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verbs_irregular

Irregular verbs list

Irregular verbs list

irregular_verbs_listIrregular verbs, as the name suggests, don’t follow a pattern. You simply need to learn them. In this lesson you will find an irregular verbs list. We suggest you try to learn a few each each day.

But before we look at an irregular verbs list, we need to think about how to form regular verbs. English verbs often end in +ed or +d when used in the past tense or participle form.

For example:

work – worked / live – lived

These are regular verbs.

Below you will find an irregular verbs list. Don’t try to learn them all at once! Go through the irregular verbs list until you get ten that you don’t know, then practice.

Irregular verbs list

Verb Simple Past Past Participle
A
arise arose arisen
awake awakened / awoke awakened / awoken
B
be was, were been
bear bore born / borne
beat beat beaten / beat
become became become
begin began begun
bend bent bent
bind bound bound
bite bit bitten
bleed bled bled
blow blew blown
break broke broken
breed bred bred
bring brought brought
build built built
burn burned / burnt burned / burnt
burst burst burst
buy bought bought
C
cast cast cast
catch caught caught
choose chose chosen
cling clung clung
come came come
cost cost cost
creep crept crept
cut cut cut
D
deal dealt dealt
dig dug dug
dive dove / dived dived
do did done
draw drew drawn
dream dreamed / dreamt dreamed / dreamt
drink drank drunk
drive drove driven
dwell dwelt / dwelled dwelt / dwelled
E
eat ate eaten
F
fall fell fallen
feed fed fed
feel felt felt
fight fought fought
find found found
flee fled fled
fling flung flung
fly flew flown
forbid forbade forbidden
forecast forecast forecast
forego forewent foregone
foresee foresaw foreseen
foretell foretold foretold
forget forgot forgotten
forgive forgave forgiven
forsake forsook forsaken
freeze froze frozen
G
get got got / gotten
give gave given
go went gone
grind ground ground
grow grew grown
H
handwrite handwrote handwritten
hang hung hung
have had had
hear heard heard
hew hewed hewn / hewed
hide hid hidden
hit hit hit
hold held held
hurt hurt hurt
I
inbreed inbred inbred
inlay inlaid inlaid
input input / inputted input / inputted
interbreed interbred interbred
interweave interwove / interweaved interwoven / interweaved
interwind interwound interwound
J
K
keep kept kept
kneel knelt / kneeled knelt / kneeled
knit knitted / knit knitted / knit
know knew known
L
lay laid laid
lead led led
lean leaned / leant leaned / leant
leap leaped / leapt leaped / leapt
learn learned / learnt learned / learnt
leave left left
lend lent lent
let let let
lie (ie ‘to lie down’) lay lain
lie (ie ‘to tell a lie’) lied lied
light lit / lighted lit / lighted
lose lost lost
M
make made made
mean meant meant
meet met met
mow mowed mowed / mown
N
O
P
partake partook partaken
pay paid paid
plead pleaded / pled pleaded / pled
proofread proofread proofread
prove proved proven / proved
put put put
Q
quit quit quit
R
read read (pronounced red) read (pronounced red)
rid rid rid
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
S
saw sawed sawed / sawn
say said said
see saw seen
seek sought sought
sell sold sold
send sent sent
set set set
sew sewed sewn / sewed
shake shook shaken
shave shaved shaved / shaven
shear sheared sheared / shorn
shed shed shed
shine shined / shone shined / shone
shoot shot shot
show showed shown / showed
shrink shrank / shrunk shrunk
shut shut shut
sight-read sight-read sight-read
sing sang sung
sink sank / sunk sunk
sit sat sat
sleep slept slept
slide slid slid
sling slung slung
slink slinked / slunk slinked / slunk
slit slit slit
smell smelled / smelt smelled / smelt
sneak sneaked / snuck sneaked / snuck
sow sowed sown / sowed
speak spoke spoken
speed sped sped
spell spelled / spelt spelled / spelt
spend spent spent
spill spilled / spilt spilled / spilt
spin spun spun
spit spat spat
split split split
spoil spoiled / spoilt spoiled / spoilt
spread spread spread
spring sprang / sprung sprung
stand stood stood
steal stole stolen
stick stuck stuck
sting stung stung
stink stunk / stank stunk
strew strewed strewn
stride strode stridden
strike struck struck / stricken
strive strove / strived striven / strived
sunburn sunburned / sunburnt sunburned / sunburnt
swear swore sworn
sweat sweat / sweated sweat / sweated
sweep swept swept
swell swelled swollen / swelled
swim swam swum
swing swung swung
T
take took taken
teach taught taught
tear tore torn
tell told told
think thought thought
throw threw thrown
thrust thrust thrust
tread trod trodden / trod
U
understand understood understood
upset upset upset
V
W
wake woke / waked woken / waked
waylay waylaid waylaid
wear wore worn
weave wove woven
wed wed wed
weep wept wept
wet wet wet
win won won
wind wound wound
withdraw withdrew withdrawn
withhold withheld withheld
withstand withstood withstood
wring wrung wrung
write wrote written
X
Y
Z
connecting_ideas

Linking words (connecting ideas)

Linking words

linking_wordsTo write well in English, you need to be able to connect your ideas – you can do this by using linking words.

