Category Archives: Educational texts

new course lesson 10 . Lewis Carroll


LEWIS CARROLL. New course lesson 10

Alice in Wonderland is one of the best known children’s stories in the world. It was written by Lewis Carroll. Not many people know much about the author.

Lewis Carroll was born in the United Kingdom. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. His family was affluent and well-connected. He attended Rugby School. This is one of the most celebrated schools in the realm. In the early 19th century it was on the up and up because of its legendary headmaster Rev Thomas Arnold.

Lewis Carroll was exceptionally academically able. He had no trouble with Latin and Greek. However, his passion was mathematics. He went to Oxford University. There he covered himself in glory graduating with a first class degree. He was immediately offered a fellowship at Christ Church. Christ Church is the most magnificent college in Oxford. As a ‘fellow’ of the university he was teaching undergraduates. He was also producing research papers.

Photography was only invented in the 1840s by two French brothers named Daguerre. Cameras came to the UK shortly after this time. Cameras were extraordinarily expensive. Lewis Carroll was one of the first people in the country to own a camera. He was an enthusiastic photographer.

Most Oxford dons were priests in those days. A ‘don’ at Oxford or Cambridge is someone who teaches at a university. The word ‘don’ does not have this meaning outside Oxford or Cambridge. The two great English universities were affiliated to the Church of England. People of other Protestant denominations could attend these universities. Lewis Carroll decided to take holy orders – that means to become a priest. This involved some study of theology. He found that simple and passed the exam easily. Soon he was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He was entitled to wear clericals (special clothes for priests). He was also allowed to lead worship and to perform particular ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Lewis Carroll was allowed to put the word ‘Reverend’ in front of his name. People called him ‘The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’. Reverend is a word that means ‘respected’. For short people write ‘Rev.’ before the name thus ‘Rev. Dodgson’.  But if you see ‘Rev’ it is pronounced ‘ the reverend’. Notice that the word ‘Reverend’ is used before the surname or the whole name. To say ‘The Reverend Charles’ would be wrong unless you say the surname too ‘ The Reverend Charles Dodgson’. Usually people simply used the surname as in ‘The Reverend Dodgson’.

Most Oxford dons were not permitted to marry. If they wished to marry they could do so with the blessing of their college but they must leave. Dons who married moved to be clergy in parishes controlled by their colleges. One of the exceptions to this was the head of house. Each Oxford college had a head of house. The head of house was the man in charge of the college. At Christ Church the head of house was the Dean. Dean Liddell was married and had children.

On Sunday 4 July 1861 Dean Liddell decided to take his family on a jolly boat trip down the Thames. Liddell asked his friend Lewis Carroll to come along. They set off from Folly Bridge in Oxford. They rowed at a sedate pace. This was leisure and not a race.

As they paddled along that afternoon Dean Liddell’s daughter Alice asked Lewis Carroll to tell her a story. Lewis Carroll made up a story on the spot.  The protagonist was named Alice after the child in the boat. It was so vivid and enthralling that Alice said that he should write down the story. When Lewis Carroll got home he did just that.

The story was reworked. Lewis Carroll added a character called the mad hatter based on an eccentric furniture dealer in Oxford.  Hatmakers used quicksilver (mercury) to treat felt. Felt is animal’s fur and skin. Quicksilver made the felt stiff and therefore suitable as a hate Continued exposure to mercury made people mentally ill. Insanity was an occupational disease of milliners.

Carroll then presented the manuscript to a publishing house. His story was printed and sold. It was an overnight sensation.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be taken seriously as a mathematician. He thought that if he published a children’s storybook under his real name it would undermine his reputation. Therefore he took the name Charles and turned it into ‘Carroll’ because it is related to the Latin for Charles. Lutwidge he turned into Lewis. He dropped ‘Dodgson’ for his pen name.  He reversed the order of his names. It should have been Carroll Lewis but he put them in the opposite order. Therefore he published the book under the name Lewis Carroll.

Alice in Wonderland was groundbreaking. It did not conform to the conventions of a fantasy novel. It was not a fairytale with witches, goblins, wizards, enchantment, miracles and so forth. It was zany and memorable. The novel contained some characters whose names have now entered common parlance such as the Mad Hatter. The expression ‘off with their heads’ is well known now.

The book was read avidly in the United States. The US was in the throes of its civil war. This book distracted people from their travails.

Queen Victoria asked Lewis Carroll to come to meet her. The don duly traveled to Buckingham Palace. Her Gracious Majesty expressed her delight at this sublime book. She requested a copy of his next publication. The following year Lewis Carroll published a book on higher mathematics and sent it to the Queen. She was perplexed by the book. It was beyond her. She had not realized that Lewis Carroll was first and foremost a mathematician.

Lewis Carroll preferred photographing people to things.  He never married or had children. Rev Dodgson (to give him is real name) conducted worship until the last months of his life. He lived out his days in Oxford. He died there and is buried in the city. After he died his family destroyed most of his albums.

Alice grew up married and had children.


  1. In which country was Lewis Carroll born?
  2. What was his real name?
  3. What school did he go to?
  4. What was his favourite subject?
  5. Which university did he go to?
  6. Was he clever?
  7. What is an Oxford don?
  8. Did Lewis Carroll marry?
  9. Who was Dean Liddell?
  10. What was the name of Liddell’s daughter?
  11. On which day did the Liddell’s take Lewis Carroll on their boat?
  12. How did the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson turn into Lewis Carroll?
  13. Which bridge did they set off from on their boat?
  14.  On which date did Lewis Carroll tell a story to Alice?
  15. Why is the main character in Alice in Wonderland named Alice?
  16. Who was the mad hatter based on?
  17. Was Lewis Carroll’s book popular?
  18. Did Queen Victoria read the book?
  19. Why did people in the US need cheering up in the 1860s?
  20. What happened to Alice Liddell?








New course lesson 5. Dr Samuel Johnson


Dr JOHNSON New course 5.

Samuel Johnson was born in the small city of Lichfield. Lichfield lies in the country of Staffordshire. Staffordshire is a county in the Midlands of England. When Samuel Johnson was born the United Kingdom had been formed not many years earlier.

The Johnson family was an Anglican family. That meant that they were members of the Church of England. This accorded them many advantages since the Church of England was the church by law established. Samuel attended King Edward School in Lichfield. It was name after Edward VI. Edward VI was a boy king in the 16th century who founded many schools.

