Monday, July 09, 2007

than and then

Check out the explanation for how to use than and then at WikiHow. The basic difference is that than is used to compare and then is used with time. If you read down a ways, you will find a good explanation of the difference between the two words by using the word next to decide whether to use than or then. Since next is a synonym for then, when you can use next, you can use then.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

got passive

While I know that English teachers discourage the use of the passive, and with good reason, sometimes we just have to use it. The most common form of the passive voice involves using a form of be with a past participle.

We were married in Manila.
Taxes were raised while we weren't looking.

We can use another auxiliary verb in passives. The word is get.

ESL Gold has a short description of the get passive form with the following explanation.
Get is often used in idiomatic expressions. For example,
What time will you get done? (What time will you be finished?)
James got drunk at the party. (He became drunk at the party.)
I hope you get better soon. (I hope you become well soon.)
We got engaged last week.(We became an engaged couple.)

This is a nice starting point. However, Julie Sevastopoulous provides a more complete explanation. In addition, the site has some good images to support the explanations. On this site, Julie explains and illustrates uses of the get passive.

The get passive is used for an unexpected action: "He got hit by a water balloon tossed from the balcony."

It is also used to show a change of status: "We got married in Manila."

These are used in addition to the common expression as illustrated above. The site also has a nice quiz at the bottom to try out some of these expressions.

Another site with a quiz can be found at

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vocabulary Self-Testing

I came across this site called Quizlet. It looks like a really useful site for learning vocabulary. From what I saw of it, the site could be used by a group of people to study for a test or just to learn the vocabulary for a class. On the site are several examples that can be practiced with. It is free to use the site, and a Quicktime video presents a good tutorial showing the different features.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

compared to + ing verb

As I wrote before, I use a general guideline that the simple form of the verb usually follows the preposition to. In the previous blog, I wrote how this does not work with advantages. In this post, I am going to look at another word that is not followed by to + the simple form of the verb. This word is compared. This came from Danny's paragraph and made me think more about what is going on in this combination.

In the following sentence, I like having several friends compared to having only one or two good friends. the -ing word following compared to is a gerund, that is an -ing word functioning as a noun.

The first two examples come from Just the Word
Everything was boring compared to the books he read.
Well it was useless compared to the amount I'd been using.

Or this sentence from the concordancer on Lexical Tutor:
Also, it requires more time as compared to the automatic approach.

The common pattern for compared to is that it is followed by a noun or noun phrase. I did not find any infinitive, that is to + the simple form of the verb in my searches.

In the future, I will keep these examples in mind and warn that the pattern of to + the simple form of the verb usually holds true.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Advantage and to

In class, I generally use the guideline that the preposition to is followed by the simple form of the verb, in other words, the infinitive form. For example,

I am happy to see you.
The girls are ready to work.
The first group to visit us was the girl scouts.

However, a student, Hanna, turned in a paper using advantages to introduce her supports and followed my guideline. It didn't work. Advantage is usually followed by the -ing form.

The first advantage to working part time...
Another advantage to studying each day...

This pattern proves consistent when other prepositions follow advantage:

The advantage of walking for exercise...
The advantage of memorizing...

Thus, advantage proves to be an exception to the to + simple verb form guideline. I will add to this list now of one word when I find other exceptions.