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Basic Step by Step -Notes-Step 1


a, the, (is), and.

have, put, take,

at, between, in, off, on,

I, this, that,

(my) Part II.

What things (2) and qualities(5) come best

into our first learning group of 25 ? Clearly there

is a strong argument for making a start with tne

body and its parts. The body and its parts are

with us for pointing purposes wherever we go.

The schoolroom may be without pens and ink,

or the teacher may be in the open air where

there are no doors and windows ; but all

learners have bodies.

The only trouble about starting with the body

is that I and my are needed for talking about its

parts, and the other words of this sort are not

necessary till a later stage. On the other hand,

there are good reasons against starting with the

forms of put, take, and have which would be

forced on us by statements in the third-person;

so common-sense gives us I and my, together with

this and that for pointing purposes.

Take, put, and have are our first examples of

'names of operations.' The work which such

words do has been made clear in the account of

the chief sorts of words in Basic (Part I), as has

the part taken by the names of directions, of

which five come into the present Step. The

chief uses of the opposites off and on, and th€eir

relation to one another, are covered in the

pictures. A bird's-eye view of the l3 chief

operation-words and of all the direction-words

is given in the pictures after the Notes on Step

10, which will be of great use when enough ex-

amples of these two sorts of words have come in.

It will be noted that the parts of the body are

not separate things which may be put or taken

here and there quite in the same way as boxes or

tables. We normally get a grip of what we take

as part of the act of taking, in whatever direction

we take it; and we put what we have taken on

the table, or in some other direction such as up

or down. But for general purposes taking one's

hand off one's head is the same sort of act as

taking a box off a table.

Though the body-words are here put into

simple statements, so that they may be talked

about like other things, it is a good idea to get

such words into the memory in the same way as

the numbers, by pointing to or touching them,

in a quicker and quicker rhythm:

Eye, nose, ear ;

Mouth,,tongue (here) ;

Head, face, chin ;

(Put) thumb (in);

Chest, finger, hand ;

Leg, knee (and)


This and that, as will be noted, are used in two


l. by themselves, having the sense

" the thing here (there) I am pointing to;"

2. as pointing words in front of the name of a


"My head" and so on. In English the owner_

forms such as my (your, his, and so on) are

regularly used in connection with the parts of the

body, where other languages might have the

word for 'the' , or no word at all.

“I have a nose"." The use of have here may seem

a little different from its use in such statements

as "I have a book," but a natural expansion of

this simplest use makes it possible for us to say

that we 'have' , anything of which we are in a

wide sense the owners.

"The right side." Take note that names of

qualities are used ,not only after is but before

names of things (not after), and that when the is

needed in addition to a quality-word, it comes

before the quality-word. The same order is the

rule when any of the other 'adjectives' in the

Operations list (a, this, that, and so on, and

the owner-forms of the 'pronouns', such as my)

are used with quality-words.

"A thumb and fingers." Take note :

1 of the form for more than one 'fingers' ;

and 2, of the fact that a(n) has no form for use before names in

the form for more than one, and that these, when

they have no need of the or some other pointing-

word, are used by themselves.-The thumb is

sometimes looked- on as one of the fingers, so

that we may say " I have l0 fingers," but

frequently, as here, it is named as a separate


" Fingers on my hand." The simplest picture

of on is that of something resting on top of another

thing, but anything which is supported by or

fixed to another is on it, even when what is

on anything is a part of it.

