Identifying Common Errors in Writing
Articles are words that precede a noun and define the specificity of that noun. In other words, they imply how specific a particular noun is.
There are two types of Articles in the English language, Definite and Indefinite Articles.
- Definite Article
The definite article is the word ‘the’. This article is only used when a particular place, thing or activity is being referred to. It limits the meaning to one particular thing or activity.
For example, in the sentence “I won’t be attending the party this weekend.” ‘The’ is used before the noun party therefore it refers to a specific party which the subject is talking about. The definite article can be used with both singular and plural words.
Uses of “The”:
- The definite article can be used to make general things specific, for example, “Please pass me a pen.” when changed to “Please pass me the pen.” Changes the meaning of the sentence entirely. In the former the subject requests for a pen in general whereas in the latter he refers to a specific pen.
- ‘The’ is used by geographical areas such as rivers, mountains, seas, oceans etc.
“The Middle East”, “The Atlantic Ocean”, “The Himalayas”
c. Unique things always requite the article ‘the’
“The Sun”, “The Moon”
d. Musical instruments use ‘the’
“He plays the cello.”
e. Countries generally don’t use articles in front but if their names are plural they use the article ‘the’
“The Netherlands”, “The United States of America”
f. Abbreviations and classes of people always use the article ‘the’
“The U.N” “The Poor” “The British” “The IMF”
2. Indefinite Article
The Indefinite Article is of two types, namely, ‘a’ and ‘an’. The word ‘a’ is used when it precedes a word that starts with a consonant and the word ‘an’ is used when it precedes a word that starts with a vowel. Unlike the Definite Article, the Indefinite Articles refer to a general idea and not a particular one. The Indefinite Article only appears with singular nouns. For example, in the sentences “I would like a good book to read.” Or “I am craving for an apple pie.” The subject talks about books or apple pies in general rather than a specific book or apple pie.
Uses of ‘a’ and ‘an’:
- Uncountable nouns cannot use either ‘a’ or ‘an’. For example, advice is an uncountable noun, therefore a sentence such as “Can you give me an advice.” Does not make sense. Rather “Can you give me some advice.” Is more appropriate.
- Jobs use Indefinite Articles
“I want to become a teacher” “My dream is to become an actor”
c. There are a couple of exceptions to the overall rule of employing ‘a’ before words that start with consonants and ‘an’ before words that begin with vowels. The first letter of the word honour, for instance, may be a consonant, but it’s unpronounced. In spite of the way it is spelled, the word honour begins with a vowel. Therefore, we use an. For example, consider the following sentences:
My mother is a honest woman.
My mother is an honest woman.
d. When the first letter of a word is a vowel but is pronounced with a consonant sound, the article 'a' must be used. For example:
She is an United States senator. (wrong)
She is a United States senator.
Use of Articles
The use of A/An with plural Or uncountable noun:
a fact = OK (singular)
a facts = INCORRECT (plural)
An information = INCORRECT (uncountable)
An advice = INCORRECT (uncountable)
a piece of advice = OK (“piece” is countable)
a pants / a glasses / a scissors = INCORRECT (plural)
a pair of pants/glasses/scissors = OK (“pair” is countable)
a rice = INCORRECT (uncountable)
a grain of rice = OK (“grain” is countable)
a work = INCORRECT (uncountable)
a job / a task / a project = OK (countable)
The articles ‘A’ and ‘An’ always follow the sound, not the letter
a university (pronounced like you – ni – ver – si – ty)
An umbrella (pronounced like um – brel – la)
a hat (h is not silent)
An hour (h is silent)
An X-ray (pronounced like ex – ray)
An NGO (pronounced like en – gee – oh)
a non-governmental organization (when we say the full words, they start with the N sound)
The use of A and An without a noun following it.
I am a Japanese. = INCORRECT (“Japanese” is an adjective, not a noun)
I am Japanese. = OK
He is an intelligent. = INCORRECT (“intelligent” is an adjective, not a noun)
He is intelligent. = OK
He is an intelligent man. = OK (now it’s OK because we have the noun “man” after “an intelligent”)
The use of "The" for Singular or Plural and for Countable or Uncountable nouns, when something specific is being talked about (Not General)
I love pasta. (general)
I love the pasta at that restaurant. (specific)
That store sells furniture. (general)
The furniture in my living room is all new. (specific)
Vegetables are good for you. (general)
The vegetables at the market are always fresh. (specific)
I need advice. (general)
The advice you gave me was very helpful. (specific)
Use of the article "The" for proper nouns:
- NAMES OF CONTINENTS/COUNTRIES*/STATES/CITIES/STREETS:
We’re traveling around Asia for three months.
