Category Archives: Grammar

past_simple

Past simple tense

Past simple

past_simpleIn English grammar, the past simple is used to talk about finished events or actions in the past. Here are some example sentences including regular past simple verbs:

  • I worked last Monday.
  • They studied for an English test last week.
  • She smiled when she saw him.

 

The past simple can also be used to talk about something you did not do.

  • I didn’t work last weekend.
  • He didn’t do his homework.
  • You didn’t tell me!

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you talk about other people.

Positive + Negative –
I worked didn’t work.
You worked didn’t work.
We worked didn’t work.
He worked didn’t work.
She worked didn’t work.
It worked didn’t work.
They worked didn’t work.

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you ask questions.

Did I work?
Did you work?
Did we work?
Did he work?
Did she work?
Did it work?
Did they work?

 

To make the past simple tense form of regular verbs, we add +ed .

Present Past
I work I worked
He works He worked

However, pronunciation of regular past tense tense verbs can change.

For example, ‘He worked’ sounds like ‘He workt’

Base verb
Sounds like /t/
Sounds like /d/
sounds like /id/
Work Worked
Look Looked
Talk Talked
Like Liked
Watch Watched
Laugh Laughed
Wish Wished
Listen Listened
Open Opened
Learn Learned
Change Changed
Climb Climbed
Try Tried
Paint Painted
Want Wanted
End Ended
Decide Decided

Past simple irregular verbs

Irregular verbs don’t follow the rules above. You simply need to learn them.

For example. eat – eated – ate

  • He ate chicken for dinner last night.

Click here to see a list.

Some verbs can be used with a regular or an irregular form.

These include:

  • burn (burned OR burnt)
  • dream (dreamed OR dreamt)
  • learn (learned or learnt)
  • smell (smelled OR smelt)

 

 

present_simple

The present simple

The present simple

the_present_simpleIn English grammar, the present simple is used to talk about habits and routines. Here is an example of the present simple in a sentence:

I work on weekdays.

The present simple can also be used to talk about something you don’t do.

I don’t eat meat.

The present simple verb can change if you talk about other people.

Positive + Negative –
I work don’t work.
You work don’t work.
We work don’t work.
He works doesn’t work.
She works doesn’t work.
It works doesn’t work.
They work don’t work.

 


The present simple also changes if you ask questions about other people.

Do I work?
Do you work?
Do we work?
Does he work?
Does she work?
Does it work?
Do they work?

For he, she or it, the present simple changes:

I miss He misses verb ends in ‘s’ add +es
I fly He flies verbs ends in consonant + ‘y’ add +ies
I wash He washes verb ends in ‘sh’ add +es
I fix He fixes verb ends in ‘x’ add +es
I buzz It buzzes verb ends in ‘z’ add +es

 


Another change that happens with the present simple is with have.

I have a new car. I don’t have a new car. Do I have a new car?
You have a car. You don’t have a new car. Do you have a new car?
We have a car. We don’t have a new car. Do we have a new car?
He has a new car. He doesn’t have a new car. Does he have a new car?
She has a new car. She doesn’t have a new car. Does she have a new car?
It has new tyres. It doesn’t have new tyres. Does it have new tyres?
They have a new car. They don’t have new car. Do they have a new car?

Click here to try the present simple exercises.

comparatives

Comparative adjective exercises (A1)

Before you take this test, make sure you have read the comparative adjectives page.

Comparative adjective exercisesQuestion #1: Horses are _____ dogs.

A. the faster
B. faster than
C. faster as
D. the faster than

Show answer

The correct answer is B

Question #2: Jack is 1m 85cm tall. Jane is 1m 60cm. Jane is _________ Jack.

A. more shorter than
B. shorter than
C. more short than
D. shortter than

Show answer

The correct answer is B

Question #3: Jon is 80kg. Jane is 70kg. John is _________ Jane.

A. is heavIer than
B. is heavYer than
C. is the heavier than
D. is heavy than

Show answer

The correct answer is A

Question #4: She’s always smiling and laughing – she’s much _________ me.

A. more happier
B. happier
C. happier than
D. more happy

Show answer

The correct answer is C

Question #5: John was stuck in traffic so he arrived ________ Dave.

A. more late than
B. latter than
C. the latter than
D. later than

Show answer

The correct answer is D

Question #6: Jane runs her own business and travels around the world. Joe doesn’t have a job. Jane is _________ than Joe.