Foot and tooth, though they might come in

here, have been kept till a later stage because they

are among the small number of words whose

forms for more than one are not made by the

addition of 's.' See the Note at the end of

Step 5,

Opposites:, this-that




Basic Step by Step Note 2-text

go, may, will,
from, of, to, with,
here, there,
An important point to be noted here is that
we do not put a before the names of substances,
such as food, soup, bread, etc., because they are
not, like things such as head, meal, basin and so
on, looked on as units, complete in themselves
{which is the idea given by a). When we are
talking of a substance in a general way, we put
nothing in front of it ("Cake is sweet'');
when we are talking of an amount of it which is
present at the time, we commonly, though not
necessarily put in some word giving this idea of
'an amount of'' (" Some food is on the table ").
When the is used before the names of substances
it has the sense of " the amount of butter, etc.,
here present or in question."
The picture opposite will be of help in making
clear this division of things into 'things' in the
narrower sense of 'units,' and 'substances'
(of which such ' things' are made). It will be
seen from the picture that when the name of a
substance has a quality-word in front of it
(" a thick cloth "), or when by some other addition
it is made clear that what we are talking of is
' a sort of ' cloth etc. (" a cloth of good quality"),
we do make use of a, and that in that sense the
name of a substance may even be used in the
form for more than one (" different cloths ")'
But this is a point which it will be better not to
give the learner till a later stage.
Have. From these examples we may see the
development from the having of food on our
plates to the having of it (by the process of
taking it into our stomachs) as part of ourselves.
With. In its root use, as in " I have some bread
with it," with is simply a sign that the things
joined by it are together. But in the statement
"I put the meat in my mouth with the fork,"
the fork not only goes into the mouth with the
meat, but is the instrument by which it is put
there. This gives a clear example of the way in
which with, from having the general sense of
connection in space or time, comes in addition
to be used for the connection between an act and
its instrument.
It. The form which may take the place of the
name of a thing or animal (not a person) which
is being talked about. For the present, like
any name of a thing, it will be used only before
is (will or may) or after the names of operations
or directions.
"I take the spoon . . . and put . .. ." In a
statement in which the same person is said to
do two or more acts, it is not necessary for tbe
doer to be named with every act.
May has the general sense of " it is possible;"
but, as noted in the ABC, a thing is possible in
two ways. In the first, some person makes it
possible (by giving power or authority) ; in the
second, general conditions do so. The examples
of may given here are of the frst of these uses.
Because will and may are only helping words,
the name of some act necessarily comes after
" I may not have." " The taste of salt is not
bitter." Take note that not-statements using
may,or be (is) are made by simply putting not
straight after these words.
" Cake and cheese." The words cake and cheese
are used not on]y for the 'pictured' things to
which we give these names, but in addition for
the substances of which these things are made.
Take note that some is frequently not put in where
it is clear without it that we are talking of "a
certain amount of " whatever is in question,

" An orange." An is used in place of a
before words starting with the letters a, e, i, and
o; and with u when it has an open sound, as in
umbrella, uncommon, and so on.
Of, which is used like the name of a direction,
seems at first to have little connection with space.
It is, however, a development from off. The
skin off the orange is the skin of the orange.
That which is taken off was necessarily at one
time on, and so is a part of, or, more generally,
the property of , the thing from which it was
taken. This development is clearly pictured on
the opposite Page aad over.

Opposites :


Basic Step by Step note to step 3


(are), other

do, make,

after, against, through,

" The learning of Basic English." Though the

first use of of is as a sign of connection between

property and owner, it has come to be used

for certain other relations uniting two things,

most of which are simple developments of the

idea of property. Here the relation is that be-

tween a process and the material on which it is

working ; in " a sort of work " it is that between

a thing taken generally and any special division

of it.

" With my brain" is an example of the com-

plete development of the use of with as a mark

of the instrument-with little suggestion of

connection in space (see Step 2, Note 2). " With

a push " is almost parallel, but here the with is

pointing to the process by which the act is

effected, and not to the instrument in the

narrower sense.

And. The use of and as a joining-word

between statements, which is here seen for the

first time, is a simple development from its

use between words.

The examples of may in this Step give the

second use (noted in connection with Step 2).

Are. The form used for is when talking of

more than one thing.

Scissors. This word has only the form for

more than one, and is necessarily used with are.

The rest of the statement will generally make

clear if there are more scissors than one.

" I have not . . ." " Tired bodies will not do."

Statements using not with have or will are made

in the same way as with may and be (see N2-2).

