Saturday, September 11, 2010


"The Promenade", Marc Chagall, 1917

Grammartalk 17, Page One - Embedded Questions

A: I'm trying to find the man who robbed the bank. Can you tell me what he looks like?
B: I'm sorry. I don't know what he looks like. I didn't see his face.
A: Did you see his car? Do you remember the color of the car and the make?
B: I believe it was a Ford, but I'm not sure what color it was. It might have been blue.
A: It would be really helpful if you knew the license number of the car.
B: No. I definitely couldn't tell you what the license number was.

A: I don't know much about our parents' lives before I was born. Do you?
B: I'm only two years older than you. I don't know much about them either.
A: Do you by any chance know when they were married?
B: I have no idea when they were married. It might have been fifteen years ago, or even twenty years ago.
A: Do you know where they lived before they moved to Newport?
B: They told me once, but I forgot where they used to live. It might have been New York City, but I'm not sure.

A: Allan Fisher is doing a great job for the company. How long has he worked here?
B: You know, I have no idea how long he's been working here.
A: Has he always worked at that desk, or has he worked at another desk?
B: I'm not sure if he's always worked at that desk or not. He might have worked at the one next to the water cooler.
A: Did he use to bring his lunch to work, or has he always gone to the restaurant at the corner for lunch?
B: Steve Parker can tell you if Allan has always eaten at the restaurant on the corner or not. Why don't you ask Steve?

A: Could you please tell me what time the concert begins?
B: I believe it begins at 8:00 pm. But I'm not sure when it ends.
A: Do you happen to know if there is parking near the concert hall?
B: You can park in the garage, but it's quite expensive. If I were you, I'd arrive early and try to find a parking space on the street.
A: Is there a good restaurant near the concert hall?
B: I don't know if there are any good restaurants nearby or not. I've never been to a restaurant in that neighborhood.

A: I'm calling about the apartment at 379 Sanchez Street. Could you tell me if it's been rented yet?
B: Not yet. But a lot of people have called. Would you like to see it?
A: I'd like to ask you a couple of questions first, if that's okay.
B: Sure. I don't know if I can answer all your questions, but I'll do my best.
A: I understand it's a fourth floor apartment. I'd like to know if there are any elevators.
B: Yes. In fact, the building has two elevators. But I believe one of them is broken.
A: Do you know if the apartment has a modern kitchen?
B: I'm pretty sure the kitchen is modern. There's a problem with the garbage disposal, but they're going to fix it next week.

A: Grandma, when did you learn to knit?
B: I can't remember when I learned to knit. It was a long time ago.
A: Why doesn't mother like to knit?
B: I don't know why she doesn't like to knit. You'll have to ask her.
A: Grandma, I've been thinking. Why do elephants have long ears?
B: I have no idea why elephants have long ears. You'll have to consult the encyclopedia.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grammartalk 8HB, Page Two - Adverbs of Frequency

"The Market" Diego Rivera, 1923

A: How often do you go to the movies?
B: I go to the movies about once a month.
A: I hardly ever go to the movies unless it’s really popular.
B: I almost never go to a concert. I should go more often.
A: I usually rent a movie from the video store. It’s cheaper.
B: I always eat popcorn when I watch a movie.

A: How often does Robert go bowling?
B: He goes bowling once a week. He loves to bowl.
A: Does he always use the same bowling ball?
B: Yes, he owns a bowling ball. He always uses it.
A: My brother sometimes borrows my bowling ball.
B: My wife and I don’t usually go bowling during the week.

A: Apples are sometimes expensive. And sometimes, they’re cheap.
B: Carrots are usually inexpensive. It depends where you buy them
A: Wine is never cheap. Good wine is always over ten dollars a bottle.
B: I never drink wine, so the high price of wine never bothers me.
A: These jars of jam are four dollars each.
B: Four dollars for a jar of jam? Let me out of here.

A: How often do you eat dessert?
B: I hardly ever eat dessert. I have to watch my weight.
A: I never eat dessert unless I’m at a dinner party.
B: I confess I sometimes eat something sweet between meals.
A: I understand that. Sweet treats always tempt me.
B: I admit I often think about eating chocolate candy.

A: Henry wants to be a professional tennis player.
B: That’s why he always practices after school.
A: He often practices more than six hours a day.
B: He usually plays excellently on the school team.
A: He sometimes gets very tired and can’t study at night.
B: Even when he studies, he always thinks about tennis.

