Near the end of The Remains of the Day, a famous book by Kazuo Ishiguro, one of the characters says the following words:
“The evening's* the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
In today’s Everyday Grammar, we will explore the connection between grammar and evening time. You will learn about how to describe your favorite part of the day and common evening activities.
Let’s start with a few important terms and ideas.
Comparatives and superlatives
Adjectives describe people or things. Think of words like old or big. You might describe someone as an old friend. You might describe a structure as a big building.
But when English speakers use adjectives to compare people or things, something happens. These adjectives take on a comparative form and are often followed by the word than.
So, old becomes older, big becomes bigger.
Here is an example:
Bob is older than Jim.
English has adjectives that are irregular in the comparative form. Good is one of these adjectives. In comparisons, good becomes better, as in:
Bob is better than Jim.
Sometimes you might want to compare many things. One of those things is at the top. You could use a form known as the superlative. Superlatives often have an –est ending, as in oldest or biggest.
Once again, English has adjectives that are irregular in the superlative form. One of these adjectives, good, becomes best.
That is how we arrive at a statement such as:
The evening's the best part of the day.
This statement is comparing a group of things – times of the day. These times might include morning, afternoon, evening and night.
English speakers use certain verbs and verb forms to describe common evening activities.
Common examples include: watch, listen to, play, or talk to.
For example, people might watch television in the evening.
Or they might listen to music or listen to the radio.
They might play sports – football, basketball, tennis, or cricket.
They might even talk to friends or talk to family.
English speakers also use expressions – phrasal verbs and different kinds of idioms - to describe evening activities.
For example, people might run errands after work, or run errands after school.
An errand is a short trip you take to get something or do something. But it generally does not involve running. You could run errands in a car, by bus or by bike.
And when you run errands, you might pick up things or people.
In this case, the phrasal verb pick up means to go out in order to bring back someone or something.
You could pick up food or pick up your brother from school, for example.
In today’s report, we explored some ideas about comparisons and common evening activities.
Take what you have learned and ask yourself some questions.
What is your favorite part of the day? Do you agree that evening is the best time of the day? What common activities do you like to do in the evening?
Write in the comments section of our website, learningenglish.voanews.com
I’m John Russell.
John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.
*This is short for evening is.
Words in This Story
character – n. a person who appears in a story, book, play, movie, or television show
evening – n. the last part of the day, usually between 6pm and bedtime
certain – adj. used to refer to something or someone that is not named specifically