Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Indirect Reported Speech

What is indirect reported speech? My teacher told me that this grammar form is very important in writing, but my friends all ask me if this is necessary to learn.

The answer is yes, it is important.
Unfortunately, it is also a little bit complicated.
But that is what makes it so much fun! (right?)

What are the rules?

Click here for a link to a great explanation and some practice. (You must write your answers on a piece of paper, but then you can check them, as the correct answers are also provided)

There are a few things to remember when using reported speech:

1) Verb forms change. We often call this “backshift.”
  • EXAMPLE: “I have seen that movie,” she said. (quoted speech)
  • She said she HAD SEEN that movie. (indirect reported speech)
  • Click here to see how this works.

2) Pronouns will generally change
  • EXAMPLE: ” I gave you the money,” he said. (quoted)
  • He said HE had given ME the money. (reported)
  • CLICK HERE TO PRACTICE with pronoun changes (*the verbs do not change here)

3) Many time words and expressions will change
  • EXAMPLE: “I will call you next week,” she said. (quoted)
  • She said she would call me THE FOLLOWING WEEK. (reported)

4) Many place references will change
  • EXAMPLE: “She’s driving  here tonight,” me sister told me on the phone. (quoted)
  • She said she was driving THERE tonight. (reported)
  • CLICK HERE TO PRACTICE with pronoun and place changes (*the verbs do not change here)

5) Of course, punctuation changes, too.
  • EXAMPLE: “Have you ever eaten peanut butter?” I asked them.
  • I asked them if they had ever eaten peanut butter. (notice: no quotation marks OR question mark here)

And there are 4 basic ways to form indirect reported speech:

1) For commands, requests and invitations:

2) For general affirmative and negative statements

3) For questions with QUESTION WORDS
4) For YES/NO questions

 Are you ready to practice with all of these types of reported speech?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Parallel Structure

Parallel structure is a challenge for both native and non-native speakers of English.

However, it is very important in high-quality academic writing.

Birds on parallel telephone wires

So, what is parallel structure?

  • Watch this SMRT English video that clearly explains and illustrates how parallel structure works.

  • And here is another explanation from the Purdue Writing Lab: CLICK HERE

  • Finally, here is a printable handout (with pictures to help illustrate the concept!) from chompchomp: CLICK HERE

Parallel structure is CHALLENGING! Everyone could benefit from some extra practice with parallel structure...

Here are some websites to help:
Practice 1 (click "start here"- and turn down the volume if you are in the library!)
Practice 2 (click "start here")
Practice 3 (This one focuses specifically on parallel gerunds- a good exercise to start with)
Practice 4 (This one you can print or do on paper- and check the answers on page 2)
Practice 5 (click "start here")
Practice 6 (20 questions)
Practice 7 (click "start here")

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Conditional Sentences (If clauses)

As an introduction, here are a few sentences that use conditional forms:

  • If we study the rules for conditional sentences, we will be able to use them properly(Future Real Conditional)

  • However, if the rules weren’t so complicated, they would be a lot easier to learn!  (Present Unreal Conditional)


There are  FOUR types of conditional sentences (also called “if clauses”) in English:

1)  Let's looks at this sentence: When I go to school, I bring my backpack.

 This form is called... “Present Real Conditional”   (or “Zero Conditional”)

(*This one is the easiest to use and understand!)

  • Form: If/When… present simple, …..present simple…..
  • Use: something that is always true
  • Example 2: If the weather is nice, she walks to work.
  • (or She walks to work if the weather is nice.)

2)  Here is another kind of sentence: When Jimmy has time, he will help you with your homework.

This sentence means:  Jimmy is really going to help you when he has time later.

This form is called... “Future Real Conditional”  (or “First Conditional”)

  • Form: If/When……present simple,……..will+verb…..  OR If….present simple,…..am/is/are going to + verb…../
  • Use: a real future possibility
  • Example 2:  If I have time tomorrow, I am going to finish my shopping.
  • (or I am going to finish my shopping if I have time tomorrow.)
  • (This means: It is really possible that I will have time tomorrow. If I do have time, my plan is to finish my shopping.)

Here are some links for more information and practice: 

3) Let's look at another form: If I had more money, I would buy a vacation home in Greece.

This sentence means: I don't have a lot of money now. I'm imagining what I would if I had more money. I would buy a home in Greece. 

This form is called...  "Present/Future Unreal Conditional" (or "Second Conditional") 

  • Form: If….past simple, ….. would+ verb…..
  • Use: an imaginary (hypothetical) present or future situation; possible but unlikely
  • Example 2: If she won the lottery next week, she would buy a bigger house immediately.
  • (or She would buy a bigger house if she won the lottery next week.)
  • (This means: She probably isn’t going to win the lottery next week, but if she does, she will buy a bigger home.

Here are some links for more information and practice: 

4) Here is one more conditional form: If I had brought my own car, I would have driven you home after the party.

This sentence means: I didn't bring my car to the party, and I didn't drive you home. But if I had brought it, I would have given you a ride home.

This form is called...  'Unreal Past Conditional" (or "Third Conditional") 

  • Form: If….had+past participle,….. would+have+past participle…..
  • Use: an imaginary past situation; an impossible situation, because we are talking about the past
  • Example 2: If she hadn’t forgotten her sister’s birthday, they wouldn’t have quarreled.
  • (or They wouldn’t have quarreled if she hadn’t forgotten her sister’s birthday.)
  • (This means: She forgot her sister’s birthday, and they quarreled. But if she hadn’t forgotten it, they would not have quarreled.)

Here are some links for more information and practice: