Consider the Following
Consider the Following


Video Clip

English grammar is much easier than you think. If you read the lecture notes carefully, ask questions when necessary, review the sites I direct you to, and complete the assignments, you will have no problem mastering the fundamentals of English grammar. 

Many students may find that the study of English grammar, whether as a native language or as a foreign language, to be complex. One of the reasons why some students feel that way is, perhaps, our failure as educators to show the learners the logical system that, languages, including English, follow. Another reason is that students are often encouraged to memorize rules instead of try to critically understand them. 

The truth is that English grammar is perhaps the easiest and the simplest in all popular languages. Take Arabic, for example. Although I have a law degree (all my studies in law school were in Arabic and French), my knowledge of Arabic grammar is far below the desired level because of its complexity. In addition, I found that French, Italian, and Spanish, languages which I studied, have far more complex grammatical rules than English does. And if my examples are not enough to convince you, try Vietnamese grammar. Vietnamese grammar is perhaps next to the Greek in terms of being the most difficult grammar of all languages. 

In the coming six weeks, we will review various elements of English grammar. We will cover all the verb tenses with emphasis on the perfect tense.  We will review some of the major verbs in the language such as verbs to be, to do, and to have.  We will look at their meaning and usage. These particular three verbs pose some difficulties to the second language learner.  One of the reasons is that they function as verbs on their own: to be= verb of existence, to do = verb of action, and to have = to possess or to own.  They also function as helping verbs; this means that they don't have a meaning of their own, but they help other verbs give specific meanings.  We will thoroughly look at this later.  

We will cover the active and passive voice; how and why they are used. Also, we will review the direct-indirect speech, how and why they are used. Later in the course we will review adjective and adverb clauses, count and non-count nouns and the modals. 

Each lesson will be detailed and with enough examples. Also, each lesson will include an exercise and a list of frequently asked questions. Please do not do these exercises in haste; take your time to understand each question and possible answer.  Then, you may select the best possible answer.  If for any reason any of the questions you find confusing, please make sure you let your teacher know so that s/he can explain it to you. 

Sometimes, I will provide a list of links to useful sites that provide more information on the lesson's topic. You are encouraged to check these links. They have wealth of information and various useful exercises.  You can also mark these links for future use if need be. 

There will be a discussion board available to you.  The discussion board is designed so that you may post your comments, questions, and concerns. You are encouraged to make use of it.  You may post relevant questions or concerns for discussions with the group.  I am sure that you will find this tool helpful, exciting and rewarding. 

At the end of this lesson, you will be asked to take a diagnostic quiz. This quiz will tell us how much you know and will be used to help each student individually in the areas he/she needs assistance. 

Please note that I will be available to respond to your questions as soon as I get them. I will try to respond to each of your questions in the timeliest manner possible. Please do not be discouraged.


OK, Let us think together.  What is grammar anyway?

Well, do you have a dog or a cat or any pet? If you do, do you watch what your pet does sometimes? 

Watching animals can be a fascinating experience. You perhaps wonder: Do animals think? Do they communicate?

The answer is most probably yes.  Animals do communicate. Then what is the difference between animal's communication and that of humans? Well the difference is GRAMMAR. Animals can communicate but they cannot tell stories of the past or tell things that will happen.  They communicate in the NOW, the present.  We, on the other hand, can tell stories of the past and talk of the future.  Grammar allows us the luxury of displacement of time and space.  Conversing with one another, we take our thoughts to different times and different places. 


"Last Christmas I went to France and England to visit my family. I had a great time.  In England, I went to Cambridge University where I had studied before I came to the United States.  In France, I went to the University of Paris II where I had planned to continue my law education. In both countries I enjoyed my holiday with my family and in the places that brought back good memories." 

In this short paragraph above I took you to a different time (last Christmas) and to different places (France and England).

Well, this is grammar.  Other animals cannot do that (except for bees that can tell other bees where food is and how far it is). We, humans can take our minds to different times and different places.  This form of time and space displacement is grammar. So, grammar is the way we use language to express thoughts that relate to different places and different times.  For us to communicate clearly, we must use grammar correctly.

For example, what is wrong with this picture: 
"I went to school tomorrow"?  Well! think about it. 

I used a verb in the past (went) while talking about the future (tomorrow) so the time displacement is inaccurate, isn't it? 

And this is grammar.  Grammar is to tell about events that happen in different times and different places.  Animals cannot do that; we can.  Lucky for us, isn't it? 

When we talk of grammar, in general terms, we are referring to the time when an action takes, took, or will take place.  Everything we talk about is in the present, the past, or the future.  We have a set system to indicate these times. This is what we will examine here in this grammar for ESL course. 

I hope you will enjoy this as much as I anticipate. And if you don't find it as easy as I think you will, let me know.  Because I learned English as a foreign language and went through what your are going through now, I think I can help you.  Perhaps my own experiences with learning languages will help me show you the best ways to learn this.  


In summary, be free to share with me your concerns.  During this course, try to pay attention to the concepts we cover in real life situations - for example: in a conversation with a native speaker, on a TV show, in a book or newspaper or anywhere you might be exposed to the English language.  Always pay attention to structure, ask questions, and analyze rules.  Avoid memorization; you cannot memorize a language.  You ought to understand the concept so that you may be able to apply the concept in various situations.  I will try to make concepts as clear as possible so you can apply them to your everyday English.  With desire, effort, and persistence you will have no choice but to succeed. 

Now check the following diagnostic quiz. 

Diagnostic Test:

1-  When she left the building, she had the feeling she ------. 
a) Was watched
b) Has been watched
c) Was being watched
2- Two men ------ on the bridge were injured yesterday afternoon. 
a) Working
b) Worked
c) Were working
3- For three days we ------- the living room, and we still haven't finished.  
a) Paint
b) Have been painting
c) Have to paint
4- Let us be really quiet when we go into the baby's room. The baby ----- and we don't want to wake her up. 
a) Might be sleep
b) Might have been sleeping
c) Might be sleeping
5- I can't find my sister. Do you know -------? 
a) Where is she
b) Is she anywhere 
c) Where she is 
6- Maria was making dinner when her boyfriend ------- home. 
a) Came
b) Has come
c) Comes
7- The telegram ------- at nine o'clock yesterday morning. 
a) Has arrived
b) Arrived
c)  Was arriving
8- They are giving away ------- of their old furniture. 
a) Any
b) Many
c) Some
9- he is very busy.  He doesn't have ------ free time. 
a) Many
b) No
c) Much
10- He saw a dog -------- our backyard. 
a) In
b) At
c) On

Internet Links:
     The simple present tense
     The simple past tense
     The past continuous
     The present perfect
     Various grammar exercises

  Grammar Online         Next Page          Previous Page