• Hello again! In my previous post i wrote about an overview of a recount text. As promised, in this post I will tell you about the structure and language features of a recount text. If you understand this pattern, it will be easy for you to understand and analyze the text.

    The structure of a recount consists of:

    • Orientation or Opening: Information about who, where and when
    • Series of events in the order that they occurred

    Sometimes a recount can also be literary. You may pay attention to:

    • Personal comments and/or evaluation remarks (interspersed throughout the record)
    • A reorientation, which ‘rounds off’ the sequence of events

    A recount text usually uses the following language features:

    • descriptive language
    • past tense
    • time words to connect events
    • words which tell us where, when, with, who, how

    The following checklist may be useful when you read and finally decide whether a text is a recount:

    1. Does it have an introduction giving a rough idea of what it is about? (The W’s)
    2. Is it in time order? (In the order in which things happened)
    3. Are there suitable time connectives such as next, after, finally?
    4. Does it have an ending that brings the writing a clear end?
    5. Is it in the past tense?
    6. Is it written mostly using ‘I’ or ‘we’? (if a personal recount)
    7. Have adjectives and adverbs been used effectively?
    8. Has it been written with an idea of who it was written for?

  • tips 04.03.2012 1 Comment

    Happy National Grammar Day! Well, yes. The National Grammar Day is celebrated on March 4, today. I’m trying to write something motivational, and I hope it works :D.

    I often find students and friends who are frustrated when learning grammar. Sometimes English grammar is difficult and discouraging, and you just hate to deal with it.

    I’m not much of a prescriptivist (I use slang too sometimes), and not that because I teach grammar, but I consider grammar important. Why?

    If you study a language, you will also learn its grammatical rules. Let’s say you take a major in English in the university I am working for right now, you will have to take grammar classes for 4 semesters whether you like it or not. As a consequence, you’ll have to answer questions in the grammar exam. You will have to answer questions about dependent clauses, causative, or identify errors in poorly written sentences. If you have an ear of music, you might recognize if a song is by Justin Bieber or Green Day. If you have an ear for a good grammar, you will recognize when something doesn’t sound right.

    Good grammar also helps you get good grades and good jobs. No matter how great your thoughts are, if they are written with grammatical errors, you won’t get good grades. No matter how wonderful person you are, if you have to do a job interview and say “I done good at school and I’ma do good on the job ya gimme, Sir”  to the boss, I don’t think you can get the job, especially if you apply for a language teacher.

    Grammar is the basic rule of forming words into phrases, phrases into sentences, etc. You can study and recognize the pattern. If you understand the pattern, you will know how to arrange words and your sentence will be good, meaningful, thus easy to understand. If it’s not good, people will not understand what you say or write, or at least the meaning is not accurate. If you use your words correctly, you will avoid misunderstandings.

    “I hate grammar, and i think it is okay to throw away my grammar as long as people understand what i say.” That is true somehow, and that is not your fault. Grammar is indeed boring sometimes and often you hear English is spoken in a very different way. Even you see many advertising slogans or songs contain ungrammatical sentences. It is okay though, sometimes violating grammatical rules sounds better when you write slogans or songs. (But hey, are you a famous rock star yet? Haha). Your grammar teacher will help you learn the difference between good and bad grammar to make you do well on exam, because in such situation, bad grammar is not okay (you don’t want to fail on it and repeat the class next semester, right?)

    What about grammar and spell checker on my computer? Well, they are machines. Trust me they don’t always work. Our brain is the most powerful machine in the world.

    So, have fun learning grammar! If you want to check out my previous post on how to make grammar easy, you can click this :D

    (Credit to Liz Buffa and her book Grammar Smart Junior)

  • tips 05.11.2011 2 Comments

    If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse living in another city, you are probably familiar with long distance relationship. You may even cringe just thinking about it. However it is indispensable in English grammar. Look at these sentences:

    The girl looks cute.

    The girls look cute.

    The verb has an “s” whenever the subject is third person singular. For three person plural subject, you don’t put the “s”. Now look the following sentence.

    The girl we met at the party next door looks cute.

    The girls we met at the party next door look cute.

