The Standard English Sentence – Word Order – Post 20

 


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


1 – Who – The subject (Who does perform the action?)

2 – What – Verb phrase + Direct and indirect objects (What does the subject do?)

3 – How – Adverb or adverb phrases (How does the subject perform the action?)

4 – Where – Place (Where does the action take place?)

5 – When – Time (When does the action take place?)

6 – Why – Reason/Purpose (Why does the action take place?)

These are the six questions that represent the basic parts of whatever English sentence. You should also take into account this word order when constructing a sentence in English: Subject – Verb – Adverb – Place – Time – Reason

Little example: “I – hurt myself – badly – in the courtyard – yesterday evening – because I didn’t see the doorstep.”

However, as we are going to see today, there are numerous exceptions.

ADVERB POSITION

1 – WHEN THE VERB “TO BE” IS THE MAIN VERB, YOU CAN PUT THE ADVERB BETWEEN THE MAIN VERB AND THE DIRECT OBJECT. NORMALLY YOU SHOULD NEVER SEPARATE THE MAIN VERB AND THE DIRECT OBJECT:

a) That is certainly the car we saw yesterday.

Instead of

b) That is the car we saw yesterday, certainly.

Note: You could also say “That certainly is the car we saw yesterday.” but it would sound a bit more emphatic.


2 – YOU CAN PUT THE ADVERB BETWEEN THE SUBJECT AND THE MAIN VERB:

a) She gleefully talked about her new project.

Instead of

b) She talked about her new project gleefully.


3 – IF THE MAIN VERB HAS AN AUXILIARY, THEN YOU CAN PUT THE ADVERB BETWEEN THE AUXILIARY VERB AND THE MAIN VERB:

a) They had actually done the best they could.

Instead of

b) They had done the best they could actually.


4 – IF THERE IS A MODAL VERB YOU CAN PUT THE ADVERB BETWEEN THE MODAL VERB AND THE MAIN VERB:

Example 1

a) I think you should thoroughly reflect about that.

Instead of

b) I think you should reflect about that thoroughly.

Example 2

a) I think it shouldn’t necessarily be defined as negative.

Instead of

b) I think it shouldn’t be defined as negative necessarily.


5 – YOU CAN ALSO PUT THE ADVERB OR THE ADVERBIAL PHRASE BETWEEN THE MAIN VERB AND THE PREPOSITION WHEN THE MAIN VERB IS INTRANSITIVE:

a) She talked proudly about her son.

Instead of

b) She talked about her son (very) proudly.

or

c) She proudly talked about her son.


6 – YOU SHOULD PUT THE ADVERB BETWEEN THE DIRECT AND INDIRECT OBJECTS:

a) She tried to empty her mind completely of all the concerns about her family.

Instead of

b) She tried to empty her mind of all the concerns about her family completely.


7 – YOU CAN PUT THE ADVERB AT THE BEGINNING IN ORDER TO EMPHASIZE THE MEANING OF THE SENTENCE:

a) Shorty you have to make a decision.

Instead of

b) You have to make a decision shortly.



EMPHASIZING THE PLACE, TIME, OR REASON/PURPOSE OF THE ACTION

8 – YOU CAN PUT “WHERE”, “WHEN”, AND “WHY” AT THE BEGINNING:

Example 1

a) Inside the house, there was a lot of people.

Instead of

b) There was a lot of people inside the house.

Example 2

a) In the morning, we are used to having a walk.

Instead of

b) We are used to having a walk in the morning.

Example 3

Because of hunger, she was trembling.

Instead of

She was trembling because of hunger.



EXPRESSING MOVEMENT

9 – WHEN EXPRESSING MOVEMENT, YOU HAVE TO PUT THE PLACE FIRST AND THE ADVERB OR ADVERB PHRASE AFTER:

Example 1

a) We came back home by bus at midnight.

Instead of

b) We came by bus back home at midnight.

Example 2

a) He walked to the station thoughtfully.

Instead of

b) He walked thoughtfully to the station.



SUBJECT-VERB INVERSIONS

ASKING QUESTIONS

10 – YOU MUST INVERT THE SUBJECT-VERB ORDER WHEN ASKING A QUESTION:

a) Are you ready?

Instead of

b) You are ready?


EMPHASIZING

11 – YOU SHOULD INVERT THE SUBJECT-VERB ORDER WHEN EXPRESSING AGREEMENT OR SIMILAR ACTIONS PERFORMED BY DIFFERENT SUBJECTS, USING THE WORDS “SO”, “NEITHER”, AND “NOR”:

Example 1

Statement: “I love horses.”