" After work." Though after is sometimes used

of position in space, and is rightly grouped with

the names of directions, it is chiefly used of

position in time, and for that reason comes in

first in that sense. The idea of time as a frame-

work in which events are placed makes it natural

for it to be talked of as a sort of space, and

most of the names of directions may equally

well be used in connection with time.

" Have some rest," " have some play." It is not

hard to see why we say that we have processes

and experiences which we undergo, and which

are readily looked on as (in the wider sense noted

on Nl-l) our 'property.' For this reason have is

the right 'operator' for use with, rest and play.

But take note that it is not the right one with

work, with which do is used. A general reason for

this will be given later (Nl0-4), but for the

present it will be enough to keep these fixed uses

in mind.


Basic Step by Step -notes to step 4

every, north, south, east, west.

be, come, get, see,

down, over, under, up,

only, out, very,


" In the summer." Another example of the

name of a direction used in connection with

time. See Notes on Step 3.

" In the winter it is cold." This simple change

of order, by which the words giving tne time,

place, or other conditions of an act, are put

first, is used sometimes to give weight to these

conditions, sometimes, as here, only to get a

smooth and balanced effect. It is not necessary

for the learner to make use of this trick-the

regular order is never wrong-but the examples

in these steps will keep him from being troubled

when he comes across it in his general reading.

" Only in the winter." Only is put before the

words at which it is pointing, and may be used

with the name of an operation, thing or quality,

or, as here, with any group of words if their

sense makes it possible for them to be limited in

this way.

" Rain. and snow do not come." With all

' operators ' but be, have, and the helping-words

may and will, statements using not have to be

made with the help of do. (This is the rule even

when do itself is the operator). The position of

not is the same with the with the helping-word do as it is,

with the other helping-words, that is, straight

after do and before the name of the act.

" With a cloud. in it." With as the sign for the

general condition of being together in space",

is frequently used for joining the names of two

things, the special relation- between whicb is

then made clear by another direction-word

coming after the second name.

Up and down are used by themselves in this

Step, but like all other names of directions they

may take words after them.

" I put my coat on." We put clothing on

our bodies, but in talking of this common

process it is right to say simply that we put

clothing on. In statements of this sort, where the

words which would normally come after a

direction-word are not put in, the direction-word

keeps the same position which it would have if

they were there.

The relation between be, the general name of

the operation, and `````````````````````, the special form, is to be

pointed out.

The word very is used with n€ames of qualities

(not with names of things or 'operators,) and

regularly comes before them,

" Have a fall." Another example of the use of

have noted in connection with " have some rest "


'The very cold winds." The, unlike a, is used

before names in the form for more than one in

the same way as before names pointing to one


Opposites :







Basic Step by Step-notes to step 5

(one) ; (was).


before, for,


he (she),



" My father" The small boy talking is

clearly not the owner of his father, but the

" forms for owner " are used loosely in English

for any special connection ; for example, with the

acts we do (" my work "), the families of which

we are a part, the friends we have, the houses in

which we are living, and the events and processes

which we go through (" my fall made me black

and blue," " my development was slow ").

" Some fathers and mothers." The root sense

of some, as seen earlier in some food, and so on, is

" an amount of " or " a number of," but in general

statements, as here, this sense is more strongly

coloured by the idea of a comparison between

' some' and' all'. In the first sort of example, the

some is frequently not put in, because it is clear

without it that we are not talking of 'all' food,

or ' all' cake; but if we said "Fathers and mothers

are not young " it would have the force of a

statement about all fathers and mothers.

When two names are joined by and the name

of a quality, or any other limiting word which has

to do with the two, is frequently put only before

the first. But this is not done if the sense of the

statement does not make the connection clear.

In this example there is no possible doubt that

it is " some fathers and some mothers " who are

being talked about-not " some fathers and (all)


" Not every son." Not may be placed before

certain words other than the names of operations.

The number of such words is small, and for the

present the only ones for the learner's attention

are every and all. Let it be made clear that no

general use of this trick is to be attempted.

One. Basic number-word for l.

He, The form used in place of a name when

talking about a male person. Unlike the name

itself, or the form it, it day not be put after names

of operations or directions without a change of

form. So far it may be used only before is, will,

or may.

