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Conjunctions of Time Part II

A conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or sentences. The easiest conjunctions to remember are "and" and "or." But there are conjunctions that do more than just connect—they give meaning to a sentence by expressing the time that something is happening: conjunctions of time.

 

You can easily tell if a conjunction of time is being used in a sentence because the sentence will tell you when something happens or for how long something is occurring. If you can make a "when" or "for how long" question from the sentence, and that question can be answered by the other half of the sentence, then you know that the sentence is using a conjunction of time.

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In Part I, we learned about when, before, after, while, as, by the time, until, and till. Let's continue today with the remaining conjunctions of time.

 

Since

 

There have been ravens here since the reign of Charles the Second,

Caption 9, The London Story -  Tower of London

 Play Caption

 

And I've been doing that since I was ten years old.

Caption 6, Ashley Tisdale - Thanksgiving Traditions

 Play Caption

 

Be careful not to confuse the conjunction of time "since" with the preposition "since," which means "because."

 

As soon as

 

As soon as your baby is born, you will give it to me.

Caption 41, Fairy Tales - Rapunzel 

 Play Caption

 

As soon as we showed up, the bears raced off into the forest.

Caption 8, Alaska Revealed - Tidal Bores, Icebergs and Avalanches

 Play Caption

 

Whenever

 

You should try to ignore cyberbullying whenever possible.

Caption 4, Bob Parsons - Cyberbullies

 Play Caption

 

You can listen to Radio One whenever you want.

Caption 56, Hozier - Someone New

 Play Caption

 

The first (second, third etc.) time

 

The first time was a very good experience

and the second time is also a very good experience.

Captions 5-6, The Olympics - Teresa Gabriele (Canada)

 Play Caption

 

That was the third time we were in the studio.

Caption 22, MTV News - Selena Gomez Decodes Her Instagram Pics

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and find other sentences (not questions) that contain the conjunctions of time "since," "as soon as," "whenever," and "the first time"—or any time you care to choose! Write these sentences down and practice making questions and answers from the sentences like we did above.

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Conjunctions of Time Part I

A conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or sentences. The easiest conjunctions to remember are "and" and "or." But there are conjunctions that do more than just connect—they give meaning to a sentence by expressing the time that something is happening: conjunctions of time.

 

You can easily tell if a conjunction of time is being used in a sentence because the sentence will tell you when something happens or for how long something is occurring. If you can make a "when" or "for how long" question from the sentence, and that question can be answered by the other half of the sentence, then you know that the sentence is using a conjunction of time.

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When

 

When I flew in on the float plane, they were all there on the boat.

Caption 4, Alaska Revealed - Endless Wave

 Play Caption

 

Q: When were they all there on the boat? A: When I flew in on the float plane.

 

Before

 

Be sure to put your mask on before helping them.

Caption 18, Air New Zealand - An Unexpected Briefing

 Play Caption

 

Q: When should I be sure to put my mask on? A: Before I help them.

 

After

 

They have to defend their breed from predators

for up to four weeks after they're born.

Captions 49-50, Evolution - Deep Ocean

 Play Caption

 

Q: When do they have to defend their breed? A: After they are born.

 

While

 

We have to tread lightly while filming.

Caption 40, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

 Play Caption

 

Q: When do we have to tread lightly? A: While filming.

 

As

 

We paddle along and we pick up trash as we go

Caption 23, Alison's Adventures - Your Passport To the World (LONDON)

 Play Caption

 

Q: When do we pick up trash? A: As we go.

 

By the time

 

By the time I got to New York,

I was living like a king

Captions 10-11, David Bowie - Lazarus

 Play Caption

 

Q: When were you living like a king? A: By the time I got to New York.

 

Note that some conjunctions of time are also phrases, not just a single word.

 

Until, till

 

The conjunctions of time "until" and "till" are interchangeable and you may use either word. Many people wrongly think that "till" is just shortened version of "until," but in fact "till" is the older word, in use since the 9th century. The variant "until" has been in use since the 12th century. These two words are unusual in that they express a length of time rather than a point in time, so we should ask the question using "for how long" instead of "when."

