Learn And Speak English is an interactive, multimedia language-learning platform that gives you the skills you need to speak English confidently in any situation.
Learn And Speak English speaks to you like a friend, with a calm and confident voice. Comprehensive and easy to follow, this program effectively teaches English to anyone who wants to learn it, without the hassle of complicated grammar explanations.
Everything You Need To Know About The English Language
As the most commonly spoken language in the world, English is full of interesting facts.
English was a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England. Nowadays English is spoken as a first language by the majority populations of several sovereign states, including; United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations. It is also an official language of almost 60 other sovereign states.
English is not only the most commonly spoken language, but it also is the third-most-common native language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
It is widely taught as a second language and is an official language of the European Union. These are some of the reasons why many legal and non-legal documents are being translated into English, and translation agencies are in high demand.
The history of the English language goes back to the arrival of the Celts in 500BC. The Celts happen to be the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles to leave a mark on the English language. Many English place names have Celtic origins, such as London, Dover and Kent, and the rivers Thames & Wye.
The Romans were the next to invade and ruled the British Isles for over 400 years. Many of the words passed on from this era were those coined by Roman merchants and soldiers; including wine, candle, belt and wall.
The Celts and Romans had, however, little overall influence on the English language. The real formation started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes, who invaded Britain during the fifth century AD. These tribes, the Anglos, Saxons and Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language, but most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders – mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
About 400 Anglo-Saxon texts survive from this era, including many beautiful poems which tell tales of wild battles and heroic journeys. In the sixth century, England saw the arrival of Christian missionaries who converted the Anglo-Saxons from their Pagan beliefs to a Catholic Christian faith, and injected hundreds of new Latin words into the English language.
The year 789AD was the year of the first Danish invasion of Britain and arrival of the Vikings, who brought almost 2000 new words into the English vocabulary. Words derived from Norse include anger, awkward, cake, die, egg, freckle, muggy, reindeer, silver, skirt and smile.
In 1066 England was invaded by the Normans. The Normans transformed England, both culturally and linguistically. For over 300 years French was the language spoken by the most powerful people – royalty, aristocrats and high-powered officials. French was used in political documents, in administration, and in literature, with Latin still being the language of the church and of scholars,; with most of the general population speaking English in their everyday lives.
After the 100 Years War, many people regarded French as the language of the enemy. That’s when the status of English rose significantly, with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge being established. Literacy increased, but books were still copied by hand and were therefore extremely expensive.
The Renaissance was a time of great cultural and intellectual development. This was when England was introduced to the printing press, making books a lot cheaper and extremely popular.
In the 1700s human knowledge continued to stretch into new areas, with discoveries in the fields of medicine, astrology, botany & engineering (> this can’t be right). The last century was a time of two world wars, technological transformation, and globalisation. As the English language continues to grow it keeps expanding to incorporate new jargons, slangs, technologies – including toys, foods and gadgets.
There is, of course, also a fun element to the English language:
- The most commonly used letter in the alphabet is E
- The least used letter in the alphabet is Q
- Dreamt is the only word that ends in mt
- The first letters of the months July through to November spell JASON
- There are only 4 words in the English language which end in ‘dous’ (they are: hazardous, horrendous, stupendous and tremendous)
- The oldest word in the English language is ‘town’
- ‘Bookkeeper’ and ‘bookkeeping’ are the only 2 words in the English language with three consecutive double letters
- The word ‘Strengths’ is the longest word in the English language with just one vowel
- The dot on top of the letter ‘i’ is called a tittle
- The past tense for the English word ‘dare’ is ‘durst’
- The word ‘testify’ derived from a time when men were required to swear on their testicles
- The first English dictionary was written in 1755
- The old English word ‘juke’ meaning dancing lends its name to the juke box
- 1 out of every 8 letters written is an e
- The longest one syllable word in the English language is ‘screeched’
- All pilots on international flights identify themselves in English regardless of their country of origin
- The expression to ‘knuckle down’ originated from playing marbles (players used to put their knuckles to the ground for their best shots)
- The word ‘almost’ is the longest in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order
- The most commonly used word in English conversation is ‘I’
15 Facts About English You Should Know
English is an extraordinary language. Its history and growth, its little secrets, and its idiosyncrasies all make up a magnificent structure people love to love. Did you know any of these facts about English?
- English is the language with the richest and widest-ranging vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary numbers over 500,000 words and when regional and technical vocabulary sets are also considered, English vocabulary can boast of over a million distinct words.
- English is the most widely spoken language on Earth. About 375 million people have English as their mother tongue while about 750 million speak English as a second language. Others estimate the English speaking population at well over 2 billion.
- Every English syllable has a vowel, but not necessarily a consonant.
- The consonant with the most English words using it as the initial letter is the letter S.
- One in four people is capable of speaking English with a satisfactory competence level. Wherever you might be in the world there’s a 25% chance you will find someone you can easily communicate in English with!
- The letter cluster “ough” has many different English pronunciations. Can you pronounce these correctly? Dough, rough, plough, thoughtful, slough, through, coughed.
- There are only four widely used English words ending in –dous: hazardous, tremendous, horrendous, and stupendous. Technical and less commonly-used words exist, however, such as apodous and phyllocladous.
- The world of the Internet is primarily built and conducted in English. It’s the language most Internet users use online.
- Half the scientific publications and journals are in English which makes it easier for English speaking professionals to access the latest research.
- If you’re spelling out number words in English, you will have to spell a number above 99 to use a word that’s spelled with an ‘a’!
- There’s a reason why English is notorious for its pronunciation, and it’s aptly illustrated by this sentence: I deserted my dessert in the middle of the desert.
- Eggplants have no eggs and hamburgers contain no ham, and if you’ve ever tasted pineapple, it tastes nothing like either pine or apple! However, English is a creative and illustrative language.
- Shakespeare often invented words in order to capture the concepts he wished to describe. He came up with these words, among others: compromise, champion, lackluster, gust and dwindle.
- The English language is officially getting larger by about 4,000 words each year, based on the amount of words officially added to dictionaries annually.
- “Crutch words” are words we turn to when we need to fill in time when thinking, and they’re not the best aspect of English vocabulary. These words include basically, seriously, honestly, actually and the most-loathed of all, like. Improve your communication by minimizing these words in your everyday conversations!
Basic English Grammar
Start here if you’re a beginner, or if you need to refresh your knowledge of English. These pages give you the basic grammar rules, with explanations and exercises.
Learn how to use the verb “to be” and make sure you can use it in positive, negative and question forms. Go to Verb “to be”: grammar and exercises. Then move on to Pronouns and possessives so you can start building sentences. The Present simple tense shows you how to talk about facts and your everyday life. Learn how to form positive, negative and question forms.
Now move on to nouns. The first page to look at is English nouns. On this page you’ll learn about singular, plural, countable and uncountable nouns – plus some important spelling rules. Learn how to use a, an, the (or no article) on the page Indefinite and definite articles. The page There is, there are; some and any shows you how to talk about things you can see and things which can exist. On this page you also learn how to use “some” and “any”. Finally, go to Demonstratives and Determiners to learn about using “this”, “that”, “much”, “many”, “few”, etc.
Now you’re ready to improve your speaking and communiction! Go to Can for permission and requests so you know how to ask people for things. Learn to compare things with Basic comparatives. Move on to The Past Simple tense where you learn how to form the positive, negative and question forms, the spelling and pronunciation – as well as common irregular past forms. This page helps you to talk about events in the past! You can also look at Basic time reference words to learn how to use words like in, ago, and on. Finally, go to How to use “will” to learn how to talk about the future.
Elementary English Grammar
This section completes the essential English grammar you need to speak in most, everyday situations. It takes you up to a high elementary level, equivalent to A2 level.
Start with Giving instructions to learn how to use the imperative form in English. Then go to Have, have got, ‘s to make sure you can talk about possession, using the verbs have and have got, and the ‘s form. You’ll learn how to make sentences in the positive, negative and question forms, and how to talk about possession in the past. Take a look at Question words where you learn the most important question words in English – and how to use them. (Make sure you pay attention to the word order of questions, which is where many people make mistakes.) Then build on your knowledge of comparatives and go to Superlatives.
