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Mixed English Grammar Thread


Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #1
Well, since we already know who the Great Linguist "The Big Brother Is Watching You" of these Forums is, it will be safer to start a thread on general English grammar matters.

Sequence of tenses is my curse, and I think of many Poles learning English. Especially with this becoming that, these becoming those, etc., in past tenses.

I would like to write a short story about things that happened in three different periods of time. Let me put a Simple Present script for that:

1981. Zbig -- getting attracted to punk-rock already in 1979 -- can see successful neighbours of the Torun based band Republika. Therefore, he forms his own band named Bikini. After that, his band creates a furore at the Jarocin Festival. Couple of years pass and the group gets disbanded.

2000's. Zbig, disappointed with the Polish reality, goes to UK where he gets a job of a street-sweeper. And he creates a furore again because he is dancing through his whole 7-hour long shifts while sweeping. It makes him very popular locally, and he assumes the stage name of Ziggy Dust. Unluckily, his popularity makes him very unpopular among the members of British National Front. Due to that, Ziggy returns to Poland.

2010. Ziggy Dust recreates the Bikini and begins regular concert tours.
2011. Bikini release a video by Yach Paszkiewicz. They are planning the release of their album this year.

How to make a consistent story out of it with proper consequence of tenses?
Please help.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #2
WOW, a super narrative. You should ask yourself those questions as I see a cracking narrative. Where are your doubts?
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #3
The narrative is correct, I believe, I'd like to learn the proper usage of the consequence of tenses, however. Starting back in 1979 and continuing until 2011, properly.
proofreader
11 Jun 2011 #4
Antek this story is great. Why not just write it as it comes naturally to you, and not worry too much about grammar. Then ask someone to read it through with you and make tense changes that you both agree on. I would offer my services, but I suppose that would create a barrage of negative comments from the PF equivalent of the old men in the gallery in the Muppet Show.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #5
Nah, proofreader offers up some good advice here. I'd roll with that :)
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #6
Proofreader hasn't understood I didn't want to write a story but to learn the consequence of times based on a story that spreads over 30 years.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,844
11 Jun 2011 #7
If you like, Antek, I could help. I spent many years teaching English. Send a message!
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #8
Not times but tenses :) :)

You maintained consistency, AS, and pf saw that :) Please be specific. Where do you feel you could improve?
strzyga 2 | 993
11 Jun 2011 #9
Seanus, I've copied the questions that you asked Proofreader in the other thread, as you've got me puzzled.

When forming tail/tag questions, you should use a comma before the tail. I am not...., am I not? (or aren't I?)
I believe you should use a comma but I'm not sure which of these: am I not? (or aren't I?) is correct. Is "am I not" correct and "aren't I" used colloquially?

Why pennyworth and not penny's worth?
a good one :) a penny's worth is the original phrase and pennyworth a sort of a fixed derivative so "a penny's worth" is just that, meaning literally the worth of a 1 p coin, while "pennyworth" means "worth very little,next to nothing, almost worthless, cheap" - do I get it right?
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #10
Arrrgh!

I do not want to improve anything. I want to convert it to a story beginning in 1981 with past reference to 1979, such as:
"In 1981, Zbig, who had already been attracted to punk-rock music in 1979 and... formed his own band Bikini".

Past Perfect tense, Simple Past tenses, etc. I cannot do it! Not for the story above. Help.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,844
11 Jun 2011 #11
am I not" correct and "aren't I" used colloquially?

"Am I not" is quite old fashioned but correct, as you say. It's the kind of thing my mum or my old English teacher would have said. Sometimes I find myself saying it to my kids.

"Aren't I" is colloquial, everyday English, yes.
As for pennyworth, I like your analysis alot..:)
Maaarysia
11 Jun 2011 #12
People, Antek wants to exercisehis language, not write a text! He just want somebody to lecture him how the sequence of tenses works in practise. By advice to Antek is that he should make it on his own and then ask for corrections. He justasks for too much.
Lyzko
11 Jun 2011 #13
While the contraction "Amn't I?" for "Am I not?" is flat wrong, "Are I not?" sounds horribly stilted as opposed to the universally accepted contraction "Aren't I?". Curious, isn't it? LOL
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #14
Marysia is a clever person, able to express herself far better than I ever could. While I know how to build the sequence of two events:

"After the phone had rung, Seanus picked up the receiver" (consequence and locating the event in time), I am completely helpless to tell a story being a consequence of many events happening over longer period of time.
strzyga 2 | 993
11 Jun 2011 #15
While the contraction "Amn't I?" for "Am I not?" is flat wrong, "Are I not?" sounds horribly stilted as opposed to the universally accepted contraction "Aren't I?

ain't I? seems to be the deal :)

Rozumiemnic, thanks for the confirmation :)

Antek: just go with Simple Past unless you have two sequential activities within one sentence and you need to use "before" or "after", then the earlier activity is in Past Perfect.

so: he recorded a song and then he left Poland
but: after he had recorded a song, he left Poland.
The word after makes all the difference.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,844
11 Jun 2011 #17
While the contraction "Amn't I?" for "Am I not?" is flat wrong,

well I would have to disagree as there are many native speakers who would say this naturally (from Ireland)
Therefore it's not "flat wrong", it's dialect.
The great thing about English is it's impossible to be wrong. If something is used and understood, then it's correct, innit?...:)
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #19
Strzyga, let me try and address your queries.

