Today, I’m going to write about my pet, which is an … elephant. Just kidding! No, despite Vijaykumar’s amusing suggestion, I do not own an elephant. My garden simply isn’t big enough. In fact, as most of you guessed correctly, the pet I was describing is a cat, and her name is Scratchy. Virginia, you’re really funny. I laughed for ages when I read your comment about me looking like I was holding a cat when I was holding baby Sophie, and you’re right – I am much better at looking after animals than looking after babies!
Scratchy is seven years old. I adopted her from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Singapore. This SPCA is an animal shelter. I’ve added a link to the website of the SPCA on this page, I hope you can see it. I lived in the Far East for 10 years (Hong Kong for five years and Singapore for five years) and when I came back to the UK I brought my animals with me. I think of them as part of the family, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave them behind when I come home. Glamorous celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie adopt children; I just adopt animals.
I actually adopted two cats from the SPCA, Itchy and Scratchy (anyone who has ever watched The Simpsons will know where those names come from) but unfortunately Itchy got run over by a car when she was about one year old. :-(
Scratchy is very talkative and shouts loudly when she wants her food or her head rubbing. She loves sitting on laps and hates the cold, and brings me home lots of presents like mice, birds, rabbits and even grass snakes. Because Scratchy was my first pet, she’s the boss. She gets to tell all the other pets what to do.
Virginia and anyone else who doesn’t like cats should probably look away now, because here comes a picture of Scratchy:
Definite and indefinite articles
I’ve just read Naheed’s blog, and I think perhaps I could tell you a little bit about articles. Articles (a/an and the) are only small words, but unfortunately using them correctly is one of the most difficult things to master in English. The good news though is that even if you make a mistake using an article it is not a catastrophe, since readers will almost always be able to understand what you have written.
A/an are indefinite articles
The is the definite article
We use articles to talk about things in general (indefinite articles) or specific things (definite article).
For example, if you use ‘the’, you expect the reader or the listener to know what particular thing you are talking about:
Today I went to the doctor in the village. (the reader knows which particular doctor you are talking about)
Today I went to a doctor in the village. (it could be any doctor – the reader does not know which one)
You should also use indefinite articles with nouns that describe a group that someone or something belongs to, or the job it does:
She’s a mango expert.
I’m an animal lover.
You can use mangoes to make a sorbet.
However, sometimes, just to add confusion into the mix, we do not use articles at all. Don’t you just love English?! For example, if you want to talk about people or things in general, you do not need to use ‘the’ with plural or uncountable nouns. For example:
Naheed is an expert on mangoes. (no need for ‘the’ before ‘mangoes’)
I love cats. (no need for ‘the’ before ‘cats’)
Life is great. (no need for ‘the’ before ‘Life’)
Here is the original sentence written by Naheed (hope you don’t mind me using your writing as an example like this, Naheed!):
‘Father or any member of the family says call of prayer in a baby’s ear.’
So, you need to put an article before ‘Father’ and an article before ‘call to prayer’ ('The father', because we know which father we're talking about -- the father of the baby, and the article before 'call to prayer' can be definite or indefinite, depending on whether the reader know which prayer you’re talking about). Like this:
‘The Father or any member of the family says a/the call of prayer in a baby’s ear.’
OK, that’s enough about articles for today. Naheed, let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve written.
A lot of you had a go at correcting the comment posted by my brother, Neil. To remind you, here is what he wrote originally:
“Hi jo - its your brother. Sophie says thankyou for being her godmother yesterday at church. she is too young to write - so I will give it a go. How is my grammar and spelling? X”
All of you got the first mistake correct – Neil used the possessive form ‘its’ instead of ‘it’s’, which is short for ‘it is’. Also, ‘thank you’ is two words, not one. ‘Jo’ and ‘She’ should have capital letters, because ‘Jo’ is a proper name and ‘She’ starts a sentence. After ‘says’, you could either have a comma and then put what Sophie said inside quotes, or you could add the preposition ‘to’. So it could be rewritten in two ways, like this:
Hi Jo – it’s your brother. Sophie says, “thank you for being her godmother yesterday at church”. She is too young to write - so I will give it a go. How is my grammar and spelling? X
Hi Jo – it’s your brother. Sophie says to thank you for being her godmother yesterday at church. She is too young to write - so I will give it a go. How is my grammar and spelling? X
Before I finish, I’ll quickly answer some more of your questions:
Melissa, I used ‘In answer to your questions’ as the title for my last blog because in that blog I answered all the questions posted in your comments.
Kailarai, auxiliary verbs are ‘helping’ verbs – they help us form a tense or an expression, e.g.
I am going.
She has finished.
I didn’t see you.
Benka, ‘jargon’ is technical language.
Lisa, you’re right, I should have written ‘practice makes perfect’. You see – no one is perfect! This is an idiom and it means ‘if you keep practising, you’ll become successful in the end’.
Ana Paula, Sophie does have a Godfather, who is one of my brother’s closest friends.
Uddhav, ‘have to’ means ‘must’. ‘Need to’ means ‘to be under the obligation’. ‘Have to’ is stronger than ‘need to’.
OK, I think that’s enough grammar for one day. It is Friday, after all! Tomorrow I’m off to the big smoke, London. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. What are you all doing this weekend?
Something that is amusing is funny.
For ages means ‘for a long time’.
When you adopt someone or something, you take them home and look after them, as if they were your own.
Animal shelters are usually run by charities. They look after animals that have been abandoned or lost.
Glamorous people are attractive, they use clothes and make-up to make themselves look perfect.
In this context, run over means ‘hit by a car’.
Aaaaaah! You can say this when you think something is cute.
To master means to gain all the knowledge about something.
A catastrophe is a disaster.
If you add something into the mix, you add it in with everything else.
If you have a go at something, you try.
The big smoke – you can use this phrase to refer to a big city, such as London. It is usually used by people living outside of a city.
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