Sunday, 25 July 2010

Quick questions

Question: At school my English teacher told me that we always use the Present Continuous for actions happening at the time of speaking. What does this mean? What is “the time of speaking”?

Answer:  The time of speaking means when you say the sentence. For example, if you are driving to Rome and someone phones you (and you reply using your hands-free phone, of course) you would say: "I’m driving to Rome" because you are actually (really) doing the action when you say it (i.e. (that is) at the moment of speaking).

If you are sitting at home and someone asks you how you normally get to work, you would say “I drive” (using the Present Simple) because you are not driving at the moment you say the sentence.
So, if you are doing the action when you speak, you use the Present Continuous. But if you are not doing the action at the moment of speaking, use the Present Simple.

Question: When do we use “a” and when do when we use “an”?
Answer: Use the indefinite article “a” or “an” when you are talking about something (a noun) in general – not a particular, defined noun. Use “a” before a consonant sound, e.g. (for example) a book, a camera. Use “an” before a vowel sound, an apple, an umbrella. But be careful! Some words which begin with a vowel don’t have a vowel sound, e.g. a university.

Who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer – and what does he (or she) do?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (usually referred to more simply as the Chancellor) is really just the British Finance Minister. The finance department is known in Britain as the Treasury. The current Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Conservative politician George Osborne, a minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat (Lib-Con) coalition government. 

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