"He is still a baby." Still is placed after be,

will, and may.

Am. The form of be which is used after I in

place of is.

She. The female form of he, covered by the

same rules.

" Before the birth." Before is the opposite of

after, and for that reason, like after, it is first

given in connection with time. But its use in

connection with space (in the sense of " in front

of ") is much more general than that of after.

You may say " I put my hand before my

face," but not " I put my hand after my head."

After is used of space only when there is present

the idea of order is in " There is a question-mark

after the word," or " The men were walking

one after another."

" Baby boy," "baby brother." Special attention

is to be given here to the use of names of things as

quality-words. The name which is used as a

quality-word naturally comes first, so that we say

boy baby when the sex of the baby is news. When

words are put together in this way, we get the

first form of what, by further development,

may become a 'complex word' See pages 54-57

ot the ABC.

Was. The form of be which takes the place of

am and is when talking about past time.

" The baby of the family." This use of the

word baby for " the youngest," that is, the one

who is nearest to being a baby, is a very simple

development which will give no trouble.

" Get a pain." Get is the general word for the

process of coming to have. This process may,

as in the earlier examples, be some act done by

the person, or it may, as here, be an event out-

side his control.

" Ready for a meal," " for my baby brother."

For, though it is clearly parallel in its use and

sense to words which are signs of direction, is no

longer the name of a simple direction or position

in space. It may frequently be, as here, the sign

of connection between a condition, thing, or act,

and its purpose (in the direction of which it is, as

we might say, turned). It has another almost

equally important use as the sign of excbange,

of which examples will be given later.

" Give food to the baby." The natural direction

of the act of giving is to.

" Make a baby ready for play." Though in

its simplest sense make is used for the process of

producing a new physical thing it is a short step

from that idea to the process of producing a new

quality or condition. When it is used in this way,

the name of the person or thing in whom the

condition or quality is caused comes between

make and the word naming this.

" Some are married." Some may be used by

itself when it is clear what group or substance

it is limiting. Here we see from the sense that it

is pointing to " the brothers and sisters of my

father and mother."

There are four Basic words which make the

form for more than one by some other change

than the addition of' s.' They are given together

in this Step (tooth, foot,man, and woman) because

their changes of form have something in common

(teeth, feet, man, and women), and so they may

readily be got by heart as a group.

Here is the note in thee ABC about all forms

for number which are not regular. Some of the

words which take these changes have come in

earlier Steps; others (baby, family) are given

here; others will be seen later.

" In addition to the four changes of form,

words ending in certain letters may make

some change in these before the s of the

form for number (though the sound is much

the same as if only ' s' had been Put at

the end). Here is the complete list:-

(l) F or fe becomes ve :- leaves' selves'

shelves, knives.

(2) All ending in y with a stopped sound

before it (that is, all but boy day, key,

monkey, play, ray, tray, and way) have the y

changed into ie: as army, armies, and berry.


(3) All ending in o, s, x, sh, or ch, (but for

stomach) put in e between these letters and

the s: as arch, arches, and match, matches"'

ABC, p. 10.





Basic Step by Step – notes to Step 6



across, by,

almost, quite,

you, (we), (they), (these), (those), such,

" In the street." Things are said to be in

space, as they are in oil, water, or any other

substance by which they are limited, quite

as naturally as they are said to be in such things

as boxes or vessels. The street is a division of

space, and so the houses are in it, in the same way

as the street itself is in the town, and the town is

in the country.

" Some are of wood." We have seen that by

a natural development from off, of becomes the

sign of connection between a thing and that of

which it is the property (in the widest sense).

Here we have an example of a different, but

equally natural development, where of is the

sign of connection between a thing and the

material which has been used in making it. " The

skin of an orange " is the skin which is (or may

be) taken from the orange. " A building of wood "

is a building for which the material is taken from

the substance wood,

" Let light and air come into the rooms." The

root sense of let is that of putting nothing in the

way of some act or behaviour by some person or

thing. What is let is not the person or thing

only, or the act only, but the two together. So

after let comes first the name of what does the

operation, and then the name of the operation

itself. Come is used here (and not go) because the

point of view is that of a person inside the house,

Complex words. New words may frequently be

formed by putting two words together. Another,

inside, outside, into and workmen are examples of

such complex words. Their sound and sense are€

the same as if their parts were printed separately.

