but = except

We use but to mean ‘except’ after all, none, every, any, no (and everything, everybody, nothing, nobody, anywhere etc). He eats nothing but hamburgers. Everybody’s here but George. I’ve finished all the jobs but one. We usually use object pronouns (me, him etc) after but. Nobody but her would do a thing like that. We…

bring and take

We use bring for movements to the place where the speaker or hearer is. We use take for movements to other places. Compare: This is a nice restaur;:: – s ‘or bringing me here. Lets have another dnnt. and then I’ll take you home. (NOT . . . and then I’ll bring you home-:) (on…

both… and…

[both + adjective + and + adjective both + noun + and + noun both + clause + and + clause] We usually put the same kind of words after both and and. She’s both pretty and clever (adjectives) I spoke to both the Director and his secretary (nouns) (NOT I both spoke to the…

both with verbs

Both can go with a verb, in ‘mid-position’, like some adverbs. [auxiliary verb + both am/are/is/was/were + both] We can both swim. They have both finished. We are both tired. [ both + other verb] My parents both like travelling. You both look tired.

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…

big, large, great and tall

We use big mostly in an informal style. We’ve got a big new house. Get your big feet off my flowers. That’s a really big improvement. You’re making a big mistake. In a more formal style, we prefer large or great. Large is used with concrete nouns (the names of things you can see, touch,…

begin and start

There is not usually any difference between begin and start. I started/began teaching when I was twenty-four. If John doesn’t come soon, let’s start/begin without him. We prefer start when we talk about an activity that happens regularly, with ‘stops and starts’. It’s starting to rain. What time do you start teaching tomorrow morning? We…

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…

before (adverb)

We can use before to mean ‘at any time before now’. We use it with a present perfect tense (have + past participle). Have you seen this film before? I ve never been here before Before can also mean ‘before then’, ‘before the past time that we are talking about’. We use a past perfect…

because and because of

[clause + because + clause because + clause, + clause because of + noun/pronoun] Because is a conjunction. It joins two clauses together. I was worried because Mary was late. Because I was tired, I went home. Because of is a preposition (used before a noun or a pronoun). I was late because of the…

be + infinitive

[I am to… you are to… etc] We use this structure in a formal style to talk about plans and arrangements, especially when they are official. The President is to visit Nigeria next month. We are to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June. We also use the structure to give orders. Parents…

be with auxiliary do

[do + be + adjective/noun don’t + be + adjective/noun] Don’t be … is used to give people advice or orders. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be a fool! In affirmative sentences, we usually just use Be . . . Be careful! But Do be . . . is used for emphasis. Do be careful, please!!!…

at, in and on (time)

[ at + exact time in + part of day on + particular day at + weekend, public holiday in + longer period] Exact times I usually get up at six o’clock. I’ll meet you at 4.15. Phone me at lunch time. In informal English, we say What time . . . ? (At what…

at, in and on (place)

At is used to talk about position at a point. It’s very hot at the centre of the earth. Turn right at the next traffic-lights. Sometimes we use at with a larger place, if we just think of it as a point: a point on a journey, a meeting place, or the place where something…

as, when and while (things happening at the same time)

[As/When/While A was happening, B happened. B happened as/when/while A was happening.] As/When/While A was happening AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (b) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA B happened. We can use as, when, or while to say that a longer action or event was going on when something else happened. We usually use the past progressive tense (was/were + . . ….

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…

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…

as, because and since (reason)

[as/because/since + clause + clause clause + as/because/since + clause] Because is used when we give the reason for something. Because I was ill for six months I lost my job. If the reason is the most important idea, we put it at the end of the sentence. Why am I leaving? I’m leaving because…

as…as …

{[as + adjective + as as + adverb + as] + noun/pronoun/clause} We use as … as … to say that two things are the same in some way. She’s as tall as her brother. Can a man run as fast as a horse? It’s not as good as I expected. We can use object…

articles: special rules and exceptions

Common expressions without articles Articles are not used in these expressions: to school at school from school to/at/from university/college to/at/in/into/from church to/in/into/out of bed/prison/hospital to/at/from work to/at sea to/in/from town at/from home for/at/to breakfast/lunch/dinner/supper at night by car/bus/bicycle/plane/train/tube/ boat on foot go to sleep watch television (TV) on TV Possessives A noun that is used…

articles: a and an; pronunciation of the

We do not usually pronounce /a/ before a vowel (a, e, /’, o, u). So before a vowel, the article a {lal) changes to an, and the changes its pronunciation from Compare: a rabbit , an elephant , the sea , the air We use an and the before a vowel sound— a pronounced vowel…

articles: countable and uncountable nouns

A singular countable noun normally has an article or other determiner with it. We can say a cat, the cat, my cat, this cat, any cat, either cat or every cat, but not just cat. (There are one or two exceptions Plural and uncountable nouns can be used without an article or determiner, or with…

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…

articles: the difference between a/an and the

Very simply: a/an just means ‘one of a class’ the means ‘you know exactly which one’. Compare: A doctor must like people. ( = any doctor, any one of that profession) My brother’s a doctor. ( = one of that profession) I’m going to see the doctor. ( = you know which one: my doctor)…

articles: the

The means something like ‘you know which one I mean’. It is used with uncountable, singular and plural nouns. the water (uncountable) the table (singular countable) the stars (plural countable) We use the: a. to talk about people and things that we have already mentioned. She’s got two children: a girl and a boy. The…

appear

Appear can mean ‘seem’. In this case, it is a ‘copula verb’ , and is followed by an adjective or a noun. We often use the structure appear to be, especially before a noun, [subject + appear (to be) + adjective”] He appeared very angry. (NOT . . . very angrily.) [subject + appear to…

actual / current / present

Actual is very different from current and present. Current and present refer to things happening now (not in the past or future). Actual refers to things that are true (not things that are false). The current unemployment rate is 8%. This article claims that unemployment is at 5%, but the actual rate is around 8%….

and after try, wait, go etc

We often use try and . . . instead of try to .. . This is informal Try and eat something — you’ll feel better if you do. I’ll try and phone you tomorrow morning. We only use this structure with the simple form try. It is not possible with tries, tried, or trying. Compare:…

all right

We usually write all right as two separate words in British English.( Alright is possible in American English ). Everything will be all right.

all, everybody and everything

We do not usually use all alone to mean ‘everybody’. Compare: All the people stood up. Everybody stood up. (NOT All stood up.) All can mean everything, but usually only in the structure all + relative clause ( = all (that) . . .). Compare: All (that) I have is yours (OR Everything ) Everything…