My student Hanz in China writes:
Today I'm reviewing "What’s Your Lifestyle" part 2. There is a sentence which I don't understand. Could you please explain it for me? Thanks.
[Question edited by me]
Australia Network is the free overseas satellite TV channel operated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They also have many videos for ESL students online (and not on Youtube, so they can be watched in China).
Here are a couple of videos from them for students of English, especially those preparing for the IELTS exam.
Australia Network >Study English > IELTS Preparation > Series 1
These videos are great for helping students learn and practise a few issues in English:
The videos are accompanied by transcripts, study notes and further activities (extra exercises to practise these topics), all in PDF format.
Update 2016-4-14: Fixed British Council link.
Different kinds of adjectives in English
Adjectives in English are not all the same, and what we can do with them is not always the same.
Some are gradable (or "graded"). You can have degrees of them ("a little", "rather", "very" etc.)
Some are non-gradable (or "ungradable" or "non-graded").
Some non-gradable adjectives have a very strong meaning. Some non-gradable adjectives are absolute (e.g. either you're dead or you're not dead. There's no middle ground).
You can't have degrees of non-gradable adjectives You can't be "a little" or "very" of a non-gradable adjectives.
Some adjectives can be either gradable or non-gradable, depending on the exact meaning in the context.
Knowing whether an adjective is gradable or non-gradable can be important for intensifying it (e.g. should you say "very" or "absolutely" to intensify "exhausted"?).
To make things even more complicated, some linguists refer to classifying & non-classifying adjectives. (E.g. either you're dead or you're not dead.) Linguists love to disagree about everything to do with language.
Introduction to Gradable & Non-Gradable Adjectives
English Club has a good introduction to this issue, with some examples.
The excellent Random Idea English blog has an article on why you should know about the difference between gradable & non-gradable adjectives, a quick introduction to them, and many useful exercises to learn and practise.
Warning for students in China: Random Idea English is hosted on Blogspot, and there might be a few problems due to the Great Firewall. The page might look a little strange, or sometimes be blocked completely.
How can you know if an adjective is gradable or not?
Unfortunately most English dictionaries do not yet have this info about adjectives. And there is no list with every single gradable and every single non-gradable adjective.
Random Idea English has an article with advice on how you can work out for yourself if an adjective is gradable or not.
One dictionary that does give info on whether an adjective is gradable or not is the Baidu online English-English & English-Chinese dictionary.
If an adjectives is gradable, it says:
If an adjective is not gradable, it just says:
Sometimes it doesn't say which type an adjective is, because the adjective doesn't have its own page; instead it is just treated as related to another part of speech (verb, noun etc), in which case the ADJ-GRADED or ADJ is not next to the adjective.
Here are some examples from the Baidu dictionary.
Intensifiers with gradable & non-gradable adjectives
The main difference with these adjectives is which intensifiers we use with them.
Random Idea English has a post dedicated to exercises on which intensifiers to use (although many of them are also part of the article on gradable and ungradable adjectives).
The British Council's Learn English site also has an article with an explanation of gradable and non-gradable adjectives and an exercise on intensifiers for them.
In my online classes
In my online English classes, I give info about words in the chat window, from notes that I prepare in advance. Slowly I am adding to my notes info on whether an adjective is gradable or not. It is a long, imperfect process, so please forgive me if I don't always says if an adjective is gradable or not, or if sometimes I make a mistake.
If you have anything to say on gradable / non-gradable adjectives or the links I've provided, please feel free to write a comment below.
For an upcoming class on presentations and how to add emphasis in presentations, I wanted to find more info & useful links for students on auxiliaries for emphasis.
I found an excellent page: good information, different examples, well laid-out, even with exercises! And then I realized the page was on Blogspot, a blogging platform completely blocked in China by the Great Firewall.
If you can access the page (e.g. using a VPN) here's the link:
Random Idea English: Emphatic do, does, did and other auxiliaries
If you can't access the page, I saved it as a PDF here on my website.
Emphatic do, does, did and other auxiliaries (PDF, 102kb, without answers)
Download the one above and try doing the exercises. Then download the version below to check your answers.
Emphatic do, does, did and other auxiliaries WITH ANSWERS (PDF, 104kb, with answers)
My Hiknow student C.C. asks:
I have a doubt about the question:
I'm not sure of the grammar here, because I would ask:
Your sentence is correct. And so is the other one. They're both right, just different structures.
I believe the grammar of the questions might become clearer if I give you not only a grammatical explanation of the questions, but also example answers to the questions in the form of complete sentences.
G.A.L.E.S.L. / joe3
Some tips and links on learning English.