A: At Marshall’s, the clothes are always on sale.
B: I know. They’re sometimes half the price of the regular store.
A: I can usually find a real bargain at Marshall’s.
B: I must always spend a lot of time shopping there.
A: You can never find exactly the clothes you want.
B: No, you can’t. But, I’m usually lucky. I find nice things.

A: What do we usually do in English class?
B: We usually study conversation and pronunciation.
A: I always learn a few new words in this class.
B: We usually have a listening exercise.
A: I’m glad we practice listening. I always have trouble understanding when people speak fast.
B: The teacher sometimes gives us a dictation.

A: The doctor always tells me to exercise more.
B: Do you usually have time to exercise?
A: I almost never have time to exercise. I always work or go to school.
B: Don’t you sometimes have a chance to walk?
A: Yes, I usually walk to school. I never take the bus.
B: If you always walk to school, you’re getting good exercise.

A: You should know that the boss is complaining.
B: She always complains about me.
A: She says you’re never on time to work.
B: That’s not true. I’m usually on time.
A: She says you never call the office when you’re going to be late.
B: She’s complaining about nothing. I always call if I’m going to be sick or late.

A: Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard are always embarrassed by their dog, Rex.
B: Rex is obnoxious. He always makes a lot of noise.
A: He never sleeps at night. He always has fleas.
B: He’s hardly ever nice to the mail person.
A: No, he usually tries to bite whoever visits the Hubbards.
B: He is sometimes a very sweet dog, but only if you give him his favorite dog biscuit.

Grammartalk 8HB, Page One: Adverbs of Manner

A: To be honest, I think Roger is a careless driver.
B: I agree. He drives very carelessly.
A: He shouldn’t drive carelessly. He might get hurt.
B: Also, I think Roger is a dishonest card player.
A: That’s right. I caught him cheating last night.
B: He plays cards very dishonestly.

A: To be honest, I think Maria is a beautiful singer.
B: I agree. She sings very beautifully.
A: She should audition for more musicals. She might get hired.
B: I agree. She’s also a very graceful dancer.
A: You’re right. I saw her dance very nicely last night.
B: She dances very gracefully.

A: Olga and David are good tennis players.
B: I agree. They play tennis very well.
A: They should play professionally. They might make some money.
B: I watched them play yesterday. They hit the ball very hard. They moved very fast.
A: Exactly. They’re also excellent tennis teachers.
B: Yes, their students improve rapidly.

A: Those teenagers are sloppy painters.
B: I’m afraid so. They paint very sloppily.
A: They should try to paint more neatly. They miss too many spots.
B: The trouble is, they don’t work hard enough.
A: No, they don’t. They always think about having fun instead of working.
B: They’re still painting the same wall? They work too slowly.

A: Fred shouted at his boss angrily yesterday.
B: Fred shouldn’t shout at his boss angrily. Fred might get fired.
A: He was upset because he didn’t get a raise.
B: He spoke angrily last week too. He shouldn’t get angry so frequently.
A: I told him to try to talk to the boss more calmly.
B: Yes, if he speaks more calmly, he might get a raise.

A: You didn’t translate the story very accurately.
B: Really? I translated it as accurately as I could.
A: Not only that, you didn’t type it neatly.
B: I didn’t? Did I make a lot of spelling mistakes?
A: You should use the dictionary regularly.
B: All right, next time I’ll translate the story better.

A: You should speak to your parents more politely.
B: I try to speak to them as politely as I can.
A: If you want to borrow the car, ask them nicely.
B: But I know they don’t need the car tonight. Why can’t I use it?
A: They’re willing to let you use it if you ask them respectfully.
B: I didn’t realize I was talking so impolitely.

A: The boss thinks Mike is doing very well on the job.
B: I’m glad to hear that. Mike is a good worker.
A: Mike files the letters very carefully.
B: Oh, I know. Mike is a very careful worker.
A: He speaks to the customers on the phone very politely.
B: Mike knows how to talk to customers.

A: The director thinks Sheila is doing very well in the
B: I’m happy to know that. She used to speak too softly.
A: Now, she’s speaking more loudly.
B: She also used to dance very awkwardly. Is she doing better?
A: Much better. Now, she dances very gracefully.
B: I hope she’ll be a movie star some day.

