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The present simple and present continuous tenses

Present simple
The present simple tense is used for habits, I always wake up at 6am, permanent situations He
lives in New York and truth The sun rises in the east.

It uses an s on the verb in the third person singular (he / she / it)
I / You / We / They play
He / She / It plays

It uses do(n't) or does(n't) in questions and negatives


I don't know.
She doesn't live here
Do you work hard?
Does it rain a lot?

Present continuous
The present continuous tense is used for actions happening now, I am talking to you! Listen to
me!, or around now I'm staying at my parents house this week and next.

It is always formed using the verb be and an ing verb.


I am eating dinner.
You / We / They aren't eating dinner.
Is he / she / it eating dinner?

The future
The present continuous can be used for future arrangements - these are strong future plans.

I'm having dinner tomorrow.


They're driving to Madrid next week.

The present simple can be used for timetabled future events - such as bus, train or aeroplane
departures.
My flight leaves at 6.30 tomorrow.
The queen opens the museum at 3.30pm on Monday.

State verbs
Some verbs cannot be used continuously. These are called state verbs. For example: need, know,
want, have (possess). They are usually used in the simple form, even if we would normally use the
continuous tense.
I am really hungry. I want some food.
I have three children.

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often an action happens. From most often (100%) to least often
(0%):

I always ride my bike to school (100%)


You often go on holiday
She sometimes misses breakfast (50%)
It rarely rains here
He never sleeps before nine (0%)
Position
Adverbs of frequency go immediately before the main verb:

I often go to work.
You didn't always forget to lock the door.
He's usually playing football.
She has never been to France.

Unless the main verb is the verb be, in which case, the adverb comes after:

I am often working.
You rarely party anymore.
They aren't often interested.

Double Negatives:
English doesn't usually like double negatives. Some adverbs already have a negative meaning
(rarely, never) and should not be used with a negative verb:

He never wakes up on time.


They never came to the meetings.
It is rarely sunny in England!

Used to and Would

Used to and would allow us to talk about past habits - things we did routinely in the past, but not in
the present.

Bare infinitives
Used to and would are always followed by a bare infinitive verb (a verb with no to)

I used to play every afternoon.


I would play every afternoon.

Actions and states


Some verbs are called state verbs - they describe states rather than actions (e.g. be rather than
do).
Used to can be used with either action or state verbs to have a past habits meaning, but would can
only be used with actions. If we use would with a state, it does not mean past habits anymore.

I used to walk to work every morning. (action)


I didn't use to be so skinny. (state)
I would cycle with my friends at the weekend. (action)

Form: Would
Would does not change its form for the subject. It is always would.

I would wake up early


You wouldn't wake up early
Would he wake up early?
Wouldn't she wake up early?

Form: Used to
When Used to is used in the negative or in a question, we use the auxiliary verb did and change its
spelling. It loses the 'd' on 'used'. This does not affect its pronunciation: (+) used to (-) didn't use to
and (?) Did...use to are all pronounced the same.

I used to drink more coffee, but I quit.


Did you use to smoke?
She didn't use to play football.

The Present Perfect Simple and Continuous

The present perfect simple and continuous are are perfect tenses. That means they are constructed
using have:

Present perfect simple


have / has + past participle (verb 3)
I've eaten lunch.
He hasn't been here very long.
Have we ever gone to Germany?

Present perfect continuous


Have/ has + been + (verb)ING
I've been studying for the last hour
You haven't been trying to fix the car. You've been sleeping!
Has it been raining very long?

One meaning the same


Both the present perfect simple and continuous tenses have one use which is the same: To talk
about an action which started in the past and continues into the present.

I've studied English for 8 years.


I've been studying English for 8 years.
She's played football since she was a child.
She's been playing football since she was a child.

State verbs
Some verbs cannot be used continuously. These are called state verbs. For example: need, know,
want, have (possess). They are usually used in the simple form, even if we would normally use the
continuous. In this case, that means using the present perfect simple tense where we might wish to
use the present perfect continuous.

I have needed a good cup of tea since this morning


We've known each other for 12 years now
He's wanted to buy that car his whole life.
Quantity or duration?
Both the present perfect simple and continuous can look at the same action, but from different views.
The present perfect simple is concerned with change and looks at completed actions - often counting
quantity by using how much or how many. The present perfect continuous assumes that an action
is in progress, or very recently finished, and looks at how long something has been happening.

How long have you been writing letters to your friend in America?
We've been writing for 15 years.
Wow! How many letters have you written, do you think?
I don't know. Maybe we've written over 100 letters to each other.

Modal verbs: have to and must

Modals
All modal verbs are followed by a bare infinitive. With the exception of ‘have to’ modal verbs do not
change form to show person or time.

I have to go to work today.


I must go to work today.
You mustn’t go to work today.
Must she go to work today?

Obligation
‘Have to’ and ‘must’ are concerned with obligation. ‘Must’, ‘mustn’t’ and ‘have to’ tell us what we are
obliged to do or what is forbidden. However, ‘don’t have to’, ‘doesn’t have to’ and ‘didn’t have to’ all
describe a voluntary action – you can choose.

I don’t want to, but I have to go to my brother’s wedding.


You must stop smoking if you ever want to recover.
Children mustn’t go into the kitchen without an adult

We don’t have to eat at college. We can eat in town if you like.

Internal or External obligations?


Many people use ‘have to’ and ‘must’ interchangeably. But, they are a little different. ‘Must’ describes
internal obligations – these are the rules which the speaker gives themselves. ‘Have to’ describes
external obligations – these are rules from an outside authority to the speaker (e.g. the government,
or parents.)

If I want to lose weight, I must start doing more exercise.


The doctor told me to lose weight so I have to go to the gym.

Have to
‘Have to’ is the only modal very which changes its form for person and time. It can be used in the past
tense too.

I / You / We / They have to drive on the left in the UK.


He /She / It has to drive on the left in the UK.
When I was a boy, I had to get up every day and work with my father.
When she was younger, she didn’t have to go to school

Be going to

A bare infinitive
Be going to is always followed by a bare infinitive verb.
I’m going to see my parents.
Are you going to travel this weekend?
He’s not going to pass his exams.

