Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Correspondence may be directed to:
Mario V. Farina
Email: [email protected]
These days it may not be as important to speak English well as it once was. The upside to this is that you can speak as sloppily as you wish and no one will care. The downside is that there may come a time when speaking English well may determine whether you get a job you’ve applied for, win a case in small claims, convince an administrator that you have a valid complaint, explaining an idea you have to your supervisor, and more.
Yes, most of the time it does not matter how poorly you speak English; others will understand you. However, you may be risking being considered uneducated and, therefore, becoming vulnerable to scams, being insulted, not being taken seriously when you most want this, etc. Despite the advantages to speaking English any old way, you should, at least, know the correct way so that when the chips are down, you’ll be able to win the trick.
This book is not a complete text in English grammar. It’s merely a presentation of the ways that your speaking English poorly can hurt you. I know you’re an educated person; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this book. If you see that you have a problem with some of the topics mentioned below, you may be motivated to correct them. Even better, you may be motivated to take a complete course in English at a school.
This series of discussions is designed to be non-technical. It’s purpose is to enable you to 1 speak better English without getting the gobbledegook that is often inherent in formal courses taught in schools. I’m not arguing against formal language. It’s required in a formal course. My objective is teach you what you need to know without a lot of extraneous verbiage.
A lot of people make serious mistakes in the use of the past participle in the several verbs that I have selected for this e-book. The past participle is the word you need to use following the words has, have, and had. Here is an example:
I have gave to the Red Cross at the office.
In this sentence, the past participle is the word, gave. Proper English requires you use the word given.
Therefore, the wrong way to write the sentence is:
I have gave to the Red Cross at the office .
The right way is:
I have given to the Red Cross at the office.
Does it make a difference whether you use the correct past participle or the incorrect one. Most times it won’t because you’ll be speaking informally to family, friends, people on the street, etc. But sometimes it will make a difference. You may be talking to a prospective employer, a bank officer, a judge in a small claims case, a car dealer, a salesperson, etc. These people will judge you by the way you speak and they will treat you accordingly. If they judge you to be educated, they may well treat you differently than if they feel you are the opposite. They may try to take advantage of you if they feel they can get away with it. Don’t fall victim to unscrupulous persons who may attempt to take advantage of you. Speak English well!
Speaking English well involves more than simply using the correct past participle. But we have to begin somewhere. Do master the material in this e-book!
If you like what this e-book teaches, look for others in the series I call, Why Doesn’t You Speak Better. (Yes, I know this title is wrong! I’m just having some fun!)
I want to talk about nineteen verbs that need correct past participles. They are:
I’ll show a statement that uses the wrong part participle and follow this with a sentence that uses the correct one. Don’t ever use the wrong one! Learn the correct one by heart and uses it whenever you write or say a sentence that needs a past participle following have, has, and had. The examples will mix these three words but the correct past participle will always be the same. In all the examples, the past participle will be italicized.
I have broke the watch and I’m sorry
I have broken the watch and I’m sorry
Friends, I have came to give you some very good news
Friends, I have come to give you some very good news.
William has did the job to the best of his ability.
William has done the job to the best of his ability.
I had drank three glasses of water before having breakfast.
I had drunk three glasses of water before having breakfast.
I have drove thirty miles already.
I have driven thirty miles already.
We had already ate when the doorbell rang.
We had already eaten when the doorbell rang.
I have fell and can’t get up.
I have fallen and can’t get up.
Helen has flew to Buffalo to attend the class
Helen has flown to Buffalo to attend the class.
Bill said that he had gave to the book to the library.
Bill said that he had given the book to the library.
Yes, we have went to that restaurant many times.
Yes, we have gone to that restaurant many times.
George, you have grew at least ten inches since last year.
George, you have grown at least ten inches since last year.
do and know
I would have did better on the test if I had knew the answer to the first question.
I would have done better on the test if I had known the answer to the first question.
He has ran the mile in less than four minutes.
He has run the mile in less than four minutes.
I had already saw that movie three times.
I had already seen that move three times.
I have spoke to the children about never starting to smoke.
I have spoken to the children about never starting to smoke.
Wilma had already took (also tooken) that math course.
Wilma had already taken that math course.
Lee has threw all his cigarettes in the trash.
Lee has thrown all his cigarettes in the trash.
Max had wrote a great story before he was five.
Max had written a great story before he was five.
Here is a handy table that shows what is the past participle for these the above verbs.
There may be other verbs that you’ll wonder about what should be the correct past participle. The internet is a wonderful source of information. Simply ask Google a question. It might be a question like, “What are the past participles of common verbs.”
If you see errors in what I have written above, please let me know. Also, please let me know if you would like to see other e-books with different subjects in English like the six persons, the past tense, the use of pronouns, double negatives, etc.
When you need to tell about something that happened in the past, there are mistakes you can make giving the impression that you may be uneducated. Unscrupulous individuals may be tempted to try to get away with scams of one kind or another. I behooves everyone to make sure this risk is avoided Endeavor to use the proper past tense forms when telling about something that happened in the past.
Here are some example verbs and their past tense forms:
Verb, Past Tense Form
Most persons don’t have trouble with verbs like these because they learned to use them correctly as children and the correct forms are easily remembered. However, some persons learned past tense forms that are incorrect.
Three words are often misused as past tense words. These are seen, done, and come. Here are some examples of their misuse.
