The Grammar place (Archive)
- Published: 4/12/2013 at 04:55 PM
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Complete collection of my grammar lessons using short youtube video clips to illustrate the use of English verb forms and other grammatical points.
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The Grammar place
Examples of grammar in action from the world wide web
It is great to be a learner of English these days. English speakers are found everywhere, learning materials are the best they have ever been and, best of all, you can much (or even all) of your learning by yourself through the internet.
Take my book, Understanding English verb forms, for example. It uses a modern, much simpler approach than what you have likely learned in the classes, and it explains the ideas in both English and Thai.
"The Grammar place" adds short video examples to help make these concepts even clearer. Here you will find dozens of wonderful video clip examples that will help you quickly and easily understand the ideas taught in the book. I have been collecting them over the past few years and developing lessons around them for course that I teach. Believe, they would take you a hundred hours or more to find them by yourself.
As you will see, these are not boring examples of somebody standing at a whiteboard and explaining the language. Instead, they are clips of people in action, some animals too. They are often quite funny and I’m sure you will enjoy them.
While the main focus in this section will be on verb forms, we’ll also have examples of other grammatical forms as well.
Note: For more on Understanding English verb forms and where to buy it, click here:
Examples illustrating the present simple
“Kid’s stuff” refers to something so easy that even children can do it. That is certainly true of the present simple. By the time children learn to speak they know exactly how to use it. The example in this lesson is one of the most popular youtube videos, from youtube, viewed by hundreds of millions of people.
Simple present in narration
It is rare that an English speaker will use a single tense in a conversation or discussion, but one case where it does happen is when the speaker is doing narration (การเล่าเรื่อง, การบรรยาย) of something happening now. Here’s a great example for an animation produced by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Veronica, who’s the President?
Some of the best English language lessons are not intended to be lessons at all. They are video clips taken by ordinary people of their daily lives. This conversation with a two-year-old is a great lesson in how to ask questions.
One topic that is often used for simple present practice is “my typical day”. Here, we don’t talk about what we are doing at this moment, but what we typically, normally do. Here are some real examples from people who are not practicing for an English class, but who are actually talking about what their typical days are like.
Examples illustrating the past simple
Charlie bit me, the musical version
One of the best examples of the past tense is the famous YouTube video "Charlie bit me" . This lesson includes the original version plus the autotuned version which is even better for language learning.
The clever parrot
Describe what a clever parrot did and practice both regular and irregular verbs at the same time. Guaranteed to be fun.
The simple past: a classroom activity
Here's an easy but effective activity for practicing past forms of English verbs, both regular and irregular. I used a teddy bear, but many other objects will do just as well.
Examples mixing the present simple with the past simple
Mixing the present with the past.
Harry loves Sally and Sally loves Harry, but it wasn’t easy for the two movie characters to get together. A single tense won’t tell the story well. Watch and listen to the ending of the classic movie When Harry met Sally.
Brushing ‘Up’ your English
Here is another example from a movie, the time the animated movie ‘Up’ from Pixar. It is largely in the simple present, but it does briefly change to the past. Why?
Examples illustrating the idea behind the progressive
Video fun with the progressive
How does the meaning change when you add the verb "to be + ing" to a verb, i.e., you make it "progressive"? It is a bit hard to explain, but it is easy to understand with video examples.
A wonderful animation that children (and many adults) love to watch again and again. Since elephants move slowly it is a good opportunity for practice with the progressive.
Past progressive: Opening up the past
Using the past progressive allows us to talk about an activity or situation in more detail. Here are three short video clips that illustrate how this is true.
A strange proposal
This is a lesson, a rather dramatic one, to help English learners practice talking about the past. Don't worry, everything ends happily.
Examples illustrating the idea behind the perfect
Have you ever seen this man?
Have you ever seen this man before? This simple question helps make clear the idea behind the "perfect" (perfective aspect) in English. (Includes Brandy's 1998 hit music video "Have You Ever")
He/She has just….
We continue our look at English verb forms through short explanations and video examples. Today we find out how we can describe what these little ones are reacting to.
Thinking like a native speaker
This lesson features three video clips of Guinness Book of World Record attempts that will help learners start to think like native English speakers in choosing verb forms.
Make your own video.
Some concepts are very easy to illustrate with a home-made video, either with a class or just by yourself. Here's a 22-second example.
Mixing the past and present perfect
A famous TV commentator looks back over his life in his last essay for 60 minutes (CBS News). It's very clear and easy to follow and a great example of how we mix verb forms.
Talking about the future
Talking about the future: be + going to
There is no future tense in English, but there are many different ways of talking about the future. You'll hear one of the most common in a one-minute video about boiling spinach.
The sleepiest baby: Time-switching activity
This very fuzzy video clip of an extremely sleepy baby is a big hit with both students and teachers. It is fun to talk about both before and after you see it, but you will have to be careful with the verb forms you choose.
The Passive Voice
Passive voice in slow motion
The difference between active and passive voice made easy through the use of super-slow motion.
If looks could kill (another use of the passive)
“If looks could kill,” is an expression people use to describe when someone has given them an unfriendly, unpleasant or angry look. Six men in this funny video clip would be dead if that were true. Explain, using the passive voice.
I shouldn’t have done it.
English learners have little difficulty using the basic English modal auxiliaries like can, should, might, etc. , but things get more complicated when talking about past situations.
What could have happened?
We know what has happened, but we don't know what caused it. We all have our own ideas about the cause and express them freely. In English, this is a perfect opportunity to use the past forms of modal auxiliaries.
Understanding the conditional
I wonder what would happen if…
A children’s cartoon provides some great examples of the unreal conditional, i.e, talking about imagined situations.
What would the Earth be like without people?
A Scientific American animation considers the question of what would happen if suddenly all humans disappeared from the Earth. There are many examples of the unreal (we hope) conditional.
Would you marry again?
A 3-minute video clip from a famous 1980’s US comedy provides one of the best examples of the use of conditionals for imagined situations that you can find anywhere – easy and very funny.
No, it didn’t’ happen, but what if…
The language of the past conditional seems difficult, but the concept is easy. Here are some video examples that you WILL understand
Direct and indirect speech
What did/he she say?
Direct to indirect speech activity with some people you might know, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II, Tiger Woods, Taylor Swift, etc.. These days there is no reason for a language activity to boring.
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager