The grammar used in written language and the grammar used in conversational language are often quite different. In fact, what’s normal, common, and acceptable in spoken language is often considered unacceptable in written language. For that reason, we’ll take a look, in the next several Hints, at what some of these differences are.
1. Yes / No Questions
BE + subject + other words?
Is anyone absent?
Are you hungry?
Are Joe and Bill brothers?
Was she at work today?
Were Jun’s parents born in Japan?
AUXILIARY + subject + verb + other words?
Is anyone listening?
Are you feeling hungry?
Are Susie and Jill coming to the party?
Can you understand this?
Will you help me?
Should we stay or leave?
Has Fred’s wife had her baby yet?
Have you seen that movie?
Have you had lunch yet?
Had they already left when you arrived?
Do / Does / Did + subject + verb + other words?
Do you understand me?
Does your apartment have air conditioning?
Did Joe call you last night?
Do you do your laundry more than once a week?
Did your brother do well on his exam?
In everyday conversation, Yes / No questions are often “abbreviated” by omitting some of the words. The result is sentences that are common, normal, and acceptable for speaking, but not acceptable in writing. There are two main ways that these “abbreviated” questions are made.
Here’s one of them:
Omitting BE or the Auxiliary Verb
Is anyone absent? ===> Anyone absent?
Are you hungry? ===> You hungry?
Was she at work today? ===> She at work today?
Is anyone listening? ===> Anyone listening?
Are you feeling hungry? ===> You feeling hungry?
Are Susie and Jill coming to the party? ===>
Susie and Jill coming to the party?
Has Fred’s wife had her baby yet? ===?
Fred’s wife had her baby yet?
Have you seen that movie? ===>
You seen that movie?
Have you had lunch yet? ===> You had lunch yet?
Had they already left when you arrived? ===>
They already left when you arrived?
Do you understand me? ===> You understand me?
Does your apartment have air conditioning? ===>
Your apartment have air conditioning?
Did Joe call you last night? ===> Joe call you
Do you do your laundry more than once a week? ===>
You do your laundry more than once a week?
Did your brother do well on his exam? ===>
Your brother do well on his exam?
Eslcafe.com is a great resource for information. They continually help BBE with the format of lessons, including this one!
Usage: At, on, in:
At, on and in are prepositions of place and show the position of people, places and things:
e.g. at the cinema on the wall in the shop
at + the + place: the cinema, theatre, school, BBE, cross roads etc.. e.g. at the bank.
at + specific place: Heathrow Airport, Buckingham Palace: e.g. at Notre Dame Cathedral.
at + specific address including the house number/name: e.g. at 33 rue de La Fayette, Paris.
N.B. In English, at is not normally used with names of villages, towns and cities.
on + a/the + surface of a place or object: shelf, wall, floor, ceiling etc.. e.g. on the table.
on + the directions: left/right/other side/nearside/far side: e.g. on the left.
on + levels of a building: first floor, second floor, top floor etc.. e.g. on the ground floor.
on + the + parts of a ship: port side/ starboard side/bow/stern.
on + parts of the body: his foot, her leg, our heads etc.. e.g. on his left arm.
on + a/the + types of transport: horse, bicycle, train, foot etc.. e.g. on the ferry, on a horse.
N.B. English people say in a car ( not on a car ).
in + names of countries: France, England, Poland etc.. e.g. in Belgium.
in + names of towns, villages, cities: Warsaw, London etc.. e.g. in Brussels.
in + named places: Buckingham Palace, the Louvre etc.. e.g. in Windsor Castle.
in + the + geographical regions: Auvergne, Lake District etc.. e.g. in the Alps.
in + streets, roads, avenues: Moniuszki, Fish Street etc.. e.g. in Stratford Avenue.
in + the + rooms and places: kitchen, bedroom, foyer, auditorium etc.. e.g. in the bathroom.
in + the + weather: sun, rain, hail, snow etc.. e.g. in the fog.
in + parts of the body: his foot, her leg, our heads etc.. e.g. in his foot.
in + a/the + types of transport: car, train, van, lorry, aeroplane, ship e.g. in a train.
A: In English, certain expressions are different, so must be learnt!
at the moment on holiday in a loud/angry/quiet/low voice
at this/that moment on the radio in a good/bad mood
at the same time on television in a bad temper
at no time on the menu in a suit
at present on the agenda in a new dress
at the end/beginning in clean/dirty/new shoes
B: Some expressions are used without a/the, here are some common examples:
at school in bed
at home in business
at school in hospital
at school in prison
at 37 k.p.h.