Yesterday, I seen the mailman when he delivered the mail early. The word seen is not the correct past tense form of the verb see. The correct word to use in this sentence is saw.
The above example sentence should be written this way:
Yesterday, I saw the mailman when he delivered the mail early.
A second sentence:
John told me that he was ashamed because of what he done to the book. The word done is not the correct past tense form of the verb do. The correct word to use in this sentence is did.
The above example sentence should be written this way:
John told me that he was ashamed because of what he did to the book.
A third sentence:
The millionaire come to see me about my invention. The word come is not the correct past tense form of the verb come. The correct word to use in this sentence is came.
The above example sentence should be written this way:
The millionaire came to see me about my invention.
In the first sentence, the word seen should be saw.
In the second sentence, the word done should be did.
In the third sentence, the word come should be came.
Here are additional sentences illustrating the use of the past tense word, saw.
I saw the sun when it rose this morning.
The citizen told the police what he saw at the time of the robbery
Are you sure you saw the watch on the counter when you got up?
Don’t ever say, “I seen . . . ” This makes you seem poorly educated.
Here are additional examples that illustrate the correct way of using the past tense word, did.
I was unaware that what I did to the seat in the plane could have been considered a crime.
He did the best he could with the tools that he had been given.
Mary was told that what she did for the child helped save her life.
Don’t ever say, “I done . . .” This makes you seem poorly educated.
Here are additional examples that illustrate the correct way of using the past tense word, came.
Roger came at once to help me when I phoned him.
Alice and Helen came to the office when they received my note.
When I asked him to bring the manuscript to my desk, he came with it immediately.
Don’t ever say, “He come . . .” This makes you seem poorly educated.
The words seen, done, and come are not improper all the time. In the correct context they are the best words. Here are some examples that illustrate these words in combination with has, have, and had.
I have seen beautiful birds in that tree on many occasions.
Jane has done a marvelous job in transforming the slum to an attractive place.
Ralph had already come to class when it was canceled.
In these sentences, you may recognize that the words seen, done, and come are being past participles.
Listen to yourself speak. Avoid seeming illiterate with the improper use of the words seen, done, and come when you should be using saw, did, and came.
Many past tense forms are easy to understand and use. You simply add “ed” to the verb. Here are some examples.
I talked for an hour at the meeting.
He walked three miles yesterday.
Ralph accidentally injured my dog.
Yesterday, we all followed the leader.
They worked on the farm for four hours.
If the verb ends with the letter e, all you need to add is d.
At times the past tense form of a verb is different from the verb. These need to me memorized. Here are several examples.
Jack blew the horn when he saw the pedestrian crossing the street. (The verb is blow.)
I bought the phone at Radio Shack. (The verb is buy.)
You drank more wine than you should have. (The verb is drink)
We heard the train whistle before we saw the train. The verbs are hear and see.)
They rang the bell at the haunted house and a ghost came out. (The verb is ring.)
At times you have a choice about which past tense form to use. Here are examples (both forms are correct):
He dived into the pool from a height of ten feet.
He dove into the pool from a height of ten feet.
Entering the house, he lit a candle.
Entering the house, he lighted a candle.
Dave sneaked into the factory unseen.
Dave snuck into the factory unseen.
The mess in the room stank to high heaven.
The mess in the room stunk to high heaven.
I dreamed about falling from a great height.
I dreamt about falling from a great height.
At times the past tense form of a verb is the verb itself. Examples:
He cut himself by careless use of the knife.
The balloon burst because he squeezed it.
The batter hit the ball over the fence.
At the casino, we put the money on red.
Wilma quit her job and did not get unemployment insurance.
Here, for reference, are some frequently used verbs and their past tense forms:
Verb, Past Tense Form
dive, dived or dove
dream, dreamed or dreamt
forbid, forbade or forbad
hang, hanged (legal execution)
hang, hung (a picture, etc.)
light, lit or lighted
shine, shined or shone
sneak, sneaked or snuck
spill, spilled or spilt
spit, spit or spat
stink, stank or stunk
In every sentence, there is someone or something that takes an action of some kind. That someone or something is called the Subject of the sentence. Here are some sentences illustrating various subjects. In each sentence, the subject is italicized.
Henry is planning a trip.
Wilma finished reading the book.
I will go out for breakfast.
You have arrived too early.
They found gold in California.
The sun rose at 7:30.
Rover loved the new dog food.
You all passed the exam.
Ms. Gordon quit the job she had had for many years.
You can see that the subject of the sentences were people, a dog, the sun, etc.
So that grammar can be understood and taught effectively, grammar rules define six different persons. A person is a of subject. Everybody and everything that does something in a sentence falls into one of the six category of persons.
Here are detailed explanations of the six persons.
First Person Singular: This person is always I. That is, the person performing the action is the speaker or writer of the sentence. Some examples of the First Person Singular are these: (In each sentence, the subject of the sentence is italicized.)
I get up at six every day
Tomorrow, I will begin a new job.
I am a happy person.
Second Person Singular: This person is always the word, you. That is, the person who is performing the action is the person that the writer or speaker is addressing. Here are some examples of the use of the Second Person Singular: (In each sentence, the subject is italicized.)
You have the right to vote.
Congratulations, you have won the contest.
You will be able to apply for the license after one year of experience.
Third Person Singular: This person is a single individual or thing that we can address as he, she, it, one, Lucy, Mr. Jones, the sun, etc. Here are several examples of the use of the Third Person Singular. (In each sentence, the subject is italicized.)