At this stage, you’ll also increase your knowledge of modal auxiliaries and new tenses. Start with the page Ability (can / could, etc) where you learn how to talk about ability using can and could (in the present and the past) and the correct pronunciation. Then move on to Modals of obligation where you learn how to use must, have to, need to, ought to and should. You don’t need to learn all of these, but must and have to are essential. Remember to check how to use the negatives of these modals.
Go to Present Continuous to learn when to use the Present Continuous tense, and how to form the positive, negative and question forms. After, go on to Future intentions to learn different ways to talk about the future. There’s more information about how to talk about future predictions on the page Will, might, going to. Then go to The Present Perfect to learn when and how to use it – and how it’s different from the Past Simple. This is an area that many people find difficult. Finally, check out the Irregular past participles page. You need to know these to form the Present Perfect tense.
Pre-intermediate English Grammar
At this level, you need to really consolidate your knowledge of English grammar, by revising what you already know. There are also some new areas of grammar to learn. There is a lot to do at this level, but when you have studied these areas of grammar, there isn’t much else to study! When you finish this level, you’ll be at a B1 (or PET) level.
Review how to make comparisons and learn some new qualifying expressions like “much”, “a little”, “far” to make what you say sound more precise. Go to the page How to make comparisons in English.
Review your knowledge of the English articles a, an and the on the page English Articles. Then go to Some and Any to learn how to use some, any and their compound forms (somewhere, anywhere, etc.) Also check out few, little, lots of (and their comparative forms) on the page Quantifiers: few, little, lots of. Review the imperative form on the page Using the Imperative Form in English and find out other ways to give warnings and advice – and how to make polite requests in writing and speaking situations.
Now check that you have a good understanding of the major tenses in English. First, go to Present tenses in English to make sure you know the difference between the Present Simple and the Present Continuous. Next, go to Past tenses in English for the differences between the Past Simple and the Past Continuous. The page Present perfect tenses made easy gives you information on the Present Perfect Simple and the Present Perfect Continuous. Finally, if you only ever use “will” or “going to” to talk about the future, you should check out Using future forms. This page shows you ways to talk about the future (although the two final ways are more suitable for an intermediate level of grammar.)
What’s the difference between “look like”, “be like”, “like” and “as”? Make sure you can use all these accurately on this page: Like and As. Go to Modal auxiliary verbs in English to learn about the grammar and use of this essential area of English. Then, you can start to learn conditional forms (also known as “if sentences”). At pre-intermediate level you should aim to study and use the Zero, First and Second conditional. (You’ll need to learn the third conditional at intermediate level, as well.) Go to Conditional sentences for this.
Most students have problems with English prepositions, and we have an entire section for you! Start with the page Prepositions list which gives you a complete list of English prepositions with their main uses and examples. Then learn which prepositions to use with common adjectives on the page Prepositions and adjectives. Go to Prepositions of time to learn prepositions of time (for, ago, etc) as well as prepositions to talk about location (place) and transport. Learn which prepositions to use with verbs on the page Learn English Prepositions and Verbs. Finally, learn how to talk about where things are in relation to each other, and how to give directions with common prepositions on the page Prepositions of location and direction.
Another difficult area of English grammar is how to make questions. The page English Questions shows you the grammar rules for yes/no, “wh” questions – and also indirect questions.
There are two, final areas of grammar which are often introduced at the end of the pre-intermediate level. Go to the Reported Speech in English page to learn how tenses change; plus how to report questions and modals. The other more complicated area of grammar to start studying at this level is passives. The page How to use the passive voice in English shows you when – and how – to form a passive sentence.
Intermediate English Grammar
This level takes you up to a B2 level (or FCE).
Learn how to use adjectives and adverbs correctly – especially adverbs with double meanings. Review the word order of adjectives, too. Go to English Adjectives and Adverbs for this. If you’re interested in the vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation differences between British and American English, go to the page British or American English?
At this level you need to know when to use gerunds and when to use infinitives. Check out the two pages How to use gerunds and English grammar rules for using the infinitive. This page also shows you the different types of infinitives and which verbs are followed by them.
Learn the verb patterns (including passive form) of make and let – and other verbs which follow the infinitive without “to” on the page Make and let. What’s the difference between “used to” and “be used to doing”? Check out the page How to use “used to” in English, also to learn when to use “used to” and when to use “would”.
At this level, you also need to learn the difference between defining and non-defining relative clauses, and how to use relative pronouns correctly. Go to the page Relative Clauses for this. Then try the page English Question Tags. This is a common part of British English speech, but quite hard to get right!
The only tense left to learn is the Past Perfect. Go to Using “had done” in English for an explanation on where – and how – to use it. By the way, if you’re still having difficulty choosing between your tenses, check out the page How to choose your English tenses
which gives you some simple rules on “aspect” to help you decide which tense to use.
An area of grammar that is often tested at the FCE (B2) level is how to use “wish”. The page Using Wish explains how to use wish for present and past situations, and which modal verbs to use.
Finally, two pages that can help you with writing narrative and longer texts is Time expressions in English (with some expressions you might not know) and Linking words (one of our most popular pages!) for ways to connect your sentences and ideas.
Intermediate to Advanced
You’ll be pleased to hear that there isn’t much more grammar to learn! What you need to do is keep reviewing problem areas – and reflect on the mistakes you make.
One area of grammar to look at is how we use Subjunctive forms in English. Check out the page Using the subjunctive form in English for explanations.
English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know
Just ask a friend what is the role of prepositions within sentences, or what are the four moods of verbs, and I am sure that you will see a puzzled look on his face.
Understanding the basic grammar rules is essential for communicating efficiently, but most of us have forgotten those concepts years ago.
In order to solve this problem we decided to put together all the basic rules on a single page, so that you can use it as a refresher, or print it out for future reference. Enjoy!
Sentences are made of two parts: the subject and the predicate.
The subject is the person or thing that acts or is described in the sentence. The predicate, on the other hand, is that action or description.
Complete sentences need both the subject and the predicate.
Sentences can be broken down into clauses.
For example: The boy is going to the school, and he is going to eat there.
This is a complete sentence composed of two clauses. There are mainly two types of clauses: independent clauses and subordinate clauses.
Independent clauses act as complete sentences, while subordinate clauses cannot stand alone and need another clause to complete their meaning. For example:
Independent clause example: The boy went to the school.
Subordinate clause example: After the boy went to the school…
A group of two or more grammatically linked words that do not have subject and predicate is a phrase.
Example of a complete sentence: The girl is at home, and tomorrow she is going to the amusement park.
Example of a clause: The girl is at home
Example of a phrase: The girl
You can see that “the girl” is a phrase located in the first clause of the complete sentence above.
Phrases act like parts of speech inside clauses. That is, they can act as nouns, adjectives, adverbs and so on.
Parts of Speech
A word is a “part of speech” only when it is used in a sentence. The function the word serves in a sentence is what makes it whatever part of speech it is.
For example, the word “run” can be used as more than one part of speech:.
Sammy hit a home run.
Run is a noun, direct object of hit.
You mustn’t run near the swimming pool.
Run is a verb, part of the verb phrase must (not) run.
Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the verb, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. We are going to cover them individually below.
A noun is a word used to describe a person, place, thing, event, idea, and so on. Nouns represent one of the main elements of sentences, along with verbs, adjectives, prepositions and articles.
Nouns usually function as subjects or objects within sentences, although they can also act as adjectives and adverbs.
Here is a list with the different types of nouns:
1. Proper nouns
Used to describe a unique person or thing, proper nouns always start with a capital letter. Examples include Mary, India, and Manchester United.
2. Common nouns
Common nouns are used to describe persons or things in general. Examples include girl, country, and team
3. Concrete nouns
Nouns that can be perceived through the five senses are called concrete nouns. Examples include ball, rainbow and melody.
4. Abstract nouns
Nouns that cannot be perceived through the five senses are called abstract nouns. Examples include love, courage, and childhood.
5. Countable nouns
Countable nouns can be counted. They also have both a singular and a plural form. Examples include toys, children and books.
6. Non-countable nouns
These nouns (usually) can not be counted, and they don’t have a plural form. Examples include sympathy, laughter and oxygen.
7. Collective nouns
Collective nouns are used to describe groups of things. Examples include flock, committee and murder.
Plural Form of Nouns
The English language has both regular and irregular plural forms of nouns. The most common case is when you need to add -s to the noun. For example one car and two cars.
