Tag Archives: Grammar

Grammar for The Lake (Ch16)


The past perfect looks like this: had + past participle

In relation to a simple past tense, the past perfect is often used to move to an earlier past.

Look at this sentence from The Lake (Ch16): ‘He yawned and looked at his watch. It was only 8pm. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks.’

The yawn and the look took place in the past – the use of the simple past tense indicates this. However, the lack of ‘a good night’s sleep’ (which means the person slept badly) happened BEFORE the yawn and BEFORE the look. The past perfect has taken the narrative into a more distant past – a time before the other two events (yawn, look)

Here is another example from the Lake (Ch16): ‘Farley started up the engine of the old Ford. He had had to deal with lots of criminals over the years – and a lot of bent cops.’  

Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE?

1. ‘Farley started up the engine’ 

This is an example of a sentence that uses the past perfect

2. Farley started the engine BEFORE he dealt with a lot of criminals

3. ‘He had had to deal with a lot of criminals’

This is an example of a sentence that uses the past perfect

4. Farley dealt with the criminals AFTER he started up the engine

For more practice with the past perfect, visit this site:http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv210.shtml


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Grammar practice from The Lake (Ch13)

Hard, hard, harder, harder and hardly!

HARD as an adjective. ‘Hard’ is an adjective that can mean ‘tough/difficult’. For example, ‘It’s a hard question to answer’ means I find the question difficult to answer.

Also, ‘hard’ as an adjective can mean ‘not soft’: ‘I can’t eat this apple: it’s too hard’. This means the apple is not soft enough.

‘Harder’ is a different kind of adjective. It is a comparative. It compares two things. In this sentence, ‘The exam was harder than I expected.’ The comparison is across two exams: the ‘imaginary one’ and the ‘real one’. Unfortunately, the one in my mind was easier than the real one!

HARD as an adverb: ‘Hard’ can be an adverb too. For example, ‘I had to run hard to catch the bus’.  In this sentence, ‘hard’ describes how I ran. The sentence means I had to run a lot to catch the bus.

‘Harder’ is a different kind of adverb. It is an adverb of comparison. It means – in the example coming up – I did something ‘more than before’. For example, ‘I ran harder yesterday to catch the bus than I did today because I was tired.’ The comparison is of how I ran across two times: yesterday and today. Of course, ‘harder’ can be used to talk about more effort in the future too. For example, ‘I’ll study harder for the English exam’ (compared to the studying I did for a different exam).

HARDLY as an adverb: ‘Hardly’ is an adverb. It means ‘almost not at all’. For example, ‘He hardly ate anything’ means he ate very little food.


A. Is the underlined word an adjective (1), a comparative (2), an adverb (3) or an adverb of comparison (4)?

i. I can hardly see out the window – it’s so dirty.

ii. If you don’t like maths it can be hard to understand physics.

iii. It’s not too hard to lose weight if you have a good diet and exercise!

iv. He won the gold medal at the Olympics because he trained harder than the others.

v. Is English harder than maths?

vi. Cindy pressed the accelerator harder and the big Mercedes pushed forward.

Click on the link for more practice with adverbs of comparison: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/worksheet/en26adve-l1-w-using-adverbs-to-compare



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Grammar for The Lake (Chapter 1)

1.The simple past passive

The passive voice has many forms. For example, ‘The document was delivered yesterday‘ is an example of the simple past passive. The active form of this sentence might be: ‘The courier delivered the document yesterday‘. In the first (passive) sentence, the verb phrase is ‘was + the past participle of deliver‘. In the second (active) sentence, the simple past tense verb is ‘delivered‘. There are a number of reasons why the passive might be used. In the case of the document that was delivered yesterday, knowing who did the action (i.e. the agent) may not be useful or interesting (or it may just be obvious). Perhaps we care more about the document arriving at its destination (or the time it reached there) than who took it. Consequently, the ‘agent’ (i.e. the person or thing doing the action) may drop out of the sentence or be added at the end using ‘by’. (For example, ‘The document was delivered yesterday by the courier‘)

2. Look at this extract from The Lake (Chapter 1) and find the passive.

The house that Annie lived in was built by her grandfather. It overlooked the Eastman River just two miles north of the silver mine at Hunting. Two hundred years ago, her grandfather worked in the mine, but the silver didn’t last. After the mine closed, most people moved away. Within a year, Hunting was empty: people needed work. Some went to Easton, the nearest city, and began new lives. Soon, Hunting became a ghost town, a place with empty houses, broken windows and empty streets. In the distance, amongst the forest that grew on the valley slopes, Annie could still see some of the roofs of Hunting’s empty buildings.

