DTS

Grammar Season

Relative clauses + (be/get)Used to Episode

„We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.” – Interstellar

 

In the not so distant future somewhere in the American Midwest, Cooper is tied to his farming land with his father-in-law Donald, his son Tom and his highly intelligent daughter Murph, who shares his father’s affinity for space and science.
Cooper is a college-educated former NASA test pilot and engineer, who was forced to give up his occupation to farm because there are huge sandstorms, droughts and famines all over the world that devastating earth’s crops.
People are used to living under these circumstances but they realize their life here on Earth is coming to an end as food begins to run out. They can’t live their lives like they used to. In the meantime, Murph is communicating with a ‘ghost’ in her room who leads them to a NASA base near Cooper’s home where they meet with Dr Brand and his scientist team. He is asked to go on a daring mission with a few other scientists into a wormhole near Jupiter, which was discovered recently.
Ten years earlier, 12 individual astronauts were sent out through the wormhole in 12 different ships, but only three (Miller, Mann, and Edmond’s) sent promising feedback. In order to find a new home while Earth decays, Cooper must decide to either stay or risk never seeing his children again in order to save the human race by finding another habitable planet.
The mission has two plans: Plan A is to rescue a large number of people to a space station. This requires Dr Brand to solve the equation that will allow the scientists to overcome gravity. Plan B is to colonize the most habitable planet along with a bunch of frozen embryos to repopulate the species. The ring-shaped Endurance is up ahead and they dock with it, which has all their needs for space travel.
After 2 years of travelling, they reach the wormhole, go through it and they arrive in a new galaxy. Although they are all trained astronauts, they aren’t used to wormhole travel. They decide to head first to Miller’s planet because that is the most promising. When they land, all they find is shallow water and wreckage of Miller’s ship, who apparently died.
They soon realize that the only way to ever get data to save humanity would be to get inside a black hole, which is impossible without being killed.
Will Cooper ever be sitting on the front porch drinking beer again like he and Donald used to, or they fail their mission?

 

GRAMMAR

Used to

HOW?

 

 

Positive: 

Subject + used to + infinitive

  • We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars.

 

Negative*:

Subject + didn’t use to + infinitive

  • We didn’t use to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars.

 

Question*:

Did + subject + use to + infinitive?

  • Did we use to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars?

 

* NOTE: With the negative and the question it’s ‘use’ and not ‘used’!

 

WHEN?

 

We use this expression to talk about habits or repeated actions in the past, which we don’t do in the present. We also use it to talk about states in the past, which are no longer true:

  • We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars.
  • They can’t live their lives like they used to.
  • Will Cooper ever be sitting on the front porch drinking beer again like he and Donald used to do.
NOTE: 
With this ‘used to’ there is NO verb ‘be’. We CAN’T say ‘We are used to look up the sky….’

 

 

Be/get used to

HOW?

 

Positive:

Subject + be* used to + verb-ing / noun

  • People are used to living under these circumstances.
  • People have been living under these circumstances for years so they are used to drought.

 

Negative**:

Subject + be* + not + used to + verb-ing / noun

  • Although they are all trained astronauts, they aren’t used to travelling this fast.
  • Although they are all trained astronauts, they aren’t used to wormhole travel.

 

Question**:

Be* + subject + used to + verb-ing / noun?

  • Are people used to living under these circumstances?
  • Are they used to wormhole travel?

 

*NOTE: We can put the verb ‘be’ into any tense. So we can talk about things in the past or the future as well as the present using this expression!
**NOTE: We make the negative or the question with the verb ‘be’ in the normal way. The ‘used to’ doesn’t change!

 

WHEN?

 

We use ‘be used to + verb-ing’ to talk about things, which feel normal for us, or things that we are accustomed to:

  • People are used to living under these circumstances (=this is normal for them.)

 

And we can express the opposite with the negative:

  • Although they are all trained astronauts, they aren’t used to travelling this fast. (=this is abnormal for them even though they are trained for space travel.)

 

We can also use ‘be used to + noun’, which has the same meaning:

  • People have been living under these circumstances for years so they are used to drought.
  • Although they are all trained astronauts, they aren’t used to wormhole travel.

 

We can use ‘get used to + verb-ing/noun’ to talk about the change of not normal to normal. We can also use this in any tense:

  • Don’t worry about wormhole travel. You’ll get used to it.
  • It took them a while, but they got used to living under these circumstances.

 

 

Relative clauses

WHEN?

 

We can use relative clauses to join two English sentences, or to give more information about something.

We use relative clauses to give additional information about something without starting another sentence. By combining sentences with a relative clause, your text becomes more fluent and you can avoid repeating certain words.

 

HOW?

 

Relative clauses (adjective/adjectival clauses) are dependent clauses that provide descriptive information about a noun. Relative clauses are introduced by either a relative pronoun (who, which, that, whose, whom (rare in modern English)) or a relative adverb (where, when, why), and the information they provide can either be essential or nonessential to the completeness of the sentence.

Defining

 

Defining relative clauses (also called identifying relative clauses or restrictive relative clauses) give detailed and essential information defining a general term or expression. Defining relative clauses are not put in commas.

1. The relative pronoun is the subject:

In speaking we can use ‘who’ for people, ‘which’ for things or ‘that’ for people and things. (However, when you use defining relative clauses in academic writing, use ‘which’ for things; ’who’ for people.)
If the relative pronoun is followed by a verb, the relative pronoun is a subject pronoun. We can’t drop the relative pronoun in this case!

NOTE: 'Whose' is always the subject of the relative clause and can't be left out. It replaces a possessive. It can be used for people and things.
e.g.: 
The little girl is sad. Her father left them. → The little girl whose father left is sad.