Using linking words in the right place makes your work more academic, and can also help when reading more academic texts.

Here are some examples of linking words:

I like tea. I like coffee.

  • I like tea and coffee.

I like tea. I don’t like orange juice.

  • I like tea but I don’t like orange juice.

He is a brilliant teacher. He is very kind.

  • Not only is he a brilliant teacher but he is also very kind.

I didn’t study enough for the exam. I didn’t pass.

  • I didn’t study enough for the exam; as a result, I didn’t pass.

Sales were very low last year. A number of staff were made redundant.

  • Sales were very low last year; consequently, a number of staff were made redundant.

There are lots of ways you can connect your ideas using linking words.

The best way to practice linking words is to type them into a search engine (like Google for example) followed by the word ‘quotes’ and seeing how the words are used in the search results.

List of linking words

Adding information and
not only…but also
In addition
As well as
Also
Too
Furthermore
Moreover
Apart from
Besides
Cause and effect So
Therefore
As a result
As a consequence
Thus
Consequently
Hence
Due to
For
Since
Because
Owing to
Sequence First / firstly, second / secondly, third / thirdly
Next
Last
Finally
The former
The latter
In conclusion
To summarise
Emphasis Clearly
Obviously
Generally
Indeed
In fact
Particularly / in particular
Especially
Notably
Concession Admittedly
Granted
Given
Examples For example
That is ( also ‘i.e’)
For instance
Such as
To illustrate
Namely
Including
Comparison In the same way
In the same manner
Similarly
Likewise
Like
Just as
Similar to
The same as
Compared to / with
Contrast However
Although
Even though
Though
Nevertheless
Yet
Despite / in spite of
In contrast (to)
While
Whereas
Nonetheless
On the other hand
On the contrary
Punctuation

Punctuation

Punctuation

PunctuationGood punctuation is essential to make your writing clear and to be able to combine ideas into single sentences.

Below you will find a list showing some different punctuation symbols (also called punctuation marks), as well as a description of how to use punctuation and some example sentences.

You should also look at the lessons on sentence fragments, as well as the lessons on simple, complex and compound sentences.

  • Full stop .
  • Question mark ?
  • Exclamation mark !
  • Apostrophe ‘
  • Comma ,
  • Semi-colon ;
  • Colon :
  • Quotation marks “….” ‘….’
  • Round brackets – also known as parentheses (….)
 

Full stop (.)

A full stop is used to show the reader that the sentence is finished.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • Every sentence ends with a full stop.
  • This is one of the first examples of punctuation.

Question mark (?)

A question mark does the same job as a full stop, but tells the reader that the sentence is not a statement but a question that generally needs an answer from the reader.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • Do you understand how to use a question mark?
  • How many people live in your house?

Exclamation mark (!)

An exclamation mark (or exclamation point) also does the same job as a full stop, but it shows surprise or strong feelings, or commands someone to do something.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • Sit down! (a command)
  • I will never forgive you! (strong feelings)
  • Ahh! You scared me! (surprise)

Do not use exclamation marks in formal writing.


Apostrophe (‘)

There are two common uses for an apostrophe.

1. to show that we have missed letters from a word when using a contracted form.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • do not = don’t – I don’t like his shirt.
  • who is = who’s – Who’s that man?

2. To show a possession – that something belongs to someone

  • the boy’s car
  • John’s hat
  • the children’s dinner

Comma (,)

A comma is normally used in the same place where we would take a short pause if we were speaking. Below are common places commas are used.

1. When listing items, commas are used except between the second to last and last items.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • His new house was big, modern and expensive.
  • Africa, Asia, North America and South America are all continents.

2. When we add information to a sentence that is not absolutely necessary for the grammar of the sentence (non-defining relative clauses).

Example of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • My neighbour, who comes from London, is very friendly.

The sentence above would be grammatically accurate if it said ‘My neighbour is very friendly’, therefore the additional information is in commas.

3. Between large numbers (separating groups of three numbers).

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • They won £26,500 on the lottery!
  • There are nearly 5,000,000 people living in New Zealand.

NOTE: There normally needs to be at least 4 numbers before you decide to use a comma.

e.g. we write 400 not 4,00.


Semi-colon (;)

1. Semi colons can be used to combine two sentences when there is a relationship between them. The relationship might not be immediately clear.

NOTE: the colon can also be used to combine sentences when the second sentence offers an explanation to the first. See ‘Colons’ for more.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • John lives in Hamilton; David lives in Auckland.
  • The government have promised to reduce unemployment; they are promoting job training at the moment.

INCORRECT: The government have promised to reduce unemployment; but so far nothing has changed.

