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Monday, November 07, 2005

IBBM Grammar and Prose

This page includes material on the following topics in the order given.
1. Tenses
2. Passive Voice
3. direct-indirect speech
4. prepositions
5. Meeting of the Races: Rabindranath Tagore
6. Refugees

Tense and time are two different concepts. Time is a non-linguistic aspect. It has three divisions-past, present and future. Whereas tense is a concept related to language which represents our concept of time with the verb. Tamil, Hindi, Kannada and most of the Indian languages have three tenses. Where as English has only two tenses- past and present. English does not have future tense.

Both the past and present have their respective simple, progressive (continuous), perfect and perfect continuous tenses.

Simple Present
a. Used to talk about general truths
E.g. Earth revolves round the sun.
Two and two make five.
b. To talk about situations instantaneously. E.g. cricket, football commentaries, demonstration of things like functioning of a computer or cookery lessons on your TV.
E.g. Bola passes the ball to Shambu, who heads it to.
Take a glass of water, add some sugar to it….

c. Habitual use: To talk about thing we normally or regularly do.
E.g. I brush my teach everyday.
I come to college by bus.

Note: You can’t say ‘I am coming to college everyday by bus.’ Because it is a regular activity for you.

Simple past:
a. In a narrative to talk about sequence of events.
E.g. Tony Blair came to India, met the Prime Minister, gave an interview to NDTV and returned to England.
b. Major Khatri visited the hospital every day for two years.

Present Progressive
a. To talk about present state that is temporary.
E.g. He is working in the garden.

b. Sporadic repetitions.
E.g. The Children are always breaking windows.
Note: In the instances of ‘b’ above there is implied criticism. Such sentences need to make use of adverbs like always, constantly, forever.

Past Progressive

a. Used to talk about actions going on simultaneously.
E.g. I was watering the plants while my friend was watching the television.

b. to indicate a temporary state in the past.
E.g. I was watching television all evening.
c. For ongoing action in the past.
E.g. I was having ice cream just then.

Note: Stative verbs which indicate a state of being of knowing cannot be used in progressive.
E.g. know, like, prefer, understand, think, want, have, being

However they can be used to talk about something other than their direct meaing.
E.g. I am thinking of going to Chennai tomorrow. (The word thinking here refers to considering and not a mental process of thinking.)

Present Perfect

This is used to refer to an activity that is over in the past but whose impact is still felt or continues.
E.g. I have washed my hand (Meaning, I may have washed a long time ago but they are
still clean.)

Past Perfect

a. To talk about past in the past: where two actions occur in the past, one before the other.
I reached the college at 9.30 am, but the exam had already begun by then.

b. with verbs like hope, expect, think, intend, mean, want, to indicate that a past hope or expectation was not fulfilled.
E.g. He had intended to propose to her
I had hoped to improve my condition.

Present Perfect Progressive
Used to talk about an activity that began in the past and is still continuing.
E.g. I have been reading since 6 pm.

Similar use holds good for Past Perfect Progressive

The Future can be expressed in English using
- The Simple Present
- The Present Progressive
- Going to form
- ‘Will’ and ‘shall’

The Simple Present is used to talk about fixed programmes.
E.g. The end-sem exam begins on 7 November.
College will start on 14 November
What time does Chennai express arrive?

The Present Progressive is used to talk about personal arrangements for the future.
E.g. I’m seeing the vice-principal tomorrow.

The use of ‘going to’ refers to future based on present circumstances.
She’s going to have a baby. (I can see that she’s pregnant.)
It’s going to rain. (I see dark clouds in the sky.)

‘Will’ and ‘shall’ are used when we predict what we think will happen.
You will never fail if you study for an hour everyday.

To talk about decision at the moment we are making it.
I think I’ll go to bed.

‘Shall’ is used to make suggestions.
E.g. Shall I open the window?

Nagaraj, Geetha. Comprehend and Compose. Rev Ed. New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2005.
For more details and exercises please refer to you grammar text book.

Indirect/Reported Speech

When a previously made statement is reported in the speakers own words modifying the original statement it becomes reported speech.
1. Shambu said, “I met Bola today”.
2. Shambu said that he had met Bola that day.

