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Л. А. Куликовская



В помощь учителю иностранного языка

Издание второе, исправленное


Издательство «Флинта»

Издательство «Наука»


УДК 802.0

ББК 81.2 Англ

К 90

Куликовская Л. А.

Консультации по английской грамматике: В помощь учителю иностранного языка. — 2-е изд., испр. — М.: Флинта: Наука, 2000. — 88 с.

ISBN 5-89349-119-х (Флинта)

ISBN 5-02-022579-7 (Наука)

В книге предлагается материал по некоторым малоосвещен­ным разделам английской грамматики с соответствующей си­стемой упражнений (снабженной ключами) для глубокого проникновения в суть описанных явлений и прочного их ус­воения.

Для учителей средней и высшей школы, а также для са­мостоятельной работы совершенствующихся в английском языке.

ISBN 5-89349-119-х (Флинта)

ISBN 5-02-022579-7 (Наука)

©Издательство«Флинта», 1999


The book is intended for school EFL teachers. It gives clear explanations and useful practice of English grammar. Some of those grammatical pieces are included which are not always easy to find on the pages of grammar books. Very often teachers and then their students receive one and the same portion of grammatical information year in, year out and get an idea of the English language being too elementary to express a great variety of meanings. The purpose of the book is to bring to the attention of the reader certain allegedly simple grammatical topics, disclose their actual essence and show their place in communication. The grammatical items are presented not in their pure way, but are correlated with other linguistic notions. For example, number of nouns concerns the problem of conversion and agreement between the subject and the predicate. Comparison with the Russian language is made where necessary. The book is not a reference book, it includes the information which deserves a teacher's attention in the opinion of the author.

A selection of exercises from English teaching courses will provide the EFL teachers with various activities (mostly of a communicative character) to practise the described grammatical material. The given assignments help create the conditions in which the knowledge of a foreign language becomes a must and the only way of self-expression. They will help learners not only form correct sentences but also use them correctly in context. They are aimed at teaching students of different levels of knowledge and admit of replacement of a more difficult vocabulary for an easier one.

The material composed by native speakers was chosen because it presents pieces of real English culture, traditions and way of life and because it excludes errors so common in the books written by non-native speakers. The description of the similar conditions, circumstances of life in our country can be practised as a follow-up.


Man is not well defined as homo sapiens ("man with wisdom"). For what do we mean by wisdom? More recently anthropologists have talked about "man the tool-maker," but apes can make primitive tools. What sets man apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is his ability to speak; he is "man the speaking animal" — homo loquens. But it is grammar that makes language so essentially a human characteristic. For though other creatures can make meaningful sounds, the link between sound and meaning is for them of a far more primitive kind than it is for man, and the link for man is grammar. Man is not merely homo loquens; he is homo grammaticus.

Frank Palmer. Grammar.

The idea of the book is to bring to the attention of EFL teachers those areas of English Grammar which lie fallow and yield very poor results, if any, because the teachers in their strivings to get more in a very short while lose hold of extremely important things. The teachers imply that the learners are supposedly aware of quite a lot of linguistic knowledge if they are adults or are at the age of, say, ten (and they really are if we think in terms of their native language); or, on the contrary, they are too young to be given information which the previous education and upbringing have not yet put at their disposal. So, we leave our students (who happened to be less educated in a foreign language or are privileged to be younger, than we are) unequipped with the foundations of the language learning.

Ask your students what grammar (the word is repeated by them quite often) is and they will be surprised to hear this kind of question from you and most unexpected answers will be given you. 1 mean to say the following: try to find some time to discuss basic frequently used notions so that their meanings will become wholly understandable to your students, and they will cease saying them in a parrot-like way.After deciphering them the students will get an additional background and impetus in their linguistic education. They will become proud of themselves for being more educated. Sometimes we underestimate our students' abilities: teenagers as well as adult learners have acquired a lot about the Russian language system. Help them display their knowledge, make it work, be effective in the acquisition of another language. Your linguistic considerations will teach your students to generalize, to stop to think, to philosophize. By learning to do so with a foreign language they will transfer their abilities onto the native language and other subjects, and further on, to their everyday life. Just think of how much diversified their insight into life and how much deeper their understanding of the word system will be!

You may contradict me by saying that the learners will not need this philosophizing and can do without it. That's not true. Learning a foreign language is a lasting effort which requires a lot of time and work. For instance, some practical manuals may seem discouraging to the learner, since the explanations can contain not the well-accustomed formulations but unusual wording unheard of before. A successful foreign language speaker is an indefatigable labourer, a great user of books, a constant improver of his/her speech habits, a wise decipherer of all new information, an ingenious reader keenly reacting to any nicety of thought expression.