The other two cases of the regular plural form are:
- nouns that end with s, x, ch or sh, where you add -es (e.g., one box, two boxes)
- nouns that end with consonant + y, where you change the y with i and add -es (e.g., one enemy, two enemies)
On the irregular plural form of nouns there are basically eight cases:
- nouns that end with -o, where you add -es (e.g., one potato, two potatoes)
- nouns ending with -is, where you change -is to -es (e.g., one crisis, two crises)
- nouns ending with -f, where you change –f to -v and add -es (e.g., one wolf, two wolves)
- nouns ending with -fe, where you change -f to -v and add -s (e.g., one life, two lives)
- nouns ending with -us, where you change -us to -i (e.g., one fungus, two fungi)
- nouns that contain -oo, change -oo to -ee (e.g., one foot, two feet)
- nouns that end with -on, where you change -on with -a (e.g., phenomenon, phenomena)
- nouns that don’t change (e.g., sheep, offspring, series)
It might appear overwhelming, but after using these nouns a couple of times you will be able to memorize their plural form easily.
Pronouns are used to replace nouns within sentences, making them less repetitive and mechanic. For example, saying “Mary didn’t go to school because Mary was sick” doesn’t sound very good. Instead, if you say “Mary didn’t go to school because she was sick” it will make the sentence flow better.
There are several types of pronouns, below you will find the most common ones:
1. Subjective personal pronouns. As the name implies, subjective pronouns act as subjects within sentences. They are: I, you, he, she, we, they, and it.
Example: I am going to the bank while he is going to the market.
2. Objective personal pronouns. These pronouns act as the object of verbs within sentences. They are: me, you, him, her, us, them and it.
Example: The ball was going to hit me in the face.
3. Possessive personal pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate possession, and they are placed after the object in question (as opposed to possessive adjectives like my and your, which are placed before the object). They are: mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs and its.
Example of possessive adjective: This is my car.
Example of possessive pronoun: This car is mine.
4. Reflexive pronouns. This special class of pronouns is used when the object is the same as the subject on the sentence. They are myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves and itself.
Example: I managed to cut myself in the kitchen.
5. Interrogative pronouns. As you probably guessed these pronouns are used to ask questions. They are what, which, who, whom and whose.
Example: What are the odds?
6. Demonstrative pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate a noun and distinguish it from other entities. Notice that demonstrative pronouns replace the noun (while demonstrative determiners modify them). They are: this, that, these, those.
Example of a demonstrative determiner: This house is ugly.
Example of a demonstrative pronoun: This is the right one.
7. Indefinite pronouns. As the name implies, indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific thing, place or person. There are many of them, including anyone, anywhere, everyone, none, someone and so on.
Example: Everyone is going to the party.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun. There are two kinds: attributive and predicative.
An adjective is used attributively when it stands next to a noun and describes it.
For example: The black cat climbed a tree.
Notice that the verb participle forms can be used as adjectives:
The man felt a paralyzing fear.
Flavored oatmeal tastes better than plain oatmeal.
The usual place of the adjective in English is in front of the noun. You can have a whole string of adjectives if you like: The tall thin evil-looking cowboy roped the short, fat, inoffensive calf.
Sometimes, for rhetorical or poetic effect, the adjective can come after the noun:
Sarah Plain and Tall (book title)
This is the forest primeval.
An adjective is used predicatively when a verb separates it from the noun or pronoun it describes:
The umpire was wrong.
The crowd was furious.
She seems tired today.
This soup tastes bad.
The dog’s coat feels smooth.
The verbs that can be completed by predicate adjectives are called being verbs or copulative verbs. They include all the forms of to be and sensing verbs like seem, feel, and taste.
- qualitative: good, bad, happy, blue, French
- possessive: my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, their
- relative and interrogative: which, what, whatever, etc.
- numeral: one, two, second, single, etc.
- indefinite: some, any, much, few, every, etc.
- demonstrative: this, that, the, a (an), such
The demonstrative adjectives the and a (an) are so important in English that they have a special name: articles. They are discussed separately below.
The words a, an, and the are generally called articles and sometimes classed as a separate part of speech. In function, however, they can be grouped with the demonstrative adjectives that are used to point things out rather than describe them.
The is called the definite article because it points out a particular object or class.
This is the book I was talking about.
The dodo bird is extinct.
A is called the indefinite article because it points out an object, but not any particular specimen.
a book, a dog, a lawn mower
The indefinite article has two forms:
A is used before words beginning with a consonant sound or an aspirated h:
a car, a lamb, a hope, a habit, a hotel
An is used before words beginning with a vowel sound:
an ape, an image, an untruth, an honorable man
English has three kinds of Verbs: transitive, intransitive, and incomplete.
1. Transitive Verbs
A verb is transitive when the action is carried across to a receiver:
The farmer grows potatoes. Elvis sang ballads.
The receiver is called the direct object. It answers the question “What?” or “Whom? after the verb. Grows what? Potatoes. Sang what? Ballads.
2. Intransitive Verbs
A verb is intransitive when the action stays with the verb. It is not carried across to a receiver:
Corn grows. Elvis sang.
Adding a prepositional phrase to modify the verb does not change the fact that the action remains with the subject:
Corn grows in the fields. Elvis sang all over the world.
Both transitive and intransitive verbs are action verbs.
3. Incomplete Verbs
There are three types of incomplete verbs:
i. being verbs – also called linking or copulative verbs
to be, seem, become, taste, smell, sound, feel
Tip: Some of these verbs can also be used transitively. If in doubt, substitute a form of to be for the verb. If the sentence still makes sense, the verb is being used as a copulative verb:
He feels depressed. He is depressed.
He feels the wall. He is the wall.
ii. auxiliary verbs – also called helping verbs
be, have, shall, will, do, and may.
He could have gone earlier.
iii. semi-auxiliary verbs
must, can, ought, dare, need.
You must not go. You dare not go.
English verbs are said to have two voices: active and passive.
Active Voice: the subject of the sentence performs the action:
His son catches fly balls. Creative children often dream in class.
Note: Verbs in the active voice may be either transitive or intransitive.
Passive Voice: the subject receives the action:
The ball was caught by the first baseman.
The duty is performed by the new recruits.
The dough was beaten by the mixer.
The mailman was bitten by the dog.
Only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice. What would be the direct object of the verb in the active voice becomes the subject of the verb in the passive voice:
Active voice: The dog bit the mailman. “bit” is a transitive verb. The receiver/direct object is “mailman.”
Passive voice: The mailman was bitten by the dog. “bit” is now in the passive voice. The “receiver” has become the subject of the verb.
A passive verb in either present or past tense will always have two parts: some form of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were), and a past participle (verb form ending in -ed, -en, or any form used with have when forming a perfect tense).
Note: The mere presence of the verb to be does not indicate that a verb is in the passive voice. The test of a verb in the passive voice is the two-part question:
Is the subject performing the action of the verb or is the subject receiving the action of the verb?
If the subject is receiving the action, then the verb is in passive voice.
Sometimes the passive voice is the best way to express a thought. Used carelessly, however, passive voice can produce a ponderous, inexact writing style.
English verbs have four moods: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and infinitive.
Mood is the form of the verb that shows the mode or manner in which a thought is expressed.
1. Indicative Mood: expresses an assertion, denial, or question:
Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas.
Ostriches cannot fly.
Have you finished your homework?
2. Imperative Mood: expresses command, prohibition, entreaty, or advice:
Don’t smoke in this building.
Don’t drown that puppy!
3. Subjunctive Mood: expresses doubt or something contrary to fact.
Modern English speakers use indicative mood most of the time, resorting to a kind of “mixed subjunctive” that makes use of helping verbs:
If I should see him, I will tell him.
Americans are more likely to say:
If I see him, I will tell him.
The verb may can be used to express a wish:
May you have many more birthdays.
May you live long and prosper.
The verb were can also indicate the use of the subjunctive:
If I were you, I wouldn’t keep driving on those tires.
If he were governor, we’d be in better fiscal shape.
4. Infinitive Mood: expresses an action or state without reference to any subject. It can be the source of sentence fragments when the writer mistakenly thinks the infinitive form is a fully-functioning verb.
When we speak of the English infinitive, we usually mean the basic form of the verb with “to” in front of it: to go, to sing, to walk, to speak.