Answer: “So do I.” (instead of “So I do”)

Example 2

Statement: “Anna is not happy with her job.”

Answer: “Nor is Carl.”

Alternative answer: “Neither is Carl.”


IN FORMAL ENGLISH

12 – ESPECIALLY IN FORMAL ENGLISH, YOU SHOULD INVERT THE SUBJECT-VERB ORDER WHEN NEGATIVE ADVERBIAL EXPRESSIONS OR FREQUENCY ADVERBS ARE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SENTENCE:

a) Under no circumstances are they obliged to do that.

b) In no way could she have succeeded.

c) At no time have we seen anything wrong.

d) Not until the dinner ends, will you be allowed to go.

e) Little had I known about that until they told me.

f) Seldom have I seen something like that.

g) Rarely does she make errors at work.

h) Never have I seen something similar.

K) Hardly ever does she drive her car.


13 – YOU SHOULD ALSO INVERT THE SUBJECT-VERB ORDER WITH ADVERBIAL EXPRESSIONS BEGINNING WITH “ONLY” OR “NOT ONLY”:

a) Only when they opened the bag, did they discover the fraud.

b) Not only did they cheat us, but they also disappeared.


14 – THE INVERSION SUBJECT-VERB IS ALSO COMMON IN AGREEMENT WITH THE ADVERBS “HARDLY” (+ WHEN), “SCARCELY” (+ WHEN), AND THE EXPRESSION “NO SOONER” (+ THAN):

a) Hardly had the sun risen* when** the alarm started blaring.

b) Scarcely had I arrived* when** they started asking me a lot of questions.

c) No sooner had they fixed* the tap than** a pipe started to leak.

* As you can see this type of subject-verb inversion requires the Past Perfect tens.

** “When ” and “than” in that case are conjunctions.


15 – YOU CAN USE THE SUBJECT-VERB INVERSION TO REPLACE “IF” IN CONDITIONAL SENTENCES:

– First conditional

a) Should you find any problem, please call me.

Instead of

b) If you find any problem, please call me.

– Second conditional

Were he to receive such amount of money, he would almost surely spend it on useless things.

Instead of

If he received such amount of money, he would almost surely spend it on useless things.

– Third Conditional

a) Had you followed my advice, you wouldn’t have been in that situation now.

Instead of

b) If you had followed my advice, you wouldn’t have been in that situation now.


16 – YOU CAN ALSO USE THE SUBJECT-VERB INVERSION WITH ADVERBIAL EXPRESSIONS AND PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE SUCH AS “HERE” AND “THERE”:

a) Here is the clock you lost. (Instead of “The clock you lost is here.”)

b) There play our children. (Instead of “Our children play there.”)

c) Beside the window hung a wonderful picture. (Instead of “A wonderful picture hung beside the window.)

d) Into the room came the police. (Instead of “The police came into the room.”)

This type of subject-verb inversion is only possible with nouns, never with pronouns.

You can express the same thing using a pronoun, but with no subject-verb inversion. For example: “They play there.” (There play them.” is incorrect).


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Connected Speech – Post 18


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


If you want to speak English fluently, you need to be able to join words together. Many English words finish with one or even multiple consonants sounds, and when the following word begins with another consonant it may be very difficult to pronounce all those consonant sounds with no vowels in between. That’s just one of the cases in which knowing the connected speech techniques might be highly beneficial to your fluency.

There are five different techniques for joining words together:

1 – Catenation

“Catenation” happens when you pronounce the last sound of a word and the first sound of the following word with no pause in between.

Example: I had another fruit infusion in the evening.

You can pronounce “had” and “another” as if they were a single word like this: ˌhədəˈnʌðəʳ

You can do just the same with the words “fruit” and “infusion”: ˌfruːtɪnˈfjuːӡᵊn

2 – Linking “R”

In British English you shouldn’t pronounce the R’s at the end of words, unless the following word begins with a vowel sound, like in the following example:

“This flower is so beautiful.”

If you were to pronounce the word “flower” in itself, you should not pronounce the “R” at the end (in British English). So, you would pronounce it like that: ˈflaʊə. But given that the following word, “is”, begins with a vowel sound, you can join the two words by just pronouncing the “R” at the end of the word “flower”. So the result will be: ˌflaʊərˈɪz (flower is); as if they were a single word.