An attempt to highlight several linguistic notions has been made, ways how to teach them have been sought.

What is grammar? Grammar is part of linguistics (the learning about a language) which studies changes of words (in other words, forms of words) and the connection of words into word combinations and sentences. Hence, grammar consists of morphology and syntax.

As a result of such a study we receive a collection of rules since rules are practical directions given to people by previous generations. The rules are about how to form the plural number of nouns and verbs, the past tense of verbs, the degrees of comparison of adjectives, etc. The rules reflect the actual processes that a language undergoes. Rules are secondary, while language behaviour is primary. That is why it is incorrect to define grammar as a set of rules. Grammar is self-contained, abstract and independent. Certainly, grammar reflects processes developing in human society, there would be no grammar without language bearers, people, but it alienates itself, becomes a kind of philosophy granted to people, so a set of rules is nothing but a bridge between philosophical matter (as grammar is) and a human being.

It is wrong to say that physics is a set of rules of how to use electricity, for example, nor is it correct to say that chemistry studies how to make use of chemical elements. In the same way, grammar is not a set of rules, but a study of language processes to create a verbal thought.

Grammar is a high degree of abstraction, a subconscious mechanism which is stuck in the native speaker's mind as a kind of reflection of what they have seen and heard since infancy.

The similar foreign language mechanism can develop in you in the same subconscious way if you live among the people speaking the language you want to learn. If not, you have to develop that mechanism purposefully, making one step after another, understanding that this is a mechanism unlike the one you have already developed in your mind, which still has coincidences and discrepancies and which should become the core of your foreign language speaking abilities. That is why it is almost impossible to overestimate the role of grammar as an impetus in your understanding language. No time devoted to teaching what grammar is and teaching grammar itself is considered wasted. But teaching grammar is a sophisticated process, it shouldn't overload the students' mind and should be skilfully incorporated in all areas of knowledge and rationed in proportion to speaking, listening, writing and reading.

Grammar like any other part of linguistics (phonetics, lexicology, spelling, punctuation, etc.) deals with words. All words in a language are subdivided for convenience into groups called parts of speech.

Alongside grammatical features such as number, case, tense, mood, etc. and interaction between words of different parts of speech, the notion of a part of speech includes some lexical features: meaning, word-building elements, and some phonetical ones. That is why, parts of speech subdivision is valid not only for grammar; it is referred to in phonetics, lexicology, etc.

A part of speech is a group of words united together by the common lexical meaning (thingness, action, property, characteristic of an action, property or another characteristic; connection, relation, definiteness/indeflniteness, emphasis, human emotions, human attitude, affirmation/negation); by the common changes of words to express number, case, degrees of comparison, tense, person, mood, etc.; by the common ways of connection with words of other parts of speech; by the common functions in a sentence (subject, predicate, predicative, object, attribute, adverbial modifier), by the common word-building elements (suffixes, word structure).

If a group of words have the common lexical meaning of thingness (in a wide sense of the word); have the forms player — players, player — player's, players — players'; are connected with adjectives, verbs, articles, prepositions, and can be subject, object, predicative, attribute and adverbial modifier in a sentence, they are united together under the name of nouns (N for short).

If the words have the common lexical meaning of action (in a wide sense of the word), have the forms play — plays, play — played — will play, plays — is playing, plays — is played, play — have played, etc.; are connected with nouns, adjectives and adverbs; can be predicate in a sentence, they are united together under the name of verbs (V for short).

If the words have the common lexical meaning of property, have the forms kind — kinder — kindest; are connected with nouns, adverbs, verbs; and can be attribute or predicative in a sentence, they are united together under the name of adjectives (A for short).

If the words have the common lexical meaning of characteristic of a property or of an action, if they are unchangeable in form or can have the forms fast — faster — fastest; if they are connected with adjectives and verbs and can perform the function of adverbial modifier in a sentence, they are united under the name of adverbs (Adv for short).

The study of the language resulted in naming certain parts of speech, they are presented in the following chart.

The symbolic presentation of parts of speech will make the process of teaching and learning the language more economizing and more enjoyable. It will also make the process of learners' looking up words in the dictionary easier. The symbols will allow students to take quick notes. Symbols are part of linguistic literature and knowing them will pave the way to understanding further reading on linguistic topics.

The parts of speech picture should necessarily be compared with what exists in the Russian language.

