Tag Archives: Language training Brussels

Fixed Verb Patterns: Gerund, Infinitive or Both?


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

Gerund or Infinitive?

 

Together with prepositions – the subject of a recent blog post – fixed verb patterns are a common source of frustration for even the most advanced users of English.

I recommend to do it? I recommend doing it? Or both?

I suggest doing it? I suggest to do it?  Or both?

They make up a significant part of the often frequent errors I observe plaguing people’s presentations and documents in my day-to-day training work.

As I’m sure you are aware, these ‘little but frequent’ errors can lower the impact and quality of your professional communication.

Yes, substance is crucial. However, how your audience perceives your delivery of this substance also counts

So, by popular demand, here’s a ‘fat-free’, concrete overview of the main categories with clear maps of high-frequency, work-related verbs: Continue reading

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Prepositions: Small but Tricky Little Things…


By David Rose

Happy New Year everyone 🙂

I’m often asked about prepositions, for example: ‘Why are they so complicated?’, ‘What’s the rule?’ and What’s the best way to learn them?’

Well, in a bid to deal with these and other such relevant questions, let’s start with the ‘technical’ definition of a preposition:

“A word used before a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun, connecting it to another word, for example ‘We jumped in the lake’, and ‘She drove slowly down the track”

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus 3rd Edition, Cambridge University Press

Possibly interesting, but really not useful in helping you consistently choose the correct ones in your written and spoken English, is it…?

So, now  I’d like you to consider my more ‘practical’ definition:

A) Types

How many types are there? Two – variable (e.g. I live inBrussels, I was born in November) and fixed (e.g. it depends on you).

B) Difficulty

Are they ‘easy’? No, even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation.

C) Rules

Is there one ‘rule’ to help me choose the correct one? No, the only real way to learn them is by heart.

This second definition leads us to two important conclusions: Continue reading

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English Tenses: A Practical Usage Map


By David Rose

Do you ever have any doubts about the correct tense to use when speaking or writing in English? Do the same doubts sometimes make it hard for you to properly catch what you’re reading or listening to?

I’d ask you to consider these two quotes:

(i) Writer Bill Bryson on how English grammar is ‘different’ to other languages:

“Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football”

 (ii) The American poet and journalist Walt Whitman on how English has evolved as a language

“Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all”

So, as I’m sure you’ve already realised to some extent, English grammar is different to Latin grammar and the Language itself is a complex mix of inputs from many languages.

Hardly surprising you have some doubts then, is it…!

So, without any further preamble, I’m now going to outline a practical usage map of the most frequently ‘problematic’ tenses and forms to hopefully take away your doubts: Continue reading

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Best of the Rest: Free Online Resources to Consolidate and Build your English Language Skills


By David Rose

The internet is often described by parents, teachers, governments and many others, for a wide range of social reasons, as a double-edged sword – something with both positive and negative sides.

The same principle holds true if you consider the internet as a potential source of free tools to help you consolidate and/or build your English language skills, either for specifically professional or more general use.

There is a huge range of practice materials online – for example putting ‘English practice exercises’ into Google.com produces “about 45,300,000 results” – yes, really, over 45 million!

However, besides many requiring subscription and you then receiving a barrage of unwanted spam, the real issue is quality. How reliable are they? Are they correct? Do they provide ‘real’ language use or simply an ‘artificial’ type of scholastic English? Equally, do you have time to check so many possibilities and evaluate which are better quality and more useful? I’m assuming no.

So, I’ve tried to bypass these issues for you by providing a quality (rather than quantity) list of some of the best online tools to help you develop your English language skills in the following 8 categories:

1. General English               4. Writing Skills        7. Exam English

2. Professional English     5. Pronunciation      8. Dictionaries

3. Listening Skills                6. Reading Skills

And here they are…!

Continue reading

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