He has been working in that company many years.
On the following day, she decided to move from home.
It rolled down the incline. (We don’t know what it is. We could be talking about a ball, a marble, a tire, etc.)
Mr. Sam Anderson won the election.
Jane sings beautifully.
The water flowed faster and faster.
The wind blew fiercely.
The plane took off at six a.m.
One has the right to equal justice under the law.
First Person Plural: This person is always we. Here are some examples illustrating the use of the First Person Plural. (In each sentence, the subject is italicized.)
We will be arriving in Boston at about ten p.m.
We like to sing in the choir every Sunday.
We have decided to start an investing club.
Second Person Plural: This person is always you but it involves two or persons that that the speaker or writer is addressing. Here are examples of the use of the Second Person Plural. (In each sentence, the subject or phrase is italicized.)
Class, I’d like to say that you have passed the course.
Visitors, you are all welcome to the city.
What I said to the group was, “You should do your own thinking!”
Third Person Plural: This person is always they. Here are some examples illustrating the use of the Third Person Plural. (In each sentence, the subject is italicized.)
At the end of the day, they went to their homes.
They will be arriving early in the morning.
They knew the law because they had had a great instructor.
Members of the jury indicated they would give their decision soon.
Here is a table that summarizes the six persons.
Person Name, Members of this Person
First Person Singular: I
Second Person Singular: you
Third Person Singular: he, she, it, one, Jim, Ellen, Ms. Smith, sun, auto, etc.
First Person, Plural: we
Second Person Plural: you (more than one person)
Third Person Plural: they
Why is it important that you know that grammar defines six persons? The answer is that many times the details of how to use a very have a connection which person is taking or receiving an action. Let’s consider two examples.
Let’s consider how the verb, go, is used.
First Person Singular: I go
Second Person Singular: you go
Third Person Singular: he goes, she goes, Sue goes, the car goes, etc.
First Person Plural: we go
Second Person Plural: you go (more than one person)
Third Person Singular: they go
Let’s consider how the verb, to be, is used:
First Person Singular: I am
Second Person Singular: you are
Third Person Singular: he is, she is, it is, Sue is, the car is, etc.
First Person Plural: we are
Second Person Plural: you are (more than one person)
Third Person Singular: they are
Note from the Author: Please let me know if you see errors.
You already know there are six persons in the English language. Here they are in brief form:
1. First Person Singular, I
2. Second Person Singular, you
3. Third Person Singular, he, she, it, one, Anne, Bob, Ms. Cutler, dog, ball
4. First Person Plural, we
5. Second Person Plural, you
6. Third Person Plural, they
Note the use of the verb, think, in the following six sentences.
Every day, I think about what needs to be done for the home.
Every day, you think about what needs to be done for the home.
Every day, he thinks about what needs to be done for the home.
Every day, we think about what needs to be done for the home.
Every day, all of you think about what needs to be done for the home.
Every day, they think about what needs to be done for the home.
Observe that the verb, think, is used with the same spelling in five of the six sentences. It’s different only for the sentence that discusses the Third Person Singular. Here, the verb, think, has an “s” at the end.
In these sentences and all the others I show below follow the same pattern. All verbs are spelled the same except for the third person where the letter “s” or “es” is used. Look at these examples. (An infinitive is a verb with the word “to” ahead of it.)
All of the six persons use the first form of the verb except the Third Person Singular, which simply add “s” or “es”
Here are some examples of verbs being used incorrectly in the Third Person Singular.
When Henry is hungry, he eat some fruit. (eat should be eats)
When Alice is thirsty, she drink some juice. (drink should be drinks)
When the cat want something, it meows. (want should be wants)
When he read, he read history books. (read should be reads)
When she write, she write letters. (write should be writes)
When it go, it go slow. (go should be goes)
When he works, he do the best he can. (do should be does.)
Mr. Watson get angry many times a day. (get should be gets)
After the rain, the sun come out. (come should be comes)
As you an see, each wrong word is easily corrected by adding the letter s to the basic word. (There is an exception, to correct go, you would need to add es.
The verb, to be, is special. Here are the forms to use for each of the persons:
1. First Person Singular, am
2. Second Person Singular, are
3. Third Person Singular, is
4. First Person Plural, are
5. Second Person Plural, are
6. Third Person Plural, are
Here are sentences illustrating the use of to be in each of the six persons.
I am a busy person.
You are a busy person
Mary is a busy person.
We are busy persons.
You are busy persons
They are busy persons.
Note which person uses am, which persons use are, and which person uses is.
The verb, to have, is special. Here are the forms to use for each of the persons:
1. First Person Singular, have
2. Second Person Singular, have
3. Third Person Singular, has
4. First Person Plural, have
5. Second Person Plural, have
6. Third Person Plural, have
Here are sentences illustrating the use of have in each of the six persons:
I have no skill in sports
You have more skill in sports than I have.
Ms. Williams has the most skill in sports
We have very little skill in sports
You all have excellent skills in sports
They have a great deal of skill in sports.
Note that all the persons use have except the Third Person Singular which uses has.
If a verb ends in y, change the y to i and add es to form for use in the Third Person Singular. Here are examples:
Make sure you always use the proper form of a verb in the Third Person Singular.
In an important conversation or interview, if you say something like:
I is a curious person.
