Category Archives: Level A2


Make uncountable nouns countable

Make uncountable nouns countable

make _uncountable_nouns_countableNouns can be split into two different groups – countable and uncountable. (see Countable and uncountable nouns for more information)

Countable nouns, as the name suggests, can be counted. For example, you can have 1 pen or 2 pens, a car or some or a lot of cars.

However, uncountable nouns cannot be counted. For example, you cannot have 2 advices or some or a lot of advices.

However, there are two ways to make an uncountable noun countable.

How to make an uncountable noun countable method 1

Add a countable ‘container’ for the uncountable noun.

For example, milk is uncountable but bottles of milk can be counted. You can say a bottle of milk, 2 bottles of milk etc.

How to make an uncountable noun countable method 2

Use a countable form of the word.

For example, work is uncountable, but job is countable.

The table below shows more examples of how to make uncountable nouns countable.

Uncountable Countable
Advice A piece of advice – pieces of advice
Luggage A suitcase, a bag or a piece of luggage – suitcases, bags or pieces of luggage
money a note, a coin – notes, coins
cake a slice of cake, a piece of cake – slices or pieces of cake
furniture a table, a chair, a piece of furniture – tables, chairs, pieces of furniture
bread a slice of bread, a loaf of bread, a piece of bread – slices, loaves, pieces of bread
knowledge a fact – facts
travel a journey, a trip – journeys, trips
toothpaste a tube of toothpaste – tubes of toothpaste
wine a bottle of wine, a glass of wine – bottles of or glasses of wine
butter a pat of butter – pats of butter
cheese a slice of cheese, a chunk of cheese, a piece of cheese – slices, chunks or pieces of cheese
sugar a sugarcube, a spoonful of sugar, a bowl of sugar – sugarcubes, spoonfuls of sugar, bowls of sugar
Petrol (gas) a litre of petrol – litres of petrol.
Salt a pinch of salt – pinches of salt
soap a bar of soap – bars of soap
hair a strand of hair – strands of hair
glass a sheet of glass, a pane of glass – sheets or panes of glass

Prepositions of time (A2)

Prepositions of time A2

prepositions-of-timePrepositions of time (and all types of prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly because the rules are often quite difficult, and like most rules for a language, there are lots of exceptions.

In this lesson we will look at the prepositions of time ‘within’ and ‘before’.

Prepositions of time – within

WITHIN: We try to answer all emails within 24 hours.

‘Within’ is commonly used to express that something will be done inside or not later than the period of time stated.

Note: time given must be an amount of time, NOT a specific time in the future.

For example:

We try to answer all emails within 24 hours.

We try to answer all emails within the following day. Incorrect


Other uses could be: within the next few minutes, within the next week, within the next six months, within this financial year etc.

Prepositions of time – before

BEFORE: The repairs will be completed before Friday.

Before is also used to express that something will be done inside or not later than the time stated.

Note: the time given must be a specific future time. For example:

The repairs will be completed before Friday.Incorrect

We try to answer all emails before 24 hours. Incorrect

Other uses could be: before 1pm, before next week, before July, before the start of the next financial year etc.

Click here to try the Level A2 Prepositions of time exercises.





Prepositions of place (A2)

Prepositions of place (A2)

prepositions_of_place_2Prepositions of place (and all prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly because the rules are often quite difficult, and like most rules for a language, there are lots of exceptions.

In this lesson we will look at the prepositions of place ‘against’, ‘alongside’, ‘beside’, ‘by’ and ‘towards’.

Prepositions of place examples of use

AGAINST: having contact with something, touching.

  • ‘He put the bike against the wall.’
  • The dog leaned against its owner.’

ALONGSIDE: in parallel, like train tracks

  • ‘The horses worked alongside each other to pull the cart.’
  • It is a beautiful drive as the road runs alongside the coast.

BESIDE: at the side of, not necessarily touching.

  • ‘He put the book beside his bed.’
  • She sat beside an elderly man on the train.’

BY: in the area of

  • ‘I live by some shops and a library.’
  • If you go that way, you will drive by a park.’

TOWARDS: getting closer, aiming at each other

  • ‘The cars drove towards each other and only turned away at the last minute.’
  • He waved as he walked towards me.’

Click here to try the prepositions of place exercises.

future and past

Future simple tense

Future simple tense (will and be going to)

future-simple-tenseThe future simple tense has two forms in English – ‘will’ and ‘(be) going to’.

When you use the future simple tense to talk about the future , using ‘will’ or ‘(be) going to’ can alter the meaning of what you are saying.

Read the information below to see what the differences are and when to use which form of the future simple tense.

Future simple tense – differences between ‘will’ and ‘(be) going to’

will: will + (base form of the verb)
(be) going to: be (am, are is) + going to + (base form of the verb)


1. To talk about a future ‘fact’.

The population of New Zealand will be 6 million by 20**.

2. To talk about something we have just decided to do (had no plan – decision made at the time of speaking).

Person A: “I feel really ill.’ Person B: Do you? I‘ll drive you home.

3. To make a promise.

I will love you forever.