The sentence above is wrong because the two sentences have already been joined by ‘but’.

2. Semi-colons can also be used to separate items in a list (much like a comma) when there is punctuation in the list already.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

(comma list)

We need bread, milk, cheese and butter.

(semi colon list)

  • The main cities affected are Auckland, New Zealand; London, England; and Berlin, Germany.

Colon (:)

1. Colons can be used to introduce a list.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • The company needs to meet the following targets: increased sales, wider product base, better transportation network.
  • The government should offer the following: more jobs, better health care and improved standards of education

2. Colons can also be used to offer an explanation.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • The skiing trip was cancelled: there was no snow.
  • He may have to go to prison: he was arrested for the third time.

Note: when using the colon, the sentence before the colon must be complete.

INCORRECT: Students must have: pens, paper, books and a uniform. ‘Students must have’ is NOT a complete (independent) sentence.

CORRECT: Students must have certain items to attend school: pens, paper, books and a uniform. ‘Students must have certain items to attend school’ is a complete (independent) sentence.


 

Quotation marks (“….” ‘….’)

There are two types of quotation mark – the speech mark and the inverted comma.

The speech mark (or double quotation marks “……”) are used to quote direct speech:

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • His last words were “I’ll be back”.
  • “Come and see me tomorrow” she said.

The inverted comma ‘……’ is used around words when we are using them in special ways (such as using them as titles or when we give them special meaning).

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • He wrote a book called ‘Chart Throb’.
  • Do you know how to spell the word ‘accommodation’?

Round brackets – also known as parentheses (….)

Round brackets can be used to include short pieces of additional information to a sentence. They can only be used if that information is not essential to the grammar of the sentence. This means that if you remove the information in brackets, the sentence will still make sense.

Examples of how to use this punctuation mark:

  • Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, reaching a height of 3,754 metres (12,316 feet).
  • Further information is provided in this guide (see page 472).
  • The IELTS test (International English Language Testing System) assesses the four skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary (a New Zealand mountineer and explorer) was the first person to reach both poles and to summit Mount Everest.

Note: example 4 could also be expressed using commas to make a non-defining relative clause.

Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountineer and explorer, was the first person to reach both poles and to summit Mount Everest.

In more formal writing, it is often considered better to use commas to make a non-defining relative clause as shown above instead of brackets to present this type of information.

Click here to try the punctuation exercises.

 

Woman reading book

Skimming and scanning

Skimming and scanning

skimming_and_scanningSkimming and scanning are important skills to help you to read effectively and efficiently.

How we read in English depends on exactly what we are reading for.

For example, when looking through the telephone book trying to find a specific telephone number, we don’t read in the same way as we would read a novel.

When skimming and scanning can be useful skills

It is always important to consider why you are reading. Trying to read every word every time you read something will slow down your reading speed. It is often not necessary to read every word, or in some situations you may not have time to read everything in detail anyway.

Practising your skimming and scanning skills will improve your reading speed and will help you in examinations and in other situations when you need to understand something quickly.

Definitions of skimming and scanning

Below you will see a short definition of what skimming and scanning mean and how you can use skimming and scanning skills in everyday life.

Skimming

Skimming means to look quickly over a section of text to get a general idea of the meaning. When you are skimming a text, what you read is more important than the information you leave out.

For example, if you were in a shop deciding whether to buy a newspaper, you might very quickly skim the stories to see if they seem like something you would like to read in more detail.

If a ‘main idea’ of a paragraph you are skimming is relevant to your reading purpose, you might skim more information around that part to give you a deeper understanding or then decide to read that section in more detail.

Imagine you are reading an academic text because you need to write an essay about the topic, or you are researching web information to write a report. You might have to read information from several sources and reading every word in everything you look at will probably take far too much time.

Using the skimming technique

To use a skimming technique, you might:

1. Read the introduction / first paragraph in detail to get a good idea of what information will follow.

2. If you have a generally good idea of what information will follow, you can then start to skim the text and read only the first sentence (the topic sentence) of each paragraph in detail. A well written topic sentence will give you the main idea of what information will be in that paragraph.

3. If the topic sentence of a paragraph is of interest in terms of your purpose for reading, you may then decide to skim that paragraph more, or read it in detail. If the topic sentence tells you the information in that paragraph is not so important, you might leave that paragraph and move on to the next.

Scanning

Scanning means to look quickly over the text looking for specific word(s) or facts.

For example, if you are looking for your name in a list of names, you would scan because you are not interested in getting a general idea of the other people’s names, you just want to find your own.

Your eyes should move very quickly over a piece of information when scanning for something specific. It is often useful to use a marker, e.g. move your finger or a pen across the text to help you scan. Moving something physically across the information helps to keep your eyes focussed on where you have scanned and which parts you still need to scan.

Using the scanning technique

Imagine you are taking an examination, and the question is: ‘Which country has the largest farming industry?’.

