Thursday, March 27, 2014

Friends... Got The Keys to Accurate Intonation?

Watch the clip of an episode of Friends at: 
Intonation is the pattern of rising or falling of the voice as we speak. Patterns of intonation carry subtle meaning but can seriously influence understanding of the spoken words.  If the same phrase is spoken twice, but with different intonation each time, the meaning can be interpreted completely differently each time. In very general terms, if a statement ends in a rising tone there is the suggestion of a closed (yes/no) question being asked.  If just a phrase is spoken, rather than a complete sentence, there is less verbal structure to assist meaning and the intonation takes on a more significant role. In a case like this, if the intonation is misunderstood it is highly likely that there will be communication breakdown.

This video clip (from 05 mins 07 secs to 06 mins 17 secs), focuses on an incident in one episode of the sit-com series Friends, that arises due to a misunderstanding caused by intonation.  In this segment, which lasts for only just over a minute, one phrase spoken by one of the girls as they all leave the apartment in a hurry leads them to return to the apartment later without any keys.  What was the phrase and why did they not have the keys when they returned?

Click here for suggestions about teaching intonation.

If you enjoyed the video clip and want more Friends, why not click on the image below?

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Present Perfect - A Novel Idea

There's an interesting review for a novel called Present Perfect, found on, which includes an extract from the book: 

..."I’ve been unsure about many things in my life except for one thing, that I have always loved him. Every single minute of every single day that I have been on this earth, my heart has belonged to himIt has never been a question, never a doubt."  

The items that are highlighted in bold notably are examples of the present perfect tense.  It is hard not to notice that there are so many examples of the tense that is also the title of the novel. 

The review goes on to state that:

"Present Perfect is a story of how past events have present consequences (and how perfect your present could be if you stopped fighting and just allowed it to happen".)

The line above, in bold, parallels one of the key relationships between past and present that defines a key role for the present perfect tense.  An example of that relationship can be simply stated, as in this example:

I came here ten years ago (past simple). 

I live here now (present simple).  
I have been here for ten years (present perfect simple).

For more information and exercises, why not click on the images below?