Grammar For You


An Approach to ICSE English provides a platform to contribute, discuss and comment on the various issues related to the study and practice of English for the students and teachers of ICSE syllabus. Even with its focussed nature, An Approach to ICSE English will be beneficial to everyone involved in the learning of the niceties of the English language.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Grammar Bytes: The ampersand (&)

The ampersand (&)

The ampersand (&) is a symbol for and
File:Et sign.svg
We should not use the ampersand (&) in formal writings.  

We can use the ampersand when the rest of the name is also an abbreviation (P&T) and in common expressions (R&D).

Note that there are no spaces on either side of the ampersand in such instances.
Often, we use an ampersand for names of companies, such as  Menon @ Menon and Mills & Boons.
Most of the students nowadays use the ampersand in forma writings very often and haphazardly:
Richard & Mary came yesterday. 
The cart was loaded & sent away.
This is a 'spill over' influence from 'Texting' and should be avoided.
We should always spell out the word and in these cases.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

ICSE 2019: Model Paper English 1 English Language

(Two hours)
Answers to this Paper must be written on the paper provided separately.
You will not be allowed to write during the first 15 minutes.
This time is to be spent in reading the question paper.
The time given at the head of this Paper is the time allowed for writing the answers.
Attempt all five questions.
The intended marks for questions or parts of questions are given in brackets [].
You are advised to spend not more than 30 minutes in answering Question 1
and 20 minutes in answering Question 2.

Question 1
(Do not spend more than 30 minutes on this question.)
Write a composition (300 – 350 words) on any one of the following:                [20]

(a)   Write an original story entitled ‘The Mansion of Mystery’.
(b)   “Success depends not on luck but on hard work”. Express your views either for or against this statement.
(c)   Narrate an incident from your own experience when you took care of your younger siblings in the absence of your parents. Explain what you did and what you gained from the experience.
(d)   You have lived in your home village for many years and are very much attached to it. Nevertheless, because of some unforeseen circumstances, you are going to sell your house in the village and move to the city. Narrate the circumstances that made you take this tough decision and describe your feelings about leaving your native village.
(e)   Study the picture given below. Write a story or a description or an account of what it suggests to you. Your composition may be about the subject of the picture or you may take suggestions from it; however, there must be a clear connection between the picture and your composition.

Question 2
(Do not spend more than 20 minutes on this question.)                                                              [10]
Select any one of the following:
(a)   Your uncle had promised to give you a present of your choice if you achieved the first rank in the Half -Yearly Examinations. Write a letter to your uncle informing him that you have got the first rank, and tell him what you would like to have as present and give reasons for your choice.
(b)  Write a letter to the Chief Medical Officer of your area pointing out the deplorable condition of the PHC (The Primary Health Centre) in your village and requesting him/her to take necessary action to renovate the Centre and provide it with enough medical equipment and other essential amenities.
(c)   Question 3                                                                                                                          [5+5]
(a)   You are the Secretary of the Literary Association of your school. Draft a notice for the school Notice Board, inviting students of Classes VIII to X to give their names for the Poetry Recitation competition to be held on Children`s Day in your school. pointing out
(b)  Write an email to two teachers of English of a neighbouring school, requesting them to be judges at the Poetry Recitation competition mentioned in  the above notice.
Question 4
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow:

The Peckham murder case hit the headlines of the newspaper as Mrs Parker, an old woman living in a villa in Northwood Street, was found dead in her house. She had been brutally battered to death with a hammer.
Mr. Adams, the murderer, was a heavy, stout man with bulging, bloodshot eyes. He stood no chance of acquittal as there were four witnesses to testify against him.
Mrs.Salmon, the first eyewitness, had seen Adams come out of Mrs Parker`s house with a hammer in his hand and drop it into the bushes. When he looked up at her window, she saw his face in the light of the street lamp. She could never forget his facial features.
Henry Macdougall, another eyewitness, who had been driving home, had nearly run down Adams who was walking in the middle of the road, looking dazed.  Mr.Wheeler who lived next door to Mrs.Parker had also seen through the window Adam`s bulging eyes. In Laurel Avenue, he had been seen by yet another witness.
When the Counsel for the Crown outlined the case in court, everybody believed that the man in the dock would get the death penalty.
After the formal evidence had been given by the policeman who had found the body and the surgeon who examined it, Mrs.Salmon was called by the Counsel for the Crown. She spoke very firmly. There was no malice in her. She said that she had seen him and rung up the police station.
After the Crown Counsel, Counsel for the defence rose to cross-examine.
“Now, Mrs.Salmon, you must remember that a man`s life may depend on your evidence.”
“I do remember it, sir.”
“Is your eyesight good?”
“I have never had to wear spectacles, sir.”
“You are a woman of fifty-five?”
“Fifty-six, sir.”
“And the man you saw was on another side of the road?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And it was two o`clock in the morning? You must have remarkable eyes, Mrs.Salmon!”
“No, sir. There was moonlight, and when the man looked up, he had the lamplight on his face.”
“And you have no doubt whatsoever that the man you saw is the prisoner?”
“None whatever, sir. It isn`t a face one forgets.”
Counsel took a look round the court for a moment. Then he said, “Do you mind, Mrs.Salmon, re-examining the people in court? No, not the prisoner. Stand up, please, Mr.Adams.”
There at the back of the court, with a thick, stout body and muscular legs and a pair of bulging eyes, was the exact image of the man in the dock. He was even dressed the same – tight, blue suit and stripped tie.