1. You will know you are looking for a country’s name, so could scan the text (using your finger or a pen as a marker) to find the names of all countries mentioned.

2. You can them skim or read in more detail around the parts of the text that contain the names of countries to confirm which country has the biggest farming industry. You can ignore the rest of the text (for now) as you are looking for specific information in relation to that question.

Skimming and scanning in examinations

In English examinations such as IELTS, you will need to use a combination of skimming and scanning techniques. You often have a relatively short amount of time to read quite a lot of text. If you try to read every word in detail, you will run out of time.

Remember that you can use skimming and scanning techniques to help you find answers to questions more quickly, and you should also have time to read important parts of the text in more detail to check that your answers are correct.

speed_reading

Speed reading – 7 useful tips

Speed reading

speed_readingPractising speed reading will help you to read faster.

There are a number of points that you need to consider when you are practising speed reading:

Speed reading tip 1. Keep going!

When reading, a lot of people stop and go back, reading the same words again. This is often simply a habit and one that does not necessarily help you understand any better.

When practising speed reading, spend some time reading forward only, even if you feel that you missed something or that you didn’t understand. With speed reading practice, you will find that you are spending less time reading the same words twice but can get just as good an understanding of what you are reading.

Speed reading tip 2. Use ‘chunking’ techniques

When you are practising speed reading, try to focus not on individual words, but on small groups of words (about 3 or 4 words) each time your eyes move. This technique is called ‘chunking’ – looking at a chunk of words at one time. Here is an example (your eyes should move to each different ‘block’ of text):

This is an example sentence to help you practice your speed reading techniques.

 

Speed reading tip 3. Stop reading to yourself

When reading, many people actually ‘say’ the words as they read them. This might be silently or a very quiet mumble, but this slows your reading speed down. Your eyes and brain can absorb information much more quickly that your mouth and brain can form the words. When you are practising speed reading, make sure yu are reading silently!

Speed reading tip 4. Use a marker

To keep an even pace and to stop yourself re-reading words (see point #1), try using a marker to keep you focussed. This can be another piece of paper that you move at a consistent speed, or even something simple like your finger or a pen.

The main aim is to keep the marker moving, even though you might want to stop or slow down.

When you first try this technique in your speed reading practice, you may find that you don’t remember anything of what you have read. Keep trying! Remember that you are re-teaching your brain how to read!

Speed reading tip 5. Read vertically, not horizontally

When reading slowly, it is common in western languages to read from the left to the right. However, when speed reading, you will eventually be able to read straight down the page, with your eyes chunking once to the left and once to the right of the centre as you move your finger, a pen or other marker straight down the page.

Speed reading tip 6. Be prepared

Before you try speed reading techniques with any text, try to get as much information as you can about what you are reading. Look for a title, any subheadings, images or text captions. Also very quickly scan for any bold, underlined or italicised text. Having some idea of what you are reading will help improve your speed reading skills.

Speed reading tip 7. Practice!

None of the techniques above will work by the end of today. You need to keep practising and using these speed reading techniques wherever you can. Newspapers, magazines, textbooks, online information – all of these are good practice material.

better_spelling

Spelling rules in English

Spelling rules in English

spelling_rules_in_EnglishThere are some basic spelling rules in English that can help you spell words correctly.

Three useful spelling rules in English are covered in this lesson. We will also give you some tips on learning words that don’t follow spelling rules in English.

The English language has a very large vocabulary. Words come from a range of different languages so remember that there are ALWAYS exceptions to spelling rules in English!

 

Spelling rules in English 1

1. Using i before e

The rule: ‘use i before e, except after c

Examples (no c directly before):

believe, chief, niece, piece, thief

Examples (after c):

deceive, receive, ceiling

OR when the word has an “eh” sound

Examples (with ‘aye’ sound)

weigh, freight, neighbour

Remember that there are ALWAYS exceptions to spelling rules in English!

Common exceptions: efficient, weird, height, neither, ancient, caffeine, foreign.

Spelling rules in English 2

2. Spelling words with -ible and –able

Not sure whether to spell a word with ‘-ible’ or ‘-able’? One general spelling rule is that if you take the end of the word away and you are still left with a complete word, you can usually (but not always!) use -able. If not, use -ible.

For example:

  • dependable = depend + able
  • adorable + adore + able
  • possible =poss + ible

Spelling rules in English – more examples of words that end in -able

adaptable; amiable; believable; capable; changeable; comfortable; conceivable; debatable; desirable; disposable; durable; excitable; excusable; fashionable; impressionable; justifiable; knowledgeable; laughable; likeable; lovable; manageable; measurable; noticeable; objectionable; operable; payable; peaceable; pleasurable; preferable; reliable; serviceable; sizeable; suitable; tolerable; transferable.

Remember that there are ALWAYS exceptions to spelling rules in English!

Note the differences, where some words, e.g. knowledgeable ‘keep’ the ‘e’ from the complete word knowledge, but others ‘drop’ the ‘e’, e.g. believable – no ‘e’ from the ‘complete’ word believe.

