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英语阅读问题汇总(一) Questions about English-Reading

149.I can read newspaper articles quickly, but don’t really understand them and feel confused.

We rarely read newspaper articles intensively, word by word, as if our lives depend on it. We tend to skim and skip from one piece to the next, snatching what we can. We do this when we’re reading newspapers in our own language and we can sometimes get away with it. Even in our own language, we have to read carefully if we want to understand a piece fully and remember what it’s about. Try some of the following techniques:
1) Don’t attempt to read a whole newspaper in English. Choose a single article which might really interest you and read it carefully.

2) Slow down. There’s no need to read something ‘quickly’. No one’s chasing you. Read at a speed that’s comfortable for you.

3) When reading, bear in mind the general theme of the article as a whole. Read the piece paragraph by paragraph, noting what each paragraph says about the general theme. You don’t have to understand every single word, but you must try to get the general meaning. Pay attention to the way the sentences are joined to one another, so that you follow the thread of the narrative or argument.

4) You might find it helpful to make a few notes as you read.

5) When you finish reading a piece tell yourself or someone else what you think the piece is about.

150. How to do well in fast reading?

We all have a reading speed we feel comfortable with. Some people read faster than others. The main thing to remember is this: It’s pointless reading something fast if you don’t understand or can’t recall what you have read. When we’re reading a foreign language, lots of things slow us down: for example, the subject matter might be difficult; there might be words we don’t understand or sentences with difficult syntax. What we have to remember is that we have different speeds for different kinds of reading. If you are reading an engineering textbook in order to pass an exam, you will be applying a different kind of reading skill from the one you use to look up a number in a telephone directory. The essence of fast reading is learn how to ignore redundant information and concentrate on important information, but even when doing this, your reading style and speed will vary according to the kind of text you are reading and your reasons for reading it. Aim to find a speed that is comfortable and productive for you in terms of the text you are reading.

151. When I am reading, I always read aloud. It’s a bad habit because I can’t grasp the meaning after I read it. How can I improve my reading ability? Is it a good way not to read aloud?


Do you always read aloud when you are reading Chinese? I very much doubt it! So why do you do it in English? You can’t do two things at the same time. If you read aloud, you will concentrate on that and neglect the meaning of what you are reading. The only purpose of reading aloud is to practise the sounds of English. If you are reading for meaning, no reading aloud allowed!


152. Reading stories is a good way to improve one’s English. Could you recommend some good modern books which are suitable for intermediate level students?


You are quite right! Reading is one of the best ways you can help yourself to improve your English, so read as much as you can! To do this effectively, you have to find reading materials which are at the same level as your present command of English. If, for example, you try to read ordinary novels or newspapers in English, it is likely that you will find the vocabulary too difficult and you will soon be discouraged. I wouldn’t like to recommend particular titles because I don’t know what appeals to you. What I think you should do is obtain the English Language Teaching catalogues put out by different publishing houses (Cambridge, Heinemann, Longman, Oxford, Prentice Hall, etc.). Look up the sections in each catalogue that list readers, then make a list of suitable titles which are aimed at intermediate students. In this way, you’ll be able to choose stories which you think will really appeal to you.

153. How to grasp the main idea rapidly and accurately when reading?


1) Make sure you understand what the general theme of the text is. (Look at the title, headline or headlines.)

2) Scan the whole text quickly. This means running your eyes down each page to get the general theme of each paragraph.

3) Skim-read the text paragraph by paragraph. This means looking hard at each paragraph in turn, concentrating mainly on verbs in order to get the topic of each paragraph. Skip examples which simply illustrate the theme. Only read selected sentences in detail. It’s up to you to make the best choice of sentence.

4) Make a quick note of what you think you have understood.