A: The teacher is happy about Billy’s progress.
B: That’s good. He’s doing better than before.
A: He used to arrive at school too late. But now he’s on time.
B: He used to hand in his homework late, too.
A: That’s right. Now, he hands it in earlier.
B: I saw him last week. He dresses much neater than before.
A: That’s right. He used to dress too sloppily.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grammartalk 15, Page One - Should plus Present Perfect

A: Sally was very late to work yesterday. She shouldn't have been so late.
B: I know. She went to a party last night, didn't she?
A: Yes, she did. She was smiling when she came home. She must have had a good time.
B: But she really shouldn't have gone to that late night party.
A: Right. It would have been better if she stayed home.
B: I'll say. Also, she should have gotten up much earlier.

A: Jack's car broke down this morning.
B: I'm surprised to hear that. Jack has a new car.
A: Well, as a matter of fact, he ran out of gas.
B: It's easy to see what he should have done.
A: He should have filled up the tank before he left.
B: Exactly. He should have paid closer attention to the gas gauge.

A: Marvin failed his Spanish test last week.
B: He shouldn't have spoken only English with his classmates.
A: Right, and he rarely attended class. He only went to school when he felt like it.
B: Not only did he skip class frequently, but when he attended, he nodded off.
A: Oh, no. He definitely shouldn't have slept in class.

A: Maria is unhappy in her marriage. What went wrong?
B: She and Jerry rushed into marriage. They got married after going together for only one week.
A: They should have waited longer before deciding to tie the knot.
B: I heard that they started to fight over every little thing.
A: They shouldn't have fought so much. They should have tried to understand each other better.

A: Barry didn't do as well as he should have at his job interview.
B: Yes. He should have gotten that job. He's very well qualified..
A: What should Barry have done differently?
B: For one thing, he should have spoken more confidently.
A: His clothes were too flashy. They weren't conservative enough.
B: He should have dressed more conservatively.
A: She should have arrived on time for his appointment.

A: Barry asked a lot of questions about paid vacations.
B: He shouldn't have brought that subject up at the job interview.
A: He ate his lunch during the interview. That was pretty inappropriate.
B: Not only that, he spilled mayonnaise on the carpet. He shouldn't have eaten a turkey sandwich.
A: He should have left that terrible tie at home. It clashed with his other clothes.
B: It is a loud yellow tie.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grammartalk 9HB, Page One - Past Progressive Tense

A: There was a blackout last night in our neighborhood.
B: I was watching TV when the blackout happened.
A: We were cleaning the apartment when it happened.
B: Irene was brushing her teeth when it happened.
A: The cats were eating dinner when it happened.
B: When the blackout happened, nobody expected it.

A: You have a black eye. How did you get it?
B: I got it while I was arguing with my neighbor yesterday.
A: Mary has a bandage on her finger. What happened?
B: She burned herself while she was cooking dinner.
A: Your aunt and uncle look very worried. What’s up?
B: Somebody stole their car while they were shopping.

A: Laura likes to use her time efficiently.
B: She usually does two or more things at the same time.
A: Yesterday, she washed the dishes while listening to her English tape.
B: The day before yesterday, she fixed the sink while watching her exercise tape.
A: Last week, she vacuumed the rug while cooking dinner.
B: Too bad. While she was vacuuming, the soup boiled over.

A: There was a robbery at the Bank of America.
B: Really? When did it happen?
A: About 11:00 am yesterday. What were you doing?
B: I was attending class at Mission Campus.
A: What were your parents doing?
B: They were driving to the airport to get my sister.

A: There was an accident on Mission Street last night.
B: I know. I was leaving Walgreen’s when I saw it.
A: What was Patricia doing when it happened?
B: She was standing on the corner of Mission and 24th.
A: What were your other classmates doing?
B: They were crossing the street at Mission and 22nd.

A: Were you home when the fire happened?
B: No, I wasn’t home, fortunately. I was shopping.
A: Were your children shopping also?
B: No, they weren’t shopping with me. They were at the playground, thank God.
A: And your wife? Is she all right?
B: She’s fine. She wasn’t home, either. She was at work.

A: Do you think Friday the 13th is an unlucky day?
B: Not really. I had a great day on Friday the 13th.
A: So did I. What happened to you?
B: While I was walking on 24th, I found five dollars.
A: That’s interesting. While I was working, my boss gave me a nice compliment.
B: While my sister was waiting for the bus, she met a
very nice man.

