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Quick Write 101811 “Talk grammar in English”

Have you ever talked about English grammar with your English learning friends or teachers in English? I bet it’d be much easier than you’d imagine, and plus, it’s very understandable. In TOEFL classes that I teach as part of the university’s international program, the students tried talking grammar in English to parse 40 sentences in TOEFL ITP (PBT) Section 2 (Grammar) and explain why a certain choice should be the answer. Why not try one of their assignments yourself?

1) Identify the main verb and subject in the sentence.
2) Explain the rationale for the answer.

Recognize an error.
31. Not until the discovery (A) of Pluto’s moon Charon was (B) many of the (C) characteristics of the planet Pluto evident (D). (p. 442)

Reference: Deborah Phillips, Longman Preparation course of the TOEFL Test: The Paper Test

1) The main verb of the sentence is “was”, and the main subject is “many of the characteristics”. The sentence is inverted because “Not until” comes to the front of the sentence.
2) The subject “many of the characteristics” is plural, but the verb is “was”, so the subject and the verb don’t agree in the sentence. That’s why (B) is wrong, and thus the answer. “was” in (B) needs to be changed into “were” to agree with its plural subject.

Simple and easy, isn’t it? After the TOEFL class, a student came up to me and said, “Aya, I kind of like this “talking grammar” thing. It’s interesting and easy to understand sentences.” FYI, his current English proficiency level is about 500-550 on TOEIC, and he enjoys parsing sentences and explaining about the answers in English. See? Why not try talking grammar in English yourself with your English learning friends and folks, or write about grammar questions on TOEIC or STEP Eiken on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook if available? It’s fun and will do good for your English in multiple ways, I bet.

(25 minutes / 322 words)

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