You is a good friend.
He do the best he can.
She go there all the time.
Remember, for most verbs the form to use is the same for all persons except the Third Person Singular. Take the trouble to learn and use the correct form. To a person who is listening carefully to the way you speak, the use of the wrong form will be as obvious as a red light flashing!
The improper use of the words no, don’t, didn’t, never, and a few more, can make it seem as if you’re saying the opposite of what you intend! An example is this:
Example 1, I don’t see nothing.
If you don’t see nothing, then you must be seeing something! You’re saying the opposite of what you intend. You’re using what’s called a double negative. Double negatives usually indicate the opposite of what you mean to say.
Don’t forget that the word don’t is a contraction for the two words, do not. If you do not do nothing, the two negative ideas turn what you are saying into the opposite of what you mean.
The above statement should be: I don’t see anything.
Example 2, I didn’t hear nobody calling me.
The word didn’t is a contraction for the two words, did not. If you did not hear nobody, then you may have heard somebody. The two negative ideas turn what you’re saying into the opposite of what you mean.
The above statement should be: I didn’t hear anybody calling me.
Double negatives that involve the words, don’t, and didn’t are easy to recognize. Consider these examples.
Example 3, I don’t want nothing for breakfast.
If a person doesn’t want nothing for breakfast, then he or she must want something!
Example 4, They don’t do no work on Sundays.
If a person doesn’t do no work on Sundays, then he or she must do some work on Sundays!
Example 5, I didn’t say nothing about that.
If a person didn’t say nothing then he or she must have said something.
Example 6, I didn’t go nowhere on Sunday.
If a person didn’t go nowhere, then he or she must have gone somewhere!
Substituting anything for nothing, any for no, anywhere for nowhere will clarify what is meant.
Here are some ways to say something negative without reversing what you mean:
I don’t want anything for breakfast.
They don’t do any work on Mondays.
The didn’t so anything wrong
They didn’t go anywhere.
So, how do you avoid falling into the trap of using a double negative. Listen to yourself when you speak. If you say (or write) something, check whether a word involving any should be used to avoid doubling your negative remark.
In addition to any, you can use words that begin with any, such as anything, anywhere, anyplace, etc.
Read the following statement. How should you avoid doubling the negative sense?
He looked everywhere but was not able to find the watch no place.
The correct way to avoid the double negative is to say:
He looked everywhere but was not able to find the watch anyplace.
There are other ways to have double negatives cause confusion. There isn’t room here to mention all of them but you can listen to yourself as you speak. Are you saying the opposite of what you mean? Here are some examples where the double negative exists and how it should be corrected:
1. He never does nothing correctly.
2. Before age eighteen, I wasn’t allowed to drive nowhere by myself.
3. John doesn’t ever do nothing worthwhile.
4. He wasn’t interested in nothing when attending school.
5. We aren’t going nowhere today.
Here is how the five sentences above should have been written to clearly indicate what the speaker/writer really meant:
1. He never does anything correctly.
2. Before age eighteen, I wasn’t allowed to drive anywhere by myself.
3. John doesn’t ever do anything worthwhile.
4. He wasn’t interested in anything when attending school.
5. We aren’t going anywhere today.
The word ain’t is treacherous. It’s easy to use double negatives with this word. Here are examples:
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
I ain’t going nowhere.
He ain’t never done that.
They ain’t doing nothing.
With the knowledge you now have about double negatives, you can probably rewrite the statement so that they mean something.
It’s possible to come up with a triple negatives. Here one that defies explanation:
John doesn’t never do nothing.
As a test, rewrite this statement so that it makes sense.
Remember, there may be individuals listening to the way you speak. They may be making evaluations of your intelligence based on what they hear. These evaluations could lead to life changing decisions.
In English, the word, ain’t, is not considered an actual word.
1The theme of this series of books is Learn to Speak Better. Certainly, following grammatical rules is one way that a person can learn to speak better. There are other ways. One of the other ways is to avoid verbal habits that many may find distracting, if not annoying. Some speakers sprinkle their verbiage with useless words and/or phrases. This book deals with some of those wordings. It urges you to listen to yourself speak to determine which ones, if any, of the examples, you use and make an effort to eliminate them.
It’s OK, You Know
One of the most irritating habits that you can acquire to annoy others is the incessant use of OK and you know.
Listen to a you know person speak. He or she places this two-word phrase at the end of each sentence as if it were a period in a written message. It also serves as a comma. It even finds its way into places where neither a period nor comma is needed. One may hear this:
“It was early morning, you know. I was up as, usual – you know, and I began getting ready for, you know, work. But things were going to be a little, you know, different today. I couldn’t find my lunch. This was devastating, you know. I had made it. That was, you know, for sure. I felt as if, I was having, you know, a senior moment.”
It goes on and on like this. The you know is sometimes clearly pronounced, sometimes indistinct with a subtle y’know, sometimes an even more delicate y’nuh.
It’s clear the individual does not know about this habit. You may try drawing attention to it by saying something like, “No, I don’t know,” but this has no effect.
Are you a you know person? Do realize that you may be able to continue this usage forever in normal conversations without anyone ever complaining, but it can hurt you greatly where important communications are involved. In a job interview, it might wreck your chances. Do what it takes to break the habit.
