Cláusulas relativas y participios en inglés

There are some simple rules in English for how to use present participle/past participle and relative pronouns with relative clauses.

First, relative clauses.

Type : Defining
Purpose : defines noun
Example
This is the shirt that I bought for €90, the rest were much cheaper.(that I bought for €90 identifies the shirt from many)

If the object of the verb in the clause (following the pronoun) is the same as the subject then the pronoun (and aux) can be taken out.
This is the shirt which is made for the typical tourist.

A non-defining relative clause is different.
Purpose: add extra info.
• between commas
• pronoun introduces clause
•• you cannot use that
Example
Many people in Spain, who live on the coast, were contacted for their opinion.

Without the extra info the sentence still makes sense (remember to take out the commas!).
Many people in Spain who live on the coast were contacted for their opinion.

Participle clauses
We are used to past participle in the passive.
The book was written by JK Rowling, and was very successful.

But we can simplify the passive.
The book was written by JK Rowling and was very successful.
But there has to be a clause after the participle.

Many cakes were being eaten. ✓
Many cakes being eaten. X
Many cakes being eaten at the party were horrible. ✓

Present participle clauses
An ing form without the verb to be is usually referred to as the present participle .
Swimming (present participle) is great fun.

We use it in active clauses, and a lot in relative clauses.
Look at this sentence with its pronouns.

The film which starred Brad pit and that was filmed in Japan was a wonderful experience.

Using past/present participle
The film, (comma) starring (present participle) Brad pit and filmed (past participle) in Japan was a wonderful experience.

We use participles to keep sentences simple and more fluid rhythmically.

Frases fijas y transformando el inglés informal al formal


Fixed phrases in English are very important, especially in writing but they are often formal or semi formal and can’t be used in all writing tasks. Do not confuse fixed phrases with phrasal verbs, many websites state that they are the same – they are not. Phrasal verbs are usually informal and are totally different to a fixed phrase.

Examples of fixed phrases include:

look forward to hearing from
– in summary/conclusion
– in my opinion
– to whom it may concern etc

But be careful… Consider the following sentences…

Fixed phrase – It is the aim of this report

1. Typical student usage
It is the aim of this report to see problems with computers in our school for students.

This sentence has a small error (incorrect verb – see) and the rest of the sentence after the fixed phrase is too informal (personal pronoun – our). In other words the register is not consistent.

2. Correct usage
It is the aim of this report to examine current IT issues, and challenges, at school.

The register is now consistent, semi formal. Also, look at how simple it is. There are only 2 prepositions, and 1 conjunction. It is redundant to put for students – who else goes to school?

The student’s example is spoken, informal and unsuitable because the fixed phrase is semi formal but the remainder of the sentence is not..

Look at this sentence, a typical informal example from a student
We will look at problems teachers experience.

Let’s make it formal…
1. Make passive.
Problems experienced by teachers will be looked at by us.

Make impersonal.
Problems experienced by teachers will be looked at.

3. Change vocabulary.
Issues, experienced by teaching staff, will be examined.

Perfect!

Now do that with every sentence in your formal report, essay, article or proposal.

cómo transformar oraciones en B1 PET y B2 FCE

Transforming sentences in English, for the Cambridge English exams, is very difficult, but a simple strategy really helps.

Certain word types are very important in B1 sentence transformations, such as adverbs and phrasal verbs, whilst in FCE dependent prepositions, verb patterns and high level grammatical structures are tested. Click here to access our free FCE Use of English Practice tests (students only).

With transformations you need to follow some simple steps to make sure the sentences mean the same.

Step 1

Deconstruct and understand the meaning of the first sentence. You cannot get a correct answer unless you understand the first sentence.

To understand the sentence is like running a short computer programme in your brain. You just need to use it and get used to it.

1. What is the time?
This is the most important thing you should be sure of. Only in reported speech will you need to change time in the second sentence. Your verb times must be exactly the same.

example (FCE)
David found it hard to concentrate. Time – past simple
Pay
David finds it hard to pay attention. Time – present simple NO
David found it hard to pay attention. Time – past simple YES

2. What is the grammar, vocabulary?
There are clues in the second sentence, in B1 PET is there a verb in the second sentence? If no then most likely you are being tested for grammar. If there is a verb then maybe you need vocabulary, a phrasal verb for example.

example
There are two lions at the zoo.
The zoo has two lions.

In B2 FCE look at the word given, if it’s a preposition then most likely you need a phrasal verb. If it’s a verb then a verb pattern or grammar point is being tested.

example
My dad collected me from the airport.
up
My dad picked me up from the airport.