Spelling rules in English – more examples of words that end in -ible

illegible; responsible; eligible; incredible; reversible; invincible; suggestible; contemptible; feasible; negligible; susceptible; convertible; flexible; ostensible; tangible; gullible; terrible; horrible; plausible.

Remember that there are ALWAYS exceptions to spelling rules in English! Some of the words in the list above do not follow the rules…. You just need to learn them.

Spelling rules in English 3

3. Spelling words with -ance and –ence

The endings -ance and -ence are used to change the verb form of a word into a noun form, or to turn an adjective into a noun.

For example:

  • perform (verb) becomes performance (noun)
  • intelligent (adjective) becomes intelligence (noun)

You will mostly just need to learn which words are spelled in which way; however, there are a couple of spelling rules in English that can help you with spelling words ending in -ance and -ence correctly.

a. If the word is formed from a verb that ends in -y, -ure, -ear or –ate then according to the general rule the ending will usually be  -ance.

For example:

  • comply (verb ending in -y) becomes compliance (noun)
  • endure (verb ending in -ure) becomes endurance (noun)
  • appear (verb ending in -ear) becomes appearance (noun)
  • tolerate (verb ending in -ate) becomes tolerance (noun)

Spelling rules in English – more examples of words to learn that end in -ance

acceptance; allowance; appliance; assistance; attendance; balance; circumstance; clearance; distance; disturbance; dominance; fragrance; grievance; guidance; ignorance; importance; instance; insurance; maintenance; nuisance; relevance; resemblance; substance.

b. If the word is formed from a verb that ends in ere then according to the general rule the ending will usually be  -ence.

For example:

  • adhere (verb ending in -ere) becomes adherence (noun)
  • cohere (verb ending in -ere) becomes coherence (noun)

Remember that there are ALWAYS exceptions to spelling rules in English!

Example of exception: perseverance (from verb persevere)

Spelling rules in English – more examples of words to learn that end in -ence

absence; affluence; audience; coincidence; conference; confidence; consequence; convenience; difference; essence; evidence; existence; experience; influence; innocence; insistence; patience; preference;  presence; recurrence; reference; sentence; sequence; silence.

Tips for learning words that don’t follow spelling rules in English

1. Don’t try to learn too many words at once. Try to learn a few words a day.

2. Keep a vocabulary list. You can group the words that have the same spelling rules together.

3. Some people will have difficulty with certain words no matter how many times they practice. If you have some words that you often seem to have problems remembering how to spell, then create a ‘mnemonic’ (a short sentence that helps you).

For example, which of the these is correct?

  • acomodation
  • accomodation
  • accommodation

The best way to remember is that there is always plenty of room with accommodation, so both the ‘c’ and the ‘m’ are doubled.

Another example is separate (people often misspell this seperate) – just remember that there is a rat in the middle (sep-a-rat-e)

modal_verbs

Modal verbs (modal auxiliary verbs)

Modal verbs

modal_verbsModal verbs (also called modal auxiliary verbs, or modals) are used with the infinitive form of the main verb (minus -to) to add additional layers of meaning to a sentence.

Modal verbs are also called modal auxiliary verbs, or modals.

Here are some examples:

  • I can play the piano.
  • She may know his name.
  • I must try harder.

Examples of modal verbs

The following are all modal verbs:

  • can
  • could
  • may
  • might
  • must
  • shall
  • should
  • will
  • would
  • would rather
  • ought to

Modal verbs can refer to:

  • ability – I can drive a car.
  • probability – I might go to the party later.
  • deduction – That must be the man she was talking about, he fits the description she gave me.
  • obligation – I have to go to the meeting or my boss will be annoyed.
  • necessity – I must leave early today.
  • prohibition – You cannot smoke in here.
  • permission – May I leave early?
  • instructions and requests – Could you help me?
  • suggestions – We could go to the cinema to see that new movie this evening.
  • advice – You ought to notify them straight away and sort out the problem.
  • recommendation – You should watch the film – it’s fantastic!
  • preference – I would rather finish this before we go.
  • promise – I will definitely call you first thing in the morning. (see future simple lesson)
  • prediction – You will love it there! (see future simple lesson)
can (positive), can’t (negative), could (past positive) couldn’t (past negative)
Example sentences using modal verbs for ability
  • I can sing, but I can’t dance.
  • I could swim when I was six, but I couldn’t ride a horse.

You can use different modal verbs to talk about probability (deduction). The difference in meaning is how certain you are about what you are talking about.