3 – Elision

The elision technique may be particularly useful when, as the result of joining two words together, a cluster of consonants is generated. Let’s just have an example:

“You ought to try this.”

Without elision, you would pronounce “ought to” that way: /ɔːt tu/. But in reality, it’s very rare that you will hear it. “Ought to” is nearly 100% of times pronounced like that: /ˈɔːtu/ (before vowels) or /’ɔ:tə/ (before consonant), just eliding the final consonant of the word “ought” and pronouncing it /ɔ:/.

4- assimilation

Assimilation means that two words tend to change their sounds when joined together. Let’s have a couple of examples:

a) Did you know that?

b) You are very knowledgeable, aren’t you?

In the first sentence the two words “Did” and “you” should be pronounced /dɪd/ and /juː/ but when we join them together they naturally tend to become /dɪjuː/ instead of /dɪdjuː/.

A similar thing happens when you join the two words “aren’t” and “you” they can be pronounced /ˈɑːnjuː/ with a “tʃ” sound in the middle instead of /ɑːntjuː/.

Note: You can speak perfectly without using the assimilation technique. Take it as a tool that you can use when you feel the need to.

5 – Intrusion

Intrusion is very useful when joining a word that finishes with a vowel to another word which begins with another vowel. In that case it may be difficult for a listener to distinguish the two different words, given that you would be pronouncing them as one. So, a consonant sound is often added between the two vowel sounds like in the following examples:

a) “I saw a wonderful rainbow yesterday evening.”

Between the words “saw” (/sɔː/) and the word “a” (/eɪ/ or /ə/), you can put the consonant sound “r”, to make it clearer that they are to different words joined together. So, you will pronounce them /ˈsɔːrə/ or /ˈsɔːreɪ/

Also between the two words “yesterday” and “evening” you should add a little “j” sound pronouncing /jestəʳdei ʲ i:vnɪŋ/

b) “You are very nice.”

In that case, between the word “you” and the word “are” you can put a “w” sound. So instead of joining the two words in that way: /juˈɑːʳ/, you would pronounce them so: /juˈwɑːʳ/. That’s much clearer when speaking fast, especially for listeners.

c) “She gave me a letter yesterday.”

Here you can add a “j” consonant sound between the word “me” and the word “a” when joining the two words together. So, instead of pronouncing them /miə/ or /ˈmieɪ/, you will pronounce them that way: /ˈmɪjə/ or /ˈmɪjeɪ/


Using those connected speech techniques will improve your speaking skills. But to correctly make use of them, you first need to know how to pronounce every single word you need to use without connecting them.


Vowel Sounds – Consonant Sounds – Diphthongs


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Consonant Sounds – Phonemes – Post 17


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


In the 16th post we saw how there may be a huge difference between the way English words are written and how they are actually pronounced. That happens because English spelling is not phonetic, meaning that the letters you read don’t represent the actual sounds of words.

Let’s have a couple of examples:

The word “queue” consists of two syllables, que-ue, but you will pronounce it /kjuː/, only one syllable. The same thing happens with the word “literature”, which consists of five syllables (li-te-ra-tu-re), but you will pronounce it /ˈlɪtrətʃəʳ/, only three syllables (ˈlɪ-trə-tʃəʳ). Let’s also have a look at the word “colonel”, composed of three syllables (co-lo-nel), which becomes /ˈkɜːnɫ/, only two syllables (ˈkɜː – nᵊɫ). There are plenty of similar examples in English.

If you want to speak English correctly, you need to know the phonemes. Phonemes are symbols that strictly represent the various sounds of words.

As we saw in the 16th post, there are five types of English phonemes: short vowels, long vowels, voiced consonants, unvoiced consonants, and diphthongs. In the previous post we analyzed the first two categories: short and long vowels. Now, we are going to see voiced and unvoiced consonants.

