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Notes on grammatical issues (2º Bach)


Some of the main topics we will be analysing:

a. Comparatives and superlatives     (EXERCISES TO DO)  
b. Passive voice (Exercises to do)
c. Conditional sentences  (Exercises to do)
d. Relative Clauses (Exercises to do)
e. Reported Speech  (Exercises to do)
f. ARTICLES

- Difference between WAIT FOR, EXPECT, HOPE & LOOK FORWARD TO + V-ing    

I'm waiting for the bus.

Look at the timetable! I expect the train to arrive in five minutes. (I expect the train will arrive in five minutes)

I hope I'll pass the exam.

I'm looking forward to passing my English exam.


- Difference between USED TO, BE USED TO + V-ing & GET USED TO V-ing  

I used to walk to school when I was a student.

I am used to playing tennis three or four times a week.

You'll have to get used to keeping your things tidy when you go to university.


A. COMPARATIVES AND SUPERLATIVES

  1. We use more.... for adverbs that end in -ly: more slowly, more quietly
  2. You can use -er or more... with some two-syllable adjectives, especially: quiet, clever, narrow, shallow, simple
  3. IRREGULAR COMPARATIVESgood/well  >  better, bad/badly > worse, far > further/farther
  4. FURTHER & FURTHEST meaning 'more' or 'additional': Let me know if you hear any further news
  5. Before comparatives you can use QUANTIFIERS such as: much, a lot, far, a bit, a little, slightly (He's much / slightly taller than his sister). Other forms to quantify the comparison are: far less, far more, much less, much more.
  6. You can use any, no + adjective in the comparative form. Ex. I'm not waiting any longer.
  7. Two comparatives of superiority connected by and meaning 'CADA VEZ MÁS'. Ex. The situation is becoming harder and harder.
  8. 'CUÁNTO MÁS..., MÁS...'  >>>   The sooner, the better.
  9. Difference between 'older' and 'elder'  //  'oldest' and 'eldest' (remember: an elderly lady).
  10. COMPARATIVE OF EQUALITY: so, as....as....    Fernando Alsonso is as fast as the wind.
  11. COMPARATIVE OF INFERIORITY: less....than...    My cousin is less intelligent than my sister.
  12. Difference between LESS & FEWER.   Examples: I've got less money than you. A bicycle has got fewer wheels than a bus.
  13. Some interesting collocations: the same as, different from, similar to   
  14. We use the most.... to form the superlative form of adverbs that end in -ly or longer adjectives: the most slowly, the most quietly, the most intelligent
  15. You can use the expression by far to emphasize the superlative: He is the best tennis player by far!
  16. After superlatives we use in with places (the longest river in the world) and of for a period of time (the happiest day of my life)
  17. ABSOLUTE SUPERLATIVE meaning 'very'. The book you lent me was most interesting.


B. PASSIVE VOICE

- We use the passive voice when the subject is not known or it is not relevant or just because we face a matter from a different perspective. For example, when we see the advertisement 'TOMATOES ARE SOLD HERE', do we really care the name of the seller or the farmer? Not at all. The important thing is the fact that you can buy tomatoes here. On the contrary, if Brad Pitt was the person selling tomatoes, we would never use the passive voice and we would say: Do you know what? Brad Pitt sells tomatoes on the road to Granada.

- You only include the agent when it gives some information. If it doesn't give any information, we tend to omit it (remember our 'pasiva refleja'  >>  Se venden tomates aquí : tomatoes are sold here.) WE NEVER SAY: by someone, by people and we rarely say: by him, her.

- Our indirect object can the be subject of the passive voice.

Example:   ACTIVE  >>   We gave Mary a wonderful present for her birthday.

PASSIVE  >>  Mary was given a wonderful present for her birthday.

or  A wonderful present was given to Mary for her birthday.

But remember that the sentence "We gave a wonderful present to Mary for her birthday" has got only passive possibility (A wonderful present was given to Mary for her birthday).
 

- BE CAREFUL with sentences whose subject is 'NOBODY' because the sentence is negative.

Example: Ann wasn't offered the job (<< Nobody offered Ann the job)

- 'I was born in Chicago' is actually a passive sentence.

- Some interesting examples:

ACTIVE VOICE                            >>>>>>                     PASSIVE VOICE

I remember someone giving me a toy drum on my fifth birthday.            I remember being given a toy drum on my....

