Tense is always on the first verb in the verb phrase (VP)

Finite verb phrases (VP) in English have one, and only one, verb which carries the tense. This is always the first verb in the VP. To illustrate, look at how the tense shifts from verb to verb in the following and how the other verbs need to take on tenseless (non-finite forms).

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Use of pitch range

When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into spoken paragraphs (paratones). Less skilled presenters often use a narrower pitch range which gives them less headroom in which to show these divisions.

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Tone in Chinese

Chinese (Mandarin) has four different tones numbered 1 to 4: high level, rising, fall-rise and falling. These tones are often shown on the top of the vowel in the Pinyin systems for writing Chinese (eg. mā to indicate high level tone).


Tone in Chinese has a lexical function in that it can change the meaning of the word. (Unlike English where tone usually only shows attitude). So for example, the word ‘ma’ can actually have four different meanings depending on the tone that it is uttered with. Continue reading “Tone in Chinese”


Structure of the Clause

What is a clause?

All languages are able to talk about ‘things’. That is, we can talk about things such as dogs, chairs, democracy, etc. And all languages are able to say what happened to these things or what state they are in. That is, we can say something is barking, are broken, is vital. Thus at the heart of language we have a system which consists of things that we talk about (the subject) and states or actions that we ascribe to the thing (the predicate). Continue reading “Clauses”


Punctuation is the use of small typographical symbols ( .  , ; :  ) to segment and conjoin textual items at the morphological, lexical, phrasal and clausal level. Grammar is enabled through good punctuation and punctuation is mollified with correct grammar. Hence punctuation is an important part of writing, and teachers should be aware of the punctuation conventions in English so that they can teach these in class. Continue reading “Punctuation”

Genericness (NPs)

Noun phrases can be said to have generic reference if they refer to the class of objects represented by the head noun as a whole rather that one or a subset of members. Thus in:

The tiger is a fearsome beast
My tiger is a fearsome beast

The first example is generic in that it refers to the whole class of tigers whereas the second is non-generic in that it refers to one specific tiger. Continue reading “Genericness (NPs)”

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