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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 8th, 2009, 12:14 pm
Whistleblower's Avatar
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Default First Grammar Question in Years

I was teaching a class and the students had a correction exercise to do. One question popped up about the following statement:

"I have breakfast before having a shower".

How would you teach the usage of this? I checked my grammar book but couldn't find much about this. How would you teach when to use the continuous form with simple form? Which action should be continuous or not? Just having a stumble with this one and need help.
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Unread Aug 8th, 2009, 09:08 pm
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Default Re: First Grammar Question in Years

It seems to me that "having a shower" is used in that sentence, not as the present continuous but as a gerund. A gerund is a verb that acts as a noun. We can commonly see gerunds in words that describe hobbies and activities. For example, "I have dinner before watching TV." In this sentence, "watching TV" is seen as an activity and therefore it is more of a noun than a verb in the present continuous. Gerunds play the role of turning verbs into nouns by adding -ing.
Some teachers often confuse the use of the present continuous with gerunds. I can understand why. Of course at school we were always made to see the present continuous as auxiliary verb "to be" and verb with "-ing".
In your sentence, "having a shower" is an activity derived from a verb, therefore a gerund. Also there is no auxiliary verb "to be" in that sentence. So if you wanted to use "having a shower" as the present continuous form of a verb it would likely appear with an auxiliary verb as in this example: " I am having a shower."
The verb "to be" conjugated as "am" plus verb with -ing.
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Unread Aug 9th, 2009, 04:08 pm
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Default Re: First Grammar Question in Years

Thank you for the help kisito. How would you go about teaching this to a class of Intermediate students? The students were as puzzled as I was when we got down to the grammar. They knew the message but couldn't get their heads around when to use a gerund or not. If you know of any activity that gets really helps explain the usage of this form, that would be really appreciated.
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Unread Aug 31st, 2009, 10:54 am
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Default Re: First Grammar Question in Years

Remember that "before" can be used as a preposition - as in I always go for a run before breakfast as well as a subordinating conjunction - as in I always go for a run before I have breakfast. And if a verb follows a preposition in English, it's always in the gerund - as in Thank you for waiting. So in your example, it's just before (prep) + verb (gerund) being used as an alternative to before (conjunction) + SVC.
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