Future predictions
Be going to can be used to talk about future predictions based on present evidence. In other words, a
future that can be predicted because of something that you can see, hear, or understand at the
moment of speaking.
Look at those dark clouds. It’s going to rain.
Be careful or you are going to fall!
If she keeps swinging her watch around, she is going to lose it.

Future plans
Be going to is also used to talk about future plans. These are things which the speaker has decided
on before the moment of speaking.
This evening I’m not going to go out. I’ve felt tired all day.
Are you still going to take a holiday? You booked it last week.
He says he’s going to climb Mount Everest! He’s planned the trip and everything!

Gonna
In fluent speech, especially in an informal situation, be going to is pronounced ‘gonna’ /gənə/. It is
rarely written down this way, except in very informal communication.
I’m gonna stay here.
Are you gonna watch the movie?
It’s not gonna rain!

Verb Patterns

In English, when two verbs are used together, the first verb dictates which form the second verb
should take regardless of the tense of the first verb or the subject of the sentence.

Some verbs can have more than one corresponding verb pattern and this can change the meaning of
the second verb. There are three basic forms:

1) a bare infinitive: play


2) A full infinitive: to play
3) an ING form: playing

Bare infinitive
Some verbs, such as modal verbs like can and must, are followed by a bare infinitive verb form.
I can swim faster than you.
He must come home as soon as possible.

Full infinitive
Some verbs, such as verbs like intend and would like, are followed by a full infinitive verb form.
I wouldn't like to live there.
She intends to study at university.

ING form
Some verbs, such as verbs like enjoy and can't help, are followed by a bare infinitive verb form.
I've always enjoyed walking in the rain.
He couldn't help playing one more game before he left.

After adjectives
We tend to use a full infinitive after adjectives such as wonderful, happy and terrible.
It's wonderful to see you.
It was terrible to see him fail like that.
I'm so happy to be here!
After prepositions
We tend to use an ING form after prepositions such as without, before and of.
He walked without knowing where he was going.
I've got to clean the house before cooking lunch.
I want to go with you instead of going with her.

Some and Any

Some and any are quantifiers. They tell us how much of something exists (or doesn't).

Some or any?
We generally use 'some' in affirmative sentences, and ‘any’ in questions and negatives. However, if
the question is a request, or an offer to help, we also use ‘some’.

I have some sandwiches if you are hungry.


There aren't any chairs for me to sit down!
Will you need any money? I have some here.
Could you make me some food? I'm starving! (request)
Would you like some help? I'm not busy right now. (offer)

Negative or limiting words


Some sentences appear to be affirmative because of certain negative or limiting words e.g. 'hardly',
'never' or 'without'. These mean that even though the sentence has an affirmative structure, the
meaning is actually negative. As the rule above says, when a sentence is negative we need to use
'any'.

I'm not staying. There are hardly any people here!


She's always rushing! She never has any time!
I think there's a hamburger without any pickles over there.

Some of...Any of...


When ‘some’ or ‘any’ are followed by a determiner, such as an article (a / an / the) or possessive (my
/ your / his / her) , we use ‘some of’ or ‘any of’.

I think I have some of your books in my bag.


I didn't know any of the actors in that film.

The Past Continuous

Form and Use


The past continuous is formed using 'was' or 'were' + verbING. It is used to describe actions which
were in progress and unfinished at a specific past time. It is a continuous tense, so we do not usually
use it with state verbs, such as 'need', 'want' or 'know' and we do not use it to talk about repeated
past actions or past habits - that's the past simple tense.
I was sitting at home last night.
Were you cooking when they arrived home?
She wasn't sleeping, she was watching TV.

The interrupted past


The past continuous and past simple are often used to talk about how two past actions happened
together, either in parallel or one longer action, usually in the past continuous, that is interrupted by a
quicker one, usually in the past simple. To join the two actions, time words such as 'when' and 'while'
are used. Many combinations are possible, but we do not put 'while' in front of the shorter action.
While I was eating, she called me on my mobile.
When I arrived, everyone was laughing and dancing.
He was walking when he tripped and fell.

Past continuous for politeness


We can use the past continuous to make sentences and requests seem more polite. This is because
they sound less definite, more temporary and more gentle. When using the past continuous in this
way, it is possible to use state verbs.
I was hoping that I could borrow the car?
Sorry to interrupt. I was just needing to borrow a pen.

The First Conditional

Form and Use


The first conditional is used to refer to the possible present or future consequences of an action. Its
formula is: if + present tense, will + a bare infinitive verb.
If I go anywhere today, I will go to the cinema.

The if clause
'If + a present tense' is called the 'if clause' or 'conditional clause'. It can go at the beginning of the
conditional sentence or in the middle. When the if clause appears at the beginning of the sentence, it
is followed by a comma. The tense used within this clause can be any present tense. The present
simple is the most common, but the present continuous or present perfect tense are also possible.
If you go out, will you buy me an ice-cream?
He won't pass the test if he doesn't know the answer.
If they don't go to France, where will they go?
If she's buying lunch, will you ask her to get me some too?
Will you buy a car immediately if you've passed your test?

'Will' in the if clause


We do not normally put a 'will' in the if clause of a first conditional, however - although it is
uncommon, it is possible. We usually do this when expressing strong emotion such as insistence or
irritation.
If he will act like a fool in class, he won't get a very good education.

Formality
We can make a first conditional more polite by replacing 'if' with 'should'. When doing this with a
negative if clause, use 'not' instead of 'don't' or 'doesn't'.
Should I go anywhere today, I will go to the cinema.
Should you not finish on time, will you call me?

Relative Clauses

Two types
There are two types of relative clause: defining relative clauses, which specify which noun we are
speaking about, and non-defining relative clauses, which add extra, non-essential, information to a
noun. Defining relative clauses almost always sit immediately after the noun they describe. Non-
defining relative clauses are introduced and followed by a comma (if they don't end the sentence).
Defining: The pen which I used is on the table. (I mean 'the one I used and no other')
Non-defining: My brother, who is a doctor, lives in France. (The conversation is about where my
brother lives)

The following information concerns defining relative clauses only.


