stories, second series
first series
grammar exercises
language and meaning notes
second series 1: gambling troubles
b: Clint van Loggenberg
annotated version


Clint van Loggenberg: language and meaning notes

underlined words and phrases are explained in the Grammar Glossary

1‘he was living in Port Elizabeth’
verb phrase in this sentence is in the past progressive (or ‘continuous’) tense. This tense is used to describe a case where one situation or event is ‘inside’ another situation or event. Often, the ‘larger’ event is described with the past progressive and the smaller event ‘inside’ it is described with the simple past. For example,
“While Dick was travelling in South Africa, he won a lot of money.”
In this sentence, however, the smaller, enclosed event is not referred to with a verb, but with the
phrase, “In December 2003”.
Notice that all the verbs in the first paragraph of the story are in the past progressive — except the verb ‘to be’. ‘To be’ cannot be put into the past progressive or the
present progressive.

exercise: past progressive

2‘working in a hotel’
The second
clause of this sentence, “working in a hotel there” is an abbreviated form of “he was working in a hotel there.” The subject (‘he’) and the auxiliary verb (‘was’) have been removed. This sort of abbreviation is known as ellipsis. This can be done with coordinate clauses if they have the same subject. Ellipsis would also be possible in the fourth sentence of this paragraph.

exercise: ellipsis explanation and practice

3 ‘afford to pay’
Someone who can afford something has enough money to pay for it. ‘Afford’ is a
transitive verb that takes a noun phrase or a ‘to’-clause as its object.

‘debit card’
A plastic card like a credit card that can be ‘charged’ with money and then used in a computerized machine like a telephone, a xerox machine, or an electronic ‘slot machine.’ [see 'slot ' below]

A slot is a narrow opening. The place where coins are put in vending machines, pay telephones, xerox machines etc. are called ‘slots.’ Slot machines got their name because to play them you had to put a coin into a slot. Now, many slot machines are electronic and a plastic debit card goes into the slot instead of a coin. [see 'debit card' above]

‘it is difficult to be sure exactly what happened’
pronoun, ‘it,’ replaces the subject of the sentence here. The subject is “to be sure exactly what happened.” It has been moved from its usual position before the verb phrase to a position at the end of the main clause, after the verb phrase, and after the complement ‘difficult’. This sort of sentence is said to have a ‘postponed subject’. The reason for moving the subject in this way — ‘postponing’ it — is that it is a long clause, and, English speakers prefer not to put a long clause in this position. If the sentence were written, “To be sure exactly what happened is difficult,” it would sound clumsy, but it would still be grammatical.

‘Yell’ is a common
synonym for ‘shout.’

‘think about’
When someone thinks about something, that thing passes through their mind. ‘Think about’ is a
transitive, prepositional verb. It takes a noun clause or a noun phrase as its object. ‘Think of’ is often used as a synonym for ‘think about’ but it also has a different meaning as in “It was stupid of me not to think of phoning her,” where it means something like ‘get the idea of.’ Probably the most common use of ‘think’ is as a non-prepositional transitive verb that takes a ‘that-clause’ as its object, as in “Dick doesn’t think that Jane is coming.” ‘Think’ used in this way is a synonym for ‘believe’.

‘their baby was going to be born’
‘Was going to be’ is an example of the ‘
future in the past’. It is used, as here, when describing an event which was in the future at the time something happened but which is ‘now’ in the past. The modal auxiliary ‘would’ could also be used here with a very similar meaning as in, “She thought about how their baby would be born in a private hospital.”

‘private hospital ’
A private hospital is one that is operated as a business. Such hospitals are called ‘private’ in order to distinguish them from ones that are operated by the government and where medical services are provided for free or at a low cost.

