articles: talking in general

We do not use the with uncountable or plural nouns to talk about things in general — to talk about all books, all people or all life, for example. The never means ‘all’. Compare: Did you remember to buy the books7 (= particular books which I asked you to buy) Books are expensive. (NOT The…

each and every

We use each to talk about two or more people or things. We use every to talk about three or more. (Instead of ‘every two’ we say both). We say each when we are thinking of people or things separately, one at a time. We say every when we are thinking of people or things…

future: present progressive and going to

We use these two present tenses to talk about future actions and events which are already decided now; they are planned, or they are starting to happen: we can see them coming. Present progressive We often say that something is happening in the future. We talk like this about actions that are already planned; we…

Prepositions – Above

Above can mean in or at a higher place. Pattern 1: be + above + noun A dark cloud was above the house. Pattern 2: verb + noun + above + noun Let’s hang the picture above the sofa.Verbs commonly used before above:arrange, carry, hang, hold, keep, place, put, set Above can mean at a…

once

When once has the indefinite meaning ‘at some time’, we use it to talk about the past, but not the future. Compare: I met her once in Venezuela. Once upon a time there were three baby rabbits . . . Come up and see me some time (NOT . . . once.) We must have…

present tenses: introduction

‘Present tenses’ are used to talk about several different kinds of time. Now, at this exact moment NOW Around now PAST FUTURE ‘General time’ — at any time, all the time, not just around now When we talk about time ‘around now’, we usually use the ‘present progressive tense’ (for example, I’m going, I’m reading)….

shall

Shall is a ‘modal auxiliary verb’. We can use shall instead of will after I and we. I’m catching the 10.30 train. What time shall I be in London? (OR … will I be in London?) Contractions are I’ll, we’ll and shan’t. I’ll see you tomorrow. I shan’t be late. When we make offers, or…

spelling: ie and ei

The sound IV.I (as in believe) is often written ie, but not usually ei. However, we write ei after c. English children learn a rhyme: ‘I’before e except after c.’ believe chief field grief ceiling deceive receive receipt

way

We often use way ( = method) in expressions without a preposition. You’re doing it (in) the wrong way. You put in the cassette this way. Do it any way you like. In relative structures, we often use the way that . . . I don’t like the way (that) you’re doing it. After way,…

comparison: comparative and superlative adjectives

Short adjectives (adjectives with one syllable; adjectives with two syllables ending in -y) ADJECTIVE COMPARATIVE SUPERLATIVE old older oldest Most adjectives: tall taller tallest + -er, -est. cheap cheaper cheapest late later latest Adjectives ending nice nicer nicest in -e: + -r, -st. fat fatter fattest One vowel + big bigger biggest one consonant: thin…

even

We can use even to talk about surprising extremes — when people ‘go too far’, or do more than we expect, for example. Even usually goes in ‘mid-position’. [auxiliary verb + even be+ even] She has lost half her clothes. She has even lost two pairs of shoes. (NOT . . . Even she has…

go: been and gone

If somebody has gone to a place, he or she is there now, or on the way. Is Lucy here?’ ‘No, she s gone to London.’ If somebody has been to a place, he or she has travelled there and come back. I’ve been to London six times this week. Have you ever been to…

infinitive: use

Subject An infinitive can be the subject of a sentence. To learn Chinese is not easy. But we more often use a structure with it as a ‘preparatory subject’ , or with an -ing form as subject . It is not easy to learn Chinese. Learning Chinese isn ‘t easy. After verb We often use…

must: forms

Must is a ‘modal auxiliary verb’. There is no -s in the third person singular. He must start corning on hive. (NOT He musts . . .) Questions and negatives are made without do. Must you go? (not Do you must go?) You mustn’t worry. (NOT You don’t must worry.) After must, we use the…

past tense with present or future meaning

A past tense does not always have a past meaning. In some kinds of sentence we use verbs like I had, you went or I was wondering to talk about the present or future. After if . If I had the money now I’d buy a car. If you caught the ten o’clock train tomorrow…

questions: word order in spoken questions

In spoken questions, we do not always use ‘interrogative’ word order. You’re working late tonight? We ask questions in this way: a. when we think we know something, but we want to make sure That’s the boss?( = I suppose that’s the boss, isn’t it?) b. to express surprise THAT’S the boss? I thought he…

singular and plural: singular words ending in -s

Some words that end in -s are singular. Some important examples are: a. billiards, draughts and other names of games ending in -s Draughts is an easier game than chess. b. measles, rabies and other names of illnesses ending in -s Rabies is widespread in Europe. We hope we can keep it out of Britain….

sympathetic

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….