第44話:正しい英語を話そう(第5回)there isなど

Fix your broken English TODAY! Part 5 – Expletives

Before you Google Translate ‘expletives,’ I’d like to tell you first that in the world of grammar, they aren’t bad words. In grammar, expletives are also known as dummy subjects. In English, we often construct sentences using the S+V pattern:

Other elements
My dog
is barking

my wallet.

With these sentences, it’s very easy to locate the subject of the sentence. Now, take a look at these sentences:

カタコト英語をなおそう! パート5:所有格「There isなど」の使い方
みんなが「expletives」という単語をググる前に言っておくけど、英文法ではこれって「悪い意味」のほうではないからね。文法だと「expletives(助辞 / 虚辞)」は「仮主語」としても知られてるね。英語って「主語 + 動詞」のパターンで文章を作るでしょ、例えば・・・
Other elements
My dog
is barking

my wallet.


There is a dog by the window.
It is important to exercise.

Can you pinpoint the subjects and the verbs?
If you chose there and it as subjects, and is as the verb---you’re wrong, unfortunately.
The subjects are: dog and to exercise
And the verb is: is

There is a dog by the window.

It is important to exercise.

本当の主語は「dog / to exercise」で動詞は「is」なんだな。

As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, expletives are also known as dummy subjects, which simply means that they aren’t the actual subjects. It and There exist in the sentence but they are actually not grammatically connected with the rest of the sentence. Expletives are used to delay the subject to sound natural.
A dog is by the window. (less natural)
There is a dog by the window. (more natural)
To exercise is important. (less natural)
It is important to exercise. (more natural)

このブログの最初に言ったとおり、「expletives(助辞 / 虚辞)」は「仮主語」すなわち本当の主語じゃないんだ。「It」「There」が(主語の位置に)あるけど、文章内の他の部分には文法的にかかわっていないわけ。

A dog is by the window. (ちょっと不自然な文章)
There is a dog by the window. (より自然な文章)
To exercise is important. (ちょっと不自然な文章)
It is important to exercise. (より自然な文章)

Have you ever wondered why we always say in English ‘It’s sunny.’ Or ‘It’s okay.’? Where’s the subject? The answer is it isn’t concrete. Therefore, we use the expletive ‘it’ to fill the void that is the absence of a concrete subject.
As you can see, we use expletives all the time!
It will take time to wrap your head around this information but the sooner you get used to using expletives correctly, the more natural you will sound when speaking English.
Try this. There are less natural sentences that follows. Now, I want you to use the expletives it and there to make them sound more natural.

1.     To do physical exercise every day is necessary.
2.     A hospital is in the town.
3.     An exit is around the corner.
4.     Sunny
5.     To get to the nearest station takes about 10 minutes.

英語で「It's sunny.」「It's okay.」みたいに「it」を使うの不思議に思ったことない?主語はどれかというと、「実在しない」んだ。だから「実在する主語がない」のを埋めるために「expletives(助辞 / 虚辞)」の「it」を使うんだ。

1.     To do physical exercise every day is necessary.
2.     A hospital is in the town.
3.     An exit is around the corner.
4.     Sunny
5.     To get to the nearest station takes about 10 minutes.

Here are the possible answers.   ※答えはこちら。
1.     It is necessary to do physical exercise.
2.     There is a hospital in the town.
3.     There an exit around the corner.
4.     It’s sunny.
5.     It takes about 10 minutes to get to the nearest train station.


第43話:Autumn Trip Diary Part 1(秋の旅行日記:その1)

Autumn Trip Diary Part 1

Last weekend, Teacher Mina and I along with our bosses went on a trip to Gunma. We went there in the summer for the first time a couple of years ago. This time, we revisited some places we’ve been to before and explored new ones as well. Find out how it went in this blog post. Also, enjoy browsing the photos we took! 