‘lots of’
‘Lots of’ has the same meaning as ‘many’. This is a sort of quotation: it gives the exact words that passed through Tracy’s mind.
Colloquially ‘lots of” is much more common than ‘many’. It would have sounded strangely formal if Tracy had said she was going to be able to “afford many diapers for the baby.” In negative sentences, however, ‘many’ is colloquial: for example, it would be normal for Tracy to say to Clint, “We don’t have many diapers left.”

‘running up (to)’
‘Run up (to)’ is a
phrasal-prepositional verb. It means: ‘run to a certain place and then stop.’ It is a phrasal verb because it contains two words, a verb and a preposition, which work together to create one meaning. It is a prepositional verb because, when it has an object the preposition ‘to’ must be placed between the verb and the object as in “Tracy ran up to Clint and kissed him.” (In the text the verb is followed by the word ‘to’ even though it doesn’t have an object. There, the ‘to’-form of the verb ‘congratulate’ is used to make a 'to'-clause which acts as an adverbial modifying the verb ‘run up’ and which gives the purpose of the action.)

‘at all’
The phrase ‘at all’ is used for
emphasis. It does not add anything to the meaning of the sentence. In other words, the meaning of the text would not be changed if the phrase were removed. ‘At all’ is colloquial. In more formal language, ‘whatsoever’ would be used.

‘had been told’
verb here is in the past perfect tense because the action referred to — Clint’s being told that he hadn’t won the jackpot — happened before he became furious.

‘he demanded to see the manager’
‘Demand’ here has the meaning of ‘ask’ but it is ‘stronger’: it
implies that Clint was speaking loudly and angrily.

‘for a while’
colloquial phrase ‘for a while’ means ‘for a few minutes’ or ‘for a short period of time.’ In more formal writing, the word ‘briefly’ could be used.

‘Cramps’ are pains caused by involuntary contraction of muscles. In other words: a muscle in some part of your body tightens up ‘on its own’ and this hurts.

‘deal with his complaint’
‘Deal with’ is an important phrasal verb which does not have a one-word synonym. The sentence “He couldn’t contact anyone who could deal with his complaint,” could be rewritten as “he couldn’t contact anyone who could examine (or ‘consider’) his complaint and decide whether or not it was justified.” There are other phrasal verbs with a similar meaning such as ‘take action’ and ‘look into’.

‘that was the end of the matter’
When they said, “That was the end of the matter,” the management of the casino was saying that there was nothing more to say about Clint’s complaint. It should not be discussed any more. It should be forgotten. ‘Matter’ here means ‘subject’ or ‘topic.’

‘felt he’d won the jackpot’
(a) ‘felt’ here has nothing to do with feeling. In other words, the word has a very different meaning from its meaning in a sentence like “She felt the cold water on her feet.” In this sentence, ‘feel’ just means ‘believe’. This use is very common.
(b) here, the
object of the verb ‘feel’ is the noun clause ‘he’d won the jackpot’. This clause is an abbreviated version of ‘that he’d won the jackpot’. The conjunction ‘that’ has been omitted.

‘he’d won’
The verb here is in the
past perfect because the events in the casino happened earlier in the story, before Clint made his complaint to the management.
“He’d” here is a
contraction of “he had.”

‘his case’
‘His case’ here means ‘his complaint’. The word ‘case’ is used in the same way as it is in, “John has been arrested and charged with murder. He is looking for a lawyer to take his case.” Or, “The police believe he is guilty but they don’t have a strong case against him.” Or, “He brought a law suit against his employer but the case was decided out of court.”

‘oversees’‘Oversee’ means ‘manage’ or ‘control’. (The s-form is a homonym of the noun ‘overseas’ which means ‘on the other side of the ocean’.)

‘they talked to the casino about what had happened
‘Talk’ is a
prepositional verb. When it has an object,  the preposition ‘to’ must be put between the object and the verb. In the text, the object is the noun clause ‘what happened,’ but the verb can also have a noun phrase as its object as in “He wanted to talk to a good lawyer.”