Voiced and Unvoiced Consonants

p – Pet /pet/ – Port /pɔːʳt/ – Peak /piːk/

b – (voiced) – Bar /bɑːʳ/ – Best /best/ – Boot /buːt/

t – Turtle /tɑːʳtɫ/ – Treat /triːt/ – Tool /tuːɫ/

d – (voiced) – Dentist /ˈdentɪst/ – Dull /dʌɫ/ – Dry /draɪ/

f – Fry /fraɪ/ – Fret /fret/ – Free /friː/

v – (voiced) – Voice /vɔɪs/ – Venom /ˈvenəm/ – Vast /vɑːst/

tʃ – Cheat /tʃiːt/ – Chunk /tʃʌŋk/ – Choice /tʃɔɪs/

dӡ – (voiced) – Joke /dӡəʊk/ – June /dӡuːn/ – Gender /ˈdӡendəʳ/

k – Court /kɔːʳt/ – Curtain /kɜːʳtn/ – Car /kɑːʳ/

g – (voiced) – Goose /guːs/ – Goal /gəʊɫ/ – Gale /geɪɫ/

s – Super /ˈsjuːpəʳ/ – Star /stɑːʳ/ – Step /step/

z – (voiced) – Zone /zəʊn/ – Zero /ˈzɪərəʊ/ – Zinc /zɪŋk/

ʃ – Show /ʃəʊ/ – Shallow /ˈʃæləʊ/ – Shock /ʃɒk/

ӡ – (voiced) – Genre /ˈӡɒnrə/ – Casual /ˈkæӡuəɫ/ – Pleasure /ˈpleӡəʳ/

θ – Thick /θɪk/ – Thought /θɔːt/ – Thorough /ˈθʌrəʳ/

ð – (voiced) – Them /ðem/ – The /ðə/ or /ði/- Thus /ðʌs/

h – Hotel /həʊˈteɫ/ – Inhabitant /ɪnˈhæbɪtənt/ – Coherent /kəʊˈhɪərənt/

The following consonants are all voiced

ɫ – All /ɔːɫ/ – Altered /ˈɔːɫtəd/ – Alt /ɔːɫt/

l – Love /lʌv/ – Lane /leɪn/ – Let /let/

m – Moon /muːn/ – Mere /mɪəʳ/ – Mode /məʊd/

n – Nothing /ˈnʌθɪŋ/ – New /njuː/ – Nest /nest/

ŋ – Going /ˈgəʊɪŋ/ – Singing /ˈsɪŋɪŋ/ – English /ˈɪŋglɪʃ/

r – Rat /ræt/ – Red /red/ – Rocket /ˈrɒkɪt/

w – Twenty /ˈtwenti/ – Water /ˈwɔːtəʳ/ – Quiet /ˈkwaɪət/

j – Year /jɪəʳ/ – You /juː/ Yield /jiːɫd/


Vowel SoundsDiphthongsConnected Speech


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Vowel Sounds – Phonemes – Post 16


ATTENTION PLEASE: if you are not reading this article in English, I highly recommend that you turn off the automatic translation on your browser. 


English spelling is not phonetic. It means that the symbols you read do not match the actual sounds of words. So, unless you live in an English speaking country, you need to know the phonemes in order to discover how to pronounce every single word correctly.

There are five types of English phonemes—short vowels, long vowels, voiced consonants, unvoiced consonants, and diphthongs—and now we are going to see the first two categories.

Short and Long Vowel Sounds

æ – Act /ækt/ – Banister /ˈbænɪstəʳ/ – International /ɪntəˈnæʃnəɫ/

ʌ – Other /ʌðəʳ/ – Rugby /ˈrʌgbi/ – Butter /ˈbʌtəʳ/

ɑː – Smart /smɑːʳt/ – Ask /ɑːsk/ – Fast /fɑːst/

e – Correct /kəˈrekt/ – Exit /ˈeksɪt/ – Set /set/

ə – Afford /əˈfɔːʳd/ – Adapt /əˈdæpt/ Affair /əˈfeəʳ/ (“ə” is called the “schwa sound”, and it is a weak sound, meaning that you will never find it as part of a stressed syllable.)

ɜː – Her /hɜːʳ/ – Sir /sɜːʳ/ – Fur /fɜːʳ/

ɪ – Sick /sɪk/ – Thick /θɪk/ – Brick /brɪk/

i – Silly /ˈsɪli/ – Harmony /ˈhɑːʳməni/ – Funky /ˈfʌŋki/ (commonly used as the final sound of “ly” adverbs.)

– Week /wiːk/ – Peak /piːk/ – Bleak /bliːk/

ɒ – Not /nɒt/ – Pot /pɒt/ – Lot /lɒt/

ɔː – Thought /θɔːt/ – Core /kɔːʳ/ – More /mɔːʳ/

ʊ – Foot /fʊt/ – Put /pʊt/ – Wood /wʊd/

u – Do /du/ – You /ju/ – To /tu/ (“u” is a weak sound, you’ll find it in weak forms and weak syllables.)

– Food /fuːd/ – Cool /kuːɫ/ – Super /ˈsjuːpəʳ/


Consonant SoundsDiphthongsConnected Speech


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