Johnson’s father was a bookseller. Samuel was to follow in his father’s footsteps. The boy did exceedingly well at school. He was a voracious reader.  Samuel was fixated with learning about certain subjects. He was utterly obsessed with history, literature and divinity. The boy amassed a staggering vocabulary. However, he was ungainly. Despite being well built and well above average height he was a laggard at sports. His hand eye co-ordination and gross motor skills were very poor. To look at him you would instantly perceive that he must be either a genius of a simpleton. He could not be anything in between.  As he was a substandard athlete he did not fit in well with his own generation. As a child he sought out the company of adults. He was by all accounts a most peculiar character. Samuel made small involuntary movements. His gait was strange and his manner of sitting was distinctly odd. He spoke in a florid and formal fashion. The boy was relentlessly logical even when this was deeply unpopular. His stilted and highly articulate speech made him a target for derision and mockery from less bookish types.

An attack of smallpox almost killed Samuel Johnson. It left his face pockmarked and it blinded him in one eye. Smallpox was a disease that claimed tens of millions of live. It was only wiped out in the 1970s.

Samuel Johnson attended Oxford University. There undergraduates studied classics – Latin and Ancient Greek. Through these languages they read history, philosophy and other subjects. Samuel spent only one year there before leaving. Therefore he did not graduate. That was not unusual for an undergraduate at the time. Very few people attended secondary school. To have finished it at all was a distinction. Some people did not even attend primary school in those distant days.

Having gone down from Oxford Samuel Johnson went to London. There he worked as a teacher for a while. Back then a male teacher was called a ‘schoolmaster’. Later Samuel Johnson set up a book shop. He also founded a printing press. He prospered in trade. This made him able to afford hearty dinners. He had a ferocious appetite and his girth expanded precipitously. This was to cause him some health complaints in the evening of life.

Johnson was well known for his waspish aphorisms. He was a journalist – not reporting the news but commenting on society. His witticisms had people in stitches. As well as journalism he made money from translating English into Latin.

Samuel Johnson was a regular worshipper in his local church. His religiosity was no affectation. He was a sincerely spiritual man. He also wrestled with questions of morality. He came to regard slavery as an unutterable wickedness. This was a deeply unpopular opinion in 18th century London. London was a city that had profited much from human bondage.

The Tory Party was the party that commanded Samuel Johnson’s allegiance. No one was a member of the party as such. Nor did he ever seek public office. He was broadminded and accepted people of contrary views could be decent. He was also willing to change his view of things. He was not rigid or blinkered.

The Jacobite Rebellion took place in 1745. Johnson later acknowledge that he felt a certain sympathy for the objective of the Jacobite. To wit, placing James III on the Throne. After the comprehensive defeat of the Jacobites Samuel Johnson came to accept the Hanoverian dynasty.

By the mid 18th century Samuel Johnson was a well known London character. Samuel would discourse for hours. He may have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome.  Budding writers and journalists congregated at his shop. They hung on his every word. His conversational patter was enthralling. His razor sharp intellect was marveled at by literary London. He was able to distil issues very quickly. His crystalline prose expostulated his opinions splendidly. He is best known for publishing one of the earliest English dictionaries.

In the 1770s there was much kerfuffle in America. In those days Britons were wont to allude to America as ‘the Colonies’. Dr Johnson did not agree with the claim of some in America to be exempt from tax unless they were represented in the legislature that taxed them. He penned a pamphlet ‘Taxation no tyranny’. Johnson felt nothing but withering contempt for the pretensions of the American Revolutionaries. He quipped ‘why do we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes’?

When the American Declaration of Independence was issued the British Government did not officially respond to it. Dr Johnson was secretly paid by the government to write a riposte. This was then published.

Dr Johnson married but had no children. In old age he suffered gout and numerous other ailments. He was known for his liberality to his friends even when his own financial situation was not good.

Oxford University awarded Samuel Johnson a doctorate in humane letters. This was an honorary doctorate. There were no substantive doctorates in the anglosphere in those days. Because of his honorary doctorate he is always known as Dr Johnson.

Dr Johnson loathed travel. Travel was slow and dangerous in those days. He despised sailors as louts and drunkards. He spent almost his whole adult life in London. He but rarely returned to his birthplace. His ailments rendered travel even more uncomfortable on bockety roads in his old age. Towards the end of his days he suffered from several maladies such as gout.

After Johnson died a book about him was published by James Boswell. It was entitled The Life of Johnson.

Many of his quotations survive. One of these is ‘When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.’


  1. In which city was Johnson born?
  2.  What was his Christian name?
  3.  What was his father’s occupation?
  4. What religious denomination did they belong to?
  5. Which university did he attend?
  6.  How long did he spend at Oxford?
  7. What did he study at Oxford?
  8.  Did he graduate?
  9.  What was his first job?
  10.  What business did he set up?
  11. Describe his appearance?
  12.  What was his manner of speaking?
  13. Was he religious?
  14. Was he generous?
  15.  What did he think of the Jacobites?
  16.  What did he make of slavery?
  17. What did he think about the American Revolution?
  18.  What is his most famous book?
  19. Which other languages did he know?
  20. Was he married?
  21. What is the best known biography of him?
  22.  Who wrote it?
  23. What disease did Johnson suffer as a child?
  24.  Was he sporty?
  25. What did he say about Americans calling for liberty?
  26. What did he say about people who are tired of London?
  27.  In which city did he spend most of his life?
  28.  What was his political party?
  29. Is he still alive?
  30.  What was his nationality?
  31.  Which is his most famous book?
  32. What do you think of him? Five sentences.



Felicity lesson 17 Eton’s later history




In the late 19th century Eton was perhaps at the peak of its political dominance. But even in the mid 20th century three Prime Ministers in a row attended the school: Eden, Macmillan and Douglas-Home.

Eton welcomed some very high profile visitors. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany visited Eton just before the First World War. He inspected the CCF. One boy fired a blank from his rifle to startle the emperor’s horse. The boy was soundly thrashed for it at the time. When the First World War began the boy was feted for exposing the cowardice of the enemy supremo.

During the First World War some Belgian boys were temporarily admitted to the school. The school was deeply affected by the war suffering hundreds of deaths of old boys.

After the war Eton established some scholarships for the orphans of war dead. Eton College also forged links with a town in France that happened to be named Eton. Eton College built a school in that town. Everyone in the school was required to join the CCF during the war.
After the First World War Emperor Hirohito of Japan visited the school.

Up until the 1920s the King’s Scholarship was only in Latin and Greek. Thereafter it included all subjects.

It is to Eton’s great chagrin that Winston Churchill did not go to Eton. He attended Eton’s main rival Harrow. Sir Winston Churchill’s father Lord Randolph Churchill had been at Eton and loathed it which is why he had Winston go to Harrow. Winston detested Harrow and had his son go to Eton. The Churchills have been to Eton in every generation since.