I’d like to visit Russia.
Paris is my favourite city in Europe.
Have you ever been to California?
They live on Rosewood Avenue.
*Exceptions: The United States (the U.S.), the United Kingdom (the U.K.), the Philippines, the Czech Republic, the Central African Republic, the Marshall Islands
- COMPANIES & UNIVERSITIES*
My uncle works at Samsung.
Microsoft reported high profits this quarter.
She graduated from Harvard.
New York University is very large.
*Exceptions: If the university’s name BEGINS with “university,” then use “the”:
The University of Pennsylvania, the University of Miami
- LANGUAGES & HOLIDAYS
I’m studying Spanish.
He speaks Italian.
My whole family gets together at Christmas.
The office will be closed on New Year’s Day.
"The" can be used while referring for certain places:
- DO NOT USE THE WITH INDIVIDUAL LAKES OR MOUNTAINS:
Mount Everest is the highest mountain the world.
We went sailing on Lake Ontario.
- USE THE WITH OCEANS, RIVERS, VALLEYS, DESERTS, MOUNTAIN RANGES, POINTS ON GLOBE:
The Pacific Ocean
The Amazon River
The San Fernando Valley
The Sahara Desert
The Swiss Alps, the Rocky Mountains
The North/South Pole, the Equator
- DO NOT USE THE WITH THE FOLLOWING PLACES:
I’m going home.
She’s at work.
He’s in jail.
We attend church.
My kids went to bed.
My brother’s in high school.
My sister’s in college.
- USE THE WITH THE FOLLOWING PLACES:
I went to the bank.
Let’s go to the movies.
He gets home from the office around 7.
My grandfather’s in the hospital.
I’ll stop by the post office after lunch.
I caught a taxi to the airport.
I’ll pick you up at the train station.
We’re waiting at the bus stop.
We took my son to the doctor.
I’m going to the dentist this afternoon. (in this case, “the doctor” and “the dentist” are short for “the doctor’s office” and “the dentist’s office”)
- Articles can be defined as words that precede a noun and define the specificity of that noun.
- The definite article is the word ‘the’ and is only used when a particular place, thing or activity is being referred to. It limits the meaning to one particular thing or activity.
- The definite article can be used to make general things specific.
- The Indefinite Article is of two types, namely, ‘a’ and ‘an’.
- The word ‘a’ is used when it precedes a word that starts with a consonant and the word ‘an’ is used when it precedes a word that starts with a vowel.
- When the first letter of a word is a vowel but is pronounced with a consonant sound, the article 'a' must be used.
A subject – verb agreement refers to the agreement formed between the subject and verb in a sentence which makes the sentence meaningful and sound structurally correct.
Below are the rules of a Subject-Verb concord:
Being able to find the right title and action will help you correct the mistakes of the action agreement.
Basic Rule. A singular subject (he, Bill, car) takes a singular verb (goes, shiny), and the plural subject takes a plural verb.
For example: The list of items is /are on the table.
If you know that a list is a topic, then you will choose it for the Verb.
- Rule 1. The subject will come before the sentence you begin. This is an important rule for understanding subjects/lessons. The word of is the culprit in many, perhaps most, subject-verb mistakes.
Funny writers, speakers, readers and the audience can miss the most common mistake in the following sentence:
Incorrect: The bouquet of yellow roses lends colour and aroma to the room.
Correct: A bouquet of flowers of yellow roses lends. . . (borrowing a bouquet of flowers, not roses lend)
- Rule 2. Two related topics linked by, or, either/ or, or neither / nor require one action.
My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.
Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.
- Rule 3. The verb in an or, either / or, or neither / nor sentence agrees with the noun or pronoun next to it.
Neither the plates nor the serving bowl goes on that shelf.
Neither the serving bowl nor the plates go on that shelf.
This rule can lead to traffic congestion. For example, if I'm one of two (or more) subjects, it could lead to this unusual sentence:
Awkward: Neither she, my friends, nor I am going to the festival.
If possible, it is better to rearrange such correct sentences in the language but be negative.
Better: Neither she, I, nor my friends attend the festival.
She, my friends, and I are not going to the festival.
- Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural action for two or more subjects if they are linked by.
Example: A car and a bicycle are my mode of transportation.
But note the exceptions:
Breaking and entering is against the law.