  • will (very certain)
  • must (expressing opinion you are quite sure about)
  • should (expressing opinion you are quite sure about)
  • might (possible)
  • could (possible)
  • may (possible)
  • can’t (expressing opinion you are quite sure about)
  • won’t (very certain)
Example sentences using modal verbs for probability (deduction)
  • She will be at work now, she never finishes before 6pm.
  • He must be stuck in traffic, the road we so busy when I was coming home.
  • I should finish this soon, I don’t have too much left to do.
  • He might call later if he remembers your birthday.
  • He could be out with his friends, I’m not sure where he is.
  • She may come later, I’m not sure what her plans are.
  • It can’t be John over there. It looks like him, but I’m sure John is overseas at the moment.
  • I won’t finish the report today, there have been too many interruptions and I have to leave soon.

Modal verbs – obligation (necessity)

You can use the modal verbs ‘have to‘, ‘must‘ ‘ought to‘, ‘should‘ to talk about obligation.

Modal verbs ‘have to‘ and ‘must‘ talk about necessity / strong obligation.

Modal verbs ‘ought to‘ and ‘should‘ talk about lower level of obligation.

You use ‘have to‘ when the obligation comes from someone else – e.g. it’s a law or a rule.

  • In most countries you have to wear a seatbelt when travelling in a car.

COMPARE:

  • Drivers ought to / should drive slower in wet weather.

Obligation is not as strong as the legal requirements is to drive to the speed limit but driving carefully is still a moral obligation for motorists on the road.

Must‘ is used when the obligation comes from the person speaking.

  • I must stop smoking.

You can use ‘don’t have to‘ when there is no obligation.

  • College students don’t have to wear a uniform. (there is no rule for them to wear a uniform).

BE CAREFUL – you cannot use must not to show no obligation. This has a different meaning. It means ‘cannot, not allowed to, no permission to’.

For example:

‘You mustn’t interrupt when someone is talking dear.’ the mother told her son.  (the child is not allowed to interrupt other people).

To talk about obligation in the past, use ‘had to‘.

  • My grandfather had to walk four miles to school everyday when he was a child.

Modal verbs – prohibition

Modal verbs ‘must not‘ (mustn’t) and ‘cannot‘ (can’t) are used to talk about prohibition. Prohibition means something cannot happen, it is not allowed, there is no permission.

Must not‘ – see example in the previous section. Mustn’t is more commonly used when the prohibition comes from the speaker.

Another example is:

  • “You mustn’t sit on the desks in my classroom.” said the teacher.

Cannot‘ – more commonly used when the prohibition comes from someone else, e.g. a rule or a law.

Example:

  • Employees cannot use Facebook during office hours.

To talk about prohibition in the past, use ‘could not‘.

  • Women could not vote in the USA until 1920.

Modal verbs – permission

Modal verbs ‘can‘, ‘may‘ and ‘could‘ are used to ask someone for, or to give permission (you want to be allowed to do something, or you are allowing someone to do something).

  • Can I go home now?
  • You can borrow my jacket if you’re cold.
  • Could I ask you a question?

Note: ‘could‘ can be used to ask for permission. It is more formal / more polite than ‘can‘.

  • May I use your telephone?
  • You may now kiss the bride.

Note: ‘may‘ can be used to ask for and to give permission. It is more formal / more polite than ‘can‘.

 

Modal verbs – instructions and requests

Modal verbs ‘can‘, ‘will‘, ‘could‘ and ‘would‘ are used to ask someone, or tell someone to do something.

  • Can you make me a coffee, please?
  • Will you call me a taxi, please?
  • Could you take this luggage to my room, please?
  • Would you ask him a question for me?

Note: ‘would‘ and ‘could‘ are more polite than ‘can‘ or ‘will‘. When asking or instructing someone to do something, you should also say ‘please’.

Modal verbs ‘should‘ and ‘ought to‘ are used to give suggestions, advice and recommendations.

  • We should go out for dinner next week. (suggestion)
  • We ought to go out for dinner next week. (suggestion)
  • You should inform the boss straight away. (advice)
  • You ought to inform the boss straight away. (advice)
  • You should stay at the Apollo Hotel, it’s amazing! (recommendation)
  • You ought to stay at the Apollo Hotel, it’s amazing! (recommendation)

Could‘ is also used to make suggestions.

  • We could meet up at 8pm, does that suit you? (suggestion)

We also use modal verbs ‘will‘ and ‘would‘ in conditional sentences to give advice.

A commonly used second conditional phrase is: “If I were you, I would……”

  • If I were you, I would tell the boss straight away. (advice)

OR

  • The boss will help you, if you tell him. (first conditional)
  • The boss would help you, if you told him. (second conditional)

You can also use ‘must‘ to give advice. ‘Must‘ is stronger than ‘should‘ or ‘ought to‘.

A speaker who uses ‘must‘ thinks what they are suggesting, advising or recommending is so important (it is like an obligation) for the person to do that.

For example:

  • You must get those tyres on your car changed. They are so dangerous!

 

Would rather‘ is used to talk about preference.

  • I would rather work late tonight. I can have tomorrow morning off then.

If you are comparing options, you use ‘would rather…….. than….’

  • I would rather work late tonight, than have to work tomorrow morning.