In the Second World War a comedy was made by Hollywood entitled ‘A Yank at Eton.’ In this Mickey Rooney plays an American boy who has enrolled at Eton. The message is that although the British and Americans have some minor cultural differences deep down the two nations are very similar and can be dearest friends. The opening credits feature the Eton Boating Song sung at a very fast tempo.
In the 1940s the Vice-Provost was Sir Henry Marten. Sir Henry started tutoring a girl who lived just across the river. She was Princess Elizabeth – who is now the queen. As Elizabeth II came to the Vice-Provost’s Lodgings for her tutorials she is almost an Old Etonian.

As travel became easier matches against other schools became more frequent. Rugby and football were played more. The field game, Eton Fives and the wall game were played less.

Until the 1960s Eton was not difficult to get into. It required good connections rather than intelligence. Nor was Eton especially expensive. It cost the modern equivalent of GBP 10 000 a year – rather less than schools which did not have such a good reputation. The great majority of Etonians were the sons of old boys of the school.

In the 1960s a new headmaster changed this. Anthony Chenevix-Trench became the head master. The first part of his surname is pronounced ”SHEN – e – wick”. Chenevix-Trench had served in the British Army in the Second World War. He had been captured by the Japanese and forced to be a slave on the Burma Railway. He witnessed horrors there with many fellow Prisoners of War dying of malnutrition, disease, insanitation, overwork, lack of medicine and savage beatings. Chenevix-Trench attempted to preserve his sanity by translating A E Housman’s series of poems ‘‘A Shropshire Lad” into Latin rhyming couplets. Chenevix-Trench was successful in construing the poesy into beautiful Latin but less successful in maintaining his mental health.

The former head master Robert Birley remained on as Provost. That is the live-in chairman of the board of governors. This was supposed to provide stability but perhaps it divided loyalties. Some beaks refused to forgive Chenevix-Trench for being neither an Etonian nor having been a master at the school. They looked to Birley as the king over the water.

It was the 60s and change was in the air. Should Chenevix-Trench change or resist change? Either policy would cause friction. Chenevix-Trench was in most respects a reformer. He was adamant that school uniform must be abolished. This provoked the wrath of conservative minded beaks. He backed down on that one.

Housemasters had a very wide degree of autonomy. They controlled admissions to all houses besides college. ChenevixTrench felt that it was wrong that rules were so divergent in different houses. He wished to allow housemasters a modicum of independence but insisted that overall the school was united. Moreover, he aimed to centralise admissions and raise standards in Common Entrance. Housemasters guarded their independence jealously. They disliked losing their ability to accept and reject boys. Some old boys guffawed at Common Entrance standards being raised considerably. Their sons were no longer almost guaranteed a place at the school. The OEs harrumphed. Mr Chenevix-Trench wanted to make the school a place for go getters. There were always high fliers at Eton but until his time there were also a lot of dolts. He said he would not longer let idlers in nor allow any who had slipped through the net to remain.

In those days not everyone began in the Michaelmas of F Block. Some boys started the school in E Block or even D Block. Not everyone started at the age of 13 as they virtually all do now. Some started at 12, some at 14 or 15. Some started in the Lent Half and some in the Summer Half. The head master regularised things. With a very few exceptions everyone now starts in September at the age of 13. Back then there was an A Block. Those wishing to apply to Oxford or Cambridge had to stay on an extra year at school. This was later reduced to one term and finally abolished altogether.

Mr Chenevix-Trench was a bizarre mixture of severity and laxity. Sometimes he would cane boys for trifling offences. Yet he was very slack about appearance and did not object to boys with long hair or who wore boots with their uniform so long as the boots were black. He did not expel boys for first time possession of drugs. If a boy ran away from school Chenevix-Trench would take pity on him and ask him what the matter was. There was no punishment. Some beaks demanded that running away from school be punished with a severe beating if not expulsion.

In an era when corporal punishment was widely used he had a reputation for being worryingly enthusiastic about caning boys. Chenevix-Trench raised the admission standards. A boy was no longer virtually guaranteed a place just because his father has attended the school. There were howls of protest from Old Etonians but Chenevix Trench pressed ahead with the reforms. He also raised the fees and used the money to greatly improve the facilities. Mr Chenevix-Trench was a physically unprepossessing figure. He was very short and was often mistaken for a butler. It is a minor miracle that he landed the job at all. The trauma he had experienced as a prisoner of the Japanese Army had turned him into a dypsomaniac. After only six years the Fellows pressurised him into leaving. It was one of the briefest ever terms served by a head master. He went on to run Fettes College in Edinburgh. One of his pupils there was a certain Tony Blair!

In 1967 the first black boy started at Eton. His name was Dilibie Onyeama – the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court in the Hague. He later recorded his unhappy experiences in a memoir entitled ”Nigger at Eton.” Onyeama was often verbally abused but never suffered any violence. Onyeama became an outspoken critic of imperialism and its after effects.

In the 1960s the Labour Government flirted with the notion of closing down public schools. They believed that the existence of public schools was pernicious and inegalitarian. Eton made contingency plans to relocate in the event of Labour forbidding independent education. Eton scouted two possible sites. One was in France and one was in the Republic of Ireland. Both would be close enough to the United Kingdom and both would offer sufficient scope for all the facilities that Eton required. In the end this plan did not need to be executed.
From the 1970s an increasing number of British Indians and Hong Kong Chinese attended the school. Eton briefly flirted with the idea of going mixed which was en vogue at the time. Master’s daughters were allowed to attend the school for the last two years of their schooling. Among 250 people in a year group there might be 5 girls. As you can imagine these ladies were very, very popular indeed! The trouble was if a girl even spoke to a boy a rumour would go around that she was in a relationship with him. Many boys’ schools in financial difficulties went mixed. Eton eventually set its face against that and remains resolutely all boys. There are some social events with girls schools such as St George’s Ascot and Wycombe Abbey.

  1. Name a prime minister who went to Eton?
  2. Do any Indians go there?
  3. How many boys are in a year group?
  4. Who was the first black boy?
  5. Who translated A Shropshire Lad?
  6. What is common entrance?
  7. What was Sir Henry Marten?
  8. Did Winston Churchill go to Eton?
  9. Did the Kaiser visit Eton?
  10. What is your opinion of the school?