You need to train yourself to carry out these steps. Practise the steps over a period and test yourself by going back and re-reading the text carefully. Then see whether your notes are accurate until you have confidence in using speed-reading techniques.
1) 确信你理解文章的主题。(观看文章题目及大字标题。)

2) 快速浏览全文。就是说扫视每一页,了解每一段大意。

3) 逐段略读文章,集中注意力去理解几个关键的动词,以便抓住每段的主题。可以跳过仅是阐述主题的例子。你可以详细选读你认为重要的句子。当然,挑选什么句子由你自己做主。

4) 关于你所理解的内容,可以做笔记。


154. My teachers, either in high school or in university, always emphasize the importance of grammar. I still analyze the article sentence by sentence even after I have graduated for more than 8 years. I am clear about the sentence structure, but I can make little progress. Would you show me the right way please?


It’s totally pointless learning grammar for its own sake. Grammar is indispensable as a support system to communication because most of the questions we have about a foreign language have grammatical answers. For example when to use some or any, when to use a/an or the, and so on. If by ‘analyze the article sentence by sentence’ you mean ‘read word by word’, you are going about reading in the wrong way. In order to understand difficult English, we have to grasp the syntax of each sentence: that is, the way each sentence is put together. Here, for example, is a difficult sentence from an article on George Soros, which appeared recently in the Financial Times:

Even before arriving in England at the age of 17 to study under him at the London School of Economics, Soros had felt the influence of Sir Karl Popper, the Viennese philosopher of science whose Open Society and its Enemies denounced Plato, Hegel, Marx and all historical determinism.

To understand this sentence (apart from the difficult references), you have to observe that him refers to Karl Popper and not to Soros. You have to break the sentence down in your head into the following sequence of ideas:

—Soros went to England to study at the London School of Economics under Sir Karl Popper.
—Before that, Soros had been influenced by Karl Popper’s ideas.

—Karl Popper taught at the London School of Economics but originally came from Vienna.

—Popper was a philosopher of science who wrote a book called the Open Society and its Enemies.

—This book denounced Plato, Hegel, Marx and all historical determinism.

In other words, understanding what we read is a matter of constant analysis and synthesis of text and we have to do this at high speed. If you want to improve your skills, I strongly recommend my Longman Advanced English Gramma, which will train you to analyze and synthesize difficult texts in a way that will help you to understand them.
纯粹为学习语法而学习语法是毫无意义的。对交流来说,语法只是一种不可或缺的辅助系统,因为我们在学习外语中所遇到的大多问题可在语法中寻求答案。例如,什么时候用some或者any,什么时候用a/an或the,等等。如果你说的“逐句分析文章”是指逐词阅读的话,那么你的阅读方式则走上了一条歧途。要理解较难的句子,我们必须掌握每个句的句法:就是说,每个句子是怎么组成的。例如,最近在Financial Times刊登的关于乔治•索罗斯的一篇文章,里面有这么一个难句:

Even before arriving in England at the age of 17 to study under him at the London School of Economics, Soros had felt the influence of Sir Karl Popper, the Viennese philosopher of science whose Open Society and its Enemies denounced Plato, Hegel, Marx and all historical determinism.

要更好地理解这个句子(除了引用上的难点),你必须首先注意到him指的是Karl Popper,而不是Soros。你必须在脑海里把句子断成以下几个意思:

——Soros 去伦敦经济学院学习,拜师于Karl Popper。
——在此之前,Soros就受Karl Popper的理论影响。
——Karl Popper任教于伦敦经济学院,但他来自维也纳。
——Popper是一个哲学家,他写的著作是Open Society and its Enemies。

换句话说,理解我们所读的文章是一个不断对文章进行分析与综合的过程,我们必须快速完成。如果你想提高你的应用技巧,我热切地向你推荐由我编著的Longman Advanced English Grammar,它在分析和综合文章方面将助你一臂之力,这将有助于你对文章的理解。

155. Is it necessary for me to consult the dictionary every time I meet a new word while reading? And is it necessary to remember every word I meet in reading?