‘as a result’
phrase ‘as a result’ is a conjunct. Conjuncts are used to indicate and emphasize logical connections between sentences or clauses. Other common conjuncts are ‘then’, ‘however,’ ‘nevertheless,' ‘moreover,' ‘in addition,’ and ‘on the other hand’. Another conjunct, ‘consequently’ has the same meaning as ‘as a result’. The only difference between the two is that ‘consequently’ is more formal. Conjuncts are one of the three types of adverbial. [For more on adverbials and other word classes see Chapter Two of Complex Sentences.]

explanation: conjuncts
exercise: conjuncts

‘the machine had frozen’
‘Frozen’ is the past participle of the
irregular verb ‘freeze’. ‘Freeze’ is often used, metaphorically to describe what happens to a computer or a computerized machine when it suddenly stops working because of a software problem.

27 — 
‘as it was supposed to do’
In the
active voice ‘suppose’ has a similar meaning to ‘believe’ or ‘think’ or ‘imagine’, but it is very commonly used in the passive voice with a different meaning — a meaning that cannot easily be ‘put into other words.’ To say that the machine was ‘supposed to’ transfer Clint’s money, means that that is what the machine would have done if it had been working normally, as the casino wanted it to work. When the subject of the passive ‘suppose’ is a person, the meaning is usually that the person is expected to do something and is under an obligation to do it. For example, “Dick was supposed to lock the store before he left,” means both that other people were expecting he would do this and that it was wrong of him not to do it.

‘apologized to Clint for having misled him’
‘Apologize’ is a complicated verb. It is
ditransitive because it can take both a direct object (in this case, ‘for having misled him’) and an indirect object (in this case, ‘to Clint’). It is also prepositional because both the direct and indirect objects must be preceded by prepositions. ‘ Apologize’ could also be described as ditransitive / transitive / intransitive because it can be used without any object at all (“The casino apologized.”), or with a direct prepositional object only (“The casino apologized for having misled him.”), or with an indirect prepositional object only (“The casino apologized to Clint.”). In addition, as in the text, it can be used with both direct and indirect prepositional objects.

‘Misled’ is the past tense of the irregular verb ‘
mislead,’ which means ‘to cause someone to believe something that isn’t true.’

‘surveillance cameras’
‘Surveillance,’ a noun that is used here to modify another noun, ‘cameras,’ means ‘watching,’ especially when the watching is done by someone in ‘authority’ (someone with power). Like ‘monitor,’ (see below) it is a word that has become much more common since electronic technology has made new security devices possible.

As it is used here, ‘monitor’ means to observe some activity, by watching it or in some other way, and to keep a record. It has approximately the same meaning as the expression, ‘keep track of.’ Like ‘surveillance,’ (see above) the word ‘monitor’ has become much more common since electronic technology has made new security devices possible.

‘crowded around’
‘Crowd around’ is a
phrasal verb. It is used to describe a situation in which a large number of people gather around a central point — in this case Clint. It is a transitive/intransitive verb. It has a quite different meaning from the transitive (and non-phrasal) verb ‘crowd.’ The sentence “The other gamblers crowded Clint” would mean that the other gamblers made Clint uncomfortable by depriving him of space. This verb has a negative connotation that ‘crowd around’ does not have.

‘in their opinion’
This is a disjunct. Usually disjuncts are used to show the speaker’s or writer’s opinion in what is being said as in “In my opinion, Clint was treated badly.” In this sentence, however, it’s used to show the attitude of the people the sentence is about.

‘high standards’
To say the casino had high standards means that they followed strict rules of honest behaviour. When it is used in this way ‘standard’ has a similar meaning to the word ‘principle.’

‘damaging their reputation’
A person’s ‘reputation’ is what other people think of him or her. When describing a situation in which a person does something wrong and as a result gets a bad reputation,. the verb ‘damage’ is often used. When two words, a particular verb and a particular noun, for example, are typically used together we say they are in