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  • Hi, I’m Daniel.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn the most important grammar rule in English.

  • Of course, you need to know many things to use grammar correctly in English.

  • However, there’s one tip that can dramatically improve your English grammarespecially

  • in writing.

  • First, don’t forget to check out our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

  • We have many free lessons to help you improve your English.

  • There’s also a level test, which can show you how good your grammar is now.

  • But, you want to hear the grammar tip, right?

  • What is it?

  • Let’s see!

  • Here’s the basic idea: make sure your sentence has a subject and a verb, and that you know

  • what the subject and main verb are.

  • Every sentence needs a verb, and unless your sentence is an imperativemeaning that youre

  • giving someone a commandthen your sentence needs a subject, too.

  • Each clause in your sentence should have one subject and one main verb, and only one subject

  • and one main verb.

  • It sounds simple.

  • Maybe youre thinking, ‘This is too easy!

  • I know this already!’

  • However, we see students make mistakes with this all the time, especially in writing.

  • Mistakes with this point are serious, because they often make it hard to understand what

  • you want to say.

  • Even if your meaning is clear, sentences with this problem are often difficult to read.

  • In any situation, that’s a problem.

  • It’s especially serious if youre taking an exam, like IELTS.

  • Let’s look at the most basic point.

  • Your sentence needs a subject, which should be a noun or noun phrase, likethey’,

  • everybody’, ormy maths teacher from high school’.

  • Then, you need a main verb, which generally goes after the subject.

  • With this, you can make simple sentences like these: ‘They have a nice house’;

  • Everybody agreed.’

  • My maths teacher from high school was really good at explaining complicated things.’

  • After the main verb, you might have a simple complement, like ‘a nice house’.

  • You might have nothing at all.

  • Your sentence might finish after the verb, likeEverybody agreed.’

  • Or, you might have a longer complement, possibly including other verbs, as inMy math teacher

  • from high school was really good at explaining complicated things.’

  • So, youre probably still thinking that this is easy.

  • And, so far, it is!

  • Let’s see how it can go wrong.

  • Look at five sentences: By the way, these sentences are all real examples

  • from our studentswriting.

  • Most of them come from IELTS writing practice.

  • All these sentences break the basic rule we mentioned above.

  • Can you see how?

  • Pause the video, read the sentences, and try to find the problems.

  • Start again when youre ready.

  • In the first sentence, there's no main verb.

  • 'Will' is a modal verb, but a modal verb can't be a main verb; you need a main verb after

  • it.

  • For example, 'We will *go* back home next Friday.'

  • The second sentence has two subjects: ‘Imposing higher taxes on fast foodandit’.

  • One clause can’t have two subjects.

  • To correct this sentence, removeit’: ‘Imposing higher taxes on fast food *is*

  • a good idea.’

  • The third sentence has a main verb, but no subject.

  • *What* affects individualslives directly?

  • This is difficult to correct, because it’s impossible to know what the writer wanted

  • to say.

  • You would need to add a noun before the verbaffectsto make it understandable.

  • The fourth sentence has a fragment at the end which includes a subject and a verb.

  • This means the sentence has too many subjects and verbs; each clause can only have one subject

  • and one main verb.

  • What’s the solution?

  • There are many possibilities, but the easiest way to correct this is to break the sentence

  • into two parts.

  • You can do this by changing the comma afterAlexandriato a semicolon.

  • Finally, what about the fifth sentence?

  • It’s difficult to understand, right?

  • Again, it’s difficult to correct this sentence, because it’s hard to see the writer’s

  • ideas.

  • The problem is that this sentence has several parts with several subjects and verbs, and

  • it’s not clear what refers to what.

  • For example, ‘each societyis a subject, but thenforced medical treatmentis

  • also a subject.

  • Later in the sentence, we have a verb—‘avoid’—and it isn’t clear which subject goes with it.

  • On a more practical level, it just isn’t clear what this sentence is about.

  • Does the writer want to say something abouteach society’, or aboutlarge sets

  • of people,’ or aboutforced medical treatment’?

  • We don’t know.

  • This is why subject-verb structure is so important: if it isn’t clear, it will be hard to understand

  • what your sentence is about.

  • Sometimes, this might mean that your ideas aren’t clear in your mind.

  • Next, let’s expand this basic rule and see how you can use it to make a wider range of

  • sentences.

  • You heard before that both subjects and verbs can be words or phrases.

  • Sometimes, your subject or verb might be a longer phrase.

  • This often leads to mistakes, because when your subject and verb are multiple words,

  • it’s more difficult to keep track of your sentence structure.

  • Let’s do an example together.

  • Take a sentence you saw before: ‘Everybody agreed.’

  • You can make the subject—‘everybody’—into a phrase.

  • For example: ‘Everybody who was at the meeting agreed.’

  • You can make the verb into a phrase, like this: ‘Everybody who was at the meeting

  • agreed to change the office dress code.’

  • You can make each phrase even longer.

  • For example: ‘Everybody who was at the board meeting held last Tuesday evening agreed to

  • change the existing office dress code to something more informal.’

  • Even though weve added lots of new words and ideas, this sentence has the same basic

  • structure as before.

  • It still has one subject, and one main verb.