When we convert a direct sentence to an indirect sentence following changes occur in the indirect sentence.
1. Tense change
2. Punctuation Change
3. Pronoun change
4. Adverbials of time and place, and demonstratives change
5. Reporting verb may change
6. Sentence type may change in the case of interrogative sentences and exclamatory sentences.

Tense Change:
Tense in Direct Speech Tense in indirect speech Examples
Direct speech Indirect speech
Simple present Simple past He said, “My brother cooks breakfast.” He said that his brother cooked breakfast.
Present progressive Past progressive She said, “He is writing a novel.” She said that he was writing a novel.
Present perfect Past perfect They said, “We have seen the Taj Mahal.” They said that they had seen the Taj Mahal.
Present perfect Continuous Past perfect Continuous He said, “Our milkman has been giving us very good milk.” He said that their milkman had been giving them very good milk.
Simple past Past perfect She said, “I heard the news over the radio.” She said that she had heard the news over the radio.
Past perfect continuous Past perfect continuous He said, “We were watching the game.” He said that they had been watching the game.

a. Modal auxiliaries are changed into their past forms
1. He said, “The teacher will help me.”
He said that the teacher would help him.
b. The past perfect and past perfect continuous tenses remain the same when converted into reported speech.
1. He said, “I had waited for an hour for the bus”
c. When we refer to natural laws or eternal truths the tense remains unchanged in reported speech
1. The teacher said, “The earth moves round the sun.”
The teacher said that the earth moves round the sun.
d. If the reporting verb is ‘says’ or ‘will say’ i.e. if the reporting verb is in the present tense form then no change is made in the tense of the verb in the spoken sentence.

Adverbials of time
Demonstratives and adverbials of time and place change when converted to reported speech.
Direct Indirect
This That
These Those
Here There
Now Then
Today That day
This afternoon That afternoon
Tonight That night
Last week The previous week
Tomorrow The next day/ the following day
Yesterday The day before
Ago Earlier, before
Next week/year The following week/year
Two weeks ago Two weeks before

Changes depending on the type of sentence.

Commands and requests are converted into reported speech suing an infinitive phrase, that is ‘to+phrase’. The reporting verb is changed form ‘said’ or ‘told’ to another one that expresses the tone of the sentence.
1. The boy said to the principal, “Please give me a scholarship”.
The requested the principal to give him a scholarship.
2. The king said to his men, “Put this man in prison.”
The king ordered his men to put that man in prison.


a. Yes/No questions are converted into reported speech with the following changes.
1. The question is changed into a noun clause or put it simply into a statement.
2. The conjunction ‘whether’ is used.
3. The question mark at the end is omitted.
1. “Is the train late?” the man asked the station master
The man asked he station master whether the train was late.
2. “Can you hear a noise?” he asked me.
He asked me whether I could hear a noise.
b. Wh-question can be converted into reported speech with the following changes.

1. The question is changed into a noun clause, in other words a statement.
2. The noun clause is introduced with the question word in the spoken sentence.
3. The question mark at the end is omitted.
1. Mr Das asked his wife, “Who is coming to dinner?”
Mr Das asked his wife who was coming to dinner.
2. “Which book are you taking?” the librarian asked.
The librarian asked me which book I was taking.

While reporting an exclamation the reporting verb must reflect the spirit of the spoken words.
1. “What a lovely garden!” my friend said.
My friend exclaimed what a lovely garden it was.
2. “Hello! Where are you going?” he asked me.
He greeted me and asked where I was going.

Reporting verbs for commands and requests.

advice, ask, beg, command, desire, forbid, order, request, urge.


Prepositions can be categorised into
a) Space/place prepositions: at, in, on, opposite, below, off, bhind, near, by, beside, under, over etc.
b) Movement/direction propositions: from, to, towards, into, onto, away, from, round, across, along etc
c) Time prepositions: at, in, on, before, during, after, till/until, by, for, since, from, to etc
d) Orientation prepositions: Beyond, across, over, past, through, down etc.
e) Means prepositions: with, by etc
f) Other prepositions: against, as, about, of, for etc.

Prepositions not used:

1. With expressions of time beginning with next, last, this, one, every, each, some, any, all.

See you next Monday.
This lecture is in Room 3 this afternoon.
You can see me any day you like.

2. In expressions with words like heights, width, length, colour, age, shape preposition is not used
She’s the same age as Mala, though she pretends to be younger!
The new Fiat has a very nice shape.
He’s the right height to join the Army.
What colour were his trousers?

