Saturday, 3 May 2014


Hello again. So I got a request from Nguyen Duy Hung to explain the difference between JOIN, PARTICIPATE IN, and TAKE PART IN. Well, I use the definitions from COED, then I'll give an example and find the difference between the use of the three similar phrases.


Join is defined into three definitions:
1. Link or become linked or connected to.
2. Become a member or employee of (an organisation).
3. Support (someone) in an activity.

1. I just joined the two pieces together.
2. She wants to join the reading group.
3. I join him to the concert.


PARTICIPATE (usually used with preposition IN), is defined as BE INVOLVED or TAKE PART. Similar to PARTICIPATE, TAKE PART IN has the same meaning. TAKE PART IN is the idiom version of the phrasal verb PARTICIPATE IN. They both are interchangeable.

A: Can they participate in the basketball game tomorrow?
B: They told me they would take part in the game.

Basically, JOIN, PARTICIPATE IN, and TAKE PART IN are all interchangeable when the purpose is to get involved. However, JOIN may also be used to tell an INITIAL ACTION of becoming part of some event; used for non-physical action (e.g. I joined the football game, but I just watched the game) or before the non-physical action. On the other hand, both PARTICIPATE IN and TAKE PART IN refers to physical actions one is involved in (I took part in the basketball game and I sweated like crazy).

Well, that is all of my explanation about the difference of those three. I hope it helps and you won't be confused to use them anymore. Cheerio!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Asian Parliamentary Debate Format

For those who are in my Discussion and Debate class, the rest of the semester we're going to have debates using Asian Parliamentary format. In order for you to become familiar with the format, here are links of videos that will help you get accustomed to the format.

1. Introduction to the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format2. Roles of Speakers - The Prime Minister3. Roles of Speakers - Leader of Opposition4. Roles of Deputy Speakers5. Role of Whip Speakers6. Role of the reply Speaker

Please watch the videos as we are going to start the debate practice next meeting. Thanks.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Phrase and Clause

In this opportunity, I want to tell you the briefest explanation about PHRASE and CLAUSE.


A PHRASE is a collection of words that may consist of NOUNS, VERBS, PREPOSITIONS, ADVERBS, but NOT a SUBJECT doing a verb.

1. to the South
2. the job
3. every inch
4. very difficult
5. to be smart

There are FIVE KINDS of PHRASE: 1) VERB phrase; 2) NOUN phrase; 3) ADJECTIVE phrase; 4) ADVERBIAL phrase; and 5) PREPOSITIONAL phrase.

1. had been living (verb phrase)
2. easy task (noun phrase)
3. so intriguing (adjective phrase)
4. as soon as possible (adverbial phrase)
5. in the garden (prepositional phrase)


A CLAUSE is a group of words that consists of a SUBJECT and a VERB.

Clause is divided into TWO kinds:
1) Independent/Main Clause, is the clause that CAN STAND ALONE and be put a full stop (.)
2) Dependent/Subordinate Clause, is the clause that CANNOT STAND ALONE and accompanies the main clause.

1. I met her when I was there.
      main       sub. clause
2. I want to know what you have done.
      main clause        sub. clause

There are FOUR types of CLAUSES: 1) RELATIVE/ADJECTIVE clause; 2) NOUN clause; 3) ADVERBIAL clause; and 4) PRONOUN case. More about clauses will be discussed later in the next post. To understand more about PHRASES and CLAUSES, watch this video.

So that was the brief explanation about PHRASE and CLAUSE. I hope it helps you not get confused in distinguishing between the two.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Variety, Variation, Variant, Variance

This post is actually for me, but who knows, maybe some people out there need it also. At first I was a bit confused whether to use the word 'variety' or 'variation' before the word 'people'. Then, as always, I googled the differences and found more than just the explanation from 'variety' and 'variation'. All of the words mentioned later are NOUNS.

1. Variety

The word 'variety' means A DIFFERENT TYPE OF SOMETHING. To be exact, one certain thing can have some VARIETIES. For example, the fruit APPLES, can have some varieties such as RED DELICIOUS, JONATHAN, GRANNY SMITH, FUJI, etc.

2. Variation

'Variation' means A CHANGE OR SLIGHT DIFFERENCE IN CONDITION, AMOUNT, OR LEVEL FROM THE USUAL FORMS. For example, "She added some new variations on the choreography" means that she had the same choreography, only it was improvised, perhaps by adding some new moves.

