Had Better

Had better

We use “had better” plus the infinitive without “to”  to give advice. Although “had” is the past form of “have”, we use “had better” to give advice about the present or future.

  • You’d better tell her everything.
  • I’d better get back to work.
  • We’d better meet early.

The negative form is “had better not”.

  • You’d better not say anything.
  • I’d better not come.
  • We’d better not miss the start of his presentation.

We use “had better” to give advice about specific situations, not general ones. If you want to talk about general situations, you must use “should”.

  • You should brush your teeth before you go to bed.
  • I shouldn’t listen to negative people.
  • He should dress more appropriately for the office.

When we give advice about specific situations, it is also possible to use “should”.

  • You shouldn’t say anything.
  • I should get back to work.
  • We should meet early.

However, when we use “had better” there is a suggestion that if the advice is not followed, that something bad will happen.

  • You’d better do what I say or else you will get into trouble.
  • I’d better get back to work or my boss will be angry with me.
  • We’d better get to the airport by five or else we may miss the flight.

Past tense review 2

We can use the past simple to talk about actions and states which we see as completed in the past.

    • I left school when I was sixteen.
    • I was very happy then.
    • He told me all about his childhood.

We can use the past continuous to talk about past events which went on for a period of time.

    • While I was driving home, Peter was trying desperately to contact me.
    • I was thinking about him last night.
    • I was walking in the street when I suddenly fell over.

We can use the present perfect when we want to look back from the present to the past.

    • I’ve broken my watch so I don’t know what time it is.
    • She hasn’t arrived yet.
    • We’ve been to Singapore a lot over the last few years.
    • Have you ever been to Argentina?

The Present Perfect Continuous can be used to talk about an action or actions that started in the past and continued until recently or that continue into the future.

    • You look tired. Have you been sleeping properly?
    • I’ve been waiting for him for 30 minutes and he still hasn’t arrived.
    • He’s been phoning me all week for an answer.

We can use the past perfect simple to talk about what happened before a point in the past. It looks back from a point in the past to further in the past.

    • I hadn’t known the bad news when I spoke to him.
    • I thought we had already decided on a name for this product.

We can use the past perfect continuous to look back at a situation in progress.

    • We had been thinking about buying a new house but then we decided to stay here.
    • It had been snowing for a while before we left.
    • She said she had been trying to call me all day.

Past tense review 1

We can use the past simple to talk about actions and states which we see as completed in the past.

    • I left school when I was sixteen.
    • I was very happy then.
    • He told me all about his childhood.

We can use the past continuous to talk about past events which went on for a period of time.

    • While I was driving home, Peter was trying desperately to contact me.
    • I was thinking about him last night.
    • I was walking in the street when I suddenly fell over.

We can use the present perfect when we want to look back from the present to the past.

    • I’ve broken my watch so I don’t know what time it is.
    • She hasn’t arrived yet.
    • We’ve been to Singapore a lot over the last few years.
    • Have you ever been to Argentina?

The Present Perfect Continuous can be used to talk about an action or actions that started in the past and continued until recently or that continue into the future.

    • You look tired. Have you been sleeping properly?
    • I’ve been waiting for him for 30 minutes and he still hasn’t arrived.
    • He’s been phoning me all week for an answer.

We can use the past perfect simple to talk about what happened before a point in the past. It looks back from a point in the past to further in the past.

    • I hadn’t known the bad news when I spoke to him.
    • I thought we had already decided on a name for this product.

We can use the past perfect continuous to look back at a situation in progress.

    • We had been thinking about buying a new house but then we decided to stay here.
    • It had been snowing for a while before we left.
    • She said she had been trying to call me all day.

Nouns in English

As you may know, nouns are a class of words that relate to names of objects, places, and living things. Unfortunately, when you are trying to sort out the subject of a sentence, it can be difficult to tell which words are being used as nouns, and which ones are being used in a more descriptive fashion. For example, the word “city” can be a noun, or it can describe a specific population density. Therefore, when determining where nouns are in a sentence, you’ll need to use cues within the sentence to make sure that you’ve identified them correctly.

Nouns in regular sentences

In many cases, you’ll find that either the first or second word of a sentence is a noun. For example, in the sentence “Mary went to the store”, “Mary” is a noun and the subject of the sentence. Regardless of where the name of a person or specific place appears in a sentence, it will be capitalized. This should help you determine where the nouns are in most typical sentences.

