When teaching English, basics come first. Let’s go back to the basics of grammar and the English language to refresh our memory. This will be your most important lesson as a TEFL teacher – so pay attention! Check out this blog to rediscover the basics of the English language with us 🙂
So, you plan to be an English teacher, but you’re afraid to have forgotten some of your basics? Or are you new English learner? Whatever your motivation, we all have a good reason to check our basics of a foreign language! Today, Premier TEFL, who works with both native and non native speakers wanted to share some expert grammar tips with you. Let’s dive into this amazing language with the first step: the basic notions of English and classical traps that beginners (and even the experts) can forget.
Different Tenses in English:
– Use for habits – “I go to the swimming pool every Sunday”, or for general truths – “the fire burns”, to describe your feelings/opinions “I love Premier TEFL”.
– In this case, use the basic form of the verb, except for he/she/it, where you add an S at the end of the verb,
– The present can have another form. Indeed, if you’re talking about an event/action that is currently happening, you will use be + ing. For example, with the verb drink, “he is drinking” means it’s not an habit, but you describe what he is doing now. The sentence is “Subject + Be + Verb+ing”, where the verb to ‘be’ will change depending on the subject. For example: “We are jumping” or “He is running” or “I am learning”
– To describe a future event.
– To form the future variation of a sentence in English, use will + basic form of verb “I will go to the swimming pool tomorrow”
– Actions that are over in the present – “I went to the museum” – meaning you’re not in the museum anymore, or habits in the past.
– To form a sentence, you just add -”ED” at the end of the verb, or learn by heart the irregular verbs, i.e: “I ate a cake yesterday”
– Connect the present and the past – The action began in the past but is still true. Here is an example: “I’ve lived here for 3 years”
– Life experience at unfinished time. Example: “I’ve read this book”
– Recent past (notice this case with words like yet, already, just…)
– Form the present perfect with have + the past participle of the verb.
The Passive Form VS The Active Form:
The Active Form in English is used when you are the subject of the sentence and you do the action. For example, “I eat my hotdog”. The conjugation of the active form is the same as written above.
The Passive Form describes a situation when the subject is passive – meaning they undergo the action. The subject becomes the object. Let’s take an example: “The mouse is eaten by the cat” is the passive form of the sentence “The cat eats the mouse”. In this passive form, you put the subject + be + past participle + by + the object.
Fun English Fact: William Shakespeare invented many words in the English language such as birthplace, torture and undress.
Order of English sentence are often: Subject + verb+ object.
|Subject pronouns||Object pronouns||Possessive adjectives||Reflective pronouns|
|He (for a boy)
She(for a girl)
It (for an object or animal)
|His/her/Its||His/Hers/Its||Himself/ Herself/ Itself|
Then, here is a short list of the most basic verbs: Be, Have, Do, Go, Want, Become, Eat, Drink, Know.
Be careful with the verb be: I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, you are, they are.
Fun English Fact : The word “Goodbye” originally comes from an Old English phrase meaning “god be with you”.
Use of Comma “,” in English:
In English, the comma is used differently from other languages, such as French or German. So let’s explain easily when to use it when you write.
In a sentence, you use it to separate extra information: Mark, our amazing intern, is sharing with us one day in his life as a TEFL Teacher in Thailand! Here the extra information is “our amazing intern”. Using the commas helps the reader to understand that the information is referring to the subject before the commas. In this example, you know that Mark is one of our amazing interns.
Commas are also used in the English language when creating a list. For example: “I have taught English in Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Germany and Colombia!”
Common Questions and Misconceptions:
Since + specific date: You often see on adverts or products “Since + the date of the creation of the brand” here are some examples: “Since 1954” for BK ads. “Since” is used to refer to a certain time and includes all of the time that has passed since that moment. “I have been teaching since April 2022” – This would mean I started teaching in April of 2022 and have continued to teach until today. Whereas “For” is used for a period of time : for 18 seconds, 5 days, 2 months, three years.
When + present: If your sentence with “When” is about a future time, you have to use “When” with the present form of the verb. For example: “When I go home, I will eat my chocolate cake.” The first part of my sentence is about an event in the future, but the verb is still in the present form.
A vs An vs The: A/An – called ‘The Indefinite article’ – is used for a singular noun or when you talk about an object for the first time: “A platypus”
Use “An” instead of “A” when the word that follows begins with a vowel: “An owl”
Whereas “The” is used as a definite article, when you talk about something you know or already mentioned in a previous sentence: “The platypus”
Many vs Much: When should you use “many” or “much”, because both have the same meaning? This one is a classical question! The answer is (quite) simple: Many is used with countable quantity; like oranges, bottles, boxes… Whereas we use much when the quantity is uncountable, such as milk, money, or water. You can’t say one water or six milk, so that’s why we called them “Uncountable Quantities”.