 

Examples:

From these:
– They live in a city. The city is in the middle of America.
– Joe Cooper is a college-educated former NASA test pilot and engineer.
He was forced to give up his occupation to farm.
– Murph controlled the computer. The computer belonged to her father.
– Cooper has a son. He is a student.

To these:
– They live in a city that is in the middle of America.
– Joe Cooper is a college-educated former NASA test pilot and engineer who was forced to give up his occupation to farm.
– Murph controlled the computer that belonged to his father.
– Cooper has a son who is a student.

 

2. The relative pronoun is the object:

If the relative pronoun is NOT followed by a verb (but by a noun or pronoun), the relative pronoun is an object pronoun. In this case we can drop the relative pronoun if we want to. Again, the clause can come after the subject or the object of the sentence.

Examples:

From these:

– Cooper and Murph went to the coordinates. The ‘ghost’ showed them the coordinates.
– Cooper met a girl in the NASA bunker. The girl is dr Brand’s daughter.
– Murph loves the watch. Cooper gave her a watch.
– The man was in another galaxy. Amelia loved the man.

To these:
– Cooper and Murph went to the coordinates (that) the ‘ghost’ showed.
– The girl (who) Cooper met in the NASA bunker is dr Brand’s daughter.
– Murph loves the watch (that) Cooper gave her.
– The man (who) Amelia loved was in another galaxy.

 

Non-defining

 

We use non-defining relative clauses to give extra information about the person or thing. It is not necessary information. We don’t need it to understand who or what is being referred to.

NOTE: In writing, we use commas around non-defining relative clauses; in speaking, we often pause at the beginning and end of the clause.
NOTE: We always use which to introduce relative clauses when they refer to a whole sentence or clause:
- The ring shaped Endurance is up ahead and they dock with it, which has all their needs for space travel.
- The only way to ever get data would be to get inside a black hole, which is impossible without being killed.


Compare:

Non-defining relative clause
We know that Cooper has one daughter:
His daughter, who is ten years old, loves science.
(So we know the girl, we don’t need to specify her.)

Defining relative clause
If Cooper had three daughters it would change to:
His daughter who is ten years old loves science.
(In this case the relative clause ‘who is ten years old’ is essential in order to know which daughter are we talking about.)

We don't use 'that' in non-defining relative clauses, so we need to use 'which' if the pronoun refers to a thing, and 'who' if it refers to a person. We CANNOT drop the relative pronoun in this kind of clause, even if the relative pronoun is the object of the clause.

The information in a defining relative clause is essential, so we can’t leave out the relative clause. The information in a non-defining relative clause is extra information which isn’t essential, so we can leave out the relative clause.

 

 

THINGS TO NOTICE

 

 ‘Would + infinitive’

Compare used to and would:

We can use ‘would + infinitive’ to talk about past habits or things that happened regularly in the past. We usually use ‘would + infinitive’ in this way when we’re telling a story about the past:

  • When Cooper was younger, he would often have a beer on the front porch.
With this meaning ‘would’ is similar to ‘used to’ however, we don’t use ‘would + infinitive’ to talk about states in the past. So, if we’re talking about the past, we CAN’T say ‘Cooper would live in Colorado’; we can say ‘Cooper used to live in Colorado’!

Reminder from past tenses episode:
Both ‘had’ and ‘would’ can be shorted to ‘d. But only ‘would’ is followed by an infinitive without ‘to’. ‘Had’ is followed by a past participle or by ‘to + infinitive’.

NOTE: For other usages of 'would' please read the modal verbs episode.

 

 

‘That’

 

That is a very common word in both writing and speaking. We use it as a determiner, a demonstrative pronoun and a relative pronoun. We also use it as a conjunction to introduce that-clauses.

 

Determiner and pronoun:

We use that most commonly to point to a thing or person. We use it with singular nouns. The thing or person is often distant from the speaker and sometimes closer to the listener, or not visible to either the speaker or listener:

  • They decide to head first to Miller’s planet because that is the most promising.

 

Relative pronoun:

We use that to introduce defining relative clauses. We can use that instead of who, whom or which to refer to people, animals and things. That is more informal than who or which.

  • The books that are on the floor belongs to Murph.

 

That-clauses:

  • Are you certain that the man in the car was Cooper?

 

That’s + adjective:

We use that’s + adjective to respond to something that someone is telling us, to show that we are listening.

  • That’s lovely / that’s good / that’s great / that’s terrible/ that’s awful.

 

That as an intensifier:

We use not that + adjective to mean ‘not very’ or ‘not as … as you are saying’. We put spoken stress on that.

  • I don’t think he’s that good!

 

 

VOCABULARY, PHRASES, COLLOCATIONS, IDIOMS, PHRASAL VERBS

 

Be tied to:
If you are tied to a job, place, or person, you are forced to stay with them.

Affinity for:
A passionate interest in or affection for something or someone. A strong liking for something.

Run out:
To have no more of something.

Either…. or…..:
Connects two choices.
(The opposite of ‘either… or…’ is ‘neither… nor….’ We use it to make negative statements connecting two items. We also use both… and…. to emphasize the link between two things. This makes a stronger connection than and alone.)

Species:
A class of individuals having some common characteristics or qualities; distinct sort or kind. (It can be either singular (e.g., that species is blue) or plural (e.g., these species are green). This is the convention in scientific writing, and it is usually followed elsewhere.)

Arrive in/at:
We use the verb arrive with at or in to talk about ‘coming to’, ‘getting to’ or ‘reaching’ a place where a journey ends. If we see the destination as a point, we say arrive at. If we see it as a larger area, we say arrive in.