3. What is the subject/object?
This is often not important, except if being tested for reported speech or the passive.

4. What is duplicated?
You must do this as it will tell you only the words you need to transform, see the example below to understand what to do.

5. Is your answer logical?
Does your answer follow the typical structures in English? Is there a missing preposition? Do not try to translate it into Spanish – think only in English and remember the basics!

If the answer to 5 is No then go back to question 1 and do it all again.

If the answer is yes then you probably have it correct.

So here’s a simple B2 FCE transformation.

I don’t spend much money on clothes.
any
I ____________________ money on clothes.

Strategy
1. Time = present simple
2. Grammar = active Vocabulary = adverb usage (any)
3. Subject/Object = irrelevant/same
4. Duplication = words to transform = don’t spend much (aux + negation + verb + adverb)

Now you know what is being tested (adverbs) check to see if there is a grammar/vocabulary connection to the first sentence.

In the first sentence much = adverb and in the second sentence you need to use the same type of adverb, any.

Both of these adverbs are neutral, they can be affirmative, or negative if used with not, as in the example.

Think about how to use the grammar. Simplify it.
You cannot only change the adverb as below :

I don’t spend much money on clothes = I spend some money
I don’t spend any money on clothes. = I spend no money NO

Think again! It is impossible to use not in the second sentence because not + any = nothing, nada!

So is there another type of adverb that is negative and can replace not but still = some?Yes – hardly, and a particular adverbial phrase hardly any .

Now test your theory.
spend + hardly + any = some
I (subject) + spend (verb, present simple) + hardly any (adverbial phrase) + money on clothes.

That’s it – the meaning is exactly the same.

I don’t spend much money on clothes.
any
I spend hardly any money on clothes.

This is something you can do for all grammar. However if you haven’t studied the grammar, asked about doubts in class then you won’t get it right!

gerund o infinitivo en inglés B1 y B2

Understanding verb patterns in English

First we need to understand the infinitive and what it is in English.

1. Bare infinitive
Example – play
2. Full infinitive
Example – to play

Some verbs in English always require the following verb to be either 1 or 2 but never both.

Example want, offer, decide to do something.

Verb + object + full/bare inf.
Example tell, ask someone to do something.

Other verbs require an ing verb.
Example – enjoy, detest swimming.

Prepositions also require it.
Example, in, at, on, by etc Crazy about swimming.

Time words such as before or after.

Other verbs can be used with full/bare infinitive or ing
Example – like, love to swim/swimming.

So how can we learn verb patterns?

Easy, Pay attention when doing readings! Write down any verb plus preposition or the form of the verb after the preceding verb, or noun.

Examples – want + to play, depend + on + learning, aware + of + poverty

What is the difference between ing and infinitive?

Again we first need to understand that infinitives represent 3 things in English – reason, purpose, intention. Infinitives do not describe an action in progress or a completed action, merely a fact about an event.

Ing forms represent actions in progress and completed actions.

Verbs like start, stop, begin, finish – words that describe the state of an action/verb can be confusing.

My mum started to dial his number but couldn’t remember it.
No action completed – only intention.

My mum started dialing his number but couldn’t remember it.
No action completed – only intention.

There is no real difference between the sentences.

Why? Because of the verb start. Start always refers forwards to an imminent/future action.

But…

My mum stopped (an unknown action) to speak to her friend (purpose).

My mum stopped speaking (completed action) to her friend.

Totally different – why?

The verb stop tells us that an action finishes – and so usually refers backwards to a previous action, but it can also refer forwards to introduce a future action.

When a verb like stop is followed by the infinitive it tells us the reason/purpose/intention of the next action.

So I know there is a previous unknown, maybe unimportant, action which was interrupted, even if I don’t state it.

When stop is followed by a verb+ing it refers to an ongoing action.

The verb refers backwards or forwards depending on what the writer wants to emphasise or how important different events are.

Pay attention when reading, all patterns are there!


Gramática Inglés – inversiones

Inversions in English
In English, inversions are used in formal writing and are very easy to use.

Their most typical usage is to replace if in conditional structures.

The structure is very simple, and writing an inversion very easy.

Typical structure – subject + aux. + verb
Inversion aux. + subj. + verb

Normal
If I had known Ricardo was stupid I wouldn’t have married him.

Inversion
Had I known Ricardo was stupid I wouldn’t have married him.

Normal
If she studied she would pass the exam.

Inversion
Were she to study she would pass the exam.

We also use inversions with certain words such as seldom, rarely, never, hardly, scarcely, etc.

Normal
She had seldom seen such a handsome man.

Inversion
Seldom had she seen such a handsome man.

Using inversions is so simple, there really is no excuse not to use them in a report, formal essay, etc. Try them.