Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Handy Book on English Grammar

This book can be purchased from
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Thamizh Nadu

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You may groan, ‘Oh, not another one!’ But be patient with me and read this preface.

Yes, there are ever so many books on English grammar in the market, then why another one? What can this Book have others don’t? Well, read on.

You are a student (school/college—Thamizh/English medium)? You are a parent?
You are a teacher (school/college)? You are one who needs to use English correctly? All of you will find this Book useful, informative, engaging, even exciting.

There is so much to learn, so much to know. It’s not just parts of speech and sentence patterns—SVOOCA—this Book introduces you to. It does much more. Because there is so much that English as a language offers. See the Content pages. You’ll realize this Book offers much more than any other book in the market. The more you know how English expresses thoughts, the more enjoyable this learning experience becomes.

Yet, everyone of you will be at different stages of learning English. I realise this and I’ve provided the wealth of English usage accordingly. I’ve divided this wealth into three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. Basic is the key you’ll use to enjoy the ground floor of this (your!) house of knowledge, Intermediate is the staircase you’ll climb to enjoy the first floor, Advanced is another staircase you’ll climb to enjoy the second floor open to the heavens—the sun, the moon, the stars, and the clear blue sky.

What is grammar? You may say it’s a bag full of dos and don’ts. I won’t blame you because that is the impression or feeling every non-native student of English had or has. You’ve learnt the grammar of your tongue right from the time you were in your mother’s womb, you hear it everywhere all the time, you speak and write it all the time. This is not the case with English. Do you hear it used around you—in your home, in your street, in your school, in shops, in public places? No, you don’t. Yet, English is very important to you for various reasons. You have to learn to use English. How do you do that? From grammar lessons, from English textbooks, from fiction, from films, from TV channels.

Grammar is no more than a mirror; it records how people have been using a language they call theirs. I can call to mind two classic examples: 1. The use of plural pronoun for a singular noun like ‘everyone’ (see 4.199—concord) and 2. Ending a sentence with a preposition; you’ll read the classic instance of Winston Churchill frowning over the corrections his secretary made.

Grammar is not a villain, it’s a friend, I tell you. For the simple reason, this Book just provides information on how native users use English in speech and writing, how they put nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions in certain ways, how they form sentences and questions.

Your mother knows the recipe for Idly, Dosa, puttu, fish or chicken curry. Suppose you ask her to cook food the Mexican way or the Chinese way, she has to look for a recipe. You know the recipe for how to use your mother tongue. But to use English the English way, you have to look for a recipe. Grammar is that recipe. Use it, you’ll soon become a chef! God bless you! 

Part 1 Nouns—Basic
1.1  Introduction
1.2  Word Classes (Parts of Speech)
1.3  Nouns
1.4  Categories
1.5  Nouns and number
1.6  Formation of plurals
1.7  Nouns—count and noncount
1.8  Articles
1.9  Indefinite articles
1.10 ‘A’ or ‘An’ with certain words
1.11 the Definite Article
1.12 Nouns and gender
1.13 Use of ‘s’
1.14 Meaning
1.15 use of ‘s

Part 1 Nouns—Intermediate
1.16 More about nouns
1.17 Common nouns
1.18 Count nouns
1.19 Noncount nouns
1.20 Conversion
1.21 Collective nouns
1.22 Proper nouns
1.23 More about ‘number’ nouns
1.24 More about plural forms
1.25 Foreign plurals
1.26 More about foreign plurals
1.27 Nouns without plural forms
1.28 More about articles
1.29 ‘A’ or ‘an’
1.30 ‘A’ or ‘an’—non-use
1.31 The definite article
1.32 ‘The’—non-use
1.33 ‘A’ and ‘one’
1.34 More about gender
1.35 Pronoun reference
1.36 Common-dual gender nouns
1.37 Neuter gender
1.38 More about ‘s

Part 1 Nouns—Advanced
1.39 Compound nouns
1.40 Compound verbs and adjectives
1.41 Collective nouns
1.42 Second set of nouns
1.43 Third set of nouns—1
1.44 Third set of nouns—2
1.45 More about ‘s
1.46 Link in terms of performance
1.47 Other links
1.48 The ‘of’ structures
1.49 No apostrophe
1.50 Elliptical use of ‘s
1.51 Another use of ‘s

Part 1 Pronouns—Basic
2.1 Pronouns
2.2 Categories
2.3 Personal pronouns
2.4 Possessive pronouns
2.5 Reflexive pronouns
2.6 Reflexive pronouns as emphasizing pronouns
2.7 Interrogative pronouns
2.8 Relative pronouns
2.9 Other pronouns
2.10 Number words
2.11 Demonstrative words
2.12 Quantity words
2.13 Negative words
2.14 Generic words