  • Although weve added a complement after the verb, the verb doesn’t have a direct

  • object.

  • We haven’t added anything grammatically new to the sentence; weve simply expanded

  • the existing parts.

  • Let’s do one more example of this.

  • This time, we want you to try!

  • Here’s a basic sentence: ‘My sister called.’

  • Can you make this sentence longer by changing the subject and verb to longer phrases?

  • For this exercise, there are a couple of rules.

  • You can’t add a noun aftercalled’, because that would change the structure.

  • You also can’t use conjunctions likealthoughorbecause’.

  • The idea is to keep the basic structure the same, so that the sentence has one subject

  • and one verb which doesn’t have a direct object.

  • Pause the video and try it now.

  • How did you do?

  • Of course, there are many ways to do this.

  • Let’s look at three possibilities.

  • My sister Mandy called last night.’

  • My sister, who I haven’t spoken to for ages, called to tell me about her new job.’

  • You can see that you can do this in a simpler way, or you can make the sentence much more

  • complicated, by adding relative clauses, adjectives, adverbs, and so on.

  • However, remember the basic idea: all of these sentences have the same basic structure: one

  • subject and one main verb.

  • Let’s move on and talk about one more important point.

  • As you heard before, almost all sentences need a subject.

  • Only imperatives, likeCome here!’ don’t need a subject.

  • Interjections, likeWow!’, also don’t need a subject, but many linguistsincluding

  • uswould say that these are not sentences.

  • However, sometimes there isn’t a clear noun subject.

  • In this case, you need to use a word likeitorthere’.

  • For example: ‘It won’t take long to get there.’

  • It’s worth going.’

  • There’s a mosquito on your nose.’

  • There have been several developments since the last time we spoke.’

  • In these sentences, the wordsitandthereare empty subjects; they don’t

  • refer to a specific noun or thing.

  • You use them only because the sentence needs a subject.

  • They don’t add any meaning to the sentence.

  • So, what’s the difference?

  • When do you need to useit’, and when do you need to usethere’?

  • Useitto talk about distances and times.

  • For example: ‘It’s not far to the metro.’

  • How long will it take you to finish everything?’

  • It’s six thirty.’

  • You often useitto talk about the weather, too.

  • For example: ‘It’s sunny.’

  • Itll be cold tomorrow.’

  • It was really wet last month.’

  • You also useitto talk about situations, and in a number of phrases likeit’s

  • worth…’

  • For example: ‘It’s safe to walk around at night here.’

  • It’s good that you could join us.’

  • It’s really cosy in here.’

  • What aboutthere’?

  • Usethereto say that something exists, or doesn’t exist.

  • Usually, when you usethere’, it’s the first time youre mentioning something.

  • For example: ‘There’s some salad in the fridge.’

  • There are several reasons why I have to saynoto this idea.’

  • There didn’t use to be so many homeless people here.’

  • Let’s practise together.

  • Look at five sentences.

  • Do you need to additorthere’?

  • Pause the video, and think about your answers.

  • Ready?

  • Here they are.

  • Finally, we have one more thing to show you.

  • In general, the subject of your sentence goes immediately before the main verb.

  • You can see this in the sentences youve already seen in this lesson.

  • Sometimes, the main verb also has an auxiliary verb, likehave’, ‘has’, ‘do’,

  • does’, ‘will’, ‘canand so on.

  • In positive sentences, the auxiliary verb and the main verb almost always go together.

  • For example: ‘They have bought a nice house.’

  • My sister Mandy will call tonight.’

  • However, there’s one case where the main verb goes before the subject: questions with

  • be’.

  • For example: ‘Are you ready?’; ‘Were there many people there?’;

  • In some cases, the auxiliary verb needs to come before the subject.

  • This is most common in questions.

  • For example: ‘Can you help me?’

  • What time does she arrive?’

  • How many pieces of cake have you had already?’

  • It’s also possible in certain structures which are mostly used in formal writing, like

  • At no time did I suspect that he was the thief.’

  • At this point, let’s review the most important points that you should take away from this

  • lesson.

  • One: make sure every sentence has a subject and a main verb in each clause.

  • Don’t put more than one subject or main verb in one clause.

  • Two: if your subject and main verb are longer phrases, or if you add a lot of adverbs or

  • subordinate clauses to your sentence, it might be harder to keep track of the structure.

  • Before you write a sentence, think about this question: what are you talking about, and

  • what are you saying about this thing?

  • Decide what youre talking aboutthe subjectand what youre saying about itthe main verb.

  • Keep these in your head.

  • Three: study the difference between main verbs and auxiliary verbs.

  • Remember that auxiliary verbs can’t generally be used alone.

  • Make sure every auxiliary verb has a main verb attached.

  • Learn the cases when the auxiliary verb needs to come before the subject.

  • If you can follow these simple steps, your writing will be clearer, better-organised,

  • and more accurate.

  • Do you have any tips to help other English learners improve their grammar?

  • Please share your suggestions in the comments!

  • Thanks for watching!

  • See you next time!

Hi, I’m Daniel.

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A2 初級

Grammar Lesson #1 - Tips to Improve Your Sentence Structure

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    林安安 に公開 2021 年 06 月 11 日
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