Many students find English difficult to master. The main problem is with it is totally different from our dialect/language. Most learners of English, especially if he is a Chinese, will find the tenses confusing. The nine tenses, when and how to use them in the correct proper order really takes a long time to master.

When I was in school a very long time ago, we were taught the rudiments of grammar, the various parts of speech…and how to appreciate well written prose and poetry.

Nowadays, our national schools do not teach grammar nor sentence structure. The child is expected to pick up structures as they go along! Some schools try to teach some form of grammar but they are not consistent. Ask any student what is a “gerund”. adjective, phrasal verbs and prepositions…etc, and he would say that he does not know. Perhaps, modern day learning is totally different and is just suitable for this modern age!
Hence, I was being asked to explain the difference in meaning between these sentences by a secondary school student:
1. Do we live to eat or eat to live?
2. How can we waste time to gain time?
3. Why can’t an “average” man be a “mean” man?

Most learners of English would sometimes find difficulty in using phrasal verbs and prepositions. How can we help them?


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