Part 1 Pronouns—Intermediate
2.15 More about subjective and objective pronouns
2.16 More about reflexive pronouns
2.17 More about interrogative pronouns
2.18 Saying numbers

Part 1 Pronouns—Advanced
2.19 What and Which
2.20 Uses of you, one, they and we
2.21 verbs used reflexively

Part 1 Adjectives—Basic
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Categories
3.3 Position of adjectives
3.4 Adjectives and nouns
3.5 Adjectives and comparison
3.6 Equal comparison
3.7 Structure for equal comparison
3.8 Unequal comparison
3.9 Comparatives for more than two
3.10 Structures for unequal comparison
3.11 Comparative and superlative forms

Part 1 Adjectives—Intermediate
3.12 More about appropriate participles
3.13 More about position of adjectives (sequencing)
3.14 Use of ‘and’ in a series of adjectives
3.15 Determinatives
3.16 Unequal comparison—between more than two

Part 1 Adjectives—Advanced
3.17 Other expressions of comparison
3.18 Adjectives and adverbs
3.19 Adjectives as nouns
3.20 Prepositions after adjectives

Part 1 Verbs—Basic
4.   Verbs
4.1 What you already know
4.2 Verb
4.3 Categories
4.4 Non-finite
4.5 Categories
4.6 Bare infinitive
4.7 Use
4.8 To-infinitive
4.9 Use
4.10 After other verbs
4.11 –ing participles
4.12 Use
4.13 After other verbs
4.14 ‘-ed’ participles
4.15 Use
4.16 Finite verbs
4.17 Lexical
4.18 ‘State’ verbs
4.19 Regular and irregular
4.20 Pronunciation of ‘-ed’
4.21 List of irregular verbs
4.22 Transitive and intransitive
4.23 Tenses
4.24—4.47 Tables—past tense
4.48 ‘State’ verbs (‘be’ and ‘have’)
4.49 Past tense forms
4.50 Meanings
4.51 Past progressive
4.52 Meanings
4.53 Past perfect
4.54 Meanings
4.55 Past perfect progressive
4.56 Present tense
4.57—4.80 Tables
4.81’State’ verbs (‘be’ and ‘have’)
4.82 Forms
4.83 Meanings of simple present tense
4.84 Present progressive
4.85 Meaning
4.86 Present perfect
4.87 Meaning
4.88 Present perfect progressive
4.89 Future tense
4.90—4.113 Tables
4.114 ‘State’ verbs (‘be’ and ‘have’)
4.115 Future tense
4.116 Meanings
4.117 Future perfect
4.118 Meaning
4.119 Auxiliary verbs

Part 1 Verbs—Intermediate
4.120 Notes on irregular verbs
4.121 Vt and O
4.122 Intransitive verbs
4.123 V(t) and V(i)
4.124 More about past tense
4.125 More about past progressive
4.126 Moe about past perfect
4.127 More about past perfect progressive
4.128 Present tense
4.129 More about present progressive
4.130 More about present perfect
4.131 More about present perfect progressive
4.132 More about future tense
4.133 More about future progressive
4.134 More about future perfect
4.135 Auxiliary (helping) verbs

Part 1 Verbs—Advanced
4.136 Time and tense
4.137 Past tense forms and ‘time’
4.138 Past progressive and ‘time’
4.139 Meaning differences
4.140 Present tense forms and ‘time’
4.141 Present progressive and ‘time’
4.142 Present progressive versus present tense
4.143 Present perfect tense and ‘time’
4.144 Meaning differences
4.145 Adverbs with present perfect tense forms
4.146 More about present perfect progressive
4.147 More about future tense
4.148 To-infinitives and –ing verbs as second verbs
4.149 ‘-ed’ verbs
4.150 Primary verbs—group 1
4.151 ‘Be’ verbs
4.152 Meanings of BE
4.153 ‘Have’ verbs
4.154 Meanings of ‘have’
4.155 Other structures with ‘have’
4.156 ‘Do’ verbs
4.157 Use of forms
4.158 Meanings of ‘do’
4.159 Group 2: Dare, Need, Ought to, Used to
4.160 DARE and NEED
4.161 Ought to
4.162 Used to
4.163 Group 3—Had better, would rather, be to
4.164 Had better/ ‘d better/ better
4.165 Would rather
4.166 BE to
4.167 Group 4—Be about to, be able to and similar verbs
4.168 Group 5—need, have (got) to, must
4.169 Have got to / have to
4.170 MUST
4.171 More information about ‘need’, ‘must’, ‘have to’
4.172 Group 6—can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should (modals)
4.173 Can
4.174 Could
4.175 May
4.176 Might
4.177 Will
4.178 Would
4.179 Shall
4.180 Should
4.181 Contractions
4.182 Speaking and writing contractions
4. 183 List of contractions
4.184 Other common contractions
4.185 Subject-Verb Agreement (concord)
4.186 3rd person number between subject and verb
Part 1 Adverns—Basic
5.1 Expressions as adverbs
5.2 Kinds
5.3 Forms
5.4 Formation
5.5 Position
5.6 Function
5.7 Comparison
5.8 Comparative and superlative forms