Grammar Bytes: Was or Were

Was or Were

Consider these sentences:
1.     If he was stronger, Richard could win the race.
2.     If I were a rich man, I would donate some money to the poor.
These sentences use the verb were because they state things that are not true but wish to be true.  These sentences state possibilities if things were other than what they really are or, in other words, they express wishful thinking.
These possibilities can be easily recognised since they are almost always introduced by an if and are linked to another clause containing a would or could.
The phrase "I were" is called the Subjunctive Mood, and is used when you're are talking about something that isn't true or when you wish something was true.
A helpful pointer that we should use the Subjunctive Mood is when the word wish is used.
A wish is the desire or hope for something that cannot or possibly will not occur.
  1. I wish I could find a better job.
  2. I wish I were running for the presidency.
  3. If I were you, I would consult a doctor.
Always use were to express wishful or imagined or hypothetical conditions.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Grammar Bytes: Such as

Such as
Usually, such as is used to present an example or examples of something we have referred to. When we introduce a list of examples, we use a comma before such as. However, if we present only one example, the coma is not used before such as.
1.     Junk foods, such as Pizza and Burger, are not good for health.
2.     We are planning to visit a historic monument such as Charminar this summer.
We can use like instead of such as to present examples; but in formal contexts such as is always preferred.
Ú Nota bene
1.     Do not use only as to present examples:
People like tearjerker dramas, such as The Lady with the Broom and The Weeping Widow.
Not: as The Lady with the Broom and The Weeping Widow
2.     Do not use such as to compare things:
The school children wore Khaki coloured uniforms like the military uniforms.
Not:  such as the military uniforms.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Grammar Bytes: Prepositions:

¢ Annoyed
1.     He was extremely annoyed about the damage to his car.
2.     He was annoyed at me for coming late.
3.     The passengers were annoyed by the baby’s continual coughing.
4.     Rama annoys everyone in temple by praying loudly.
5.     The boy was annoying the teacher with his continuous questions.
6.     My father was annoyed with me for failing in Geography.

¢ upset
1.     The children were feeling upset by the disturbing situation.
2.     Do not get upset about it.
3.     Do not let the situation upset you.
4.     John was too upset to speak to her.
5.     My mother was upset that I didn't call.
6.     Juliet was so upset with Romeo, she didn't talk to him for a month.

Grammar Bytes : which / that

which / that
 Many get confused in the right use of which and that. We find that changing which to that can totally change the meaning of a sentence.
Consider the following examples.
1.     My car, which is red, goes very fast.
2.     My car that is red goes very fast.
The first sentence tells us that I have just one car, and it is red. The clause which is red provides extra information, but it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.
The second sentence indicates that I have more than one car, and among my cars the red-coloured car goes very fast.
The phrase that is red is called a Restrictive Clause because another part of the sentence (My car) depends on it. We cannot remove that clause without changing the meaning of the sentence.
The first sentence using which just informs that my car is red. We can remove the clause which is red without missing any important information. The phrase which is red is called a Non- Restrictive Clause.
My car, which is red, goes very fast.
My car goes very fast.