3. Think of a suitable person or thing as the agent in these sentences

e.g. He was fired two days ago = His boss fired him two days ago.

a. The windows were washed last week.

b. The marks for the exam were handed out before we left.

c. The thief wasn’t caught.

d. That photograph of me was taken at my birthday party.

e. Rice is grown in many parts of India.

f. ‘Why were the children sent to bed early?’

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Grammar and comprehension for The Cook (Chapter 12)

1. Dependent clauses are parts of a sentence that cannot not stand alone.

A dependent clause often begins with a word such as ‘after‘, ‘before‘, ‘when‘ and ‘while‘. For example, ‘Candy ran away when she saw the policeman‘. In this sentence, the dependent clause is ‘when she saw the policeman‘.

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 12) and find the dependent clause

‘That’s right,’ replied the policeman. ‘Before she went mad, she was a scientist. She worked for the government. She said her formula changed nasty people into good people.’

3. Look again at The Cook (Chapter 12) and decide which word is best to complete the dependent clause.

a. [While/Before] Sergeant Roberts was running to the gym hall, he spoke in his radio.

b. [After/Before] Sergeant Roberts ran into the gym hall, he pulled Mr Tomkin out of it.

c. Sergeant Roberts called for ambulances [before/after] he heard that Candy was the school cook.

d. The headmistress ran into the playground [after/before] Sergeant Roberts called for ambulances.

e. [While/When] Mr Tomkin said he didn’t trust Candy, the headmistress told him to be quiet.

f. [Before/After] Mr Tomkin heard that Candy was a scientist, his eyes grew wide.

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 11)

1. Adjectives describe or give us more information about nouns. For example, ‘Candy wore a long scarf.’ In this sentence, the word ‘long’ describes the scarf that Candy wore. The adjective comes before the noun (called an ‘attributive’ adjective)

In this sentence, the adjective comes after the noun (called a ‘predicative’ adjective): ‘Candy was afraid.’

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 11) and find the adjectives in it:

But not Sergeant Roberts. Now he stood on the steps of the main building and stared hard at her. She stood completely still. ‘Oh, no,’ she thought, ‘he is trying to remember. Please don’t remember.’ Then the sergeants faced changed. His eyes became wide and his mouth dropped open: the poster on the wall in the police station. The woman from Scullwell! He took a step forward, but it was already too late.

3. Find the adjectives in these sentences and decide if they are attributive (before the noun) or predicative (after the noun)

a. The gym was large.

b. Candy dropped her favourite scarf.

c. The children enjoyed listening to special guests.

d. The policeman had a strange look on his face.

e. The children went to the school’s large gym.

f. Candy felt nervous when she saw the policeman.



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Word forms for The Cook (Chapter 11)

1.Choose the best word to complete this sentence:

Billy Pugman [chose/choice] to eat beef for lunch.

In this example, a verb is needed so the correct word form is ‘chose’ (the past tense of ‘choose’). The word ‘choice’ is a noun and can’t be used here.

2. Knowing and choosing the correct form (or ‘Part of Speech’) of a word is important. Look at this extract from The Cook and decide if the underlined words are a noun or verb.

The surprise stopped Sergeant Roberts from moving; but only for a moment. He dropped his hat and ran after her. He was just seconds behind. He pulled the security door open and ran into the street. His mouth dropped open. He looked one way, then the other. He ran to Martin’s Fish Bar and looked up that street. Nothing. He turned around and began to run all the way around the wall, but she was not there. ‘Now what do I do?’ He thought about the poster in the police station – about the information on it. ‘I must warn them,’ he said and rushed back to the security door. It was still half-open. He looked down. On the ground, between the door and the lock, was a long purple scarf.

