Every so often I share some of my English prowess with interested readers in a segment I call “A Little Bit Of English”
Today, we’ll be looking at “who’s and whose”, “are and is” and “then and than”.
For those of you wanting to enjoy the school-room experience, I have included a few questions for each example to help you memorise these tips. The answers to all questions are at the conclusion of this blog post.
Who’s and Whose
Much like we learnt in Class One, an apostrophe (‘) either indicates possession (“My cat’s bowl is red”) or is a replacement of omitted letters (for instance when cannot becomes can’t).
Who’s – the apostrophe replaces the omitted letter of “Who is”. (“My teacher who is very interesting said to check out That’s What She Read” becomes “My teacher who’s very interesting said to check out That’s What She Read“).
Whose is the possessive of who or, sometimes, which. (“Whose car is this?“) – note: sometimes its easiest if you just use “whose” whenever you can’t use “who’s”
Put either Who’s or Whose into the spaces to correctly complete the sentences.
1. If only I knew __________ coming to Christmas lunch, I could buy my ingredients!
2. The man __________ dog was barking asked me _________ attending the training classes.
3. “__________ friends with the woman _________ hair is black?” asked the waitress.
Are and Is
While a lot of people get this wrong, it is actually really very easy to get this one right.
Simply put – is used when talking in the singular, are is used when talking in the plural. “Do you know when the dinner is?” – “Do you know when the regular dinners are?”
Where is gets difficult is deciding whether to use is or are when talking about multiples of a single item (ie a bunch of bananas; multiple bananas in one bunch). Is it “In the bowl is a bunch of bananas” or “In the bowl are a bunch of bananas”? Because the BUNCH is singular, you use IS – “In the bowl is a bunch of bananas” If you were talking about the bananas on the bunch (say “there are seven bananas on the bunch“), you use ARE because of the MULTIPLE bananas.
It might seem confusing, but with practice it will become very easy, trust me!
Put either Are or Is into the spaces to correctly complete the sentences.
1. If only I knew where my keys _________, I could get the book and tell you what the answer ________.
2. In the fridge ________ a bottle of juice and a block of cheese, and in the bowl _______ a bunch of grapes.
3. My teacher asked me where China ______, so I pointed to it on the map and explained where the major cities ________.
4. The policemen who _________ from the local station asked me where my house ________ because in my area there _______ a number of crimes and they wanted to check that my house was safe,
Than and Then
Than is a conjunction that is used in comparisons (“Frank runs faster than Tony“, “This class is more important than the last class I took“).
Then has multiple meanings:
1. A point in time – (“Then I saw a mouse, and jumped on a chair“)
2. Next, afterwards – (“The teacher said I should give my speech and then ask the class if there were any questions”)
3. In addition to, as well as – (“I have to pay for the flight, and then there is the travel tax”)
4. In that case – (“If it’s your birthday then we’ll have to order cake!”)
But basically, the easiest way to know whether to use than or then is to check if you are comparing something. If you are, then use “than” 🙂
1. My friend and I went to the shops and ________ to the movies.
2. As I was smarter _______ my sister, my mum told me I had to help her with her homework and ________ check her answers.
3. Rather _______ start complaining, I decided to help my teacher when she asked me to clean the whiteboard and ________ tidy the desks.
Use all of the skills you have learnt to correct this passage. Make sure you fix any spelling or punctuation mistakes too!
The dance competiton _____ (are/is) very easy, and it _____ (are/is)hard to know ________ (who’s/whose) taking it seriosly. Rather _________ (than/then) be silly on the stage I think it _______ (are/is) better to always be profesional. The judge asked me to state my name and _______ (than/then) perform my rotine. Even though there ______ (are/is) some talented dancers here I think I could win.
AnswersWho’s/Whose 1. who’s
2. whose, who’s
3. Who’s, whose Are/Is
1. are, is
2. are, is
3. is, are 4. are, is, are Than/Then
1. then 2. than, then 3. than, then Skills Test All corrections are in bold The dance competition is very easy, and it is hard to know who’s taking it seriously. Rather than be silly on the stage, I think it is better to always be professional. The judge asked me to state my name and then perform my routine. Even though there are some talented dancers here, I think I could win.
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How did you go with the tests? Ask any questions and share your results below!