Relative pronouns
Relative pronouns are both pronouns and linkers which connect the relative clause to the noun they
describe.

People
'Who' is the relative pronoun for people. In defining relative clauses, 'that' can always be used in
place of 'who'. It is less formal though.
The boy who gave me his phone number is standing at the bus stop.
I know the woman who lives upstairs.

Things
'Which' is the relative pronoun for things. In defining relative clauses, 'that' can always be used in
place of 'which'. It is less formal though.
This is the house which my mother has just bought.
The birds which nest in that tree always eat the seeds in our garden.

Possessions
'Whose' is the relative pronoun for possessions, but it acts as a determiner like 'my', 'your' or 'its'.
Unlike 'who' or 'which', 'whose' must be followed by a noun.
That's the guy whose car is a Ferrari.
I know where there's a piano whose strings are out of tune.

Leaving out the relative pronoun


When the relative pronoun represents the object of the relative clause, it can be left out. This is very
common in speech and writing, though less common in formal writing.
Subject: This is John. It's the dog which always sits on the steps. (It's the dog. He always sits on the
steps.)
Object: This is John. It's the dog which I always talk to. (It's the dog. I always talk to it.)
Object (no relative pronoun): This is John. It's the dog I always talk to.

Relative Clauses

Two types
There are two types of relative clause: defining relative clauses, which specify which noun we are
speaking about, and non-defining relative clauses, which add extra, non-essential, information to a
noun. Defining relative clauses almost always sit immediately after the noun they describe. Non-
defining relative clauses are introduced and followed by a comma (if they don't end the sentence).
Defining: The pen which I used is on the table. (I mean 'the one I used and no other')
Non-defining: My brother, who is a doctor, lives in France. (The conversation is about where my
brother lives)

The following information concerns defining relative clauses only.

When and where


'When' and 'where' are relative adverbs, but function like relative pronouns. 'When' is used to specify
a certain time. 'Where' is used to specify a certain place. Both 'when' and 'where' can always be
replaced by 'which' and a preposition. This might be done for style or reasons of formality. The
preposition being used depends on the context at the time.
I was born during a time when the economy was strong.
I was born during a time at which the economy was strong.
She opened the cupboard where she kept her best glasses.
She opened the cupboard in which she kept her best glasses.
Formality and the preposition
Many relative clauses can contain a preposition, such as 'at', 'on', 'in', etc. This preposition can be in
one of two positions. Either immediately before the relative clause, or at the end of the relative clause.
The difference relates to formality. If the preposition appears at the end of the relative clause, this is
less formal and very common in spoken English. If the preposition appears before the relative clause,
this is more formal and more common in written English.
She never met the baby (who) she would give her life for.
She never met the baby for whom she would give her life.
I've just reread the book (which) I first learned English from.
I've just reread the book from which I first learned English.

Whom
'Whom' is the more formal, object only, form of 'who', the relative pronoun for people. These days,
many people use 'who' for both subject and object relatives, especially when speaking. However, it's
more commonly found in writing. If 'whom' is used in combination with a preposition, put the
preposition in the formal position.
The boy from whom I found out about the accident gave me his phone number. (Formal)
The boy (who) I found out about the accident from gave me his phone number. (Informal)

What
'What' is an unusual relative pronoun. It does not refer to a noun that comes before it, or need a noun
to follow it. It means 'the thing which' or 'the things which'. Because of this, it is a noun (the thing) and
relative pronoun (which) combined. It is less common as a relative pronoun, but still used.
I don't know what I want for dinner.
I don't know the thing which I want for dinner.
I hope you're going to give me what I need.
I hope you're going to give me the things which I need

The past perfect tense

The past before the past


The past perfect tense is formed using 'had' and a past participle verb. It is used to describe an action
which happened before another action in the past. The effect of the past perfect is to 'go back' from
the currently established past time to a time before. Events in the past perfect always happened
before events in the past simple or past continuous.

When I arrived home, my wife had already cooked dinner.


By the time he arrived, he had driven 300 miles.
As I was walking to school, I suddenly realised that I had left my keys at home.

Had had
The past perfect uses 'had' as an auxiliary. Because it is an auxiliary, it is pronounced in its weak
form /həd/. In cases where the main verb is also 'had', it is pronounced in its strong form /hæd/. It is
important to remember that the first had is weak and the second strong.
I had (/həd/) had (/hæd/) a shower.

The third conditional


The third conditional is used to talk about the possible consequence of a past event that didn't
happen. It uses the past perfect formula in its conditional clause: If + had + past participle, would +
have + past participle.

If Levington had tried harder, he would have won the game show.
Unrealised hopes
An unrealised hope is something that we wanted to happen, but didn't. It is common to use the past
perfect with verbs such as ‘wish’, ‘hope’, ‘intend’ and ‘want’. When using the past perfect in this way,
we stress the auxiliary verb.

Well, I had hoped to leave work by 5, but I'm still not nearly done and it's 5.30.
She had expected you to at least bring her some flowers on your anniversary, but you never
remember, do you?

So and Such

Emphasis
'So' and 'such' can be used to emphasise an adjective or noun phrase in a sentence. We use 'so' to
emphasise an adjective, and 'such' to emphasise a noun phrase. With a noun phrase, don't forget to
include the article and remember that you can still use an adjective before the noun! Finally, in order
to say that the thing being emphasised caused a reaction, we use a 'that' clause.

Thank you. It's been such a beautiful day.


It was such a beautiful day that we couldn't resist going out for ice-cream.
She said she had never been so insulted in her life.
She was so insulted that she left the house immediately.

Quantity
We can combine 'so' with 'much' or 'many' to emphasise the quantity of something. 'So much' is used
for uncountable nouns and 'so many' is used for countable nouns. Again, an adjective can be used
before the noun if required, and a 'that' clause can be added to talk about the effect of the number of
items. There is no 'such much' or 'such many'.

The fountain was beautiful. We just drank so much fresh water.


