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Tech, Communication Apps, and Grammar


Tech, Communication Apps, and Grammar
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Person-to-person communications have changed a lot over the past few months.

Stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions have limited travel and face-to-face contact. In place of these, many people now use computer software apps, such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.

This technology will be the subject of our Everyday Grammar story today.

Humor and technology

The American television show Saturday Night Live has used video calling in its most recent programs. Often, technology is behind the humor in each short sketch.

Consider this example. A television show broadcasts a “live” interview with a news reporter. The reporter’s teenage daughter is filming him on her mobile phone.

She uses unusual Snapchat filters to film her father. He does not realize what she is doing.

If you are just tuning in, the funny filters on Brian are not us.

Yeah, my daughter said the camera looks fine, so...not sure what is going on, guys.

These lines give you an example of a common grammatical feature of video calls: linking verbs.

What are linking verbs?

Linking verbs are verbs that link an adjective or noun with a subject. Let me explain.

Imagine you are on a video call. One person might say, “The sound is good.”

The verb BE links the adjective good with the subject of the sentence, the sound.

Linking verbs are generally used to describe a state of existence or a change of state.

So, in the example sentence, by saying “The sound is good,” the speaker is describing the quality of the video’s sound. Other kinds of linking verbs show changes of state or condition. We will explore that issue a little later in the program.

Common linking verbs

The good news for you is this: There are not too many linking verbs. English speakers use maybe 20 or 30 of them in everyday speech. Examples include verbs such as seem, appear, or become, as well as verbs of the senses – sound, feel, taste and so on.

The words go and get are often used as linking verbs. As linking verbs, they generally carry a bad or negative meaning. They suggest a change to a negative state, and usually go with adjectives that have a negative meaning.

Imagine you hear someone describe what happened after a failed video call:

“He got angry after something went wrong with the video.”

In the example, the linking verb got connects the adjective angry with the subject, he. Got shows that the person’s emotional state changed.

The sentence also has a second linking verb, went, the past tense of go. It links the word something with the adjective wrong.

Any number of sentences with linking verbs could be used in a video call, or to describe a video call.

Imagine you are talking to a friend who is beginning to suffer from ‘Zoom fatigue’ - a term that means growing tired of using Zoom too much.

Your friend might say, “I have to go now, I’m getting tired.” or “I need to take a break, I’m getting frustrated.”

As I said before – and as the examples show - linking verbs are generally followed by an adjective or a noun. In other words, they do not usually end sentences.

Keep that point in mind if you try writing sentences with linking verbs!

Closing thoughts

The next time that you do a video call, try to think of linking verbs that might be useful to describe the state – or change of state – in each call. Over time, you will begin to use common linking verbs and adjectives with ease.

We end the report today with a short quiz. At the beginning of the story, we played the following exchange:

If you are just tuning in, the funny filters on Brian are not us.

Yeah, my daughter said the camera looks fine, so...not sure what is going on, guys.

Can you identify the linking verb? What are the important clues for telling you where the linking verb is? Write to us in the Comments Section of our website, learningenglish.voanews.com.

And that’s Everyday Grammar.

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

application – n. a computer program that performs a particular task (such as word processing)

sketch -- n. a short, funny performance

interview -- n. a meeting between a reporter and another person in order to get information for a news story​

mobile -- adj. able to be moved​

filter – n. a device that prevents some kinds of light, sound, electronic noises, etc., from passing through; OR an app that adds some kind of light, sound, electronic noise, etc.

feature – n. an interesting or important part, quality, ability, etc.

frustrated – adj. discouraged or upset because of being unable to do or complete something

quiz -- n. a short spoken or written test that is often taken without preparation

clue -- n. something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery or puzzle


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