Sunday, August 21, 2016


This, that, these and those are demonstrative adjectives.
  • This is used to refer to a single person, thing or place that is close to the speaker.
  • That is used when the person, thing or place is more distant.
    • This computer is easy to use.
    • That coat on the chair is mine.
    • This person is my colleague.
    • That man over there is my boss.
    • This picture is clearer than that one.
    • This is my seat and that one is yours.
  • These is the plural form of this.
  • Those is the plural form of that.
    • These letters are urgent.  Please post them immediately.
    • Those men in the street are policemen.
    • I like these shoes.  They're very comfortable.
    • Those shoes on the shelf are very expensive.
    • I like these shoes better than those shoes.
    • These books are more interesting than those (books).
  • In formal contexts we can use that and those for 'one(s)'.
    • The most surprising announcement was that made by the Prime Minister.
      (That means the announcement, the one made by the Prime Minister)
    • A shuttle service is available for our guests.
      Those interested should enquire at the reception desk.
      (Those means the guests, the ones interested.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016


In English, when the gender is known, we use the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘him’ to refer to a man 

and ‘she’ or ‘her’ to refer to a woman.

  • “If Mr. Brown calls while I’m out, tell him to call back later.”
  • “If the lady calls while I’m out, tell her to call back later.”

When the gender of the person is not known or not relevant, and because English has no

specific non-gender pronoun to refer to a person in the singular, the pronoun ‘he’ or ‘him’ 
was traditionally used as a generic pronoun.

  • “If anyone calls while I’m out, tell him to call back later.”

Nowadays, because ‘he’ and 'him' are no longer accepted as a generic pronouns

to refer to a person of either sex, it has become conventional to use ‘they’ or ‘them’
For the same reason the gender-free pronoun ‘their’ is used to replace his/her.

  • “Someone said that they saw a man running away with the suitcase.”
  • “If anyone calls while I’m out, tell them to call back later.”
  • "The person who called didn't leave their name."
  • "Any parent would be worried about their child given the circumstances."

Those who are unhappy with this could avoid the problem by rewording their text.

For example :

  • Can you tell someone’s character from what they wear?
  • → What can you tell about people from what they wear/from their clothes?

Another possibility would be to use ‘he or she’, ‘him or her’'his or her' or 

'himself or herself’, but this can become awkward with repeated usage.
For example :

  • If a patient has a problem, he or she should speak to his or her doctor.

The use of a plural pronoun to refer back to a singular subject is not something new. In fact

it dates back to the 16th century and is now widely accepted both in spoken and written
English. Here is an example of 19th century use :

“It’s enough to drive anyone out of their senses.” 
- GB Shaw, Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898)”

However it should be noted that some traditional grammarians still consider this usage to be
unacceptable in formal writing. So when writing in a very formal context it might be advisable
to reword the text in order to avoid this, but in any other register it is perfectly acceptable.

Friday, August 19, 2016

There - their - they're

Learners of English often confuse 'there' 'their' and 'they're'. 
These words have the same sound but not the same meaning.
The explanation and examples below show the differences between them.
  • There is the opposite of 'here'. It means in that place, not here.
    • Where is my pen? It's there on the table.
    • I'm taking the train to London. I'll call you when I get there.
    • You can park there beside my car.
  • There is, there are, are used to indicate that something exists.
    • There is a cat in the garden.
    • There are many cars on the road.
  • Their is a possessive adjective just like 'my' 'your' 'his/her/its' 'our'.
    It is used before a noun and means that something belongs to 'them'.
    • Their car is red. My car is blue.
    • They invited all their friends to their wedding.
    • My parents are very pleased with their new house.
  • They're is a contraction of they are.
    'They' is the subject of a sentence with the verb 'to be'.
    They're beautiful = They are beautiful.
    • Where are the children? They're at school.
    • The children are attentive. They're listening to the teacher.
    • People are voting today. They're electing a new president.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


The definite article 'the' designates a specific person, place or event as shown below: 

Specific thingsThe book I bought is interesting.
Pass me the sugar please.
Hotels, monuments, buildings,
museums, cinemas, theatres.
The Ritz, The Tower of London, The Empire State building,
The Louvre, The Odeon Cinema, The Royal Theatre
Mountain ranges, rivers, seas, oceans.The Alps, The Mississippi, The Black Sea, The Pacific Ocean.
Groups of states or islandsThe United States of America, The Bahamas.
No article is used in the following cases :
GeneralisationsSugar is sweet.
Caviar is expensive.
Streets, squares, etc.Oxford Street, Time Square
Names of mountains and lakesMount Everest, Lake Ontario
Countries (except groups as above)England, France, Japan, India, etc.
ContinentsEurope, Africa, Asia, America, Australia,

Friday, August 12, 2016


A lot of - much - many :
  • A lot of :

    • A lot of can be used in all sentences: affirmative, negative and interrogative.
  • Much - many : 

    • Much is used with uncountable nouns (for example: 'much English')
    • Many is used with countable nouns (for example : 'many words').
    • Much and many are used in negative and interrogative sentences.
      They are rarely used in affirmative sentences, except:

      • If they begin a sentence:
        Many people believe all they hear.
        Much of what was said was confusing.
      • If they are preceded by ‘so’, ‘as’ and ‘too’ 
            and in some expressions with ‘very’:
        There was much noise.
        - There was so much noise that I couldn’t hear very well.
        We ate many cherries.
        - You can eat as many cherries as you like.
        They gave us much information.
        - They gave us too much information.
        - I enjoyed the film very much. 
      • In formal or written English.
        In affirmative sentences much and many are more often used in formal or
        written English whereas a lot of/ lots of are more common in conversational English.
        For example, much and many are generally used in newspaper reports and headlines.
We learn a lot of English.I don't know a lot of English.Do you learn a lot of English?
I make a lot of mistakes.I don't know much English.Do you know much English?
Much of our food is exported.I don't know a lot of words.Do you make a lot of mistakes?
Many people drive too fast.I don't know many words.Do you make many mistakes?

Compare a lot of and a lot :
  • Tom knows a lot of vocabulary.
  • Charlie is talkative. He talks a lot.