The bed and breakfast was charming.
In those sentences, breaking and entering and the bed and breakfast are complicated nouns.
- Rule 5a. Sometimes a subject is separated from a verb by words such as once, and, and besides, not, etc. These words and phrases are not part of the title. Ignore them and use only one action when the subject is alone.
The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.
- Rule 5b. Parenthesis are not part of the topic.
Example: Joe (and his trusty mutt) was always welcome.
If this seems difficult, try rewriting the sentence.
- Rule 6. In sentences that begin here or there, the actual subject follows the verb.
There are four hurdles to jump.
There is a high hurdle to jump.
Here are the keys.
The word existence, some consensus exists, leads to bad habits in illegal sentences such as There are a lot of people here today, because it's easier to say "there" than "there is." Take care never to use an article on a plural subject.
- Rule 7. Use the unit-by-unit action, time periods, currency, etc., when considered a unit.
Three miles is too far to walk.
Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.
Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
Ten dollars (i.e., dollar bills) were scattered on the floor.
- Rule 8. In words that indicate parts - e.g., many, many, all, all - Regulation 1 given earlier in this section is reversed, and we are guided by the noun in the background. If the noun is one after the other, use one action. If plural, use the plural verb.
A lot of the pie has disappeared.
A lot of the pies have disappeared.
A third of the city is unemployed.
A third of the people are unemployed.
All of the pie is gone.
All of the pies are gone.
Some of the pie is missing.
Some of the pies are missing.
In recent years, the SAT test service has considered none of it very important. However, according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage: "Obviously no one has been united and plural since Old English and still is. The idea that it is compiled only is a myth of an unknown origin that probably originated in the 19th century. If it seems to you, use one verb; if there seems to be a plural, use a plural verb. Both are accepted without serious criticism. " When none is clearly intended to mean "not one," it is followed by a singular verb.
- Rule 9. With collective nouns such as group, jury, family, audience, population, the action may be singular or plural, depending on the author's intent.
All of my family has arrived OR have arrived.
Most of the jury is here OR are here.
A third of the population was not in favor OR were not in favor of the bill.
Anyone using a collective verb with a collective pronoun should be aware of the accuracy - and also disagree. It should not be done with care. The following is the kind of error sentence that a person sees and doesn't hear much these days:
The staff decides how they want to vote.
Careful speakers and writers can avoid sharing their singular and plural to work in one sentence.
Consistent: The staff are deciding how they want to vote.
Rewriting such sentences is recommended whenever possible. The preceding sentence will read better like:
The staff members are deciding how they want to vote.
- Rule 10. The word instead consisted of statements expressing desire or contradicting the truth:
For example: If Joe were here, you would be sorry.
Shouldn't Joe be followed by him, not, given that Joe is alone? But Joe is not here, so we say it wasn't. The sentence indicates the state of injection, which is used to express things that are logical, wishful, rational, or controversial. The general motive reflects a few lessons and what we often think of as pluralism.
I wish it were Friday.
He requested that she raise his hand.
In the first example, a wish statement is presented, not a fact; So, it's been something, which we often think of as a mathematical act, used with it. (Technically, one article in a reunion: it were Friday.)
Usually, he used to sound awful to us. However, in the second example, when an application is presented, the subjunctive mood is correct.
- Note: The punctuation condition is lost in spoken English but should be used in formal speech and writing.
- A subject – verb agreement refers to the agreement formed between the subject and verb in a sentence which makes the sentence meaningful and sound structurally correct.
- A singular subject (he, Bill, car) takes a singular verb (goes, shiny), and the plural subject takes a plural verb.
- Sometimes a subject is separated from a verb by words such as once, and, and besides, not, etc. These words and phrases are not part of the title. Ignore them and use only one action when the subject is alone.
A preposition is a word that connects the noun/pronoun in a sentence to the other parts of the sentence such as the verbs and adjectives. It determines the relationship between the nouns, pronouns and the other words in a sentence.
They help one understand the relationships of logic, space and sequence between the different parts of a sentence.
Below are few examples of prepositions commonly used in the English language:
- I just came back from the U.S.
- The book is inside the drawer.
- The kid threw a stone into the lake.
A preposition cannot be plural or possessive. Sometimes prepositions can also act as nouns, verbs and adverbs.
Types of Prepositions
- Prepositions of Time:
These prepositions indicate when something happens, will happen or has happened in any point in time.
Prepositions of time include at, on, in, before, during, after.