Part 1 Adverbs—Intermediate
5.9 More about comparison
5.10 Comparison structures
5.11 Idioms with a few comparative adverbs
5.12 Less, lesser
5.13 Use of objective pronoun
5.14 Meaning difference
5.15 More about the ‘position’ of adverbs
5.16 Adverbs that cannot go in mid position
5.17 Adverbs that cannot go in end position
5.18 Adverbs that can go in initial position
5.19 Adverbs that can go in mid position
5.20 Adverbs that can go in end position
5.21 More about adverbs modifying adjectives
5.22 Other functions of adverbs

Part 1 Adverbs—Advanced
5.23 Form
5.24 More about ‘place’ adverbs
5.25 More about ‘time’ adverbs
5.26 More about ‘frequency’ adverbs
5.27 More about ‘relationship’ adverbs
5.28 More about ‘process’ adverbs
5.29 More about ‘contingency’ adverbs
5.30 More about ‘modality’ adverbs
5.31 More about ‘degree’ adverbs
5.32 More about adjectives and adverbs
5.33 Position and meaning
5.34 Information on certain adverbs

Part 1 Prepositions—Basic
6 Prepositions
6.1 List of prepositions
6.2 Prepositions and their relationship with words

Part 1 Prepositions—Intermediate
6.3 Use of prepositions
6.4 Prepositions and their meanings

Part 1 Prepositions—Advanced
6.5 Position of preposition
6.6 Natural use of prepositions
6.7 Prepositions after certain everyday expressions
6.8 Prepositions before certain everyday expressions
6.9 Expressions without prepositions

Part 1 Conjunctions—Basic
7 Conjunctions
7.1 Two major groups of conjunctions

Part 1 Conjunctions—Intermediate
7.2 More about ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘but’
7.3 Quasi-coordinators
7.4 Correlative coordinators
7.5 ‘Though’ and other subordinators
7.6 Other subordinators
7.7 Marginal subordinators
7.8 A few more ways of coordination

Part 1 Conjunctions—Advanced
7.9 More about conjunctions
7.10 Incomplete sentences
7.11 Combining sentences without conjunctions
7.12 Errors

Part 1 Interjections
8 Interjections

Part 2 Phrases—Basic
9.1 Definition
9.2 Head word in a phrase
9.3 Phrase structures
9.4 Noun Phrase
9.5 Words going before and after nouns
9.6 Function of noun phrases
9.7 Verb phrase
9.8 Adjective phrase
9.9 Adverb phrase
9.10 Prepositional phrases
9.11 Participial phrases
9.12 To-infinitive phrases
9.13 Appositive phrases
9.14 Absolute phrases

Part 2 Phrases—Intermediate
9.15 More about modifiers

Part 2 Clauses—Basic
10.1 Definition
10.2 Nominal (noun) clauses
10.3 Adjective clauses
10.4 Defining and non-defining
10.5 Relative pronouns for both clauses
10.6 Defining relative clauses
10.7 Non-defining relative clauses
10.8 Adverb clauses
10.9 Manner
10.10 Place
10.11 Time
10.12 Reason
10.13 Purpose
10.14 Concession
10.15 Result
10.16 Comparison’
10.17 Condition
10.18 Three types of ‘if’
10.19 Cause and effect
10.20 Finite, non-finite and verbless clauses

Part 2 Clauses—Intermediate
10.21 Relative clauses with prepositions
10.22 Other tenses in ‘if’ clauses
10.23 Expressions other than ‘if’
10.24 If I were you—type 2
10.25 More about non-finite clauses

Part 1 Clauses—Advanced
10.26 More about relative clauses
10.27 More about ‘if’ clauses
10.28 Unless
10.29 A word of caution
10.30 In case
10.31 Other types of clauses
10.32 Due to and Owing to
10.33 Different from/tha/to
10.34 Hypothetical expressions

Part 2 Sentences—Basic
11.1 Definition
11.2 Sentence types
11.3 Simple sentences
11.4 Sentence parts
11.5 Simple sentence types
11.6 Simple sentence structures
11.7 Sentence elements
11.8 Subject
11.9 Object—direct and indirect
11.10 Direct and indirect
11.11 Grammatical function of object
11.12 Complement
11.13 The adverbial
11.14 Variations in sentence structure
11.15 It sentences
11.16 Sentence structures with ‘it’
11.17 Sentence structures with ‘there’ and ‘here’
11.18 Other structures with ‘there’
11.19 Distinction between ‘it is’ and ‘there is’
11.20 This and That sentences