They drank so much fresh water that they needed to sit down from being too heavy.
The first time she went to a city, she felt overwhelmed. She'd never seen so many busy people.
There were so many busy people that it was nearly impossible to cross the street.

So, such and very


'So', 'such' and 'very' can all be used to emphasise information. However, 'very' tends to be used to
emphasise information that is new to the conversation or context. 'So' and 'such' are used to
empahasise already established or known information.

A: How was your trip to the zoo?


B: It was certainly very interesting.
A: Why was it so interesting?
B: Well, frankly I've never seen a monkey play a trumpet. That's what was so interestingabout it all.

Comparatives

Comparatives are adjectives that allow us to compare two or more things. When used in a sentence,
they are often followed with 'than'.
I thought this film was more interesting than the last two we saw.

Making comparatives
There are three types of comparative adjectives:
Type 1: 1 syllable or some 2 syllable adjectives - Add 'ER'
Type 2: some 2 syllable adjectives and 3 or greater syllable adjectives - Add 'more'
Type 3: Irregular

Be careful! There are many two syllable adjectives in English that can be correctly used as type 1 or
type 2 comparatives!
Type 1: Leslie is handsomer than Will.
Type 2: Will is more handsome than Leslie.

Type 1 comparatives
If the adjective has one syllable, or is one of the certain group of 2 syllable adjectives, add 'ER'.
'fast' becomes 'faster'
If the adjective ends in 'E', just add 'R'
'nice' becomes 'nicer'
If the adjective has two syllables and ends in 'Y', change the 'Y' to an 'I' and add 'ER'
'happy' becomes 'happier'
If the adjective ends in a single vowel followed by a consonant, double the consonant and add 'ER'
'hot' becomes 'hotter'

Type 2 comparatives
If the adjective has two syllables or greater, put 'more' before the adjective
boring becomes more boring

Type 3 comparatives
Some comparatives are irregular:
'good' becomes 'better'
'bad' becomes 'worse'
'far' becomes 'further'
'fun' becomes 'more fun'

Size of difference
Some comparative structures can show the size of difference. Examples of these are:
No difference: as... as...
James is as tall as Frank.
A small difference: a bit more / less...
My car is a bit more expensive than yours.
A big difference: twice as... as... / nothing like as...
Her story is twice as good as mine.

Present and past passives

The passive is a verb form that can be used in any tense in English. The passive is only used for
specific reasons. When not using the passive, English uses the active form. Passives cannot be
made in sentences with no object.

active form: I painted that house yesterday.


passive form: That house was painted by me yesterday.
passive not possible: The plane flew quickly over the mountains.

Making the passive


All passives are made with some form of be + a past participle verb. The auxiliary verb 'be' changes
to represent the tense. In order to make the passive, move the object noun or pronoun into the
subject position and change the verb.

active form: Dogs often chase cats.


passive form: Cats are often chased by dogs.

Present Simple Passive


Remember that the auxiliary verb 'be' changes to represent the tense. In the present simple 'be' is
either 'am' 'are' or 'is'. Therfore present simple passives are made with are/is + a past participle verb.

The trees are grown in special pots.


Rain is stored in the barrels for later use.

Past Simple Passives


Remember that the auxiliary verb 'be' changes to represent the tense. In the past simple 'be' is either
'was' or 'were'. Therfore past simple passives are made with was/were + a past participle verb.

The town was designed for pedestrians.


The animals were taken to the zoo for treatment.

Why use the passive?


The passive is used to focus on the object of an action rather than the subject. The subject might be
less important because a) the object is what we want to focus on, b) the subject is unknown or c) the
subject is obvious and it would be a waste of time to mention it. Among other reasons, the passive is
considered to be a formal reporting structure and is commonly used in official reports, news
publication and science.

a) This house was built in 1930 by my grandfather. (I want to tell you about the house, not my
grandfather.)
b) I left my lunch here but it was eaten. (I don't know who ate it)
c) The suspect was arrested last Thursday. (The police arrested him - everyone knows who did this.)

Agents and instruments


The person who does the action in a passive sentence is called 'the agent'. They may or may not be
mentioned in the sentence depending on how important they are and what the person wants to say.
The agent is always introduced using 'by'. If an object was used to do the action in the passive
sentence, it is called 'the instrument' and it is introduced using 'with'

This house was built in 1930. (Who built is is unimportant)


This house was built in 1930 by my grandfather. (The house is more important than my grandfather,
but I want you to know about him too.)
This house was built in 1930 with hand tools.
This house was built in 1930 with hand tools by my grandfather

Will

'Will' is a modal verb. This means that it is always followed by a bare infinitive verb and does not
change for a pronoun. Its negative form is 'won't'.
I will go.
You will play.
He will eat.
She will dance.

Many uses
'Will' is versatile. Depending on its context, it can be used for:
• Future predictions: Tomorrow, we will win the football cup final.
• Future intentions: After I finish my degree, I'll do an MA.
• Instant decisions: I think I'll order Italian food tonight.
• Promises: He will take you to the cinema as soon as he's finished work. Trust me.
• Threats: I'll ruin your career for doing this to me.
• Offers: If your bag is heavy, I will carry it for you.

Present Habits
Will can be used to describe present habits and typical behaviour too, just like the present simple. Its
form is exactly the same, so pay attention to clues in context such as the time words in the sentence.

On a typical day, I wake up at six a.m.


On a typical day, I will wake up at six a.m.

Shall
Shall is a a bit formal and more old-fashioned form of 'will'. In modern English, it is mainly used to ask
for advice, make suggestions and make offers. When doing so, we tend to only use the pronouns 'I'
and 'we'. A common response to a suggestion with 'shall we' is 'let's'. Both of these verbs are followed
by a bare infinitive.

A: I'm in serious trouble. What shall I do?


B: I think you should tell the police.

A: Shall we go to the cinema tonight?


B: Yes, let's go!

Are you too warm? Shall I open the window for you

Adjectives

Adjectives are describing words. They add detail to a noun.