The answer is an emphatic No to both questions. The important thing is to select reading texts which are at about your level. If the texts are well beyond your level, you will feel discouraged by the sheer volume of unknown words. Reading then becomes slow and painful. For example, a single paragraph out of an unsimplified Dickens novel could be quite overwhelming, so avoid reading anything that you know is too difficult for you. Reading should be a pleasure, so the texts should be within your range. Read for meaning and only look up and try to remember words that actively interfere with your understanding of the text. Try to guess difficult words from the context. For example, in a sentence like ‘He sat quietly and unobtrusively in a corner of the room’, you might be baffled by ‘unobtrusively’, but ‘quietly’ gives you a clue to its meaning. Your understanding of the sentence is not diminished if you don’t have a dictionary definition of ‘unobtrusively’. If you read enough, you will find that you will acquire a large vocabulary without needing to turn to the dictionary all the time.

156. After reading, why can’t I use English to sketch the content in anything but Chinese? Can you give me an idea on how I can remember it in English?


You can train yourself systematically to recall a text in English by making notes. You need different notes for different styles of texts. For example, if you are reading a narrative, make notes on the sequence of events: before the event, the event, after the event. If you are reading a description, make notes on the people or things described and their main features. If you are reading an argument, make notes on the points ‘for’ and ‘against’. Once you have these notes, use them to give a little talk in English which attempts to recreate what you have just read. Alternatively, use the notes to ‘say the text to yourself’ as a mental exercise. You will soon get into the habit of not only reading in English, but thinking in English as well. Thinking in a foreign language is an indispensable requirement of fluency.


157.I often pick up some new words while reading. But I easily forget them. How can I remember them clearly?


Remember, there are two kinds of vocabulary: receptive and productive. Receptive vocabulary refers to the words you can recognize and understand but can’t necessarily use. Productive vocabulary refers to the words you know and can use with confidence. Your receptive vocabulary is always far larger than your productive vocabulary. This refers to your command of your native language, as well as to English. So when you say you can’t remember new words easily, this doesn’t matter. They may have entered your receptive command. In other words, when you encounter them again you will recognize and understand them, but you might not know how to use them. This means you don’t have to try to remember every new word you encounter. One way words cross from our receptive vocabulary to our productive use is through sufficient exposure to the word in a wide variety of contexts. Reading as much as you can will help you to consolidate what you know and increase your vocabulary. But a new lexical item only becomes ‘entirely yours’ when you know how to use it. Using words in speech and in writing will enable you to develop your productive command of English.


158. The more I read, the more unknown words I will find. I have almost lost patience to look them up in a dictionary one by one. But I want to understand the articles correctly. What shall I do?


I agree the sheer volume of new words that you will encounter in any piece of writing is very great indeed. I also fully understand how tedious it is to have to look up so many words. It just takes the fun out of reading. One thing you should ask yourself is whether you are trying to read English which is beyond your level. You may not actually be ‘ready’ for completely unsimplified English. But if you think you are and want to continue reading general articles in the press, etc., I suggest you train yourself in the following:
 Scan (= quickly look through) the whole text before you begin reading it so that you get a general idea what it is about. Look particularly at the general title of an article and its section headings if it has any. Make sure you understand these by looking them up in a dictionary if necessary.
 Scan each paragraph before you begin reading it to get the general meaning.
 Read the paragraph sentence by sentence, trying to understand new words from context. Make intelligent guesses at the meanings of words and look up only those words which interfere with your understanding. You can’t, for example, read a text about pigeons if you don’t understand the word ‘pigeon’ because it’s essential to the understanding of a text as a whole.

This procedure will greatly reduce the number of times you consult the dictionary and will increase your pleasure in reading. However, it may be that your difficulty in understanding a text is not the result of vocabulary, but of syntax (= the way words are joined together to make sentences). If this is the case, you need practice in analysing and de-coding sentences. A practice book like my own Longman Advanced English Grammar is designed to train you in this skill.

 浏览(快速通读)全文后再开始正式阅读,以便获得总体印象。要特别注意文章的题目和各章节的小标题(如果有的话)。若有必要应查词典弄清这些标题的意思。
 在阅读一个段落前,应先浏览,以了解大概意思。
 阅读各段落时,要逐句阅读,根据上下文去理解生词。可以猜测单词的意思,只有在这些单词干扰了正常阅读时再去查词典。例如,如果你不知道pigeon的意思就不能去阅读一篇关于鸽子的文章,因为理解这个词对于理解全文是必不可少的。

这种步骤将大大减少你查词典的次数,增加阅读的乐趣。但是,也有可能你在文本理解上的困难不是因为词汇量的原因,而是因为句法(即词汇组成句子的方式)的原因。如果是这个问题,那你需要练习剖析句子。类似我著的Longman Advanced English Grammar这样的练习书就是设计来训练这方面技巧的。

159. I like reading 21st Century, but my teacher told me I’d better read more articles written by native authors. Do you think it’s a piece of good advice?