Another person who can be extremely annoying is the OK Person. This person declares OK ceaselessly. Where the you know person states, you know, this person injects OK. Every statement ends with OK. There is no use trying to hint your annoyance by asking why the other person feels that what he or she was saying is OK. Your question remains unanswered or you may simply receive further amplifications of what the speaker is saying. all laced with ample OK’s, of course.
You may be unfortunate enough to encounter an OK Person employed as an instructor in a course you’re taking! You may pay so much attention to the OK’s that you may not retain anything of what the individual is saying. Even if the person may be enunciating a message of importance, all you hear are the OK’s
Are you an OK Person. Break the habit! There is nothing of benefit that this word does for you.
You Know What I Mean?
You may have met the person who constantly asks you whether you know what he means. He or she begins relating the details of an incident and says, You know what I mean? or Understand? or Do you see what I’m saying? There may be other forms of this inquiry. After each of these questions, you might be tempted to remark, Yes, I see what you mean, Yes, I know what you’re saying, or similar statements, thinking the person will realize that he or she is asking the same tiresome question over and over without its having a definite purpose.
Useless Word, Like
Some people include words, phrases, thoughts, and idea in their conversations
that have no meaning whatever and serve only to indicate disorganized thought.
Consider the use of like. What is the purpose of this word in conversations? One may make a statement such as, “We went to the classroom a little late and the instructor was, like, annoyed!” What does the speaker mean? The instructor was either annoyed or not. If he or she was only like annoyed, how much annoyed was this? Was the instructor peeved? Irritated? Bothered? Exasperated? Vexed? If the degree of annoyance is important, it should be disclosed; otherwise, the word, like, makes no sense and should be missing from the statement.
Another Person tells of an encounter this way: “My friend came to see me and he was, like. angry. I was, like, what’s his problem. He was, like, out of control. “What’s bothering you,” I asked. “You stole my watch,” he yelled. I was, like, amazed. What would make him think that?” What is the purpose of like in these statements. If it’s a way to describe how a speaker feels, why doesn’t he or she state this and what extent?
Useless Words, To Be Perfectly Frank, and To Tell You the Truth
Sometimes when you ask a person a question, he or she will respond with “To be perfectly frank, . . . ” The remark has no meaning. Shouldn’t we always get a frank answer to a question? Does the person admit that sometimes you can’t depend upon what he or she is saying?
Another speaker might state, “To tell you the truth, sir, the reason I’m late was because of traffic.” To tell the truth? Is the speaker indicating that sometimes he or she is careless with this quality? It would seem that one has the right to expect the truth without being informed that, this time, this is what the speaker will be delivering. The statement serves no purpose. Worse, it may indicate that the person may not always be candid when he or she says something. One cannot depend upon a person who uses this kind of preamble.
Useless Words, What Not, Everything, and Whatever
A speaker may state that there was a surfeit of food at the party by stating, “There were canapés, delicacies, hors d’oeuvres of various kind and what not! What is the purpose of what not? It would seem the speaker ran out of items to mention and took the easy way out of suggesting there were more items. The speaker might also have said everything, all that stuff, who knows what else, etc.”. The terms and what not, and the others words and phrases bespeak of laziness or lack of knowledge. It might be that the speaker did not have the ability to produce a truly impressive statement. The use of whatever is similar to what not, and everything. Don’t say, “The day was busy. I needed to go to the bank, the super market, and whatever.” Say instead, “The day was busy. I needed to go to the bank, the super market , and, a least three other places.” “Whatever,” seems to indicate a sort of laziness where the speaker doesn’t want to take the time to be more clear.
Useless Words, Basically
Many persons begin describing a situation by saying, basically. This is a useless word. All you have to do to describe a situation is to say what it is or was. You might be testifying in a court case and are asked what you saw when the robbery occurred. You might begin with, Basically, there was a robber wearing a mask. The jury may wonder what basically means. Was the robber wearing a mask or something that might have been taken as a mask? Be clear, stop using this useless word unless you are speaking about something that is complex and you are describing only the essentials.
Useless Words, I mean
Many individuals use the words I mean when it has absolutely no use in a statement. For example, a person may be asked to relate what happened. He or she begins with, I mean. What is the purpose of this phrase. Does it stand for, This is what I want to say: , Here is my view, I’m about to begin speaking? The meaningless use of, I mean, could be very annoying. If you are an I mean person, see if you can drop this phrase from your conversations and/or statements of facts. If you have something to say, simply say it!
Useless Words, Right
You may say right? where others may use OK, you know, or Do you know what I mean? It makes no sense to use this word because it seems to be saying that everything you have said so far is a an established fact. The listener may not agree with this notion. If you want to state a fact, say it. Let the listener make the decision whether what you said is right or wrong. It may actually be a good idea if you preface certain remarks with In my opinion, The way I see it, I may be wrong, but, or other words to indicate that you believe what you are saying is accurate but you are willing to be shown where you are wrong.
It’s true that regardless of how you speak in casual conversations, no one will care. But, there will be those rare occasions where your manner of speaking will be more important than what you say. Make sure you are prepared for them!
1I Go, He Goes, and She Goes
A strange way that some people have of reporting conversations is to use the word go and goes instead of says.
A conversation might be reported this way:
Janet came to see me about the snow on her lawn. She looked angry and I asked her what was the problem.
She goes, “The snow in my driveway came from your mound and I want you to get it off.”
(“She goes” should be “She said”.
I go, “How can you say this; the snow fell on your driveway. There was some on my driveway too.”
