Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna): Irregular Nouns, part 2

Irregular nouns, part 2

There several irregular nouns in English whose singular form ends in –um or –on. These nouns end in ‘-a’ in the plural. Take a look at the examples below:

addendum – addenda

bacterium – bacteria

curriculum – curricula

datum – data

memorandum – memoranda

medium – media

phylum – phyla

stratum – strata

phenomenon- phenomena

criterion – criteria

The plural forms of some of these nouns are more common than their singular forms. For instance, medium, bacterium, and datum are not used nearly as frequently as their plurals: media, bacteria, and data.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna): Irregular –sis / -ses Nouns

Irregular –sis / -ses Nouns

As you know, for most English nouns, making them plural is as simple as adding -s or -es to them. However, there are nouns in English whose singular form ends in –sis, and the rule of adding -s / -es does not apply. These words come from Greek or Latin, and they are what we call irregular nouns.  To make them plural, change -sis to ­-ses. Take a look at the examples below:

analysis – analyses

axis – axes

basis – bases

crisis – crises

diagnosis – diagnoses

ellipsis – ellipses

parenthesis – parentheses

prognosis – prognoses

synopsis – synopses

thesis – theses

Note that we pronounce the singular ending –sis as /sɪs/, and the plural ending –ses as /siz/. 


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna): Stop + gerund / infinitive

Stop + gerund is NOT the same as stop + infinitive

Look at these examples. Do they have the same meaning?

I stopped drinking soda. (I quit drinking soda. I no longer drink it.)

I stopped to drink soda. (I stopped what I was doing in order to have a drink of soda.)

Do you see the difference?

stop + gerund (verb + -ing) means that you quit doing something.

stop + infinitive (to + verb) means that you took a break to do something else.

Now try this:

I got very hungry after driving for six hours, so I stopped _______ ( eating / to eat ) pizza.

*ANSWER KEY: to eat


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Vocabulary Tuesdays (with Joanna): Neither & Not either

There are ways to repeat some information without really repeating yourself. One way to avoid repeating information is by using neither or not either. How do we do it?

Read these two sentences:

Tom doesn’t eat meat. Susan doesn’t eat meat.

Too much repetition, right? Look at these sentences:

Tom doesn’t eat meat. Neither does Susan.

Tom doesn’t eat meat. Susan does not either.

Better!

Remember! When you use neither, use the helping word: Neither does Susan. Do not use the word from the first sentence. When you use either, use the helping word + not + either.

Look at these examples:

I don’t like watching scary movies. Neither does my husband.

I don’t like watching scary movies. My husband doesn’t either.

Neither and not either are for negative sentences.

Let’s practice!

Rewrite these sentences:

Tony didn’t arrive on time. John didn’t arrive on time.

I’m not having a good day. You’re not having a good day.

My children don’t like milk. Their children don’t like milk.


Answer Key:

Tony didn’t arrive on time. Neither did John. OR John didn’t either.

I’m not having a good day. Neither are you. You aren’t either.

My children don’t like milk. Neither do their children. Their children don’t either.


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna): Possessive or Plural?

Possessive or Plural?

As a learner of English, you have probably noticed that there are a number of different -s endings that can be added to a noun. Sometimes we add just -s (as in friends, neighbors, kittens), and sometimes we add –’s (as in friend’s, neighbor’s, kitten’s). And yet other times we add -s’ (as in friends’, neighbors’, kittens’). 

So how are -s, -’s, and -s’ different? How and when do we use them? What exactly does the apostrophe do? Here’s a mini lesson that might help you to understand this difference. 

Plural Nouns

To form the plural of most nouns, simply add the ending -s or –es to the noun. For example:

friend → friends

They are great friends.

neighbor → neighbors 

I have great neighbors.

Singular Possessive Nouns

To form a possessive of a singular noun, add -’s to the noun. For example:

friend → friend’s

I never miss my best friend’s birthday, and she never misses mine. (We’re talking about just one friend here.)

neighbor → neighbor’s

My neighbor’s dog is very friendly. (And here, we’re talking about just one neighbor.)

Plural Possessive Nouns

To form a possessive of most plural nouns, add -s’ or –es’ to the noun. For example:

            friend → friends’

My friends’ children are very polite. They did a nice job raising them. (We’re talking about more than one friend in this example.)

neighbor → neighbors’

My neighbors’ dog is very friendly. (And in this example, we’re talking about more than one neighbor.)

Remember, in English, one of the functions of the apostrophe is to show possession. The position of the apostrophe depends on whether you’re forming the possessive form of a singular noun (-’s) or the possessive form of a plural noun (-s’). 


Now let’s try this quick exercise. Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1. Kat and Bob adopted two beautiful ( kittens / kittens’ / kitten’s ).

2. What’s your ( kittens / kittens’ / kitten’s ) name? She’s very adorable!

3. These ( kittens / kittens’ / kitten’s ) tails are very fluffy.  

4. Did you see the ( kittens / kittens’ / kitten’s ) toy anywhere? I think she misses it.

5. My cat had a litter of five ( kittens / kittens’ / kitten’s ). 

Did you get it all right? Check your answers! Great job!

*ANSWER KEY: 1: kittens; 2. kitten’s; 3. kittens’; 4. kitten’s; 5. kittens


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna): Don’t have to vs. Mustn’t

DO NOT HAVE TO ≠ MUST NOT

Do not have to (or don’t have to) means that you do not need to do something, but you can.

Must not (or mustn’t) means that you’re not allowed to do something. You cannot do it.

Examples

You don’t have to answer the bonus question. (You don’t need to answer it, but you can if you’d like.)

You mustn’t text and drive. (You’re not allowed to text while driving. / You can’t text while driving. It’s against the law.)

texting and driving

Try it. Choose don’t have to or mustn’t.

You _____________________________ help him with the project, but he’d appreciate it if you did.

Students ________________________ use calculators during the math test. They have to complete all calculations on paper.

We _____________________ enter this area. There is a sign that says “No trespassing.”

I ______________________ work on my paper today. It’s not due until next Friday. Let’s go to the beach!

Did you get it right? Here’s the answer key:

don’t have to / mustn’t / mustn’t / don’t have to

GREAT JOB!


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna)

Do vs. Make

Use do when you talk about performing actions, repetitive tasks, or obligations.

Use make when you talk about creating, constructing, or producing something.


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey

Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna)

Expressing lost opportunity

young woman looking surprised or disappointed

We can use modals to talk about possibility or advisability in the past. Sometimes these modals are referred to as modals of lost opportunity. They include should have, ought to have, and could have

Examples: 

I should have done my homework. (I didn’t do my homework, and now I regret it.)

I ought to have written a longer essay. (The essay I wrote is too short, and now it’s too late to write more.)

We could have bought this house. (We didn’t buy this house, but it was possible.)

Remember, the main verb in this kind of construction is in its past participle form (done, eaten, seen, written, etc.). It is not correct to say *I should have did my homework.


Joanna Rodzen-Hickey has been an ESL teacher and consultant for nearly 20 years. She has taught English at numerous universities and community colleges in New Jersey and currently teaches at the Hackettstown High School in Hackettstown, NJ.

Grammar Tuesdays (with Joanna)

Every day vs. Everyday. Is there a difference?

Everyday is an adjective. It tells what kind. It means daily. For example, There are many ways to reduce plastic waste in everyday life.

Every day is an adverbial phrase. It tells how often. For example, The Wilsons recycle every day.

Here are more examples:

I go running every day. Running is my everyday activity.

girl running

Your turn! Can you give example sentences with every day and everyday? Post them in comments!