Of course, a great deal of 21st Century is written by native authors (like me, for example!), but I agree with your teacher that you should read as widely as you can. You don’t want to read pieces which are mainly about language and language learning, so try to read articles in general magazines (either local or international). Yes, your teacher has given you a good piece of advice.


161. I don’t understand English articles unless I translate them into Chinese first. Please tell me how to abandon our Chinese conception during reading English books.


What you are saying, I think, is that you are not reading in English. What I mean by this is that your thought processes are not confined to English during the act of reading. You are constantly trying to transfer the meaning to Chinese. Why are you doing this? Probably because you’re not confident of your ability to read and think in English. And why aren’t you confident? Probably because you are reading texts which are too advanced for your present level. You can only read comfortably in a foreign language, without having to translate into your mother tongue, if the texts you are reading are at least one level below your present classroom level. This means you should always be reading books which look and are fairly easy for you. If you do this, you will read and think in English without having to translate into Chinese and you will build up your confidence to a point where you can proceed to a higher level. Publishers’ catalogues provide lists of readers at different levels. Choose a level which at first seems easy for you (e.g. from the Longman Structural Readers, or Longman Originals) and develop your reading skills.


162. Fast reading can save myself time, but I don’t know whether I can ignore the learning of grammar.

You never save yourself time if you read so fast that you don’t take anything in. The art of fast reading is to read material rapidly, take it in and remember what you have read. If you can’t take in and remember what you have read quickly, then you are wasting your time and should give up fast reading immediately, because you are not reading at all; you’re merely scanning a lot of print without any understanding. It is not a choice between ‘reading fast’ and ‘learning grammar’. You can’t achieve one without the other. Reading depends on the understanding of syntax (grammar). Syntax is the term we use to show how words combine to make sentences. Therefore in order to read at all (never mind about reading fast) you have to be able to analyse a sentence and put it together again in order to understand it. You have to do this in your head as you read. The more quickly you can do this, the better you will be able to read. Take a sentence like:

‘On being told by my bank manager that I couldn’t borrow money to buy a new car, I decided I would give up the idea of borrowing money and would begin saving instead until I had enough money to buy the car I wanted.’

This is a long and clumsy sentence. To understand it, you have to break it up into its constituent parts and then put these parts together again:
‘I couldn’t borrow money to buy a new car. I was told this by my bank manager. I decided I would give up the idea of borrowing money. I would begin saving instead. When I had enough money, I would buy the car I wanted.’

This is the sort of thing that is happening in our heads when we read. We are constantly breaking up sentences into their parts and putting the parts together again. We make all sorts of logical connections to understand what is being said. A fast reader is one who can perform this kind of analysis at speed. A slow reader performs the same kind of analysis at a more leisurely pace. But neither kind of reader can manage without syntactical (= grammatical) analysis.

163. When reading, I’m always confused with idioms, slang and colloquial words. Please tell me how to distinguish them.


An idiom is a fixed phrase the meaning of which bears no relation to the meanings of the individual words that make up the phrase. Phrasal verbs can often have literal or idiomatic meanings:
The teacher told me to sit up. (= sit upright: non-idiomatic)
We’re going to sit up all night during the general election. 
(= not go to bed: idiomatic)
Apart from phrasal verbs, there are numerous expressions which are idiomatic. For example:
—fixed phrases:
John imagines he’ll be a millionaire before he’s 25, but that’s just pie in the sky. (= wishful thinking which is impossible to achieve)
Deal with the problem now. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine. (=When something goes wrong, deal with it immediately before it gets worse.)
 Colloquial language is the informal language of everyday speech; slang is colloquial language which is so informal, and often vulgar, that it is not normally used in serious speech or writing:
I’m wiped out. (colloquial style)
I’m dead tired. (informal style)
I’m exhausted. (neutral/formal style)
I’m knackered. (slang = extremely tired, exhausted)