He hates people keeping him waiting.                                                             He hates being kept waiting.

He climbed over the wall without anyone seeing him.                                  .... without being seen

- Sometimes you can use get instead of be in the passive.  

(Example: There was a fight at the party, but nobody got (was) hurt)

- SPECIAL PASSIVE VOICE with verbs such as: SAY, THINK, BELIEVE, REPORT, UNDERSTAND, KNOW, EXPECT, ALLEGE, CONSIDER....

ACTIVE VOICE                            >>>>>>                                PASSIVE VOICE

People say that he is 108 years old.                                                             It is said.....   // He is said to be 108 years old

People believe that he eats ten eggs a day.                                                 It is believed.....   //  He is believed to eat...

People think that the wanted man is living in NY.                                     It is thought.....    //   He is thought to be living...

People expect that the strike will begin tomorrow.                                    It is expected.....   //  The strike is expected to begin...

The police allege that he stole £60.                                                               It is alleged....   //   He is alleged to have stolen £60.

The police alleged that he had stolen £60.                                            It was alleged....   //   He was alleged to have stolen £60.

The police report that two people were killed in the explosion.         It is reported that.....  // 
                                                                                                                     Two people are reported to have been killed .....

People say that someone gave her a present.                                        It is said that someone gave her a present.
                                                                                                                                               she was given a present.
                                                                                                                                               a present was given to her.
                                                                                                                      She is said to have been given a present.
                                                                                                                      A present is said to have been given to her.

- SUPPOSED TO

You are supposed to study every day. = It is your duty to study every day.
                                                                    = You MUST / HAVE TO / SHOULD study every day

- CAUSATIVE HAVE

You can use it either when you have arranged that someone does something for you or just with a passive meaning (it can also be substituted by 'GET SOMETHING DONE'

Example: We had our roof repaired last summer before the autumn rains. (= we arranged that someone came to our house and repaired the roof for us).



C. CONDITIONAL SENTENCES

To begin with, we have to differentiate between the 'IF-CLAUSE' and the 'MAIN CLAUSE'. If we put the IF CLAUSE first, you have to put a comma after it.

If we put the IF CLAUSE first, you have to put a comma after it.  (You have to put a comma after it if we put the...)

           IF CLAUSE                                             MAIN CLAUSE

- There are three main types of conditional sentences:

  1. REAL CONDITIONALS.- You are based on a real situation.
  2. HYPOTHETICAL CONDITIONALS.- You are based on a hypothetical (NOT IMPOSSIBLE) situation.
  3. IMPOSSIBLE or UNREAL CONDITIONALS.- You are based on past facts that cannot be changed at all.

REMEMBER THAT IN THE IF-CLAUSE WE DON'T USUALLY HAVE EITHER 'WILL' OR 'WOULD', WHICH IS A SIMILAR CASE TO THE TIME CLAUSES.

1. REAL CONDITIONALS

They are based on a real situation, so the main clause depends on the if-clause.

If + PRESENT SIMPLE......            >>> Future Simple  (we will have a barbecue in the garden)

If it is sunny,...                                >>> Modal verb (we can have a barbecue in the garden // we must moan the lawn)

                                                            >>> Imperative  (come to my house and we will have a barbecue in the garden)

ZERO CONDITIONALS

They are used when we refer to physical laws, rules.....    If + PRESENT SIMPLE...   >>> PRESENT SIMPLE

Example: Water freezes if it reaches a temperature of 0º C.

Exception number 1

You can have a real conditional in the past. They can be confused with the hypothetical conditionals, but they can be easily recognized when we translate them into Spanish as they don't use the subjunctive in the if-clause. The main clause is usually in the interrogative form.

Example: You had a car accident and someone tells you: 'If you could't drive, why did you take your father's car?'


2. HYPOTHETICAL CONDITIONALS

They are based on a hypothetical situation, which may seem in many cases impossible, so you have to be careful. Just imagine the case of Pau Gasol when he was 4 and said: "I would play in the LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls if I played in the NBA).

SITUATION: It is raining and the weather forecast is not very optimistic, so it is not very likely that it is sunny.