Grammar Bytes : Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb Agreement

A Verb must agree with its Subject in Person and Number. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular; if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
For example:
 He enjoys swimming.                                    They enjoy swimming.
 The girl sings.                                                 The girls sing.
 The cat sleeps .                                               The cats sleep.
Note: A singular noun denotes one person, place or thing.
If you are not sure what the subject is or whether the subject is singular or plural, ask yourself, “Who or what is doing the action the verb expresses?” or “Who or what is being described?”
William plays badminton.
The news of their engagement surprised everyone.
The boy is being reprimanded.
The scooter is being repaired.
In the first example,
William plays badminton. the answer to “Who plays badminton?” is the subject of the sentence.  - William
In the second example, the answer to “What surprised everyone? is the subject of the sentence. - news
In the third example, “Who is being reprimanded?” - boy
In the fourth example, “What is being repaired?” - scooter
Study the following examples.
The quality of these mangoes is not good.
(What is not good? The ‘quality’ is not good. From this we understand that the real subject of the sentence is ‘quality’)
The owner of these houses lives in Hyderabad.
(Who lives in Hyderabad? The ‘owner’ lives in Hyderabad. Hence, the ‘owner’ is the real subject.)
 v Here are some rules on the Agreement of the Verb with the Subject.
1.     Two or more singular nouns or pronouns joined by and are usually followed by a plural verb:
Jack and David are friends.
Tobacco and alcohol are injurious to health.
Catherine and Juliana have visited the Taj Mahal.
2.     If the two nouns joined by and express the same idea, the verb will be singular.
 Slow and steady wins the race.
Bread and butter is a wholesome food.
3.     When two nouns joined by and refer to the same person, the singular verb is used.
My friend and manager wants to meet me.
The secretary and treasurer is out of station.
My uncle and guardian has gifted me a costly pen.
Note: If the two nouns refer to two different persons, the Articles or Possessive Adjectives should be repeated and the verb should be used in the plural.
My friend and my manager want to meet me.
The secretary and the treasurer are out of station.
My uncle and the guardian have gifted me costly pens.
4.     When two nouns are qualified by each or every, although they connected by and, they require the singular verb.
Each boy and each girl has to appear for this test.
Every man and every woman is to strive for the progress of the country.
5.     When a singular noun or pronoun is connected to another noun or pronoun by with,together with, as well as, the verb should agree with the subject used before with, together with, as well as. In other words, the verb to be supplied should be based on the noun or pronoun (subject) used before with, together with, as well as.
The ship, with its crew was, saved.
The smuggler, together with his accomplices, was arrested.
Money, as well as men, is required for an organisation to be strong.
The workmen, as well as the supervisor, have been dismissed.
Note: When two nouns are connected by as well as, the verb should agree in person and number with the first noun, that is the noun used before as well as.
6.     Singular subjects connected by or, neither.... nor, either.... or, are followed by a singular verb.
No prize or medal was given to the boy though he stood first in the examination.
Neither George nor Tom was present at the meeting.
Either Thomson or Jim has broken the windowpane.
7.     When the subjects connected by or or nor are of different numbers, the plural subject should be written last and it should be followed by a plural verb.
Neither Jose nor his brothers are reliable.
Either Antony or his colleagues have to deal with this problem.
8.     The subjects joined by or or nor are of different persons, the verb should agree in person with the subject nearest to it. (The subjects should be arranged in the proper order – the person spoken to, first; the person spoken of, second; and the speaker, last.)
Neither he nor I am responsible for this.
Neither she nor you are to blame.
Either you or he is mistaken.
Either you or Martin has to lead the team.
However, it is better to avoid such constructions. It is better to write:
He is not to blame, nor are you.
He is mistaken or else I am.
9.     The following words should be followed by a singular verb.
Each, every, either, neither, everyone, anyone, no one, nobody, someone, somebody, everybody, many a
Each of the candidates was interviewed by the Principal.
Every student was present at the meeting.
Either of the candidates has to be appointed.
Neither of the boys is capable of doing this.
Everyone knows what actually happened.
Does anyone else want to come?
No one/ nobody was at home.
Someone/ somebody has picked my pocket.
Everybody has arrived.
Many a student has applied for the scholarship.
10.  When the subject is one of + plural noun, the verb should be singular.
One of the employees has complained against the Manager.
One of my teachers lives in a bungalow.
11.  When a plural number applies to distances, weights, heights or amounts of money, and represents a single figure or quantity, it is treated as a singular and takes a singular verb.
Ten miles is a long distance to cover in an hour.
Two bags of rice costs D 500/--.
 Fifty rupees is not a big sum.
12.  A number of + plural noun is followed by a plural verb.
A number of students are absent.
The number of + plural noun is followed by a singular verb.
The number of students has applied for the scholarship.
13.  The title of a literary work, or the name of a house or a hotel, is a plural. But, for purposes of agreement, it is treated as a singular, since it is one title or one building.
‘Gulliver`s Travels’ was written by Jonathan Swift.
The Rose and Crown is situated in the High Street.
14.    When the subject is the formal there, the verb agrees with the real subject that follows it.
There are forty pupils in our class.
There is a grammatical mistake in the essay you have written.
There are many rooms in his large house.
15.  A collective noun is followed by a singular verb when the group is thought of as a single unit. But when the individual members of the group are thought of, the plural verb is used.
A committee was formed to raise funds for the project.
The committee were divided on the question of increased D.A. for the employees.
The crew of the ship was a mixed group of different nationalities.
The crew of the ship were arrested for drug-related offences.
16.  Names of certain ailments and of certain sciences or branches of knowledge which end in –s are singular, and hence they take a singular verb.
Measles, mumps, shingles, mathematics, physics, economics, ethics
Mumps is a serious illness for grown-up people.
Physics is my favourite subject.