Author Archives: impact

connected_speech

Connected speech

Connected speech

Connected speechWhen you first hear an unfamiliar language, you don’t really hear individual words but rather a flow of sound – connected speech.

As you learn and become more familiar with a language and connected speech, you begin to hear individual words, partly because your teacher may speak more slowly and listening exercises are often slower than natural speech.

As you get better at speaking, to sound more natural, you need to learn how to use connected speech – this means connecting the words the way native speakers do.

This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to ‘neutralise’ an accent as it can help you build the same speech patterns as native speakers.

Here are some tips to help you!

Connected speech Rule #1

If a word ends on a consonant and the next word begins on a vowel, the consonant moves on to the vowel of the 2nd word.

Example:

word ends sounds like wor dends
green apples gree nappples

 

Connected speech Rule #2

If a word ends on an ‘ee’ sound and is followed by a word beginning with a vowel sound, we put both words together and add the letter ‘y’ in the middle.

thr ee eggs sounds like threeyeggs
H e asked Heeyasked

Connected speech Rule #3

If a word ends on an ‘oo’ sound and is followed by a word beginning with a vowel sound, we put both words together and add the letter ‘w’ in the middle.

bl ue eyes sounds like bloowise
Two onions Toowunions

 

relative_clauses

Relative clauses

Relative clauses – defining and non defining

relative_clausesParts of a sentence that identify people, things or add some additional information are called relative clauses.

They often begin with either a question word (who, what, where, which etc) or ‘that’. They can also start with pronouns; e.g. whose).

Examples of relative clauses:

  • He is the man who lives next door to me.
  • The journalist, whose work involves a huge amount of international travel, is currently in South America.
  • My house, which is in the country, is not very big.
  • Here’s the book that you wanted me to get.

 

Notice how the clause immediately follows the noun it relates to.

The game that they are playing originated from Southern Europe.
NOT: The game originated from Southern Europe that they are playing.

There are two common types of relative clause:

1. Defining relative clauses (also called ‘restricting relative clauses’ or ‘identifying relative clauses’)

2. Non-defining relative clauses (also called ‘non-restricting relative clauses’ or ‘non-identifying relative clauses’)


1. Defining relative clauses

A defining relative clause is one in which the clause is required for the understanding / grammar of the sentence.

Example:

She is the teacher who helped me with my homework.

If we remove the relative clause ‘who helped me with my homework‘, we are left with ‘She is the teacher’ which is not a complete sentence.

With defining relative clauses, we can change the question word for ‘that’:

She is the teacher that helped me with my homework.

2. Non-defining relative clauses

A non-defining relative clause is one in which the clause is NOT required for the understanding / grammar of the sentence.  A non-defining relative clause adds extra information, but we can remove it and the sentence will still make sense.

Example:

My friend, who comes from Australia, loves surfing.

If we remove the relative clause, we are left with ‘My friend loves surfing.’, This a grammatically complete sentence.

NOTE: In non-defining relative clauses, we CANNOT change the question word for ‘that’.

Example:

My friend, that comes from Australia, loves surfing. We MUST use ‘who’.

In addition to not using ‘that’, non-defining relative clauses differ from defining relative clauses in that they use commas to show that the clause is not essential to the grammar of the sentence. Defining relative clauses do not use commas.

Compare:

She is the teacher that helped me with my homework.

She is the teacher, that helped me with my homework.

My friend, who comes from Australia, loves surfing.

My friend who comes from Australia loves surfing.

essay_writing

Essay writing – writing an introduction

Essay writing – writing an introduction

essay_writing_writing_an_introductionThere are three main sections to think about when essay writing – writing an introduction, the body and the conclusion. In this lesson, ‘essay writing – writing an introduction’ we will look at the skills needed to write an effective introduction for a short essay.

For this lesson, we will use this topic:

‘Older people should be looked after by their children, not the government.’

The main purpose of the introduction is to tell the reader what the essay will be about. To do that, you need to identify the key words in the title. In this case, the keywords are:

Older people, looked after, their children and not the government.

Of course we cannot simply copy these words, so we move on to step 2 – finding other ways to say the same information. For example:

‘Some people feel that responsibility for the care of elderly people rests with the family, not with any government department.’

So we have looked at the first two steps – we have told the reader what the essay is about and we have avoided copying words from the title. Having done that, the next step is to tell the reader which direction the essay will take. That is, how will the essay be presented. For example, we could add the following:

‘Although there are arguments to be made in support of this, there is perhaps a stronger point of view that feels that older people should not have to rely on the goodwill of their family as will now be discussed.’

