A few weeks ago, we asked our readers and listeners to write about having guests over. Many of you wrote us using the words you learned. One reader, Gerardo, wrote to us about his cousin Peter coming for a visit.
In this week's Everyday Grammar, we continue reviewing Gerado’s message and give additional suggestions about grammar.
Gerardo’s message about his guest
On Saturday, we spent time catching up talking about those beautiful days we played games and eating in the countryside when we were very young. We had dinner together and then he left.
Review of Gerardo’s message
Let’s start by making these last sentences into their own paragraph. Line seven now becomes line one of the new paragraph.
On Saturday, we spent time catching up talking about those beautiful days we played games and eating in the countryside when we were very young.
Gerardo starts this sentence off strongly with a transition. He uses the preposition “on” and the day of the week “Saturday” to tell us exactly when he met his cousin. Earlier, he said that he had invited his cousin over for the weekend.
Moving from general to specific information helps readers understand the order of events. Gerardo uses a comma after the transition! Great job, Gerardo!
We have a few suggestions for this sentence. There should be a conjunction between the gerunds “catching up” and “talking.” We can use the conjunction “and.”
The sentence is also very long. We can break it up into two sentences. Think about moving from general to specific information as you write. The phrase “when we were very young” is a more general phrase that describes the time Gerardo and his cousin were discussing. We can add that information to the end of the new first sentence.
On Saturday, we spent time catching up and talking about those beautiful days when we were very young.
That leaves this part of the sentence:
…we played games and eating in the countryside…
From this, we can create a new sentence:
We would play games and eat in the countryside.
We suggest changing the verbs here. In the new sentence, we added the modal verb “would.” It is the past tense form of “will.”
We use “would” to show repeated actions in the past. We often use it when telling stories. It is used more in writing than casual speaking.
After the modal verbs, we use the base form of the other verbs. So, “play” and “eating” change to their base forms. This shows attention to the details of writing in the form of something called parallelism. Parallelism is the method of using similar forms to organize and structure a sentence, so it is easy to understand.
Let’s look at the final sentence.
We had dinner together and then he left.
We suggest just two more changes. We can add a transitional phrase to the first part of the sentence. This will separate the time Gerardo and his cousin were remembering and the rest of their evening together.
Since they were “catching up,” we can use the past tense of this phrasal verb and the preposition “after” for the transitional phrase.
Lastly, we should add a comma between “together” the rest of the sentence.
After we caught up, we had dinner together, and then he left.
Today, we reviewed the rest of Gerardo’s message about his cousin’s visit. We broke apart a long sentence into two. We added a conjunction, a comma, and transitions. We learned how to structure our writing better with parallelism in verbs. We even learned about “would.”
Thank you, Gerardo, for sending your writing to us.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
And I’m Dorothy Gundy.
Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
cousin – n. a child of a person's uncle or aunt
grammar – n. the whole system and structure of a language
paragraph – n. a part of a piece of writing that usually that begins on a new line and often is made up of a few sentences
conjunction – n. (grammar) a word that joins together sentences, clauses, phrases, or words
gerund – n. (grammar). the -ing form of a verb that acts like a noun
phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence
modal verbs – n. (grammar) verbs that are used to express possibility, ability, or necessity.
tense – n. a form of a verb that is used to show when an action happened
phrasal verb – n. grammar: a group of words that functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and a preposition, an adverb, or both
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