The Use of DO:
This tiny word is SUPER important in English. It allows the user to build negative and interrogative questions. It is also a verb. Don’t forget that for he/she/it, DO becomes DOES.
Basically, if you want to say something negative, you just have to:
Put our subject + do + not + verb + object.
Let’s take an example : If you want to say the contrary of this sentence “I like spiders”, you just have to say “I do not like spiders”. Easy right?
Now, if you want to ask a question, you:
DO + subject + verb + object. With an example, it become : Do you like spiders?
Tips: English speaker often shorten the negative form, and the DO + NOT became DON’T.
A typical English expression is the question tag. Never heard of that? Don’t worry, we will explain it.
First, what does it mean? It’s a way to ask a question and expect the interlocutor to agree with your statement. For example: “He is not present, is he?”. In this case, you are almost sure that the person you are discussing was not present, but you want to confirm it.
Now, how do you make a question tag? Well it depends. If your sentence is positive, the question tag will be negative. And the opposite is true. That is to say, if your sentence is negative the question tag will be positive. Then, use the modal verb and the pronounce of your sentence:
He is from Ireland, isn’t he?
He can walk 7 km a day, can’t he?
If your sentence happened in the past or the future, the same rules apply:
They were fighting, weren’t they?
We will go on Monday, won’t we?
If there is no modal verb in your sentence, use DO (yeah, him again!). For example; “You learn English, don’t you?”
Tips: With question tag, you sound more like a Native speaker, so don’t hesitate to use them!
Have To VS Must:
Both involve the notion of doing something without any choice, something mandatory. But it can be hard to now which one you use in which case.
“Have to” is used for an obligation that others decide for us, for example, the law or the rules of your company. “You have to pay taxes” – that’s a law from the government. However “Must” is used when we decide something for us or for the others. “I must tidy my room” – that’s an order that you give to yourself.
One of the most important and helpful grammar points that all non-native English speakers should understand is modal verbs. Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that are used to express possibility, probability, permission, obligation, or advice. The most common modal verbs are: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, and would. Let’s take a closer look at the uses of each of these modal verbs.
To express the ability, you can use different verbs:
- Can is used to express an ability, something you’ve learned. For example, “I can speak English.”
- Could is used to express past/future ability. For example, “I could speak English when I was younger.” or “I could speak English if I found a great teacher.”
Modal verbs can also allow you to talk about permission. To express this idea, you can use:
- Can is used to express an permission. For example “Can I go to the park?”
- May is used to express permission in a polite and more formal way. For example, “May I go to the store?”
Another way to use modal verbs is to talk about something we believe is certain:
- In this case, use the verb must. For example, “The restaurant must be open” means that you are 100% sure this event is going to happen.
- Or use “should” to talk about something certain. Should would be a word to express an advice that you think is true. For example, “You should wear a coat in cold weather.”
Then, the modal verbs are used to talk about impossibility too. In that case, use the negative form of can : can + not. “You can’t go tonight” is a way to say that you’re forbidden to go out. So as a result, it’s impossible for you to go.
The last verbs are used also in these cases:
- Might is used to express possibility. For example, “It might rain tomorrow.”
- Shall is used to express an intention or suggestion. For example, “Shall we go to the park?”
- Will is used to express future action or intention. For example, “I will go to the store.”
- Would is used to express politeness or hypothetical situations. For example, “Would you like some help?” or “I would go to the store if I had the time.”
Comparative & Superlative:
Comparative: It serves to define the comparison between different elements.
If the adjective has one syllable – add “er” (tall -> taller)
If the adjective has two syllables – if the word ends with y, drop the y and add “ier” (happy -> happier). Otherwise, more + adjective (more boring)
If the adjective has more than two syllables, then use more + adjective (independent -> more independent).
Superlative: it express the highest level of quality of an element.
If the adjective has one syllable – add the + adj + “est” (tall -> the tallest)
If the adjective has two syllables – if the word ends with y, add the + adj + “iest” (funny -> the funniest). Otherwise, the + most + adjective (the most boring)
If the adjective has more than two syllables, then use the + most + adjective (independent -> the most independent).
Did you know?: The oldest word in the English language that is still in use today is the word ‘town’!
Now with this basic lesson, we hope that we could answer some of your questions! English is an amazing language and one of the most spoken throughout world! If you want to travel or work with international team, it’s mandatory to have basic knowledge of the Shakespearean language. After reading this blog about basics for TEFL teachers, are you ready to become a TEFL Teacher? Don’t forget that even the non-native speakers can become English teachers.
Test your English Language Level: https://premiertefl.com/english-level-test/