3. Complete these sentences by choosing the correct form of the word

a. If you [rush/in a rush] in an exam, you might make careless mistakes. I [in a rush/rushed] in my exam, so it wasn’t [surprised/a surprise] when I got my grade. It was low!

b. The [inform/information] about how to use the DVD player [a look/looked] difficult to understand.

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 10)

1. Exclamations are phrases that can express strong (positive or negative) emotions. For example, imagine you have just watched a good film. You could say ‘What a movie!’. Alternatively, imagine one of the actors in the film was really bad. You could say ‘What an actor!’. Exclamations like these examples have an exclamation mark (!) at the end of them.

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 10) and find the exclamation with ‘What’ in it.

Inside the kitchen, the headmistress, Mr Tomkin and Mrs Duffy stood at the window and looked out. ‘My goodness Ms Pickles,’ said the headmistress. ‘What a queue!’ She smiled. ‘You are a star! An absolute star!’

3. Look at these sentences and match them with the most appropriate exclamation

‘What a building!’

‘What an idiot!’

‘What a result!’

‘What a journey!’

‘What a view!’

‘What a meal!’

a. I loved the taste of everything that we ate.

b. The bus made so many stops along the way.

c. It’s the highest skyscraper in the world.

d. From the hotel, we could see Loch Ness.

e. He drove past me at 70kph in a 40kph zone.

f. Manchester City beat Manchester United 6-1.


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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 9)

1. One way to use ‘much‘ and ‘many‘ is to talk about quantities of something. For example, in this sentence: ‘She has many friends‘ the number of friends is countable. ‘Many‘ is used instead of counting the exact number of friends and means ‘a large number of‘. We can also use ‘a lot of‘ instead.

In this sentence: ‘She doesn’t have much patience‘, patience cannot be counted so ‘much‘ is used. This sentence is NEGATIVE. We can also use ‘a lot of” in a NEGATIVE sentence. For example, ‘She doesn’t have a lot of patience‘. If we want to talk about something that cannot be counted in a POSITIVE way, then ‘a lot of‘ is often used. For example, ‘She has a lot of patience‘. This rule changes if ‘so‘ comes before ‘much’. For example, ‘She has so much patience‘. If we want to make a QUESTION, then ‘much‘ or ‘a lot of‘ can be used. For example, ‘Does she have much/a lot of patience?

2. Find the examples of ‘much’ and ‘many’ in this extract from The Cook (Chapter 9)

As usual, she worked beside the window. There were carrots to chop, swedes to smash and potatoes to peel and they all took so much time to do. Slowly, the sun rose between grey clouds. Around 8.15, the first children came through the security door and by 8.45 most of the children were in the playground.

She looked and looked for Billy, but there were so many children and none of them stayed in the same place for a second!

3. Use either ‘much’, ‘many’ or ‘a lot of’ to complete these sentences

a. How ______ was the train ticket?

b. She spent ______ money on new clothes.

c. She had ______ fun at her friend’s birthday party.

d. How ______ times did you watch ‘Titanic’?

e. I don’t know how ______ milk is in the fridge. Can you check?

f. He didn’t eat ______ for lunch – just a banana.

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 8)

1. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 8) and find the example of ‘let’

‘Oh dear,’ she said, ‘these ones here are a bit cold. Let me get you some fresh ones,’ and she swung around and disappeared through the kitchen doors. In a flash, she put two drops of the purple liquid onto Billy’s steak pie and stirred them into the gravy.

In the example above, Candy uses ‘let‘ to mean ‘allow me‘. In other words, she is using it to make an offer.

2. Using ‘Let’s and let(s)’. Here are two basic ways to use them:

(a) ‘Let me go!’ = Allow/Permit me to do it!

