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Welcome to the English Grammar Exceptions mini wiki at Scratchpad!
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English grammar is not easy for ESL students to acquire, and it can sometimes be problematic to teach because there are many exceptions to the rules. This is a place for everyone to point out the exceptions of the grammar so learners and teachers can both benefit from it. With everyone's contribution, this wiki will keep expanding and can be a great reference for both teachers ad learners when dealing with the intricacy of English grammar.
Exceptions of English grammar
- Continuous tense
- Normally, we put -ing in the end of a base verb to change it into continuous tense, e.g. cook -> cooking, play -> playing.
- Exception 1: "If the base verb ends in consonant + stressed verb + consonant, then double the last letter." e.g. spin -> spinning, swim -> swimming.
- Exception 2: "If the base verb ends in ie, changeie toy." e.g. lie -> lying, die -> dying.
- Exception 3: "If the base verb ends in vowel + consonant + e, then omit the e." e.g. dine -> dining, take -> taking.
- See full explanation in EnglishClub.com
Use of English articles
- Normally, we use the to show uniqueness, e.g. I can't see the moon tonight. There are too many clouds.
- Exception: e.g. Night-time wouldn't be the same without a moon.
- Normally, we use the before ordinals or superlatives. e.g. That is the most interesting idea. This is the third time I've told you this.
- Exception: e.g. This is a most interesting idea. I have a third pen if the first two don't work.
Reference: Pica, T. (1983). The article in American English : What the textbooks don't tell us. In N. Wolfson and E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp. 222-233). Cambridge, MA: Newbury House.
Both of these exceptions follow this idea: "the" is used for something specific, and "a" is used for something general or nonspecific. "The moon is covered by clouds" refers to our moon. "Without a moon" does not refer to a moon (rather generally lacking one), but one could also say "without the moon" referring to our specific moon being gone.
"The most interesting idea" uses the meaning of most that is superlative -- it is specifically at the top of the list. "A most interesting idea" simply adds emphasis, like "very".
"A third pen" means that one is not referring to any specific pen already under discussion; one might have twenty spares and still say it. If there are three specific pens being discussed, one would say "the third pen".