Grammar, grammar, and more grammar...
Dear James, and everyone else out there,
I’d like to start with an apology today. I made a mistake in my last blog, and I have fess up and admit to it. Again. It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last time.
The mistake was in the present perfect questions I asked at the end of my last blog. As usual, I planned to write some nasty, tricky questions. However, as I re-read them today, I noticed I’d made question 4 a little too easy. I’ll explain in a moment – but let’s start from the beginning. I’ll talk about the four questions in detail, and I hope that this will answer Lucia’s question about the present perfect simple as well.
1. James __________ the student blogger for just a few days.
Let’s think about this. James started writing the student blog a few days ago, and this isn’t finished; he’s still the student blogger now. Also, this sentence uses ‘for’, so we should use the present perfect continuous, right? ‘James has been being the student blogger for just a few days’? Logical, but wrong, I’m afraid!
Normally, if something started in the past and it hasn’t finished yet, and if we use ‘for’ or ‘since’ in the sentence, we use the present perfect continuous. For example,
‘He has been studying English for many years.’
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Firstly, there are certain verbs which we normally don’t use in the continuous (-ing) form. These verbs are called ‘state verbs’, and they normally refer to mental or emotional states. ‘To like’, ‘to love’ and ‘to know’ are common examples of state verbs (I won’t write out a full list of state verbs here – if you want to see a full list of state verbs, you’ll be able to find one in a grammar book or on any decent grammar website).
So, for example, we cannot say this:
‘I have been liking coffee since I was a teenager.’
This started in the past, it’s not finished, and the sentence uses ‘since’… but ‘to like’ is a state verb, so we normally don’t use it in the continuous tense. Instead of the present perfect continuous, we need the present perfect simple:
‘I have liked coffee since I was a teenager.’
OK so far? Good, because I’m afraid we haven’t finished yet. The verb ‘to be’ is also an exception to the present perfect continuous rule. ‘To be’ is not a state verb, but nevertheless, we prefer not to use ‘to be’ in the present perfect continuous tense. If we say,
‘James has been being the student blogger for just a few days.’
-this isn’t wrong, exactly, but to a native speaker of English, ‘has been being’ sounds unnatural and ugly. If we choose the verb ‘to be’, even if the sentence describes something which is not finished and uses ‘for’ or ‘since’, we choose the present perfect simple instead.
So, the answer to question 1 should be:
‘James has been the student blogger for just a few days.’
Now that we have the answer to the first question, the second one should be easier, as it follows the same grammatical pattern:
2. Alex ___________ the teacher blogger for a month already.
Again, we read this and we think to ourselves, “Aha! This sentence describes a situation which started in the past and isn’t finished now. Also, the sentence uses the word ‘for’. So it must be present perfect continuous.” But then we think, “No! Wait a moment! All that is true, but in this sentence we need the verb ‘to be’. When we use the verb ‘to be’, we don’t use the present perfect continuous, we use the present perfect simple instead.” And then we understand that the correct answer must be like this:
‘Alex has been the teacher blogger for a month already.’
Now we come to the third question.
3. James __________ two blogs this week.
This is about James writing blogs this week. Is it finished? No, it isn’t – this week isn’t finished yet, and maybe James will write another blog before the end of the week. Do we see ‘for’ or ‘since’ in the sentence? No we don’t. Therefore, we choose the present perfect simple:
‘James has written two blogs this week.’
And finally, we reach the last question. As I said, I made a mistake here, and made the question a little too easy. I intended to write this:
4. Alex ___________ two blogs as well.
The answer, of course, would be like this:
‘Alex has written two blogs as well.’
Can you see the mistake I made? I’m sure you can. I forgot to remove the words ‘has written’ from the sentence. Duh!
Because of my mistakes, it isn’t necessary to add anything at all to this sentence. However, as you suggested James, you could add the word ‘also’. And as Paco suggested, you could add my surname (Gooch) – that also makes a good sentence.
By the way, James, “I have been blogging too many on my blog” is almost exactly right. Just change ‘many’ to ‘much’, and the sentence is perfect. Well done!
Phew, what a lot of grammar today! Tiasha asked for a story, but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to write one today; next time, Tiasha, I promise!
One more thing before I go. You asked about the phrase ‘celebrity teacher’, James. Yes, this is grammatically correct – but am I really a celebrity? If I’m a celebrity, James, you must be a celebrity too! Have any of our fans recognised you on the street yet, and asked for your autograph? I’m sorry to say that this hasn’t happened to me yet. But I’m looking forward to it.
OK, now I’m going to check this blog really really carefully for mistakes before I submit it. I challenge you to find errors!
All the best,
At least there’s not too much vocabulary today...
‘To fess up’ is an American phrasal verb. It’s only a few years old, and in Britain we really only using it when we’re mocking Americans (we mock Americans quite a lot, I’m sorry to say). It means ‘to confess’, or to admit that you’ve done something wrong.
‘Tricky’ is a slang word for ‘difficult’.
An exception is something which doesn’t follow the normal rule or pattern. For example, most British men are interested in football, but I’m an exception – I find football incredibly boring, and I have no interest in it at all.
In this context, the adjective decent means ‘good enough’.
Finally, duh! is the sound we make when we realise that we have said or done something extremely stupid. I make this sound quite a lot.
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