(“I go” should be “I said”.)
She goes, “The wind on your side of the driveway blew the snow to my side. It’s your snow.”
(“She goes” should be “She said”.)
I couldn’t believe what she was saying, and I go, “What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense.”
(“I go” should be “I said”.)
She left more angry than before, and the next thing I saw was her shoveling the snow from her driveway to mine. While I was deciding what to do, she came back and she goes, “There, this is your snow and I gave it back to you.”
(“She goes” should be “She said”.)
I was so amused, I laughed. She goes, “What are you laughing at?” and I go, “You, Janet. Thanks for the snow.”
(“She goes” should be “she said” and “I go” should be “I said”.)
Saying go when you should be saying, said, is all right in informal speaking, but might ruin a job for a reporter’s job should you be interviewed for one.
The Use of Was
Many people use the word was incorrectly in connection with the past tense. They might say something like this:
Three famous movie stars was coming to perform in our town.
All those people was angry about what had happened.
John and I was coming to see you when the we saw the accident.
You was only a kid when I first met you.
We was happy to celebrate Jane’s sixteenth birthday.
In these sentences, the word was should be were.
The word was is the past tense version of am and is. Here are some examples.
I am greatly interested in classical music.
I was greatly interested in classical music
It is raining hard outdoors.
It was raining hard outdoors.
He is a brilliant individual.
He was a brilliant individual.
She is involved in many nature studies.
She was involved in many nature studies.
I am learning the game of Bridge.
I was learning the game of Bridge.
Another combination of present and past tense words are are and were. The word were is the past tense form of are. Here are examples.
You are a bright young person.
You were a bright young person.
We are learning to play golf.
We were learning to play golf.
They are marching in the parade.
They were marching in the parade.
Tom and Alice are traveling to Madrid.
Tom and Alice were traveling to Madrid.
Have you heard someone say something like, “He don’t know how to drive.”
This is a major blunder in the correct use of English grammar. The “he don’t” part of this sentence should be “he doesn’t.”
The word “don’t” is a contraction for the two words, “do not.” When someone says “he don’t,” the individual is actually saying “he do not.”
In the first example sentence above, “He don’t know how to drive,” literally says, “He do not know how to drive.” The correct way to make the statement is, “He does not know how to drive,” or “He doesn’t know how to drive.” The phrase “he do not” is a gross error in grammar.
The contraction “don’t” in the following sentences should be replaced with “doesn’t” or “does not.” Note that the person involved in all the sentences is the Third Person Singular. (As is, the sentences would be OK with the other five persons.)
He don’t know math well enough.
She don’t understand good manners.
The robin don’t have a nest.
James don’t give to beggars.
Wilma don’t like coffee.
Ms. Gordon don’t ever answer the doorbell.
The words “do not” in the following sentences should be replaced with “does not.”
He do not have good ideas.
She do not like winter time.
The ball do not roll well on uneven ground.
It do not roll well on uneven ground.
Thomas do not play the piano.
Sandra do not wear hats.
Mr. Anderson do not like driving to work.
Here are several sentences that show how “don’t” and “doesn’t” can be correctly be used.:
I don’t like rain.
You don’t like rain.
We don’t like rain.
Sam and I don’t like rain.
Sue and Mary don’t like rain.
They don’t like rain.
Note that none of these sentences involve the Third Person Singular.
He doesn’t like rain.
She doesn’t like rain.
Jack doesn’t like rain.
Jane doesn’t like rain.
The child doesn’t like rain.
The cat doesn’t like rain.
Note that all the sentences involve the Third Person Singular.
Above wherever you can use “don’t,” you can also say “do not.”
Above wherever you can use “doesn’t,” you can also say “does not.”
When you’re tempted to say “don’t,” check the sentences above to see if it’s OK to do so. Maybe the grammatically correct word should be “doesn’t”.
Here are additional examples with the incorrect use of “don’t:”
It has come to my attention that Ann was fired from her job because she don’t know how to type.” This should be “she doesn’t know how to type.”
“Everybody knows that the cat that we have in our house don’t like to catch mice.” This should be “doesn’t like to catch mice.”
“I asked about the dog and was told that he don’t bark when strangers come to the house.” This should be “doesn’t bark when strangers come to the house.”
The use of “don’t” is often correct. Check the following sentences to determine which ones are improper.
1. We don’t enjoy going out in the winter.
2. They don’t like to drive in snow.
3. Helen don’t want to go to work when it snows.
4. Actually, she don’t want to go to work no matter what the weather is.
5. Where the dog is concerned, she don’t want to go for walks when it’s cold.
6. I don’t like to walk with the dog in hot weather.
7. Somebody told me that you don’t care for winter sports.
8. In answer to your question about Fred, he don’t like these kinds of sport either.
9. To you twelve students, all I can say is that I know you don’t like exams but they are needed.
10. The little boy don’t yet know the rules of baseball and football.
The sentences that are improper are 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10. Why are these sentences wrong? What should they be?
In speaking of this verb and others, we generally use the word, to, to help identify the very we have in mind. Thus, verbs are know as to eat, to sing, to hear, to see, to give, to give, etc. These official names are called, infinitives. If I’m planning to tell you about the verb, to love, I could simply say that I plan to tell you about the verb, love, and you will understand me. However, from tradition, we do this is a more formal way. We use the infinitive form of the verb. In this instance, I’ll say that I plan to tell you about to love. An infinitive is easy to construct. You simply take the basic form of a verb and place the word, to, ahead of it.