If + PAST SIMPLE......            >>> Conditional Simple  (we would have a barbecue in the garden)

If it were (was) sunny,...         >>> MIGHT & COULD are also possible (we might/could have a barbecue in the garden)

'WERE' used to be the only possible form in the if-clause, although nowadays both forms (was, were) are possible.

3. IMPOSSIBLE or UNREAL CONDITIONALS

They are based on impossible situations which we cannot change at all.

SITUATION: Kennedy was murdered.

If + PAST PERFECT......            >>> CONDITIONAL PERFECT

If John Fitzgerald Kennedy had not been murdered, he would have been a great president.   BUT he was murdered.

Exception number 2

Combination of a past fact that cannot be changed and a quality that you don't have, but that you could have (it is still not impossible)

Example: I would have been a Science teacher if I were better at Physics.

Exception number 3

Combination of a past fact whose effects are still permanent.

Example: If you hadn't drunk so much last night, you wouldn't have a hangover now.


OTHER CONDITIONALS

- UNLESS (= if not) a menos que   I will give a party for my birthday unless I am ill.

- AS LONG AS / PROVIDING (PROVIDED) THAT   (= only if)  con la condición de que, siempre que, siempre y cuando, en tanto, mientras         

I will help you with your English homework as long as / providing that you listen to my explanations


WISHES AND REGRETS

- wishes for change in the present  (I wish + PAST SIMPLE / PAST CONTINUOUS)  

I wish I were rich / we were spending our holidays in Honolulu this year.

- regrets about something in the past (I wish + PAST PERFECT)        

I wish At Madrid had defeated Real Madrid in the Champions League Final in 2014.

- complaints about a thing or situation and that you would like it to change in the future.        

I wish my students would listen to me (Actually they don't do it, but I would like them to do it).


Here's a similar structure, although it is a bit stronger:

 

- If only... (si al menos)    to express a strong wish that things could be different. It may be used for past, present and future unreal situations.

We use if only + past verb forms to talk about a wish for the present:

If only he could speak English properly. (he can't, but he wishes he could)

If only there was some snow to ski.

Remember we can use were instead of was in more formal situations:

If only I were (was) in the Alps (when our protagonist was back in Uganda).

To talk about a wish for the future or to show a contrast between how things are and how we would like them to be, we use if only + would + infinitive without to:

If only all the students would follow the teachers' advice.

If only it would rain more during the spring.

We use if only + past perfect to talk about a wish to change something that has already happened:

If only Benitez had kept his position as Real Madrid coach. (but he didn't.)

If only Andrea had come to Chester. (but she didn't come.)

D. RELATIVE CLAUSES

For a start, let's analyse the relevant elements we have to bear in mind when dealing with the relative clauses:

The boy who came to the party studied with me at the elementary school.

Main clause: The boy studied with me at the elementary school.        Relative clause: who came to the party

Antecedent: The boy             Relative pronoun: who

Why do we use the relative clauses? We use them either to give essential information about the antecedent (Defining Relative Clauses) or just some extra information (Non-defining Relative Clauses).

Another important thing about relative clauses is the connection you have between the antecedent and the relative clause because that will affect the kind of relative pronoun you are going to need. It could be subject, object, there could be a connection of possession...


Defining Relative Clauses

This kind of relative clauses is essential to the understanding of the message, so you can never omit them. Therefore, the intonation is rising till the end of the relative clause.

- We use the relative pronoun WHO (or THAT) when the antecedent is a person and is the subject or object of the relative clause.

 The boy

 

 

 who / that

 

 

 came to the party

  studied with me at the elementary school. 

 

 

 you saw at the party

 she was dancing with at the party


- We use the relative pronoun WHICH (or THAT) when the antecedent is an animal or a thing and is the subject or object of the relative clause.

 The dog

 

 

 which / that

 

 

 barked in the street

  belongs to my uncle. 

 

 

 you saw in the street

 she was playing with



You can omit the relative pronoun when it is not the subject of the relative clause (The boy you saw at the party... //  The dog you saw in the street...) and pay attention to the interesting use and position of prepositions (El perro con el que ella jugaba...).

- WHOSE (connection of possession)  

That's the man whose wife is waiting for the bus. (His wife is waiting for the bus.)

- WHERE (Adverbial of place). It can be substituted by THAT/WHICH + preposition.        

We visited the church where you got married // the church that you got married at. (you got married there / in that church)

- WHEN (Adverbial of time). It can be substituted by THAT/WHICH.        

