Author Archives: impact


More about articles in English

More about articles in English (a, an, the and Ø )

NOTE: This is the second lesson for articles. If you have not completed level A1, we recommend you first look at this lesson (an introduction to articles)

Using articles in English can be very difficult as there are a lot of rules to remember. There are three articles in English ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ and sometimes no article Ø is needed.

1. The indefinite article – A or AN

Examples of use of indefinite articles: Do you have a pen?  I need an umbrella.

2. The definite article – THE

Examples of use of definite articles: The boy lives at home. Here is the book I borrowed.

More about articles in English3. The zero article – this is used when no article is used, often shown as Ø in grammar books

Examples of zero articles: I like (Ø) dogs. (Ø) English exercises can be difficult.

Rules 1 to 4 are in the A1 lesson.

With uncountable nouns, we often use no article (Ø).


  • I like wine (not the wine or a wine)
  • I listen to good advice (not the good advice or a good advice)

NOTE: Some nouns can be countable and uncountable.


  • Sleep is important
  • I am tired. I need a good sleep.



Articles – rule #6

The is used with superlatives.


  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.
  • Lake Baikal in Russia is the deepest lake in the world.
  • Elephants are the biggest animals in Africa.


Articles – rule #7

No article (Ø) is used when talking generally about subjects / topics.


  • Rugby is a great game.
  • I don’t like science.


Click here to try the ‘More about articles in English’ exercises.


Idioms about driving

Idioms about driving

Idioms about drivingIdioms are often commonplace in everyday, spoken English. The more idioms you know, the better it is for your general communication – just don’t over-use them in every single sentence!

In the following exercises you will find some idioms that are quite common in many English speaking countries when talking about driving. Firstly, think about and then check for the correct meaning of each idiom. Secondly, try putting each idiom into its correct position in the dialogue in the second exercise, so that finally the dialogue makes sense. Most of the order is mixed from Exercise 1- you have to work out where each idiom fits in the dialogue.

Exercise 1

IDIOM 1: ‘something to get me from A to B’

a) to travel in luxury or
b) a cheap, basic car for home to work/school (for commuting)

Show the answer
b) a cheap, basic car for home to work/school (for commuting)


IDIOM 2: ‘a Sunday driver’

a) a slow or not such good driver or
b) a person who drives on Sundays only

Show the answer
a) a slow driver or not such a good driver (often used to talk about elderly people driving)


IDIOM 3: ‘the roads are chock-a-block’

a) the roads are quiet or
b) the roads are full of cars

Show the answer
b) the roads are full of cars


IDIOM 4: ‘need some wheels’

a) need to hurry up or
b) need my own transport

Show the answer
b) need my own transport


IDIOM 5: ‘a prang’

a) a car accident or
b) a speeding ticket

Show the answer
a) a car accident or


Exercise 2) Place the idioms correctly into the following dialogue:


Person A: “My bus is always late getting to the station and sometimes it even drives straight past me at my local bus stop. I really _______________”.

Person B: “What, you mean a car”?

Person A: “Yeah, just _______________”.

Person B: “That sounds good…but take care driving to the city in the morning rush hour… _______________”.

Person A: “Thanks, hopefully I’ll be fine. When I drove in my country I never had _______________”.

Person B: “That’s lucky. Actually, I have a license but to be honest, I’m _______________”!


Show the answers


1. need some wheels
2. something to get me from A to B
3. the roads are chock-a-block
4. a prang
5. a Sunday driver

Vocabulary for describing people

Vocabulary for describing people

Vocabulary for describing people

Before you start this exercise, check that you know the meaning of the following words:

  • naughty
  • anxious
  • Vocabulary for describing peoplegreedy
  • disappointed
  • polite
  • diligent
  • cheerful
  • depressed
  • messy
  • adventurous

Once you have checked the meaning of the words in the list above, complete each sentence using one of the words.

