• 24 AFs: Teachers' Helpline

    In this section, teachers will find the detailed explanation of the related theory and the answers to the exercises provided for students.

  • 24 AFs: Students' Helpline

    In this section, students can find exercises for developing their skills. Answers to the exercises can be found in the Teachers' Helpline. You can also ask question in the Questions Answered section.

  • 24 AFs: Questions Answered

    In this section, both Teachers' and Students' Questions about Anomalous Finites will be answered.

Anomalous Finites -- What are they?


Did you know that there are more than 500,000 English Words?

Did you know that about half of these Words are Nouns?

Did you know that about a quarter of these Words are Adjectives?

Did you know that about one seventh of these Words are Verbs?

Did you know that out of the more than 70,000 Verbs only 24 will make it possible for you to raise Questions in English?

Did you know that only these 24 Verbs can jump into Question Position?

Did you know that the same 24 Verbs will make it possible for you to make Negative Sentences in English?

Did you know that only these 24 Verbs can combine with the Negative Adverb ’Not’ thus making the sentence negative?

Did you know that ultimately every English Sentence must contain one of these 24 Verbs, either openly or hidden?

Did you know that only the same 24 Verbs will make it possible for you to avoid the unnecessary repetition in English?

Did you know that only the same 24 Verbs will make it possible for you to make Tag Questions and Negative Tag Questions in English?

Did you know that only these 24 Verbs will make it possible for you to join either positively or negatively to a Statement in English?

Did you know that these 24 Verbs never contact each other in an English Sentence?

Did you know that your Speaking Skill, and ultimately all the other Skills, will depend on your mastery in handling these 24 Verbs?

Did you know that the 24 Magic Verbs are called Anomalous Finites? The term is not related to animals but rather to anomalia. Finite is Latin for a type of Verbs.

Did you know that the 24 Anomalous Finites [AFs] are (in alphabetic order): Am, Are, Can, Could, Dare, Did, Do, Does, Had, Has, Have, Is, May, Might, Must, Need, Ought, Shall, Should, Was, Were, Will, Would, and Used?

Did you know that the 24 AFs can be groupped into 5 Families and a Community of 5 Soloists? The Families are: the BE Family [am, are, is, was, were], the DO Family [do, does, did], the HAVE Family [have, has, had], the CAN Family [can. could, may, might], the WILL Family [shall, will, should, would], and the 5 Soloists [must, need, ought, dare, used].

Did you know that 80 to 90 % of the English Language is expressed in 220 Words, called Dolch Words or also Sight Words?

Did you know that 22 of the 24 AFs are among the 500 most frequently used words of English? 1 more belongs to the first 500 - 1000 [ought] and one more to the first 1000 - 2000 [dare].

Did you know that most of the 24 Anomalous Finites are among the 220 most frequently used Words?

If any of these Questions surprised you a little bit, please read on.

If you are a Student, CLICK HERE

What are the factors that make this part of English Grammar more easily understandable, i. e. easier to teach and possible to learn for the Concrete Thinker Students and everybody else under the LD Student umbrella?

Some of the most important factors are as follows:

  • the realization that there are 24 special verbs [ Anomalous Finites ] that are Anomalous Finites well before we could further categorize them into Auxiliaries, Primary Auxiliaties, Modals, and Marginal Modals;
  • with the help of the 24 Anomalous Finites, it is possible to teach, and it is also possible to learn a Uniform Question Technique, from the very first lesson onwards;
  • also with the help of the 24 Anomalous Finites, it is possible to teach and possible to learn a Uniform Technique for Making Negative Sentences, from the very first lesson onwards;
  • using the 24 Anomalous Finites, it is possible to teach and learn many of the techniques that will make both the Teaching / Learning, and the Use of English Communicative, e. g. short answers, joining positively or negatively to statements, either positive or negative, double questions, tag questions and negative tags, etc.

What follows is an illustration of all these.    

Meeting the Concrete Thinker Student

I met the Concrete Thinker Student for the first time in the mid-70s when I started teaching the teachers at a technical College. Over the years, I met more than 80 people and almost all of them were great minds with extremely high motivation.

They wanted to catch up with, and / or exceed the cutting edge of their fields and had massive plans for offering their courses in English for foreign students, well before any other colleges or universities in Hungary.

They had all been reading technical - scientific literature in English for many years and it was only possible through the internationally used terminus technicus, the mathematical formulas, and the visual aids attached, and also because of the limited grammatical repertoire in their readings.

Neither of them had any direct experience in the oral - aural elements of learning English, and as a result they could neither recognize, and give a meaning to anything spoken, nor produce anything intelligible in speech.

They were advanced and total beginner students, all wrapped up in one, who produced the missing grammar by pure mathematical logics. They created a sort of scientific - technical creol, or Gullah and they were relatively fluent in using it.

Because of this, we could not start learning together from zero level; we had to start well below that. They had to unlearn much of what they knew, and had to replace it with the oral - aural skills based on a corrected - overcompensated inner monologue.

We also had to correct and, through much more than average practice and intelligent drilling, overcompensate their internalized makeshift grammar, e. g. 'He is go.' or 'He going.'

When I asked them about these structures, and many more, they generally explained it like: 'IS is the verb but it doesn't mean anything. GO has a lexical meaning for the action.'

We had to go back to the small beginnings and neither the existing prescriptive grammars nor the descriptive grammars could help, really. We had to apply a pedagogic grammar with as few irregularities as possible, and for this the application of the Anomalous Finites proved very successful, as you will see later.


I have been teaching the LD Child, or better put the LD Student, since the 'D' almost never ends with childhood, for decades and I find that many teachers and most schools couldn't care less about the language-learning well being of this very big group of students.

There are several reasons behind this and I want to name a few here:

  • without the Humanistic - Person-Centered Approach to pedagogy and more generally to people, the meaning of LD is Learning Disability and this handicap is often interpreted as final;
  • some new-trend 'reform schools' interpret LD as Learning Difficulty and show somewhat higher expertise and give somewhat more attention to their students for a great deal higher fees to pay;
  • within the Humanistic - Person-Centered Approach, we know that LD reads best as Learning Difference and we list teaching among the helping professions.

To be successful in teaching a student with a Learning Difference,  we need

  • a different interpersonal relationship with the student since learning is preceeded by mentoring, and followed by coaching,
  • a different 'group dynamics' since the group is most often just not there: we have to create it; we had better call it socio-psycho dynamics before it is born as a group;
  • a different grammar: prescriptive- and descriptive grammars do not go down well, especially if Asperger Syndrome, Pragmatic-Semantic Dyndrome, or Concrete Thinker students are present;
  • a different approach to time,
  • to be prepared for different questions from the students, and
  • different indicators of comprehension - understanding.

The explanations and exercises that follow, will be limited to the teaching of the Concrete Thinker Student and to the use of our knowledge about the Anomalous Finites in teaching syntax - question-answer techniques.

After so many years, this type of students are still with us; what is more, quite a few new types have turned up like dyslexic, dysgraphic, dyscalculiac, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Semantic - Pragmatic Syndrome, and different less serious shades of outism.

For them, the classical Prescriptive Grammar and Descriptive Grammar just don't work, and we have to develop and use a tailor-made Pedagogic Grammar based on the extensive use of Anomalous Finites.

If you are a teacher, CLICK HERE

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