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19/07/2011

A Meaning Approach to Learning Verbs

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  • Ally

    Ally

    自小熱衷鑽研英語、分享心得,酷愛研究遣詞用字、文法活用,討厭硬記生吞詞彙生字、死記爛背文法規則。自有一套獨特的英語教學方法——「語境技巧」(Context Approach) ,著重語境理解及語文邏輯,達到有效表達和溝通。慨歎學生過於考試主導(exam-oriented)、死操試題、不求甚解,欲藉著學生爭取優異成績的鬥志,驅動學生有效地應付英語公開試,同時提升英語水平,求分數同時求學問。

    大學畢業後即任會考及高考班英文老師,現為資深英文導師及英語專欄作家,熟悉各大英語公開試,例如:SAT, IELTS, TOEFL, HKCEE, HKASLE, HKDSE。

    進攻SAT

In English, verbs do not only tell you the actions, they also give information in terms of time, number, person and voice. However, Chinese does not mark any of these. Thus, as second language learners of English, many Chinese students find the usage of verbs one of the clumsiest grammatical areas. The seemingly countless rules, particularly in the area of tenses, often cause confusion.

 

To have a clear picture of verbs, first of all, students need to know that there are actually only 5 verb forms and that they can better understand them with a meaning approach – learn the fundamental meanings of each verb form and interpret the various usages in terms of these meanings. Being attentive to contextual cues such as temporal elements is also crucial for consistent use and appropriate sequence of verb tense.

 

 

 

Common grammatical errors tested in Identifying Sentence Errors


4. Wrong tense/verb form


4a.  Confusing to-infinitive and present participle

 

In secondary school, students are given two long lists of verbs – one of verbs which should be followed by to-infinitives, another which should be followed by present participles. Usually, no explanation is given whatsoever as to why there is such a classification, but only that they are idiomatic usages. In fact, there is a meaningful tendency toward these usages.

 

  •  To-infinitives, as suggested by “to”, refer to actions that are yet to happen. The action occurs later than that of the main verb.


  Kath wants to travel to Paris.


  Alex learns to take black and white photos.

 

  • Present participles, the –ing form we used for continuous actions, refer to actions that have already taken place or facts that are true now. The action occurs earlier or at the same time as that of the main verb.


  Kitty enjoys driving.


  Robert admitted losing the key. 


As a “tendency”, it is not a rule which is always applicable. Students need to be attentive in their daily reading and memorize the exceptions to this tendency when they come along them.

 

 

4b. Inconsistent verb tense


In terms of consistency in verb tenses, two types of questions are commonly asked in the SAT – inconsistent use of past tense and conditional sentences. When both actions happen in the same time frame, same tense should be used. Shifting the tense unnecessarily will confuse readers.

 

4b1. Inconsistent use of past tense

 

 

 

4b2. Conditional sentence


Many students find it very difficult to remember the tenses of the four types of conditional sentences while, in fact, both of the main and conditional clauses for each type of conditional sentences use the same tense. The four types change from simple present to past and past perfect to represent the decrease in probability by alienating the action further and further from the present. This fits with the fundamental meanings of the verb forms. Bear in mind, though, from the second type onward, a modal verb is required in the main clause and it is followed by a bare infinitive.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions or enquires, feel free to visit my facebook page: www.facebook.com/allylo.english.

 

(Next Tue: Identifying Sentence Errors – 4.Wrong tense/verb form cont'd)

 

 

 

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