Contracted forms are seen as less formal so 'aren't I?', while legitimate, takes second place to 'am I not?'. Imagine Data of Star Trek:TNG speaking :) :) He'd say 'am I not?' :) I remember having this discussion in Izumo, Japan, and my drinking partners were a lovely Welsh woman and top English bloke. The English guy altered his position when we started giving him more sentences with 'amn't I?. It just rolls off the tongue better and sounds less pompous than the other 2 options. Yeah, it depends on the level of formality.

AS, are you speaking about use or grammatical correctness? Natives tend not to use the past perfect simple tense but it it used to signify when there are 2 actions in the past and one is before the other, e.g I had eaten breakfast before I went to work. However, as I said, few would use this so it is largely redundant unless used precisely.
Maaarysia
11 Jun 2011 #20
I am completely helpless to tell a story being a consequence of many events happening over longer period of time.

I'll try to rewrite your text as an exercise but I'm not sure if it'll be correct.

2011. Bikini release a video by Yach Paszkiewicz. They are planning the release of their album this year.

Zbig was introduced to punk-rock scene already in 1979 when he saw the successful neighbours of the Torun based band Republika. That made him to create his own band named Bikini. Soon after the band made a furore at the Jarocin Festival. Within couple of years the group got disbanded.

In 2000 Zbig, disappointed with the Polish reality, went to UK where he got a job of a street-sweeper.

... you know what Antek this whole text is in past simple. You have to think of soemthing better. Maybe some particular example you don't understand would be better.
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #21
Zbig was introduced to punk-rock scene already in 1979 when he saw the successful neighbours of the Torun based band Republika.

No, not really. Because he saw his Republika mates only in 1981.

rozumiemnic sent me a perfect starting sentence that I have extended.

Zbig had first been attracted to punk music back in 79, and finally started his own band in 1981....

after he had seen the success of his Republika colleagues of the same city, Toruń.

I can understand your message, Marysiu, thank you. rozumiemnic, big thanks to you!
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,844
11 Jun 2011 #22
rozumiemnic, big thanks to you

happy to assist, anytime..:) BBL
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #23
AS, sometimes it's sensible to keep sth in the same register. I taught a lesson on past perfect continuous Vs past simple Vs past continuous yesterday and it went down well. Do you want a synopsis on the key points?
Wroclaw 44 | 5,384
11 Jun 2011 #25
1981. Zbig -- getting attracted to punk-rock already in 1979 -- can see successful neighbours of the Torun based band Republika. Therefore, he forms his own band named Bikini. After that, his band creates a furore at the Jarocin Festival. Couple of years pass and the group gets disbanded.

in 1981, two years after hearing punk rock, zbig saw republika, a successful torun band, he then formed his own band named bikini, later his band creates a furore at the jarocin festival. a couple of more years pass and the band disbands.

is this what you are getting at, Antek.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #26
OK, the past perfect continuous tense is one of the three tenses in the duration form. The present and future perfect continuous being the other two. They refer to the time of an action although the time need not be expressly stated using numbers, e.g I have been working as an English teacher for quite some time. I will have been typing on PF for 10 hours come 9pm today :)

Past perfect simple, as I said, is when there are 2 actions in the past and one is before the other. Something comes before the past action to which we are referring. It's like a sort of background :)

Past simple we use to list activities in sequence, e.g I went to the toilet, drained my lizard/weasel, returned to the garden, took a sip of beer, asked where my feckin parówka was, started complaining, got my parówka at last, relished every bite etc etc.

The past continuous has three main uses. ING ING, i.e 2 simultaneous actions. I was watching the tv whilst my wife was reading a book. The second? I was listening to music when sb (sorry, Mods) knocked on the door :) Thirdly, just ING, i.e I was sitting on the bench :) :)

What more can I tell you?
Maaarysia
11 Jun 2011 #27
Do you want a synopsis on the key points?

Me too. Thank you, you're so helpful! :)
OP Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
11 Jun 2011 #28
This sounds excellent, Wroclaw, thank you!
Seanus 15 | 19,706
11 Jun 2011 #29
I believe in selfless altruism, Maaarysia. Sometimes I wish for rewards but my wife thinks differently/has other plans ;) ;) ;)

Please, ask away as I love helping others. It's such a noble trait, IMHO.

Wrocław is spot on here, btw. I give his improvements the thumbs up, AS
ShawnH 8 | 1,507
11 Jun 2011 #30
later his band creates a furore

I would have used created, but for some reason, creates also seems to work, maybe as used in the commentary of a documentary?? Why?


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