Part 2 Sentences—Intermediate
11.21 What is a sentence?
11.22 Nonsentences
11.23 Fixed forms of words with a full stop
11.24 Ellipsis

Part 2 Sentences—Advanced
11.25 Sentence types
11.26 Echo utterances
11.27 Irregular sentences
11.28 Aphoristic sentences
11.29 Block language

Part 2 Negation—Basic
11.30 Negation in sentences
11.31 Negation with non-assertive words—n’t and others
11.32 Negation of ‘modal’ auxiliaries

Part 2 Negation—Intermediate
11.33 Negative affixes
11.34 Negation of full verbs
11.35 Modal idioms and ‘not’
11.36 Negative pronouns
11.37 Implied negative
11.38 Negating words other than the verb

Part 2 Negation—Advanced
11.39 Expressions negative to meaning
11.40 Question sentences
11.41 Types of questions
11.42 Wh-word questions
11.43 More about ‘wh-questions’
11.44 More about ‘wh-questions’
11.45 Yes-No questions
11.46 Meaning
11.47 Question tags
11.48 More about yes-no and tag questions
11.49 Reply questions
11.50 Written and spoken questions
11.51 Alternative questions
11.52 Directive without a subject
11.53 Directive and passives
11.54 Directive with subject
11.55 Imperative and their messages
11.56 Use of ‘and’ and ‘or’ with imperatives
11.57 Questions as directives
11.58 Exclamative with what and how
11.59 Elliptical exclamatives
11.60 Echo Exclamations  
Part 2 Compound Sentences—Basic
11.61 Definition
11.62 Coordinators

Part 2 Compound sentences--Intermediate
11.63 Other coordinators
11.64 A few more expressions
11.65 Idiomatic use of coordinators
11.66 Intensifying use of coordinators
11.67 Continuative use of coordination

Part 2 Compound sentences—Advanced
11.68 Meaning relationships
11.69 Other uses of coordination
11.70 Quasi-coordinators
11.71 Abbreviations for coordination

Part 2 Complex sentences—Basic
11.72 Definition
11.73 Subordinators
11.74 Kinds of subordinate clauses
11.75 Compound-complex sentences

Part 2 Complex sentences--Intermediate
11.76 Other subordinators
11.77 Omission of ‘that’ clause
11.78 Whether and if
11.79 As and like
11.80 Use of because and because...why
11.81 More on comment clauses
11.82 More on comment clauses

Part 2 Complex sentences--Advanced
11.83 Subordinators for non-finite and verbless clauses
11.84 Subordinators for bare infinitive clauses
11.85 Subordinators for to-infinitive clauses
11.86 Subordinators for –ed participle and verbless clauses
11.87 Subordinators for –ing clauses

Part 3 Conversion
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Conversion 1
12.3 Passive Voice--Basic
12.4 Voice conversion
Passive Voice—Intermediate
12.5 Situations for voice use
12.6 A few more passive structures
Passive Voice—Advanced
12.7 Passive voice without the ‘by’ +agent
12.8 Passive voice with the ‘by’ +agent
12.9 Causative passive voice
12.10 Have+object+past participle
12.11 Voice—a summary

Reported speeh—Basic
12.12 Introduction
12.13 Direct speech
12.14 In print
12.15 Punctuation
12.16 List of reporting verbs
12.17 Indirect speech
12.18 List of reporting verbs
12.19 Changes for conversion
12.20 Tense forms
12.21 Personal pronouns
12.22 Others
12.23 Changing the content
12.24 Changes in a statement
12.25 Yes-no questions
12.26 Wh- questions
12.27 Directives

Reported speech—intermediate
12.28 More about clauses
12.29 That in statements
12.30 ‘Shall I...?’ in indirect speech
12.31 More about reported speech
12.32 More on directives
12.33 if and whether

Reported speech—Advanced
12.34 say and tell
12.35 ‘Here and now ‘ words
12.36 Free direct and indirect speech

Conversion 2
12.37 Introduction
12.38 Spoken communication
12.39 Written communication
12.40 Forming simple sentences
12.41 Participle phrases
12.42 –ing and its meaning
12.43 –ed conversion
12.44 Prepositional phrases
12.45 To-infinitives
12.46 Appositive phrases
12.47 More examples of conversion
12.48 Forming complex sentences
12.49 Forming compound sentences
12.50 Reasons for the way we form sentences