Position
In the majority of cases, adjectives occupy one of two positions: immediately before the noun they
describe, or following a 'linking' verb, such as 'become', 'feel' or 'be'.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.


I feel very warm, but if you open the window it will become cool.

Adjective order
When many adjectives are used together, they have an order. Though it is unlikely that you’ll order so
many adjectives for one noun, the order goes: size, age, shape, colour, origin, material. There are
other types of adjectives not featured in this list, such as adjectives of opinion.

I bought a big old wooden trunk.


Have you seen my new red, yellow and blue necklace?

Gradable and non-gradable adjectives


Adjectives can be gradable or non-gradabe. Gradable adjectives are able to be modified using
adverbs like 'a bit', 'somewhat', 'quite' and 'very'. Non-gradable adjectives cannot because they are
too strong. In order to modify them, we use different adverbs, such as 'absolutely', 'totally' and
'utterly'.

It's a bit hot in here, don't you think?


It's absolutely boiling in here!
Prepositions

Prepositions are small and can be a tricky area of grammar to master. Because they are usually
small, they are eacy to forget or leave out. Unfortunately, there is no formula to them and each
preposition and use needs to be learned.

Time
There are three basic prepositins of time: 'at', 'on' and 'in'.

At - 'At' is used to talk times such as: at three o'clock, at lunchtime or at Christmas.
On - 'On' is often used to talk about days, such as: on Monday, on the third of June or on Christmas
Day.
In - 'In' usually refers to longer periods of time, such as: in the morning, in July or in the winter.

Be careful! In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening but at night!

Place
Prepositions of place are words like ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘at’ , ‘over’ and ‘between’, among others. They tell us
where things are or where they are moving to.

The clock is on the wall.


Please take the plates from the cupboard and put them in the oven.
He ran around the building and between the houses.

Dependent prepositions
Dependent prepositions are the connectors between a word and what may follow before or after it.
Many nouns, verbs and adjectives have dependent prepositions. They are the connectors that help
us form sentences. Examples are: 'good at', 'pride in', 'rely on'.

I'm not interested in anything you have to say.


The criminal confessed to comitting the crime.
I don't believe in ghosts.

Second Conditional

Form and use


The second conditional is used to talk about unreal or highly unlikely present or future situations and
their consequences. Its basic formula is: If + past simple / continuous verb, would + bare infinitive
verb.
If I had a lot of money, I would buy a new car.

First or second conditional?


Many ideas can be expressed in both the first or second conditional. They both talk about situations
and events in the present or future. The difference is in the mind of the speaker. If the speaker
believes that an event if possible or real, they use a first conditional. If a speaker believes that an
event is unreal, or highly unlikely, they will use a second conditional.

The boss has said I can go! If I leave work in the next five minutes, I will catch the early train.
(First conditional - It's possible for me to leave work and so catch the train)
If I left work in the next five minutes, I would catch the ealy train. But I still have all these reports to
do.
(Second conditional - It's not possible to leave work, I am just imagining.)
Was or were?
Though 'was' is also frequently used, it is common to use 'were' with any pronoun in a second
conditional. This occurs in both speech and writing and can be considered more formal. It is
especially common when using the phrase 'If I were you, I would...' to give advice.
If I was / were taller, I would be a basketball player.
If you were taller, you would be a basketball player.
If he was / were taller, he would be a basketball player.
If she was / were taller, she would be a basketball player.
If it was / were taller, it would be a tree.
If we were taller, we would be basketball players.
If they were taller, they would be basketball players.

Superlatives

Superlatives are adjectives that we use when something is outstanding in a particular way.
John is the fastest person I've ever seen.

Making superlatives
There are three types of superlative adjectives:
Type 1: one-syllable or some two-syllable adjectives - Add 'EST'
Type 2: some two-syllable adjectives and three or greater syllable adjectives - Add 'most'
Type 3: Irregular

Be careful! There are many two syllable adjectives in English that can be correctly used as type one
or type two superlatives!
Type 1: Will is the handsomest game show host.
Type 2: Will is the most handsome game show host.

Type 1 superlatives
If the adjective has one syllable, or is one of the certain group of two-syllable adjectives, add 'EST'.
'fast' becomes 'fastest'
If the adjective ends in 'E', just add 'ST'
'nice' becomes 'nicest'
If the adjective has two syllables and ends in 'Y', change the 'Y' to an 'I' and add 'EST'
'happy' becomes 'happiest'
If the adjective ends in a single vowel followed by a consonant, double the consonant and add 'EST'
'hot' becomes 'hottest'

Type 2 superlatives
If the adjective has two syllables or greater, put 'most' before the adjective
boring becomes most boring

Type 3 superlatives
Some superlatives are irregular:
'good' becomes 'best'
'bad' becomes 'worst'
'far' becomes 'furthest'
'fun' becomes 'most fun'

The, in and of
In sentences we often precede a superlative with the word 'the'. If we wish to define the superlative
further with a group or place, we can use a prepositional phrase. If the place or group is singular, we
usually use ‘in’. For example, …in the world. Before a plural, we can use ‘of’. For example, he’s the
fastest of them all.
It the coolest thing I've ever seen.
You're the most intelligent girl in the room.
He's the least friendly of them.

Infinitives
After a superlative, we can use an infinitive to further define the noun – much like a relative clause.
She's the youngest person to complete the marathon.

Question tags

Question tags are an auxiliary verb subject pronoun combination that sit at the end of a sentence.
They are most commonly used to ask a question, or to check information that the speaker already
believes they know in order to confirm it.
This is about question tags, isn't it?

Making question tags


Question tags are constructed with an auxiliary verb from the main verb phrase and a pronoun
referring to the subject of the sentence. Question tags usually swap polarity. If the main verb phrase
is affirmative, the question tag is negative and vice versa.

John will arrive soon, won't he?


You haven't seen Jenny, have you?

No auxiliary verb
In certain tenses, there may be no obvious auxiliary verb. Tenses such as the present simple and
past simple combine their auxiliary verbs with the main verb in the affirmative form. To make the
question tag, use the same auxiliary verb as you would for a question - present simple with 'do/ does',
and past simple with 'did'.