‘Please let me go to the party’ = Allow/permit me to do it

‘Let me get you some water’ = Allow me to get you some water = a phrase used for making AN OFFER

EXAMPLE: A pirate never lets sailors go unless they pay a ransom. = A pirate never allows sailors to go…

(b) Let’s go! = How about going? = A phrase used for making A SUGGESTION.

EXAMPLE: Let’s take some water. We’ll be thirsty if we don’t. = A suggestion to take some water.

3. Now look at the underlined phrase in these sentences. Is it similar to (a) or (b) above?

1. I’m tired. Let’s stop and take a rest.

2. Why won’t you let us go to the party?

3. She never lets her children sit in the car without their seatbelts on.

4. Her father didn’t let her drink coffee when she was a child.

5. If you change your mind, let us know.

6. I don’t know the city so let’s buy a map.

7. Are you hungry? Let me get you some food.

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 7)

1. The word ‘too’ can be used a number of different ways. One way is to describe a problematic situation. In other words, the situation is not what you expected or wanted. For example, if a classroom has 20 students, but only 19 chairs, then there are too many students (or too few chairs) in the room. Here, ‘too’ is modifying (or changing) a quantifier (such as ‘many’, ‘few’, ‘much’ and ‘little’).

‘Too’ can also be used to modify an adjective. For example, the man usually wears size 43 shoes, but as a gift he was given size 44 so the shoes are too big.

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 7) and find an example of ‘too’.

That night, she found a room near Euston train station. It was small and not very clean, but it was cheap and not too far from the school.

3. Complete these sentences using ‘to’ or too’

a. She went ______ the sale at H&M, but she was ______ late ______ get any bargains.

b. The teacher told him ______ do the essay again because he had made ______ many careless mistakes.

c. I have  ______ study for an exam tomorrow, but I don’t want ______. I feel ______ tired.

d. I feel full. In fact, I think I ate ______ much.

e. The dress was ______ small, so she took it back ______ the shop where she bought it four months ago. However, the assistant said she was ______ late and refused ______ exchange it.


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Grammar – The Cook (Chapter 6)

1. Look at this sentence:  ‘Candy said goodbye to the dishwashers and left the kitchen.

In this sentence, the subject in both clauses is ‘Candy‘ (Candy said goodbye and Candy left..). However, because the subject is the same, there is no need to repeat it. Instead, the two clauses are joined with ‘and‘ and the second ‘Candy‘ is removed.

2. Look at this quote from The Cook and find examples of this kind of ellipsis

The headmistress jumped out of her seat. ‘My dear, I had no idea!’ She pulled some tissues out of a box and gave them to her. ‘Wait here,’ she said and left the room. There were voices outside. A moment later, the headmistress returned. ‘Look, she said, ‘take this.’ In her hands, she had two hundred pounds. ‘Is that enough?

3. Decide if we can remove the word that is underlined in these sentences

a. Candy left the kitchen and Candy went into the playground.

b. Mr Tomkin spoke to Billy and Mr Tomkin told him to go to his office.

c. Candy was in the playground and Mr Tomkin came out the staffroom.

d. Candy used the knife to chop vegetables and the knife shone in the sunlight.

e. The dishwashers heard the fight and the dishwashers told Candy not to go out.

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1. Look at this sentence: ‘She is sad about leaving.’ The word ‘about‘ is a preposition here, and the object of this preposition is ‘leaving‘. ‘Leaving‘ here is a kind of noun called a gerund.

Look at this sentence: ‘Don’t talk about my friends!‘ The object of the preposition is the noun phrase, ‘my friends‘.

Often, the object of a preposition is a gerund or a noun phrase.

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 6). Find sentences with prepositions (and objects of prepositions):

It was now 2.30pm. Lunch finished an hour ago and she still felt happy about watching all the children eat her food. She took off her apron: now it was time to talk to the headmistress. She said goodbye to the dishwashers and left the kitchen. Soon, she was in the headmistress’s office outside her door. She knocked and went in.

