Since English cannot be spoken without vocabulary; nouns and verbs seem to be at the top of the list for a start. What do I mean by a start? It is about helping Ukrainian students understand the usage of all words. At least, commonly used words.

Nouns and Verbs
Let’s Learn English

Teachers need to teach the word and it’s many uses. Teachers should help students understand that a word is just a word without meaning until we define the word and the way it is used. Nouns and verbs are an important part of English.

Simple words are often confusing to Ukrainian students due to a teachers common methodology. Telling a student that a noun is a “table” is confusing and less than totally correct. Since a “Table” is also a “Verb” and an “Adjective”, doesn’t it just make sense to tell students that a noun is “People, Place and Thing?”

Students should be asked to explore the many different meanings of a word. After all, a word is just a word without meaning. Students need to know that most nouns are verbs in the English language.

Students need to understand the difference between nouns and verbs.

For most of my students, it comes as quite a shock to be told that the word “table” is also a verb. Students are always surprised to discover that table is also an adjective. Examples might be “Let’s table that for another meeting” This statement means “Let’s postpone that subject for another time” Students need to know that the word “Table” is used to describe napkins, grapes, glass, knife and many more nouns in English.

So, the main idea here is to explain to students “Why” not just “How”. In other words “Table isn’t just a noun!” Table is used as a verb and an adjective as well. Why? “Because we use table to talk about facts or states. Just remember that nouns and verbs can be the same word.

We use table to help better understand more details about things like table grapes, table knives and table napkins. These are just a few examples of a common word like “Table” usually described to Ukrainian students as simply being a “Noun”. We can use the same explanation with other simple words. A can of paint or to paint a wall with a can of paint. This is a great example of nouns and verbs.

What about metaphor’s? To paint oneself into a corner — загнать самого себя в угол; поставить себя в безвыходное положение or To paint the town red — устроить попойку, загулять

Now comes the verbs. Verbs are generally described by Ukrainian teachers as “Actions” That’s it! We are done! Verbs are ONLY actions! Not true! Why? Because….. Verbs are words that express “Actions, States, Feelings and Facts”

Action verbs, are usually pretty easy to define. Run, jump, dance, walk are all action words. Anytime a person can see something happening as a physical action, it is an action word. We are not referring to phrases, idioms or metaphors. We are referring to something as an action.

State verbs, are a little more difficult to explain to students. A state verb is used for facts. An example might be “I agree with you” or “I understand you”. The main idea here is to explain the differences between action verbs and state verbs.

Once a teacher gets past the idea of state verbs and why they are different, now we have to explain the exception rule. Remember that most English grammar rules have exceptions. The subject of state verbs is a good place to discuss exceptions. The main idea here is that most state verbs cannot be used in the continuous tenses.

So, we cannot say “I am agreeing with you” or “I am understanding you”. We never use these words in the continuous. Sometimes State verbs with the suffix “ing” are used as nouns also known as “Gerunds”.

However, there are some, in fact, many state verbs we use with “ing”. Many verbs we use as a state and an action in the continuous. Thought or sense verbs like “Think, see, listen, hear, smell, touch” and many more can also be used in the continuous tenses. Are we describing an action? Maybe or maybe not; you decide. The main point here is to help students understand that many verbs are not actions but, states or facts.

What about verbs used as adjectives or to describe feelings? Actually, we do it everyday. Love, like, enjoy, hate, adore, are all verbs used to describe feelings. Be careful with these words. Remember that most words in English have a perceived value!

Imagine telling your wife how much you love the new car you just bought. Imagine telling your sweetheart how cool your new phone is with the word love. “I love this new phone Honey” Oh, by the way, “I love you too?????” Can you imagine? Telling your wife you love an object like a car or a phone and then sharing the same thought with your wife? The rule here should always be that you should never use the word “Love” for any “Thing”. Use the word love for someone who loves you!

Fact verbs are also state verbs that we use to describe a fact. Simple everyday words like, wear, sit, hold. These words are often used in the continuous to describe something. “I am wearing glasses” That is not an action. “I am sitting on a chair” That is not an action. “I am holding my breath” That is not an action. “I am thinking about you” That is not an action.

These are basic thoughts to share with students and anyone else that needs to have a better understanding of the English language.

Remember to have fun with English and help students understand that words are just words until we apply them with meaning and substance.

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