- John was born on the 7th of August.
- David left his job in 2012.
- Amy ate lots of fruits during her pregnancy.
2. Prepositions of Place:
These prepositions usually indicate the position of a particular thing or person. The three most common prepositions of time are on, at and in.
These prepositions may also indicate the time along with place but depending on their use it can be easily ascertained what they are referring to.
- The ball is in the court.
- The clothes are on the top shelf.
- I was at the supermarket just yesterday.
3. Prepositions of Direction or Movement:
Prepositions of movement indicate the direction in which a person or an object is moving.
‘To’ is the most commonly used preposition of movement.
- I went to shop for groceries but all the shops were closed.
- He took his dog to the park.
The other prepositions of direction or movement are across, though, over, down, up, past, around.
4. Prepositions of Manner:
Prepositions of manner describe the way in which things take place or means by which things happen.
Prepositions of manner include by, in, like, with, on.
- I like travelling by car.
- She went to the school in a taxi.
- Jacob sings like a professional.
- He reacted with pity when he saw the poor cat.
5. Preposition of Agents or Instruments:
Preposition of Agents or Instruments describe the action conducted by a person or object on another person or object.
Most common prepositions of these types are by and with.
- The song was recorded by James.
- He cuts his hair with a clipper.
6. Prepositions of Possession:
Prepositions of Possession indicate the owing or owning of an object. It also can be used when something is own to someone. Prepositions of possession include of, with and to.
- This is the car of my niece.
- He said he saw a man with a green umbrella.
- This jacket belongs to my grandfather.
Use of Prepositions and Common Errors
The use of prepositions in sentences can be a difficult task. Propositions are sometimes short and very common (e.g., at, in and on), and may have several uses depending on the context, which can make it difficult to know which preposition to use.
Below are some common errors to avoid with prepositions:
- Temporal Errors
The use of 'in' and 'at' depends on the time of the day. For example, in sentences we always use the preposition “in” with “morning,” “afternoon,” and “evening.” But the preposition 'at' is used when talking about the night:
- Helen goes running in the morning.
- Tim goes running in the afternoon.
- Shirley goes running in the evening.
- Bob goes running at night.
b. Spatial Errors (In and at vs. To)
The preposition 'to' can be used to discuss journeys (e.g., “I’m going to Tasmania”). But if the word “arrive,” is present in a sentence we use “in” or “at” to describe reaching a destination. For instance:
- She arrived in Tasmania just after lunch.
- He arrived at the restaurant five minutes late.
The use of “in” or “at” typically depends on the destination:
The preposition “in” for cities, countries or other large areas. While the preposition “at” is used for specific places (e.g., a library, a bar, or someone’s house).
c. Time, Days, Months, and Years (At, On, and In)
Different prepositions are used in different contexts while referring to time in days, months and years.
If a time of the day is being referred, the correct term is “at”:
- The party starts at 9pm.
If a specific day or date is being referred, we use “on”:
- The party is on Saturday.
While referring to a month or year, the correct preposition is “in”:
- We’re having a party in April.
d. Helping verbs
With auxiliary verbs such as “should” or “must.”, the preposition "of" is used.
- Exception: I should of gone to bed earlier. ✗
However, this is an error. The correct word here isn’t even a preposition.
Rather, the verb “have,” must be used which sounds a bit like “of” when spoken (hence the confusion). Thus, it should say:
I should have gone to bed earlier. ✓
e. Present Continuous Tense
If something has been happening from a long time, we use “for” when referring to a length of time (e.g., a period of hours, days, or months):
- I’ve been writing for six hours.
But if a specific time is used as a point of reference, we use “since”:
- I’ve been writing since breakfast.
The difference here is that the first refers to a measure of time, while the second refers to a fixed point in the past when the activity began.
f. Talking About and Discussing
“Talking” and “discussing” are similar activities, so people often treat these words as interchangeable. However, only the preposition “about” must be used after “talking.” For example:
- We’re talking about extreme sports. ✓
- We’re discussing extreme sports. ✓
- We’re discussing about extreme sports. ✗
- A preposition is a word that connects the noun/pronoun in a sentence to the other parts of the sentence such as the verbs and adjectives.
- A preposition determines the relationship between the nouns, pronouns and the other words in a sentence.
- A preposition cannot be plural or possessive. Sometimes prepositions can also act as nouns, verbs and adverbs.
- Prepositions of time indicate when something happens, will happen or has happened in any point in time.
- Prepositions of place indicate the position of a particular thing or person.