3. Variant

According to Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 'variant' is a form or version that VARIES FROM OTHER FORMS of the same thing or FROM A STANDARD. Or, as what I read from this page, 'variant' is something which is SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR THINGS. For instance, 'theatre' is the VARIANT spelling from 'theater'; Bulimia is a VARIANT of anorexia.

4. Variance

I found the definition of 'variance' here. It says that 'variance' is the state, quality, or fact of BEING VARIABLE, DIVERGENT, DIFFERENT, or ANOMALOUS.  The word 'variance' is usually used in phrase 'at variance with'. As an example, her income is AT VARIANCE WITH her expenses. 

In conclusion, the differences between 'variety', 'variation', 'variant', and 'variance' can be illustrated in the following graphs.





Whoo! You have no idea how long it took me to illustrate the differences. I hope this helps, and correct hehe. If there are some mistakes, please feel free to comment and correct. Thank you.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stories for Listening Practice

Dear all,

It's been so long since I last posted a blog here. Now, I want to share a very useful resource for listening practice with you all. Just click this LINK and you will find looooots of stories and their MP3s. You can use them to improve your listening skill, or you can use them for teaching your students, as I do. You can download the MP3s for free, but remember: YOU MAY NOT SELL THEM, because it's against the law and you may be put in prison ;)

Well, feel free to visit the website to look around and who knows, you may find stories you're interested in. Good luck.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pragmatics (Introduction and Background)

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to introduce you to a branch of Linguistics, i.e. Pragmatics. I'm no expert, for sure. So I just make summaries from Yule's book (1998). 

Since I'm also learning Pragmatics, it'll be useful for me if I make summaries orderly from every chapter of Yule's book. And I think it'd be better if I share this here. 

In this section, you're going to learn the definition of Pragmatics, and to differentiate between Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics. I'll put the reference at the bottom of this section.

Pragmatics is:
·           The study of speaker meaning
·           The study of contextual meaning
·           The study of how more gets communicated than is said
·           The study of the expression of relative distance

Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics

The study of the relationships between linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well-formed.
The study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world; that is, how words literally connect to things.
The study of relationships between linguistic forms and the users of those forms.

·     The advantage of studying pragmatics is that one can talk about people’s intended meanings, their assumptions, their purposes or goals, and the kinds of actions (for example, requests) that they are performing when they speak.
·     The disadvantage is that all these very human concepts are extremely difficult to analyse in a consistent and objective way.


·      Some regularity derives from the fact that people are members of social groups and follow general patterns of behavior expected within the group.
·      Another source of regularity in language use derives from the fact that most people within a linguistic community have similar basic experiences of the world and share a lot of non-linguistic knowledge.
·       Nothing in the use of linguistic forms is inaccurate, but getting the pragmatics wrong might be offensive.

The Pragmatics Wastebasket

·    Wastebasket is made from the notes on ordinary language that fill up linguists and philosophers’ work tables and that are knocked off.
·       The contents of that wastebasket were not originally organised under a single category. They were defined negatively, as the stuff that wasn’t easily handled within the formal systems of analysis.


Pragmatics is different from syntax and semantics, since it studies the relationships between linguistics forms and the users of those forms.

By using pragmatics, we will be able to know speaker’s intentions, assumptions, and goals. In pragmatics, however, we cannot analyse the human concepts consistently and objectively.

Reference: Yule, G. 1998. Pragmatics. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.


There are five different forms of verb: the base form, the –s form, the –ing participle, the past tense form, and the –ed participle.

Head Verbs and Auxiliary
            Every full sentence of English must have at least one verb. This is called the ‘head verb’ or ‘main verb’ (Crystal, 1996 and Greenbaum and Quirk, 1990).
            Sometimes the head verb is preceded by one or more auxiliary verbs. It is usually assumed that three auxiliaries is the maximum in English (e.g. I could have been speaking English). Only modal verbs and primary verbs can act as auxiliaries. Modal verbs always act as auxiliaries, but primary verbs sometimes act as auxiliaries and sometimes as head verbs.
            The head verb together with any preceding auxiliaries is called a verb phrase. A verb phrase that consists of just the head verb and no auxiliaries is called simple. A verb phrase that contains one or more auxiliaries is called complex.
            Sometimes a complex verb phrase may be discontinuous, as adverbs may intervene between the first auxiliary and the rest of the verb phrase. The verb phrase is also discontinuous in interrogative sentence.
            When we combine the word class possibilities with the head/auxiliary possibilities, there are a total of four different kinds of verbs:
·           Modal auxiliary
·           Primary auxiliary
·           Primary head verb
·           Full head verb
1.     I could have been your teacher last year.
2.     I will be studying French next year.

