Phrasal verbs

What are phrasal verbs? Phrasal verbs have two parts: a verb + a preposition, get up/on/over I got up at 6.30 this morning. I’m tired now. I hated my sister when I was young but now we get on very well. He soon got over his cold. (= he got better quickly) turn on/off/up/down He…


Fish Don’t Say:Yesterday we had fishes for dinner. Say:Yesterday we had fish for dinner. Note:Fish as food or in bulk (= large numbers) is always singular We rarely use the plural form (fishes) which denotes fish individually: I caught three small fishes.

during and in

We use both during and in to say that something happens inside a particular period of time. We’ll be on holiday during/in August. I woke up during/in the night. We prefer during when we stress that we are talking about the whole of the period. The shop’s closed during the whole of August. (NOT ….

Using the past perfect instead of the simple past tense

Using the past perfect instead of the simple past tense Don’t Say:I’d finished the book yesterday Say:I finished the book yesterday. Note:Don’t use the past perfect unless there is another verb the past tense in the same sentence.

among / between

It is often taught that “between” is used for 2 items and “among” for 3 or more – but this is not completely accurate. The more accurate difference is this: Between is used when naming distinct, individual items (can be 2, 3, or more) Among is used when the items are part of a group,…

Stop + -ing

Stop + -ing Don’t Say:The wind has almost stopped to blow. Say:The wind has almost stopped blowing. Note:Also give up(=stop)He give up smoking.

the noun adjective pronoun question

When is a specific word a noun? an adjective? a pronoun? Great questions! ➲ Sometimes, a noun is used as an adjective. This is true for the word gar- den in the sentence, “The garden display attracted many visitors” since garden describes the type of display. ➲ Examples of when a noun is a noun…

both (of) with nouns and pronouns

We can put both (of) before nouns and pronouns. Before a noun with a determiner (for example: the, my, these), both and both of are both possible. Both (of) my parents like riding. She s eaten both (of) the chops. We can also use both without a determiner. She’s eaten both chops. (= … both…

The Senses

The Five Basic Senses: These are: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. For each one we use a basic verb, which can be followed by an adjective or noun in these constructions: It looks terrible, (from what I could see) It looks like a wedding cake. He sounds German, (from what I heard) It sounds…

Omission of the preposition after the infinitive

Omission of the preposition after the infinitive Don’t Say:They’ve no houses to live. Say:They’ve no houses to live in. Note:The infinitive of an intransitive verb (like live, etc,): it must have a preposition after it.

as if and as though

[as if/though + subject + present/past verb as if/though + subject + past verb with present meaning] As if and as though mean the same. We use them to say what a situation seems like. It looks as if/though it’s going to rain. I felt as if/though I was dying. We can use a past…


Sympathetic is a ‘false friend’ for people who speak European languages. It does not mean the same as sympathique, sympathisch, sympatisk, simpaticoetc. The people in my class are all very nice/pleasant (NOT . . . very sympathetic.) Sympathetic means ‘sharing somebody’s feelings’ or ‘sorry for somebody who is in trouble’. I’m sympathetic towards the strikers….

Uncountable words

Uncountable nouns are not normally used with a(n) or the plural, e.g. information, not an information, or some informations. It is a good idea to learn uncountable nouns in groups associated with the same subject or area. Here are some possible headings. Travel is also an uncountable noun, e.g. Travel broadens the mind. Day-to-day household…

Related to, not with

Related to, not with Don’t Say:Are you related with Simon in any way? Say:Are you related to Simon in any way? Note:Also relation to; Is he any relation to you?

10 Phrases to Describe Offending or Upsetting People

1. They got off on the wrong foot. (= when they first met, they didn’t get along)2. He got on the teacher’s bad side.3. She took offense at his comment.4. He has a chip on his shoulder. (= he is easily offended)5. She got bent out of shape.6. He left in a huff.7. She got…

Feel + infinitive without to

Feel + infinitive without to Don’t Say:I could feel her heart to beat, Say:I could feel her heart beat. Or: I could feel her heart beating. Note:If the verbs make, see, watch, hear, feel, are used in the passive, to must be used He-was seen to leave the house : He was heard to speak…

it: preparatory object

We sometimes use it as a preparatory object. This happens most often in the structures make it clear that . . . and find/make it easy/difficult to .. . George made it clear that he wasn’t interested. I found it easy to talk to her. You make it difficult to refuse

(Great) Britain, the United Kingdom, the British Isles and England

Britain (or Great Britain) and the United Kingdom (or the UK) include England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (Sometimes Britain or Great Britain is used just for the island which includes England, Scotland and Wales, without Northern Ireland.) The British Isles is the name for England, Scotland, Wales, the whole of Ireland, and all the…

Using any for two, instead of either

Using any for two, instead of either Don’t Say: Any of these two books is good. Say: Either of these two books is good. Note: Either means one or the other of two, any means one of three or more Any of these books will do.

Misuse of due to as a preposition

Misuse of due to as a preposition Don’t Say:William came late due to an accident. Say:William came late because of an accident. Note:Don’t use due to as a preposition meaning beiause of. Due, as an adjective here, is used correctly only when it qualifies some noun: His delay due to an accident.

Animals and insects

Pets and farm animals Many people keep pets (= domestic animals that live with people) in Britain. The most common are dogs and cats, but children in particular sometimes keep mice (singular = a mouse) and rabbits. Farm animals include: sheep, pigs, cows, horses, chickens and goats. Note: The word ‘sheep’ is the singular and…

The possessive ending omitted

The possessive ending omitted Don’t Say:A hen’s egg is different from a pigeon. Say:A hen’s egg is different from a pigeon’s. Note:If the first noun in a comparison is in the possessive case, the second must also be m the possessive: My mother’s nose is bigger than my father’s


The subjunctive is a special verb form that looks the same as the infinitive. It is sometimes used to say that something should be done. It’s important that everybody write to the President. The Director asked that he be allowed to advertise for more staff. In British English the subjunctive is unusual. We usually express…

travel, journey and trip

Travel means ‘travelling in general’. It is uncountable. My interests are music and travel. A journey is one ‘piece’ of travelling. A trip is a journey together with the activity which is the reason for the journey. I’m going on a business trip next week. (= I’m going on a journey and I’m going to…

For and At (Price) – For

For and At (Price) – For Don’t Say:I bought a book at fifty pence. Say:I bought a book for fifty pence.

passive structures: introduction

They built [this house] in 1486. (active)This house was built in 1486. (passive) Channel Islanders speak [French] and English, (active) [French] is spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, . . . (passive) A friend of ours is repairing [the roof].(active) [The roof] is being repaired by a friend of ours, (passive) This book…


Suffixes come at the end of words. They help you to understand the meaning of a new word. Here are some common suffixes. He’s a hard worker. He works 12 hours a day. Her tennis is much better now that she has a new instructor She’s a very good swimmer. She was in the Olympic…

Time words (2)

Time in relation to now: Now means at this moment. Then means at another moment (usually in the past). When we talk about time in general, we talk about the past, the present and the future. We talk about the past, the present and the future forms of the verb, for example In the past…

critic / critical / criticism / critique

Let’s start with the difference between criticism and a critique. Criticism is negative comments – identifying faults or bad points. A critique is simply an evaluation – it can comment on the good points and/or the bad points. My project idea received a lot of criticism from my colleagues – they said it would never…