This book is based on a new idea in language-teaching. In place of word-lists and rules, the learner is here given a number of examples of statements made in Basic English. Taking the 850 words in A B C order, all the uses they may have in Basic (other than the special uses, or ‘idioms’) are covered, so if anyone got these examples by heart he would, in theory at least, have a complete knowledge of Basic for use. That, however, is not the true purpose of the book, and for the normal person it would certainly be a waste of time. The suggestion is that, after working with The Basic Way to English or Basic Step by Step or The Basic Teacher, the learner will be able to make use of Basic by Examples for testing his knowledge; and it is hoped that this simple experience of the words in operation will give him greater control of the material of his new language. Some of the uses will be new to him and will have to be noted; others will be old friends, but though the earlier books will have got these into his head, meeting them again will be a help in getting them to the end of his tongue and the point of his pen.

But Basic by Examples is not designed to be of use to the learner only. It will be of equal value to the teacher in the school-room. Quite commonly, when the language a person is teaching is not his mother tongue, he is put at a loss if requested to give examples. To the teacher who is not very expert, the examples given in this book will be a guide in such times of doubt, and with these before him, a number of other examples of the same sort will probably come into his head.

In framing these examples, the writer did not have a completely free hand, because the form of the book made it necessary for them to be kept inside the limits fixed by a line of print, with the key word placed more or less in the middle of the statement. But care has been taken to see that, as far as possible, the examples given are part of the living language. It is very important for the learner to get into his head, from the start, word-groups which will be of use to him later. So frequently, however, his teachers make him say things which he would be laughed at for saying outside school hours. For example, in one much-used English-French handbook, a hotel servant is made to say to a newcomer, "Will you have the kindness to follow me?" In the same book, a man says, on meeting a friend, "I have the honor to salute you", a statement which has probably not come from the lips of an Englishman for the last 100 years. A number of other examples might be given from books of this sort. Not all the Basic examples are of equal value for everyday purposes, but at least they may all be used by anyone who has reason to do so without making him seem foolish.

It will be seen that a number of the words have been used in examples which are designed to give light on their sense. This has not been possible all through, but statements like "The Queen had a ring on one finger of her soft hands’ and "Estonia became a nation after the Great War" do not give much room for doubt.

Certain changes based on new rulings about the senses of the Basic words have been made in this printing, which is, for this reason, not completely in agreement with the 1947 printing of The Basic Words. It may further be pointed out that changes of use (name of thing used as name of quality, and so on) and the senses of words formed by the addition of endings are more fully covered than in earlier printings.


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Black Print.   Words in black print are used in their root senses.

Sloping Print.   Words in sloping print are used as different sorts of words from the black-print words (for example, liquid used as the name, not of a thing, but of a quality).

The signs (S) and (E).
Words with (S) after them are used in special senses.
Words with (E) after them are used in senses which are expansions.
When two or more examples are given of any sense, only the first of these has special print or the sign (S) or (E).
Words formed by the addition of an ending which are not marked (E) come straight after the sense to which they are nearest. Those marked (E) come at the end of the group of examples.

Only the commoner -er  forms are given, and for most of the words which have -ing  and -ed  forms it has been judged enough to give only one or the other. The -ly  forms are given only when their range of sense is more limited than, or, different from, that of the word from which they are formed.

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Work in progress -- by Basic English Institute.
Last updated : July 10, 2013