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Classwork Series and Exercises {English Language – SS2}: Diphthongs, Determiners and Writing Skill

English Language SS2 First Term

Week 3


Oracy Skills: Diphthongs

Grammar: Determiners

Writing Skills: How to read and listen for gist

The Habit of Reading

A. Diphthongs

A Diphthong is a type of vowel that begins as one sound, then changes into another. (Note that di – is a prefix meaning ‘two’.) E.g. in the word ‘waist’, the sound /e/ is followed by the sound /i/ to produce /ei/sound.

Sound Example
/ei/ Brain, lame
/ai/ Eye, thigh
/ͻi/ Voice, coin
/əʊ/ Bone, nose
/aʊ/ Aloud, mouth
/ie/ Ear, fear
/eə/ Hair, pair
/ʊə/ Actual, factual

B. Grammar: Determiners

Determiners are a group of words which include articles (a, the), demonstratives (this, those), possessive adjectives (my, their), numbers (one, two), and other words (any, both) that come before a noun, follow another determiner, or begin a noun phrase.

Determiners include quantifiers, which are words or phrases used before a noun to show its quantity. Examples of quantifiers are: all, many, much, most, one, some, a few, and a lot of, etc.

Determiners and quantifiers are useful in letting us know more about the noun that they refer. For example, this thing identifies something that is close at hand; her wig means the wig belongs to her; another donkey tells of one more donkey; and a few marbles refers to a small number of marble.

Definite and indefinite articles: the, a, an

The definite article the as a determiner can be used before singular or plural nouns such as people or things, and before countable and uncountable nouns.

We use the determiner the:

to refer to people or things which we know because they have already been mentioned.

  • There is a man selling apple at the marketplace. I know the man; he is my uncle.
  • I know there are bats in that cave. I have been to the cave and seen the bats.

to refer to a person or thing when there is only one.

  • She is the maid-servant of my aunt.

before superlatives, words such as firstonly, etc.

  • Peacocks have the most beautiful feathers.
  • The first runner up of the sprint game was given a bicycle.

before proper nouns.

  • The Robinsons are the latest members of the ghost-hunting club.
  • The Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in the world.

We use the determiners a/an:

to refer to someone or things that we know nothing about as they have not been mentioned before, or they are not particular persons or things.

  • She brought home cat.
  • There was an explosion in a nearby market.

before an uncountable noun.

  • The two sisters share a liking for cat fish.
  • He has an unusually bad temper.

before an action noun.

  • She had a quick glance at me, and then looked away.
  • She always has bath that lasts at least an hour.

before a quantity.

  • He uttered a few annoying words before leaving yesterday.
  • She needs a bit of exercise to reduce her enormous body weight.

before a proper noun such as a person’s name.

  • A Mrs Brown visited you last week.

Demonstratives: this/these, that/those (these and those are plural).

This, that, these and those are called demonstratives. As determiners, this and that appear before singular nouns, and these and those being plurals of this and that respectively come before plural nouns.


  • This colour is not among the primary colours.
  • That hill was shaped almost like a human head.
  • These footprints are left by crawling baby.

Nouns need not follow these determiners if the meaning is understood.


  • Whose is this?
  • Look at that.
  • Those are mine.

The words – this, that, these, those – besides being determiners, are also used as pronouns. One good way to distinguish between them is determiner, unlike pronoun, comes before nouns.

Determiner Pronoun
This rice is still hot. This is a hot rice.
That lady is beautiful. That is a very beautiful lady.
These apples are bad. These are bad apples.
Those dark clouds are gathering overhead. Those are dark clouds gathering overhead.

Possessives (possessive determiners): my, your, his, her, its, our, their 

Possessive determiners indicate possession and we use them before the nouns.


  • Who broke her new plate?
  • Your dog barks all the time
  • His left leg was broken in two places in the accident.
  • She misplaced my pen.
  • Our School has a dinner party next week.

Quantifiers used with countable nouns include a, an, one, each, every, both, a couple of, a few, several, many, a number of, a large number of, and a great number of.


  • An evil monster like him has no friends.
  • One page my text book is missing.
  • Every girl should be given a cup of chocolate.
  • Both donkeys are braying at the same time.
  • A couple of people began to dance after eating.
  • I think he is putting too many eggs in one basket.
  • A number of her friends agreed with her that she looked fabulous in her new dress.

Few and a few

Few and a few come before plural countable nouns. Few (without a) conveys a negative meaning of only a small number or hardly any; a few has a positive meaning of having some but enough.

  • There were a few casualties in the automobile accident. (= Not many died or injured.)
  • Few passers-by stopped to look at my paintings. (= Almost no passers-by were interested.)

C. Skill Focus: How to Read and Listen for Gist

Those who read a text or listen to a talk often try to remember everything – and as a result, remember nothing. So they usually fail to recognise the main points the speaker or writer is making.

Here is some general advice on how to get the main points of what you are reading or listening to:

  • Bear in mind the answer to this question: ‘What are the speaker’s (or writer’s) main points?’
  • Don’t get distracted by details
  • If you can identify the main points, the supporting details will often easily spring to mind
  • If it helps, make brief notes. These do not need to be in complete sentences, but they should be legible: if you can’t read them, you can’t use them.

D. The Habit of Reading: Reading Widely

It is very important that you develop and maintain as far as possible the habit of reading widely – books, newspapers, magazines – anything that can educate you.

Newspapers and magazines are important because they help you to keep in touch with what is going on in the world. This is very important if you want to make informed decisions about all sorts of issues that face us as citizens of the world including:

  • How to lead your life
  • How to decide who to vote for in an election
  • What to eat and how live healthy
  • How to relate to other people

Literature – novels, short stories, plays and poems – also help us to develop our own value systems with a strong moral basis, and a greater understanding of human nature. Also we have religious materials too such as the Bible that teaches christians how to live and walk with God and the Quran which guides a muslim’s way of life.

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