Occurence of the Verb Forms
            Within a complex verb phrase, each verb determines the form of the next verb. The rules for the occurence of the verb forms within a complex verb phrase are shown in the table below.

Followed by
base form
I can swim.
base form
I do like you.
-ed participle
I have written the letter.
be (progressive)
-ing participle
I am sitting here.
be (passive)
-ed participle
It was broken.

            We define tense as the way the first verb in the verb phrase uses inflectional suffixes to indicate the occurrence of an event in time. According to this definition, there are two tenses in English: present tense and past tense. The two tenses can occur in both simple verb phrases and complex verb phrases.
            In accordance with our definition of tense, which only considers any inflectional suffix on the first word in the verb phrase, we have stated that there are two tenses in English. Many grammarians, however, say that there are three (or more) tenses in English –the difference lies in the definition of tense used. If we were to define tense as the way that English represents the occurrence of an event in time using grammatical expresssions (rather than inflections on the first verb), then there would be more than two tenses.

Future Tense
            Many people consider the use of will to constitute a future tense. However, this is the use of a modal to represent future time. It is not a future tense, because we can also use may or might to represent future time.
            The difference in meaning is not one of time reference, but rather in the degree of certainty of the prediction.

Subject-Verb Concord
            Concord is the agreement between the subject and the verb. In English, all present tense verbs (except modals) take an –s suffix if the subject is the third person singular.
            There are two complicating factors in considering subject-verb concord, both involving forms of be. First, in the present tense, be takes a special form if the subject is the first person singular. Second, unlike any other verb, the verb be exhibits subject-verb concord in the past tense. To determine concord correctly, it is essential to identify the head of the subject.

            Use of the auxiliary do is called do-support. One common occurrence of do-support in English is with negative sentences. For example, in the sentence “I do not speak Malay”, do in this sentence carries no meaning, but is just used to enable us to create a negative sentence. It is called a dummy auxiliary.
            The use of dummy auxiliary is also found when there is no other auxiliary and we want to create an interrogative sentence.

Progessive Aspect
            The progessive aspect is used to indicate that the event is continuing. It sometimes emphasises the temporary nature of the event.
            One important distinction in considering the progressive aspect is that between dynamic and stative verbs. Dynamic verbs, like jump, shout, and enter, describe an event that involves some kind of activity. Stative verbs, such as own, know, and like describe a situation rather an activity. Only dynamic verbs can occur with the progressive aspect. Some verbs can be both as dynamic verbs or as stative verbs.

Perfective Aspect
            Perfective aspect is used to refer to an event in the past from the perspective of now. First we should compare between the use of present perfective and the use of past simple.
            The simple past is used when the time of the event is specified. In contrast, with the use of the present perfective we do not know when the event occured, we just know it happened before the current moment in time. This is what we mean by saying the perspective is now.
            The present perfective occurs when there is some influence from the event of the current state of affairs, which we call the resultative perfective, or when the situation described continues into the current time, which we call the continuative perfective.
            The resultative perfective mostly occurs with dynamic verbs, and the continuative perfective mostly occurs with stative verbs.

Past Perfective
            The basic usage of the past perfective is when the time reference is already in the past, and we wish to indicate that an event occured even further in the past.
            There are two rather more common uses of the past perfective. The first involves indirect speech, as when the direct speech is converted into indirect speech. The second common occurrence of the past perfective is with hypothetical conditionals, where an imaginary situation is presented.

            A conditional is introduced by the subordinating conjunction if. There are two kinds of conditional; a possible conditional and a hypothetical conditional.
            Most conditional that refer to past time are hypothetical, as it is difficult to change something that has already taken place. In this case, the past perfective is used together with the past modal perfective.
            The use of past tense or past perfect to represent a hypothetical situation is also found with verbs such as wish. But the verb wish always expresses imaginary desires. If it is possible for the desire to become true, hope should be used, without the past tense hypothetical usage.

            A passive sentence involves use of the be auxiliary followed by the –ed participle. In comparison, a sentence without the use of the passive can be termed active. With the passive, usually the subject is affected by the event, rather than initiating it.

Watch these videos about VERBS in a simpler way.