A. more success than
B. more successful than
C. more successful of
D. successfuller than

Show answer

The correct answer is B

Question #7: This is a very old building. I want to live somewhere _________.

A. moderner than
B. more modern
C. more modern than
D. moderner

Show answer

The correct answer is B

Question #8: Which of these is INCORRECT?

A. taller than
B. widder than
C. faster than
D. bigger than

Show answer

The correct answer is B

angry

Dependent prepositions with verbs, adjectives and nouns (C1)

Dependent prepositions (with verbs, adjectives and nouns)

Certain verbs, adjectives and nouns naturally take certain prepositions when placed in a sentence – these are called dependent prepositions.

For example, you can object to (something), participate in (something), complain about (something).

Unfortunately there are no fixed rules that can help you decide which dependent prepositions should be placed with which words, you really just need to learn them.

Remember that sometimes usage of different dependent prepositions change the meaning.

dependent prepositionsDependent prepositions example 1:

He is angry with us. (angry with ‘someone’)

He is angry about the problem. (angry about ‘a situation’)

Dependent prepositions example 2:

He is good at football (meaning he has skill / ability in something – he is good at (playing) football).

She is good with children (meaning she has a positive relationship with / has an affinity with…).

A teacher for example, might be good at teaching English and may be good with their students.

The best way to learn more about dependent prepostions is to make a list of your own, and then find sentences that use the structure. Google can be very useful for that. For example, if you were trying to remember that complain is generally followed by about, simply type in “complain about” in Google and see the results.

NOTE: It is important to use the speech marks (” “) around the phrase you are searching for so that only results with that phrase will come up.

xx

Verbs and dependent prepositions Adjectives and dependent prepositions Nouns and dependent prepositions
abide by according to in agreement
abstain from accustomed to attack on
accuse (somebody) of afraid of attitude towards
add to annoyed with/about/at on behalf of
adhere to anxious about comparison between
agree with ashamed of on condition (that)
aim at/for astonished at connection between
allow for attached to cruelty towards
apologise to someone for something aware of decrease in
apply for delighted at/about delay in
approve of different from difference between/of
argue with/about dissatisfied with difficulty in/with
arrest (somebody) for doubtful about disadvantage of
ask for enthusiastic about in doubt
attend to envious of under guarantee
believe in excited about increase in
belong to famous for information about
blame (somebody) for fed up with intention of
boast about fond of knowledge of
borrow (something) from (somebody) frightened of need for
call for friendly with notice of
care for good at in order
choose between guilty of pleasure in
comment on incapable of in power
compare with interested in in practice
complain about jealous of preference for
concentrate on keen on protection from
conform to kind to reaction to
congratulate on mad at/about reason for
consent to opposed to reduction in
consist of pleased with report on
deal with popular with result of
decide on proud of rise in
excel at/in puzzled by/about at risk
excuse (somebody) for safe from room for
face up to satisfied with solution to
forgive (somebody) for sensitive to(wards) on strike
hear of/about serious about on suspicion of
hope for sick of under suspicion
insist on similar to in theory
interfere with/in sorry for/about in trouble
joke about suspicious of trouble with
laugh at sympathetic to(wards)
lend (something) to (somebody) tired of
listen to typical of
long for unaware of
mistake (somebody) for used to
object to
pay for
praise (somebody) for
prepare for
present (somebody) with
prevent (somebody) from
protest about
provide (somebody) with
punish (somebody) for
refer to
rely on
run for
save (somebody) from
sentence (somebody) to
smile at
succeed in
suffer from
stand for
talk to (somebody) about (something)
thank (somebody) for
think of/about
volunteer to
wait for
warn (somebody) about
worry about
Click here to try the dependent prepositions exercises.
would-in-the-past

Using would in the past (B1)

Using would in the past

‘used to’ and ‘would’ can both be used to talk about past actions. ‘Would’ can be used to speak about past actions as an alternative to the simple past or ‘used to’.

Both ‘would’ and ‘used to’ can be used to talk about past actions and temporary states. However we only use ‘used to’ to refer to past permanent states. For example:

  • I would walk to school everyday
  • I used to walk to school everyday

But…

  1. I used to be a receptionist
  2. I would be a receptionist

 

How to use would in the past

The form of ‘would’ when used to talk about the past is the same as its use as a modal verb.

 

Positive and negative statements:

Subject Would Infinitive Other
I would/wouldn’t walk

sing

play

work

everyday

often

occasionally

You
He/she/it
We
They

 

Question form:

Would Subject Infinitive Other
 

Would

I walk

sing

play

work

everyday?

often?

occasionally?

you
he/she/it
We
they

 

Now practice using would in the past

Fill in the blanks with the correct form; would/used to or both.

