1st Tip - missing words

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."- Is there anything remarkable about this piece of wisdom? Two words seem to be missing because in other languages you would say "When you are in Rome, do as Romans do." English has several constructions in which you can leave out one or two words without loss of meaning.

The conjunctions when and though

Subject and predicate can be left out after when and though if the subject is the same as in the main clause and the predicate is a form of TO BE:

"She was a champion athlete when (she was) at university."

"Though" (he was) often absent from lectures, he passed the exam easily.

Mistakes are sometimes made when the subject of the two caluses is not the same. Take this sentence:

"When driving across the savannah in the jeep, a monkey suddenly attacked us."

Who was doing the driving? The monkey?

"When we were driving across the savannah in the jeep, a monkey suddenly attacked us."

Are you with me? :-)


2nd Tip - The FUTURE

There are at least seven ways of expressing the future in English. Here they are, with the

verb play as example:

1. They will play - This is the straight grammatical form. Something will happen at some

future time but usually  not very soon:

        The finalists will play at the end of next month.

2. They will be playing - This is called the continuous future. Something will happen fairly

soon and will go on for a certain time. It may be within a few hours, days or months.

        Our team will be playing at 4:30 this afternoon.

        They will be playing on Friday.

        The second team will be playing later in the year.

3. They are going to play - this is continuous present with the future meaning. It applies to

something that will happen within hours, days, weeks or sometimes even months:

        Tom and Tim are going to play at the end of the month.

4. They are playing - This can, of course, be the present tense, but also can refer to the

near or even distant future. This form is often used with verbs expressing movement:

to come, to go, to leave, etc. It indicates an intention of doing something.

5. They play - Slightly less used, this also refers to an event that will take place in the near


        Liverpool and Tottenham play this afternoon.

6. They are about to play - we have by now almost reached the present. It is a matter

of minutes only

7. They are to play - Here the time factor is also flexible. Something may be hours or

months away, but with the implication that the event has been arranged.

        Denmark is to play Italy in the quarter-finals.


3rd Tip - Can this be right?-colloquial english

You may sometimes read or hear sentence which seems to be in some way wrong, not conforming to what you were taught. Perhaps like one of the following:

1) Aren´t I?

Although this may look and sound ungrammatical, it is the acceptable colloquial contraction of Am I not?

2) They were very tired on arrival. They seemed cheerful, though.

What´s the though doing at the end? Isn´t it normally conjunction, linking two parts of a sentence? True, but in colloquial English you do use though at the end of a sentence in place of however, nevertheless, in spite of, but, etc., i.e. when you want to indicate something unexpected. A few examples:

     - The first part was difficult. The second one was much easier, though.

        (The second one, however, was much easier)


- It may sound incredible. It´s true, though.

        (It may sound incridible, but it´s true)

3) Please try and finish it by Friday.

"And"? Shouldn´t it be "try to do something". Yes, but in colloquial english you often use and in requests:

    - Please try and do better next time.

    - Try and improve on it, if possible.

The try and- version promises indicates some optimism about the result:

    - I´ll try to get them to sign tomorrow = I´ll try

    - I´ll try and get them to sign tomorrow = I think I´ll succeed