1. My friend Tom loves activities like mountain climbing, abseiling, white water rafting, bungee jumping and sky diving. In fact, it seems like dangerous situations excite him! Sometimes I wish I could have no fear like him. He is a veryperson.
Show the answer


2. My friend has a very important job interview today. He is really worried about it. He keeps biting his nails and seems so nervous. I told him to calm down and try to relax but he said he feels too.
Show the answer


3. My friend just lost his job and his girlfriend broke up with him. He is feeling very down and. I’m not sure how to cheer him up.
Show the answer


4. My friend’s dog never does what it’s told. It always runs in the house and breaks things. It is very. They need to learn how to discipline it better.
Show the answer


5. My friend’s niece always smiles and laughs. She seems so happy. In fact, I don’t’ think I have ever seen her in a bad mood. She’s a veryperson.
Show the answer


6. My friend is so untidy. He almost never cleans his room. You should see it! It’s so! I told him he will never get a girlfriend if he doesn’t become a cleaner person.
Show the answer


7. My friend didn’t like what his girlfriend got him for his birthday. He looked so! But I told him he should stop being so picky and just appreciate the gift. I think he really hurt her feelings.
Show the answer


8. My friend studies so hard. She always gets her assignments done on time and gets great results. She’s so. I think I should try and be more like her.
Show the answer


9. Ever since my friend got his new job, all he has cared about is money-money-money!! In the past he was so generous and money and possessions didn’t seem important to him. Now he is a very selfish andperson.
Show the answer


10. My friend is a waitress. The job is perfect for her personality because she is always so kind and. Even when the customers are rude to her she keeps smiling and acts very professional.
Show the answer



Young woman smoking cigarette

Used to – exercises

Used to – exercises

Before attempting these exercises, we recommend reading the lesson on ‘Used to’ found here.


Fill the blanks with the correct form.


Used to1. I be fitter, now I can’t even run for 10 minutes.

  • am used to
  • used to
  • use to
Show the answer
used to – a habit, routine or fact that was true in the past but not now.

2. Did she work for the same company as you?

  • getting used to
  • used to
  • use to
Show the answer
used to – a habit, routine or fact that was true in the past but not now.

3. Are you the long commute to work yet?

  • getting used to
  • use to
  • get used to
Show the answer
getting used to – become accustomed to something

4. I am not the oldest person at work, but all my workmates are so young these days!

  • used to
  • used to being
  • use to be
Show the answer
used to being – a situation the speaker is not yet accustomed to

5. Did you used to ?

  • smoking
  • smoked
  • smoke
Show the answer
smoke – the infinitive is used after ‘used to’ to talk about past habits or actions.

6. Are you in New Zealand yet?

  • used to live
  • used to living
  • use to live
Show the answer
used to living – a question about whether someone has become accustomed to New Zealand.

7. I am far too with my credit card all the time.

  • used to buying
  • used to buy
  • didn’t use to buy
Show the answer
used to buying – something that the speaker has become (over) accustomed to doing

8. I used TV every evening, but I prefer reading now.

  • to like watching
  • to be watching
  • not watching
Show the answer
to like watching – a habit that the speaker no longer does.

9. My American friend is the time difference between New York and London, so he can’t sleep here properly yet.

  • not used to
  • not use to
  • used to
Show the answer
not used to – something the person is not yet accustomed to.

10. I saw her everyday because she live next door.

  • use to
  • used to
  • didn’t use to
Show the answer
used to – a past fact about the person.


Used to

Used to

Used to

There two common meanings of used to

1. Use(d) +infinitive is used to talk about repeated actions/states in the past.

I used to smoke (i.e. I did smoke, now I don’t)


2. To be +used to + noun/verb+ing is used instead of ‘accustomed to’

I am used to working night shifts (i.e. I am accustomed to it)


Used toUse(d) + infinitive

  • She used to live in England (she lived in England one time but doesn’t anymore)
  • It used to rain a lot more in New Zealand (It doesn’t rain as much anymore)
  • Students didn’t use to be so defiant (one time students were less defiant)


Subject Used Infinitive Other
I/you/he/she/we/they/ used to talk everyday



Subject Didn’t Used Infinitive Other
I/you/he/she/we /they didn’t used to live together



Did Subject Used Infinitive Other
Did I/you/he/she/we/they/ use to work at Spark?



To be + used to + -ing

  • I am used to getting up at 6am now (I am accustomed to it)
  • She is not used to working night shifts (she’s not accustomed to it)
  • Are you used to driving overseas? (are you accustomed to it?)



