Learning 
Take a look at this list of basic verb forms, and search Yabla English for some of your favorite English present participle verbs (ending in -ing) and see these tenses used in a real-world context.

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The Simple Tense

The simple tense, in its present, past and future forms, is called "simple" because it consists of just one word, unlike other verb tenses such as present progressive and present perfect. The first-person form of the simple present tense is almost always the same as the dictionary form of the verb.

 

With the verb "to write," for example, the simple present tense in first person is "I write."

 

Well, when I write songs ...
Caption 27, Bee and Flower: Interview

 

In the simple past tense, the basic form "write" changes to "wrote." Some basic verbs just add "-ed" to become past tense, but many are irregular and must be learned.

 

I wrote this song.
Caption 35, Rise Up And Sing: Recording the song

 

The simple future tense consist of adding "will" (or "shall") before the verb:

 

Tammy will write a song and then record it on her laptop.
Caption 92, Royalchord: Interview

 

Further Learning 
Take a look at this list of basic verbs and their irregular simple past tenses, and search Yabla English for some of your favorites to see how they are used in context.

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Attribute Adjectives

An adjective is a "describing word" that describes or modifies a noun. Today we'll take a look at the most basic type of adjective, called an "attribute adjective," which in simple sentences in English usually precedes the noun.

 

It's quite a big video!
Caption 32,  Adele: The Making of “Chasing Pavements”

 

In the sentence above, the adjective "big" describes the noun "video." If you have more than one adjective, however, it is important to understand they must be put into a particular order: an adjective describing size is mentioned first, then shape or quality, followed by age, color, origin, and, lastly, material. For example:

 

And mix it well into this beautiful red tomato onion paste.
Caption 34, Tara´s recipes: Chilli Prawns and Golden Couscous

 

In the sentence above, the adjective order is: beautiful (quality), red (color), and tomato onion (materials). The last two are actually nouns that are acting as adjectives. You can see how the order is important, because to say, "And mix it well with this tomato beautiful onion red paste" doesn't make sense!

 

A noun can be used as an adjective too, as in "a stone house", which describes "a house made of stone."  But an adjective can become a noun too:

 

The ever widening gap between the rich and the poor is despicable.
Caption 6, Occupy DC: Barry Knight

 

The adjectives "rich" and "poor" become nouns when the article "the" precedes them.

 

Further Learning 
Take a look at this list of the most commonly used 500 adjectives in the English language and pick a few out that you are less familiar with, then learn how they are used in context on Yabla.

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English Action Verbs

English verbs that describe an action, rather than an occurrence or a state of being, are the most common kind of verbs. Unlike the other kinds of verbs, they have the common feature of always ending in the letter "s" in the present tense third-person singular form:

He takes a step.
Caption 5, David Gallo: Underwater astonishments

He eats the fruit.
Caption 17, Genesis Inc.: Talkalope

He (subject) takes (action verb) a step (object).
He (subject) eats (action verb) the fruit (object).

There are three forms of sentences where an action verb may be found: an affirmative sentence (as with the examples above); a negative sentence; and an interrogative sentence, or question.

To change the above affirmative sentences to negative sentences, add the verb "to do" and "not," the declarative form of "no."

He does not take a step.
He does not eat the fruit.

To change the affirmative form to the interrogatory form (or question), add the verb "to do" at the beginning of the sentence with a question mark at the end:

Does he take a step?
Does he eat the fruit?

So to reiterate:

Affirmative: He takes a step.
Negative: He does not take a step.
Interrogatory: Does he take a step?

Affirmative: He eats the fruit.
Negative: He does not eat the fruit.
Interrogatory: Does he eat the fruit?

Further Learning 
Browse some videos at Yabla English and find some other examples of affirmative sentences with action verbs. Practice turning them into negative sentences with "to do" and "not", and changing them into interrogative sentences with "to do" and a question mark.

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Countable and Mass Nouns

A countable noun is a common noun that has singular and plural forms and can be modified by a number.

The opposite of a common noun is called a mass noun, which does not have different singular and plural forms, nor can it be modified by a number.

As a general rule, words referring to objects and people are countable nouns, and words referring to liquids (water, juice), powders (sugar, sand), and substances (metal, wood) are mass nouns.

When you travel you have two suitcases. Suitcases are the same as luggage, but you cannot say "two luggages" as luggage is a mass noun. When you travel you have luggage, or two pieces of luggage. Mass nouns use measure words like pieces of to make plurals.

You want to build a bookshelf so you buy eight boards made of wood. "Wood" is a mass noun, so it is incorrect to say you have "eight woods," but you can say you have eight pieces of wood.

Here is a list of some more mass nouns: advice, air, art, blood, butter, data, deodorant, equipment, evidence, food, furniture, garbage, graffiti, grass,  homework, housework, information,, knowledge, mathematics, meat, milk, money, music, notation, paper, pollution, progress, sand, soap, software, sugar, traffic, transportation, travel, trash, water

There are some words that are both countable nouns and mass nouns. You leave some papers on the desk, by which you mean you leave some specific documents. If you leave some paper on the desk, you mean you left a package of paper or just some paper in a general sense.

Further Learning
Search for some mass nouns on Yabla English and see how they are used in context.

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