(Be) going to

1. When we have evidence that something will happen (we can see something or know something that gives us evidence).

You’ve eaten so many chocolates! You are going to be sick!

2. To talk about something we will do in the future and have already planned

I’m going to have a holiday next week.

Future simple tense – will – more examples

Use #1: To talk about a future ‘fact’

‘The sun will rise at 6.10 a.m. tomorrow.’

Using ‘will’ means that this is fact.

Remember that a ‘fact’ can be subjective.

For example:

‘My team will win the World Cup’ is a ‘fact’ for the speaker, but not necessarily for the listener.

Use #2

A: “I have a headache!”
B: “Really? I will (I’ll) get you a tablet”

Speaker B has made a decision at the same time as speaking, so uses will.

I will remember and follow your advice!

Future simple tense – (be) going to – more examples

Use #1: When we have evidence (we can see something or know something) that something will happen in the future

Look at those clouds! It is going to rain!

We can say ‘going to’ because we have evidence – we can see the clouds.

Use #2: To talk about something we will do in the future and have already planned.

‘I’m going to have my hair cut tomorrow – I booked the appointment last week’

We say ‘going to’ because this must have been decided last week when the appointment was booked.



A: I’m going to see that new film at the cinema today with John. (speaker is talking about something they will do in the future and have already planned)
B: But John can’t go – he asked me to tell you that he’s not feeling well.
A: Oh, OK. I‘ll go to the library instead then. (speaker is talking about something they have just decided to do (they had no plan – the decision was made at the time of speaking).


Click here and here to try the future simple exercises.


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
arise arose arisen
awake awakened / awoke awakened / awoken
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
cast cast cast
catch caught caught
choose chose chosen
cling clung clung
come came come
cost cost cost
creep crept crept
cut cut cut
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
eat ate eaten
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
get got got / gotten
give gave given
go went gone
grind ground ground
grow grew grown
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
inbreed inbred inbred
inlay inlaid inlaid
input input / inputted input / inputted
interbreed interbred interbred
interweave interwove / interweaved interwoven / interweaved
interwind interwound interwound
keep kept kept
kneel knelt / kneeled knelt / kneeled
knit knitted / knit knitted / knit
know knew known
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
make made made
mean meant meant
meet met met
mow mowed mowed / mown
partake partook partaken
pay paid paid
plead pleaded / pled pleaded / pled
proofread proofread proofread
prove proved proven / proved
put put put
quit quit quit
read read (pronounced red) read (pronounced red)
rid rid rid
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
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
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
understand understood understood
upset upset upset
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

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
Apart from
Cause and effect So
As a result
As a consequence
Due to
Owing to
Sequence First / firstly, second / secondly, third / thirdly
The former
The latter
In conclusion
To summarise
Emphasis Clearly
In fact
Particularly / in particular
Concession Admittedly
Examples For example
That is ( also ‘i.e’)
For instance
Such as
To illustrate
Comparison In the same way
In the same manner
Just as
Similar to
The same as
Compared to / with
Contrast However
Even though
Despite / in spite of
In contrast (to)
On the other hand
On the contrary
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 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 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.


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)


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


Superlative adjectives

Superlative adjectives

superlative_adjectivesWe use superlative adjectives when we are comparing one adjective against more than one other adjective. Examples of superlative adjectives:

  • Of all animals, the cheetah is the fastest.
  • Some people think that English is the most difficult language in the world.
  • In my house, I have to get up the earliest because my job starts at 5 a.m.

Syllables and superlative adjectives

To understand the rules for using superlative adjectives, you will need to know the meaning of a syllable.

A syllable is a single sound. For example, ‘goodbye’ has two syllables – ‘good’ and ‘bye’.

Here are some more examples:

1 syllable words: hot, cold, dry
2 syllable words: happy, tired
3 syllable words: excited, exhausted


When making superlative adjectives, there are 6 rules you need to remember:

Superlative adjectives rule 1 of 6:

With adjectives with one syllable, simply add the …..+est

For example:

tall > the tallest

fast > the fastest

high > the highest

Superlative adjectives rule 2 of 6:

BUT if the adjective ends in +y, remove the +y and add the …+iest

For example:

happy > the happiest

angry > the angriest

busy > the busiest

Superlative adjectives rule 3 of 6:

NOTE: Adjectives that already end in +e only have the …+st added.

For example:

nice > the nicest

safe > the safest

late > the latest

Superlative adjectives rule 4 of 6:

We add the most… to words with 3 syllables or more.

For example:

intelligent > the most intelligent

beautiful > the most beautiful

interesting > the most interesting

Superlative adjectives rule 5 of 6

Some 2 syllable adjectives have the +est than and some have the most….

Some 2 syllable adjectives can also be used both ways.

NOTE: 2 syllable adjectives that end in -y, -le, and -er often form the superlative by adding +est.

For example:

honest > the most honest

clever > the most clever OR the cleverest

modern > the most modern

Superlative adjectives rule 6 of 6:

Adjectives that end with a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant need the consonant doubled.

For example:

big > the biggest (not the bigest)

hot > the hottest (not the hotest)

fat > the fattest (not the fatest)