Verbs said to be in the infinitive mood can include participle forms ending in -ed and -ing. Verbs in the infinitive mood are not being used as verbs, but as other parts of speech:
To err is human; to forgive, divine. Here, to err and to forgive are used as nouns.
He is a man to be admired. Here, to be admired is an adjective, the equivalent of admirable. It describes the noun man.
He came to see you. Here, to see you is used as an adverb to tell why he came.
Modern English has six tenses, each of which has a corresponding continuous tense.
The first three tenses, present, past, and future, present few problems. Only third person singular in the present tense differs in form:
Present tense of regular (weak) verbs:
Today I walk. Today he walks.
Yesterday I walked.
Tomorrow I shall/will walk.
The dwindling class of irregular (strong) verbs must be learned individually.
Today I go. Today he goes.
Yesterday I went.
Tomorrow I shall/will go.
The other three tenses, perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect, are formed with the helping verbs have, has, and had.
perfect: used to express an event that has just finished, and to describe an event which, although in the past, has effects that continue into the present.
Queen Elizabeth has reigned for 56 years.
pluperfect (past perfect): used to express an event that took place before another action, also in the past.
I had driven all the way to Oklahoma when I realized my mistake.
future perfect: used to express an event that will have taken place at some time in the future.
As of February 26, I shall have been in this job six years.
For complete conjugation tables of weak and strong English verbs, see the Wikipedia article.
Adverbs are used to describe or modify a verb, adjective, clause, or another adverb. Basically, they modify everything except nouns and pronouns (which are modified by adjectives).
Example of an adverb modifying a verb: He was running fast. (fast modifies running)
Example of an adverb modifying an adjective: She took a very small piece of the cake. (very modifies small)
Example of an adverb modifying a sentence: Strangely, the man left the room. (strangely modifies the whole sentence)
Usually adverbs answer to the questions “When?” (adverbs of time), “Where?” (adverbs of place), and “How?” (adverbs of manner).
Adverbs can also be used to connect clauses and sentences (in this case they are called conjunctive adverbs).
For example: It was dark. Therefore, we needed the torch. (therefore connects the two sentences)
Prepositions are used to link nouns and pronouns to other words within a sentence. The words linked to are called objects.
Usually prepositions show a spatial or temporal relationship between the noun and the object, like in the example below:
The cat is under the table.
Cat is the noun. Under is the preposition. Table is the object.
Here is a list with the most common prepositions: about, above, after, among, around, along, at, before, behind, beneath, beside, between, by, down, from, in, into, like, near, of, off, on, out, over, through, to, up, upon, under, and with.
Notice that you can also have a prepositional phrase, which is formed by the preposition and its object. A preposition phrase can function as adverb, adjective or noun. For example:
The dog was running under the rain.
The prepositional phrase “under the rain” acts as an adverb, specifying where the dog was running.
A conjunction joins words and groups of words.
There are two classes of conjunction: co-ordinate or coordinating and subordinate or subordinating.
Co-ordinate conjunctions: and, but, either…or, neither…nor.
Subordinate conjunctions: that, as, after, before, since, when, where, unless, if.
Mother and Father are driving me to New Orleans. (and is a coordinate conjunction joining words of equal significance in the sentence.
I painted the walls but Jack painted the woodwork. (but is a coordinate conjunction joining clauses of equal significance in the sentence. Either clause could stand alone as a sentence.)
Since you can’t get away, we’ll go without you.
(Since is a subordinate conjunction joining a less important thought to a more important thought. The main clause, we’ll go without you, can stand alone as a complete thought. The subordinate clause, Since you can’t get away, is an incomplete thought. It is dependent upon the main clause for meaning.)
Note: The relative pronouns who, whom, which, and that are used in the same way that subordinate conjunctions are. The difference is that the relative pronouns serve three purposes at once:
1) they stand for a noun in the main clause
2) they connect the clauses
3) they serve as a subject or object word in the subordinate clause:
He is the man who invented the hula hoop. (who stands for man and is the subject of invented)
Charles is the boy whom the other children tease. (whom stands for boy and is the object of tease)
Give me the piece of string that is waxed. (that stands for string and is the subject of is waxed)
There goes the horse which won the Derby. (which refers to horse and is the subject of won)
The possessive adjective whose can also be used to join clauses:
That’s the bird whose plumage I admire. (whose refers to bird and describes plumage)
Interjection comes from from a Latin word that means “throw between.” It’s a word or phrase that is thrown into a sentence to express an emotion:
Goodness, how you’ve grown!
Darn, I forgot my lunch!
Alas, will he never return?
All the impolite expressions that we call expletives are interjections.
Strictly speaking, an interjection is not a part of speech. It serves no grammatical function but is rather “a noisy utterance like the cry of an animal” (F.J. Rahtz). Interjections express feeling or emotion, not thought and have been called “the miserable refuge of the speechless.”
If you’ve ever stood lunch duty on a high school campus, you know just how vapid conversation can be when larded with meaningless interjections.
6 Things You Should Know Before You Start Learning English
You have made up your mind to study a foreign language and decided on English because you know it has more advantages than other languages in terms of careers, business, technology, science, education, etc. But, is there anything else you should know before learning it? Here are our 6 things you should know!
About the language itself:
1) What are the main features of the English language?
It is receptive and heterogeneous because throughout its history it has accepted and adopted words from almost all other languages. The simplicity of its inflections and its relatively fixed word order are noticeable too. It has several ways to express the same ideas or feelings, which makes English a rich and varied language.
2) Is it easy to pick up?
It is an easy language to pick up at the beginning and most students can start speaking it and master its basics fairly quickly. It turns a bit more difficult at very high levels, especially if you want to achieve fluency. However, difficult things can be accomplished if you are committed: you are the only one who is responsible for failure or success. The most important thing about learning a new language –or any other subject- is to get so involved that it can become part of your lifestyle.
3) Set obtainable goals.
What motivates you to learn English and how far do you want to get? Your goals will motivate you and help you choose what areas to focus on. Keep this in mind when you feel discouraged or when you think you are not improving as fast as you expect. Not seeing immediate results is NOT a waste of time: even if you are not making progress, things happen in your brain and after a while you’ll realize you have improved.
4) Feel confident.
Don’t get demotivated because you are not as good as you think. Be positive and turn your negative statements –like “I don’t understand what you are saying”) into positive ones (Can you speak more slowly, please, I am still learning). Confident students can interact more fluently sooner.
About your learning process:
5) Surround yourself with English.
Our brains are capable of learning any language, but, to use this ability we need to show our brains that English is an important part of our daily life: something we need to succeed or to survive. How can you do this? There are a number of different ways:
Listen to music, movies, TV shows, radio, attend plays, exhibitions, talks in English, etc.
- Speak without thinking of mistakes: Join voiced chats, talk and record yourself, talk to your classmates in English in and when you meet to play games, to have a meal together or just to chat.
- Read English books, newspapers, magazines, comics,
- Switch the operating system of your mobile phone, tablet, PC into English
- Write down words and expressions with their meaning and translation if necessary, keep a diary, and write comments in English blogs.
6) Find a way to make your learning fun.
Do in English all the things you enjoy doing in your own language.
Learning English is a long-term journey full of different challenges. You will achieve your goals sooner and more efficiently if you don’t do it on your own, if you don’t pay attention to negative statements about your improvement, if you communicate with people in social media in a meaningful way, and most importantly if you can join other English learners’ groups and exchange experiences with them. Don’t hesitate. Just go for it!
Your Top 5 Tips for Learning English
In my opinion, every single person has her / his own way to learn English.For me, the best way has always been watching films, cartoons, tv shows and certain tv channels like BBC or Sky news. Since I was little I watched cartoon network and despite I didn’t understood a word I kept watching and now I see that it was a good thing to do 🙂 About the films, in Portugal none of the films are translated but instead we have subtitles. That is a very good thing due to the fact that when you are younger you can associate the words said do the words on the subtitles (I always learned some new words!) and know I challenge myself by only listening to what they say and not read the subtitles!The second good way to learn English is to write several times the new words we learn, for instance, when I learned the colours or the numbers or even the name of our clothes, the homework was to write each new word five or ten times!! This definetly helped me a lot!A third good way to learn and practise our English is to talk with our friends or teacher in class! This way we can practise new vocabulary and at the same time we learn with the mistakes that we might say during our speech. And at the end we always say “I could have said that in a different and better way!”.Next advice is to read a lot, not only books but newspapers and magazines as well! There is so much good and new vocabulary in a book that we have no idea! That’s why I try to read in English at every opportunity that I have! Even if I don’t understand the meaning of that word, I can understand the meaning of the sentence and by that I can try and guess what that word really means!Finnaly, the last but not the least, I would recomend all people learning English to go to England, to try to have a conversation with native speakers or even listen to them speak! Go shooping, go to the café, go to dinner, to a movie or even the theatre and you will see that this is for sure the best way to really learn English! You also will have the chance to discover a new culture and visit new places that you might not ever forget!
