15 Basic Facts About English (Numbers 8-11)

Did you know there are 15 basic facts about English which you should really know about?

by Louis Alexander

All these points are fully covered in Direct English, but here is a summary of Basic Facts Numbers 8-11:


We use different prepositions to refer to time
- 'at': exact time: at 10 o'clock; meal times: at lunch time; points of time: at night; festival-time: at New Year.
- 'on': days of the week: on Monday; parts of the day: on Monday morning; dates: on June 1st.
- 'in': parts of the day: in the evening; months: in May; years: in 2050; seasons: in spring; centuries: in the 21st century.


We use phrasal verbs where possible
Don't stand for it. (rather than 'tolerate')
Take off your hat./Take your hat off. (rather than 'Remove')
Come in! (rather than 'Enter!')


Simple and progressive verb forms are used in different ways
- Most verbs have simple and progressive forms: I often listen to CDs. (simple use: habit) I'm listening to a CD. (progressive action going on now)
- Some verbs have different simple and progressive meanings: I think we should go by bus. (= that's my opinion) Don't talk to me now. I'm thinking. (= using my brain)
- Some verbs can never be used in the progressive because they describe states, not deliberate actions: She loves her children. (Not *is loving*)


Modal verbs differ from ordinary verbs
Common modal verbs are: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, and must. These verbs:
- take a bare infinitive, not the infinitive with 'to': I can see you tomorrow. (Not *can to see*)
- have no -(e)s in the third person singular: The boss can see you now. (Not *cans*)
Modal verbs have two main uses:
1. In their first use, they express ideas like ability, necessity and permission and refer to the present and future: I must go now. I must go back tomorrow. (necessity) We have to use a different verb to refer to the past: I had to go to the bank yesterday. (Not *must go*)
2. In their second use, all of them except 'shall' express varying degress of certainty and have only two forms:
- present: He must be right.
- perfect or past: He must have been right.


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