The comparison of the English and Russian parts of speech systems shows that they are identical with one substantial difference: there's the article in the English language, and no articles are to be found in the Russian language. As to modal words, they can be treated as a group of adverbs (some linguists do so), the words Yes and No are only two in number and may be moved to Interjections.

English notional parts of speech have been attended to so far. Now we'll mention most important features of formal words and those words which are neither notional nor formal.

Formal words are subdivided into connecting and determining. The connecting formal words are prepositions (prep) and conjunctions (conj). Prepositions show the relation of the noun to words of other parts of speech in a sentence. They are unchangeable words connecting the noun, the pronoun, the gerund, infinitival and gerundial phrases, noun-clauses with the noun, adjective and the verb in a sentence. Being formal words they do not perform any function in a sentence.

Conjunctions (conj) have the meaning of connection, they are unchangeable and connect words of the same parts of speech: N conj N, A conj A, V conj V, Adv conj Adv, N/Pron conj N/Pron, etc. No syntactical function is performed by them.

The determining formal words are articles (art) and particles (part). They have a peculiar meaning and are unchangeable. They determine notional parts of speech: the article determines nouns (art + N) and particles determine any notional part of speech for emphasis, e.g. Only he did so. He did only this. He only listened but did nothing. They do not perform the functions of subject, predicate, object, etc. in a sentence, they emphasize the meaning of the word they modify.

Interjections (int) express human emotions, they are unchangeable, they make a sentence in themselves, e.g. Oh, how happy I feel, and are often homonymous with notional words, e.g. My God, here you are at last.

Words Yes and No express affirmation and negation; they are unchangeable and make a sentence in themselves.

Modal words express the attitude of the speaker to what is said and are used as parentheses. E.g. Luckily, no one suffered from it. Honestly, you are making the most of it.

Here is a poem written by someone unknown about the parts of speech in English.

Grammar in Rhyme

Three little words you often see,

Are Articles A, An and The.

A Noun is the name of anything,

As School, or Garden, Hoop, or Swing.

Adjectives tell the kind of Noun,

As Great, Small, Pretty, White, or Brown.

Instead of Adjectives the Pronouns stand,

Her head, His face, Your arm, My hand.

Verbs tell of something being done —

To Read, Count, Laugh, Sing, Jump, or Run.

How things are done the Adverbs tell,

As Slowly, Quickly, Ill, or Well.

Conjunctions join the words together —

As men And women, wind And weather.

The Preposition stands before

A Noun, as In or Through a door.

The Interjection shows surprise,

As Oh! How Pretty! Ah! How Wise!

The whole are called nine parts of speech

Which reading, writing, speaking teach.

Nine parts of speech are mentioned in the poem against thirteen indicated in the chart. Among notional parts of speech numerals are not mentioned in the poem since they may be regarded in the group of adjectives due to the similarities of their characteristics and are often treated as such. Particles are easily comparable with adverbs, the same refers to modal words; words of affirmation and negation can with a certain degree of proximity be considered to be referring to the group of interjections. So, nine parts of speech is good enough for teaching purposes.

A chart like the one presented above would orientate the learners about the section of grammar they are in every time a grammar point is being taught facilitating them to overlook the complete picture of grammar.

The information about parts of speech may be helpful in teaching how to use an English-English, English-Russian, Russian-English dictionaries. It is taken for granted that students should make use of dictionaries and do make use of them successfully. That is why very little attention is given by EFL teachers to teaching the procedure of rinding a word in a dictionary. It is worthwhile remembering that the dictionary does not only name the word but also bears the information about what part of speech it is and, depending on it, some more data about the word in question.

Here is one other poem, this time about a dictionary.

William Jay Smith

A Dictionary's where you can look things up

To see if they're really there:

To see if what you breathe is Air,

If what you sit on is a Chair,

If what you comb is curly Hair,

If what you drink from is a Cup.

A Dictionary's where you can look things up

To see if they're really there.

Let us try to see how much information the verb "to explain" as a dictionary entry contains (the information comes from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English by A.S.Hornby).

explain vtl VP6A, 9, 8, 10, 14

2 VP6A, 15B

The symbols are deciphered in the dictionary as follows:

VP6A S + vt n/pr A dictionary tries to ~ the meanings of words.

VP8 S + vt inter.pr/adv + to-infinitive

He ~ed what to do.

VP9 Subject + vt that clause

He ~ed that he .had been delayed by the weather.

VP10 Subject + vt dependent clause/question

Please, ~ what this means.

VP14 Subject + vt DO prep noun (phrase/clause)

Please, ~ this problem to me.

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