Part 4
13 Punctuation
13.1 Introduction
13.2 Marks of punctuation
13.3 Capitals
13.4 Commas
13.5 Semi-colons
13.6 Colons
13.7 Dashes
13.8 Square brackets
13.9 Parentheses/brackets
13.10 Hyphens
13.11 Apostrophe
13.12 Fullstops / Periods
13.13 Question marks
13.16 Ellipsis marks
13.17 Slashes
13.18 Punctuation in action

14 Intonation
Key to exercises 1—138
Excerpts from the book

Part 1 Nouns--Basic
You want to share your thoughts with others, you want to understand what they say and know how to respond (reply) to them. You do these in speech and writing with the help of sentences. To form sentences you need words and you need to know what they are in order to use them properly. So learn these words and how we put them together. Use the exercises to firmly fix these in your mind.  

1.1 Introduction

Here is a short essay. Read this.

            I’m Thirumurugan. I’m forty years old. My wife is Valli.
             I have a son and a daughter. My son, Surya, is fourteen
             and my daughter, Mullai, is ten. 

             We live at Kattangulathur. We live in a rented flat. We
             moved here when I was young. I had come here, looking
             for a job.

             Our flat is on the third floor of a building, consisting of
             ten floors. It has a living room, a dining hall, two bedrooms.
             It’s well ventilated. It’s close to my children’s school and
             my children walk. It’s close to market and my wife can do
             shopping without difficulty. It’s far away from the factory
             where I work as a foreman. I commute by the company

             Valli is a homemaker. She’s a commerce graduate but
             prefers to stay in the house, and looks after us. She does
             all the shopping, keeps the house clean, helps children
             with their studies. She attends to all our needs.

             Mullai is a beautiful little girl. She is slim and has dark
             brown eyes. She is in class five. She is intelligent, works
             hard, and is in the top five of her class. She doesn’t waste
             her time, helps her mother with small chores. She’s quiet
             by nature. She is good at sports. I’m told she’s shaping to
             be a good athlete.

             Surya is short for his age and a little plumpy. He has dark
             brown inquisitive eyes. He’s in class ten. He’s fair at his
             studies. He’s restless by nature and keeps asking questions.
             Only I don’t have the answers all the time. Then I feel why
             I didn’t go to school. Anyway I’m glad he’s going to school.
             I’m sure he’s getting answers in school.

What you’ve read is called a speech if spoken.  I called it a short essay because it’s in the written form.
What’s the form of this essay? It has paragraphs, six of them. It has sentences, 36 of them. It has words, a little over 300 of them. In other words, in order to say or write what we want, we use words to form sentences and we use sentences to form paragraphs. It’s now clear that paragraphs need sentences and sentences, words.

So, let’s take a look at some of the words used in this short essay:
(i)  Thirumurugan    Valli       Surya      

(ii)  son    years       flat     children    school   market    wife    shopping      difficulty    forty     
      living room    foreman

(iii) I    we   when   where        

(iv) my    our     children’s     

(v)  a     the       

(vi) young    well-ventilated     close 

(vii) ‘m (am)   have   live   moved   looking

(viii) hard

(ix)  in    at    for    on   without   from    by 

Let’s put these words from the essay into different groups. We need names to refer to these words. Without these names, it’ll be difficult to talk about them. So let’s give them names. 

We can refer to words in groups (i)—(iii) as nouns.  Words in groups (iv)—(vi) are related to ‘nouns’; let’s call words in (iv) as ‘possessive’ words, words in (v) as ‘articles’ and words in (vi) as words ‘describing nouns’, which are known as ‘adjectives’.

We can refer to words in groups (vii) as ‘verbs’ and those in (viii) as ‘adverbs’. And we can refer to words in group (ix) as prepositions

Exercise 1   Go back to the essay, select six words for each of these categories and write them in the blanks:
Nouns                       Adjectives                Verbs                    Adverbs            Prepositions

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________

______________     _________           ______________       _________       ________ 


1.16 More about Nouns
    In the ‘basic’ part of nouns, we saw four categories of nouns. But we can look at nouns
    from a different angle:
                                      |                                                             |
                                  common                                                proper
                            |                                   |
                         count                        noncount
                            |                                    |
            -----------------------           -------------------
            |                              |           |                        |
        concrete                abstract   concrete          abstract                   

Part 1 Nouns—Advanced
1.42 Compound Nouns—multiple word nouns 
    In ‘Basic’ and ‘Intermediate’, you learnt about nouns, and all those nouns were single
    noun words. Now we’ll talk about noun words each of which is a combination of two
    or more noun words put together.