Here are my 5 advices how to learn English. Hope you`ll like them.
Watch a film on your national language, try to remember every dialog. If it`s necessary watch it for the second time and then download an English version. The main thing is to be attentive! This is the best way to learn everyday phrases.
Find lyrics of your favorite songs in the internet, Translate them using dictionary and then sing aloud in spite of having ear. Work on your pronounce.
Turn on TV, find an English channel, take pen and a paper and try to write down the information given in the creeping line. It will be difficult for the first time but finally you`ll do that! Helps to write quickly and correctly. Pay attention to your spelling! Then translate written information using dictionary.
Of course you`ll have to learn grammar and read books with or without the help of teacher.
Finally, I think the best way of learning English is to talk with the English, of course systematically. This will give fantastic result in a short time.Thanks for attention,
Now I tell you the best way I choose to learn English. I am not sure these are 5 advices or less but I tell you my experiences in English.I am in the Elementary level with lack of vocabulary since I graduated in University in Vietnam. And do you know that is very terrible for looking for a good job in Vietnam even though you are expert in your subject.My friend, she has talent in learning foreign language tells me should do that, do this, but it didn’t attract me. One day, she went abroad with her husband and sent me a “Pippy Longstocking” because she knows both of us like reading books. I got it with full of joy and devoured this book. I had to take long time for this book with full of new words, however, I love that.Since that time, I recognized that the best way to learn vocabulary is read book.First, read children books and then move up difficult. Now, I still read children books, however, I prefer to read books for adults and some books such as “The Pride and Prejudice” That is the first experience for learning English vocabulary.For the grammar, yes, of course, I have to study Grammar books, however, I try to remember the whole sentences in books and try to use it in proper cases.For listening, I always turn on “Euromaxx” when I go back home. “Euromaxx’ is one of all parts in DW-WORLD channel that belong to Germany. They show in both languages, English and German. I love this because it gives me many new ideals and much new technology. Ah, and CNN or BBC channel because they always repeat the news, so if I don’t understand in the first, I can listen again next times.For writing, oh, because I like reading books and since I read “Pippy Longstocking” and ‘Tilly Beany”, I wish I wan write a book for children such as moral books or educational books. So, I practice writing sentences and sentences day by day.However, I convinced need helps from my teachers in EC Malta. And do you know why I choose Malta, I know I can learn English in my country, but you can image that, yes, I speak English inside school, however, when I come back home I speak Vietnamese everyday. So I will forget all English. Because that reason, I choose Malta and study here for speaking. Since I was here, in Malta, I meet so many people and they are very friendly. We talk alot and some of them become my friends. That’s that. That is the best way I learn English.I hope you agree with me and my thought will be helpful for you who learn English.Nga
5 tips for English-learners:
Define one single purpose (English for+) – you can`t possibly know a foreign language better than it`s native speakers!
Don`t neglect your native language (you must know it perfectly well!) – it`s the foundation for any language you are going to study!
Always learn collocations rather than separate words (make use of the surroundings of the words)!
Don`t ever try to explain the inexplicable – memorize it!
Ask more of yourself rather than your teacher – you are the best teacher for yourself!
15 Things to STOP Doing When Learning English! (Very Important!)
Learning a new language can be very difficult, but you can make it easier for yourself by NOT creating more barriers that will hinder your progress. These tips (in no particular order) should help to make your learning process a lot smoother, and make learning English fun!
1. STOP translating!
Translating should only be something you need to do in the very early stages of learning English.
Once you have a basic grasp of vocabulary, you should stop thinking in your own language and trying to translate everything, as this slows your progress down, and limits your focus!
When someone says something, concentrate on the words you DO know, and build your understanding from there.
2. DON’T be afraid to make mistakes!
Fear can become a huge barrier, which makes it difficult to progress. If you know the rules of grammar, but struggle to hold a conversation – that doesn’t mean you should avoid talking in English!
STOP thinking about how people might react, and what they’ll say. Everyone makes mistakes, and then they learn from them – that is how you get better at it!
3. STOP negative self-talk!
Having a negative attitude doesn’t help improve your learning, it makes it worse. If you find you’re saying negative things to yourself like:
“Why do I always get it wrong? I’m so stupid.”
“I always make mistakes; I’ll never get better at this.”
“I don’t know what to say, it’s so hard to speak in English.”
This needs to change! Try to turn them into positive statements, you can rephrase them to show positivity. Instead of saying “I’ll never get better at this”, you should say “I’m going to keep trying, I’m sure I’ll get better at it soon.”
Instead of saying “Sorry, I don’t speak English, I can’t understand you”, say “Sorry, I’m still learning how to speak English, so could you speak a bit slower please?”
Positivity helps you to learn much quicker!
4. STOP being nervous!
Speak in English every time you have the opportunity. If you think about speaking, then you’ll just feel even more nervous. Just put yourself out there, and speak!
The more you speak, the more confident and comfortable you will feel, and the quicker you will learn how to communicate in English properly!
You may need to step out of your comfort zone a little bit, but the more you speak in English, the more you will begin to feel relaxed.
5. STOP taking it personally when people don’t understand you!
At some point, you will meet someone who, no matter how hard you try, just can’t understand you. This happens all the time.
Due to the large number of English speakers in the world, there is a wide range of accents, some of which, can be hard to understand!
Eliminating your mother tongue from your accent completely, is extremely difficult, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
6. STOP apologising!
No one knows everything – so don’t apologise for not speaking English perfectly! You’re still learning, everything takes time.
The more you speak and practice your newfound skills, the more you will improve. Even native English speakers didn’t learn how to speak in a few months!Sponsored Content
The main thing is that you are trying, most people will understand and appreciate that. So just relax, and start talking!
7. DON’T just learn in class!
Learning in a classroom environment is great because you get to ask questions, pick your teacher’s brain, and share ideas with classmates, but you also need to implement the English language into your daily life, and communicate with people in English at every opportunity you get.
If you don’t practice speaking English outside the classroom, then your ability to progress will remain very limited. This is one of the most important things you need to remember.
It is the best way to learn, and will definitely influence how quickly you improve!
8. DON’T give up!
At first, it always seems hard when you’re learning something new, but if you keep at it – it will become easier!
You have to keep practising if you want to get better, otherwise it’ll get harder to improve.
Professional athletes have to do the same, they train hard all the time, because if they didn’t – their skills would just get worse!
9. STOP worrying!
Don’t waste a chance to speak English because you’re worried about whether they will understand you or not. Be confident, and have an ‘I can do it’ attitude.
Don’t be shy! Least of all, don’t worry about learning, because it’s supposed to be fun. The more fun you have, the easier you will learn!
10. STOP comparing yourself to other English speakers!
No matter what level of English you are on, you worked hard to get there. Be proud of what you have achieved.
Everybody is different, some people learn languages more easily than others, and some people spend more time working to improve their English. Just because your friend is learning faster than you, doesn’t mean you’re not on the right path!
11. STOP using outdated, inefficient methods! (please)
Grammar-translation methods, and memorisation of rules have been standard practice for a very long time, but they’re probably not the most effective ways to learn.
Some students study English for many years, and know all the rules of grammar and sentence structures, but still struggle to communicate properly and hold a conversation in English.
It is important to have a significant amount of time focusing on conversational, functional language use, and learn in context through interaction with other people!
12. DON’T work too hard on one skill and neglect the others!
If you just want to be able to speak to people, then you might place less emphasis on reading and writing, but you shouldn’t neglect them too much, as they are also crucial for fluency.
You should concentrate on improving your speaking skills, but also dedicate a suitable amount of time practising your reading, writing and listening skills. You shouldn’t underestimate the benefits all these skills have on each other!