Felicity lesson 16 . Eton’s early history


Eton is easily the world’s most famous school. How did Eton achieve this astonishing status and why is it held in such awe? Eton has produced 20 of Britain’s 48 Prime Ministers; Kings of Nepal and Thailand; several Olympic gold medalists; countless bankers; many writers; a bevvy of composers; scores of generals and a handful of film stars.
Amongst the British upper class people used to say ”everyone went to Eton. Except for those who went to Harrow of course.” Eton was THE school for the social elite. But this stellar image is an exaggeration of the reality. Eton is not as socially or financially exclusive as you might imagine. Furthermore, many aristocrats and billionaires attend schools that are much less renowned.
I do not come from an aristocratic family. I am bourgeois. A couple of generations ago we were working class. I am not English either – I am an Irishman. Yet I went to Eton in the 1990s.
Eton is has an aesthetic beauty to its architecture. It is surrounded by hundreds of hectares of beautiful grounds with just the right mix of manicured gardens and wilderness. It is beside the River Thames which is a river that has carried British History more than any other. Eton is 25 km from central London. Eton is almost in the shadow of Windsor Castle. This castle is the British Royal Family’s favourite – so much so that they take their name from it.
Eton was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. The king named the school ”The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.” No one calls it by its lengthy official name. The school was endowed with fragments of wood that were believed to come from the True Cross. The school was allowed to grant indulgences (guaranteed entry to heaven) on the Feast of the Assumption). The school’s coat of arms show the white lily of the Virgin Mary, a gold lion passant of England and a gold fleur-de-lys of France on a midnight blue field. This is because Henry VI was King of France as well as England. He was the last king of England to rule France in fact as well as in title. Henry VI was 18 years old when he set up the school. He was exceptionally devout even for a deeply religious age. Education was almost incidental to the school’s foundation. Henry VI founded the school as a prayer factory. The boys were to pray in Latin for the souls of Henry VI’s parents forever. In fact this custom ceased in the 1970s.
Originally there were 70 poor scholars at the school. The school was run by a Head Master. Note that this is two words at Eton. At every other school it is a compound word – headmaster. This is just one of numberless Etonian quirks. The scholars are known as KSs or King’s Scholars. They even add the letters KS behind their names as in Pummell KS. The KSs lived in a boarding house called College. Gradually boys from wealth families came to attend the school and pay fees to do so. Those who paid fees lived in the town or ”oppidum” in Latin. They became known as Oppidans – derived from ”oppidum.” Over time the Oppidans became far more numerous than the King’s Scholars. Now the school contains 70 KSs and about 1 200 Oppidans.

Henry VI was religious to the point of insanity. Some people say his devoutness has been overplayed by his partisans. His Gracious Majesty was afflicted with what psychiatrists now diagnose as bipolar disorder. When the king was too depressed to get out of bed for days or so raving made that his courtiers thought it better not to let him out of his apartment in the palace an explanation was needed. Ambassadors and other dignitaries were told the king is at prayer. It was a means of trying to hide his mental illness.

Henry VI was overthrown, restored and then overthrown again. This was all part of the Wars of the Roses between two factions of the English Royal House: Lancastrians and Yorkists. Henry VI was a Lancastrian and their symbol was the red rose. Yorkists were his foes and their emblem was a white rose. The king and his son, Edmund of Westminster, were taken prisoner. His Majesty and his child were stabbed to death in the Tower of London on 21 May 1471. Every 21st of May, the anniversary of his death, a ceremony takes place in the chapel to commemorate the founder’s murder. In memory of Henry VI a rose is laid – a red rose of Lancaster. Roses are laid in Eton College Chapel and also at the Tower of London where His Majesty was ”most foully done to death.” The Provost of Eton also lays lily flowers. The lily is one of the emblems of Eton as it alludes to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lily white signifies her purity.

Boys usually came to Eton aged 9 and left aged 14. One boy came to Eton at the age of 6! Some ‘boys’ stayed on until the age of 20.
The Oppidans lived in houses run by middle aged or elderly women. These women had to be widows or spinsters. They were known as ‘dames’. The dames could not be too young or else the boys might take a shine to them! These women could not be married because otherwise they would not be totally dedicated to looking after the boys in their house.

Henry VI also founded King’s College, Cambridge. Initially KSs from Eton went on to King’s College, Cambridge. Nowadays very few boys from Eton go on to that particular College in Cambridge. Many go to other Colleges in Cambridge or Oxford.

There were only two teachers at first. The Head Master taught the older boys in a building called Upper School. The Lower Master taught the younger boys in Lower School. Classes were very big. There were easily over 100 boys in each class! Lessons were very unimaginative. Latin and Greek were read aloud and boys had to simultaneously translate. Construing these languages helped the boys develop a deeper appreciation for the finer points of their own language. Through Latin and Ancient Greek they learnt history and philosophy. In time more and more masters were added to the staff. Classes were made smaller and more subjects were added.

Lower School is a classroom that still exists. It is the oldest classroom in the world that is still used for its original purpose.
There were initially two terms in the school year. One ran from the start of August to mid December. The other ran from mid January to the end of May. June and July were holidays. Therefore the two terms were the two halves of the year. There were no half terms. There are now three terms but nevertheless a term is still called a ‘half’. It is one of many examples of delightful Etonian anachronistic illogic. Perhaps Eton is so fantastic that is packs one and a half years of learning into each year!

There was a curious tradition of August ramming. A ram was kept in Weston’s Yard. The ram was released in August and all the boys would chase it and beat it to death with their clubs.

Eton College was a Roman Catholic school because the state religion was Roman Catholicism at the time. In the 1530s England set up the Church of England. Eton therefore became a Church of England school. Henry VIII thought that Eton was a monastery and he considered dissolving it. Eton was a monastery inasmuch as there were a few monks. He was dissuaded from closing Eton because Eton was mainly a school and the monks were merely incidental. The monks were laicized but the school was permitted to continue. It was Eton’s first narrow escape!

The wood from the supposed True Cross was destroyed as an example of ‘Romish Superstition’. Images of the Blessed Virgin and other saints in the College Chapel were painted over in the 1540s. There was even an attempt to burn the Eton Choir Book. This sort of music and its hymns to saints and veneration of the Virgin were seen as mariolatry and almost polytheism by dour Protestants. Luckily, the men taking it away to be burnt accidentally dropped it as they rode away. The book feel out of a saddle bag as the men rode across a stream. A man saw it fall and decided not to mention it to the other. This man later returned to the stream to retrieve the book. It was only a little damaged by the water. The priceless handwritten tome was recovered and hidden for decades until it was safe to bring out.

The curriculum at Eton was very narrow in the early days. Boys learnt Latin, Ancient Greek and sometimes Hebrew so they could read the Bible in the original language. They sometimes learnt foreign languages such as French and Italian. They learnt a little History and Geography. They did almost no Maths or Science. Only in the late 19th century did Maths become a major part of the timetable. This was because the Head Master at the time had a brother who was a mathematician. The brother persuaded the Head Master to lay greater emphasis on the subject. Notice at Eton the words ‘Head Master’ are two separate words. In every other school it is one word ‘headmaster’.
People sometimes learned a few musical instruments. There was a choir. They boys had a lot of free time to play sports. The Oppidans lived well. They all had their own rooms. The dames set boarding fees. Some houses were more opulent than others. The quality of the food also varied depending on how expensive the house was.

