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The Wind and the Sun

What word appears most often in English? It's "the," also known as the definite article. Its partner, the indefinite article "a", is also among the top 10 most frequent words in English. According to Professor Elka Todeva of the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, "a" and "the" are also some of the most difficult words for learners to figure out how to use without some assistance. "A," "an" and "the" are called articles. Why are these small words so hard to learn? More than 200 languages do not have articles. Other languages have articles but use them differently than English does. As a result, figuring out the logic of English articles can be challenging.


Relative Pronouns

In this weeks episode of Everyday Grammar, we are going to discuss the relative pronouns who, that and which. A relative pronoun relates to the noun it is describing. Relative pronouns introduce a relative clause. Think of relative clauses as long adjectives. Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Lets start with an example sentence:


When Passive Is Better than Active

This Everyday Grammar is all about the passive voice. The passive is a verb form in which the subject receives the action of the verb. For example, "I was born on a Saturday." Most sentences in English follow the subject-verb-object pattern known as the active voice. For example, "I love you." In this example the subject is "I," the verb is "love" and the object is "you." The subject performs the action of the verb. But sometimes the subject is acted upon, or receives the action of the verb. This is called the passive voice. Imagine that someone stole your wallet, but you do not know who did it. You could say, "My wallet was stolen." In this passive sentence, "my wallet" is the subject, "was stolen" is the verb. There is no direct object -- the wallet did not steal itself. The speaker does not know who stole the wallet.


Introducing Conditionals

In this week's episode of Everyday Grammar, we are going to talk about conditionals. We use conditionals to show that something is true only when something else is true. Conditionals offer endless possibilities for creative and imaginative expression. Present real conditional The present real conditional is the most basic kind of conditional. Basically, when A happens, B happens. Here's an example of a present real conditional: "If it rains, I bring an umbrella."


Advanced Conditionals

This week, we are going to talk about the past unreal conditional. Past unreal conditionals are often used to express wishes about the past. They often show regret, or sad feelings about something that happened in the past. Here's an example: If I had studied, I would have passed the test. In this example, there is an implied wish that the speaker had studied.


Problems with Pronouns and Gender

When I was on the train yesterday, I heard someone say this: Someone left their bag on the train. Can you find anything wrong with the sentence? If you looked in a traditional English grammar book, you would learn that the sentence should be, Someone left his bag on the train. The rule is to use the singular pronoun he when the gender of a person is not known.


Simple Past and Present Perfect

In this weeks episode of Everyday Grammar were going to help you understand the difference between the simple past and the present perfect. English learners often confuse these two verb tenses. Lets start with an example. Can you tell the difference between these two sentences? Sentence one: I saw the movie. Sentence two: I have seen the movie.


Double Negatives - Cant Get None?

In this weeks episode of Everyday Grammar, were going to talk about two common types of double negatives. A double negative is when you use two negative words in the same clause of a sentence. Lets take a real-world example. In 2012, President Obama spoke at United Nations about the Iran nuclear issue.


IN, On, and AT

When English speakers talk about time and place, there are three little words that often come up: in, on, and at. These common words are prepositions that show a relationship between two words in a sentence. Some prepositions are rather easy for English learners to understand: behind, over, under, next to, etc But these little two-letter prepositions seem to create confusion. Here are a few rules to help you understand when to use in, on, and at in a sentence. For describing time and place, the prepositions in, on, and at go from general to specific.


Gerunds and Infinitives

Welcome to another episode of Everyday Grammar on VOA Learning English. English learners have difficulty with gerunds and infinitives. A gerund is the ing form of a verb that functions the same as a noun. For example, Running is fun. In this sentence, running is the gerund. It acts just like a noun.


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