Subject To be Used to Noun/-ing Other
I am used to living abroad
You/We/They are used to living abroad
He/She is used to living abroad



Subject To be Used to Noun/-ing Other
I am not used to the teacher yet
You/We/They are not used to the teacher yet
He/She is not used to the teacher yet



To be Used to Noun/-ing Other
Am I/Are you/Are we/Is he/Are they used to working with children?



The pronunciation of ‘used to’ above is the same for both meanings, and is pronounced as yoost to or /juːstə/

Ready to try the practice exercises? Click here to take the ‘Used to’ test.


Test your English level

Test your English level


This 60-question quiz will tell you your current level of English, running from Beginner (A1) to Advanced (C2). Before you start the quiz, please read these notes:

1. If you do not know the answer, don’t guess – this will not give you an accurate level.

test your english level

2. When you have finished the quiz, every question will have show links to learning resources about that specific question. Follow these links to improve your score!

3. The quiz increases in difficulty from the beginning to the end.

4. Click the ‘Finish quiz’ button at the end of the quiz to submit your answers and see the results of our ‘Test your English level’ quiz.


Test your level of English


English for job interviews

English for job interviews

Thanks to Agus for suggesting this post!

English for job interviewsIt is very important to create a good impression during a job interview, but this can be especially hard when you have to speak in a different language. This post will help you use some common vocabulary and phrases in English that will help you get the job you are being interviewed for.

First of all, keep in mind that for most job interviews, you should be presenting yourself formally, using an academic rather than conversational level of English. Take a look at the table below to see how some common words can be upgraded to more formal alternatives.

Talking about your previous roles

In my last job In my previous position / role
People I worked with Colleagues
I worked with Mr X I coordinated with Mr X
I gave people jobs to do I allocated tasks / I delegated tasks
I made the shift schedules I designed the shift schedule
I helped with staff training sessions I facilitated staff training sessions
I told customers what they could do I advised customers regarding their options

Talking about your skills and abilities

I like to make sure a job is finished well I am conscientious
I can fit in to different jobs I am adaptable depending on the role
I get things done quickly and well I am efficient
I always think of new ideas I am innovative
I do things step by step I am methodical
I can work without a manger telling me what to do I am able to work independently
I know how to keep a secret I am discreet

Common interview questions

Of course, every interview is going to be a little different, but there are some questions that you are generally always asked when being interview. Read the question then the two responses that follow. Why is the response in blue better than the response in red?

Interviewer: So tell us a little about yourself.

Candidate: Well, I’m from ABC city in Shanghai. I also went to university there, and when I graduated I worked overseas for a few years for a British multinational company. My role there was to provide support for the IT team, ensuring that all staff were able to access the company intranet and send emails. I was also responsible for conducting training sessions for new employees so they were able to use the company’s computer system.

Candidate: Well, I’m from ABC city in Shanghai. I also went to university there, and when I graduated I worked overseas for a few years. I enjoy travelling, and in my free time I read a lot of travel books. I also enjoy keeping fit, mostly running.

Why is the answer in blue better? Click here to find out.In the first response, the candidate has focused specifically on a role they had. Although this will undoubtedly be something you refer to later in the interview, the question is asking about you as a person, so don’t go into too much detail about specific jobs.


Interviewer: What type of position are you interested in?

Candidate: I’m looking for a management position very similar to the role I had with my previous company. I would like to have a small team working under me so that I can meet deadlines.

Candidate: Ideally, I’m looking for a management position where I can utilise the experience I have gained from my previous roles, but I am also interested in expanding my experience into new areas.

Why is the answer in blue better? Click here to find out.In the first response, the candidate is very specific about the role they want. This means that if the company interviewing you have slightly different plans for the role they are looking to fill, you won’t be suitable. The second response is more open, while at the same time has still expressed a preference.


Interviewer: What would you say are your strengths?

Candidate: Well, I like to think that most of the time I can work well regardless of the pressure. Even if a deadline  is very close and there is still work to do, I will try to persevere in the hope of getting the project completed on time or as soon as possible.

Candidate: I work well under pressure and am able to meet project deadlines.

Why is the answer in blue better? Click here to find out.It is important to be direct when answering this question. Using language that suggests doubt / lack of certainty is not ideal. Of course, this needs to be balanced with not being too egotistical (thinking too highly of yourself).