 

She sat until she broke the chair.

Caption 28, Story Hour - Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

 Play Caption

 

Q: For how long was she sitting? A: Until she broke the chair.

 

So he sat on a chair,

till he died of despair,

Captions 20-21, Sigrid explains - The Limerick

 Play Caption

 

Q: For how long was he sitting? A: Till he died of despair.

 

Further Learning
Don't despair, and by all means stay healthy! Go to Yabla English and find other sentences (not questions) that contain the conjunctions of time "when," "before," "after," "while," "as," "by the time," "until" and "till." Write these sentences down and practice making questions and answers from the sentences like we did above. You can also read more about "until" and "till" on the Merriam-Webster website
.

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Wishful Thinking

Many of our social activities have been reduced by the current crisis, giving us a lot more time on our own. Maybe this is a good time to think about what we wish for the future. Let's take a look today at some English sentences that use the standard phrase that begins "I wish..."

 

I wish that I could be like the cool kids.

Caption 8, Echosmith - Cool Kids

 Play Caption

 

By "cool kids," they mean the kids who are more popular.

 

I wish I could find a book to live in.

Caption 11, Miley Cyrus - The Backyard Sessions - Look What They've Done to My Song

 Play Caption

 

This is a poetic way of saying she wishes her life had more excitement and romance — like in a book!

 

I wish I would've had more time to travel around.

Caption 37, Ask Jimmy Carter - Interview with Demi Moore

 Play Caption

 

These days, the problem is not so much having the time to travel as the fact that travel restrictions often make traveling impossible.

 

How I wish, how I wish you were here

Caption 12, David Gilmour - Wish You Were Here

 Play Caption

 

Most of us are missing friends and family members who we aren't able to see because of travel restrictions. At least it's usually possible to call them or have a video chat. It's not the same as being there, but it helps!

 

I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words.

Caption 2, Twenty One Pilots - Stressed Out

 Play Caption

 

The singer of the band Twenty One Pilots clearly needs to get some singing lessons and work on his lyrics!

 

I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Caption 5, Katie Melua - River

 Play Caption

 

The river she wants to skate away on had better be frozen solid or she'll be swimming in her ice skates.

 

I wish it hadn't happened. But it did.

Caption 63, Matthew Modine - Showreel

 Play Caption

 

As far as the crisis goes, it is still happening, but it is good to be realistic about things, as Mr. Modine advises.

 

I wish you a Merry Christmas. Goodbye!

Caption 60, Christmas in London - People

 Play Caption

 

Some countries actually celebrate Christmas in July. It's also possible to say "It's like Christmas in July!" when you get a present, even though it's not a holiday or your birthday.

 

Further Learning
Make up some sentences about things that you wish for using the phrases "I wish I had...", "I wish I could...", and "I wish I was...". Find some more examples using "I wish" on Yabla English so you can get a better sense of the different contexts in which the phrase is used.

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Using for and since

There are two essential prepositions for talking about how long something has been happening with the present perfect (or present perfect continuous) tense. For and since are often confused or used incorrectly, however, so let’s do a quick clarification!

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The preposition since can only be used to reference a point in time, NOT a duration. So you can say since 2001since Septembersince last summer, or since Tuesday, but NOT since five days.

 

Tom and I have been working together on Rachel's English since two thousand twelve.

Caption 4, Exercises - Tongue Flexibility and the N [n] Sound

 Play Caption

 

In fact, since nineteen sixty-nine, fifteen other rare and endangered species have also been rescued from the brink.

Captions 50-51, BBC Planet Wild - Alien Animals - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

For, on the other hand, refers to a duration. It doesn’t matter if something has been happening for 20 minutes or for 20 years

 

We've been doing freestyle for a couple of weeks.

Caption 25, Kiteboarding - Sam Light Interview

 Play Caption

 

I have been working at the company Phonez and More for several months now.

