Still banging on about grammar
I'm going to follow James' example today and write a fairly short blog. I don't want to write a long one, as your comments on the last blog haven't appeared yet; however, I want to write something today, as it's almost my last opportunity. On Thursday I'm going to bid you farewell, and after that another teacher is going to take my place.
I guess the comments haven't appeared yet because Monday was what we call in Britain a 'bank holiday' - in other words, a national holiday when the banks and some of the shops are closed. Some of my students asked me why Monday was a bank holiday, and I was embarassed to admit that I didn't have a clue. Do any of you readers know why we had a bank holiday in Britain on Monday? I wouldn't be surprised if one of the readers is able to answer this. I find that my students often know more about British culture than I do. For example, a few days ago, one of my students told me when the Queen's birthday is. I didn't have the foggiest.
James, your idea about kilts was a good one, but actually I've never worn a kilt in class either. Maybe I'll wear one tomorrow, to celebrate my final day as BBC teacher blogger.
James wrote, "if Teacher Alex had taught something on [the] teacher blog, I would learn and use them on my next blog to practice." I've noticed you doing this, James, and I think you've made some very good improvements. We only have a couple more days to go, but I'm afraid I'm going to keep banging on about grammar, right up until the last moment.
Today I'd like to say a few words about singular and plural forms. I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the difference between singular and plural; the basic grammar rules are very easy to understand, but they can be much more difficult to use, especially if your native language doesn't have singular and plural forms (I believe that Chinese doesn't have singular and plural forms - is that right, James?).
In his last blog, James wrote,
'I often made a mistake with ‘he’ or ‘she’.'
How many mistakes? More than one, probably. Therefore, the word mistake should be in the plural form, like this:
'I often made mistakes with ‘he’ or ‘she’.'
Also, James wrote,
'As a teacher, it’s not easy to correct student’s mistake in a proper way.'
Again, how many mistakes? Again, more than one, so again we need the plural form, mistakes. Also, how many students? Again, we're talking about more than one student here, and we need to reflect this in the grammar of the sentence. The easiest way to do this is by using the plural form. When we have a noun ending in the letter s, and we want to make it possessive, we just add an apostrophe, like this:
'As a teacher, it’s not easy to correct students' mistakes in a proper way.'
However, there's another option here. When we're making a general statement about students, we can also use the singular form of the word student. However, we have to be careful here, because student is a singular noun, and singular nouns ALWAYS need an article (unless there's another word doing the job of an article, such as 'this', 'his', 'her', etc.). In this case we need the indefinite article. So, we could also correct the sentence this way:
'As a teacher, it’s not easy to correct a student’s mistakes in a proper way.'
Here's one more example. Earlier I quoted another line from one of James' blogs:
'If Teacher Alex had taught something on the teacher blog, I would learn and use them on my next blog to practice.'
In fact, this sentence also contains a singular/plural mistake. The word something is singular, but the word them is plural. We need to change them to it, like this:
'If Teacher Alex had taught something on the teacher blog, I would learn and use it on my next blog to practice.'
So, James, here is my challenge to you. When you write your final blog tomorrow, concentrate particularly on singular and plural forms, and see how close to perfect you can get these.
OK, that's all for today. I'll be back tomorrow, one last time.
All the best,
PS The Mystery Student has yet to reveal his or her identity. The tension is mounting!
'Not to have a clue' and 'not to have the foggiest' are informal expressions with the same meaning - we use them to say that we absolutely don't know something. Note that both expressions are always used in the negative, never in the positive.
If you keep banging on about something, you talk about it and talk about it and talk about it until everyone is sick and tired of listening to you.
An apostrophe looks like this ' .
'The Mystery Student has yet to reveal his or her identity,' means, 'the Mystery Student has not revealed his or her identity yet, but I expect that he or she probably will do this sometime in the future.'
To mount, in this case, means to increase. When we use 'to mount' in this sense, it collocates with the noun 'tension'.
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