    The verb look must agree with the subject, girl or girls, and that agreement takes place over a long distance. The subject and the verb are separated by a pretty long clause, we met at the party next door. There is no limit to how many words may intervene, as in the following sentence:

    The girls we met at the party next door that lasted until three AM and was finally broken up by the cops who were called by the neighbors look cute.

    You see that there is a very very long boundary between the subject and the verb, but they still in agreement. Just like you are still attached to your partner/spouse though he/she is far away.

    The same thing also goes with subject and pronoun agreement. Look at the example below:

    The new oak tree, along with three bags of planting mix and a box of fertilizer, was delivered to my house this morning.

    You see that the subject is separated by the modifying phrase beginning with along with and plural noun. Again, the verb must agree with the singular subject.

    Isn’t that romantic?


    An Introduction to Language, Fromkin & Rodman, 1998.


  • tips 22.08.2011 2 Comments

    Punctuation is the name of marks we use on writing. These marks help us understand sentences. They also help us determine the intonation and pauses when we read aloud. Okay maybe that sounds kindof technical. What’s the point of punctuation then? See these two sentences:

    Annie, my mother is the best teacher.

    Annie, my mother, is the best teacher.

    Can  you see the difference? In the first sentence, I am telling someone named Annie about my mother, while in the second sentence, I am telling someone about my mother, whose name is Annie. Now you see that the punctuation, in this case a comma, changes the meaning of the sentence completely.

    I found a funny example of punctuation here:

    Now take a look at these sentences:

    Let’s eat grandma!

    Let’s eat, grandma!

    I guess you’ve come to understand what the comma means.

    Yep, punctuation is powerful. It even saves a life, haha!


    Grammar Smart Junior (Liz Buffa)



  • tips 11.04.2011 2 Comments

    A relative clause, also called adjective clause, is a dependent clause that modifies a noun. It describes, identifies, or gives further information about a noun. If you combine sentences with a relative clause, your writing becomes more fluent and you can avoid repeating certain words.

    Relative clause uses relative pronouns, such as:

    relative pronoun




    subject or object pronoun for people

    I told you about the woman who lives next door.


    subject or object pronoun for animals and things

    Do you see the cat which is lying on the roof?


    referring to a whole sentence

    He couldn’t read which surprised me.


    possession for people animals and things

    Do you know the boy whose mother is a nurse?


    object pronoun for people, especially in non-defining relative clauses (in defining relative clauses we colloquially prefer who)

    I was invited by the professor whom I met at the conference.


    subject or object pronoun for people, animals and things in defining relative clauses (who or which are also possible)

    I don’t like the table that stands in the kitchen.

    You can form a sentence containing relative clause by combining two sentences. See the examples below:

    This is short i know, hope it helps anyways :D.

    Source: http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/relative-clauses

  • tips 24.09.2010 3 Comments

    Sometimes we use two or more adjectives together. For example:

    He is a tall young man.

    Young is a fact adjective. Fact adjectives give us objective information about something, such as age, size, color, etc. Tall is an opinion adjective. Opinion adjectives tell us what someone thinks about something.

    Opinion adjectives usually go before fact adjectives.
















    large round wooden


    Sometimes there are two or more fact adjectives. Very often (but not always) we put adjectives in this order:

    How big? –> how old? –> what color? –> where from? –> what is it made of? ——– Noun


    A tall young man (1 –> 2)

    Big blue eyes (1 –> 3)

    An old white cotton shirt (2 –> 3 –> 5)

    *source: English Grammar in Use (Raymond Murphy)

  • tips 10.03.2010 2 Comments

    • Present perfect tense

    We use the present perfect tense for the following:

    ü An unspecified time in the past

    –> I have seen that movie.

    ü An action that started in the past and continuous to the present

    –> She has been married for ten years.

    ü A repeated past action which may occur again

    –> I have been absent twice so far.

    Note the contrast with simple past tense:

    I have seen that movie –> you have seen it, that’s all, and you don’t mention specific time

    I saw that movie yesterday –> you mention specific time in the past

    • Present perfect continuous tense

    ü To emphasize the action, we use the continuous form.

    –> We’ve been working really hard for a couple of months.