Edward IV, who overthrew Henry VI, considered closing the school. He was dissuaded by his mistress Jane Shore. There is a society for the women of the Eton community called the Jane Shore Society. The name honours her as the saviour of the school. The Jane Shore Society is for women who work at the school or are married to those who work there.

The King’s Scholars lived in woeful conditions. One 18th century chronicler recorded, ”the inmates or a prison or a workhouse do not suffer the privations of the scholars of Eton College.” The boys were locked in at night. Thank goodness there was never a fire! They had no adult supervision at all. They lived in one very large dormitory called Long Chamber. It was said to be the scene of horrific bullying. On one occasion the boys managed to steal a sow and smuggle her into Long Chamber in the daytime. The aim was to slaughter the pig eat her at night. Before they could take a knife to the beast she gave birth to a litter of piglets. The boys consumed her farrow before later eating the swine herself.

By the 18th century Eton had established itself as the premier school for the British upper class. Henry VI had donated a lot of land to the school. The school rented this land out and used the extra income for more buildings and so on. The aristocrats who attended the school often made munificent donations to the school. Some past pupils went into banking or became highly successful lawyers and more than a few of them gave generously to their old school. Eton produced so many politicians partly because the upper orders dominated politics but also because there were so many debating societies. In the 18th century the United Kingdom was experiencing a craze for debating.
Boys became well versed in political matters and also grew accustomed to speaking in public. Boys had plenty of time to spend on their hobbies because lessons and homework were not time-consuming or demanding. Eton was almost like two schools. The King’s Scholars who were middle class or working class boys selected for their phenomenal intellects. These King’s Scholars were radically different from the Oppidans who were drawn from the most privileged classes. A few Oppidans were bright and hard-working but most were not. Oppidans did not need to worry about passing exams since they came from wealthy families and their futures were assured.

In the 18th century boys would process from the school to St Catherine’s Hill in Slough which was several miles distant. This ceremony was called ad Montem – that is Latin for ‘To the mountain’. Many people came to watch them. The crowds became huge in the 1840s due to the advent of the railway. The school ceased to do montems.

In the 18th century some Americans started to attend the school. Among them were Thomas Lynch and Thomas Nelson. Both of them signed the Declaration of Independence.

Boys started to row on the River Thames. The Thames was much wider and wilder back then because there were few locks or dams. The river was liable to flood. There were many water rats that carried diseases. Many boys could not swim. Because of all these factors rowing was dangerous. Rowing was forbidden but many boys did it. They hid their boats or hired boats from local people. Only in the 19th century was rowing allowed and regulated.

King George III reigned 1760-1820. He was a great fan of the school. He gave gold coins to schoolboys. He spent much of his time just across the river from Eton in Windsor Castle. When he died in 1820 the school went into mourning. Eton tailsuits are black. People say this is in mourning for George III. That is not so since a painting several years after George III’s death depicts boys in coats of many different hues. Nonetheless the uniform is black.

George III’s birthday was 4th June. Eton’s main festive day is the Fourth of June. This event is almost never celebrated on the actual 4th of June. It is usually the Wednesday before. This is like an open day or an exhibition. There are displays of art and sports. There are informal concerts. People picnic on the lawns. The highlight is the Procession of Boats. Boys in 19th century sailors’ uniforms row along the river in old fashioned heavy rowing boats. They stand up and hold their oars upright. They wear straw boater hats decked in flowers. They shake their flowers out onto the river in salute.

In the reign of George III an Irish boy named Arthur Wellesely attended Eton. This boy was to become known to the world as the Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Wellington won his fame for his victory at the Battle of Waterloo and becoming Prime Minister. The duke supposedly said, ”the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” This apocryphal quotation is probably bogus since the duke only attended Eton for a year. He despised the school so much that he moved to another school – in France!

Boys were not allowed to leave the school grounds. They did so more and more. The school unofficially adopted a policy of turning Nelson’s eye to this. If a boy was in the nearby town of Windsor and he saw a master the boy would turn his face to the wall and the master would pretend not to see him. Then the school decided this was ridiculous. There was a total volte face. Boys were allowed to go to town on certain days. If a boy saw a beak he was to take of his hat to him. The beak would do likewise. Boys wore top hats back then. This doffing a topper with a flourish degenerated into less and less energetic removal of hats down to tipping the hat. Top hats have long since been abolished. Boys still raise their index finger to the height of their right eyebrow to tip an imaginary hat.

Eton in the late 18th and early 19th century was a shockingly disorderly place. Attendance at lessons was more or less voluntary. There was no legal minimum age for drinking. The Thames water was too foul to drink. Boys drank small beer even at breakfast. This was beer with a very low alcohol content because brewing water cleansed it. One house is called the Hopgarden since hops for beer were grown there. Boys frequented taverns and often got themselves into a crapulous state. One barmaid had to take a lawsuit out against a boy who had sired a child by her.

An inspirational head master in the early 19th century was Dr John Keate. He was an Old Etonian himself. Dr Keate at pains to modernise the school and improved discipline. To this end he was an inveterate beater of boys’ behinds. Notice that this Dr John Keate is not the poet John Keats whose lifetime overlapped with the head master of a very similar name.

Eton was a fairly rough place in the 19th century. Sports did not have many rules. Boys invented their own manly sports such as the Wall Game and the Field Game. The Wall Game is a scrum beside a wall for an hour. The Field Games is a curious mixture of rugby and football. Boys fought duels – mercifully it was with their fists and not swords or pistols. But in one such duel two brothers fought each other and one of them Francis Ashley ended up killing his younger sibling Wood Ashley.

