To talk about the future seen from the past we use the past tenses of the verb forms we would usually use to talk about the future.
We didn’t know our travels were going to change our lives.
We believe our travels are going to change our lives.
In the first sentence we know the result, whereas in the second we are predicting the result.
In the first sentence we are talking about the future seen from a point in the past. In the second sentence we are talking about the future seen from now.
The future seen from now —> The future seen from the past
am/is/are going to + infinitive —> was/were going to + infinitive
eg. … our travels are going to change our lives. —> …our travels were going to change our lives.
will + infinitive —> would + infinitive
eg. … this successful student will go on to become… —> … this successful student would go on to become…
is/are supposed to + infinitive —> was/were supposed to + infinitive
eg. … this new technology is supposed to save people time. —> … this new technology was supposed to save people time.
am/is/are about to + infinitive —> was/were to + infinitive
eg. … they are to discover… —> … they were to discover…
If we don’t know the meaning of of a word, we can often make a guess from their prefixes.
prefix / meaning / example
inter- / between / interaction
joined together/ interlocked
counter- / in opposition to / counterbalance
as a reaction to / counter-attack
super- / more than usual / superman
extremely / super-rich
over- / too much / overworked
from above / overhead
semi- / partly / semi-famous
half / semicircle
under- / not enough / underpaid
below / underfoot
pseudo- / not real / pseudo-friendship
We use I wish… or If only… to talk about imaginary situations, usually the opposite of what is true.
– wish/If only + Past Simple —> wishes about states or activities in the present.
eg. I wish Australia was closer.
– wish/If only + Past Continuous —> wishes about actions in progress.
eg. I wish I wasn’t working.
– wish/If only + Past Perfect —> wishes about past events or states.
eg. If only I had known you were coming. (but I didn’t know)
– wish/If only + could + infinitive —> wishes about abilities or possibilities.
eg.I wish I could drive a car.
– wish/If only + would + infinitive —> wishes about things that other people do that you would like to change but is out of your control. This is often
used to show annoyance at a frustrating situation
eg. I wish he would stop smoking.
– after wish constructions we often add a clause with but + subject + auxiliary verb
eg. I wish I could travel without worrying about money, but I can’t.
I wish I hadn’t insulted my boss, but I did.
We often use (be) due to/ set to/ about to/ on the verge of or am/ is/ are to to talk about something that is ready to happen in the near future.
eg. He’s on the verge of quitting his job.
A new airport tax is due to be introduced.
We use (be) likely to/ unlikely to/ sure to/ certain to/ bound to to say how certain we are that something will happen.
eg. She’s bound to want to travel after she graduates.
NB: We use a verb + ing or a noun after “on the verge of”
and an infinitive after (be) due to/ set to/ about to/ likely to/ sure to/ unlikely to/ certain to/ bound to/ is to
– Adverbials of place describe where something happens/happened.
eg. John held a meeting with his colleagues in the conference room.
– Adverbials of time describe when something happens/happened.
eg. Nowadays it is common for people to travel all over the world.
– Adverbials of manner describe how something is done.
eg.The police disarmed the gunman by force.
– Adverbials of indefinite frequency describe how often something happens.
eg. Being asked to speak on camera often embarrasses people.
– Adverbials describing level of certainty say how likely it is that something happens.
eg. Bullying is most likely due to a lack of confidence.
– Adverbials of comment are used to express an opinion
eg. Strangely, no one lives in that house on the hill.
– Adverbials of definite frequency describe how often something happens.
eg. Big Ben in London chimes every hour.
In front position, the adverb comes before the subject.
We can use adverbials of comment, level of certainty, time, definite frequency and indefinite frequency in front position.
eg. Surprisingly, all the students had done their homework.
Surely universities need more funding.
NB: when we use a negative adverbial of time in front position, we invert the subject and the verb.
eg. Not once have I lied to you.
In mid position, the adverb comes between the subject and the verb or immediately after either ‘be’ or an auxiliary verb.
We can use adverbials of indefinite frequency, level of certainty, degree, manner, place and time in mid position.
eg. He’ll probably resign when he receives the news.
She reluctantly gave up her seat.
In end position, the adverb goes immediately after the verb or at the end of the clause.
We can use adverbials of manner, place, time, definite frequency and indefinite frequency in end position.
eg. I walk my dog every day.
I work at home now and then.
NB: When there are several adverbials at the end of a clause, the usual order is manner, place, time.
eg. She danced gracefully in the ballet concert last night.
– come before the word/phrase we want to stress.
– the position of focusing adverbials can affect the meaning of the sentence.
eg. David and I only went to the British Museum. (We didn’t go anywhere else)
Only David and I went to the British Museum ( Nobody else went)
Present Simple: fixed events on a timetable or a calendar
eg. The conference starts at 9am on Monday.