3. Choose a suitable preposition to complete these sentences. What are the objects of the prepositions?

a. Candy slept  ______ a park last night.

b. The boys were arguing  ______ football.

c. The headmistress gave some money ______ Candy.

d. Candy sat ______ an all-night cafe.

e. Everyone stared _____ the knife ______ Candy’s hand.

f. Candy was unhappy ______ where she slept.

Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 6)

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1. There are a number of ways that ‘ing‘ is used in English. Sometimes ‘ing‘ is used to form a gerund. A gerund has an ‘ing‘ ending and it acts like a noun. Gerunds can be the subject or object of sentences. For example, in the sentence ‘I enjoy swimming‘, the object is ‘swimming‘ and it is a gerund. The ‘ing‘ ending is also used to form the present continuous. For example, the sentence ‘I am writing‘ describes an action that I might be doing now or around now.

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 5) and find the ‘ing‘ structures. Decide if they are gerunds or part of the present continuous

Suddenly, shouting filled the air. She looked out the kitchen window: a fight. ‘No!’ she called, ‘Stop!’

The two dishwashers turned and stared at her.

‘They’re fighting,’ she said and pointed to two boys in the playground. The dishwashers continued to drink their tea. One said, ‘It happens all the time, dear. Don’t worry about it.’ She looked out the window again. Now there was a crowd around the two boys. ‘Don’t go out there,’ said the other dishwasher, ‘it’s not safe.’

 3. Look at these sentences and decide if the underlined words are gerunds or part of the present progressive

a. Driving a car and talking on a phone at the same time is illegal in many countries.

b. Look at him: he’s driving and talking on his phone at the same time.

c. Talking and chewing food at the same time is rude!

d. Looking at someone’s answers in an exam is cheating.

e. Look! He’s doing it again – he’s copying her answers!



Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 5)

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 4)

1. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 4). The ‘When‘ question’s main verb is in the simple present tense. The auxillary or helping verb is ‘do‘. It isn’t ‘does‘ because it must agree with ‘you‘ – and it isn’t ‘did‘ because the question isn’t about the past.

The headmistress stood up and offered her hand. ‘Congratulations, Ms Pickles. You are our new school cook. When do you want to start?’

2. If the subject of a simple present tense question is he/she/it, the auxillary verb changes to ‘does‘. NOTE: the main verb remains unchanged (in other words, we DON’T add ‘s‘ to it). For example, ‘Where does he work?‘. In this question, the subject is ‘he‘, the main verb is ‘work‘ and the auxillary verb is ‘does‘.

3. Complete these questions

a. “Where ______ you ______ to ______?”   “Let’s go to McDonalds!”

b. ‘When ______ he ______ work?”   “He started at 8, so he’ll finish at 4”

c. “Where ______ Robert and Eva ______?”   “In Abu Dhabi. They moved there last year.”

d. “When ______ Tommy ______ school?”   “Next year, when he is five years old”

e. “Why ______ she ______ living there?”   “She says she likes British food!”

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 4)

1. Look at this sentence from The Cook (Chapter 4):

‘This is the best school food I’ve ever tasted!’

2. This could be said another way: ‘The food is really good. In fact, it is the best (food that) I have ever tasted.’

Notice that the verb ‘taste’ is in past participle form (=tasted)

3. Look at these examples and choose the correct one

i. The hotel is really good. In fact, it’s the best I’ve ever (stay/stayed) in.

ii. The service on this flight is really good. In fact, it’s the best I’ve ever (have/had).

iii. The movie is really bad. In fact, it’s the worst I’ve ever (seen/saw).

4. Now complete these sentences

i. The bed is really good. In fact, it’s the most comfortable….

ii. The water in this swimming pool is really cold. In fact, it’s the coldest…

iii. The food is disgusting. In fact, it’s the worst…

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 3)

1. There are a number of possessive adjectives in English (his, her, its, our, your, their, my). Using a possessive adjective is another way to show that something belongs to someone. For example, we can write the sentence ‘The man’s narrow eyes frightened her‘, a different way using a possessive adjective – ‘His narrow eyes frightened her.’ In this sentence, the possessive adjective ‘His‘ accompanies the noun phrase ‘narrow eyes

2. Look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 3) and find examples of possessive adjectives. What are the noun phrases that accompany the possessive adjectives? [Watch out for ‘her’ – it can also be an object pronoun]

Inside the school’s dining hall, two ladies in pink uniforms collected dirty plates and took them to the kitchen. Lunch finished twenty minutes ago and now it was their job to clean everything. They emptied the plates, put them in the dishwashers and went to fetch more from the tables. They did not look at the four people at the back of the room.