 惯用语(idiom)是一种固定的短语,它的意思与组成这个短语的单词的意思没有关系。短语动词经常有字面上或惯用的意思:
The teacher told me to sit up.(=坐直:非惯用语)
We’re going to sit up all night during the general election.(=不睡觉:惯用语)
John imagines he’ll be a millionaire before he’s 25, but that’s just pie in the sky. (=不可能实现的妄想)
Deal with the problem now. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.(=出了问题要立即补救,以免恶化。)
 口语(colloquial)是日常生活中使用的非正式语言;俚语(slang)比口语更随意,往往有些低俗,在正式的说话或写作中一般是不用的:
I’m wiped out.(口语体)
I’m dead tired.(非正式体)
I’m exhausted.(一般/正式体)
I’m knackered.(俚语=极端疲劳,精疲力竭)
164. When I am doing extensive reading, I know the article’s main idea. But I can’t do the exercises all correctly. Why?

Without knowing what kinds of exercises you are referring to, it’s difficult for me to advise. If you mean exercises designed to test your comprehension, then you may be making mistakes because you haven’t understood the meaning of what you are reading. If you mean language exercises, then you may be making mistakes because you haven’t understood the grammar. If you mean vocabulary exercises, then you may be making mistakes because you haven’t understood the meanings of words.

165. Reading original magazines, I always come across grammar, idioms, background knowledge, and so on. If I deal with them one by one, I cannot afford the time, but if I skip them, I would learn nothing from reading. What should I do?


What a dilemma! You can afford the time to read, but you can’t afford the time to make sense of what you’re reading! It’s therefore a waste of time reading. Why don’t you set yourself a very small amount to read and deal with that properly instead of ‘reading[any number of?]original magazines’?


166. Could you tell me how to make a start when reading a book or an article in English?
The best way to give up smoking is to stop smoking cigarettes, etc. The best way to eat less is to start eating less. The best way to read an article is to read it. Here is some advice I have given before:

1) Make sure you understand what the general theme of the text is. (Look at the title, headline or headlines.)

2) Scan the whole text quickly. This means running your eyes down each page to get the general theme of each paragraph.

3) Skim-read the text paragraph by paragraph. This means looking hard at each paragraph in turn, concentrating mainly on verbs in order to get the topic of each paragraph. Once youve got the general idea of the piece, start reading it in detail. Pay attention to the way ideas are connected to each other.

4) Make a quick note of what you think you have understood.

Questions about Vocabulary-Building and Writing

167. I want to enlarge my vocabulary, but once I saw so many new words, I was discouraged. Are there any good ways?


If you’re a regular reader of this column, you will have read a lot of advice about increasing your vocabulary. Remember, your receptive vocabulary (= what you understand when you listen to English or read English) is far greater than your active vocabulary (= the language you use with confidence when you speak or write). There’s nothing better than listening to English and reading English as much as you can if you want to expand your vocabulary, but don’t attempt to do this if the level is too high for you. Read books which are below your present level. Additionally, there are numerous vocabulary practice books on the market which are quite suitable for self-study purposes. These can be useful in helping you to expand your vocabulary. Look up publishers English Language Teaching catalogues for suitable titles.


168. I often have some ideas and want to write them down. But I cannot express my meaning well. How can I improve my writing?