They know, don't they?


I went by myself, didn't I?

Intonation
Generally speaking, if a question tag is spoken with a rising intonation, the speaker is genuinely
asking the question and would like to know the answer. If the tag is spoken with a falling intonation, it
means the speaker believes they know the answer and is probably looking for agreement or
confirmation.

Imperatives
Imperatives are often used as commands or an informal way of speaking between friends. They have
no tense and an implied subject. For example, be quiet. To make an imperative into a question tag,
we use a modal verb such as 'will', 'could' and 'would' and the subject pronoun 'you'. Be careful of
appearing rude!

Be quiet, will you!


Don't shut the door, could you?
Do sit down, wouldn't you?

There
If a sentence has 'there' as a subject, use 'there' in the question tag.
There's no one here, is there?
Somebody and something
When somebody, everybody or nobody is the subject, use 'they' in the question tag. When
something, everything or nothing is, use 'it'.
Somebody was here, weren't they?
Nothing's wrong, is it?

Double positive tags


Double positive question tags are possible. They are used as emphatic responses or replies to
something that has just been said. They often show surprise, concern or some other emotional
emphasis. The speaker most often repeats the information they've just heard and adds the question
tag.

A: I'm getting married in May.


B: You're getting married, are you!?

Questions

Object questions
Object questions are the most common type of question grammar. There are two types. Yes/no
questions begin with an auxiliary verb and are answered with a 'yes' or 'no'. Question word questions
begin with a question word, such as: who, what, which, when, where, why or how. In order to make
an object question, switch the auxiliary verb and subject i.e. move the auxiliary verb in front of the
subject. Then add a question word if necessary.

Where does the dog sleep? The dog sleeps outside.


When did you arrive?
Do you play football? Yes I do.
Haven't you been to Mongolia? No, I haven't.

Subject questions
Subject questions differ from object questions in construction. We use a subject question when the
question word represents the subject of the answer sentence. With these questions we do not change
word order. In addition, if the verb is changed to show the current tense, that change remains.

What happened to you? Nothing happened to me.


Who will arrive next? Tom will arrive next.

Subject questions: Emphasis


When emphasising a subject question, we can add and stress an auxiliary verb. If the subject
question uses a verb which would not normally have an auxiliary (such as in the present simple or
past simple tenses), we add one and use the main verb in the infinitive form.

A: Who knows what happened here? (normal subject question form- present simple tense)
B: I'm sorry. I don't know.
A: You don't know? Who does know? (emphasised subject question)

Reported questions
Reported questions are used to tell a person about a question that someone different asked in
another place and time in the past. They use normal sentence word order in the same way that
subject questions do. The auxiliary verb and subject are not switched. They are written as sentences
with no question mark at the end. Reported questions are usually introduced with a phrase involving
the verb 'ask' such as, he asked me if...
They asked me when I was coming back.
She asked me if I wanted to go for dinner.

Can

Modal Verb
Can and can't are modal verbs. This means that they are always followed by a bare infinitive verb
and do not change their form regardless of which subject pronoun is used.

I can run fast.


You can run fast.
He / She / It can run fast.
We can run fast.
They can run fast.

Many uses
Can and can't have many uses. The choice depends on the speaker's meaning within the context of
the situation. Some of these uses include permissions, requests and offers, possibility and
impossibility, ability and typical behaviour.

Permission: Can I go to the toilet please? You can't smoke in here, I'm afraid.
Requests / Offer: Can I get you some food? Can't you turn the television down?
Possibility / Impossibility: I can be there by lunchtime. He can't have won the lottery!
Ability: It's too heavy so I can't lift it. She can run faster than anyone I know.
Typical behaviour: James can be very grumpy in the mornings. April can be a very wet month in
England.

Verbs of the senses


See, hear, smell, taste and feel are sense verbs. When we use them to refer to perception, such as
being able to see a bus, we do not usually use them in the continuous form. In order to talk about
something that is being seen, heard, smelt, tasted or felt at the moment of speaking, we use can.
This allows us to use these sense verbs with a present continuous meaning.

The bus is coming! I can see it at the end of the road!


I'm home! Wow! I can smell dinner! Have you been cooking?
This soup is amazing. I can taste mint.
I think there is someone outside. I can hear movement.
Well it's dark so I can't see anything, but I think I can feel a light switch.

Can't help
The verb can't help means that despite trying, someone is unable to resist doing something. Can't
help does not change its form regardless of which subject pronoun is used. It is always followed
by verb-ing.

I know I shouldn't but I can't help smoking cigars. I love them.


She says she can't help dancing. It's the only thing that makes her happy.
They can't help gossiping, can they? Don't tell them anything else.

Reported Speech

Use
Reported speech is used to tell a listener in the present what a person has said in another time and
place, most likely in the past.
Reported speech verbs
The three most commonly used reported speech verbs are say, tell, and ask. Each verb has its own
verb pattern. Say and tell can be followed by 'that' to introduce the reported speech clause.

Say
Say is usually not followed by a pronoun. We can say something or we can say something to
someone. We can use that or not.

I said I didn't want to go to the party.


He said that he didn't want to go to the party.
They said that they didn't want to go to the party to me.

Tell
Tell must be followed by a pronoun. We tell someone something. We can use that or not.

I told you that I didn't want to go to the party.


She told him she didn't want to go to the party.

Ask
Ask is used to make reported questions. If the direct question is a yes/no question, we use if or
whether in the reported question. If the direct question is a question word question, we repeat the
question word in the reported question. We can ask someone something, or we can ask something.
Do not use a question mark in a reported question.

You asked if I wanted to go to the party.


They asked me whether I wanted to go to the party.
We asked what time the party started.
She asked him what time the party started.

Tense change
When changing sentences from direct speech to reported speech we roll back the tense of the direct
speech one step. This means that direct sentences which are in a present tense become past tense
and past direct speech becomes past perfect. There are some exceptions. Direct speech which is
already in the past perfect does not rollback, nor does direct speech using some verbs, such as
would or could. Tense changes may not occur with speech which is still true - please see the next
section.