Caption 1, Business English - Difficulties with coworkers and contracts - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

I've been on this boat for twenty-two years.

Caption 3, Aqua Quest - Boo Boo

 Play Caption

 

While for can also be used with the simple past tense or future tense, since is always a clear indicator of the present perfect or present perfect continuous (See this newsletter for more information!). 

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Further Learning
On Yabla Englishfor and since can be found in most videos! There is even one video in which a famous actor actually misuses the word since, which is indicated in the captions with sic (sic erat scriptum, Latin for "thus was it written"). Can you find it?
 

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How to Communicate What Other People Said

When you want to discuss something that somebody has said, it is called "reported speech" or "indirect speech," as opposed to quoting somebody directly. 

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Imagine you are at work, for instance, and a supplier named Daniel tells you "Most of our new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but I can cut you some slack." This means that Daniel will have to charge your company more money, but he can "cut some slack," meaning he can make the increase not so large for your company. When your boss asks you what Daniel said, you would use "reported speech" to tell him: 

 

Daniel said most of their new accounts are getting a thirty percent increase, but he said he could cut us some slack.

Captions 29-30, Business English - Difficulties with Coworkers and Contracts

 Play Caption

 

Note the difference in how the speaker changes from first person "our" and "I" to third person "their" and "he":

 

Direct speech: Daniel said, "Most of our new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but I can cut you some slack."

 

Indirect speech: Daniel said most of their new accounts are getting a 30% increase, but he said he could cut us some slack. 

 

Note that indirect speech eliminates the need for quotation marks. Another primary feature of indirect speech is using a phrase such as "he said," "she said," etc. followed by a description of what the person said. Here is a sample of other verbs you can use to report what somebody said: 

 

—to tell: 

 

They told me I was going to lose the fight.

Caption 9, Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights

 Play Caption

 

—to state:

 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Plenty stated last night that it will be necessary to reduce the chocolate ration to twenty grams in April.

Captions 12-13, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

—to mention: 

 

You mentioned you're single.

Caption 10, Conan - Alice Eve Explains Differences Between American & UK Dating

 Play Caption

 

–to confess: 

 

You've confessed to assassination, to distribution of seditious pamphlets, to religion, to embezzlement of Party funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage, murder. 

Captions 28-31, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

—to claim

 

They claimed to be weavers of a rare and especially beautiful and precious cloth.

Caption 24, Fairy Tales - The Emperor's New Clothes

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Try taking the sample sentences above and reconstructing the direct speech. For example, "He told me he'd come to demolish the house." Change that into "He said, 'I've come to demolish the house.'" Now try it with the other examples!

 

If you are learning English in a small group, have one person state something as direct speech and another person then report what that person said. If John says "I speak the best English in the class," then Jenny can say "John claims to speak the best English in the class." 

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You can also go to Yabla English and find other examples of indirect speech based on the verbs listed above.

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The Past Continuous

You likely know the present continuous ("I am sitting at the table," "He is going to the grocery store"), but how familiar are you with the past continuous? 

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The past continuous is often used to set the scene and provide context when talking about the past:

 

I was working in the theatre in England.

Caption 13, Donald Sutherland - Talks Career and Hollywood

 Play Caption

 

A very typical structure with the past continuous and simple past tenses together occurs when one action or event in the past interrupts another action that is already in progress. 

 

There she encountered an old woman who was sitting at a spinning wheel.

Caption 32, Fairy Tales - Sleeping Beauty

 Play Caption

 

In this example, it is clear that the woman already began doing what she was doing ("sitting at a spinning wheel") before Sleeping Beauty entered the room. In each of the following examples, one action was already happening when the other occurred:

 

But when the Princess opened her eyes the next morning,

she was surprised that a good-looking prince was standing there.

Captions 26-27, Fairy Tales - The Frog King

 Play Caption

 

I'm sorry, I was eating chips. What did you say?