Bullying was widespread. Older boys would oblige younger boys to carry out menial tasks for them. The school decided this could not be extirpated so ought to be regulated. A system called fagging was created. A fag was a younger boy who was a servant. As the pupils were mostly upper class it made them empathise with the working class. They would then know what it is like to perform chores. They would learn to receive orders as well as give them.
In the late 19th century sports codified by other bodies started to be played at Eton. Among these is football. Because the Football Association drew up the rules the 1st XI at Eton is called the Association.
By that time Harrow School and Winchester College were regarded as Eton’s main rivals. Eton, Harrow and Winchester played cricket against each other at Lord’s: the main cricket stadium at the time. It was a three day event and a red letter day in the social calendar. One year the Wykehamists (boys from Winchester) behaved so atrociously that Winchester was no longer allowed to play at Lords. Well over 100 years later the ban still stands! The Wykehamists sniffily named their main cricket pitch ‘Lords’. The Eton-Winchester match is the most important day in Winchester’s summer term.
The Eton-Harrow match still takes place at Lords. However, it is not the ‘must be seen’ event it once was. Both sides are desperate not too lose and adopt a very cautious strategy. This usually results in a draw.
In the 1860s Napoleon III was ruling France. People feared he might try to invade the United Kingdom. The school founded the Officer Training Corps. This provided army training to boys. This is now called the CCF – Combined Cadet Force. It is CCF because it combines the army and the air force. There was a naval section but not since the 1980s.
A high majority of the boys came from London or southern England. in the early days. Soon the upper class from the whole of Great Britain looked to Eton as the most desirable school. So many Scottish noble families had their sons at Eton that in the 19th century the Prime Minister Gladstone decided to found a school in Scotland to be Eton;s equaivaent. It is called Glenalmond and it was established to prevent Scotland losing so many of its sons to Eton. This effort met with only limited success. The British Flag was planted on every continent. Colonial governors of the largest colonies were usually Old Etonians. Eton’s glory was soon known throughout the British Empire. In the 1880s the first Indian boys attended the school – they were all sons of Maharajahs.
In the late 19th century Maths and Science became a larger part of the curriculum. This was in no small measure because one head master had a brother who was a mathematician. The mathematical brother convinced the head master that Maths ought to assume a much larger role in the boys’ schooling. Eton remained a Church of England school but Roman Catholics were readmitted for the first time in 320 years. Jewish boys were then also allowed into the school.
In the late 19th century it was decided that dames should no longer run houses on their own. It was difficult for an elderly woman to control 50 boys especially as some of these boys were aged 18. Therefore in the 1890s Eton started to buy houses from dames and build more houses. A man, called a housemaster, was placed in charge of each house. The dame was still there as a matron. But she was ancillary to the housemaster. The idle dame was the widow of an army officer. She could have children but they needed to be grown up and therefore not in need of much motherly care. The dame was to provide the feminine touch to the house.

  1. In what year was Eton founded?
  2. What is a dame at Eton?
  3. Is Eton a boarding school?
  4. Which country is Eton in?
  5. What is an Oppidan?
  6. What does KS stand for?
  7. Are there girls at Eton?
  8. What religion is Eton?
  9. Which kings went to Eton?
  10. What castle is the school near?

tongue twisters and April Fool’s Day


April Fools’ Day

People celebrate April Fools’ Day on 1st April in the Western World. This means that people will try to trick people on this day in a funny way. People will tell friends and relatives an incredible lie to see if they believe it.

The April Fools’ Day jokes are about seeing if people are gullible – if they believe something which is obviously untrue. For example, people post on Facebook ”I am about to have an operation to get a third arm attached.” Some people will believe this ridiculous statement. There are other examples like saying ”the Queen of England has announced that she going to become a clown”, ”my dog has learnt to read” or ”the government has is banning the word ‘the’ starting from tomorrow ”,   ”did you know that you will live ten years longer if you only ever drink through your nose?”    People will pretend to suddenly totally change their attitude. A well known vegetarian  might say she is going to start eating meat three times a day. A person might pretend to have totally changed his political opinions. A man who hates the European Union will suddenly say ”I absolutely love the European Union.” If someone believes such a foolish claim then you will say ‘April Fools’ Day’ loudly.

Some media organisations played April Fools’ Day jokes on the public. In the 1950s the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) showed a news item about special trees that grew spaghetti. Many people believe that spaghetti grew on trees! In 2008 the Guardian newspaper published an article saying that French President Sarkozy used special technology to make him look 10 centimetres taller than he really was. Notice the technology did NOT make him taller – it only made him LOOK taller by bending the light around him. It was an incredible thing to publish. But many people did not notice that it was 1st of April.

On April Fools’ Day most news items will be real! However, some media organisations will put in one joke news story to see if their readers or viewers notice. The next day the newspaper or new channel will tell their readers and viewers what the false story was. Some people think it is irresponsible of television channels and newspapers to publish such false stories. The public look to the media for information and not disinformation. Perhaps jokes should be on comedy shows and not in serious newspapers or on news broadcasts. But others argue these bogus stories are useful. It reminds people of the proverb ‘do not believe everything that you read in the newspapers’. It makes readers become more analytical and skeptical.

I am starting to build a bridge to the moon today.

  1. When is April Fools’ Day?
  2. Give an example of an April Fools’ Day joke.
  3. What is unusual about newspapers and news broadcasts on April Fools’ Day?
  4. If someone believes your crazily false claim on 1st April what should you say to them?
  5. Do you believe the claim about someone starting to build a bridge to the moon?
  6. Make up an April Fools’ Day claim – it should be something ridiculous. People should not believe it. Remember you are trying to see if people will fall for it.



Wunwun was a race horse

Tutu was one too.

Wunwun won one race today.

Tutu won one too.

1 1 was a race horse 2 2 was 1 2 1 1 1 1 race 2 day 2 2 1 1 2.


She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.


Betty Botter bought a bit of butter.
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter makes better batter.
So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter
Making Betty Botter’s bitter batter better


Shep Schwab shopped at Scott’s Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott’s Schnapps stopped Schwab’s watch.


A Proper Copper Coffee Pot.
The sixth sitting sheet-slitter slit six sheets.
Irish Wristwatch, Swiss Wristwatch.
Pad kid poured curd pulled cold.
Peggy Badcock.


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?


Sequel ne’er equaled prequel.


Proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance.

Yally Bally had a jolly golliwog. Feeling folly, Yally Bally Bought his jolly golli’ a dollie made of holly! The golli’, feeling jolly, named the holly dollie, Polly. So Yally Bally’s jolly golli’s holly dollie Polly’s also jolly!


How much wood could Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck, if Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood? If Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood, how much wood could and would Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck? Chuck Woods’ woodchuck would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as any woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could and would chuck wood.


Longest word in the English language:


Anti dis e stab lish ment ar i an ism.


flocc i nocc i ni hil pil if ic a tion


What is special about this sentence below?

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy sleeping dog.





Felicity lesson 7. 20th century Western art=================================================


Felicity lesson 7. 20th century Western Art.

The very early 20th century was known as La Belle Epoche ( French for ‘the beautiful era’). There was progress in all areas of life. Impressionism was all the rage and had become mainstream.

Moving images came out in the 1890s. These were films. At first films were very grainy and there were hardly any cinemas existed. Gradually picture quality improved. By 1912 Hollywood, California was the centre of the film industry.