"The train arrives at 6pm"


He said the train arrived at 6pm.
"It has been a lovely evening"
They said it had been a lovely evening.
"I left very quickly"
He said he had left very quickly.
"We will go"
They said they would go.

No tense change - still true


When something which has been said in direct speech is still true, it is not necessary to rollback the
tense in reported speech. In these cases, two sentences are often possible. In addition, if the
reporting verb itself is in the present tense, no tense rollback is necessary.
"I love you"
He said he loved me.
He said he loves me.
He says he loves me.

Context
Certain words that relate to person, time and place in direct speech will need to change in reported
speech. This is because the context has changed.

"I will see you here tomorrow"


She said she would see us there the day after.
"Did you put the cups here yesterday?"
He asked if I had put the cups there the day before.

Should

Modal verb
Should and shouldn't are modal verbs. This means that they are always followed by a bare infinitive
verb and do not change their form, regardless of which subject pronoun is used.

I should go soon.
You should go soon.
He / She / It should go soon.
We should go soon.
They should go soon.

Many uses
Should and shouldn't have many uses. The choice depends on the speaker's meaning within the
context of the situation. They can be used to offer advice and make suggestions, talk about
probabilities based on what is expected or logical and refer to obligations – though should is not as
strong as must.

Advice and suggestions: What do you think we should do this evening? I think we should go to the
cinema.
Probability: The sky is dark so it should rain soon. I've just got in the car so I should bewith you in
ten minutes.
Obligation: There should be no smoking inside the building.

Should have done


To talk about actions in the past that were or weren't a good idea, we can use should + have + a
past participle verb. This structure is useful for talking about regrets or making criticisms of people's
past actions.

I should have applied last week. Now I have to wait another year!
You shouldn't have taken that letter! You don't know who it belongs to!

Had better
Had better and should are very similiar. Neither of them changes their form for a pronoun, and both
of them are followed by an infinitive. They also both deal with advice. However, had better is a little
more urgent and intense than should. When we use had better there is often a sense that if the
advice is not followed, there will be negative consequences. This makes it useful for making a threat.
That cough sounds very bad. You'd better go to the doctor as soon as possible!
Tell him that he owes me three thousand pounds. He'd better have my money by tomorrow or else...

Countable and uncountable nouns

Nouns in English can be divided into countable and uncountable. Countable nouns can be counted
and are either singular or plural. Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, or at least are not usually.
Countable nouns are used with words such as a lot, many and a few. Uncountable nouns are used
with words such as a lot, much and a little.

Do you have a pen?


Is there much rice left?
I saw three dogs in the park.
I’ve still got a little water.

Both countable and uncountable


Some nouns, such as fish and chicken, can be both countable and uncountable. It depends on
whether you are referring to the animal, which is countable, or the food, which is uncountable. These
are not the only two nouns like this, nor do they always refer to food. Iron is another example, as a
material it is uncountable, but as the domestic object used to press clothes, it is countable.

I’ve never liked chickens. They have crazy eyes.


It was a feast! I’d never seen so much chicken!
We caught three fish today.
The restaurant had leftovers so I grabbed as much fish as I could carry!

Containers
To make an uncountable noun into a countable one, we need to use a container. This is an
expression which usually looks like: a… of… For example, a cup of, a bottle of, a loaf of. Once the
uncountable noun is attached to a container, it can be counted.

I’d like three cups of coffee, please.


My father gave me one good piece of advice.
I’ve got a handful of sweets. Do you want some?

Irregular Plurals
Some nouns, such as fish and fruit, have an irregular plural, fishes and fruits. We use them when we
want to talk about different types of a thing in the same category.

I want some fruit. (uncountable – any fruit, I don’t care which. All fruit is the same to me.)
The shop sells many fruits. (plural – many different types of fruit e.g. apples, bananas and pears.)
There were three fish in the tank (plural – all the same)
There were three fishes in the tank. (plural- three different species of fish)

Other irregulars
There are many other irregular nouns in English. Some nouns, such as species and fish, have the
same singular and plural form – but the verb will change. Some nouns, such as news and
mathematics, appear to be plural because of the ‘s’, but are actually uncountable and take a singular
verb. Some nouns, such as police and staff, are known as collective nouns, are always plural and
take a plural verb. Some collective nouns, such as family, team and government, can be singular or
plural. It depends on whether the speaker considers them to be a group of people, using a plural verb
and the pronoun they, or a single unit, using a singular verb and the pronoun it.
One fish is swimming into the river.
Three fish are swimming into the river.
This news is from the BBC.
The police are very effective in this town.
My family are happy to see you.
My family is happy to see you.

Articles

Articles appear before nouns. There are three types of article. The indefinite article, a or an, is used
with singular countable nouns. The zero article is used with plural countable nouns and uncountable
nouns. The definite article, the, is used with nouns which are understood and known about by both
the speaker and listener - a kind of shared knowledge. We do not use an article in combination with a
determiner, such as my, your his, her etc. There is no: it's a my cat.

Do you have a pen?


I've got rice left. Shall we cook?
I saw a nice toy in the shop.
Sorry, I don't drink coffee.

The indefinite article


The indefinite article, a or an, is used before singular countable nouns only. It is used to introduce a
noun to a listener the first time we mention it in conversation. It is also used with nouns involved in
descriptions, classifications and definitions - especially when talking about a person's job - and finally,
when we talk about a thing but do not need or wish to be specific.

When I was in London, I went to a park. In the park, I saw a boy. The boy was playing with a ball...
I'd never seen such a beautiful car! We had a really lovely day!
Tigers are an animal that live in India. John is a conservationist who lives there.
Do you have a pen? I don't care what colour, I just need a pen!

The zero article


The zero article is used before plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns. We also use it before
certain 'special' nouns such as home, bed, meals and in many cases work. Finally, when we talk
about things in general we use the zero article.

These trees are beautiful. It's so nice out here. Fresh air is wonderful.
I'll meet you at home later. I've got work to do and I might miss dinner, so see you in bed?
Life can be hard for many people, but the life of Sebastian was harder than most.

