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Structure: Word categories

This time in our structure help we talk about word categories in English. This is vital to understand why certain words are acceptable in some situations, while other words aren’t acceptable.

When we think about word categories some of the most common categories are; nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions.

Nouns can refer to people (or other creatures), places or things.
Examples: Peter, friend, cat, table, book.

Verbs are words that relate to actions or states.
Examples: work, eat, fly.

Adjectives are describing words.
Examples: big, fast, happy.

Adverbs are formed by a large group of words that is impossible to go through here. However, some of the most common adverbs are ones that express ‘how something happens’ (slowly, quickly, easily etc…) or ‘how often something happens’ (usually, normally, never, sometimes etc…).

Prepositions are words that connect parts of a sentence and show the relationship between them.
Examples: in, on, at, with etc…

A good student’s dictionary like the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English tells you the category of a word you search for. By knowing the category of a word you can more easily use it in sentences. This is also a good way to build vocabulary because words often have some different forms; a verb, adjective and noun for example. By knowing each of these individual forms you are more easily able to use the correct one when necessary.

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Structure: too vs either

This time in our structure help we talk about the difference between too and either. These two words are used in the context of adding a secondary point which is negative, however there is an important difference between them. Look at the following example;

We didn’t have good weather two days ago and we didn’t have good weather yesterday either.

In this case we can use either (but not too) when we have; negative statement + negative statement. Let’s look at when we can use too.

I spoke to the chief pilot, but I didn’t speak to the captain too.

In this case we can see that the structure is a little different, with too we use; positive statement + negative statement. We can use as well and also in the same way as too. Here are some more examples.

I didn’t send the report on Monday and I didn’t send it on Tuesday either. (negative + negative)

I had a simulator session in the morning, but I didn’t have one in the afternoon too / as well / also. (positive + negative)

We didn’t have to go around and the flight after us didn’t have to go around either. (negative + negative)

I met the captain for a coffee, but I didn’t meet the co-pilot too / as well / also.

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Structure: Future in the past 2

We talked previously about using the future in the past with be (in the past) + going to + infinitive verb to indicate a plan, prediction or expectation from a past perspective.

The captain was going to perform the flight, but he felt sick and had to stay at home.

However, there is a second form which is possible in certain circumstances. We can use would + infinitive OR be (in the past) + going to + infinitive verb when we talk about situations that are promises to do something or help somebody (from a past perspective).

He told me he would meet us one hour before the flight.
He told me he was going to meet us one hour before the flight.

These two examples both indicate a promise. In this situation the two structures give us the same meaning, however, when we talk about a plan, prediction or expectation from a past perspective we can only use be(in the past) + going to + infinitive verb.

So; after arriving at the hotel I was going to have lunch is correct (a plan), but after arriving at the hotel I would have lunch is not correct.

Now try to write some examples of your own.

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Structure: Relative clauses 2

In relative clauses 1 we looked at some of the basics of relative clauses. This time we’ll discuss another issue with them.

In some relative clauses it’s not necessary to use who, which, or that. You can use it if you want but you don’t have to. Let’s look at a couple of examples where it’s not necessary to use who and which.

The person (who) you met works for Emirates.
The book (which) you bought is expensive.

In these two examples we don’t have to use who and which. But how can we discover when we have to use who, which (or that) and we don’t have to? It depends on whether who, which (or that) is the subject or object of the verb. Very briefly, the subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs an action. The object of a sentence is affected by the action. Look at the diagram below for more information.

As we can see, he performs the action and the plane is affected by the action (it is flown). Now let’s consider our examples above.

The person (who) you met works for Emirates.

In this sentence you met the person, so ‘you’ is the subject and ‘a person’ is the object is the verb ‘met’. Our rule is that if who, which (or that) is the object of our verb, then we don’t have to use it. Let’s look at our second example from above.

The book (which) you bought is expensive.

In this sentence you bought the book, so ‘you’ is the subject (‘you’ performed the action) of the verb and ‘the book’ is the object of our verb, then once again we don’t have to use which. To fully understand this idea about the subject and object of a verb can take time, so if you’re not sure it’s perfectly correct to use who, which (or that) all the time in relative clauses. When you become more comfortable with subjects and objects of verbs you can decide whether or not to use who, which (or that) in relative clauses.

Now try to write some examples of your own to help clarify when you don’t have to use who, which (or that).

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Structure: Relative clauses 1

This time in our structure help we talk about relative clauses. These clauses (parts of sentences) help the speaker identify the thing or person they are talking about. Let’s see an example.

The woman who we met is a pilot.

In the example above ‘who we met’ is the relative clause, it helps identify the woman we are talking about.

The guy who bought your ticket is my cousin.

Again ‘who bought your ticket’ identifies the person we are talking about (and is the relative clause in the sentence).

In these situations we sometimes have the structure;
‘Person + who + verb (+ object) + information.’
The guy + who + bought + your ticket + is my cousin.

When we’re using a relative clause to help identify a thing instead of a person we use ‘which’. Let’s see an example.

The button which you pressed turns on the wipers.

In the example above ‘which you pressed’ is the relative clause, it helps identify the button (the thing) we are talking about.

The chart which you looked at is the wrong one.

Again ‘which you looked at’ identifies the thing we are talking about (and is the relative clause in this sentence).

In these situations we sometimes have the structure;
‘Thing + which + verb (+ object) + information.’
The chart which you looked at is the wrong one.
(note there is no object in the example above)

We can also use that instead of who or which in the above examples.

The guy that bought your ticket is my cousin.
The chart that you looked at is the wrong one.

That can be used in some other situations so be careful not to confuse the use of that in relative clauses with other uses of that.

Remember only use who for people and which for things.

Now try to write some of your own examples using relative clauses to help identify a person of thing you are talking about.

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Structure: ‘Wherever, whenever, whatever, whoever’

This time in our structure help we talk about a few words which can often be misunderstood or confused with other words. When we use ‘ever’ at the end of certain words, the idea is that something isn’t important or that it doesn’t matter. So let’s look at some specific words; wherever for example means that the place isn’t important and is often used is response to an open question.

Where do you want to fly? Wherever, I just need to find a job.

In this situation, the answers means, the place isn’t important for me, it can be any place. Similarly we have the word whenever.

What time can we talk tomorrow? Whenever, I’m free all day.

In this case the time isn’t important, it can be any time during the day. We can also use the words whatever and whoever to say that the thing or person isn’t important. Let’s look at examples of those.

What would you like to eat after we land? Whatever, I like everything.
Who do you want to help you with the luggage? Whoever, I just need a little bit of help.

What we can see in these explanations and examples is that when we use ‘ever’ at the end of those words, it has the meaning, it doesn’t matter when, where, what or who.

Now try to write some examples of your own, similar to the ones you read above.

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