Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > How do you call this structure? And how do you explain it to your students?    

How do you call this structure? And how do you explain it to your students?


How do you call this structure? And how do you explain it to your students?
Hello everyone!

How are you?

I �ve got a question I need to ask. I �ve come across this sentence in a transformations excercise: To hear him speak you would think he is a very good student.
This type of sentence structure doesn �t strike me as odd, as I �ve seen and heard it being used before. But the question is: Is there a particular name for it? And how do you (or would you) explain it to your students?

Thank you in advance for your replies!

Have a nice day/ eveningSmile

19 Apr 2011      


As a native speaker I �ve never heard  this type of sentence called anything. It �s quite commonly used.
It made me think of the proverb:Appearances can be deceiving.
Prov. Things can look different from the way they really are. Edward seems like a very nice boy, but appearances can be deceiving. (He�s actually horrible) Jane may look like she doesn �t understand you, but she �s really extremely bright. Appearances can be deceiving.
Could this be used in explaining what this sort of sentence means? These sentences always have an underlying BUT statement which is either already known by the person being spoken to, or will be explained when they respond with �Why? What �s the matter? �/ �Isn �t he a good student? �.
To hear him speak you would think he is a very good student ........but he actually suffers from a form of dyslexia and can hardly read.
To see him playing with his brothers you would would think he was perfectly healthy...... but he actually has incurable leukemia and is in remission at the moment.

19 Apr 2011     


Hmmm...That �s a good explanation...I could use that...And, as far as the structure as such is concerned, I suppose I could simply illustrate its formation and use with a few more examples (yours will be included, of courseSmile).

Thanks a bunch for your quick and clear reply, Apodo!


19 Apr 2011     


Actually it�s a simple sentence synthesized of two simple sentences. It starts with an infinitive.

It can be explained by presenting examples of the same type of sentences and even by asking the students to do the same.

We can use gerund or present participle also to explain such sentences.

Hearing him speak_______.

I hope it will help you.

19 Apr 2011     


WHAT do we call this structure?

To be honest, does it really matter? Why not try to get the basics right before trying to explain grammatical gobbledygook?

Sorry if I was blunt, but this seems to be a problem in many countries, esp. Asia. Local teachers do their utmost to explain every little grammar detail (in L1), while many - both teachers and students - can �t even have a basic English conversation.

19 Apr 2011     


Well, magneto, I �d say it is an infinitive phrase. Try googling this term and  you will find several pages of explanations and examples.
Hope this is helpful. Have a nice evening.

19 Apr 2011     


PhyllipR... just loved your word "gobbledygook" !!!LOL  
This could be a good word for WOD! Wink

19 Apr 2011     


Could the name for this structure be the "reduction of adverbial clauses"?

E.G, we can change the sentence as follows:

when you hear him speak, you would think he is a very good student.

We can omit "when", and we can use a gerund or infinitive structure instead.

19 Apr 2011     


Logged on again today. Saw all your answers...

@Apodo, rttrr, pollyanna_pl and quietus:
Thank you for your replies. You �ve been very helpful!

P.S.: You may speak a foreign language very well*� ...But make one mistake because you thought in your mother tongue for one minute*� and some people won �t point it out politely*�; they will just crucify you...Because, apparently, they are infallible...or simply because they woke up in a bad mood this morning...

Unless, of course, your mistake has prevented anyone from understanding the message you �ve been trying to convey...Has it???

*� (one that has been forced upon the world after centuries of applying imperialistic policies, BTW)
("Shame on you! Why isn �t English your first language?")
(in which case you would appreciate their good intentions and thank them for correcting you...)

22 Apr 2011