    ü When an action is finished and you can see the results, use the continuous form.

    –> You’re red in the face. Have you been running?

    • Past perfect tense

    The past perfect tense is used with an event that occurred before another event in the past.

    –> By the time I got to the airport, the plane had already taken off.

    • Past perfect continuous tense

    The past perfect continuous tense is used with an event of duration that occurred before another event in the past (to look back at a situation in progress).

    –> He had been working there for three years when the accident happened.


    Sarah (climb) ………………………………………. the Matterhorn, (sail) ………………………………………………………… around the world, and (go) ………………………………………. on safari in Kenya. She is such an adventurous person.

    What words do you have to put in the blanks?

    Sarah has climbed the Matterhorn, has sailed around the world, and has gone on safari in Kenya. She is such an adventurous person.

    You use the present perfect tense to describe Sarah’s experience. It happened in the past and may occur again. You can also see the last sentence which uses the simple present tense, so you can decide to use the present perfect tense to fill in the blanks.

    Now see the contrast in this sentence:

    Sarah (climb) ………………………………………. the Matterhorn, (sail) ………………………………………………….. around the world and (go) ………………………………………. on safari in Kenya by the time she turned twenty-five. She (experience) ………………………………………. more by that age than most people do in their entire lives.

    Sarah had climbed the Matterhorn, had sailed around the world and had gone on safari in Kenya by the time she turned (–> past tense) twenty-five. She had experienced more by that age (–> 25 years old) than most people do in their entire lives.

    Series of events/actions:

    Climb the Matterhorn, sail around the world, go on safari in Kenya (past perfect) –> turn 25 (past tense)

  • tips 26.09.2009 10 Comments

    Sometimes you have to memorize things when learning English grammar. Using mnemonics, it will be easier for you to memorize words. I found some mnemonics from my friend’s thesis. I think he wouldn’t be mad if i post them here for you so you can use it to help you learn English. (Note that some of the acronyms are in Indonesian or Javanese, but if you are not a speaker of Indonesian, you can try still, or create your own :P).

    Verbs followed by gerund

    BeLiDisCon (Begin, Like, Dislike, Continue)

    Forest (Forget, Remember, Stop)

    AdA (Admit, Avoid)

    PaSuKAn (Postpone, Suggest, Keep, Anticipate)

    PRiA (Practice, Risk, Against)

    Verbs followed by infinitive

    PrAWaNe BegO (Promise, Ask, Want, Need, Beg, Order) <– not a good one, heheh

    ADHEM PAk (Arrange, Decide, Hope, Encourage, Mean, Plan and Ask)

    Verbs of Perception

    He, NOfi LeWat CaFe SeKS Lo (Hear, Notice, Observe, Find, Leave, Watch, Catch, Feel, See, Keep, Smell, Look at)

    The last one was created by my teacher back then in highschool. Also not a good one I guess, haha.

    Hope it helps :D

  • tips 24.06.2009 1 Comment

    There are some words in English that sometimes make us confused because they have similarities in pronunciation and spelling. Mistakes in writing those words can be a serious problem in your grammar exam ;). I will try to list some of them along with the examples here.

    accept (v), except (prep.)
    They accepted my invitation.
    Everyone except me attended the party.

    affect (v), effect (n,v)
    The verb affect means to influence; the verb effect means to cause to happen, and the noun effect means the result.

    Pollution affects everyone.
    Arbitrators have effected a settlement of the dispute.
    The effect of the drug is well known.

    cloth (n), clothes (n), clothe (v)
    the noun cloth means artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers; the noun clothes means clothing in general, or apparel; the verb clothe means to provide with clothes, or to cover as if with clothing

    Woven cloth originated in Mesopotamia around 5000 BC.
    The man was wearing old, dirty clothes.
    The mountain was clothed in tropical trees.

    compared to, compared with
    Compared to is used to point out similarities, compared with is used to indicate differences.

    He compared the crowd with the larger crowds of previous year.
    He compared the crowd to a swarm of angry bees.

    complement, compliment (n)
    A complement is something that completes something else; a compliment is a statement of an approval or congratulations.