Caption 12, The Ellen Show - Ellen Inspired Adele's New Song

 Play Caption

 

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Further Learning
To get more context for the phrases, watch the videos above on Yabla English. Make sure you understand which action came first. For a thorough description with more examples, you can also refer to this page

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Present Perfect vs. Simple Past

English learners often have some trouble mastering when to use the present perfect tense and when to use the simple past tense. There are some instances where they are indeed interchangeable, but most often the choice between these two tenses is crucial for conveying the meaning of a sentence.

 

The present perfect is used when a situation, action, or state is not finished or concluded yet. Let’s look at the following two sentences from Yabla English:

 

She has lived an extraordinary life of public service.

Caption 36, Barack Obama - On Trump Presidential Victory

 Play Caption

 

And I lived on a boat for three and a half years.

Caption 8, Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Let's Work for Solutions

 Play Caption

 

In the first example, Barack Obama used the present perfect to indicate that Hilary Clinton has not finished serving the public and will continue to do so in the future. Her life of public service is ongoing. In the second example, the simple past tense makes it clear that the person speaking does not live on the boat anymore. If they used “I have lived” we would know that they are still living on the boat today.  

 

One clue for knowing which tense to use is that certain words like "since," "ever," and "never" are only used in sentences with the present perfect, whereas "ago," "yesterday," "last week" and "last month" indicate finished periods of time that require the simple past tense. 

 

We saw so many incredible places.

Caption 2, New Zealand 100% Pure - New Zealand, Home of Middle-earth

 Play Caption

 

They were the most persistent tigers I've ever seen.

Caption 30, The Marx Brothers - Capt. Spaulding's African Adventures

 Play Caption

 

In the second sentence above, Captain Spaulding means “I’ve ever seen in my life.” Because he is still living, and it is possible he may see tigers that are even more persistent in the future, the situation is considered unresolved and the present perfect is used.

 

For the next sentence, note that “this project made a huge difference” would mean that the project is finished, whereas how it is written makes it clear that it is, in fact, ongoing:

 

There's no doubt that this project has made a huge difference.

Caption 36, WWF: Making a Difference - Rhino Conservation

 Play Caption

 

In British English, the tenses are more interchangeable. For example, the present perfect is often used when talking about an event that is finished, but happened very recently. 

 

I have just been to Buckingham Palace.

Caption 1, BBC News - Theresa May: First Speech as Prime Minister

 Play Caption

 

However, in American English, there are also cases where either tense is applicable. The following sentence is an example in which either tense could be used. This is because the mistake is a finished act, but the situation surrounding the mistake is ongoing.

 

You really think we made a mistake?

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Where It's At!

A preposition is a type of word that express spatial or temporal relations. Here is a list of known English prepositions. There is no set of rules for learning prepositions, and the prepositions from one language often do not translate directly into another. It's best to learn English prepositions by getting used to using them in context. Today, let's take a look at the preposition "at."

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The preposition "at" can be used to express the time of day: 

 

And at three o'clock the Queen comes on and she gives her speech.

And at three o'clock the Queen comes on and she gives her speech.

Caption 24, Christmas Traditions - In the UK

 Play Caption

 

Or to indicate a place: 

 

As you can see behind me, we are at Buckingham Palace.

As you can see behind me, we are at Buckingham Palace.

Caption 1, In London with Lauren - Buckingham Palace

 Play Caption

 

Or to indicate an activity or proficiency with something:

 

So I'm very good at working as part of a team.

So I'm very good at working as part of a team.

Caption 34, Business English - The Job Interview

 Play Caption

 

Or very commonly when mentioning an email address. The "at symbol" (@) in an email address is also called... at!

 

You can email us at...

You can email us at...

Caption 50, The Egoscue Clinic of Austin - Exercises for Lower Back Pain

 Play Caption

 

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Further Learning
Search for examples of the preposition "at" on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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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.

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I've never done that in my life.

Caption 70, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

I very rarely have a day off.