The definite article


The definite article, the, is used with singular, plural and uncountable nouns when both the speaker
and listener know and understand which noun is being spoken about. This may be because it has
been introduced already in conversation or it is obvious from the context or people's experience. For
example, when we think of an aeroplane, we automatically assume there will be a pilot. We also use
the definite article to talk about things which are unique, such as the Sun. This includes superlatives,
since a superlative talks about the best, and there can only be one!

When I was in London, I went to a park. In the park, I saw a boy. The boy was playing with a ball...
Once we had arrived on board, the pilot delivered his good morning message.
Can you pass me the pen, please? It's on the table. There's only one.
The Sun is a giant ball of gas. It lights the solar system.
That was the tastiest meal I've ever had!

Institutions
Institutions are places where some kind of service takes place, for example universities, hospitals,
churches, schools, prisons etc. When we talk about them, it is possible to use the indefinite article,
zero article or definite article depending on our meaning. There can be a big difference between
being 'in the hospital', which refers to the place, and being 'in hospital' which means part of the
mechanism or service. If you are in hospital, it is implied that you are injured and are being treated.

There is a hospital in the next town.


Can you meet me at the hospital with some books please, I will need to stay there with him tonight.
Anne is going to be in hospital for the next few days. She has an infection

Present Perfect vs Past Simple

The present perfect simple is formed using have / has + a past participle verb. The difference
between the present perfect simple and past simple is not always easy to understand. Much of it
relies on context and what the speaker thinks is important or relevant. The bottom line is, the present
perfect is used when past actions or states are important or connected to the present in some way.
This could be past actions with present consequences, announcing new information, or the
continuation of something from the past to the present.

Past actions with present consequences:

 Tim has gone to France, so you won't see him today


 You've worked in Spain. Can you translate this email for me?

Announcing New information:

 I've just passed my driving test! Would you like a lift?


 A British sprinter has become the fastest man in the world. This is BBC News.

Continuation of something from past to present:

 He's lived in London since 1993.


 They've worked as accountants for six years.

More detail
After using the present perfect to introduce a context, we often use the past simple to talk about that
context in more detail, such as using follow up questions.

A: Has anyone ever been to France?


B: I have.
A: Amazing! When did you go?
B: I went about 8 years ago.
A: Did you have a good time?

A: She's worked here since she was 18.


B: When was that?
A: It was about 10 years ago.

JEANY
The present perfect is associated with a number of adverbs, many of which mean ‘at some or any
time up to now’. A useful way of remembering some of them is to use JEANY: Just, ever, already or
always, never, yet! That said, there are other adverbs, such as for, since, lately and recently. These
are the most common, but not all of them.

He's just finished taking his exams.


Have you ever flown an aeroplane?
I've already eaten, thank you.
He's always been keen on football.
She's never ridden a bicycle?
I haven't arrived yet, but I won't be long.
They've worked here for 32 years.
They've worked here since 1983.
I haven't been to the gym lately.
He hasn't attended school recently.

Time: No time
The present perfect is often used without a time word or where no specific time is mentioned. In these
cases, the speaker is generally thinking of a time period meaning up to the present.

I've eaten, thanks. (I ate recently and I am not hungry now)


Has he ever been snowboarding? (In his life up to now)

Time: Unfinished and finished time


The present perfect cannot be used with a time word which represents finished time. If the time is
finished, we must use the past simple - except in very exceptional circumstances. If the time period is
currently unfinished, we can use the present perfect simple. In some cases, whether the time is
finished or not is a matter of personal judgement and either the present perfect or past simple could
be used.

I went to the cinema yesterday.


I went to the cinema this morning. (Said in the afternoon)
I've been to the cinema this morning. (Said at 11am)
I've had a nice day so far today. (Said at 5pm)
I've had a nice day today. (Said at 9pm - is the day finished?)
I had a nice day today. (Said at 9pm - is the day finished?)

Phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs, or as they're sometimes known, multi-word verbs, are very common in English.
They're formed of a main verb and a particle - a preposition or an adverb - or sometimes a main verb
and two particles. There are a number of basic ideas to consider in understanding phrasal verb
grammar.

Transitive or intransitive?
A transitive verb needs an object, an intransitive one does not need an object. Some phrasal verbs
are transitive, some are not and some can be both.

Transitive = I broke up with him.


Intransitive = My car broke down.
Separable?
If it takes an object, can the object go between the verb and preposition, or not? An object pronoun
must go between the verb and particle. Some phrasal verbs are inseperable.

Can you switch the TV off?


Can you switch off the TV?
Can you switch it off?
I broke up with him. (Inseperable)

Context
Phrasal verbs can have more than one meaning, so pay attention to the context:
To take off (remove) your shirt.
The plane took off (flew into the sky).
I need to take off (leave) or I will miss my train.
I’m tired. I need to take time off (take a holiday).

From this episode:

Catch someone out: put someone in a difficult situation


Caught out: put in a difficult situation
He got caught out by the sudden rainstorm. He got very wet. (passive)
The teacher caught her out by her a question when she wasn't paying attention.

Let someone down: disappoint someone by not meeting expectations


Let down: disappoint by not meeting expectations
We were let down by the weather when we wanted to go to the beach. (passive)
He doesn't mean to arrive late, but somehow he always lets me down.

Come out with: suddenly and unexpectedly speak or say something


He came out with the truth at the last moment.
I thought they weren't listening, but they suddenly came out with the correct answer!

Slip up: make a mistake. Also: mess up, foul up and screw up.
I slipped up by mentioning the surprise birthday party.
She really messed up when she locked herself out of her car.

Clown around: behave in a silly or foolish way. Also: muck around, mess about, monkey around and
goof off.
Stop clowning around and get to work.
If you spent less time monkeying around and more time studying, you'd pass your exam!

Catch on: understand or comprehend


Just keep explaining and he'll catch on eventually.
I don't speak French, but I think I caught on to what they were saying to me.

Plug away: try hard to do something difficult


He kept plugging away until he learned to drive.
She's been plugging away at her PhD for years.