Writing Essentials: Relative Clauses

Defining Relative Clauses Take a look at the following sentences: 1) “That is the castle where they filmed ‘Harry Potter’ 2) “Henry loves dogs that wag their tails” Here, both 1) and 2) use defining clauses to provide important information about the objects in each sentence. In the first example, ‘where’, tells us about ‘the castle’ we are talking about. In the second, ‘that’, tells us about the kind of dogs Henry is interested in. However, without the information provided in these clauses, our overall understanding of each sentence would remain unclear. * “That is the castle” Which castle? * “Henry loves dogs” What kind of dogs? So, defining relative clauses include information that is essential to understanding a sentence. Without these clauses, the sentence does not make total sense. Non-Defining Relative Clauses Now, lets compare the examples above with three new sentences: 3) “Anders, who was tall and fashionable, enjoyed chatting to women” 4) “The London Underground, which is always crowded, is a terrible form of transportation” 5) “Manchester United, who had recently won the English Premier League, were scheduled to play Chelsea on Saturday. The sentences above provide us with a different kind of information to that found in 1) and 2). Here, the use of non-defining relative clauses give us extra information , that is not essential to understanding a sentence. In sentence 3), the essential information is that Anders enjoys talking to women. He may be tall and fashionable, but these are just extra, descriptive adjectives about his appearance. So, the ‘who’ clause does not define our subject nor our object. In sentence 4), we read an opinion about the London Underground (the opinion that it is ‘terrible’). Although it may be crowded and extremely uncomfortable to ride on, this ‘which’ clause simply provides additional information … Read more

Use of Articles: ‘A’, ‘An’ or ‘The’?

Articles can be confusing. ‘A’ doctor or ‘the’ doctor? ‘The’ eraser or ‘an’ eraser? Don’t worry… the rules are pretty simple! Indefinite Articles • ‘A’ and ‘An’ are the indefinite articles. They refer to something not specifically known to the person you are communicating with. • ‘A’ and ‘An’ are used before nouns that introduce something or someone you have not mentioned before: “I saw an elephant this morning” “I ate a banana for lunch” • ‘A’ and ‘An’ are also used when talking about your profession: “I am an English teacher” “I am a builder” • You use ‘a’ when the noun you are referring to begins with a consonant. For example, “a city”, “a factory”, and “a hotel”. • You use ‘an’ when the noun you are referring to begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u): “an apple”, “an identity” and “an opportunity”. Take a look at the following sentences. (1) “Looking into the night sky, Adrian thought he saw a UFO” (2) “Emily’s flight will be delayed by an hour” In the first sentence (1), we have a UFO (an alien from outer space). UFO begins with the letter ‘U’, a vowel. But why does this object take the article ‘a’ and not ‘an’? The answer is simple. When spoken, we pronounce this vowel with the consonant sound /j/ (or “yuh”). So, ‘UFO’ actually begins with the same sound as that found at the beginning of ‘yellow’. In the second sentence (2), we have a similar situation. Although ‘hour’ begins with a consonant, when spoken, we actually pronounce this ‘h’ as the long vowel /aʊ/ (or “ow”). This is the sound found in words such as ‘power’, ‘flower’ and ‘shower’. Now, what about ‘the’? ‘The’ Definite Article • We use the definite article when we … Read more

Follow these Rules! (Modal Verbs of Obligation)

rule; /ro͞ol/ (n.) An authoritative statement of conduct. At home, in school, on the bus, around the airport… the list is endless! Everywhere we go there are rules to follow. Keep yourself out of trouble with these Modal Verbs of Obligation. ‘have to’/’dont have to’ + infinitive: (a) “Today is Tuesday and I have to work”. Here, there is a strong obligation for me to do something. I like my job and I would certainly like to keep it. However, soon it will be Saturday and luckily for me, (b) “I don’t have to work at the weekend”. So, on Saturday there is NO obligation for me to go into EC: I can watch the soccer, buy some groceries or if I’m really tired, just stay in bed! I COULD work if I wanted to, but its the weekend so I think I’ll enjoy some time off. ‘must’/’musn’t’ + infinitive Now, lets look at the following statements: (c) “I must visit the doctor, I’m terribly sick”. (d) “Excuse me, Sir. This is a public building. You mustn’t smoke” In statement (c), we can see there is a slightly STRONGER obligation for me to do something than in (a). Of course, my job IS important, however, I am more worried about my health. In statement (d), there is not just a rule, but a legal rule. Here, we are talking about the LAW. Finally, let’s take a look at ‘should’/’shouldn’t’ + infinitive. (e) “Julia has been spending too much in Macy’s. She should save her money for something useful”. (f) “You shouldn’t drink so much Coca-Cola. It is bad for your teeth”. In both (e) and (f), we can see two examples of what are considered ‘mild’ obligations or advice. Julia does not HAVE to save her money, but she SHOULD. … Read more

‘Stop the Clocks’

Are you an ‘early bird’ or a ‘night owl’? Do you find yourself in class ‘on time’ or constantly running ‘against the clock’? They say, “time flies when you’re having fun” but sometimes, its a real ‘drag’. Life in the 21st Century is far busier than what it used to be. ‘Catch a break’ with these idioms, so you too can ‘keep up with the times’. ‘Cutting it fine’ – to be almost late or allow little margin of time. “Timothy, let’s go! It’s 8.30 and we’re cutting it fine!” ‘In the blink of an eye’- When an event happens so fast that it is nearly impossible to notice. “Wow! Sergio Aguero scored that free kick in the blink of an eye”. ‘That ship has sailed’- A certain opportunity has passed by or you are simply too late. “When Thomas was in High School, he wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately for him, he’s now 26 and that ship has sailed”. ‘Put it on ice’- To postpone something or preserve it for future use. “Sorry Jacob, I have so much homework in for tomorrow. We’ll have to put our game of tennis on ice”. ‘Drag it out’- Take a long time to finish or speak for a long period of time. “Stephanie really knows how to drag out a story. I was beginning to fall asleep!” ‘In the nick of time’- Without a second to spare. “We got home right in the nick of time. Look at all that rain!”

Shape your future, make it ‘Perfect’:

‘THINKING AHEAD’ What will you have done by this time tomorrow? Which countries will you have visited by this time next year? Where will you have partied by the end of the weekend? So many questions, so many possibilities! We often use the Future Perfect to talk about something that ‘will have’ happened up to a specific point in time. The most useful way to understanding the Future Perfect is to remember the following 5 components: 1) Future Time Reference 2) Subject 3) ‘Will Have’ 4) Past Participle 5) Object TIME REFERENCE + SUBJECT + ‘WILL HAVE’ + PAST PARTICPLE + OBJECT By this time tomorrow Benjamin will have eaten his lunch By December 2012 London will have hosted the Olympics This time next year Audrey will have turned 21 *Don’t forget… Our TIME REFERENCE may also be used at the end of the sentence, after the OBJECT. Zachary will have studied some grammar… by the end of Tuesday’s lesson. Mina will have finished her homework… by 9pm this evening. The SF Giants will have won their seventh World Series… by the year 2040. Set some of your own personal goals and motivate yourself, today!