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Lesson Transcript

Gabriella: Hi, I’m Gabriella.
Gina: And I’m Gina. Painless English Grammar.
Gina: In this lesson, we will talk about the basics of English grammar.
Gabriella: And we do mean the basics! We can’t possibly get too in-depth or complicated in just one lesson, so all that we are going to do, is introduce simple sentence structure and give you the base that you can build your English learning upon.
Gina: English grammar can become very difficult if you don’t understand the basics, but by the end of the lesson, you’ll be able to create English sentences and will know a little bit about tense and nouns.
Gabriella: Don’t worry if you don’t understand some of those words right now, as we’ll explain everything as we go.
Gina: I think we should start with a basic English sentence.
Gabriella: I think so too! First thing’s first - English is an SVO language.
Gina: Yes. Sentences follow the subject, verb, object order.
Gabriella: The subject is what the sentence is about, and is commonly a person.
Gina: The verb is the word that describes an action.
Gabriella: And an object is linked to the verb.
Gina: Let’s see that in action with a simple sentence.
Gabriella: Okay. “I play tennis”.
Gina: Nice and easy! The subject is “I” as (host B name) is talking about him/herself.
Gabriella: The verb is “play”, and the object, the thing I’m playing, is “tennis”.
Gina: There are other SVO languages, so this may be familiar to some of you already. Just in case it isn’t, we’ll give another example.
Gabriella: “He drinks coffee”.
Gina: So the subject is “he”, as we’re talking about a man. The verb is “drink” and “coffee” is the object of the verb.
Gabriella: That’s right. These are SVO sentences at their most basic.
Gina: In some languages, we can drop the subject when it is obvious what the subject is, but we can’t do that in English.
Gabriella: No. Even if it is clear who or what the subject is, you should still say it, otherwise it sounds unnatural.
Gina: And we can’t switch the order around either, can we? “He coffee drinks” makes no sense.
Gabriella: Not unless you’re Yoda, no!
Gina: Okay, one other thing we need to consider with verbs is tense.
Gabriella: English has three tenses – past, present and future. The examples given so far have been in the present tense, so they are actions that are happening now.
Gina: Can you give us examples of past tense sentences?
Gabriella: Sure! They still follow the SVO order – we just change the verb to the past tense. “I played tennis”. “He drank coffee”.
Gina: Those verbs are both now in past tense, but they haven’t been changed, or conjugated, in the same way.
Gabriella: No. We just added “~ed” to “play” but we changed “drink” to “drank”. A lot of English verbs are made into their past tense by adding “~ed” but a lot aren’t, so the different conjugations have to be learnt, I’m afraid!
Gina: How about future tense?
Gabriella: Although it’s possible to speak about things in the future, there isn’t really a true future tense form in English. Instead we use an extra verb, called an auxiliary verb, to make a future tense sentence.
Gina: Such as?
Gabriella: “She will listen to music.”
Gina: Ah, it’s still SVO - we’ve just added “will” before the verb.
Gabriella: Yes. There’s no conjugation there at all, just “will listen” instead of “listen”.
Gina: Another example would be “I will read a book”.
Gabriella: That’s a good example, and it works the same.
Gina: I think there is something else we need to talk about when it comes to verbs and tenses, and that’s aspects.
Gabriella: Yes. Even those who have already learnt about aspects are probably scratching their heads right now, and wondering what we’re talking about, as they’re so closely tied to the tenses and are usually taught together.
Gina: What are aspects?
Gabriella: If tenses tell us when something happens, then aspects tell us the nature of the action. There are four aspects - simple, perfect, progressive and perfect progressive.
Gina: I suspect some listeners may know what we’re talking about, now that we’ve named the aspects!
Gabriella: Possibly, yeah! Aspects help give us more information on a tense. For example, “I write a letter” is in present simple tense and simply means that the action is happening. But “I am writing a letter” is present progressive and clearly states that the action is happening right this second, as the subject is speaking.
Gina: Aspect gives more detail to the tense.
Gabriella: That’s right. And it’s still SVO!
Gina: I think we’ve covered the basics of sentence structure and verbs well, so let’s move onto nouns.
Gabriella: The best news about nouns in English, is that there is no gender, so there are no masculine or feminine nouns. They are all treated the same.
Gina: That is good news!
Gabriella: Nouns in English can be divided, however, into count and non-count nouns.
Gina: Yes, English likes to use plurals. So it’s “one apple” but “two apples”.
Gabriella: Count nouns, such as “apple”, are made plural by adding an “~s” to the end of the noun.
Gina: Books, pens, boys.
Gabriella: Yep. But what about non-count nouns? These are a little trickier.
Gina: Yes, for these we either have to change the word or use a qualifier.
Gabriella: The plural of “person” isn’t “persons” but “people” – we change the word.
Gina: Same with “goose” to “geese”.
Gabriella: With other nouns, we use qualifiers which are extra words that show it is plural. These are different depending on the noun.
Gina: With liquids, such as water or milk, we use qualifiers such as “glasses” or “bottles”.
Gabriella: Yes. “Glasses of milk”, for example. For something like research, we could say “pieces of research.”
Gina: In these cases the noun stays singular.
Gabriella: It does. Unfortunately, you have to learn what is count and what is non-count.
Gina: There’s a lot of learning in English!
Gabriella: For every rule, there’s an exception!


Gina: Ok, everyone. I think that’s all for this lesson.
Gabriella: Thank you for listening, everyone. See you next time!