    Go back to section 9 in ‘Basic’ and read the nouns with consonant sounds. You’ll find
            a one-way street      a one-day cricket match     a one-year course
     These three expressions are compound nouns because each of them has two nouns:
            Noun 1      noun 2  
              one-way      street 
                 one-day       cricket
                 one-year      course
     Go back to section 10 in ‘Intermediate’ and read subsection ‘iv’. You’ll find several
    compound nouns.
    So we have single word nouns and multiple word nouns. These multiple word nouns

    are also known as nominal compounds.

 4.3 Verbs and categories
Now we can put these verbs into three categories (groups):
A. Finite Verbs   B. Non-Finite Verbs     C. Auxiliary Verbs      

Group A –Finite Verbs
  (i)‘Be’ verb words       :m(am), was, s(is), are, arent
 (ii)‘Have’ verb words     : have, had, has
(iii)‘Do’ verb Words       : do, does, dont, doesnt
  (iv)‘Lexical’ verb words

Groups B—Non-Finite Verbs  
to lie, to stay, to cover, checking, keeping

Group C—Auxiliary Verbs
wont, might, could… help, would…. mind, have to

4.23 Tenses

Verbs, their Tenses and their Forms

Tense forms bring verbs and time together. They act as bridge between verbs and time. They express the time periods (past, present and future) in relation to actions (‘doing’) and states (‘being’).

We express our thoughts through sentences in ‘active’ or ‘passive’ voice (You’ll learn about ‘voices’ in subsection ‘Transformation of Sentences’ in Part II.) We form ‘statement’ or ‘question’ sentences (You’ll learn about these in Part II). The sentences we use are ‘affirmative’ or ‘negative(You’ll learn about ‘negative sentences’ in Part II). We use ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ and ‘state’ verbs. We use these verbs in the different forms of past, present and future tenses.

As you’ll see, the tables 4.24—4.47 (past), 4.57—4.80 (present), 4.90—4.113 (future) are complete in themselves and provide you with sample sentences (both affirmative and negative, statement and question and all these in active and passive voice)  for finite verbs(regular, irregular, state) in all the forms of the three tenses. You can use these tables to clear your doubts about forming tenses appropriately.

Past tense



simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive
simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive
simple, progressive, perfect, perfect progressive

In the following pages, you’ll find, in 24 tables, four forms of verbs in the past tense:    
     4.24—irregular verbs in affirmative statement sentences in active voice
     4.25—regular verbs in affirmative statement sentences in active voice
     4.26—‘State’ verb: Be in affirmative statement sentences in active voice
     4.27—‘State’ verb: Have in affirmative statement sentences in active voice
     4.28—irregular verbs in negative statement sentences in active voice
     4.29—regular verbs in negative statement sentences in active voice
     4.30—‘State’ verb: Be in negative statement sentences in active voice
     4.31—‘State’ verb: Have in negative statement sentences in active voice
     4.32—irregular verbs in question sentences in active voice
     4.33—regular verbs in question sentences in active voice
     4.34—‘State’ verb: Be in question sentences in active voice
     4.35—‘State’ verb: Have in question sentences in active voice
     4.36—irregular verbs in negative question sentences in active voice
     4.37—regular verbs in negative question sentences in active voice
     4.38—‘State’ verb: Be in negative question sentences in active voice
     4.39—‘State’ verb: Have in negative question sentences in active voice  
     4.40—irregular verbs in affirmative statement sentences in passive voice
     4.41—regular verbs in affirmative statement sentences in passive voice
     4.42—irregular verbs in negative statement sentences in passive voice
     4.43—regular verbs in negative statement sentences in passive voice
     4.44—irregular verbs in affirmative question sentences in passive voice
     4.45—regular verbs in affirmative question sentences in passive voice
     4.46—irregular verbs in negative question sentences in passive voice
     4.47—regular verbs in negative question sentences in passive voice

4.24 past tense forms in affirmative statement sentences—active voice
 Irregular verbs

                                                  past tense forms
perfect progressive
first        singular
I spoke
We spoke
I was speaking
We were speaking
I had spoken
We had spoken
I had been speaking
We had been speaking

second   singular
You spoke
You spoke
You were speaking
You were speaking
You had spoken
You had spoken
You had been speaking
You had been speaking

third      singular

He spoke
She spoke
It spoke  
They spoke
He was speaking
She was speaking
It was speaking
They were speaking
He had spoken
She had spoken
It had spoken
They had spoken
He had been speaking
She had been speaking
It had been speaking
They had been speaking

Note: 1. As you can see, there is only one difference in the use of auxiliary verb: ‘were’ in the past
                 progressive for the first and third plural subjects.      
            2. Simple past: same past tense form for all subjects in singular and plural.
                 Past progressive tense form: was + -ing to the verb ¬ for ‘I’, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it
                                                               were + -ing to the verb ¬ for ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘they’
                 past perfect tense form: had + past participle of the verb ¬ for all persons, singular and plural.
                 past perfect progressive tense form: had + been + -ing to the verb¬ for all persons
Note: This is a sample table; there are 72 tables like this.

