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Archive Language Point 117

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Sentence beginnings

Alice outside the hospital

In informal, spoken English we often drop unstressed beginnings of sentences. For example, Alice said "Exhausted" rather than the fuller, more formal "I'm exhausted". She also said "Just finished another long shift" rather than "I've just finished another long shift".

Some typical unstressed words include:


Baby's crying. = The baby's crying.

Teacher's coming. = The teacher's coming.

Do you want a pen or a pencil?
Pen please. = (I want) a pen please.


What's wrong?
Bike was stolen. = His bike was stolen.

What colour is her bag?
Black = Her bag is black.

Boyfriend's coming round tonight. = My boyfriend's coming round tonight

auxiliary verbs and be:

See what we mean? = Do you see what we mean?

Is he French or Italian?
Italian. = He is Italian.

Got a light? = Have you got a light?


Room's a mess = This room's a mess.

Shoes look fab. = These shoes look fab.

Driver's an idiot! = That driver's an idiot!

introductory 'there is':

Nobody here = There's nobody here.

Something weird going on. = There's something weird going on.

Someone at the door. = There's someone at the door.

personal pronouns:

Where's Barry?
Must be late. = He must be late.

Have to go now. = I have to go now.

Don't know = I don't know.


try not to see someone or spend time with him or her

I've got such a lot on
There are a lot of things I have to do. I'm very busy

arranging your time so that you can involve yourself in two or more different activities

a school holiday in Britain half way through the term. For example, a week's holiday from school in October (half-way between the summer and Christmas holidays)

give you a hand
help you


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