While we’re at school or university, most of our writing tasks are set by others. Because of this, we often find it difficult to know what to say. In real life, however, we write for a purpose. We may have to write reports, letters, etc. Writing for a purpose gives us something to say and is highly motivating. However, we have to learn how to write. The essence of writing is the ability to join ideas. To do this in English, we have to master simple sentences (that is, sentences with one main verb); compound sentences (that is, sentences joined by and, but, both ... and, etc.) and complex sentences (that is, sentences joined by when, as soon as, while, although, even if, participles (Finding that ...), to infinitives, etc.) In order to write well, we have to master sentence structure, so look for textbooks that provide you with this kind of practice. And remember: the more you read, the better you will write. When you read, you have a constant writing model in front of you. Writing a summary of something you have read is excellent practice. You can compare what you have written with the original.
我们在上中学或大学时,大多数的写作作业是由别人布置的。因此,我们会很难知道该说些什么。然而在现实生活中,我们却是有目的地练习写作。我们可能得写报告、信件,等等。有目的的写作能给我们提供想表达思想的素材,因此,它具有很强的主动性。尽管如此,我们还是必须学会如何写作。写作的要旨就是把思想联系起来的能力。想要用英语做到这一切,我们必须掌握简单句(即只含一个主要动词的句子);并列句(即用and, but, both...and等连接的句子);复合句(即用when, as soon as, while, although, even if,分词〈finding that...〉,to不定式等连接的句子)。要写好文章,我们必须掌握句子结构,所以你可以查找一些能够为你提供这方面练习的教材。请记住:你读得越多,你写得也就越好。当你读书的时候,你的眼前就会有一个范文。给你读的文章写摘要是一种很好的训练。你可以把你写的摘要与原文作个比较。

169. If I keep a diary, will this help me gradually to improve my English?


Keeping a diary is an excellent way of improving your written English for the following reasons:

1) It is constant practice. Even the dullest days will always give you something to write about. The big problem is maintaining the discipline needed to write, so you don’t skip days.

2) You are writing about true experiences, so your subject matter is ready-made. A lot of people have difficulty writing because they don-t know what to write about.

3) Writing a diary gives you constant practice in three writing styles: narration, description and reflection. You need narration (and therefore plenty of practice in using the past tense) to say what happened during each day. You need description to record your impressions of people and places. You need a reflective style to say what you think about people and events.

4) Finally, don’t be too ambitious. It’s better to write briefly and within your command of English. So don’t try to write at length, or to use words and structures taken from a bilingual dictionary. After all, you don’t want to practise mistakes!





170. Is it necessary to remember every word you meet in reading?

Of course not. Remember this simple observation: The amount of language we can understand always exceeds the amount of language we can produce. This is true for any language, so when you are reading a newspaper in Chinese you will find words you can understand but would probably not think of using yourself. When we are reading, the important thing is to grasp the essential meaning, not to learn every single word. So, for example, if you read a sentence like
‘John was often angry and often cantankerous’, it is possible that you wouldn’t understand the meaning of ‘cantankerous’. What would you do? You would try to make an intelligent guess from the context. You know the word ‘angry’, so you would assume that ‘cantankerous’ is in some way related—and you would be right! (‘Cantankerous’ actually means ‘bad tempered’ or ‘quarrelsome’.) You don’t have to remember ‘cantankerous’ for ever. ‘Angry’ is a far more useful word to remember.

171. Is it a good method to write down each new word in a special notebook to strengthen the memory while learning English?


If it helps you, do it! We all have our own individual ways of learning. A lot of learners like to ‘see’ as well as ‘hear’ new words, so it helps to write them down in a notebook.


172. I met many new words while I was reading. Which ones should I look up in the dictionary and remember?


Look up and remember only those words which prevent you from understanding the essential meaning of what you are reading. Try to guess from the context the meaning of other less essential words. It is impossible to remember the meaning of every single word you encounter and if you try to do this you will rapidly become discouraged. So be selective. 


173. It’s not difficult for me to understand a written sentence, but I’ve no idea how to choose the right word to make such a sentence.


The more you read, the better you will write. A simple way of improving your writing skills is to concentrate on a short text in English. Read it carefully, then write (say) five questions about it. Then answer these questions with complete sentences which you write yourself. The answers to your questions will form a summary of the piece you have just read. You will be able to compare the sentences you have written with the sentences in the text. The essence of writing is to learn how to join ideas. If you practise in the way I am suggesting, you will come to master the words we use to connect ideas: words like and and but which we use to write compound sentences; words like when, since, although which we use to write complex sentences.

