Language Matters - Pot Pourri: Suggested Answers

The task for this section can be found here. If there are any terms in the answers which are not familiar to you, look them up in the ELT Glossary.

1. have been found 


Present Perfect Simple Passive composed of

- auxiliary verb BE plus past participle of irregular lexical verb find indicates passive voice

- BE is in present perfect simple form /auxiliary HAVE plus past participle of irregular BE - been) to indicate aspect

- HAVE is in present tense to indicate tense and 3rd person plural form to agree with the noun phrases that form the subject of the clause.



- functions as the verb phrase in the first (main) clause of the sentence

- passive voice used to avoid having to state the agent(s) of the action

- present perfect simple indicates a past event with a present result


Problems for Learners

a) Phonology - receptive : Connected speech features could change the pronunciation of the phrase to--- 

i) /əv bɪn faʊnd/ with elision of /h/ and weakening of the vowels /æ/ and /iː/   or

ii) /ə bɪn faʊnd/ with additional elision of  /v/

This could make the verb phrase difficult for all learners to decode and particularly those whose L1 was syllable timed - eg Italians

b) Pronunciation - productive : Japanese learners often have difficulty pronouncing the alveolar fricative /f/ which does not exist in Japanese and will replace it with the bilabial fricative [ɸ]

c) Use/Grammar : Learners without a clear understanding of the use of the present perfect simple to emphasise the present result of a past action may be confused as to why the verb form was not "were found".


2. a huge 9,000-year-old settlement 


- Heavily pre-modified noun phrase, used to achieve concision

- Here is the complement of the prepositional phrase (with the head of which postmodifies the noun phrase the site.  

Composed of:

- a : indefinite article functioning as determiner for the noun phrase. A rather than an used because followed by the consonant sound /h/. Used to indicate that the following information is new to the reader and/or the text.

- huge :  adjective indicating large size

- 9,000 : cardinal number - first part of compound adjective 9,000 year old

- year : countable, common noun. Here singular, as used adjectivally

- old : adjective, here denoting a specific age

- settlement : singular, common, countable noun. Here used as the head of the noun phrase.


Problems for Learners


a. Pronunciation - productive : Ls might have difficulty with individual sounds in the phrase due to differences from their L1. Eg:

i) Italian learners would be liable to omit the /h/ in "huge", producing /juːʤ/, as /h/ is not a phoneme of standard Italian.

ii) The phoneme  /θ/ occurs relatively few languages, and learners might tend to replace it with a more familiar sound, eg /t/, producing /taʊzənd/

iii) Spanish L1 speakers will often substitute /ʤ/ for  /j/, thus producing  /ʤɪə/ rather than /jɪə/. Additionally, there is no /z/ sound in Spanish, so they are likely to produce /θaʊsənd/


b. Word order : The order of adjectives preceding a noun is fairly rigid - here eg size must precede age - and when writing or speaking learners may use a random order.


c. Grammar :  Year is singular, despite following a plural number, because it is here used adjectivally. Ls may not recognise this, and be confused by the lack of the plural "s". When producing similar expressions they may add the "s"


d. Lexis : Settlement is not a common word and also has the alternative meaning of agreement as in a legal settlement. Learners may therefore have difficulty understanding its meaning here.


e. Punctuation : Learners whose L1 uses a full stop rather than a comma to indicate  the thousand and hundreds part of the number (eg Italian, Spanish) might produce 9.000


f. Punctuation: Ls may have seen other compound words unhyphenated and be unsure as to when the hyphen is obligatory and when it is optional. In this phrase, where the compound adjective pre-modifies a noun, it is generally considered obligatory. See here.


3. uncovered

Form : past participle of the regular verb uncover  (base form of the verb + -ed suffix). Past simple passive construction in a reduced relative clause - ie one where the relative pronoun (that/which) and verb BE have been ellipted (=that/which were uncovered).   The ellipsis is possible because the relative pronoun acts as (or would act as) the subject of the relative clause.

Use : Defining relative clause - specifies which objects are being referred to.- which is subordinate to the main clause which forms the rest of the sentence.

Transcription : /ʌnˈkʌvəd/


4.  located 


- past participle of the regular verb uncover  (base form of the verb + -ed suffix – here, -d only as the verb already ends in “e”). 

- past simple passive construction in a reduced relative clause - ie one where the relative pronoun (which) and verb BE have been ellipted (=which is located).   

Use: Non-defining relative clause – gives extra information about the referent. The clause could be removed and the sentence would still be grammatical and make sense.

Transcription : /ləʊ’keɪtɪd/



5.   housing 

Form: Present participle of regular verb house. Spelling – “e” omitted before addition of –ing suffix as preceded by a consonant

Use: Equivalent to a relative pronoun plus simple present verb – which houses

Problems for Learners:

a. Pronunciation : All Ls meeting this verb would already know the noun house. They might therefore try and pronounce it in the same way – ie */haʊsɪŋ/ rather than the correct /haʊzɪŋ/

b. UseLs might not understand the use of the participle as the equivalent of a relative clause , and fail to decode the sentence accurately.

c. Use : As they would know that present participles are used in continuous verb forms, Ls might interpret the verb as a reduced relative clause (one where the relative pronoun and verb BE have been elided) and interpret it as *which is housing rather than which houses.

d. Pronunciation : Ls would have problems with any sounds which do not occur in their own language. Eg even at intermediate/ upper intermediate level when they might come across the word, litalian learners would still tend to omit the initial /h/ producing