    A subject complement follows the verb “to be”.
    She got many compliments on her new dress.

    costume, custom, customs (n)
    Costume refers to clothing; custom refers to a traditional practice or habit; customs means the agency for collecting duties imposed by a country on imports or exports.

    She wore a beautiful costume to the party.
    Customs differ from country to country.
    You must pass through customs when you enter a country.

    desert (n, v), dessert (n)
    The noun desert means arid land with little or no vegetation; the verb desert means to leave behind, to abandon; and the noun dessert refers to a dish served as the last course of a meal.

    It is very hot and dry in the desert.
    The camp was deserted.
    My favorite dessert is chocolate ice cream.

    its (adj.), it’s (pronoun + v)
    Don’t judge a book by its cover.
    It’s time to go home.

    maybe (adv.), may be (v)
    Maybe means possibly or perhaps; may be is a verb form indicating that a possibility exists.

    Maybe you will find the wallet you lost.
    She may be late.

    personal (adj.), personnel (n)
    Personal means private; personnel refers to the workers or staff of a business.

    It is difficult to discuss personal problems.
    All personnel must attend the meeting.

    quiet (adj.), quite (adv.)
    Quiet is the opposite of noisy; quite can mean completely or fairly.

    After the boys left, the house was quiet.
    She is quite beautiful.

    their (adj.), they’re (pronoun + v), there (adv.)
    Use there when referring to a place and their to indicate possession. Remember that they’re is a contraction of the words they and are. It can never be used as a modifier, only as a subject (who or what does the action) and verb (the action itself).

    They left their books at home.
    Please put your book over there.
    There are many documents that are used in investigations
    They’re studying for the exam.
    They’re talking about their plan there.

    Can you add some more? :D

  • tips 12.10.2008 5 Comments

    To grammar even kings bow (JB Moliere, Les femmes savants, II, 1672)

    We might have learned English since we were in junior high school. Our teacher might have given us a bunch of grammar exercises to do. The teachers usually give a set of grammatical rules to memorize, while sometimes memorizing rules can be discouraging.

    Some say grammar is not important when learning English or other languages. Well, it is true sometimes, as long as the person (or native speaker) you talk to understands what you say. However, as my professor said, learning English without grammar is nonsense. Grammar is important. You can’t speak accurately if you don’t use the correct grammar. Consider when your boyfriend/girlfriend, for example, says “I loved you” to you. You might not notice the [-d] sound in ‘loved’, and might be happy hearing that. Be cautious though, he/she might be telling you he/she loved you in the past time and doesn’t love you anymore now. Well this is just an example, my favorite one when giving tips about how important grammar is, haha.

    Every language contains a set of grammatical rules. When we study grammar, we study the language pattern. Constant practice of using the language improves our grammar, because we learn the pattern through practicing. In other words, we are exposed to such pattern, over and over.

    First way to start, read. Read as many English texts or books. If you’re a beginner, read children books. They are usually shorter, less complicated, and use simple grammar. Study the sentence pattern. If you find grammar constructions that confuse you, take note and discuss it with your teacher or friend. As your skill improves, select books that are more difficult.

    You can also watch English movies or listen to English songs. The more you are exposed to English language, the easier for you to catch the grammatical rules. Sometimes songs are grammatically incorrect, but they do help me. When I was in high school, I had a grammar test and I was asked to make a sentence using “would rather…than…”. I didn’t remember if I had to use “to infinitive” or “infinitive without to” after “would rather”. Then I recalled a Backstreet Boys’ song that goes “I’d rather die than live without you”, and I could construct another sentence with the similar pattern. See how it helped me?

    Another way to improve your grammar is by writing. Try to write simple stories or your weekend experience for example. It is okay if you write in your language and translate it. Writing directly in English sometimes will make you use simpler grammar and vocabulary. Translating from your native language forces you to write more complex English and it helps you improve your grammar and vocabulary. Then consult your teacher or ask your friend who has a good command in English to correct your writing. It is better if you ask a native speaker, because he/she knows sentences that sound right and do not sound awkward. During the process, make sure you watch for errors that you repeat over and over. Finally, practice using these things correctly. As time goes by, you will be able to think in English without having to translate, and your English will sound “English”.