Do you remember the day that / when we met?

- WHY (the reason why). It can be substituted by THAT/WHICH.        

The reason why (that/which) I am phoning you is to invite you to my birthday party.

- WHOM (obsolete). We just tend to use THAT/WHO.        

Phone the person whom we saw at the office.

- WHAT (the thing(s) that). It is at the same time antecedent and relative pronoun.  

Study what I told you. (Study the things that I told you.)


Non-Defining Relative Clauses (Extra information)

These relative clauses give extra information about the antecedent, so they are not essential to the understanding of the message and you can omit them. They go in between commas and the relative pronoun can never be omitted. The relative pronoun THAT can never be used.

- We use the relative pronoun WHO when the antecedent is a person and is the subject or object of the relative clause.

 John,

 

 

 who

 

 

 came to the party

 , studied with me at the elementary school. 

 

 

 you saw at the party

 she was dancing with at the party


- We use the relative pronoun WHICH when the antecedent is an animal or a thing and is the subject or object of the relative clause.

 That dog,

 

 

 which

 

 

 barked in the street

  , belongs to my uncle. 

 

 

 you saw in the street

 she was playing with


- WHOSE (connection of possession)  

Mr Smith, whose wife is waiting for the bus, is my boss.

- WHERE (Adverbial of place). It can be substituted by WHICH + preposition.        

We visited Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives

- WHEN (Adverbial of time). It can be substituted by WHICH.        

1st April, when British people celebrate All Fools’ Day, is an interesting festivity.

- WHOM (obsolete). We just tend to use WHO. However, it is often used as a part of a partitif.        

Phone Jim, whom we saw at the office.     

Del Bosque took 22 players to Brazil World Cup, three of whom were goal keepers.

                                                                                   , all of whom were really happy.

You can also use it with things or animals:   
Basilicas were often decorated with mosaics, most of which told stories about Jesus Christ or the king and his family.

- WHICH (when the antecedent is the whole previous sentence).   

He took his father's car last night. This was rather surprising.   >>  He took his father's car last night, which was rather surprising.

NOTE: -ing and -ed clauses are similar to the defining relative clauses (The boy dancing with your sister is a friend of mine. //  The dog injured in the accident was taken to a vet.).


E. REPORTED SPEECH

When you are reporting someone's words you've got two ways to do it:

  • using the exact words used by the speaker  >>>    DIRECT SPEECH  (Example:  'I'm tired', he said)

  • reporting the speaker's words    >>>   REPORTED SPEECH or INDIRECT SPEECH (Example: He said he was tired)

However, before we begin explaining how it works, we must say that the reported speech we will be talking about is a very artificial one as we suppose the situation in which the words were said and the situation in which the words were reported are completely different, but this is not always true. Actually, they may be exactly the same, as in the following example:

- "I have brought you here these exercises" (SITUATION: the teacher is speaking and the students are listening)

- One students raises his hand and says: "Pardon. What did you say?"

- "I have just said that I have brought you here these exercises." (There are no changes at all because the situation is exactly the same: the teacher is speaking and the students are listening at the same time and in the same place.)

Apart from this, remember that there are indirect ways of speaking like in the following sentences:

- I don't know what time it is (instead of 'What time is it?')

- I wonder where I can buy some bread (instead of 'Where can I buy some bread?')

- I don't know if Dad is at home. (instead of 'Is Dad at home?')

- Tell me how fast you can run. (instead of 'How fast can you run?')

Anyway, we will make all the possible changes in our examples and all these transformations are what we call the BACKSHIFT, which is a change that we make backwards. This BACKSHIFT affects three main areas:

 

  1. TENSES.- The changes are similar to the ones made in our language and the try to express the time gap there is between the moment of speaking and the time when the words were reported. Just remember to keep the time gap. For example, the past simple can stay the same or change into the past perfect. (Jane: "I arrived at 7"  >>  She said that she arrived / had arrived at 7"), but in the following example it is better to have it in the past perfect to keep the mentioned time gap: 'This is the present my boyfriend gave me yesterday', said Jane  >>   Jane said that was the present her boyfriend had given her the day before.)
  2. PERSONS.- The speaker is represented by the first person and the listener by the second person, while there are no changes in the third person. So there may be changes in the personal pronouns, possessive adjectives and pronouns...
  3. OTHER WORDS CONNECTED WITH TIME AND PLACE, which have to be learned by heart, although most of them are similar to our language.
Let's begin with this third area:

 

DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED SPEECH

DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED SPEECH

Now

Then

Three days ago

Three days before

This

That

Next Friday

The next Friday

These

Those

Tonight

That night

Here

There

Last week

The previous week, the week before

Yesterday

The day before, the previous day

tomorrow

The next day, the day after

Today

That day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Reported statements

Peter: "Money is the only thing I live for."   >>>  Peter said money was the only thing he lived for.