- Prepositions of movement indicate the direction in which a person or an object is moving.
- Prepositions of manner describe the way in which things take place or means by which things happen.
- Preposition of Agents or Instruments describe the action conducted by a person or object on another person or object.
- Prepositions of Possession indicate the owing or owning of an object. It also can be used when something is own to someone.
- The preposition 'to' can be used to discuss journeys (e.g., “I’m going to Tasmania”). But if the word “arrive,” is present in a sentence we use “in” or “at” to describe reaching a destination.
Voice is the form of the verb takes to point out whether the subject of the verb does or receives the action.
A verb that conveys the action done by the subject is said to be in the active voice.
Jack reads the newspaper.
Mary reads a book.
A verb that conveys what is done to subject is said to be in the passive voice. The subject becomes the passive receiver of the action.
The newspaper is read by Jack.
A book is read by Mary.
The Rules to Change the sentences from Active to Passive Form
1. The sentence should have objects (transitive verb). If there is no object then there should be question word who asks the object.
2. Object of active sentence became the subject of passive sentences.
3. Subject of active sentences into passive sentences that preceded the object word "By".
4. The verb used is verb III (past participle) which proceeded by to be.
5. The adjusted sentence construction by tenses.
1. The position of subject and object are interchanged, object moves to the place of subject and subject moves to the place of object in passive voice.
• Active voice: I draw a picture
• Passive voice: A picture was drawn by me.
2. Sometimes subjects of sentence are not used in passive voice. Subject of sentence will not be there in passive voice, if exclusive of subject it can give adequate meaning in passive voice.
Example: Passive voice: vegetables are sold very reasonably.
3. Verb III (past participle) is always used as main verb in sentences of passive voice
For all tenses. Present participle or Base form of verb will be never used in passive voice.
• Active voice: He composed a song.
• Passive voice: A song is composed by him.
4. The word "by" is not always used, the words "with, to, etc" may also be used before subject in passive voice sometimes.
Active voice: The water fills the tub.
Passive voice: The tub is filled with water.
Active voice: He knows me.
Passive voice: I am known to him.
Only transitive verbs (verbs which take a direct object) can be made passive.
If you are not sure if a verb is transitive or intransitive in English, try using an object after it.
Transitive Verb Usage
Robin started the project
Subject Verb Object
What did Robin start?
Answer: The project
The verb 'start' can take an object, the project so it is transitive.
Intransitive Verb Usage
Subject Verb Object
What did Robin laugh?
Answer: Nothing. You cannot laugh something.
The verb 'laugh' cannot take an object, so it is intransitive
Active and Passive Voice for All Tenses
Learn passive vs active voice for different tenses in English, please note that:
V1: Base Form of Verb
V2: Past Simple
V3: Past Participle
Present Simple Tense
Subject + Verb1
Subject + am/ is/ are + Verb3
I prepared a tea. (Active)
A tea is prepared by me. (Passive)
Present Continuous Tense
Subject + am/is/are + Verb-ing
Subject + am/ is/ are + being + Verb3
They are playing a game. (Active)
A game is being played by them. (Passive)
Present Perfect Tense
Subject + have/ has + Verb3
Subject + have/ has + been + Verb3
She has eaten my burger. (Active)
My burger has been eaten by her. (Passive)
Present Perfect Continuous:
Subject + have/ has + been + Verb-ing
Passive voice: ---------
Subject + have/ has + been + being + Verb3
Lisa has not been learning Science. (Active)
Subject + will/ shall + Verb1
Subject + will be + Verb3
My father will take us to the film theatre. (Active)
We will be taken to the film theatre by our father. (Passive)
Future Continuous Tense:
Subject + will/ shall + be + Verb-ing
The Passive: -----------------
The teacher will be taking care of the students at this time tomorrow. (Active)
Future Perfect Tense:
Subject + will + have + Verb3
Subject + will have been + Verb3
I will have finished my project by the end of this month. (Active)
My project will have been finished by me by the end of this month. (Passive)
Future Perfect Continuous:
Subject + will + have + been + Verb-ing
The Passive: ----------------
She will have been teaching History for 5 years by next week. (Active)
Past Simple Tense:
Subject + Verb2
Subject + was/ were + Verb3
I visited my aunt last year. (Active)
My aunt was visited by me last year. (Passive)
Past Continuous Tense:
Subject + was/ were + Verb-ing
Subject + was/ were + being + Verb3
Chris was informing the news to the department. (Active)
The news was being informed to the department by Chris. (Passive)
Past Perfect Tense:
Subject + had + Verb3
Subject + had been + Verb3
Sam had read the book before Paul came. (Active)
The book had been read by Sam before Paul came. (Passive)
Past Perfect Continuous Tense:
Subject + had + been + Verb-ing
Passive voice: -----------------------
They had been typing the Question paper for 3 hours before she came yesterday. (Active)
Future in the Past (Would)
S + would + V1
S + would + be + V3
She would complete the lesson. (Active)
The lesson would be completed by her. (Passive)
Subject + have/ has somebody + Verb1 + something
Subject + get(s) somebody + to + Verb1 + something
Subject + have/ has/ get(s) something + Verb3 + (by + someone).