 

  1. Wewalk to school everyday but get a lift home.
  2. The teachermake us take out our homework first thing.
  3. Welive in the town center before we moved.
  4. Therebe a few places to lunch in the town.
  5. Wespend all our pocket money on fries at lunch.
  6. Ilove to have a lie in on Saturday mornings.
  7. I alsolike the television shows that were on at the weekends.
  8. If it was raining at the weekends, welie on the couch and watch television for hours.
  9. When the weather was good, Ivisit my friend or meet at the mall.
  10. Iunderstand mathematics but now I’ve forgotten it all.
Show the answers
  1. Both
  2. Both
  3. Used to
  4. Used to
  5. Both.
  6. Used to
  7. Used to
  8. Both
  9. Both
  10. Used to

 

past_continuous

Past continuous exercises

Past continuous exercises

Before trying these exercises, you should first read the past continuous information page here.

Instruction: Choose the correct tense form from either simple past or past continuous.

Conversation 1

Past continuous exercisesPeter: I  you yesterday but you didn’t answer.
John: What time did you call?
Peter: At about 11 in the morning.
John: Ah. I think I    a shower then.
Peter: At 11 o’clock?! That’s so late!

Show the answers for conversation 1
called | was taking

 

Conversation 2

Kate: Did you hear the thunder last night?
Mary: Yeah! It was so loud! It woke me up. I   when the storm came. Now I feel really tired.
Kate: Well, I was with Jenny and we  for our exam when the storm came. We couldn’t concentrate and now we’re not prepared!

Show the answers for conversation 2
was sleeping | were studying

 

Conversation 3

Tom: Wow. The weather is horrible! It is raining so heavily!
Larry: Yeah. Have you seen Jeff today? He is so wet!
Tom: I know! He   to work today but   an umbrella.

Show the answers for conversation 3
was walking | didn’t take

 

Conversation 4

Lisa: Did you hear Lisa got into a car accident?
Kelly: No?! Really?? Is she ok??
Lisa: Yeah, luckily she’s fine.
Kelly: How did it happen?
Lisa: Well, she was looking at her phone when she . I guess at that time she wasn’t looking / didn’t look at the road.

Show the answers for conversation 4
crashed

 

Conversation 5

Mark: Hey, John. I saw you running yesterday when I   for a bus. I called out to you but you didn’t turn around!
John: Oh, I   to music when you called out. I always listen to music when I’m jogging and I can’t hear anything else!

Show the answers for conversation 5
was waiting | was listening
prepositions-time

Prepositions of time exercises (A2)

Prepositions of time exercises (A2)

Have you read the information pages on prepositions of time?  Click here to read them before you try the prepositions of time exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates!

Complete the prepositions of time exercises below to test your knowledge.

Prepositions of time exercises practice

Complete the prepositions of time exercises by choosing the correct option (a), (b) or (c) to complete each of the sentences with ‘at‘, ‘on‘, ‘in‘, ‘within‘ or ‘before‘.

 

prepositions of time exercises1. I will finish the report __________ the end of the week.

(a) within (b) before (c) on

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

2. We always have a family gathering ___________ Christmas.

(a) at (b) within (c) on

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

3. I need to make a decision ___________ the next 24 hours.

(a) before (b) within (c) on

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

4. They celebrate their wedding anniversary _________ July.

(a) on (b) within (c) at

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

5. They said they would let me know __________ the next week.

(a) before (b) within (c) on

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

6. I told her to see me ___________ lunchtime.

(a) before (b) within (c) on

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

7. I need to finish my studies ___________ the next twelve months.

(a) before (b) at (c) within

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

prepositions_of_place_2

Prepositions of place exercises (A2)

Prepositions of place exercises (A2)

Have you read the information pages on prepositions of place? Click here to read it before you try the prepositions of place exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates!

Complete the prepositions of place exercises below to test your knowledge.

Prepositions of place exercises practice

Complete the prepositions of place exercises by choosing the correct option (a), (b) or (c) to complete each of the sentences.

prepositions of place exercises1. We were ___________ the middle of a conversation when she arrived.