Reported questions

We've got two types of questions: WH-questions and Yes/No questions. Remember to undo the inversion because the reported question is actually a statement.

Pam: "Do you like my dress?"    Jim: "Yes, I do"   >>>  Pam asked if/whether he liked her dress and he answered he did.


Albert: "When are you going to read this book?"    >>>    Albert asked the students when they were going to read that book.

Reported orders and requests

A TO-INFINITIVE structure is required.

Mother: "Would you buy some bread for dinner, please?"   >>>  My mother asked me to buy some bread for dinner.


Students: "Don't give us any homework for tomorrow.">They asked Albert not to give them any homework for the next day.

Reported suggestions

There are several options, especially when someone makes a suggestion to another person.

Richard: "What about ordering a pizza?"    >>>  Richard suggested ordering a pizza.


Albert: "You should revise the list of irregular verbs."   

          >>>    Albert suggested they revise / revised  / should revise the list of irregular verbs.

Further information about Reported Speech

  • When you mention just the person speaking you use SAY (He said he was very happy), but when you also mention the speaker it is better to use TELL (He told her he was very happy), although SAY TO  is also possible (He said to her he was very happy.)

  • In order to summarize and not use so many words the USE OF CONNECTORS is very important as well as the use of certain REPORTING VERBS, such as: insist, apologize for, invite, agree, explain, offer, declare, beg, accept, advise...

Tom: "I'm terribly sorry, but I couldn't arrive earlier.?"    >>>  Tom apologized for not arriving earlier.


Mark: "Would you like to come to my birthday party next week?" 
              >>>    Mark invited me to go to his birthday party the next week.


You tend to commit a lot of mistakes in the use of the articles A/AN and THE, so let's revise some aspects:

Remember you use no article at all >>>>

  • when you are talking in general.   Example: Petrol is so cheap nowadays. Exams always make me nervous.

  • with places when you are engaged in the activities involved in those places.   For instance: You are in hospital (if you are a patient, a doctor or a nurse, but if you visit a patient  >>>  you go to the hospital); you go to school (if you are a student or a teacher, but if you are a student's parent >>> one day you go to the school); you are in bed or go to bed if it is your own bed meaning 'estar acostado', 'acostarse' (but if you say the definite article you are making reference to a specific or special bed  >>>  I slept in the bed where there was no pillow, in the bed where William Shakespeare was born)

  • before names of languages, meal names, the names of cities, most countries and most streets, the names of airports, stations, single mountains or lakes.   Examples: We speak English, I live in London, I live in Holland (but we say: I live in the Netherlands), We had tea for breakfast, We took a coach from Gatwick airport to Milton road in Cambridge.

You use the indefinite article >>>>>

  • with singular nouns. Example:  My uncle is writing a letter.

  • When you make reference to a person or a thing for the first time.     Example: I met a girl the other day.

  • You can use the indefinite article to express prices, frequency or speeds.    Examples: £3 pounds a kilo, twice a day, 40 km an hour

  • You use the indefinite article with: hundred, thousand, million

  • You use the indefinite article when you talk about jobs (be careful because in Spanish it is different).   Example: I'm a teacher and you are a student.

You use the definite article  >>>>>>

  • when you mention again a person or a thing.    Example: I met a girl the other day. The girl was playing with her little brother when....

  • when there is only one of something, such as the Sun, the Earth... or even the TV, the kitchen

  • with musical instruments.    Example: My elder son plays the viola and my younger son plays the guitar.

  • when this noun has no further importance in the message you use the indefinite article (my uncle was writing a letter), but if this noun is really important, then we will use the definite article.   Example:  I lost the letter my uncle wrote me when I was living in Edinburgh.