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Writing about Your Life


In today's report, we give writing feedback to one of our readers. You will learn about subject-verb agreement, vocabulary, verb forms, and more.
Writing about Your Life
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Imagine you want to describe your life. You might begin with where and when you were born.

In last week’s report, Describing Your Life, we showed you how one of the most famous books of 20th century literature, Midnight’s Children, described the beginning of a life.

In this week’s Everyday Grammar, we use a story from one of our readers, Luna, to teach you about subject-verb agreement, vocabulary, verb forms, and more.

Luna’s message

Here is the story that we received from Luna:

My name is Luna

I was born in Seoul in South Korea.

I have heard that my parent was very delighted for getting their first child.

3 years later, my father had left home to make money

Mother, my younger sister and me always have being missed and waited for him to return home.

but it was last time since he had left home

Feedback

Luna wrote an excellent story. It was very moving.

Her first sentences are clear and direct:

My name is Luna.

I was born in Seoul in South Korea.

The next sentence needs a small change in subject-verb agreement:

I have heard that my parent was very delighted for getting their first child.

Luna wrote “my parent was very delighted,” but we generally use the plural form “parents” and corresponding BE verb agreement - “were.” In other words: “my parents were very delighted...”

In general, we use the structure “to have” when talking about children. So, we can update the sentence to say the following:

I have heard that my parents were very delighted to have their first child.

Luna’s next sentence says this:

3 years later, my father had left home to make money

We recommend changing “3 years later” to “3 years after my birth” as well as changing the verb form to the simple past- “my father left home to make money.” “Had left” would still be understood, but we usually use this verb form to describe an action that is completed before another action, as in “He had left by the time I arrived.”*

So, this could be the updated sentence:

3 years after my birth, my father left home to make money.

Pronouns

In the story’s next sentence, we recommend changing some of the pronouns.

Mother, my younger sister and me always have being missed and waited for him to return home.

We recommend replacing the pronoun “me” with “I.” In general, we use the object pronoun after the verb “miss,” as in “missed him,” or “missed her.”

We could change the sentence to the following:

Mother, my younger sister and I always missed him and waited for him to return home.

This was the final line:

but it was last time since he had left home

We recommend including a determiner before “last time,” as in “but it was the last time.”

We can simplify the rest of the line a bit further. The word “since” is not necessary, and the simple past works well in this situation.

The line could say:

But it was the last time he left home.

Here is the complete story with the changes that we recommend:

My name is Luna

I was born in Seoul in South Korea.

I have heard that my parents were very delighted to have their first child.

3 years after my birth, my father left home to make money.

Mother, my younger sister and I always missed him and waited for him to return home.

But it was the last time he left home.

Thank you for sharing your story, Luna. We wish you continued success in your English studies.

For all of our other readers and listeners, we hope that you have learned something from the suggestions we gave.

I’m John Russell.

And I’m Faith Pirlo.

*Please note that there are some differences in British and American usage of this verb form.

_______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

delighted – adj. highly pleased

determiner – n. a word (such as an article, possessive, demonstrative, or quantifier) that makes specific the denotation of a noun phrase

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