Some Grammar Questions of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) Learners that You May Encounter

Have you encountered the same questions here? I tried to answer all the questions of my friends or students who want to improve their English skills. I hope this can help them or some readers who want to learn more. If you have a better way to answer the questions below, please feel free to write them down in the comment section.



1. Question: Why is “I will be taken my medical check up.” wrong when I can say” It will be taken…” or She will be reprimanded?

Answer: It’s because in the first expression “I will be taken my medical check up,” (which is ungrammatical) the subject  is the agent or the doer of the action. That’s why it is better to say “I will be taking a medical check up. On the other hand, in the other expression, the subject is not the doer of the action, it is acted upon. That means somebody has to take it. In other words, if the sentence is in passive voice where the subject is acted upon, you can use the structure “will +be + past participle. If it is in active voice, then it should be “will + be + taking.”


2. Question:  Why is “Not only did she let me know about it.” not written as not only she did let me know?

Answer: It’s because that is usually the structure of an inverted sentence. Inverted sentences usually start with a “negative” expression such as “not only” or “never.” So in this example: “Never was it known to her…,” the structure is never + verb + subject.


3. Question: What is the difference between the expressions “To be beautiful is a” and “Being beautiful is a”

Answer: The expression “being beautiful” is a noun (gerund) that refers to the state of being beautiful. It refers to a concept that is existing already while the noun (infinitive) “to be beautiful” sounds like an intention which is yet to exist at the moment or is something projected into the future. This is quite hard to explain to a student though. If you have a better explanation, then you can write down your comment here.


4. Question: When do you use get? For example, Did you get to see it?

Answer: Get to is an idiomatic expression (get to) which can be combined with other verbs depending on the context. For example, if you want to say you arrive at a place, you can use get to.  E.g. When we get to the airport, we will contact you.


5. Question: Why is “Can you not” not written as “Cannot you” when it’s the shorter form of “can’t you?” Is it also okay? Why?

Answer:  Can you not and can’t you are both correct while cannot you sounds odd. Can you not is used by some native speakers both formally and informally depending on which region they live. The usage of this expression sometimes implies sarcasm or other meanings.  On the other hand, the contraction can’t you is also often used informally. In formal writing though, contractions are not encouraged.


6. Question: If siblings  is the general term that is used to refer to both sisters and brothers, how about the general term for nieces and nephew?

Answer: As far as I know, there is no general term for nephews and nieces. In some languages though, there is a term used for that. For instance, in Filipino language, the term for that is “pamangkin”  but this word has no translational equivalent in English.

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