|10 IMPORTANT FACTS for ESL Students|
|IMPORTANT FACT #1
It is common for Americans to say "I saw that movie before" but this is not
grammatically correct and will be marked WRONG on a test!
It is incorrect to use the simple past tense to refer to a past action when the
time is not specified. When the time is not specified, the present perfect tense should be used.
"I have seen that movie before" or "I've seen that movie before" are correct.
IMPORTANT FACT #2
Verbs that do not refer to actions cannot be put in the past, present or future continuous tense. Only verbs that describe actions can be placed in a
continuous verb tense.
It is correct to say "It is raining" but incorrect to say "I am wanting a job."
In American conversation ...
the verb "to be" can also mean to behave,act
the verb "to see" can also mean to date someone
"I am happy now" = I am in a state of happiness
"The kids are being good today" = The kids are behaving well today.
"I see the full moon now" = I have the ability to see the full moon
"Bob is seeing Sue" = Bob is dating Sue
IMPORTANT FACT #3
MAKE and DO are used differently!
The verb "to make" can mean to produce, create, build, cook, prepare,
with emphasis on the final product.
The verb "to do" can mean to perform, complete, with emphasis on
You make a cake
You make a list
You make friends (the friendship is created)
You make the bed
You make a complaint
You do the laundry
You do ballet
You do your best
You do the dishes
When the action is not known, the verb "to do" is used.
"What did you do yesterday?" = what were your acts, actions?
"What did you make yesterday" = what did you prepare, create or cook?
IMPORTANT FACT #4
These days, in American conversation, CAN is commonly used instead of MAY
for asking permission or making a request
If you walk into a store, the sales person might ask "Can I help you?"
An American friend might ask you "Can I borrow your pen?"
IMPORTANT FACT #5
GO + The Gerund (ING form of the verb) is used for many recreational activities.
Harry goes camping
Harry goes canoeing
Harry goes fishing
Harry goes hiking
Harry goes horseback riding
Harry goes jogging
Harry goes sailing
Harry goes skating
Harry goes skiing
Harry goes surfing
Harry goes swimming
IMPORTANT FACT #6
PLAY is used for team sports, racket sports and games
Harry plays football (team sport)
Harry plays hockey (team sport)
Harry plays tennis (racket sport)
Harry plays cards (game)
IMPORTANT FACT #7
GET is commonly used and it can mean buy, receive, understand, become, fetch
It's getting cold outside (become)
Sue got a lot of presents (gifts) for her birthday (receive)
Sometimes I don't get English grammar (understand)
Harry got a watch at the store (buy)
I'll be ready in a minute. I just have to get my wallet (fetch)
IMPORTANT FACT #8
GET is commonly used to replace the verb TO BE in the passive voice
The car was stolen = The car got stolen
The thief will be arrested = The thief will get arrested
Diamonds are sold at most jewelry stores =
Diamonds get sold at most jewelry stores
IMPORTANT FACT #9
HAVE GOT + NOUN = TO HAVE
I've got a younger sister = I have a younger sister
You've got nice hair = You have nice hair
He's got a swimming pool = He has a swimming pool
We've got new neighbors = We have new neighbors
They've got two dogs = They have two dogs
IMPORTANT FACT #10
HAVE GOT + INFINITIVE = MUST!
I've got to do my homework = I must do my homework
You've got to be patient = You must be patient
She's got to pay for the ticket now = She must pay for the ticket now
We've got to take the train to Chicago = We must take the train
They've got to pay the bill before they leave = they must pay the bill