Hi, my name’s Rebecca. For the next few minutes,
let’s pretend you are the English teacher and you’re correcting your student’s homework.
Let’s look at some of these sentences and see if you can find some of the
errors in these English sentences. Okay, the first sentence: “My
mother she works in a bank.” Is that okay? Well, let me tell you right now that actually
none of these sentences are okay; there is a mistake in every sentence. So see
if you can find the mistake. Okay? “My mother she works in a bank.” What’s the mistake?
Okay… Here, “she”, all right? I’m just going to grab a different marker.
So what happened here is we said: “My mother she works in a bank.” So we cannot
repeat the subject. The mistake here is that we had a double subject; the subject was mentioned twice.
In English, you can’t do that. You just mention the subject once. So this sentence,
in order to be correct, would need to be: “My mother works in a bank.” Or: “She works
in a bank.” If you know who “she” is. Right? But you can’t say both.
So no double subjects. Number two: “John is an engineer” What’s wrong with that? Look carefully. Well,
what’s wrong is that it’s missing the punctuation. All right? Part of a correct sentence is correct
punctuation. So here, there was no period at the end of the sentence,
that’s what was wrong. Next sentence: “The
manager of my department” What’s wrong with that? Well, what’s wrong is
that it’s not a sentence because it doesn’t have any verb, there’s no verb there. Okay?
And, of course, you need to continue this sentence, and then eventually you’d need to
have some punctuation as well. But basically, there is no… This is a sentence fragment.
This is called only a part of a sentence. It is not a complete English sentence or a
correct English sentence. There is no verb. Missing verb. Next one: “we enjoy watching old movies.” Okay? Again, look carefully. What’s wrong there?
Well, it has a subject, it has a verb, but this is the problem. The first letter in
the first word of an English sentence has to be capitalized and that’s what was missing here.
You see, we didn’t have that problem before. Okay. Next one: “I like very much Chinese food.” Okay? Maybe that sounds okay to you, but doesn’t
sound okay to me. It’s close, but not quite. What’s wrong? Well, what’s wrong here is this,
the word order. Not only do you need to have certain elements, you need to have the words
in the right order. So in English, the correct order for this sentence would be: “I like
Chinese food very much.” Okay? Not: “very much Chinese food.” “I like
Chinese food very much.” Okay? Next: “Maria need help with her hw.” “Maria need help with her homework.” What’s wrong there?
Okay? So the mistake is here, the mistake is in subject-verb agreement. The
verb has to agree with the subject. Right? And if we say: “Maria”, it’s like: “she”, and
we would have to say: “She needs”. “Maria needs help with her hw.” So the error
here was in subject-verb agreement. Next one: “delivered the package yesterday” Okay? “delivered the package yesterday” What’s wrong here?
Well, it’s similar to this one, except here, we had a sentence fragment and
we had the subject. Here, we have a sentence fragment, and we have a verb, but we don’t
have a subject. We have a missing subject. So this is also a sentence fragment. “Fragment”
means only part. It is not a complete sentence. Next one: “We recieved your letter.” “We recieved your letter.” Sounds fine, but
if you’re an English teacher, you’re going to look really carefully at each of the words.
And what’s wrong is here, the mistake is here. It’s a spelling mistake. Okay? The word “received”
is one of those tricky words with the “e” and the “i”, and the “i” and the “e”
that you have to learn very well. So spelling mistakes will also bring down your marks.
If you’re doing the IELTS, if you’re bring… Doing the TOEFL, any errors of
this kind will bring your marks down. Okay? So even though they seem very basic, I know
from experience that students make all of these mistakes. Be very
careful not to make them. Let’s look at what principles apply to correct
English sentences. Okay? So, an English sentence must express a complete thought and it must
express it with certain elements. Now, just because a sentence must express a complete
thought, it doesn’t have to have a lot of words; it doesn’t have to
be a very long sentence. Let me give you an example of a perfect English
sentence which is not long. And here we are, this is an example: “Babies cry.” Let me explain to you why this is a perfectly
correct English sentence. So, an English sentence has to have a subject. The subject in this
sentence is: “Babies”. An English sentence has to mention the subject once. Here, it’s
only mentioned once. We don’t say: “Babies they cry.” We just say: “Babies cry.” And
a sentence has to have a verb. What’s the verb in this sentence? “Cry”. A sentence has
to have subject-verb agreement. So, in this case, we said: “Babies cry.” It’s correct.
We didn’t say: “Babies cries”, or anything like that. There is subject-verb agreement. A
correct sentence should have a capital letter. Okay? At the start of the sentence. And we do,
so that’s fine. A correct English sentence should have punctuation at the end, which we
have, we have a period. It should be correct word order, which we have. We didn’t say:
“Cry babies”, which means something else. We said: “Babies cry.” That was fine. And spelling.
Okay? The word “babies” is spelled correctly, the word “cry”
is spelled correctly. So these points are all the points that you
need to keep in mind when you’re constructing an English sentence. Make sure you do that
and you don’t lose marks unnecessarily on your exams by making one of these basic errors. All right?
If you’d like to do some more practice on this, please go to our website: www.engvid.com.
Thanks very much for watching, and good luck with your English.