13. STOP spending too much time studying!
If you sit in front of a book or screen for hours, going over the same rules and flashcards again and again, it won’t make you learn any faster!
You should have short study periods of up to 30 minutes, then spend a generous amount of your available time putting the language skills you’ve learnt, into practice.
It’s okay to study for up to 30 minutes, take a break, then go back to studying if you really need to, but studying for a long period of time, without taking a break, is quite exhausting for your brain!
14. STOP thinking of learning as a chore!
Learners sometimes associate study with something that is unpleasant, which turns it into ‘boring homework’, and ‘boring exercises’.
Even if they realise that learning is important, they may not be self-motivated enough to do it all the time! It needs to be something you want to do, not have to do. Make it interesting so you have fun when you’re learning.
- If you’re walking down the street, build simple English sentences in your head about the things you see around you
- Learn a new word each day and try to use it in conversation
- Watch a funny video on the internet and tell someone what it’s about
- Read an article about your favourite band (or something else that interests you)
- Communicate with people on a discussion forum.
Soon you will stop thinking of boring classes, difficult grammar rules or lengthy homework – instead you’ll be thinking about a funny English TV show, your favourite band, or interesting conversations with different people – in English!
Only one kind of person would do these sort of things – the kind of person who enjoys them! If you want to learn how to speak English well, you have to be that person. Have you ever heard of anyone who became successful by doing something they hated?
15. DON’T disregard the culture!
Language is made up of so many intricate expressions of culture, that it is impossible for books and courses to cover them adequately.
For example, the way an average, ordinary person interacts with other people in his or her community. All cultures and small communities have different gestures, intonation, slang terms, proximity, interjections, fillers, and short cuts!
If you are focusing on learning the tongue of a certain community then it would be best to integrate with them, and learn from them!
How to learn English quickly: 10 tips
English is a fun language to learn , and even though it’s considered an accessible and relatively easy one to learn, with 750,000 words and spelling that can throw off even the most skilled learner, learning English fast can seem impossible. But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t – as long as you have the right strategy.
Here are our top tips on how to learn English quickly:
1. Read everything you can get your hands on
Classic literature, paperbacks, newspapers, websites, emails, your social media feed, cereal boxes: if it’s in English, read it. Why? Well, this content will be full of juicy new vocabulary, as well as a fair amount you already know. This helps you improve quickly, as re-exposure to learned vocabulary gives you new examples in context, therefore reinforcing those words in your mind. On the other hand, learning new words and expressions is essential to building your vocabulary arsenal, particularly in a language like English with so many words! However, don’t just read and move on – next, you’ve got to…
2. Actively take note of new vocabulary
This tip is a classic one for good reason: it works! When learning, we often enjoy a new word of phrase so much that forgetting it seems impossible. But trust us, not everything sticks the first time. To fight this, get into the habit of carrying around a funky notebook or using a tool like Evernote. Whenever you hear or read a new word or expression, write it down in context: that is, in a sentence and with its meaning noted. This saves you time as you won’t return to that word and ask yourself: “What did that word/expression mean again?”
3. Talk with real live humans
What is a language for if not to communicate? Sure, we humans have become experts at communicating without opening our mouths – thanks Whatsapp! – but when push comes to shove, it’s true that speaking a language helps it stick in your head far better than only reading or writing it. Just think of how many times you’ve heard people say that they “understand, but can’t speak English.” A lot of would-be English speakers have turned talking into a huge insurmountable barrier that only serves to psyche them out. Don’t be like that. Seek out native speakers for an informal language exchange, enroll in a course, or take classes online.
4. Subscribe to podcasts or Youtube channels (in English)
Like humor? Politics? Blogging? Cooking? With topics covering every interest imaginable, there’s an English-speaking podcast or Youtube channel out there for you. Subscribe to a few and listen while driving or watch during the commute to school or work. At first, you might find the native accents difficult, but stick with it and you’ll soon start to understand what you hear (as well as learning lots of new vocab from a native speaker!)
5. Go abroad
If there’s a better way to learn English than being immersed in it while living and studying in an English-speaking country, we’d love to know! It’s no secret that English is the most widely-spoken language in the world, and with a long list of countries to choose between, you can select your ideal learning environment based on hemisphere, weather, or favorite city. Think Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa to name a few!
6. Use your friends
Have friends who post online in English? Don’t gloss over them in your newsfeed: scan the items they share and commit to exploring one or two each day. They might be news or magazine articles, videos, talks, blog posts, songs, or anything else: if it’s in English and the topic interests you, it’s going to be helpful!
7. Ask a lot of questions
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also propelled the language learner to fluency! As you learn English, you’ll soon collect a mountain of questions. Don’t sit on your doubts – be curious and resolve them! If you’re enrolled in a course, ask your teacher (it’s what they’re there for, after all). But if you’re learning alone, don’t worry: find answers in blogs or language websites, ask other learners, or read through forums. You’ll be happy you did!
8. Take a lead from the stars
Mix up your learning by picking a native English-speaking actor or singer you like. Now, head online, find a bunch of interviews they’ve given – and watch them! Watch once for gist, then again, taking time to note down interesting expressions and words you hear. The slang, stories, humor, and anecdotes that come out of these interview are sure to give you plenty to work with!
9. Start with what you really need
Your English studies are likely to go far more quickly if you constantly remind yourself of your motives for learning. Are you going on a study exchange? Then, focus on vocabulary related to your studies. Have an overseas conference? Brush up on conversation starters to use with the other participants. Going on a gap year? Looks like travel and tourism vocabulary will be your guide. If you simply launch into learning English hoping to magically learn anything and everything at once, you’re likely to end up confused and burned out. Which brings us to…
10. Don’t kick yourself while you’re down
When you start to feel like you’re not making ground – which happens to all learners at some point – don’t say, “I don’t speak English,” or “I’ll never get this.” In fact, ban those phrases from your vocabulary! They only blur your understanding of the progress you’re making and convince you that your dreams of speaking English well are impossible. Instead, say “I’m learning English and making improvements everyday,” “It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it,” “I’m so much better that I was six months ago,” and other phrases to remind yourself of the big picture.
What can you do with an English literature degree?
What is English literature?
The study of English literature focuses mainly on analysis, debate and critical theorising about a large number of published works, be they novels, poems, plays or other literary works.
Given this number of genres, it is perhaps unsurprising that a degree in English literature can be incredibly wide-ranging; two students on the same degree course can choose to study very different things outside of their core modules.
As well as analysis, students can also expect to have to defend their ideas, since it’s not enough to simply note something about a text, this must be accompanied by explanation and argument.
You can also expect to be taught aspects of creative writing and how to express ideas in various literary forms. It’s certainly a challenging course to take at university, but it can be immensely rewarding for those with a passion for English who are willing to work for it.
What do you learn on an English literature degree?
Unsurprisingly, most English literature degrees, particularly in the UK, will start off with a focus on the literature of England.
More specifically, courses will often go through historical examples of landmark literature such as the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, then perhaps introducing other lesser-known examples.
You may also be introduced some foreign texts, although these will mainly be classics.
As the course continues you will be given more freedom to explore authors and genres that hold more interest for you.
In this way, an English literature degree can provide a great opportunity to test and refine your skills in a way that would be hard to do anywhere else, in addition to the opportunities presented by extra-curricular activities; most universities will have student publications you can get involved with.
English literature is also a good subject to study alongside may others such as languages, history, politics or even economics and maths.
What should I study at high school if I want to study English literature?
As with all degrees, different institutions will have different entry requirements and there is no set pre-requisite for studying English literature.
However there are a few subjects that would be useful to study at high school such as history, philosophy, which can be a great help when studying historical texts and placing them into a context.
In addition to academic qualifications, experience with literature-related activities outside the classroom can be of huge benefit, both in terms of your application and in furthering your enjoyment of the course.
Creative activities such as writing for a publication at school, staying well-read across different types of literature, or even writing your own blog can all prove useful before and during your degree.
What do people who study English literature do after graduation?
An English literature degree can open a number of doors once you’ve graduated. Opportunities to delve deeper into your field with a postgraduate course are a good choice should you find a particular genre or style of literature that you are particularly passionate about.
In terms of job opportunities, media and publishing can be a good fit for an English literature graduate, as they offer a good way to apply your knowledge of the written language.