In 1914 the First World War broke out. It was the bloodiest conflict the West had ever known. Propaganda art was produced for the war. This was mostly based on much older styles.

The First World War had a profound effect on Western art. Impressionism was more or less killed by the war. Memorialism became the dominant theme for a while. War memorials, gravestones and tombs were erected. There were triumphal arches and cenotaphs built. There was grief and mourning in art.

Anti-memorialism was a reaction against the lugubrious and macabre nature of memorialism. Some people preferred to look forward and celebrate life. Anti-memorialists said that memorialism was militaristic and glorified war.

The regimentation of society during the war angered many. Many people became anti-establishment. They disliked army officers and traditional types. Those who were horrified by the war moved to new artistic styles.

Dadaism was an artistic movement of the 1920s. It was an absurdist movement. Dadaists did things liked make a telephone with a model of a lobster as the earpiece. They were ridiculing convention and everything that was old fashioned.

Surrealism grew out of Dadaism. ‘Surreal’ means not real – it is about fantasy. Dadaism had blown open the doors for art. Surrealism experimented with images that could not possibly be real. Dreamlike imagery was produced.

Salvador Dali was perhaps the renowned surrealist. Dali was Spanish but spent much of his life in France. Dali painted melting clocks and crazy scenes. His imagery was even frightening.

In 1927 The Jazz Singer came out. This was the first film with sound. Before that words appeared on the screen to represent dialogue. A pianist played whatever music he considered best for the film. Actors in silent films had to express even more with their faces because they could not say anything.

Abstract art became a major movement in the 20th century. Art usually represents something outside itself. A painting of a woman looks like her. A sculpture of a dog resembles a dog. A drawing of a forest glade looks like its subject – a forest glade. However, abstract art went against this. Paintings were painted that did not look like anything. These would be colours on canvas. This was a very radical idea. Drawings and sculptures were made that did not resemble anything else. Some people found this aesthetically pleasing and artful. Others complained that abstract art was craftless and pointless.

In the 1930s colour photographs were invented. Colour photos were very expensive. Moreover, the colours tended to be garish and the images were unclear. Most photographers preferred black and white until the 1950s.

There was an artistic movement in the 1920s and 1930s called Bauhaus. It started in Germany. It was about curves and simplicity. It rejected the grandeur and formalism of previous styles. In terms of painting and drawing it was about smooth and round imagery with warm colour. It was unthreatening and homely.

Totalitarian governments in Germany and the Soviet Union produced neo-classical art. It favoured gargantuan sizes and stylised imagery. This was true of architecture, sculpture and painting. It was a very macho style.

By the 1930s cinemas were all over the Western world. Cinema became the most crucial artistic medium. The first colour film was The Wizard of Oz which was released in 1939. It was a worldwide sensation.

After the Second World War pop art became widespread. This favoured cartoon like images. It was partly abstract but also expressionist. Images in pop art were recognisable as people, houses, plants or whatever but pop art did not try to make them at all realistic. It was sparse in its construction and unreal in its colour schemes.

Jackson Pollack was an American artist who threw paint at canvases. Was this art? Or just a mess. Modern forms of art were very unrealistic.

Some people are more traditional and prefer art that requires a gift for art and an effort to be made. They hold that art must look like something else.

In the 1950s most people in the Western world had televisions. Television became a very important artistic medium. People did not go to art galleries so much or read newspapers or books so much. Films were often shown on TV.

In the late 20th century the divide between high art and popular culture broke down. High art was intellectual, costly and exclusive. People ceased to paint on canvases much.

Installation art became popular in the late 20th century. Household items such as fridges, sofas and beds were displayed as art work. Some people thought that this was fascinating and artful. Others said that installation art was worthless and stupid.

In the late 20th century a group called Young British Artists (YBA) emerged in the UK. YBA were keen on installation art. Tracey Emin was a prominent member of YBA. Damien Hirst was another prominent YBA person. Hirst famously cut up a dead cow and displayed it as art. He won the very prestigious Turner Prize for this. Some commentators said that slicing up a cow was not art. What does it mean? A dead cow is not beautiful or thought provoking. Artists strove to be controversial. As they had to try to hard to get attention perhaps this means visual art is no longer so vital.

By the late 20th century cinema was the most important form of art. In the United States people say ‘movie’ whereas in the United Kingdom people say ‘film’. In the USA people go to a ‘move theater’ (note the spelling of ‘e’ before ‘r’ in the American spelling of theater). In the UK people go to a cinema to watch films. When talking about movies or films as an art form people tend to call it ‘cinema’. The art of film making is called ‘cinematography’.

There are art house films. These will be high brow (high intellectual level) and low budget. The plot will not be obvious and the actors are not famous. These demand a lot from audiences and are often strange.

Mass market films are produced by Hollywood. These have huge budgets and stars who are world famous. The story will be easy to follow and the visuals will be fantastic. These films are usually low brow.

The Oscars is the most famous cinema awards ceremony. It takes place each spring in Hollywood, USA. There are different categories such as best picture. By ‘picture’ they mean film/ movie. There is best male actor, best female actor, best male actor in a supporting role, best female actor in a supporting role , best score (music) , best foreign language film (i.e. not in English) and so forth.

Sculpture has declined as an art form. Likewise not many paintings are produced particularly not oil paintings. Very wealthy people sometimes have their portrait painted in oil paints.



  1. What was La Belle Epoche?
  2. What was memorialism?
  3. What was anti-memorialism?
  4. What is Dadaism?
  5. What is Surrealism?
  6. Who was Dali?
  7. What is abstract art?
  8. When did colour photographs come out?
  9. What is bauhaus?
  10. What styles did totalitarian governments favour?
  11. What is pop art?
  12. What did Jackson Pollack do?
  13. What is high art?
  14. What does YBA stand for?
  15. Who is Tracey Emin?
  16. What was Hirst’s famous piece of art?
  17. What prize did Hirst win?
  18. What is installation art?
  19. Is abstract art really art? Five marks.
  20. What is low brow?
  21. How do Americans spell ‘theatre’?



communication lesson 14


communication lesson 14.