Tip 1: Your pronunciation during the interview

One of the most common errors I have experienced when preparing non-English speaking candidates for an English interview is not so much what they say, but how they say it. Accept the fact that you may make a few mistakes, but make sure you are speaking clearly, using an interested and enthusiastic tone of voice. In the majority of interviews, the people interviewing you are looking for your ability to communicate effectively, so you need to make sure you’re heard.

Tip 2: Avoid negative language

The interviewer might ask you what experience you have in a particular area – but what happens if you haven’t really got the experience you think they might be looking for? For example

Interviewer: So do you have any experience in working with different departments on a projects?

You: No, I don’t.

You: Only a little.

You: Well, I have worked with different departments in previous positions, and I have had the opportunity to work on larger projects.

Keep in mind that short answer that focus on negative points will not give a good impression.


Some final vocabulary

Here are some words that may come up in an interview – make sure you know what they mean!

A CV (also called a resume [rez-you-may]) – a description of your education and work experience

A reference – a letter or comment from previous employers about your work

Your background – your personal history (where you grew up, hobbies, interests etc)

Salary – the money you make from a job per year (compared to wage, which is often by the hour, day or week)

Made redundant – when the position you had is no longer required by the company or the company ha no more work for you

Fired – when you are forced to leave your job often because of poor performance or causing problems in the workplace

Resign – to leave your job voluntarily


Internet English

Internet English

NOTE: This lesson contains language that some may find offensive. Read on at your own discretion.

Internet EnglishFacebook, Twitter, emails – a lot of English conversations happen online these days, and there is a new set of language being developed to make typing and texting faster. Often these are just abbreviations, but they can also be acronyms (words created for the first letter of a group of words, like NASA, which is The National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

This post is to help you communicate and understand more clearly when you are posting or reading online.

Here are some of the more common examples of internet English

AFAIK – as far as I know

Example: “Do we have to hand in our homework tomorrow?”, “Yes, AFAIK”

Meaning: this is used when the writer is saying that they believe this to be true, or they haven’t heard anything to the contrary.

IDK – I don’t know

Example: “Is there going to be a new X-Men movie?” “IDK, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Meaning: That the writer doesn’t know!

LOL – Laugh out loud

Example: “I told him I couldn’t go because I had to clean my room LOL”

Meaning: This is tricky. In its direct form, LOL means that the person found something funny. However, in recent usage, it has become used in a sarcastic manner, when something is NOT funny.

AITR – adult in the room

Example: “Can’t talk now – AITR”

Meaning: Used by younger people, this is used when an online conversation about something personal or that an adult wouldn’t approve of has to stop because an adult is in the room.

FML – Fuck my life

Example: “Somebody broke a bottle of cooking oil on the floor, and I had to clean up. FML”

Meaning: used to express annoyance or despair. It is often used in a work related context when a person feels they have been given a horrible job.

ROFL – Rolling on the floor laughing

Example: “John sat down and his chair collapsed! ROFL!”

Meaning: ‘To roll about laughing’ is an English idiom used when the speaker finds something particularly funny. This is sometimes extended to ROFLMAO – rolling on the floor laughing my ass off (a more extreme version of ROFL)

FFS – For fucks sake

Example: “FFS – I got another speeding ticket!”

Meaning: this is used to express anger or annoyance. It is similar to FML (fuck my life), but not as despairing/depressing, focusing more on anger. This is not suitable for every situation – when you need to be less rude, use ‘For goodness sake’

IMO / IMHO – In my opinion / in my honest opinion

Example: “IMHO you shouldn’t quit your job – it’s not a good time to be looking for work”

Meaning: The speaker is presenting their opinion on a topic. The addition of the ‘honest’ doesn’t change the meaning – they are used as synonyms.

OMG – Oh my God

Example: “OMG! He just asked me to marry him!”

Meaning: This is most commonly used to express excitement or shock.

NSFW – not safe work

Example: “Don’t open this until you get home it’s NSFW”

Meaning: whatever the speaker is referring to is not suitable to be seen or read in the workplace or public area.

This is definitely not a complete list of internet English vocabulary, so if you have any others that you think we should add (or that we haven’t added and you would like explained), just post in the comments area below.