From this, we can tell that the writer plans to argue most strongly that care of the elderly should be left to the government.

A final point to note about writing an introduction is that in most formal essays, especially for important English exams like IELTS, you should try to avoid using a pronoun. For example, ‘as will now be discussed’ is far better than ‘as I will now discuss’.

You should now be ready to move to the body of your essay.

adjective_order

Adjective order

Adjective order

adjective_orderAdjective order is important if you are using more than one adjective before a noun. There is often a specific order in which they must be placed. For example:

A black leather jacket Correct
A leather black jacket Incorrect

Here is a short acronym to help you remember:

OSASCOMP

opinion – size – age – shape – colour – origin – material – purpose

Below you will find an explanation for each letter and some example sentences.

Adjective Order Rule 1: OSASCOMP – O for opinion

Adjectives that talk about opinions, judgements or attitudes usually come first.

Opinions, judgements or attitudes Noun
a lovely jacket.
a perfect plate.
an expensive bike.

Adjective Order Rule 2: OSASCOMP – S for size

Adjectives relating to size, length and height come next. For example:

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Noun
a lovely large jacket.
a perfect big plate.
an expensive bike.

 

Adjective Order Rule 3: OSASCOMP – A for age

Next are any adjectives relating to age

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Noun
a lovely large new jacket.
a perfect big old plate.
an expensive modern bike.

Adjective Order Rule #4: OSASCOMP – S for shape

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Shape Noun
a lovely large new jacket.
a perfect big old round plate.
an expensive modern bike.

Adjective Order Rule #5: OSASCOMP – C for colour

Next are the adjectives that talk about colour.

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Shape Colour Noun
a lovely large new black jacket.
a perfect big old round white plate.
an expensive modern red bike.

 

Adjective Order Rule #6: OSASCOMP – O for origin

This refers to adjectives that say where the noun is from.

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Shape Colour Origin Noun
a lovely large new black jacket.
a perfect big old round white Chinese plate.
an expensive modern red Italian bike.

Adjective Order Rule #7: OSASCOMP – M for material

This refers to what the noun is made of.

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Shape Colour Origin Material Noun
a lovely large new black leather jacket.
a perfect big old round white Chinese porcelain plate.
an expensive modern red Italian bike.

 

Adjective Order Rule #8: OSASCOMP – P for purpose

This refers to what the noun is used for (e.g. wedding ring). They are often nouns used as adjectives.

Judgements, opinions or attitudes Size, length, height Age Shape Colour Origin Material Purpose Noun
a lovely large new black leather jacket.
a perfect big old round white Chinese porcelain dinner plate.
an expensive modern red Italian sports bike.

Important notes:

1. The adjectives used in the tables above are examples only. It is uncommon in English to use more than three adjectives in the same sentence to describe a noun.

2. Some adjectives can be found in different positions, but if you follow the OSASCOMP rule you won’t be wrong!

Click here to try the adjective order exercises.

practice_speaking_English

English speaking practice

English speaking practice – 4 ways you can practice your speaking

English_speaking_practiceGetting enough English speaking practice can be one of the biggest problems for learners of English who want to improve their speaking skills, especially if they live in a non-English speaking country.

However, there are some techniques that you can use to help you to get more English speaking practice.


English speaking practice tip 1. Imagine conversations

In your daily life, you have a lot of conversations that are similar each day such as “How are you?” and “Did you sleep well?” for example. Start practising by seeing if you could translate the last conversation you had before coming online today. You need to find out if you could have that same conversation again in English. If not, why not? Is it grammar? Is it vocabulary? When you have found the area you think needs improving, look around our site to find the learning material and exercises to help you.

English speaking practice tip 2. Call freephone numbers

Many countries have free calling telephone numbers – find companies that speak in English (language schools are good!) and ask as many questions as you can. If the person on the other end of the phone wants to speak in your language, tell them that you find speaking in English easier!

English speaking practice tip 3. Watch television and listen to the radio – FOR SHORT PERIODS OF TIME!

Watching television and listening to the radio can definitely improve your spoken English, but watching and listening closely for 5 minutes is much better than paying less attention for half an hour. If possible, record a program and listen to it repeatedly. Pay particular attention to the pronunciation and intonation of words and sentences, and repeat what they say aloud.