The only points to be noted are: first, that

inside and outside are not limited to the sides of

the house, but give the idea of " all the parts

which are in or out;" second, that the addition

of to to in is for the purpose of giving the idea of

motion, and into is used in place of in whenever

there is a change of position from out to in;

third, that the name workman is not given to

any man who does work, but specially to one

who does work with his hands.

" In and out." Though out has the sense of a

direction, and is here used as the opposite of

,in it is never put straight before the name of a

thing like the special " names of directions."

See Step 29.

" Come across the street." The chief new

point in this Step is the word-order used in

giving orders or making requests (see ABC,

p. 46). Give special attention to the form with

not (" Do not go in "). Here, as in statements, do

is used with all names of operations, and the not

comes after the do. (The fact that, in orders, be,

like the other operation words, takes do with not,

though it does not take do in statements with

not, is possibly not a point for the learner at this

stage; but the teacher will do well to keep it

in mind for future use).

We. The form for a number of persons when

the person talking is one of them. (Like all other

forms for more than one it is used with are).

Almost-quite. Though not opposites in the

true sense, these two signs of degree make one

another clear in much the same way as opposites


You. The form used for the name of the

person to whom one is talking.

They. The form for number of. he (she, and it ).

" The door is not there." This use of there,

with the sense of " in the place where it would

normally be," is quite in harmony with its root

sense, " in the place at which the person making

the statement is pointing." The only development

is from pointing by a physical sign to pointing

by the general sense€ of what is being said.

These---those. The forms of this and that

which are used for more than one.

Such, put before the name of a thing in the

form for more than one, or of a substance. has

the same sense as the words " like those

(that) " (that is, of the sort we are talking about

or pointing at). For a more detailed account of

such see The ABC, p. 45.

" Houses are not healthy." Though the first

use of healthy is in connection with persons, it is

a straightforward step to its use in talking of

places, foods, and so on, which have the effect of

keeping or making persons healthy.-Take note

that the middle s of houses is sounded like a z (as

in was)

Opposites:(in)- (out)




Basic Step by Step - notes to step 7

enough,far, near, much,



Fire, a fire. Fire is the name given to the

process or condition of burning, and a fire is a

mass of material in this condition, specially such

a burning mass used for heating or cooking.

Fire-place. We have seen that the name

of one thing may be used before the name of

another to give the idea that the thing talked of

has the qualities pointed to by the two names.

Sometimes, however, the first name may be a

sign, not of a quality of the thing in the common

sense of the word (as in ' baby boy '), but of the

purpose for which it is designed or the use to

which it is put. When this is so, the two words

are generally joined with a '-,' and become the

name of a special thing, as fire-place (place for a

fire), though sometimes, when they are very

common they may be put together as one word,

like workman (see the Note on complex words,


" Some of the rooms." Some is frequently used

by itself in the sense of 'a part' or 'a group,'

and then of is put between it and the name of

the thing or things (which necessarily has the,this,

that, or an owner-form before it) from which the

selection effected by some is made. Other words

which may be used in a parallel way with of are:

all, any, enough, little, much, and the number-

'words (one of, two of, etc.).

" We make houses warm." Take note of this

use of we in the sense of " persons generally."

We is used for any group of which the person

talking is a part; it may be quite general,

representative of " all men " ; or somewhat less

so, represe€ntative of a more limited group such

as the person's countrymen, school friends, and

so on or quite special, as further on in this

Step, where it is representative only of the boy

and his sister.