6. that

Form/Use: relative pronoun introducing a defining relative clause

- acts as subject in the clause

- anaphoric reference to "rooms"


Problems for Learners

a. Use : Confusion over whether that or which should be used. Here either is possible as it is a defining relative clause. Were it non-defining, only which would be possible. Learners might be uncertain as to the rule.

b. Phonology - receptive : In connected speech  that would likely be reduced  to a weak form. The vowel /æ/ would be weakened to the schwa and the /t/ possibly elided leading to the sequence /ðəwə/. Learners might fail to decode this into it's component words.

c) Phonology - productive : the dental fricative /ð/ is used in relatively few languages liable to be spoken by our learners (exceptions being Danish, Greek and Arabic). Most learners (especially at lower levels) will therefore have difficulty pronouncing it and may  replace it with /d/ or /z/.

d) Punctuation : Confusion over whether commas (or other punctuation such as dashes or parentheses should be used), as in defining relative clauses, or not. This could lead to errors such as with rooms, that were once used for...

e) Ellipsis - productive: As that is followed by the verb BE, both could be ellipted, forming a reduced relative clause and producing ...with rooms once used for living...  However, learners may not realise that subject ellipsis in relative clauses is only possible in this case. If they have met ellipsis of relative pronouns acting as object, they may over-extend the rule, ellipting only that and producing *...with rooms were once used....


7. as well as 

Form: Complex preposition

Use: Head of the prepositional phrase. Indicates the concept of addition.

Problems for learners:

a) The meaning is non-transparent and cannot be inferred from the individual words. Learners meeting it and trying to decode it using the meanings of “as…as” and “well” that they already know would be confused.

b) German speakers might pronounce “well” as /vel/ as the letter “w” is always pronounced as /v/ in their L1.

c) Japanese learners might have problems with the /l/ sound in “well” as /l/ and /r/ are allophones in Japanese.

d) Learners from L1 groups who speak syllable-timed languages might overstress both instances of “as" producing /ˈæz ˈwel ˈæz/ rather than  /əz ˈwel əz/


8.  used for hunting 


used : past participle of regular verb “use”. The “e” is not doubled in the spelling as the verb ends in “e” preceded by a consonant.

- is the “visible” part of a defining, reduced relative clause (ie one where both the relative pronoun and the verb BE have been omitted – here, which/that were used)

for : preposition, head of the prepositional phrase. Indicates use.

hunting : gerund, dependent on the preposition for and complement of the prepositional phrase

Connected Speech: The citation form  /’ju:zd fɔ: ‘hʌntɪŋ/ could become    /’ju:s fə ‘hʊntɪŋ/

- elision : the /d/ could be elided

- assimilation: with the /d/ elided the voiced /z/ could assimilate to the unvoiced /f/ which follows (regressive assimilation of voicing)

- the vowel /ɔ:/ in for would probably be reduced to the schwa /ə/, as for is a grammatical word in an unstressed position


9.  they were worn by children


- Subordinate clause with subordinating conjunction that ellipted.

They: 3rd person plural personal subject pronoun. Anaphoric reference to Stone bracelets.

were worn: past simple passive form of irregular verb wear composed of BE in past simple (here 3rd person plural were to agree with the subject they) plus the past participle of the main verb – worn.

- use of the passive allows the typical given-new structure of discourse to be used – ie the sentence starts with reference to the already known information (the stone bracelets) before continuing with the new information.

- use of the past simple indicates a completed event in past time.

by:  preposition, head of the prepositional phrase. Introduces the agent of the verb.

- children: irregular plural countable noun (child-children). Here acts as complement of the prepositional phrase and is the agent of the action expressed by the verb.

Connected Speech:

Were is a grammatical word in unstressed position, so the vowel /ɜ:/ would probably be weakened from to the schwa /ə/

Worn by : probable regressive assimilation of place – the alveolar nasal /n/ in worn would change to the bilabial nasal /m/ in front of the bilabial plosive /b/ in by

Resulting in: /ðeɪ wə wɔ:m baɪ ʧɪldrən/


10. Cohesive Ties

a) Stone - forms a lexical tie with flint (previously in the text) and obsidian (later). All three are co-hyponyms of the category materials.

b) bracelets - forms a lexical tie of hyponymy with the superordinate jewellery in the pull quote.

c) also - connective /adverb) of addition, linking the finding of the bracelets to the previously mentioned finding of other stone objects - figurines - thus creating logical coherence of the information

d)  Their - third person plural possessive determiner referring anaphorically to the plural noun mentioned immediately before (bracelets), so that the reader understands that the small size mentioned "belongs to" the bracelets.

e) They - third person plural subject pronoun referring anaphorically to the immediately preceding plural noun - again, bracelets

f) The researchers - Grammatical plus lexical cohesion - anaphoric reference plus synonymy. Definite article the used to indicate that the following information is shared between writer and reader. The reader therefore "knows s/he knows" who the researchers are and links the word with the preceding plural nouns archeologists and excavators, understanding the three terms as synonyms used instead of repetition of the same item to make the text more varied and interesting

g) Elision of subordinating conjunction that introducing the subordinate clause they were worn by children.


12.  these

Form : Plural proximal demonstrative determiner.

Use:  Indicates exophoric reference (ie reference to something outside the text - in this case in the photo)

Use: Pre-modifies the noun in the noun phrase these beads