C: Both on and in can be used for types of transport and parts of the body:
On is used when the part of the body/type of transport is the most important detail.
In is used when position is the most important piece of information.
e.g. Peter travelled to London on the train. – type
John sat in the last carriage of the London train. – position
Joanna has a cut on her left arm. – part of the body
Ania has broken a bone in her wrist. – position in the body
D: At and in can be used with places which can contain large numbers of people: cinema, theatre, church, stadium etc..
At is used when the activity is the most important piece of information.
In is used when the place/position is the most important detail.
e.g. I will meet you for a meal at the usual restaurant.
Richard and Magda met in the foyer of the Royal Theatre.
E: Both at and to can be used with places:
At is used when there is no active movement in the phrase/sentence.
To is used when there is movement in the phrase/sentence
e.g. At school, there are forty teachers and four hundred pupils. – no movement
Marcin is cycling to London to visit his friends. – movement
F: Both at and to can follow certain verbs: the meaning of the verb is different in each case: to throw, run, shout.
e.g. Bill threw a stone to me. ( a friendly action )
Bill threw a stone at me. ( a hostile action: intending to hurt someone )
Maria ran to me. ( a friendly action )
Maria ran at me ( a hostile action: intending to attack )
Eric shouted to me. ( a friendly action )
Eric shouted at me ( a hostile action: intending to express anger )
G: The preposition by is often used with transport when the type of transport is very important: the common examples are: by aeroplane, bicycle, horse, car, ferry, horse, lorry, ship, train
e.g. The businessmen travelled to Africa by aeroplane and in Africa, they travelled by car.
N.B. Walking is travel on foot ( not by foot )
Note: Thanks to world-english.org for the information!
The present perfect simple is have/has + past participle. The past participle often ends in -ed, but many important verbs are irregular.
When we say that “something has happened,” this is usually new information:
- Damn! I’ve cut my finger.
- The road is closed. There’s been (there has been) an accident.
- (from the news) Police have arrested two men in connection with the robbery.
- I have contacted Bogotá Business English to help me learn.
- Where’s your key? I don’t know. I’ve lost it. (I don’t have it now)
- He told me his name, but I’ve forgotten it. (I can’t remember it now)
- Is Sally here? No, she’s gone out. (She is out now)
- I can’t find my bag. Have you seen it? (Do you know where it is now?)
At BBE, we wish we have written all of this information, but we haven’t. We are very grateful to to Raymond Murphy, whom has published some wonderful guides entitled Essential Grammar in Use. If you wish to find more information by Mr. Murphy, search through various websites or contact BBE and let us help you get any study guide you may desire!
If you ‘fall out’ with somebody, you have a bad argument with them.
- They fell out over the arrangements for the meeting.
- I don’t want to fall out with you but I’m very unhappy with what you have done.
If news ‘leaks out’, people who shouldn’t know about it do.
- Details of the report leaked out over the weekend.
- If this information leaks out, we are in serious trouble.
- She came straight out with it and said I was a liar.
- You never know what he is going to come out with next.
If you ‘come out with’ a new product , you make available something new.
- Microsoft have come out with a new version of Office.
- We haven’t come out with a new product for two years.
If you ‘give out’ information, you hand it out to people.
- I’ll give out a summary at the end so you don’t need to take notes.
- Could you give those papers out for me, please?
If something ‘gives out’, it stops working or supplies run out.
- Our stock of leather will give out in three days, if we don’t get any more.
My voice is about to give out so I’ll stop my presentation at this point.
If you are ‘let out’ of something, it can mean that you escape from doing something difficult or unpleasant or that you have agreed to do.
- They won’t let us out of our contract with them.
- He resigned this morning which lets me out from having to fire him.
If you ‘make something out’, it can mean that you are able to see or hear something with difficulty.
- I couldn’t make out what he was saying with all that background noise.
- I can’t make out who sent me this letter.
To ‘make out something’ can mean to claim falsely that something is true.
- He made out that he had a lot of experience in this area but it wasn’t true.
- He’s not as difficult a person as he is often made out to be.
If you are ‘put out’, it can mean that you are annoyed or caused extra work by something that is said or done.
- He seemed put out that we didn’t ask him to join us for lunch.
- I don’t want to put you out. Don’t do it if it is too much bother.
Put out by English? Why don’t you get in touch with BBE?