" By the use of fire." The root sense of by, as

we have seen (Step 6) is' near to.' As a develop-

ment from this, of which a detailed account is

given in the ABC (p' 119)' it comes to be used,

even more importantly, for pointing to the way

in which we do things or to the instrument,

person, or cause which is responsible for them'

So the way in which we make houses"warm is

" by the use of fires ", or " by using fire", or " by

having fires " and so on. Or, if we are interested

only in the instrument itself, and not in the act of

using it, we say " houses are kept warm by fires " ,

and so on. This is very like the expansion of

with noted on N2-2.

" If I have. . . and put. . . the fire will.. ."

" If we are far . . . we do not get ... . " The

statement which is dependent on one starting

with if is sometimes put in the present time and

sometimes in the future. It is in the future

when it is representative of an act, event, or

condition, which comes after that of the if-

statement ; in the present when it is represent-

ative of one which is going on at the same time

as that of the if-statement' This is not a complete

rule, but it will be a safe guide for the learner

till his reading has given him further ex-

perience. A second point to be noted here is

that when two if-statements are joined by and,

it is necessary to put if only before the first.

" We are.' It has been noted in connection

with Step 6 that are is the form used with we,

as am is used with I.

" Get it dry." It will be readily seen that if we

get anything by taking it from a high shelf we

get it down . In the same way we may get it in

any other direction (or into a position), and so,

by a simple parallel, we may get things into any

condition, such as that of being dry. Get has

come to be used in this way with little sug-

gestion of its root sense of 'making ours.'

From this it becomes possible to say of anything

which has an effect upon another that it gets it

into a certain condition. By a further simple

development things are able to get themselves

into conditions, and then the name of the thing

undergoing the operation is commonly dropped

out, as here, in " the water will get (itself) warm."

The two examples given later, " get (our bodies)

warm," and " get a burn," will be of help to the

learner in seeing the connection between the

root sense and its developments.

" Before a fire." The use of before in connection

with space is to be noted. See N5-2.

" Near to," " far from " It is to be noted that

though near and far are words of place like here

and there, and may be used in the same way,

without other words after them, their sense is

that of a relation in space between two or more

things, and they are most frequently used between

two names. When this is done, near takes to

between it and the second name, and far takes

from. The learner will have no trouble with this

use if he keeps in mind that the idea of near is

pointing to something, that of far, away from it.

" Very near," In addition to its use with names

of qualities, very may be put before near and far,

however these are used.

"Warm enough," " enough water." The first

use of enough is as a sign of degree with names of

qualities, and as such it comes after the word it

is limiting. But it is, in addition, used with names

of things as a sign of amount, and then it generally

comes before them like the name of a quality,

though it is still possible to put it after.

Fire-light. That is, light produced by a fire.

Here we have another very common sort of

complex word, in which the first part gives the

name of the producer, cause, owner and so on of

what is named by the second part. Examples of

other complex words, in which the relation

between the two parts may be a little different

from those noted in this Step, will be given later.

Who. This form may be used of one or more

than one, but only of persons.

"In danger" Conditions and relations are

talked of as if they had the qualities

of space, and the use of in here is parallel

to the development earlier noted in connection

with time (Step 4).

" The damage may not be great." Though the

first sense of great has to do with physical size,

through the natural tendency to make use of

space-words for measuring other things, it has

come to be used as a general sign of degree.

" Go from one to another." In addition

to being the name of a number, one has a more

general use as a stronger form of a. It is specially

so used in connection with another. The flames

"go from one thing to another," that is "from

any one thing to any other."-Take note that

the word "thing"is here not put in again after

another. We have seen before, in connection with

the word some (N5-3), this trick of dropping a

name used earlier. There are two reasons why

it is important to give attention to every example

of it we may come across: first, because it is a

very common trick in English, and frequently, as

here, though it would not be wrong to put the name

in, it would seem stiff and unnatural; second,

because it is a trick which may be worked only

after certain words, and is not to be attempted

with any of whose use by themselves in this way

the learner has no knowledge. Naturally, all

words given it The Basic Words as having a

pronoun in addition to an ' adjective ' use are

quite safe, and the learner may make a start on

his list with those which have come in so far :

this and that, all, another, enough, some, and the

number words such as one


Opposites: far-near