(a) few and (a) little

We use few with plural nouns, and little with singular (uncountable) nouns. Compare: Few politicians are really honest. I have little interest in politics. There is a difference between a few and few, and between a little and little. Few and little are rather negative: they mean ‘not much/many’. A few and a little are…

let’s

Let’s + infinitive without to is often used to make suggestions. It is rather like a first-person plural imperative. Let’s have a drink. ( = I think we should have a drink.) Let’s go home, shall we? There are two possible negatives, with Let’s not . . . and Don’t let’s . . . Let’s…

no and not a/not any

No is a determiner . We use no before singular (countable and uncountable) nouns and plural nouns. No means the same as not a or not any, but we use no: (a) at the beginning of a sentence (b) when we want to make the negative idea emphatic. a. No cigarette is completely harmless. No…

spelling: ch and tch, k and ck

After one vowel, at the end of a word, we usually write -c/cand -tch tor the sounds /k/ and /tj/. back neck sick lock stuck catch fetch stitch botch hutch Exceptions: rich which such much After a consonant or two vowels, we write -k and -ch. bank work talk march bench break book week peach…

as and like

Similarity We can use like or as to say that things are similar. a. Like is a preposition. We use like before a noun or pronoun. [like + noun/pronoun] You look like your sister. (NOT … as your sister.) He ran like the wind. It’s like a dream. She’s dressed just like me. We use…

smell

There are three ways to use smell. As a ‘copula verb’ , to say what sort of smell something has. Progressive tenses are not used. [subject + smell + adjective] That smells funny. What’s in it?(NOT -That is smelling Those roses smell beautiful. (NOT . . [subject + smell of + noun] The railway carriage…

tenses in subordinate clauses

In subordinate clauses (after conjunctions), we often use tenses in a special way. In particular, we use present tenses with a future meaning, and past tenses with a conditional meaning. This happens after if; after conjunctions of time like when, until, after, before, as soon as; after as, than, whether, where; after relative pronouns; and…

say and tell

Tell means inform’ or ‘order’. After tell, we usually say who is told: a personal object is necessary. [tell + person] She told me that she would be late. (NOT -She tohithat she . . .) I told the children to go away. Say is usually used without a personal object. She said that she…

as much/many … as …

We use as much … as .. . with a singular (uncountable) noun, and as many … as .. . with a plural. Compare: We need as much time as possible. We need as many cars as possible. As much/many can be used without a following noun. I ate as much as I wanted. Rest…

participle clauses

We can use a participle rather like a conjunction, to introduce a ‘participle clause’. Who’s the fat man sitting in the comer? Do you know the number of people employed by the government? Jumping into a small red sports car, she drove off. Participle clauses can have different uses. Some of them are ‘adjectival’: they…

relative pronouns: whose

Whose is a possessive relative word. It does two things: a. it joins clauses together b. it is a ‘determiner’ like his, her, its or their. Compare: I saw a girl. Her hair came down to her waist. I saw a girl whose hair came down to her waist. This is Felicity. You met her…

get (+ object) + verb form

After get, we can use an object with an infinitive or -ing form. [get+ object + infinitive] I can’t get the car to start get + object + -ing form Don’t get him talking about his illnesses, please. We often use the structure with the infinitive to talk about persuading somebody to do something. Get…

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…

countable and uncountable nouns

Countable nouns are the names of separate objects, people, ideas etc which we can count. We can use numbers and a/an with countable nouns; they have plurals. a cat three cats a newspaper two newspapers Uncountable nouns are the names of materials, liquids, and other things which we do not see as separate objects. We…

have: actions

We often use have + object to talk about actions. (For example: have a drink; have a rest.) In these expressions, have can mean ‘eat’, ‘drink’, ‘take’, ‘do’, ‘enjoy’, ‘experience’ or other things — it depends on the noun. Common expressions: have breakfast/lunch/tea/dinner/a meal/a drink/coffee/a beer/a glass of wine have a bath/a wash/a shave/a shower/a…

there is

When we tell people that something exists (or does not exist), we usually begin the sentence with there is, there are etc, and put the subject after the verb. There’s a hole in my sock. (NOT A hole is in my sock) We use this structure with ‘indefinite subjects’ — for example, nouns with a/an,…

future: introduction

There are several ways to talk about the future in English. Present tenses When we talk about future events which are already decided now, or which we can see now ‘are on the way’, we often use present tenses. There are two possibilities: the present progressive , I am… -ing and a structure with the…

get and go: movement

Get is used for the end of a movement — the arrival. Go is used for the whole movement. Compare: I go to work by car and Lucy goes by train. I usually get there first. I went to Bristol yesterday. I got to Bristol at about eight o’clock. We often use get when there…

before (conjunction)

[clause + before + clause before + clause, + clause] We can use before to join two clauses. We can either say: A happened before B happened OR Before B happened, A happened. The meaning is the same: A happened first. Note the comma (,) in the second structure. I bought a lot of new…

country

Country (countable) = ‘nation’, ‘land’. Scotland is a cold country. France is the country I know best. How many countries are there in Europe? The country (uncountable) = ‘open land without many buildings’ (the opposite of the town). With this meaning, we cannot say a country or countries. My parents live in the country near…