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Blog : theory

Infinitive Theory

Infinitive Theory

Infinitive Structure is NOT difficult. Unfortunately some people explain it in a way that makes it confusing and so, at some point in your learning you decided “I hate infinitive”.

Well, if this is your case, you are in for a treat today!

Let’s start from the beginning.

How would you translate this word: BAILAR

I am sure you said, “dance”.

But that is incorrect. The correct translation is TO DANCE because it is not conjugated. There is no subject. No one doing the action. It is not dance! (¡bailá!)

Now, we know that all sentences need three things to be complete: A subject, an action and a noun.

I (subject) like (verb) music. (noun)

But what happens if you want to describe and activity that you like?

I (subject) like (verb) to run. (infinitive verb acting as a noun, an activity)

Let’s take it to the next step

I (subject) like (verb) pizza. (noun)

I (subject) like (verb) to eat. (infinitive verb acting as a noun, an activity) pizza.

If you say, I like run, a very common mistake, it would be similar to saying “Me gusta ¡corré!”

So when we use verbs of emotion, love, like, need, want, hope, etc and we follow that verb by another verb, that verb doesn’t act as an action, because the action is the feeling you have about the activity. The second verb is acting as a noun and for that to happen, IT MUST APPEAR WITH ‘TO’.

Theory – Comparatives and Superlatives

Theory – Comparatives and Superlatives

We use comparative adjectives when we want to compare two things or two people. Superlatives are used, however, to show the difference between more than two things or more than two people. For example: I am taller than my sister. I am the tallest woman in my family. To form comparatives and superlatives you need to know the number of syllables in the adjective. Syllables are like “sound beats”.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that comparatives are almost always followed by the word ‘than’ and Superlatives are almost always preceded by the word ‘the’.

One syllable adjective ending in a silent ‘e’ – nice

  • Comparative – add ‘r’ – nicer  – Penny is nicer than Amy.
  • Superlative – add ‘st’ – nicest – Sheldon is the nicest character in the series.

One syllable adjective ending in a consonant

  • Comparative – add ‘er’ – taller – Sheldon is taller than Leonard.
  • Superlative – add ‘est’ – tallest – Sheldon is the tallest of all the characters.

One syllable adjective ending in a consonant with a single vowel before it

  • Comparative – double consonant and add ‘er’ – bigger
  • Superlative – double the consonant and add ‘est’ – biggest

Adjectives with two or more syllables that DON’T end in ‘y’

With most two-syllable and three-syllable adjectives, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most and this is where the confusion comes in. We can never say more or most with a one syllable adjective (more good, better, most tallest, etc)

Two-syllable adjectives ending in ‘y’

The exception to the two syllable rule is that, if the adjective ends in ‘y’ we use the normal one syllable structure but change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’.

  • Comparative – happier
  • Superlative – happiest

Exceptions

Irregular Adjective

Comparative Form

Superlative Form

good

betterbest

bad

worseworst

far

fartherfarthest

little

less

least

manymore

most

 

Other ways to compare

If you are looking to compare two things that are equal in description you can use the structure as + adjective + as

I can eat as much as you can.

She isn’t as smart as her sister.

My sister is just as bad at math as I am.

 

Are you ready to practice?

Fill in the gaps with the comparative form of the adjectives given.

1. A rock is _____________ than a leaf. (heavy)
2. Our house is _____________ than yours. (big)
3. The ocean is ____________________ than the mountains. (beautiful)
4. Tom is a __________________ student than Mary. (good)
5. Bicycles are _____________________than motorbikes. (safe)
6. January is _____________________than July. (hot)
7. A lion is _______________________ than a cat. (dangerous)
8. Helen is _______________________ than Mary. (happy)
9. Computers are _______________________ than telephones. (expensive)
10. I think golf is ____________________ than football. (boring)

Fill in the gaps with the superlative form of the adjectives given.

1. It is the _________________shop in town. (large)
2. Monday is the __________________ day of the week. (bad)
3. Ben was the ___________________ person in his family. (noisy)
4. Sam is the in the ___________________ class. (popular)
5. What is the _______________________ subject at school? (difficult)
6. Jim is the _______________________ player in the football team. (good)
7. Elephants are the ________________________ animals. (heavy)
8. Let’s pick the _____________________ apples from the tree. (big)
9. Mary is the ______________________ girl in the class. (thin)
10. That is the ______________________________ sofa in our house. (comfortable)

Fill in the gaps with the comparative or the superlative form of the adjectives given.

1. This armchair is ______________________ than the old one. (comfortable)
2. Trains are ____________________ than airplanes. (slow)
3. I bought the ________________________ souvenir I could afford. (expensive)
4. In this classroom there are _______________________ girls than boys. (many)
5. Ann is the _______________________ child in the family. (young)
6. You are _____________________ here than there. (safe)
7. This is the ______________________film I have ever seen. (bad)
8. Tim is ____________________ than Peter. (talented)
9. I can run _____________ fast ______________ you can.

Present Perfect Theory

Present Perfect Theory

The perfect tenses are perhaps the most confusing for English as a foreign language learn, especially Argentineans. The reason for this is that very few people in Argentina utilize the castellano equivalent.

The problem I have seen over the years with the use of these tenses is not necessarily in understanding the theory but rather in knowing when to apply it.

So let’s begin to break it down.

Present Perfect is: Have/Has + Past Participle

  • Unspecific. So, we will frequently use it with words like: before, once, already.
  • Repetitive action in the past (unspecific): many times, a few times, twice.
  • Unfinished. This means it started in the past but is unfinished: since, for, up to now, yet, never, ever, so far.
  • Something that has just happened: just, recently.

But, when we use it the most is for asking question we have no know way of knowing the answer to. Have you ever been, have you seen, have you tasted, etc. 

The confusion comes when deciding whether we should use Past Simple or Present Perfect and it is VERY important to know the difference because we can make huge mistakes like the following.

Imagine you are looking to “pick someone up” in a bar and so you are getting to know them. Read the dialogue and see if you can detect the difference between the two tenses.

Scenario #1

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I was married for 10 years.

This person is clearly divorced after having been married for 10 years.

Scenario #2

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I have been married for 10 years.

This person is STILL married and has been married for 10 years.

Do you see how incredibly important it is to know the difference?

Look at the activities below to see if you can decide between Past Simple and Present Perfect.

  1. Last night I _____________________(lose) my keys so I had to call my flatmate to let me in.
  2. Doctor: Do you smoke cigarettes?
    Patient: Yes, I _______________________ (smoke) since I was 15 years old.
  3. I ___________________(traveled) to Paris three times.
  4. Last year I _______________________(visit) my cousin in Milan.
  5. Melanie and I are best friend. We_________________ (meet) in 2001. I can’t believe we ______ (be) friends for so long.
  6. Sorry I ___________________(write) in so long! I___________(be) really busy with work because one of the other secretaries ________________(quit) last week.
  7. I _________________(play) Hockey since I was a child. I’m not professional but I am pretty good!
  8. My mom _____________________ (celebrate) her fiftieth birthday this month.
  9. _________ you already _______(eat) ? I _______________(make) a delicious stew!
  10. I _________never___________ (saw) that movie.