Getting There 

We left for Tokyo Station before the sunrise. It was very refreshing to leave the house early in the morning. The stations are very crowded and the trains are packed. It’s something we don’t always experience. It made me realize how tough it is to commute every single day! We then rode a bullet train to Takasaki Station. It was a first for me, actually. It’s great to take such a convenient means of transportation and be in your destination fast! Before boarding the train, we grabbed something to eat from the bento (meal box) shop in the station. This wall has some cool bento box replicas. J



First Stop: Temple of Wishing Dolls

We arrived in our first destination at around nine o’clock in the morning. We drove to Shorinzan Daruma-ji temple using a car rental service. Getting around the city by car was fun and easy but Teacher Mina and I don’t know how to drive so we’re very thankful for our boss for taking us there! Anyways, we’ve also been to this temple years ago but coming here for the second time was even better. It was summer when we first visited which was all hot and humid but this time was refreshing. The air was crisp and cool and the weather was fine too! 


Second Stop: Sweets Factory  
Next on our itinerary was Gateau Festa Harada located in Takasaki Shinmachi. This is one of the places we’ve previously checked out as well. We didn’t mind going back as it is always a pleasure to watch how these delectable treats were being made. This time though we were able to have a taste of the white and dark chocolate-covered rusk which weren’t available the last time we visited.


Third Stop: Two Lakes in the Mountain

Our third stop was Mt. Akagi and the lakes located in it. It was a long and winding road going up but the sights were totally worth it. The lakes were both enveloped by trees which were almost at the peak of their autumnal beauty. It was also around the golden hour so we had plenty of pretty and warm-toned pictures. After enjoying the majestic view of the mountains with their cloudless blue sky on the background, we headed to our last stop of the day, Ikaho Onsen Hotel. 


*Watch out for the second part of this blog to know more about the rest of the trip! J


- Teacher Marilou  

1.     commute (noun)- To travel back and forth regularly 通勤
2.     bullet train (noun)- A high-speed passenger train 新幹線
3.     destination (noun)- A place that people will make a special trip to visit.  目的地
4.     itinerary (noun)- A route of travel  旅行日程
5.     delectable (adjective)- Delicious  おいしい、おいしそうな
6.     winding (adjective)- With many turns and bends  くねくね曲がった
7.     be worth it (expression)- Enjoyable or useful despite the fact that you have to make an effort

8.     majestic (adjective)- Having or showing impressive beauty 雄大な


第42話: 正しい英語を話そう(第4回)your / his / her / themなどの使い方

Sadly, he isn’t my dog.

Fix your broken English TODAY! Part 4 – Possessive Pronouns

Before moving on to my fourth entry, I’ll be giving away the keys to last week’s editing quiz. I asked you to add quantifiers accordingly. Now, it’s time for you to see how you did.

I will go to the supermarket to buy some groceries. I am having a party at my house and I invited some people. A few friends, family and a few colleagues will be coming. I am looking forward to it! First, I have to grab some paper plates and plenty of paper cups. I also need to buy some wine and some beverages. Maybe I will also need some condiments. I will pick up some cheese, some dip, some sauces and a bit of salt and a bit of pepper. I have been so busy planning this party. I didn’t realize it will cause much stress. Anyway, I will be sure to have a lot of fun and make a lot of memories.
Did you miss any quantifiers?

カタコト英語をなおそう! パート4:所有格「my / his / herなど」の使い方


I will go to the supermarket to buy some groceries. I am having a party at my house and I invited some people. A few friends, family and a few colleagues will be coming. I am looking forward to it! First, I have to grab some paper plates and  plenty of paper cups. I also need to buy some wine and some beverages. Maybe I will also need some condiments. I will pick up some cheese, some dip, some sauces and a bit of salt and a bit of pepper. I have been so busy planning this party. I didn’t realize it will cause much stress. Anyway, I will be sure to have a lot of fun and make a lot of memories.

About possessive pronouns, I hear this mistake many a time. A lot of my students tend to drop the possessives in their speech. Possessive pronouns (or possessive adjective in older grammars) examples are my, his, her, your, their and our.
For example, when they forget their umbrella at school. They would say, “Umbrella!” instead of “My umbrella!”

