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The giving tree (Shel Silverstein)

The tree who was in love with a boy. A moving story, very popular in the USA, that teaches us a truth about life. The voice-over on the video is the author of the story herself!

Once there was a tree…… And she loved a little boy.
And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and made them into crowns and played king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk and leap from her branches and eat apples. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree...Very much... And the tree was happy.

But the time went by, and the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said:
–“Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be “happy”.
–“I’m too old to climb and play”, said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?”
–”I’m sorry but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, boy, and sell them in city. Then you will have money and you will be happy”.
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy…

But the boy stayed away for a long time…… and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy, and she said:
–”Come, boy climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be “happy”..
–“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm. I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
–“I have no house. The forest is my house. But you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy”.
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time……and when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak.
–“Come, boy”, she whispered, “Come and play
–“I am too old and too sad to play,” said the boy. “I just want a boat that’ll take me far away from here. Can-can you give me a boat?”
–“Cut down my trunk and make a boat. Then you can sail away…… and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy…..But not really.

And after a very long time the boy came back again.
–“I am sorry, boy, but I have nothing left to give you— My apples are gone.”
–“My teeth are too weak for apples”.
–“My branches are gone, you cannot swing on them—”
–”I'm too old to swing”.
–“I'm sorry. I wish I could give you something…  but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump.”
–”I don’t need much anymore” said the boy. “just a quiet place to sit and rest”.
–“Well” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy…

THE BOY WOULD COME= The boy used to come. USED TO can express a habit or a state (a situation), but WOULD can only express a habit
- I used to get up at 8 o’clock, but now I get up later = I would get up at 8 o’clock, but now I get up later.
- That house used to look very old, but now they have repaired it. (a state. We can’t say: “that house would look very old”)

We can also use the simple past for past habits (the same as we use the simple present for present habits), but it is more ambiguous (sometimes we can’t tell if it’s a habit or just one action):
- When I was a child I got up at 8 o’clock every day (here, the phrase “every day” tells us that it is a habit).

GATHER= Collect, put together and take away.

MADE THEM INTO CROWNS= Transformed them into crowns, made crowns using the leaves.

TRUNK= The part of the tree going from the ground to the branches.

LEAP= Jump.

BRANCHES= The part of a tree, on top, where leaves grow. (see picture).

SHADE= A definite area where the sun light is blocked by something so it is darker, in the shadow.

TIME WENT BY= Time passed.

SWING= To move back and forth suspended or as if suspended from above. Monkeys swing from the trees.

MONEY= /mʌnɪ/

I HAVE NO MONEY= I haven’t got any money. The article NO is negative, so the sentence must be positive to avoid a double negative. But the article ANY is not negative, so we can use it in negative sentences.

CARRIED THEM AWAY= Transported them away, took them away.

SHOOK WITH JOY= (shake-shook-shaken) The tree was so happy that it started to shake (joy = happiness). To shake is to tremble violently.

BUSY= Notice the pronunciation /bɪzɪ/ .

YOU MAY CUT OFF MY BRANCHES= The verb MAY is used to ask or give permission. The particle OFF expresses separation.

BUILD= Notice the pronunciation /bɪld/

SHE COULD HARDLY SPEAK= She almost couldn’t speak. The adverbs HARDLY and ALMOST have the same meaning, but the first one is negative, so we use it in positive sentences, and the second one is positive, so we use it in negative sentences (this is to avoid having a double negative).

WHISPERED= Spoke softly, in a very low tone.

COME AND PLAY= Come to play. The verbs COME and GO are often used with AND as an alternative to infinitive with TO:
- Come and help me = come to help me.
- Go and buy some milk = go to buy some milk.


THAT’LL= ætəl/

I HAVE NOTHING LEFT= I have nothing more because everything is gone, finished.

CANNOT= Remember that the negative of CAN is CANNOT or CAN’T, but you can’t write CAN NOT.

I WISH I COULD…= The verb WISH is followed by the past tense:
- I wish I was taller.
- I wish we worked together.


STUMP= The part of a tree trunk left protruding from the ground after the tree has fallen or has been felled. You can see the stump at the end of the video.

STRAIGHTENING HERSELF UP= If you straighten yourself up, you pull your back up because you want to look taller.

GOOD FOR SITTING= Remember that after prepositions and conjunctions we use –ING.
When we are talking about purpose (what something is for) there is a difference between particular puspose and general purpose.
--- particular purpose (at this moment, I want to use this to do this).  TO + INFINITIVE.
When the boy (old man) said “[I need] a quiet place to sit and rest” he is talking about a particular place. He can’t sit on an idea, he needs a particular place to do something particular: sit and rest. So he uses infinitive with to: TO SIT AND REST.
--- general purpose (in general, this is usually used for this). FOR + -ING.
When the tree said “an old stump is good for sitting and resting” she is saying that a stump, in general, is good for that (so he can use it to sit and rest if he wants to).

More examples:
- A tin-opener is a tool for opening tins (general purpose)
- I need a tin-opener to open this tin (particular purpose)
- Chairs are for sitting (general)
- He used a chair to break the window (particular)

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