你读得越多,写得就越好。提高你英语写作技巧的一种简单方式就是集中研究一段英语短文。先仔细阅读,然后写下(说出)关于文章的五个问题。然后再用完整的句子回答这些问题,那么你所回答的问题就成了一篇文章摘要。你可以把你所写下的句子与文中的句子作番比较。写作的要旨是为了能够学习如何串连思想。如果你按照我的建议去做,你就会掌握我们用来连接文章思想的词汇:如我们写并列句所用的and和but等以及我们写复合句所用的when, since, although等。

174. Our English teachers once told us to ‘write in simple sentences’, as it is easy to write in such a way, and we won’t make many mistakes. But I now feel that is not enough. How can I improve my writing?


What is a simple sentence? In grammatical terms, a simple sentence has only one finite verb. Here are a few simple sentences: I opened the door. I went into the room. I walked towards the window. I opened the window. I looked out. There were children in the street. They were playing. I watched them for a long time. 
Your teacher was right. You can reduce the number of mistakes you might make by writing in this way, but as your English improves, you will want to express yourself in more complex ways. This means:

 writing compound sentences, using and, but, not only ... but, or, etc.: I opened the door and went into the room. I walked towards the window and opened it. Then I looked out. etc.
 writing complex sentences, using conjunctions like after, as soon as, when, etc: After I opened the door, I went into the room. It was dark inside the room, so I walked towards the window and opened it. I saw children who were playing in the street and watched them for a long time.
 writing complex sentences, using participle constructions and infinitive constructions: After opening the door, I went into the room. It was dark inside the room, so I opened a window to let in some light. I saw children playing in the street, and stood at the window, watching them for a long time.
In the above examples, you can see how simple sentences can be re-expressed in more complex ways. The ideas are basically the same, but the way they are connected can vary in relation to your command of English. Use a book that approaches composition through texts. Avoid practice books that only practise single sentence examples.

什么是简单句呢?从语法意义上说,一个简单句只有一个限定动词。这里列举一些简单句:I opened the door. I went into the room. I walked towards the window. I opened the window. I looked out. There were children in the street. They were playing. I watched them for a long time.

 使用and, but, not only...but, or等连词写并列句:I opened the door and went into the room. I walked towards the window and opened it. Then I looked out.等等。
 使用诸如after, as soon as, when等连词写复合句:
After I opened the door, I went into the room. It was dark inside the room, so I walked towards the window and opened it. I saw children who were playing in the street and watched them for a long time.
 用分词结构或不定式结构写复合句:After opening the door, I went into the room. It was dark inside the room, so I opened a window to let in some light. I saw children playing in the street, and stood at the window, watching them for a long time.


175. Why does the word ‘Sino’ mean ‘China’?

Sino comes from a Greek word ‘Sinai’, which was taken into Latin as ‘Sinae’. It has the sense of ‘relating to China’ (e.g. the nation, the people, its customs, its language, its literature). This probably arose because the ‘ch’ combination of letters /t/ doesnt exist in Greek or Latin. So we can speak of a Sinophile (= a person who loves China and things Chinese). Or we can combine Sino with nationality adjectives (SinoAmerican relations, SinoJapanese trade talks) meaning ‘between China or the Chinese and the other country or people named’. Or we can use Sino to refer specifically to language: SinoJapanese, SinoKorean, SinoTibetan, meaning ‘the relationship between the Chinese language and the other language named’. I am indebted to the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Volume XV, page 538 for most of this information.

176. We often say ‘How to spell it?’ when we want to know the spelling of a word. But a few days ago, I read in a reference book that this is wrong. Can you tell me why?
Yes, it is wrong when asked as a direct question. I have noticed that many of your questions to this column begin ‘How to ...?’ used as a direct question, so its clearly a common error resulting from interference from Chinese. The fact is that we tend to use how to in reported speech:
Direct question: How do I spell it?
Indirect speech: I dont know how to spell it.
Direct question: How should I spell it?
Indirect speech: I dont know how I should spell it. 
(See Longman English Grammar, 15.24.2.)
To sum up, use do/does/did or shall/should after How in direct questions, but use to after how only in indirect speech.