4.148 Time and Tense

The expression ‘time’ refers to ‘past’ time, ‘present’ time and ‘future’ time. And the expression ‘tense’ refers (for our present purposes) to ‘present tense form’, ‘past tense form’ and ‘future tense form’ of verbs.

Look at these sentences:            
              I slept well last night.      ¬® past tense form, past time
              I’m having lunch.             ¬® present tense form, present time
              I thank you for your concern. ¬® present tense form, present time
                 I’ll have a word with him. ¬® future tense form, future time

Slept is the past tense form of ‘sleep’ and indicates ‘past’ time and the action happened in the past time; ’m having is the present progressive form of ‘have’ and indicates ‘present’ time and the action is happening in the present time; Thank is the present tense form of ‘thank’ and indicates ‘present’ time and the action happens in the present time. ’ll have is the future tense form of ‘have’ and indicates ‘future’ time and the action will happen in future time.

From these four sentences we may understand that past tense forms indicate past time, present tense forms indicate present time and future tense forms indicate future time. But this is not true for all the sentences we speak.

Read these sentences:
              If I trusted him, I’d lend him the money. ¬® past tense form, present time
              It’s time I went home.                           ¬® past tense form, present time
              Did you want to see me now?                ¬® past tense form, present time
              He smokes too much.                           ¬® present tense form, all three times
              We feed the cat on fish.                        ¬® present tense form, all three times
              ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’                      ¬® present tense form, future time 
              ‘Well, I’d rather you didn’t.’                   ¬® past tense form, future time
              The Mumbai Mail leaves at 21.30.          ¬® present tense form, all three times
              What are you doing tomorrow?              ¬® present progressive form, future time     

 As you can see, no tense form matches with the time. And now read the explanations:     

4.187 CAN

Generally CAN indicates freedom. When I say I can do something my message is one of these:
           there’s nothing to stop me from doing it if I want to,
           I know how to do it,
           I have the permission to do it,
           It’s possible for me to do it. 

           I can lift this box with one hand.
         Can you swim?
         You can borrow my car if you want to.
         Anybody can learn to cook.
Let’s see in detail the messages we can convey using ‘can’:

1. Possibility 
         You can attend an Intermediate class or an Advanced class.
         You can sit here until I come back. (if you like)
         I’ll see what I can do.
         Can you call me back tomorrow, say, 3 p.m.?
Note: This ‘possibility’ meaning of can is only theoretical, i.e. it’s possible for you to attend either class.
          It does not indicate/mean ‘you are likely or not likely to attend either class’. For this you
          have to use may,  might or could:
           I may attend the Advanced class.
        ‘You can sit here until I come back.’   ‘Thanks, but I may/might not.’
        Will you answer the phone? It could/may/might be your mother.’ 

2. Permission
         You can switch on the TV.
        ‘Can we borrow these books?’ 
Note: When used for ‘permission’, can is an informal alternative to may.

3. Ability—know how to something
         general/present time
         I can speak French well.
       He can cook better his wife.
       He can do the work of three men.
       I can help you if you permit.
       I can’t answer the question.
       I can’t speak Thelugu.  
Note:  Be able to is possible in these sentences but not as common as can.

         future time
       You will be able to pass your driving test next time you take it.
    (NOT: You can pass your driving test next time you take it.)
      Our baby will be able to walk in a few weeks.
    (NOT: Our baby can walk in a few weeks.)

But can is used to make decisions in the present time about future ability: 
      We can talk about that later.
      We are too busy today but we can repair your car tomorrow.

Note: Can cannot be used in present perfect tense form.
       Since his accident, he hasn’t been able to leave the house. 
       I haven’t been able to get much work done today.

4. Characteristic behaviour   
       He can tell awful lies.
      He can be very tactless sometimes.
      Scotland can be warm in September.
      It can be very cold here in winter.

5. Offer help(only with first person)
       I can do that for you.
      I can lend you a hundred, if that will help.

6. Unusual but possible
       Even expert drivers can make mistakes.
      Your brother is usually cooperative but he can be stubborn at times.

7. Circumstances permit
       You can come to the meeting tomorrow, I suppose.
      You can ski on the hills.

8. Opportunity    
       As tomorrow is a holiday, we can spend the day at home.
      I can meet you any evening after Monday next. 

9. Make suggestions
      We can meet in a restaurant tonight, if you like.
     ‘What shall we do?’  ‘We can try asking Srinidhi for help.’
     Can we meet again tomorrow?