These skills will also serve you well in advertising and marketing. Teaching is another option; from primary education right up to tertiary, English as a subject is considered important at all stages.
The analytical skills associated with such a degree also apply well to things such as law, so many students undertake law conversion courses.
Generally speaking, English literature is a degree well respected by potential employers owing to the numerous transferable skills it demonstrates.
A strong degree from a good university is a fantastic asset to have in general, not only being a great thing for employers and job prospects but also allowing access to excellent postgraduate schemes or conversion courses.
Which famous people studied English literature?
A huge number of famous people have taken English literature at university, either as a direct precursor to their later career or as a stepping stone to some other unrelated industry.
In fact many people choose to take degrees in English literature when they already have successful careers, such is their value.
Some famous graduates include Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, actress Emma Watson, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and film director Martin Scorsese.
19 Things English Literature Students Know To Be True
- SPARKNOTES IS YOUR ONE TRUE BAE. BUT YOU’LL NEVER ADMIT IT.
- FALLING IN LOVE WITH FICTIONAL CHARACTERS IS INEVITABLE.
- CHAUCER IS THE BANE OF YOUR EXISTENCE.
- YOU JUST HAVE TO READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU SEE THE MOVIE.
- AND THE BOOK WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER.
- WHEN YOUR FRIENDS ARGUE THAT THE MOVIE WAS BETTER (AND THEY HAVEN’T EVEN READ THE BOOK)
- MATHEMATICS HAS YOU LIKE
- THE LIBRARY IS WHAT YOU IMAGINE HEAVEN TO LOOK LIKE.
- WHEN EVERYONE JUST ASSUMES THAT YOU WANT TO BE A TEACHER.
- CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY OBSESSED WITH SHAKESPEARE.
- YOUR FRIENDS ALWAYS ASK YOU TO PROOF-READ THEIR ASSIGNMENTS… AND THEIR CVS… AND THEIR EMAILS…
- YOU MOSTLY PREFER BOOKS TO PEOPLE.
- YOU’RE EXTREMELY RESENTFUL OF – YET DEEPLY IMPRESSED BY – THAT ONE PERSON IN THE SEMINAR WHO ACTUALLY MANAGES TO READ THE BOOKS EVERY WEEK.
- TECHNICALLY, THERE ARE NO CORRECT ANSWERS. THEREFORE CONSISTENT ASSIGNMENT MARKING DOESN’T EXIST.
- YOUR REACTION WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT THEY DON’T READ
- YOUR REACTION WHEN PEOPLE CAN’T SEEM TO GRASP BASIC GRAMMAR
- YOU SPEND QUITE A LOT OF TIME STARING AT A BLANK WORD DOCUMENT.
- THANKS TO YOUR DEGREE, YOU CAN’T HELP BUT OVER-ANALYSE EVERYTHING.
- MOVING ALL OF YOUR BOOKS FROM HOME BACK TO UNI AND FROM UNI BACK HOME IS A TOTAL PAIN. BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT.
What masters degrees can an English major pursue
Often college students who are undecided about what to major in choose English as the catch all degree. While the degree helps students learn the rudiments of good written and verbal communication, often many people with a BA in English wonder what to do after College. The main thing people like to tell them is to “teach,” as if teaching is the only course you can pursue after obtaining a degree in English. Actually, an English degree is one of the most versatile degrees and one that can open doors to many Master’s degree programs and graduate options. So, if you’re asking yourself what masters degrees can an English major pursue, then here are four masters degree options that English majors can consider.
Typically, English majors like to read and write, and there’s no better field for doing this than journalism. Journalism offers students the chance to write, research and read daily. A masters degree in Journalism allows English majors to enter a career that is known as being the Nation’s watch dog, preserving democracy by what they investigate and choose to write about. Journalism has changed though and as evolved to include things like blogging and social media.
A degree in media studies is another option for English majors seeking a masters degree program. This area of study encompasses several other areas of study under the umbrella of “media studies,” and offers holders of the degree many different and varying career options. Whether you want to dabble in PR or work for top advertising and marketing agencies, a masters degree in media studies can open the doors to these highly competitive jobs. Businesses value a potential’s candidate’s ability to reach and influence their target audience and these are skills that a media studies student are trained to do.
Another field that English major’s often fail to consider is law. While a JD isn’t a master’s degree per se, it is a post secondary degree that does offer large salary potential as well as the ability to help people if used correctly. Many people don’t realize how much writing is involved in a law degree. The ability to think logically, research and to write and communicate well are skills that all law students need.
Teaching does have to make it’s way into a discussion of what to do with an English major, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the traditional form of teaching. English majors now have a choice of the type of teaching they want to do with their degree. A masters degree in Distance Learning can lead to a lucrative career. With the potential to teach from virtually anywhere and only limited by the course load you can carry at any given time, a distance learning graduate can benefit from pursuing a masters in distance or online education.
English majors have more choices in masters programs than they have in the past and are no longer relegated to a career as an English teacher or professor, although you can still go that route, but with more perks.
English Literature degree: things you need to know before you apply
If English Literature and hefty novels fascinate you then a degree in English Literature is perfect for you. During the course of an English Literature degree, the students scrutinize various works and debate on topics which are raised by the authors. You will study various texts from all eras, from Victorian to modern day. This will help in understanding not only why the texts were written that way, but also the socio-economic conditions that prevailed when the texts where written.
What can you expect to study in an English Literature Degree
English literature courses vary from one University to another. In some course, you may even get to choose between pop fiction and Classical Literature. (in classical literature you will read the works of Homer and such). Traditional courses will give more weight on medieval literature and Old English (which might be tough to grasp); while the newer courses focus on more pop fiction such as Alice in Wonderland and children’s fiction.
Literary Genres And Specific Authors
The first few years of your English Literature degree will be pretty vast. You will study various genres from Romanticism (Poets like Keats), Modernism or even Science Fiction (which may include Frankenstein). You will also go through the Victorian era in the first few years where authors like Jane Austen really flourished.
Another type, of course, is the specific author course. Here you will study works of only a few authors which you choose. Their journey as an author, their background and the socio-economic conditions they came from; all this will be a part of your course. Studying English Literature is not just narrating a story, but also discussing ideas, facts, and various topics which shaped one era.
Though for us medieval languages was a part of the entire course, some Universities focus more on medieval languages and students can take up these authors separately. Chaucer’s long paras are a bit hard to understand and translate. You may be given a few parts from his book in the exams and may be asked to describe it. You may also expect to study some Old English and Middle English as well. These require a lot of translation before you can even begin to understand what they are saying.
Which skills are needed for an English Literature Degree
If reading a copious amount of books and diving into big books don’t scare you, but rather interests you then an English Literature Degree is perfect for you! In this course not only will you be reading the books yourself, but the teachers will deep dive into each sentence to tell you the hidden meanings that the author may have thought about.
You will require a great analytical bent of mind to understand the thoughts and discourses of each text. This degree also involves a lot of independent studies, so do expect to burn the midnight oil every other night. You will require reading the texts a couple of times just to understand the narrative only then will you be able to understand the discourses and thoughts behind it. If you love research as well, then this course will be perfect for you.
Universities to study English Literature
Here are some of the universities you can check out that offer English Literature :
- Yale University
- Cambridge University
- Oxford University
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Princeton University
What can you expect being an English Literature Student
After going through each and every chapter and scrutinizing it, you will also talk about the discourses and the topics that were prevalent in that era. You will talk about feminism, modernism and more such topics to understand the depth of each.
Do expect to study a lot of independently to understand the texts better. You will also need to spend a lot of time in the library reading background texts as well. Though these may not be a part of the syllabus directly, you will gain better knowledge and the reference points you give in your exams will help you earn better grades.
In the final year, you may also require doing dissertations, these are a part of the postgraduate study and not the undergraduate. Here you can focus on one specific author and study him/her in depth along with their texts obviously. Here you will be required to engage with literature in a really critical manner and not just tell the plot.
Professions After English Literature Degree
You can try your hands in Journalism, Advertising, PR, editor or event management. If you want to get into journalism or other fields then a postgraduate degree will do you good. This will help you learn the tricks of the trade. Otherwise, in a more traditional way, becoming a teacher or a librarian is a very good option. Contrary to popular belief English graduates are highly employable.