Nouns in conversational sentences

When you see quotation marks in printed text, it usually means that someone is speaking or quoting something else that was said or written. In particular, if you’re reading a work of fiction, quotation marks can help you identify the subject of the sentence. The person that is doing the speaking is usually named outside the quotes, while the subject of the sentence is found in what was said by the speaker.

How to determine which noun is the subject of a sentence

Consider a sentence such as, “Claudia went visit Mary in Ohio”. In this case, you have three nouns, Claudia, Mary, and Ohio. Even though Claudia is the topic of the sentence, you may need to do some work to arrive at that conclusion. Depending on your skill level in English, you may want to list all of the possibilities; even if you know they do not make sense.

To begin, as you may know, Ohio is a state, and therefore cannot visit Claudia or Mary. Since Ohio cannot take any action and is not being described, you can safely rule it out as the subject of the sentence. You can also apply the action and description rules to Mary and Claudia. As you can see, Claudia is the only one taking action in the sentence, and there is no additional information being given about Mary.

Even though nouns are a fundamental part of every sentence, identifying them and sorting out their meaning can be complicated. Unfortunately, even if you look in a dictionary and find out that a particular word is a noun, it may not help you to sort out the subject of the sentence. Therefore, you may have to try rephrasing sentences in order to see if you can come up with a meaning that fits the syntax and makes sense. Have patience – with time, identifying nouns in English will become second nature to you

Basic English grammar components

When you’re learning the English language, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to all the different grammar components.  There are so many variables that affect the choice of words, even in everyday conversations.  In order to get the most from your English lessons, you’ll need to understand all the different grammatical elements that are used.  The following is a listing of some of the most commonly used English grammar components and what each one means.

Pronouns:  Personal pronouns will often take the place of a person’s name.  There are four different cases of personal pronouns: subjective, objective, genitive, and possessive.  Pronouns may also have number, person, or gender attributes.  Here are some examples:

Subjective: These are pronouns that are used in the subject of the sentence and include “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” “you,” and “they.”  An example of a subjective pronoun used in a sentence is, “I have a book.”  In this case, “I” is the subject of the sentence and has taken the place of the speaker’s name.

Objective:  These are words that are used as the object of the sentence and include “me,” “you,” “him,” “her,” “us,” “you,” and “them.”  An example of an objective pronoun used in a sentence is, “Give her the book.”  In this case, “her” is the object of the sentence.

Genitive:  These are words that generally used to modify noun phrases.  This type of pronoun is also called an “attributive possessive pronoun.”  These pronouns include “my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “our,” and “their.”  An example of a possessive adjective is, “This is your book.”  In this case, “your” demonstrates ownership of the book without actually giving the name of the owner.

Possessive:  These pronouns occur in the object of the sentence and include “mine,” “yours,” “his,” and “hers.”  An example of a possessive pronoun is, “This book is ours.”  In this case, “ours” shows a more detailed point of ownership of the book.

Participles:  Participles are verbs that are used as adjectives and commonly end in “–ed” or “–ing.”  A participle expresses a deed or state of action.  Since participles are used as verbs, they usually end up modifying nouns and pronouns.  The following are two examples of participles in action:

“The crying baby woke up.”
“The burning wood smells good.”

Past participles usually end in “–en,” “-ed,” “-d,” “-t,” and “-n.”

Prepositions: These are words that are used to link one part of a sentence to another.  Here’s an example:  “The dog slept on the floor.”  The preposition in the sentence is the word “on,” which connects the dog to the floor.

Verbs: Verbs are action words.  In the sentence, “I caught the ball,” the verb is the word “caught.”  Many of these verbs will be spoken, written, and read differently, depending on the choice of nouns or pronouns.  If you’re ever stumped, try speaking with someone who is fluent in English.  While they may not be able to tell you “why” something is wrong, they can tell you the correct way to conjugate different verb tenses.

It’s not as difficult as you may think to learn English grammar; however, it will take dedication and patience.  It’s best to set aside a specific time each day to study – if not, it’s easy to become frustrated and quit.

Grammar

What is grammar?

Language consists of words – spoken or written – which we use to communicate with other people. Grammar is the structure of that language: the way it’s used, and the conventions that help us understand what is meant from the context.  We learn grammar as toddlers when we learn to speak, so if you speak correctly it’s likely that your children will too, without ever having been taught formally. Continue reading “Grammar”