Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

My grammar world

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm

As an English Language teacher I am often asked to explain grammar rules. I prefer to think of language as a living entity that behaves and reacts in situations like we do.  We talk about how language ‘functions’ so why perceive grammar as a dead set of rigid rules?

I am keen to embed revision techniques in the learning process exploring original ways of making grammar visual, moving and alive.

These thoughts have inspired my writing. Over a period of years I have been creating a language world where ‘lingoes’ (language creatures) live. Their characters reflect their functions. So as you might imagine a possessive pronoun battles with selfishness whilst a dynamic verb is hyper-active. As I teach teenagers, at times my writing also includes more than a little sexual innuendo.

My work is beautifully illustrated by the very talented Jemma French.  My teenage students enthuse about her illustrations without hesitation. She has breathed life into my language world. Thank you Jemma.

Here is just one example of an extract I used with students this week to revise (not introduce) the functions of the present simple tense. This one is not illustrated I am afraid and is a tiny sample of a range of genres that I am using.

I hope that you enjoy it 🙂


Your week on our planet

Our very own declarative statement ‘Astrolingo’ has teamed up with modal auxiliaries and the imperative mood to guide you through your verb tense week

Present Simple

Your simplicity is your strength. You can stand alone without any help from auxiliary verbs. You simply stand out in a crowded text. Some might find you base but remember there are no fussy ‘ings’ or ‘eds’ attached to you. Celebrate your simplicity.

You like to declare facts, to state the truth but be alert this week as you may face challenges. There is a primary auxiliary seeking fame who wishes to get close to you. Check every sentence you see as you may be stalked by this auxiliary verb who wants to control your actions.

Use your natural ability to repeat actions so that you form a routine that becomes habitual.

There is always the option of hiring an auxiliary verb and disguising yourself as another tense but remain vigilant and this will not be necessary.

A joke about how ‘a Lingo walks into a bar’ will cheer you up towards the end of the week. This should remind you of how you plunge your audience straight into the action by just being yourself. You are relevant, real and self-reliant. So be positive and remind yourself that you are a permanent fixture and a great friend to all declaratives.


  1. Highlight the present simple verbs in this extract:
  • A bear walks into a pub, and takes a huge bite out of the bar. ‘Get out!’ shouts the barman. ‘We don’t serve druggies.’ ‘But I’m not a druggie,’ replies the puzzled bear. ‘Yeah? Then what about the bar bit you ate?’
  1. Summarise the form and function of the present simple tense. What does it look  like? What does it ‘do?’


Please note: I did not write the joke in the task!

Possible responses to task 2 include:

Form (what it looks like)

–         The present tense simply uses the base form of the verb without being accompanied by a primary auxiliary verb


Function (what it does)

–         Functions of the present simple tense include:

  • Sounding factual (e.g. we all know that …..)
  • Expressing repeated actions/ habits (e.g. I smoke 20 a day)
  • Making events sound immediate (e.g. Lingo walks into a bar)
  • Sounding permanent (e.g. I live…. rather than ‘I am living’ which sounds temporary)