10. Help express an on-going ‘progression’ of ‘state’ verbs that cannot be used in
      progressive tense:
         I can’t understand what he’s saying.
        He can’t remember a thing. 
        I can smell something burning.                } These are ‘sense’ experiences
        I can see Sashi over there.                     } going on at the moment
        I can feel something crawling up my leg.  } of speaking.   


 ·  A word of caution
       This caution is regarding the way we attach such nonfinite and verbless clauses to
       main sentences.
       Why such caution is necessary will be clear from the following examples:

            Entering the house, the door closed with a bang.
              Hated and persecuted by all, the reader feels sympathy for Shylock.
              Only a few minutes from Chennai, the accident occurred.
              Being very tired, the alarm was not heard.
              Being crowded in the car, the trip was uncomfortable.

The underlined nonfinite and verbless clauses in these sentences ARE unattached because
          the door cannot enter the house              
          the reader is not hated and persecuted by all
            the accident was not only a few minutes away from Chennai              
            the alarm cannot be tired
            the trip was not crowded in the car
  Now read the following :
          On entering the house, I closed the door with a bang.
        = I entered the house and closed the door with a bang.
          Hated and persecuted by all, Shylock receives sympathy from the reader.  
       = Shylock is hated and persecuted by all and so receives sympathy from the reader
         When we were only a few minutes, the accident occurred.
        Being very tired, I slept through the alarm.
        = I was very tired so I slept through the alarm.
        Being crowded in the car, we were uncomfortable.
        = Because we were crowded in the car, we were uncomfortable.
So it’s absolutely essential to bear in mind that converting simple sentences into phrases should be done with care so that the subjects of the phrases and those of the main clauses are the same.

1.5 Situations for use of active voice and passive voice
Traditionally, passive voice structure was seen and taught as an alternative structure to active voice:
                  Rama killed Ravana.                          ¬active voice
                  Ravana was + killed + by + Rama.    ¬passive voice

Students were trained, through class work and homework, (and are probably being trained) in conversion of active voice to passive voice. It’s important, yes, to know how we form the passive voice structure, and to that extent the conversion helps us.

But such instruction and practice might lead the learner to believe that either passive voice structure or active voice structure can be used to express a thought, and so tempt him or her to freely use passive voice in place of active voice and vice versa.

This impression needs to be corrected simply
           because passive voice is a genuine structure in its own right,
           because it has its uses in conveying messages, and
           because it gets the speaker or the writer and so the hearer or the reader
to realize that it is the nature of the message that makes the speaker or writer decide the structure.

You’ve already seen in 1.3 through 1 A, 1B, 2A, 2B and the sample of a paragraph why  certain thoughts are expressed better in active voice and certain others, in passive voice.

Let’s see with a few more examples what all this means:
              Active voice                                           Passive voice
1. a. Someone stole my watch.              b. My watch was stolen by someone.
2. a. Thieves stole my watch.                b. My watch was stolen by thieves.
                                                            c. My watch was stolen (this morning).
3. a. A colleague stole my watch.           b. My watch was stolen by a colleague.

4. a. India played against Australia         b. India played against Australia
        and Australia defeated India.                and was defeated by Australia.
                                                            c. India played against Australia and was defeated.
5. a. My employer gave me three            b. I was given three advance increments
        advance increments.                             by my employer.
                                                            c. I was given three advance increments.

All these 13 sentences are grammatically, that is structure-wise, correct but all of them are not acceptable. 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b., 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b are not what native users of English would normally say; they would rather use 2c, 4c, 5c. Of course, 3a would be acceptable while answering an insistent query by an officer.

2c is the natural expression and the others are unnatural because the focus is on ‘loss’ and o because it is obvious that someone (whoever it may be—thieves or a colleague) has taken the watch, there is no need to mention it. Of course, it’d be natural to say ‘I lost my watch (this morning)’ if the speaker were the focus.

Again, 4c is the natural expression instead of 4b because it’s clear that the defeat occurred at the hands of Australia. 4a is not natural because there is no need to shift the focus from India to Australia.

And 5c is the natural expression because again it is obvious who gave the increments. Here the focus is on ‘receiving’ rather than on ‘giving’. 

So use active voice is used when you have the ‘doer’—the ‘actor’—in mind, and use passive voice when
           i. you know who the doer is or when the doer is not important
                   He was handcuffed and taken to the police station.
              (here there is no need to say ‘by the police’.)   
          ii. you don’t know who the doer is or when the act is more important.
                   He was murdered last night.
         iii. the doer is irrelevant
                   Several soldiers were killed in yesterday’s fight.

I only hope you have a good idea of when to use the passive voice.