To illustrate, if I plan to talk about verbs having the basic form receive, know, go, and, I would say I was going to talk about to know, to go, and to dream.
In English there are verbs that are called regular and those that are called irregular. The regular verbs have a pattern that you can rely on when speaking or writing. Consider the example, to work.
To work is a regular verb.
Here are examples in the of this verb in the present tense in all six persons:
I work five days during the week.
You work six days during the week.
He works in his den every evening.
We work in the garden.
Class, I’m impressed at the way you work in this class.
They work because they need the money.
In the past tense these sentences would be:
I worked five days during the week.
You worked six days during the week.
He worked in his den every evening.
We worked in the garden.
Class, I was impressed at the way you worked in this class.
They worked because they needed the money.
There are many regular verbs. Some of them are: serve, play, want, talk, and present.
In forming the present and past tense for these verbs, you would use the model provided by to work.
Irregular verbs don’t allow you to follow the same pattern as to work. An example is to give. The past tense form of to give is not gived, as you might guess, but gave. The past tense form of to drive is not drived but drove. The past tense form of to eat is not eated but ate.
It is not easy to know which verbs are regular and which are irregular. The best way I can suggest you use to learn them is to do a lot of reading, much listening, and much memorizing.
There are three irregular verbs that you need to study and understand well are to have, to do, and to be. Here are the six forms of to have in both the present and past tenses.
Present Tense of To Have
I have only two dollars in my savings account.
You have three dollars in your savings account.
Sally has five dollars in her savings account.
We have nothing at all in our savings account.
Men, you have six hours to fix the break.
They have no idea of what was happening.
Past Tense of To Have
I had only two dollars in my savings account.
You had three dollars in your savings account.
Sally had five dollars in her savings account.
We had nothing at all in our savings account.
Men, you had six hours to fix the break.
They had no idea of whom to vote for.
Present Tense of To Do
I do whatever needs to be done.
You do whatever needs to be done.
She does whatever needs to be done.
We do whatever needs to be done.
Team, do whatever needs to be done.
The do whatever needs to be done.
Past Tense of To Do
I did whatever needed to be done.
You did whatever needed to be done.
She did whatever needed to be done.
We did whatever needed to be done.
Team, you did whatever needed to be done.
The did whatever needs to be done
We use the verb, to be, every day but may not know it by this name. You’ll recognize the verb. to be, when you see the present and past tenses of this verb in all six persons.
Present Tense of To Be
I am a hard worker.
You are hard worker.
Mr. Gordon is a hard worker.
We are hard workers.
Folk, you are hard workers.
They are hard workers.
Past Tense of To Be
I was a hard worker.
You were a hard worker.
Ms. Williams was a hard worker
We were hard workers.
Women, you were hard workers.
They were hard workers.
A personal pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Here is an example story:
Jim invited Janet to have dinner with Jim at “The Thunderbird Restaurant.” Janet was pleased to be invited and agreed to go. Jim and Janet enjoyed a sumptuous meal, then took a walk through the park. Jim and Janet had enjoyed the time that Jim and Janet had had together. Jim was glad that he had invited Janet. Janet was also glad that Jim had invited Janet.
This story is about Jim and Janet but the story is poorly expressed. The names Jim and Janet have been used too much. Study this improvement:
Jim invited Janet to have dinner with him at “The Thunderbird Restaurant.” She was pleased to be invited and agreed to go. They enjoyed a sumptuous meal, then took a walk through the park. Jim and Janet had enjoyed the time that they had had together. Jim was glad that he had invited her. She was also glad that he had invited her.
The story is more interestingly told. Note that the words he and him refer to Jim and the words she and her refer to Janet. The word, they refers to both of them. The words he, him, they, she, and her are called pronouns. In this story, we use these pronouns in order to avoid having to use the words Jim and Janet too often.
Here is a list of useful pronouns that you should study carefully.
Pronoun, What It Can Be Used For and an example.
I, Refers to the speaker.
Example: I like to play chess.
you, Refers to the person to whom the speaker is speaking.
Example: You play the piano very well.
he, Refers to a male person.
Example: He reported the crime to the police.
she, Refers to a female person.
Example: She was in the store shopping when the theft occurred.
it, Refers to a thing; sometimes to an animal; sometimes to a baby child.
Example: It tells the time accurately
we. Refers to the speaker and one or more others persons
Example: We like to play Bingo.
you, Refers to a group to whom the speaker is speaking.
Example: You, in this class, are all doing well.
they, Refers to a group of people or things.
Example: They arrived in town and came to visit.
The pronouns I, you, he, she, it, we, you (plural), and they do things.
Here is another list of pronouns:
Pronoun, What it Can Be Used For and an example.
me, Refers to the speaker
Example, Jack came to the office and gave me a package.
you, Refers to another person with whom the speaker is interacting.
Example, Ms. Jones, you will receive a raise next week.
him, Refers to a male person.
Example: When the boy delivered the paper, I gave him a tip.
her, Refers to a female person.
Example: The people thanked her for the gift.
it, Refers to a thing, sometimes an animal, sometimes a baby child.
Example: The dog saw the squirrel and chased it up a tree.
us, Refers to a the speaker and others.
Example: The thief would not tell us where the loot was.
you, Refers to a group of people with whom the speaker is interacting.