Caption 11, Ask Jimmy Carter - Another Interview with Sharon Stone

 Play Caption

 

Do you have someone who can ... take the air out of your tires occasionally?

Captions 40-41, Will Smith - Enemy of the State

 Play Caption

 

...I sometimes will write it on a piano.

Caption 27, Bee and Flower - Interview

 Play Caption

 

Whales feed at depth in waters that are often pitch dark.

Caption 19, Sustainable Human - How Whales Change Climate

 Play Caption

 

I usually leave it to simmer a little bit.

Caption 85, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen

 Play Caption

 

It is always held in Leicester Square.

Caption 25, In London with Lauren - Piccadilly Circus

 Play Caption

 

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

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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 2

Infinitive Verbs - Part 1

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.

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An infinitive is often used in a sentence in combination with a conjugated from of "to be." In these examples, the subject "it" is used to make general observations: 

 

It is going to blow up!

Caption 37, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen

 Play Caption

 

It's going to boil down.

Caption 6, Cooking with Aria - French Toast and a Berry Topping

 Play Caption

 

It is not enough to obey Big Brother.

Caption 15, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

"The world is watching. It's time to detox."

-Greenpeace: Detox How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion

 

The infinitives are written in bold above: to blow up, to boil, to obey, and to detox.

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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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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.

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The Japanese tradition is to sit on the stool in front of the faucets

Caption 22, An Apartment - In Japan

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

You did well to tell me. We must know everything.

Caption 35, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

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

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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).

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But believing ends in seeing

Caption 44, Katie Melua - A Happy Place

 Play Caption

 

You will be seeing them again.

Caption 37, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

I'm in a truck, we're driving through the bush.

Caption 23, Kiting For Conservation - Kenya

 Play Captio

 

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.

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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

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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 that we are trying to tackle

can't be dealt with by individuals [sic] companies alone.

Captions 29-30, The British Monarchy - Global Sustainability

 Play Caption

 

You can finally live the life you always dreamt of.

Caption 10, Movie Trailers - Bruce Willis - Surrogates

 Play Caption

 

I meant what I wrote, shall we meet?

Caption 1, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption

 

The father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people.

Caption 84, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day - Obama's Speech

 Play Caption


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."

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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. 

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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

 Play Caption

 

They've stolen my heart away. 

Captions 49-50, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

 Play Caption


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 and it was hardly light.

Caption 8, Fairy Tales - The Frog King

 Play Caption

 

They have fed quite well.

Caption 53, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

 Play Caption

 

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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. 

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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 30, David Bowie - Five Years

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David Jones, now little better known as David Bowie.

Caption 1, David Bowie - Interview at 17!

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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!

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I never thought I'd need so many people

Caption 18, David Bowie - Five Years

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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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Three Moods of Grammar

Even grammar can be "moody," but grammatical moods express the attitude of what a person is writing or saying. The three grammatical moods commonly used in English are the indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods.

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The indicative (or realis) mood is used to make a statement of fact:
 

You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.

Caption 19, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day - Obama's Speech

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You will learn the true nature of the society we live in.

Caption 41, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

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The imperative mood is for commands or requests:
 

Step away from your vehicle and put your hands on your head.

Captions 10-11, Movie Trailers - Men In Black

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All emergency service cars, please come to Vesey and West [Streets]!

Caption 4, World Trade Center - Story on the 2006 Film

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The subjunctive mood is used to express a a wish, desire, or something that has not yet happened. 
 

I'd like to have something interesting to do and I'd like to have nothing to do.

Caption 54, Leonard Nimoy - Talking about Mr. Spock

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I would like to explain how we talk about the time in English.

Caption 3, Lydia Explains - The Clock

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Further Learning
Read more about grammatical moods 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.

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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

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Now, we'll have a demonstration from some of your instructors.

Caption 15, Karate Kids, USA - The Little Dragons

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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.

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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!

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I've always loved surfing.

Caption 19, Kiteboarding - Rider Profile - Tom Court

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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

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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!

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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.

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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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