English speaking practice tip 4. Learn how to use the IPA (international phonetic alphabet)

Have a look here at some resources to help you learn better pronunciation (the link opens in a new window).

passive-voice

Passive voice

Passive voice

The passive voice is a grammar form that can be used instead of writing active sentences.

Before we look at the passive voice, think about how you form an active sentence.

The easiest rule to help you build a simple active sentence is to use the Subject-Verb-Object formula. For example:

John makes boots.

In this sentence, there are 3 parts – the subject (John), the verb (makes), and the object (boots).

Passive voiceIn a basic sentence*:

  • the subject is the person who does the action
  • the verb is the action
  • the object is the receiver of the action

* This is a simple explanation, but like most languages, there are exceptions and other rules you need to consider.

In the passive voice, the order of the sentence changes. For example:

Sentence Structure Type
John has finished the painting. S-V-O This is an active sentence
The painting has been finished. O-V This is a passive sentence

There are two important points to note:

1. In a passive voice sentence, the form of the grammar changes and must always include a form of the auxiliary verb be. In the example above, see how ‘has finished’ changes to ‘has been finished’

2. The subject of an active sentence can be completely left out of a passive voice sentence (or can added at the end of the sentence with ‘by’ – The painting has been finished by John). In a passive sentence, the traditional ‘subject’ is often referred to as the ‘agent’. For example:

John has finished the painting => John is the subject in an active sentence

The painting has been finished by John => John is the agent in a passive sentence.

When / why do we use the passive voice?

There are four common reasons for using a passive voice sentence rather than an active sentence.

Use Example Explanation
1. When we don’t know the subject My car has been stolen We don’t know the thief
2. When the subject is obvious Taxes will be raised It must be the government
3. We want to avoid stating the agent The window was broken I don’t want to say who broke it
4. When we want to bring the important information to the front of the sentence The criminal was seen by the security guard. We are most interested in the criminal – not the security guard

All passive voice structures use a form of the verb ‘to be’. See the table below for more detail:

Form Active Passive
Present simple They make toys in that factory. Toys are made in that factory.
Present continuous He is repairing the computer. The computer is being repaired.
Past simple The lesson bored the students. The students were bored by the lesson.
Past continuous He was driving the car very badly. The car was being driven very badly.
Present perfect Someone has stolen my car! My car has been stolen!
Future simple (will) I will finish the project next month. The project will be finished next month..
Future with ‘going to’ They are going to sell the old factory. The old factory is going to be sold.
Future perfect They will have eaten all the food before we get there! All of the food will have been eaten before we get there!
Past perfect They had already eaten most of the food when we got there. Most of the food had already been eaten when we got there.

Note that intransitive verbs are not generally used in the passive voice.

Click here to try the passive voice exercises.

countable_uncountable_nouns2

Countable and uncountable nouns – more rules

Countable and uncountable nouns – more rules

countable_uncountable_nouns2Sometimes nouns can act as both countable and uncountable nouns (often with a slight difference in meaning). This can make learning the rules even more complicated!

For example, coffee is generally used as an uncountable noun. However, it is acceptable to say “I’d like two coffees please” because in this case the speaker is thinking about 2 cups of coffee.

This rule also applies when thinking of other uncountable liquids and the container they might come in.

For example: “Do you want a (bottle of / glass of) beer? Beer is uncountable, but the speaker is thinking about the bottle / glass it comes in.

The table below shows usage of the same words as countable and uncountable nouns – note the different forms of the same word.

Countable – There is a hair in my soup! (one countable strand of hair)

Uncountable – He doesn’t have much hair. (usually uncountable – all the hair on a person’s head)

……

Countable – Do you often read a paper? (the speak means a newspaper – newspapers are countable)

Uncountable – Do you have some paper I can use? (paper is uncountable, BUT pieces / sheets of paper are countable)

……

Countable – Did you leave a light on? (a light in the building that the person is talking about)

Uncountable – He couldn’t sleep because of the light coming through the curtains. (the speaker means ‘sunlight’ – uncountable noun)

……

Countable – On the farm they have a few chickens. (the birds – they are countable)

Uncountable – I love chicken – it’s my favourite meat! (the meat – uncountable. The same applies to lambs (animals) lamb (the meat) / ducks (the birds) duck (the meat) etc.