My mother had Milan wash his car. (Active)
My mother had his car washed by Milan. (Passive)
Modal Verbs (Present)
Subject + modal verb + Verb1
Subject + modal verb+ be + Verb3
We can resolve the difficulty. (Active)
The difficulty can be resolved. (Passive)
Modal Verbs (Present Perfect)
Subject + modal verb + have + Verb3
Subject + modal verb + have + been + Verb3
The tiger might have killed her. (Active)
She might have been killed by the tiger. (Passive)
1. Voice is the form of the verb takes to point out whether the subject of the verb does or receives the action
2. A verb that conveys the action done by the subject is said to be in the active voice.
3. A verb that conveys what is done to subject is said to be in the passive voice.
4. The position of subject and object are interchanged while changing the voice, object moves to the place of subject and subject moves to the place of object in passive voice.
5. Sometimes subjects of sentence are not used in passive voice. Subject of sentence will not be there in passive voice, if exclusive of subject it can give adequate meaning in passive voice.
Direct speech means what the people actually say. It consists of two parts, the introducing part and the reporting part.
Reporting part-is always placed with in either inverted commas or quotation marks. It is this reporting part we need to report.
In order to report any kind of a sentence or clause, a few points are to be kept in mind.
1. The reporting part, whether it belongs to statement, interrogative imperative or exclamatory sentences, takes the s+ v+ o form when reported.
2. It is the introducing part which comes outside the quotation marks that decides to what kind of a sentence we have to report Hence should be specified whether somebody said/told/asked/wanted ordered/requested/exclaimed etc.
3. There should not be any quotation marks or inverted commas in the reported sentences.
4. Statements in the indirect speech are generally introduced by the conjunction that.
Change of words in the reported speech.
The next day/the day after/the following day/the coming day
The last day/the day before/the previous day!
Day after tomorrow
Day before yesterday
Two days after
Two days before
When the reporting or principal verb is in the past tense, all present tenses of the direct are changed into the corresponding past tenses.
A) simple present becomes a simple past Direct Indirect
He said, "I am unwell"
He said that he was unwell.
B) A present continuous becomes past continuous
He said, "My master is writing letters"
He said that his master was writing letter
C) A present perfect becomes a past perfect
He said, "I have passed the examination"
He said that he had passed the examination
The ‘still’ of the Future tense is changed into ‘should’
The ‘will’ of the Future tense is changed into would or ‘should’
As a rule, the simple past in the desert becomes the past perfect in the reported or indirect speech
He said, "The horse died in the night.”
He said that the horse had died in the night.
In Direct speech, if the simple present is used as the report verb, to express universal truths, habitual actions and the things that do not change while reporting, the verb in reported speech does not change.
“The sun rises in the east”, the teacher said.
The teacher said that the sun rises in the east
In this case we can often choose whether to keep the original tenses or change them
"I know her address", said Gopi.
Gopi said he knows/knew her address.
The teacher said, “The earth goes around the sun".
The teacher said that the earth goes/went around the sun.
"German is easy to learn", she said.
She said German is/was easy to learn.
If the reporting verb is in the present tense, the tense of the direct speech do not change.
He says "I have passed the examination"
He says he has passed the examination
The pronouns of the Direct speech are changed, where necessary so that their relations with the reporter and his hearer rather than with the original speaker are indicated.
He said to me, "I don't believe you".
He said that he didn't believe me.
Usual Tense Changes in the Reported Speech.
Is/am /are+ing form
Will/shall+1st form (plural)
Would +1st form (plural)
Will/shall+have+been +ing form
Would+have+been +ing form
Could/would/should/ might+have+3rd form
Ought/must+ have +3rd form
Reporting verbs, generally use to record statements, are 'say' and tell.