A: Do you think Valentine’s Day is especially romantic?
B: Yes, of course. My husband took me dancing.
A: My husband and my children took me out to dinner.
B: While I was getting ready, he sang me a love song.
A: While I was getting out of the cab, he held the door open for me.
B: I like Valentine’s Day a lot. I wish there were more
Valentine’s Days.

A: Do you enjoy Mother’s Day?
B: Yes. What mother doesn’t like Mother’s Day?
A: Last year, my son gave me flowers.
B: Last year, my daughter gave me a CD with my favorite music.
A: Yes, I heard it. You were playing it while polishing your silverware.
B: I was feeling lonely when suddenly I got a call from
my grandchildren.

A: Henry is upset. His day started badly.
B: Why? What happened?
A: He lost his wallet while getting off the bus.
B: I’m sorry to hear that.
A: And before that, he cut himself while shaving.
B: That’s too bad.
A: And while he was looking for a bandaid, he slipped on the wet bathroom floor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grammartalk 9HB, Page Two: Future Progressive Tense

"A Hand With Flowers" Mikhail Nesterov, 1896

A: Will you be home later tonight?
B: Yes, I will. I’ll be reading until ten o’clock.
A: Will your brother and sister be home also?
B: Yes, they will. They’ll be playing cards for most of the evening.
A: Would you like me to bring over some ice cream?
B: That’s a nice idea. Yes. We’ll enjoy eating some
ice cream together.

A: Hi, Gloria. This is Arthur. Can I come over tonight?
B: No, Arthur. I’ll be shopping all evening.
A: Can I come over and visit tomorrow night?
B: No, Arthur. I’ll be working late at the office.
A: Can I come over and visit this weekend?
B: No, Arthur. I’ll be visiting my sister in New York.

A: Hi, Gloria. This is Arthur again. How’s Wednesday?
B: No, Arthur. I’ll be visiting my uncle in the hospital.
A: Okay, Gloria. Let’s make an appointment for sometime next spring.
B: No, Arthur. I’ll be getting married next spring.
A: What did you think? I wanted a date? No, I’m engaged myself. I want to sell you an encyclopedia.
B: Oh, really? Then, come over this evening. I’ll be waiting for you.

A: How long will your Aunt Sophie be staying?
B: She’ll be staying with us for a few months.
A: How late will Jose be working tonight?
B: He’ll be working until around 10 o’clock.
A: How late will our daughter be studying this evening?
B: She’ll be studying until she finishes her homework.

A: We’re having some problems with our front door.
B: I’ll be glad to help. When can I come over?
A: You can come over at 7 o’clock. How’s that?
B: That won’t work. I’ll be repairing a window then.
A: Can you come over after you finish the window?
B: I’ll be working on it until 9 o’clock. I’ll come over
when I finish.

A: Welcome to San Francisco. I’ll be your tour guide.
B: What sights will we be seeing today?
A: Well, we’ll be going to Chinatown and North Beach.
B: Will we be visiting Civic Center?
A: Yes, we will. We’ll also be seeing Golden Gate Bridge.
B: But, when will we be having lunch? I’m hungry already.

A: We’ll be having lunch around noon.
B: And after that, will we be going on a cable car ride?
A: That’s right. We’ll also be taking a tour of the zoo.
B: Tell me, tour guide. Where will we be having dinner?
A: I’m glad you asked. We’ll be having dinner at the Cliff House, right at the ocean.
B: It sounds like we’ll be having a great tour of San Francisco.

A: I want to return the dictionary I borrowed.
B: I will be home this evening. You can drop it by then.
A: I don’t want to bother you if you’re going to be busy.
B: That’s OK. I’ll just be doing the laundry.
A: Then, I won’t be coming over this evening.
B: Don’t worry. You won’t disturb me. This evening is fine.

A: How old is Jessica now? She’s a big baby.
B: She’s growing up fast. She’s already one year old.
A: Soon, she’ll be talking and walking.
B: How old is Tommy now? He must be almost 12.
A: Yes. Soon, he’ll be driving and shaving.
B: Soon, he’ll be going out on dates. He won’t be a little boy much longer.

A: How old is Kathy now? She must be almost 18.
B: Yes. Very soon, she’ll be going to college.
A: I can’t believe how quickly time flies.
B: She’ll be living away from home for the first time.
A: It won’t be long, she’ll be starting a career.
B: She won’t be a teenager much longer. Soon she’ll be a young adult.