Words with fixed preposition
Certain words go with certain fixed prepositions
Agree with
Agree about
Agree on
Agree to
Anxious about
Anxious for
Anxious + to infinitive
Apologise for
Arrive at
Crash into\die of
Difficulty with
Difficulty in
Dream of
Dram about
Example of
Look at
Look after
look for
Shout at
Suffer from
Wrong with
Matter with

Certain prepositions go before certain nouns in a fixed pattern.
At – the cinema, the theatre, a party, university
Come/go -for a walk, a swim, a drive, a run
In - pencil, pen
In – the rain, the snow
In - a loud voice, a whisper
In – a suit, a sari, a shirt, a raincoat
In – the end, ( of a story)
At - the end, ( of the street)
In – time
On – time
In – my opinion
On – the radio, TV, the telephone

Nagaraj, Geetha. Comprehend and Compose. Rev Ed. New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2005.
For more details and exercises please refer to you grammar text book.

The Meeting of the Races
By Rabindranath Tagore

“In this essay Rabindranath Tagore discusses the external influences on the spirit of humanity. He says that violence creeps into humanity because of the cloistered nature of the spirit. If the spirit can free itself and when man can adapt himself according to the changing time, he would be most suited to a happy existence. Everything outside man must function in order to help him live better and happily. Otherwise, there will be chaos.”

Tagore says that what is central to humans is the freedom of the soul. But owing to geographical condition they developed selfish mentality. They developed racist mentality, and shut their gods in temples and scriptures and remained far away from the true God. Now that the civilisation and races have been brought closer by technology and political changes, Tagore says, time has come to unite. The humankind can never again hide in their exclusive citadels of religion, race and nation. They must come out of their cozy narrow domestic mentalities and negotiate changes. Otherwise they may be forced to extinction.

According to him to enable the unification of the humanity they must be able to give up their cultural specificities however dearer they may be to them, if they come on the way of unification. In the animal world species that clung to their advantages have been completely wiped out at a later stage. Human society today is full of greed, selfishness hatred and suspicion. If it does not resolve these and the racial problem then it will drag them to death. When their existing resources get exhausted they will be forced to seek a deeper alliance of their soul with some other power.

Humans require spiritual power more than ever wherein lies their safety. In this chaotic world they need to yield to the freedom of spirit.

Tagore asks the people of simple faith to recognise humanity above all distinctions and unite. The demonic powers like fire gave way to life as they were doomed because of their very exaggerations. Therefore the dreamers of a unified world should keep their faith firm in life that creates and not in machines that construct.

Anil Pinto
Dept of Media Studies
Christ College.

By K A Abbas

The story Refugee is based on the India-Pakistan partition in 1947. The Indo- Pak partition resulted in one of the biggest displacement of people in the history of humankind. No time in history perhaps people have moved from one place to another as during the time of this partition. The story tries to throw light on the human side of the story where innocent humans who had nothing to do with the political developments suffered.

This story deals with the life of Manji first in Rawalpindi and then in Bombay. We find that in the story even though she was a land lady with servants around in Rawalpindi, here in Bombay though she undergoes a lot of emotional turmoil, she still remains hospitable. She does not lose her human nature in spite of having suffered much.

In Rawalpindi Manji lived in her double-storied house. She had given the lower floor on rent tenanted by mostly Muslim shopkeepers and artisans. (By the way Rawalpindi is in present-day Pakistan) She had a close bond with all the neighbours- Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs. The Muslim women called her Behenji and while the younger ones called her Maanji.

Manji loved Rawalpindi and all that Rawalpindi had to offer. So when newspapers published about the partition, it did not alarm her. She preferred to stay in Rawalpindi, and her Muslim neighbours promised to protect her and her property. But her faith was shaken when a group of people killed a tonga wallah along with his horse on the open street because he was Hindu.

She left her house just as it was, locked to Delhi and from there to Bombay, hardly being aware that she was never going to return.

At Bombay although she underwent a serious emotional turmoil, she hardly made that visible. But it took its toil on her health. Though she had to live like a very ordinary woman despite her status as a land lady in the past, she did not lose her pleasantness. But she kept being nostalgic about her Rawalpindi which according to her was far superior to Bombay.

Anil Pinto
Dept of Media Studies
Christ College

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