‘Tell’ can be used in a statement when the speaker and the addresser are clearly mentioned. In the other cases if the addresser is not mentioned say' or 'said' can be used according to the situation Besides 'say and tell there are few other reporting verbs with which a statement may be reported as they are remark 6bserve, suggest, insist, add, reply, answer, declare, assure, warn, confess, protest, deny, point out, plead, remind, repeat, explain, etc
Questions (Interrogative sentences):
1. The introduced verb is changed to asked, enquired, demanded, etc.
2. If or whether is used after such introductory verb whenever the direct question admits of one of two answers yes or no.
3. The pattern of an interrogative sentence is verb + Subject + Object
4. The note of interrogation (?) which is placed after question in the direct form is not placed after questions in the indirect form.
He said to me, "Do you know the way?
He inquired of me if I know the way.
5. When the question is introduced by an interrogative word the connecting word should be the same interrogative word.
The teacher said to me, "What are you doing?"
The teacher asked me what I was doing.
Auxiliary verb → connecting word → if/whether
Interrogative word→ connecting word → Same Interrogative Word.
v+s+o → s+v +o
He said, "Will you listen to such a man?"
He asked him whether he would listen to such a man.
Jack said, "May I have a cake?"
Jack asked if he might have a cake.
Commands and Requests (Imperative Sentences):
The form of an imperative sentence is understood subject + Verb +ect.
E.g.: Bring your suitcase,
Here, bring is the plain infinitive. So, when it is reported we should change the plain infinitive verb into 'to' infinitive.
To' is the connecting word to report imperative sentences
The introductory verb is changed into request, beg, implore, entreat order, command, advise, threaten, shout, etc.
E.g. Rama said to Arjun "Go away"
Rama ordered Arjun to go away.
He said to me "Give me your pencil".
He requested / asked me to give him my pencil
Exclamations and Wishes (Exclamatory Sentences):
1 The form of an exclamatory sentence is exclamatory sense + subject + verb + (Object)
2 To report such exclamations and wishes the connecting word should be that. It should be reported by words like exclaimed, applauded wished, declared, prayed, cried out, blessed with such phrases as with regret, with delight or joy, with sorrow, where necessary.
3. The Interjections and Exclamations such as oh, well, 'hurrah', alas bravo', 'curse it', 'how what should be omitted in the reporting form, and their sense is expressed by means of phrases.
4. The exclamation mark should be omitted in the reporting form.
E.g.: "What a terrible storm it is!" he said
He exclaimed that it was a terrible storm.
Alice said, "How beautiful the night is!"
Alice exclaimed that the night was very beautiful.
Reporting an exclamation is usually best achieved by a circumlocution reflecting the spirit of the original exclamation.
Exclamations are not often reported in the spoken English. Some exclamatory forms are really questioning or imperative.
He said, "Alas! How foolish I have been".
He confessed with regret that he had been very foolish.
He said, "Good-bye friends"
He bade goodbye to his friends.
They said, "Hurrah! We have won the match!"
He exclaimed with delight that they had won the match.
1. Direct speech means what the people actually say. It consists of two parts, the introducing part and the reporting part.
2. Reporting part-is always placed with in either inverted commas or quotation marks. It is this reporting part we need to report.
3. It is the introducing part which comes outside the quotation marks that decides to what kind of a sentence we have to report Hence should be specified whether somebody said/told/asked/wanted ordered/requested/exclaimed etc.
4. In Direct speech, if the simple present is used as the report verb, to express universal truths, habitual actions and the things that do not change while reporting, the verb in reported speech does not change.
5. If the reporting verb is in the present tense, the tense of the direct speech do not change.
6. The pronouns of the Direct speech are changed, where necessary so that their relations with the reporter and his hearer rather than with the original speaker are indicated.
7. Exclamations are not often reported in the spoken English. Some exclamatory forms are really questioning or imperative.
Any sentence in the English language comprises of three main elements viz. The subject, the verb and the object.
A person, animal, place, thing, or idea that does an action. Decide the subject in a sentence by asking the question “Who or what?”
- He ran fast.
- I was late to work.
- The paper does not identify which type of format it must be in.
Expresses what the person, animal, place, thing, or idea does. Decide the verb in a sentence by asking the question “What was the action or what happened?”
- I have sufficient money to buy a cake.
- My favourite flavour is chocolate.
The movie is good. (Be verb is also sometimes mentioned to as a copula or a linking verb. It connects the subject, in this case the movie, to the complement or the predicate of the sentence, in this case, good.)