What Can You Do with an English Degree
An English degree will typically focus on the study and analysis of literature, both classical and contemporary, and may also include writing, composition, and public speaking components. If you love the written word, are curious about humanity’s vast potential for literary expression, and you wish to deepen your own understanding of the English language, this is the degree program for you. The English degree is among the most popular and well–established pathways through higher education. Simply, stated, this is a classic among degrees.
English is a popular degree program, but what can you do with an English degree? Naturally, English is a reading–intensive program, but it also includes the study of composition, and a chance to refine your operational, grammatical and organizational skills. Because of the essential role this language has also played in both catalyzing and conveying events throughout human history, the study of English can be your portal to a body of knowledge and understanding that reaches across infinite academic disciplines, from history and anthropology to psychology and education.
Education is one of many popular English degree career options. An English degree can prepare you to enter a classroom and teach the literary classics or instruct in composition. But this degree path can also provide you with the practical skills to become a technical writer, journalist, or public relations specialist. As with the language itself, it’s up to you how you choose to use your English degree.
What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have
Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are evaluated and validated. Colleges and universities that have earned accreditation have met the standards set by accrediting organizations. These organizations are comprised of faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. Legitimate regional and national accrediting organizations are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Typically, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes the same institutions, although CHEA recognition isn’t mandatory. A college or university must be accredited by a Department of Education-recognized accreditor in order for its students to receive federal financial aid.
What is Regional Accreditation?Regional accreditation is the signifier of quality education; this includes the currency of curriculum, credentials of educators, and credibility of degrees. Regional accrediting agencies only accredit institutions in their geographical area.The Six Regional Accrediting Agencies
- Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
To find out if a college or university on your list is regionally accredited, check the Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.What Is National Accreditation?National accreditation is often perceived as a less rigorous standard than regional accreditation and is governed by educational accreditors agencies that are not restricted by region or geography. This means that one such agency can provide accreditation to any college or university in the U.S. that meets its criteria. National accreditation is commonplace among trade schools, religious schools, and for–profit colleges.
Most regionally–accredited colleges do not accept or recognize credits or degrees earned from colleges that lack regional accreditation. However, national accreditation may be a useful indicator of quality for students pursuing vocational training, competency-based education, or other education models that operate under a for-profit model.
What is Programmatic Accreditation?Programmatic accreditation certifies that an institution’s program, department, or college has met the standards of the programmatic accrediting agency. While programmatic accreditation agencies often have national jurisdiction, programmatic accreditation is not institutional national accreditation. In fact, programmatic accreditation often coexists with regional accreditation. In some disciplines, a degree with programmatic accreditation may even be required to earn a license or enter professional practice.
While your career prospects as an English teacher, writer or marketing professional may not demand a program–specific accreditation, there is a Department of Education–recognized English program accrediting group.
The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) ensures that recognized programs are maintaining accepted standards and are pursuing continuous improvement. This stamp of approval may be an indication of your program’s quality, credibility, and reputation. That said, it isn’t mandatory that your program be recognized by the CEA. If your college or university is recognized by a regional accrediting group, you can proceed with peace of mind.
The easiest way to determine accreditation status is to contact your school of choice, or visit the website for any of the above accreditation agencies. Each provides a searchable database of accredited institutions and degree programs. You can also look at the Department of Education’s database of all recognized accreditors within its purview.
What Kinds of English Degrees Are There
Associate Degree in English
An associate degree in English can provide you with an introductory look at the subject, with a focus on literary classics, basic compositional writing, and writing in communication. You may also have a chance to take public speaking, creative writing, and contemporary literary classes. This two–year, 60–degree course of study will teach you how to conduct meaningful literary analysis, understand basic principles of communication, and express yourself through an array of written and spoken outlets. An associate degree can provide a pathway to entry–level work as a copywriter, copy–editor, or proofreader. However, even entry level work can be competitive in the writing field, and many of your fellow applicants will have bachelor’s degrees. Fortunately, your associate degree will give you a head start on the way to a four–year English degree.
What Courses Will I Take in an Associate English Program?
- Advanced Reading
- Expository Writing
- Introduction to Technical Writing
- World Classics
- Contemporary Fiction
- Poetry and Prose
Bachelor of English
The bachelor’s degree in English remains among the most popular and reliable of majors. This is because the subject is inherently multidisciplinary in nature. Your study of literature will naturally be a bridge into subjects like history, philosophy, psychology, ethics, world culture, and religion. You’ll also refine your practical skills through advanced literary analysis, compositional writing, and creative writing. This will also be a chance to refine your focus. Over the course of this 120–credit program — typically completed in a minimum of four years — you’ll have a chance to find a concentration in an area like journalism, public relations, marketing, or education. Bear in mind, if you do choose the education route, you will likely need to continue into a Master’s degree program. Otherwise, a bachelor’s degree in English can be a great path to launching a career as a newspaper or online journalist, an advertising or marketing specialist, an author or an editor. With that said, writing and media jobs tend to be competitive. Your appeal to an employer, as well as your shot at upward mobility, could both be improved by continuing to a master’s degree program.
What Courses Will I Take in an English Bachelor’s Program?
- Advanced Literary Analysis
- Applied Linguistics
- Principles in Journalism
- Editing and the Publishing Industry
- English Composition
- Studies in Rhetoric
- Principles of Communication
Master of English
The master’s degree in English is a popular advanced degree, both because it can improve your appeal to employers in competitive fields like marketing, publishing, and editing, and because the literary and publishing worlds are, to an extent, still connected to the idea of academic prestige. Indeed, this is a popular one– to two–year degree for many who are already working in fields like writing, editing and publishing, and can help advance ambitions toward managing editor status or improve the academic authority you’ll need to publish on certain topics. And if you plan on teaching English at the public school level, your master’s degree is mandatory. You might consider, at this point, pursuing a master’s degree in Education with a concentration in English.
What Courses Will I Take in an English Master’s Program?
- Writing, Rhetoric and Literacy
- Educational Instruction in English
- Intro to English Research Methodologies
- Literature and Cross–cultural Analysis
- Literary Criticism
PhD of English
If you plan to teach English at the university level — whether on literature, composition, journalism, etc. — you will need to earn your Ph.D. This can take anywhere between five and seven years and will require you to complete a dissertation on a research subject of your design. Many Ph.D. candidates will complete their studies while working in the field. In some instances, your program may also carry some on–campus teaching requirements. A Ph.D. in English will qualify you to instruct and publish at the university level as well as conduct scholarly research in your area of concentration.
What Kind of Licensing or Certification Do I Need
If you plan on becoming an English teacher in a public school setting, you must earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as complete a teaching certification program. In many cases, your undergraduate program will include the courses required to earn your teaching certification. If that is not the case — or if you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in an alternate field like English — you can enter a standalone teaching certification program. This will provide you with the coursework and experience needed to earn licensure in your state. (Bear in mind that some states require you to have a Master’s Degree in education before you can enter your certification program. Contact the Department of Education in your state to learn more). Depending on the amount of coursework you’ve completed up to this point, your certification program could take between one and two years to complete.
Once this is complete, you will qualify to sit for the licensing exam in your state. Some states use a national exam like PRAXIS, while others employ their own licensing examination.
Once again, we would advise visiting the Department of Education for your state to find out more.
What Can You Do With an English Degree
You may be asking yourself, “What can I do with an English degree?” Fortunately, your English degree can be the key to an array of challenging and exciting careers in Media and Education. For more detail, check out a few of these top English degree jobs:
- Interpreters and Translators
- Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
- Technical Writers
- Writers and Authors
- Adult Literacy and GED Teachers
- High School Teachers
- Instructional Coordinators
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Library Technicians and Assistants
- Middle School Teachers
- Post–Secondary Education Administrators
- Post-secondary Teachers
What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With an English Degree
Your English degree could open the door to a career in writing, education or an array of media and communication jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides basic salary information, including median annual pay as of 2018, for some of the top English degree jobs:
|English Language/Lit. Teachers||$66,590|
|Interpreters and Translators||$49,930|
|Public Relations Specialists||$60,000|
|Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts||$43,490|
|Writers and Authors||$62,170|
Are There Professional English Associations or Societies I Should Join?
Professional Associations are a fantastic way to make connections in your field, learn about valuable seminars or certifications, and improve your own credentials. The association or associations you choose to join will depend to an extent on the career path you take. Look for English associations that correspond with your academic or professional concentration.