Use would rather not (negative form) to talk about something you don’t want to do.

  • I would rather not work tomorrow morning.
so_and_such

So and such (for emphasis)

So and such

so_and_such‘So’ and ‘such’ are often used incorrectly in English.

Both so and such are used to ‘give emphasis’ – this means to show that something is ‘extreme’ or ‘more than’. For example –

The concert was so good! It was such a good concert!

In both cases, it wasn’t simply a ‘good’ concert, it was more than that.

So and such rule #1:

The main difference between so and such is that you do not use a noun after ‘so’.

  • The concert was so good! Correct This is correct

It was so a good concert Incorrect You cannot say this

 

So and such rule #2:

After such, you need a noun.

  • It was such a good concert Correct This is correct

It was such good Incorrect You cannot say this

So and such rule # 3:

The two rules for so and such above can be combined with ‘that’ to talk about the results of something.

FACT = The concert was so loud. RESULT = our ears hurt.

  • The concert was so loud that our ears hurt.  Correct This is correct

The concert was such loud that our ears hurtIncorrect You cannot say this

  • It was such a loud concert that our ears hurt.  Correct This is correct

So and such rule #4:

So can also be followed by an adverb. NOTE: This is used to make a short comment or exclamation about something.

  • He eats so quickly!  Correct  This is correct

He eats such quickly!  Incorrect  You cannot say this

  • She sings so beautifully!  Correct  This is correct

She sings such beautifully!  Incorrect  You cannot say this

  • He speaks so eloquently.  Correct  This is correct

He speaks such eloquently.  Incorrect  You cannot say this

countable_uncountable

Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable and uncountable nouns

countable_and_uncountable_nounsThe English language has different rules about countable and uncountable nouns than some other languages. Basic rules about countable and uncountable nouns are –

  • A countable noun can be counted (e.g. one apple, two apples).
  • An uncountable noun cannot be counted (e.g. sugar – it’s hard to ‘count’ the number of small sugar grains).

Abstract nouns (things you cannot can’t feel, touch, see, hear, or taste) are usually uncountable too. For example: knowledge, leisure.

Here are some examples of countable and uncountable nouns.

There are more examples of uncountable and uncountable nouns in the picture too.

Countable nouns:

car, table, pencil, computer

Uncountable nouns:

water, bread, milk, information, education

When you learn new words in English, it is important to know whether the nouns you are learning are countable or uncountable nouns because the words and the grammar you use in sentences are different.

Remember that the rules in English might be different to the rules about countable and uncountable nouns in your own language!

Countable and uncountable nouns – ‘a‘ or ‘an‘ and making plurals

1. Use a or an before a single countable noun.

Single countable noun examples:

  • a car
  • an apple

2. Don’t use a or an before an uncountable noun

Uncountable noun examples:

  • water (not a water),
  • information (not an information)

3. Add +s or +es after more than one countable noun (plural countable nouns).

Plural countable noun examples:

  • two cars
  • five potatoes

Remember though that some nouns are irregular – you don’t add ‘s’ or ‘es’ when you make them plural and you just need to learn them! e.g. child / children, man / men, tooth / teeth etc.

4. Don’t add +s or +es after an uncountable noun (they have no plural)

Uncountable noun examples:

  • milk (not milks)
  • leisure (not leisures)

Countable and uncountable nouns – ‘some’ and ‘no’

1. Use some when talking about more than one countable noun and with uncountable nouns in positive sentences.

For example:

  • There are some cars parked on the street. (there is more than one car on the street)
  • There is some milk in the fridge. (there is milk in the fridge)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘milk’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There are some cars. (NOT There is some cars or There are some car)

There is some milk. (NOT There are some milk or There is some milks)

2. The opposite of ‘some‘ is ‘none‘. You can use ‘no‘ in a ‘positive’ sentence structure to say that something is not present.

For example:

  • There are no cars parked on the street. (there zero cars on the street)
  • There is no milk in the fridge. (milk is not in the fridge)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘milk’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There are no cars. (NOT There is no cars or There are no car)

There is some milk. (NOT There are no milk or There is no milks)

Countable and uncountable nouns rule – ‘any

Use any when talking about more than one countable noun and with uncountable nouns in negative sentences and in questions.

  • There aren’t any books about that topic at the library.
  • Are there any books about that topic at the library?
  • There isn’t any information about that topic at the library.
  • Is there any information about that topic at the library?

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘information’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There aren’t any books. (NOT There aren’t some books or There isn’t no books)

Are there any books? (NOT Is there some books? or Are there any book?)

There isn’t any information. (NOT There isn’t no information or There aren’t any information)

Is there any information? (NOT Is there some informations? or Are there any information?)

Countable and uncountable nouns rule – ‘many’ and ‘much’

Use many when talking about more than one countable noun in negative sentences and in questions.

Use much when talking about uncountable nouns in negative sentences and in questions.

Much and many follow the same rules as ‘any‘ but the meaning is different.