Example: Class, because of your excellent grades, this award is being given to you.
them, Refers to a group of people or things.
Example: When the children came to the door, we gave them candy.
The pronouns me, you, him, her, us, you, (plural), and them receive actions.
Note that the pronouns you and it play multiple roles. They can be used to refer to people and things who are doing something and to and for those who are having something done to them. However, other pronouns can only be used for receiving actions. Specifically, these are me, him, her, us, and them.
Some pronouns can only be used for doing things. These are:
Some pronouns can only be used for receiving actions. These are:
As already mentioned, you and it can take actions and receive actions.
It is bad form to use a personal pronoun in the wrong way. For example, one should never say, “Me and Alice are going to the theater.” The correct way to say this is, “I and Alice are going to the theater.” Better would be: “Alice and I are going to the theater.”
The pronoun, them, must never be used as a substitute for those. Comment: it is very bad form to say, “Oh, Jane, look that them trees.”
Personal pronouns are often misused. Most of the time the misuses don’t cause problems because they occur in casual conversations and the intended meaning comes through. But there are times when words mean what they say. Misunderstanding the meaning of an oral or written statement could cause trouble. If you were applying for an important job, for example, as an editor in a publishing firm, your infraction of grammar rules could destroy your chances of getting the job.
Here are some easy rules about the use of he, him, she, and her:
He is used to tell that a male person does something. Examples:
He ran after the bugler.
He said that it was cold outdoors.
He often went swimming at the lake.
Him is used to tell that something was done to or for a male person. Examples:
When Jim arrived, the manager gave him a paycheck.
Harry was happy because the desk had been made especially for him.
Bill arrived at the dock late and the boat left without him.
The words she and her are the female versions of he and him. Examples:
She ran after the bugler.
She said that it was cold outdoors.
She often went swimming at the lake.
When Janet arrived, the manager gave her a paycheck.
Harriet was happy because the desk had been made especially for her.
Billie arrived at the dock late and the boat left without her.
Here are additional examples:
My son’s name is Joe. He is having breakfast at the present time.
Everyone likes him.
My dog’s name is Buster. He is running around outside somewhere.
Yesterday, Joe gave him a huge bone.
He and Buster are great buddies.
My daughter’s name is Helen. She is studying for a test right now.
Everyone likes her.
She feeds Buster every morning.
Joe also feeds Buster every evening.
Both she and he make sure that Buster is fed well every day.
Buster can often be seen looking for him and her.
If you are getting ready to say that Helen and Buster are in the living room, don’t say:
“Him and her are in the living room.”
Say, “He and she are in the living room.
The words him and her are for persons receiving actions, not doing them.
If you are getting ready to say that Joe and Helen received letters in the mail, don’t say, “The school sent letters to he and she.”
Say, “The school sent letters to him and her.”
It’s all right to be careless about personal pronouns in conversations with friends and family. No will care nor even notice. However, in formal communication, where you are requesting something or telling about something that happened, the way you speak may make a big difference. As an example, if you are applying for a position as Editor for a publishing company and you say, “Me and my friend, Roger, were top students when we studied English grammar in school,” the interviewer may end the interview early at that time.
Here are some common mistakes people make when they speak and how the ideas should be better expressed.
Wrong: Me and Jack are going to the show.
Correct: Jack and I are going to the show.
Wrong: Him and her came to see us.
Correct: He and she came to see us.
Wrong: Her and me don’t know the way there.
Correct: She and I don’t know the way there.
Wrong: Me and you enjoy music.
Correct: You and I enjoy music.
Note: The pronoun them cannot be used to take the place of these and those. Example:
Wrong: See how green the leaves on them trees are!
Correct: See how green the leaves on those trees are!
Correct: See how green the leaves on these trees are!
1Many people understand that there is a past tense. When one wants to tell about something that happened in the past, they may use the past tense as illustrated in this example:
Yesterday was a good day for me. At the office I got an unexpected raise. At home, I received a letter offering me a job in another city a with a huge raise in pay.
This was written using the past tense all the way. Past tense verbs in this piece were was, got, and received.
Virtually all verbs in the English language have a past tense form, and that form is usually not difficult to learn.
Some individuals use two tenses, the present and the past, to tell about events that occurred at an earlier time. An incident may be described this way:
Yesterday, the doorbell rang. I answered and saw a man in work clothes standing there. He pushes right past me and walks into the kitchen. “Where’s the gas meter,” he asks. I was scared. “Who are you? I asked. He keeps walking around, not answering me. He finds the door to the basement and walks down the stairs. This is my chance. I pick up the phone and dial 911. The police came and took him away.
There’s nothing wrong with this story. It’s clearly tells what happened. However, this kind of story-telling might not go over very well if the speaker were applying for a job as a reporter for the local paper.
In the story the past tense was used with the words, rang, answered, saw, was, asked, and came. The present tense words were pushes, walks, asks, keeps finds, walks, is pick, and dial.
The bottom line to this book is this: there is nothing wrong with telling a story in whatever tense seems best to you. Mix past and present tenses if this comes naturally to you. Your listeners will not complain. They may not even realize that you mixed tenses. However, you need to know how to tell the story entirely in the past tense for those rare occasions when you need to show that you have the ability to use correct grammar.
The author is not an English teacher. He believes that everything written in this book is correct. If you see something you feel is wrong or controversial, please notify the author so that he can make corrections. Thanks.