(a) beside    (b) by   (c) in

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

2. I have worked __________ John for 10 years.

(a) alongside    (b) towards   (c) at

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

3. There was a surprising twist to the story __________ the end of the book.

(a) at    (b) in   (c) against

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

4. A river runs __________ our garden – it’s beautiful!

(a) against    (b) alongside   (c) at

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

5. I left the brush __________ the garage door.

(a) in    (b) towards   (c) against

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

6. You can sit __________ me there is plenty of room.

(a) beside    (b) against  (c) towards

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

7.  I live __________ a gym so I go most evenings after work.

(a) on    (b) by  (c) towards

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

8. I can see him; he’s walking  __________ us now.

(a) at    (b) against  (c) towards

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.
could

Can or Could exercises

Can or Could exercises

Before taking these exercises, we recommend you read this page about can and could.

Read the sentences below. Are can, could, can’t, cannot used correctly?

1. It was really scary walking through the forest at night! I can’t see a thing, it was so dark!

Show answerThis is incorrect. It should be: “couldn’t

can or could exercises2. We could see from an early age that our daughter loved the water! She’s a professional swimmer now.

Show answerThis is correct.

3. I would love to be brave enough to skydive, but I can. I’m so afraid of heights.

Show answerThis is incorrect. It should be: “can’t

4. Of course you can bring your boyfriend to the party! He is very welcome.

Show answerThis is correct.

5. I could speak Japanese very well now as I learned the language when I was living there.

Show answerThis is incorrect. It should be: “can

6. Couldn’t I finish work early today, please? I have a doctor’s appointment I need to go to.

Show answerThis is incorrect. It should be: “could” (can is also possible but in a business situation, could is more polite).”

7. Take your jacket with you. It could get cold later on.

Show answerThis is correct.

8. I didn’t enjoy the climate in Australia. It couldn’t get so hot and humid in summer.

Show answerThis is incorrect. It should be: “could
could

Can or Could

Can or could

Deciding when to use can or could sometimes causes problems for English language students, especially as these words have a number of different uses.

can or couldCan or could can be used to talk about:

  • Possibility / Impossibility
  • Ability / no ability
  • To ask for / give permission
  • To give instructions / make requests
  • To make offers / give invitations

 

Here are some tips and practice exercises to help you decide when to use can or could.

 

Can or Could Tip 1: use can to talk about something that is possible (possibility)

  • It can get very busy at the park on a Saturday afternoon.
  • It can get so hot at my gym because they don’t have air-conditioning.

 

Can or Could Tip 2: could is used as the past tense of can. (past possibility)

  • It could get very busy at the park. It was so popular; I don’t know why they closed it!
  • It could get so hot at my gym because they didn’t have air-conditioning. I’m glad they have installed it now.

 

Can or Could Tip 3: could is used to show that something is possible in the future, but not certain.

  • We could go to beach tomorrow evening. Let’s see what the weather is like!
  • I’m going to take my cellphone with me when we go out, as James could call at anytime.

 

Can or Could Tip 4: use can’t (cannot) to show that something is impossible (impossibility).

  • She is such a nice person; I’m sure she wouldn’t do that. It can’t be true!

 

Can or Could Tip 5: use couldn’t (could not) to show that something was impossible (past impossibility).

  • Now we have all the facts we have evidence that those rumours couldn’t be true!

 

Can or Could Tip 6: use can to talk about ability, or can’t (cannot) to talk about lack of ability

  • I can sing quite well. (ability)
  • I can’t (cannot) play any musical instruments. (lack of ability)

 

Can or Could Tip 7: use could to talk about ability in the past, or couldn’t (could not) to talk about lack of ability in the past

  • Mozart could play the piano when he was three years old. (ability)
  • I couldn’t (could not) dance very well until I started having lessons. (lack of ability)

 

Can or Could Tip 8: use can or could to give instructions / make requests

Note: Could is more polite than can when you are telling / asking someone to do something.

  • Could you finish that as soon as you are able, please?
  • Can you finish that as soon as you are able, please? (less polite – can be used when talking to someone you know well, but it is better to use could in more formal situations or when talking to people you don’t know well)

 

  • Could you help me please?
  • Can you help me please? (less polite – can be used when talking to someone you know well, but it is better to use could in more formal situations or when talking to people you don’t know well)

 

Can or Could Tip 9: use can or could to make offers / give invitations

Note: we often use can in these situations, but could is also possible sometimes (more formal).

  • Can I help you with that?
  • Could I be of any assistance?
  • I can drive you to work tomorrow if you need a lift.
  • I could read through your report for you when you’ve finished if it would be helpful.

Now click here to try the practice exercises