……

Countable – They had a terrible time last week! (the speaker is talking about one specific situation in the past)

Uncountable – Do you have time to help me? (‘time’ in general – uncountable noun)

countable_uncountable_nouns

Make uncountable nouns countable

Make uncountable nouns countable

make _uncountable_nouns_countableNouns can be split into two different groups – countable and uncountable. (see Countable and uncountable nouns for more information)

Countable nouns, as the name suggests, can be counted. For example, you can have 1 pen or 2 pens, a car or some or a lot of cars.

However, uncountable nouns cannot be counted. For example, you cannot have 2 advices or some or a lot of advices.

However, there are two ways to make an uncountable noun countable.

How to make an uncountable noun countable method 1

Add a countable ‘container’ for the uncountable noun.

For example, milk is uncountable but bottles of milk can be counted. You can say a bottle of milk, 2 bottles of milk etc.

How to make an uncountable noun countable method 2

Use a countable form of the word.

For example, work is uncountable, but job is countable.

The table below shows more examples of how to make uncountable nouns countable.

Uncountable Countable
Advice A piece of advice – pieces of advice
Luggage A suitcase, a bag or a piece of luggage – suitcases, bags or pieces of luggage
money a note, a coin – notes, coins
cake a slice of cake, a piece of cake – slices or pieces of cake
furniture a table, a chair, a piece of furniture – tables, chairs, pieces of furniture
bread a slice of bread, a loaf of bread, a piece of bread – slices, loaves, pieces of bread
knowledge a fact – facts
travel a journey, a trip – journeys, trips
toothpaste a tube of toothpaste – tubes of toothpaste
wine a bottle of wine, a glass of wine – bottles of or glasses of wine
butter a pat of butter – pats of butter
cheese a slice of cheese, a chunk of cheese, a piece of cheese – slices, chunks or pieces of cheese
sugar a sugarcube, a spoonful of sugar, a bowl of sugar – sugarcubes, spoonfuls of sugar, bowls of sugar
Petrol (gas) a litre of petrol – litres of petrol.
Salt a pinch of salt – pinches of salt
soap a bar of soap – bars of soap
hair a strand of hair – strands of hair
glass a sheet of glass, a pane of glass – sheets or panes of glass
prepositions-time

Prepositions of time (A2)

Prepositions of time A2

prepositions-of-timePrepositions of time (and all types of prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly because the rules are often quite difficult, and like most rules for a language, there are lots of exceptions.

In this lesson we will look at the prepositions of time ‘within’ and ‘before’.

Prepositions of time – within

WITHIN: We try to answer all emails within 24 hours.

‘Within’ is commonly used to express that something will be done inside or not later than the period of time stated.

Note: time given must be an amount of time, NOT a specific time in the future.

For example:

We try to answer all emails within 24 hours.

We try to answer all emails within the following day. Incorrect

 

Other uses could be: within the next few minutes, within the next week, within the next six months, within this financial year etc.

Prepositions of time – before

BEFORE: The repairs will be completed before Friday.

Before is also used to express that something will be done inside or not later than the time stated.

Note: the time given must be a specific future time. For example:

The repairs will be completed before Friday.Incorrect

We try to answer all emails before 24 hours. Incorrect

Other uses could be: before 1pm, before next week, before July, before the start of the next financial year etc.

Click here to try the Level A2 Prepositions of time exercises.

 

 

 

prepositions_of_place_2

Prepositions of place (A2)

Prepositions of place (A2)

prepositions_of_place_2Prepositions of place (and all prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly because the rules are often quite difficult, and like most rules for a language, there are lots of exceptions.

In this lesson we will look at the prepositions of place ‘against’, ‘alongside’, ‘beside’, ‘by’ and ‘towards’.

Prepositions of place examples of use

AGAINST: having contact with something, touching.

  • ‘He put the bike against the wall.’
  • The dog leaned against its owner.’

ALONGSIDE: in parallel, like train tracks

  • ‘The horses worked alongside each other to pull the cart.’
  • It is a beautiful drive as the road runs alongside the coast.

BESIDE: at the side of, not necessarily touching.

  • ‘He put the book beside his bed.’
  • She sat beside an elderly man on the train.’

BY: in the area of

  • ‘I live by some shops and a library.’
  • If you go that way, you will drive by a park.’

TOWARDS: getting closer, aiming at each other

  • ‘The cars drove towards each other and only turned away at the last minute.’
  • He waved as he walked towards me.’

Click here to try the prepositions of place exercises.