A person, animal, place, thing, or idea that receives the action. Decide the object in a sentence by asking the question “The subject did what?” or “To whom? /For whom?”
- Jacob stood on his tiptoes.
- The car turned the corner.
All sentences in the English language are constructed through different combinations of quality and complexity of the subject, verb and the object.
Combining these three elements, we can break down a sentence into two parts known as clauses and another part known as prepositional phrase:
An independent clause can stand alone and give complete meaning. It has a subject and a verb.
I like ice cream
He reads many stories.
A dependent clause cannot stand alone and give complete meaning. It must be attached to an independent clause to give complete meaning. This is also called as subordinate clause.
Because I woke up late this morning… (What happened?)
When they came to meet me… (What occurred?)
If my friend does not pay his fees on time… (What will happen?)
A phrase that start with a preposition (i.e., at, for, in, behind, during, until, after, of,) and modifies a word in the sentence. The prepositional phrases answer for many questions. Here are a few examples: “Where? When? In what way?”
- His is only one voice among many, but it will be heard.
- The other books are in the box beneath the bed.
English Sentence Structure:
The following statements are true about sentences in English:
- A new sentence starts with a capital letter.
My father bought a car.
- A sentence ends with punctuation (a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point)
What a beautiful rose it is!
- A sentence has a subject that is only given once.
Smith joined in a college.
- A sentence has a verb or a verb phrase.
He got his degree.
- A sentence follows Subject + Verb + Object word order.
He (subject) got (verb) his degree (object).
- A sentence must give complete meaning that stands alone. This is also called an independent clause.
Teaching is an honest profession.
There are mainly four types of sentence structures in English language –
- Simple Sentence:
A simple sentence consists of only a subject and a verb. It may also contain an object but it will always have only one independent clause.
Examples: They Studied.
I used the shaver.
He will not fight.
An independent Clause is a group of words containing a noun and a verb which expresses a complete thought.
2. Compound Sentence:
Compound sentences are sentences which comprise two or more independent clauses these clauses are often combine using a semi-colon or an appropriate conjunction.
Examples: I took my umbrella to work today but it did not rain.
He organized his files by tags; then, he updated his reference list.
She tried to write a good review and she succeeded in her efforts.
3. Complex Sentence:
A complex sentence is a type of structure that consists of at least one independent clause and one dependent clause/subordinate clause. Dependent clause is a group of words that contain a subject and a verb but they do not express a complete thought.
In a compound sentence, a dependent clause will usually refer to the subject (who, which) the sequence/time (since, while), or the causal elements (because, if) of the independent clause.
Examples: Because he did his work so diligently, he was praised by everyone in the room.
Jake cried because he couldn’t hit the ball.
He studied for hours and hours with no interest in the subject whatsoever.
4. Complex-Compound Sentence:
The complex-compound sentence is the combination of complex and compound sentence structures. A complex compound sentence will contain at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.
Examples: She did not mean to hurt him, but he wouldn’t listen to reason, so she had no choice.
Bill tried to apologize to the manager but she ignored him, so he quit the job.
I’m not wrong for thinking this way because I have been hurt in the past as I was a naïve young boy.
1. Subject is a person, animal, place, thing, or idea that does an action.
- Verb expresses what the person, animal, place, thing, or idea does.
- The object is a person, animal, place, thing, or idea that receives the action.
- An independent clause consists of a subject and a verb and has complete meaning.
- A dependent clause cannot stand alone and give complete meaning. It must be attached to an independent clause to give complete meaning. This is also called as subordinate clause.
- The English sentence structure consists of a subject, verb and an object.
- A simple sentence consists of only a subject and a verb. It may also contain an object but it will always have only one independent clause.
- Compound sentences are sentences which comprise two or more independent clauses these clauses are often combine using a semi-colon or an appropriate conjunction.
- A complex sentence is a type of structure that consists of at least one independent clause and one dependent clause/subordinate clause.
- A complex compound sentence will contain at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.
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2. ‘Effective Business Communication’, Krizan and merrier (Cengage learning)
3. ‘Communication Skill, Sanjay Kumar and pushlata, OUP2011
4. “Practical English Usage Michael Swan OUP, 1995.
5. “Exercises in spoken English Parts I-III CIEFL, Hyderabad, Oxford University Press
6. On writing well, William Zinsser, Harper Resource Book 2001.
7. Remedial English Grammar, F.T. Wood, Macmillan2007.