それでは今日のお題の「所有格」について。生徒さんたちも会話の中でこのミスをよくするんだよね。所有格(所有形容詞 / 所有代名詞ともいう)といえば「my / his / her / your / their / our」などだね。例えば学校に傘を忘れてきた場合、「my umbrella」と言わずにただ単に「umbrella」とだけ言う人が多いんだな。

What can I do about it?
Keep in mind that the information regarding whose something / someone is is also of great importance in expressing in English.

Think:                       Instead of:
 My shirt                  shirt                           whose shirt is it?
 This is my pet.        This is pet.               whose pet is it?

正:                                                        誤:           例:
              My shirt                                               shirt                                whose shirt is it?
              This is my pet.                                    This is pet.                     whose pet is it?

When introducing a family member or a friend, say:
  This is my mother.                     This is my colleague.

     This is my mother.                               This is my colleague.

One more thing, do NOT use articles (a, an or the) with possessives.

For example:                
         I lost the my bag.                                  I lost my bag.        
        A my relative is very kind.                 My relative is very kind.

もうひとつ、所有格を使ったときは冠詞「a / an / the」は使わないこと。
                  I lost the my bag                                 I lost my bag.        
                 A my relative is very kind.                 My relative is very kind.

See you next week! – Teacher Mina



第41話: 正しい英語を話そう(第3回)many / muchなどの使い方

Fix your broken English TODAY! Part 3 – Quantifiers

This week we will be discussing something quite related with the first two entries (1. Singular and Plural; 2. Articles – A, An and The). This week will be about Quantifiers. From the root word itself---quantify---the following examples gives us the ‘number’ or ‘how many’ a noun is. As I have mentioned many a time in this series, the English language requires the quantity of the noun to make it sound correct or appropriate, as opposed to the Japanese language that seldom requires quantifiers.
Examples of Quantifiers by noun type

Countable nouns
Uncountable nouns
(A) few
A little
A bit of
A great deal of
A large amount of 
All                                  No
None of                        A lot of
More                             Enough
Less                              Some
Sentence examples:
There are many people in the mall.
Several friends are coming over.
The pizza has much cheese.
I’d like just a little sugar.
All people need some privacy.
We should have a lot of rest.

カタコト英語をなおそう! パート3:数量冠詞「many / muchなどの使い方」
今週は第1週(単数 / 複数)と第2週(冠詞)で習ったことにとても関連性の高い話題。数量詞っていうんだ。これはquantify(定量化する)という単語からくるんだけど、「その名詞がさすものが何個あるか」をしめすんだ。何度も言うけど、英語は日本語と違って「名詞がさすものをちゃんと適正に表現すること」が大事なんだ。でははじめよう。

(A) few
A little
A bit of
A great deal of
A large amount of 
All                                  No
None of                        A lot of
More                             Enough
Less                              Some
There are many people in the mall.
Several friends are coming over.
The pizza has much cheese.
I’d like just a little sugar.
All people need some privacy.
We should have a lot of rest.

As you can see in the sample sentences, nouns (both countable and uncountable) should have quantifiers before them. One tip, memorizing quantifiers that can be use for both countable and uncountable nouns will be really helpful for you. So please try using them before the nouns of your sentences.

Find the nouns in this paragraph and in your mind fill in the appropriate quantifiers before them. Tune in next week for the answers.


  I will go to the supermarket to buy groceries. I am having a party at my house and I invited people. Friends, family and colleagues will be coming. I am looking forward to it! First, I have to grab paper plates and paper cups. I also need to buy wine and beverages. Maybe I will also need condiments. I will pick up cheese, dip, sauces and salt and pepper. I have been so busy planning this party. I didn’t realize it will cause stress. Anyway, I will be sure to have fun and make memories.

How was it? See you next week for the answers! -Teacher Mina

さあ、できたかな?答えは来週。またね!     Mina