Football has existed many centuries. However, football was often very different in past times. There were many different types of football in each region. In some places people were allowed to pick up the ball. In other regions this was forbidden. In some areas shin hacking was allowed and in other places this was prohibited. Shin hacking was kicking the shins. In some areas there were 10 players on each time and in other areas it was 20 players a side. Some villages said there was no limit to the number of players. Some places had lines drawn on a field to mark the area of play. In other regions there were no lines marking the pitch.
When people from one region traveled to another region to play football they often found that they were playing by different rules to their opponents. Because railways had been built people could travel further and faster than before.
In 1863 the Football Association was founded in England. This organisation is known as the FA. The FA got together football players from around the country. They discussed the various versions of the rules of football. That year the FA published the rules of football. The FA considered these the best rules. This marks the start of football as a properly organised sport.
Workers had Saturday afternoon off work from that time. Workers began to play football in their free time. The famous teams often grew out of teams made up of men who worked in a particular place. Manchester City Football Club was for railway workers. Arsenal F C was for those who worked at the Royal Arsenal making guns for the army. That is why there is a cannon on the symbol of Arsenal. Arsenal are known as ”the Gooners” – as in ”Gunners”. Football became very popular. People came to watch. Soon football clubs put up fences and would only allow people in to watch if they paid. Football clubs became rich organisations. At first only railway workers were allowed to play for Manchester City. Then the club changed the rule and allowed anyone to play. They just wanted excellent players. Likewise Arsenal at first only selected players from among men who worked at that factory. They abolished that rule and they searched for talented players from wherever.
The players began to take their sports more seriously. It was no longer just for fun. It was competitive. They would play a match on Saturday but they would train a few times a week. They began to work less on their ordinary job. The club paid them to train and play. Football became a professional sport.
Football spread around the world. The first international match ever was between Scotland and England in 1870.
Soon many countries were playing football. International matches became more common after 1900. Improving transport made it possible for teams to travel the world.
More newspapers were being printed. Improved transport allowed these newspapers to be taken around the country. Exciting accounts of football matches enthused many people. Newspapers began to print photos of the matches. Football became so popular that clubs could not just let people stand by the pitch to watch. They started to build stadiums so more people could watch the game. Companies began to sponsor clubs and pay for advertising in clubs.
In the 1920s radio broadcasts began. They often broadcast live commentary on the match. In the 1930s television broadcasts began and football matches were shown on television. At first televisions were extremely expensive and only a few people had tellies.
In 1930 the first football world cup was held. England refused to participate. They thought it would distract from club matches and club football was more important than international football.
The 1930 World Cup was held in Uruguay. The host nation won.
In 1934 the World Cup was held in Italy. Italy was ruled by a fascist dictator called Mussolini. Mussolini said Italians were superior. He had to make sure his people won. He bribed the referees. Italy won 2-1 against Czechoslovakia in the final. Italy was a formidable football nation. Even without cheating they would have done well but probably not won.
The 1938 World Cup was held in France. Italy beat Hungary in the final 4.2.
1. When was the FA founded?
2. What does the FA stand for?
3. Which two countries played in the first international football match?
4. What is an arsenal?
5. Who was originally allowed to play for Manchester City?
6. Which country hosted the 1934 World Cup?
7. Why did England not take party in the 1930 World Cup?
8. Who won the 1930 World Cup?
9. What was the result in the 1938 World Cup Final?
10. DO YOU like football? Explain you answer. (6)




There are many tenses in English. That last sentence was in present simple.

I am writing this. That last sentence was in present continuous as it used the ‘ing’ form for the verb.

I wrote a sentence in past simple. This sentence is in present simple but the one before is in past simple.

I have been to China. That previous sentence is present simple. I had been to India before I went to China. That sentence mentioning ‘India’ was in past perfect tense.

I will go to Brazil soon. That was in future simple.

I will be going to Brazil in July. That is future continuous.

I was traveling around Thailand in 2001. That sentence is past continuous.

I had had a good time there. That is past perfect tense.

Now write one sentence in each of these tenses: present simple, present continuous, present perfect, past perfect, future simple and future continuous.



There are several parts of speech in English.

A noun is a part of speech. A noun is a person, place or thing. Nouns are subdivided into proper nouns, common nouns and abstract nouns.

Felicity is a noun because ‘Felicity’ is a person – so is ‘George’, so is ‘Mildred’ and so is ‘Suzy’. The name of any person is a noun. These are proper nouns because each person is unique. A proper noun begins with a capital letter even if it is not at the beginning of a sentence.

China is a noun since it is a place. This is a proper noun because it is an exact place. Likewise Shanghai, San Francisco and Paris are proper nouns. A proper noun is the name of any city, street, country, organization, the title of a book, the title of a film etc… A proper noun must be exact. ‘The street’ is not a proper noun since it is not exact. ‘Oak Street’ is a proper noun since it is a precise place. ‘My country’ is not a proper noun since there are many countries. ‘Spain’ is a proper noun because there is only one Spain.

A common noun is any object – table, pencil, leg, frog, the sky etc….

An abstract noun is a noun that cannot be touched. These are things like ‘happiness, sleep, idea, goodness, truth, lies, future, wellness, hope and fear’. These things exist and can be experienced but they cannot be touched. They often exist in the mind. That is what abstract means – something which is not tangible.



Verbs are doing words. They all have an infinitive which is the core form of the verb. Some examples of infinitives are: to go, to come, to be, to have, to eat and to think. The infinitive is usually prefaced with the word ‘to’.

We used to say a ditty: Verbs, verbs – doing words!

Verbs do not have to be physical. Some non-physical actions are ‘to decide, to feel, to realise, to think, to be and to analyse’.


These replace nouns. Rather than say ‘Felicity’ I could say ‘she’ or ‘her’ depending on the context. The other pronouns are ‘he, him, it, that, these, those, we, us, they and them’.

There are possessive pronouns which show possession. Possession is about ownership or belonging. The possessive pronouns are ‘my, mine, ours, theirs, his, hers and its.’



A conjunction joins words together. The word ‘junction’ is about ‘joining.’ Remember a ‘junction’ is a railway station where two or more lines cross. Do you see the similarity between junction and conjunction? It is about connecting or joining.  Here are examples: ‘and, but, however, rather, moreover, therefore, because, furthermore, so’ etc….

These words connect others which is why the other name for conjunctions is ‘connectives’. Conjunctions and connectives are exactly the same thing. These are two different words for the same thing.


This word is pronounced ‘PREP o zish unz’ . However, it is easier to understand if you say it is ‘PRE poz ish unz.’. This is because prepositions are about the POSITION of words. Prepositions are words of position or direction. Here are examples: ‘up, down, in, out, above, below, beside, within, without, behind, beneath, away, far, under, over, along, around, by, with, to, from and many more.



  1. Define a noun. Then give ten examples – these can a mixture be from any of the noun classes i.e. proper nouns, common nouns and abstract nouns.
  2. Define a proper noun. Then give ten examples
  3. Define a common noun.
  4. Define an abstract noun.
  5. Define a conjunction. Give five examples.
  6.  Define a preposition. Give five examples.
  7.  Define a verb. Give ten examples.