5+1 finger rule

Especially getting your questions grammatically correct in the heat of the moment or rather conversation, and hitting on the correct tense can be a challenge to English learners.

Whenever this comes up with participants/ clients, I ask them to take out an A4 pad, place their hand on the paper (palm facing up), space out their fingers and then draw around their hands – the 5 finger rule. You know where I am going with this,

the thumb (1st finger) is the ‘question word’ (what, when, etc.),

the index finger (2nd finger) is the ‘auxiliary’ aka ‘helping verb’,

the middle finger is the ‘person’ or ‘pronoun’ (I, you, he etc.),

the 4th finger is the ‘main verb’ and

last but not least, the little finger is the ‘rest’ (tense signal words – now, every day, last week etc.)

Next, we add in the auxiliary verbs (is, are, have, do, will etc.). In these modern days of coloured pens (if available), they are naturally colour –coordinated with the corresponding main verb form – 4th finger. That way, we killed two birds with one stone by reviewing question formation and revising the tenses.

I have several photos from board drawings to demonstrate this, but I figured it is high time I put a video together for you – viola – here it is https://youtu.be/C6DEMRmPILs

Oh Dave, “What about the + 1 finger thingamajig? What’s all that about?” I hear you cry. Well, I wouldn’t want to shortchange the more advanced speakers! Curious, if you want to find out more about how natives emphasize questions when they are angry/surprised or don’t understand something, then fast forward to approx 3 minutes in the video, and all will be revealed.

As always, please ‘like’, ‘subscribe’, and ‘share’ (YouTube algorithms) to help the fledgling YouTube channel Teatime Tidbits TV grow so that more people can improve their English in 5 minutes or under (a tea break). Thanx, have a great weekend and back here next Friday for another vid.

Heat of the moment (Hitze des Gefechts), tense (Zeitform), palm facing up (Handfläche nach oben), index finger (Zeigefinger), ‘auxiliary’ verb (Hilfsverb), to kill two birds with one stone (zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen), to revise (wiederholen), ‘it is high time’ (es ist höchste Zeit), thingamajig (Dingsbums), to shortchange (zu kurz kommen ), curious (neugierig), to emphasize (betonen), to fast forward (vorspulen), to reveal (aufdecken), fledgling (jung)

4 thoughts on “5+1 finger rule

Ehm… I hope the „5 finger“ piece of art we see in the video doesn‘t resemble your hand‘s outline even though you usually ask your participants to draw their own and not any hand. 😉

or maybe I’m just not human – the man with 6 fingers!!! I wish but if it helps people remember things better, then I’m all for it. As for the drawing – I let Matthew draw it – a far better effort than I could ever do.

Ok…. so, the mysterious M isn‘t just scribbling, an abbreviation (manus) or a subtle reference to your Martian background – it‘s the artist‘s signature!

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