‘Ms Pickles,’ began the man, ‘you don’t have any cooking qualifications. Is that correct?’

This was her big chance. She wanted to work, to start again; but the man’s narrow, grey eyes and his small, sharp teeth frightened her.

3. Look at these sentences. Decide if ‘her’ is being used as a possessive adjective or object pronoun

a. I gave her my book

b. Her family name is ‘Smith’

c. I spoke to her brother last night

d. Her favourite actor won an award

e. I don’t know her very well, but I know her older sister

f. The man’s narrow eyes frightened her



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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 2)

1. When a parallel structure is used, words make a pattern because the same structure is repeated. For example, sometimes a noun is repeated: ‘My favourite cities are London, New York and Edinburgh.’ In this example, the parallel structure comes from having three nouns (London, New York and Edinburgh) repeated. Sometimes a verb (in the same tense) is repeated. For example, ‘Don’t eat and talk at the same time!’ In this case, the parallel structure comes from repeating two bare infinitives (‘eat’ and ‘talk’).

2. Look at this example from The Cook (Chapter 2) can you find examples of parallel structures?

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Grammar for The Cook (Chapter 1)

1. A phrase is a group of words. It is longer than one word but shorter than a complete sentence (or paragraph). A noun phrase (NP) is a group of words around a head noun. A head noun is the most important noun in the phrase. Here are some examples.

a. The blue car didn’t stop at the red light. 

=Two NPs: ‘The blue car‘ and ‘the red light‘.

The head nouns are ‘car’ and ‘light’

b. Her English teacher is from northern England.

=Two NPs: ‘Her English teacher‘ and ‘northern England‘.

The head nouns are ‘teacher’ and ‘England’

c. Sally’s cat chased her friend’s dog!

=Two NPs: ‘Sally’s cat‘ and ‘her friend’s dog

The head nouns are ‘cat’ and ‘dog’


2. How many NPs does this sentence have? What are they? What are the head nouns?

The book that I borrowed yesterday was from the school library.


3. Now look at this extract from The Cook (Chapter 1). Can you find some NPs?


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Grammar activity for The Janitor (Chapter 10)

1. When talking about a finished action in the past in relation to the present, we can use the past time marker ‘ago’. The time that has passed between now and that action ending in the past is given as a duration (= a length of time).

For example, the year is 2012. I lived in Japan until 2010. (=I stopped living in Japan in 2010 = the time between the action finishing and now is two years). Therefore, I can say ‘I lived in Japan two years ago‘.

2. Find an example of the above in this extract from The Janitor (Chapter 10).







3. Use ‘ago’ in these examples

a. She met him on Tuesday. Today is Friday.

b. They went to the cinema to see a movie in June. Now it is August.

c. He left school in 2000. It is now 2012.

d.  She called him at 6pm. It is now 6.45pm.

e. They filled their car with petrol on the 20th. It is now the 27th.

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Grammar for The Janitor (Chapter 9)

1. To make the verb ‘to be’ negative in the past, we add ‘not’. For example, ‘She was there’ becomes ‘She wasn’t there’ (or ‘She was not there’).

To make most other verbs such as ‘eat’, ‘want’, ‘play’ and ‘see’ negative in the past, we must add ‘did + not’. For example, ‘He saw the movie’ becomes ‘He didn’t see the movie’ (or ‘He did not see the movie’). Note the change in the main verb. When we make the sentence negative, the main verb changes from ‘saw’ to ‘didn’t see’: in other words, did + not + bare infinitive.

2. Look at this extract from The Janitor (Chapter 9 and find examples of verb phrases that are negative.


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