Can you see the difference? Look at the examples below.

1. Countable nouns – ‘any‘ and ‘many

  • There aren’t any books about that topic at the library. (there are zero books on the topic)
  • There aren’t many books about that topic at the library. (there are a small number of books on the topic)
  • Are there any books about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to know if the library has books on the topic)
  • Are there many books about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to to know the quantity of books on the topic at the library)

2. Countable nouns – ‘any‘ and ‘much

  • There isn’t any information about that topic at the library. (there is zero information on the topic)
  • There isn’t much information about that topic at the library. (there is a small amount of information on the topic)
  • Is there any information about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to know if the library has information on the topic)
  • Is there much information about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to to know the quantity of information on the topic)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘information’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There aren’t many books. (NOT There aren’t much books or There isn’t many books)

Are there many books? (NOT Is there many books? or Are there much books?)

There isn’t much information. (NOT There isn’t many information or There aren’t much information)

Is there much information? (NOT Is there many information? or Is there much informations?)

 

Countable and uncountable nouns –  a lot of (lots of), too many, too much

A lot of (lots of), too many and too much can be used with countable and uncountable nouns to talk about quantity (bigger amounts).

Here are some rules and information about when to use them and the differences in meaning.

1. Use a lot of (lots of) and too many when talking about plural countable nouns. Be careful as the meanings are different!

Compare these examples:

  • There were some people at the party. (There was more than one person at the party)
  • There were a lot of people at the party. (There were a large number of people at the party)
  • There were lots of people at the party. (There were a large number of people at the party)

Note: Too many describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • There were too many people at the party (negative – the speaker thinks the party was so crowded they didn’t enjoy it)

2. Use a lot of (lots of) and too much when talking about uncountable nouns. Be careful as the meanings are different!

Compare these examples:

  • The manager gave his staff some information to read before the meeting. (The staff had something to read)
  • The manager gave his staff a lot of information to read before the meeting. (The staff had a large amount of information to read)
  • The manager gave his staff lots of information to read before the meeting. (The staff had a large amount of information to read)

Note: Too much describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • The manager gave his staff too much information to read before the meeting. (negative – the speaker thinks the boss was treating his staff unfairly)

Countable and uncountable nouns (a) few, (a) little

Few, a few, little, and a little can be used with countable and uncountable nouns to talk about quantity (smaller amounts).

Here are some rules and information about when to use them and the differences in meaning.

1. Use few or a few when talking about plural countable nouns.

Examples:

  • There were a few people waiting in the queue. (There were a small number of people in the queue)
  • There were few people waiting in the queue. (There were a very small number of people)

Note: Few describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • He has a few friends (neutral)
  • He has few friends (negative – the speaker probably thinks the person doesn’t have enough friends)

2. Use little or a little when talking about uncountable nouns.

Examples:

I have a little money left. (I have a small amount of money)

I have little money left. (My money is almost all gone)

Examples:

Note: Little describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • He has a little understanding of the subject. (neutral)
  • He has little understanding of the subject. (negative – the speaker thinks the person doesn’t have enough knowledge about about the subject)

 

Click here to try the countable and uncountable noun exercises.

prepositions_of_time

Prepositions of time (A1)

Prepositions of time (A1)

prepositions_of_timePrepositions of time (like all prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly.

This is because the rules are often quite difficult and there are lots of exceptions!

In this lesson, we are looking at the following prepositions of time:

  • at
  • in
  • on

Here are some example sentences using prepositions of time:

  • I’m going camping at the weekend.
  • They will be here in 5 minutes
  • School starts on the Monday.

Prepositions of time – ‘at

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘at‘.

Rule #1:

For a clock time (at 5 p.m., at quarter to 12)

Example: I finish work at 5.30 p.m.

Rule #2:

For a particular time (at lunch time, at sunset)

We will be having dinner on the deck at sunset. How romantic!

Rule #3:

For a collection of days (at the weekend [the weekend includes Saturday and Sunday], at Christmas [Christmas period includes Christmas day, Christmas Eve etc])

Most games are held at the weekend.

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘in‘.

Rule #1:

For months of the year (in February, in April)

They are getting married in March.

Rule #2:

For years (in 1990, in 2015)

I started working at the school in 2010.

Rule #3:

For part of a day (in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening) EXCEPTION: at night

I can concentrate better in the morning.

I love listening to the owls at night.

Rule #4:

For longer lengths of time: (in the summer, in the Middle Ages)

He always goes skiing in the winter.

Prepositions of time – ‘on’

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘on‘.

Rule #1:

For days of the week (on Monday, on Tuesday etc)

I am seeing him on Wednesday.

Rule #2:

For dates (on the 4th of May, on the 26th February)

They got married on the 12th June.

Rule #3:

For specific single days (on my birthday, on New Years Eve, on Labour Day)

I am going to a party on New Years Eve.

Click here to try the prepositions of time exercises.