Adverbs of frequency exercises

Adverbs of frequency exercises

Have you read the information page on adverbs of frequency? Click here to read it before you try the adverbs of frequency exercises.

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Are the sentences below correct?

Adverbs of frequency exercises1. John often walks to work. He only drives if it’s really bad weather.

Show the answer
This is correct


2. They rarely cook at home – they both love spending time in the kitchen.

Show the answer
This is not correct – the adverb should show that they cook a lot – often, always, generally.


3. The post office always is busy at lunchtime.

Show the answer
This is not correct  – the adverb should be after the ‘to be’ verb.


4. I am never late for work – I’m a perfect employee!

Show the answer
This is correct


5. Occasionally she takes her work home with her.

Show the answer
This is correct


6. Very rarely he pays for dinner when we go out together – he’s very mean!

Show the answer
This is not correct. Certain adverbs shouldn’t be used to start a sentence.


7. He could usually make new friends very quickly.

Show the answer
This is correct


8. He never can come back here – he’s been permanently banned!

Show the answer
This is not correct. The adverb of frequency needs to be between the auxiliary verb ‘can’ and the main verb ‘come’ – He can never come back…


9. I seldom don’t go out late on a weeknight.

Show the answer
This is not correct. Seldom cannot be used in a negative sentence.


10. I study once a day English lessons online.

Show the answer
This is not correct. Definite adverbs of frequency are not used in the middle of a sentence, only at the beginning or end – I study English lessons online once a day. / Once a day, I study English lessons online.

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something happens. They often talk about routines, so are very often used with the present simple. There are two types of adverbs of frequency – those that talk about an indefinite time and those that talk about a definite time. Here are some simple examples of indefinite adverbs of frequency:

  • Adverbs of frequencyalways
  • never
  • sometimes
  • often
  • occasionally

Use this table to help you choose suitable adverbs to describe how often you are thinking of (NOTE: the percentages in this table are approximate to illustrate the level of each adverb).

100% of the time Always
Less than 100% but more than 50% of the time Often, usually, frequently, generally
Around 50% of the time Sometimes
Less than 50% but more than 10% of the time Occasionally, seldom
Less than 10% but more than 0% of the time Hardly ever, rarely
0% of the time Never


Definite adverbs of frequency

The examples above are called indefinite adverbs of frequency – they talk about a percentage of frequency. There are also definite adverbs of frequency that talk about specific amounts of time. Here are some examples:

  • hourly, daily, weekly
  • once, twice, three times
  • every minute, once an hour, a few times a year
  • monthly, quarterly, annually

The position of adverbs of frequency

The position of the adverb depends on other words in the sentence.

Position 1: After the ‘be’ verb (subject + TO BE + adverb)

  • John is always late.
  • Teachers are occasionally wrong.

Position 2: Before the main verb is there is no  ‘be’ verb (subjectadverb + main verb)

  • John always drives to work.
  • Teachers occasionally give students too much homework.

Position 3:  With an auxiliary verb (have, will, must etc), the adverb is put between the auxiliary and the main verb. (subjectauxiliary + adverb + main verb)

  • John might never work again – he won the lottery!
  • Teachers can sometimes give students too much homework.

Other rules for using adverbs of frequency

Rule 1: Some adverbs can be used at the beginning or end of a sentence. Adverbs used in this position are: occasionally, sometimes, usually, normally, often

  • Sometimes John is late.  / John is late sometimes.
  • Normally he gets to work by car. / He gets to work by car normally.

Rule 2: However, other adverbs are NOT used to begin a sentence. Adverbs NOT used in this position are: always, rarely, seldom, hardly ever, never.

  • Hardly ever John is late.
  • Always he walks to work.

Rule 3: Some adverbs that are about very low frequency are not used in negative sentences. These adverbs are rarely, seldom or never.

  • He seldom visits his friends.
  • He doesn’t seldom visit his friends.

Rule 4: Definite adverbs of frequency do not go in the middle of a sentence – only the beginning or the end. When the adverb of frequency is at the beginning of sentence, it is often followed by a comma.

  • Twice a year, they go on holiday.
  • They go on holiday twice a year.
  • They twice a year go on holiday.


Ready to take the practice exercises? Take a look here