Present Continuous: future arrangements
eg. I’m playing tennis with Anna on Saturday afternoon.
Be going to: personal plan or intention/ prediction based on present evidence
eg. I’m going to give up smoking.
Look at those clouds. It’s going to rain.
Will: prediction based on personal opinion
eg. I think she’ll move to Brighton.
Future Continuous: something that will be in progress at a time in the future/ something unplanned that will happen in the normal course of events
eg. This time tomorrow we’ll be lying on a beach in Spain!
I’ll be walking past the shops on my way home, so I can get it for you.
Future Perfect: something that will be completed before a certain time in the future
eg. By the end of this month we will have spent $5000 on equipment.
– to make adverbs we usually add -ly
eg. strange —> strangely
– when an adjective ends in ‘y’ it changes to an ‘i’ before adding -ly
eg. happy —> happily
– when an adjective ends in -ic we add -ally
eg. heroic —> heroically
– some adverbs are not made by adding -ly
eg. late —> late, good —> well,
– some adverbs have two forms and have a difference in meaning
eg. late = not on time; lately = recently
hard = opposite of soft; hardly = very little
fine = good/well; finely = in small pieces
– after verbs such as taste, smell, sound, seem and appear, we use an adjective instead of an adverb.
eg. That sounds great. NOT That sounds well.
We use inversion to add emphasis or make something sound dramatic.
It is usually found in literary and formal texts, but we also use it in less formal spoken and written English for effect.
We often invert the subject and auxiliary verb when we begin a sentence with a limiting adverbial (eg. rarely) or a negative adverbial (eg.under no circumstances)
eg. Seldom do people realise how important a healthy diet is.
Under no circumstances are you allowed to smoke in this area.
When using inversion with Present Simple and Past Simple, the subject must agree with the auxiliary not the main verb
eg. Not only does it cost a fortune but it uses gallons of petrol.
With modal verbs (eg. will, should, could, etc) we invert the subject with the modal
eg. At no time should the customer feel unattended.
We can use inversion after another complete clause beginning with not until, only when, only if or only after
eg. Not until the dog becomes housetrained will I be able to relax!
Only when we got the scooter did we start discovering the city.
We use inversion after neither or nor when it introduces a negative clause related to one mentioned previously
eg. Consequently, David wasn’t accepted into medicine at the university, and neither was he accepted into physiotherapy.
Phrasal nouns are compound nouns formed from verbs and a particle( a preposition or adverb)
eg. break-up, setback, outcry, onset
NB: When phrasal nouns begin with a particle, they have no hyphen eg. downpour, input, outlook
When phrasal nouns start with a verb, they may or may not have a hyphen eg. kick-off, breakdown, get-together
– Not all phrasal verbs can be made into phrasal nouns!
– Not all phrasal nouns can be made into phrasal verbs!
– Some phrasal nouns are made up of the same words as a phrasal verb but reverse the order of the verb and the particle
eg. set on —> onset; cry out —> outcry
– Some phrasal nouns are countable and are made plural by adding ‘s’ to the end of the word
eg. break-ups, outcries, setbacks
– Some phrasal nouns are made up of the same words as phrasal verbs but have different meanings
eg. intake = enrolment ; take in = understand and remember
outcry = protest ; cry out = shout
onset = start ; set on = attack
In statements the verb usually follows the subject:
eg. He doesn’t like sushi.
Sometimes we invert the subject and verb so that the verb comes before the subject.
We use inversion:
– after so, neither, nor
eg. I have to start work at 9am. So do I.
– in the phrases Here comes/come + noun and There goes/go + noun
eg. Here come the police!
– in question tags
eg. You studied law, didn’t you?
We do not invert:
– in embedded questions within questions
eg. Where is the station? —> Do you know where the station is?
– in embedded questions within sentences
eg.What’s her family like? —> It’s hard to imagine what her family’s like.
– when we use a question word to introduce a relative clause in certain phrases
eg. I don’t know what his problem is.
– in indirect speech
eg. Are you going to the party tonight? —> He asked me if I was going to the party tonight.
eg. I can’t speak English.
She could read when she was three years old.
Asking or Giving Permission: can/ may/ could
eg.You can smoke in the garden.
Could I go to the toilet, please?
When I was a child I could only have dessert if I’d eaten my dinner.
Obligation: must/ have to
eg. I have to go to a meeting tomorrow.
I must go to the dentist about my toothache.
Giving Advice: should/ ought to
eg. You should go to the doctor if you don’t feel well tomorrow.
She ought to change jobs.
Repeated/Typical Behaviour: will/ would
eg. I’ll finish work and immediately go to the gym.
Before he retired, he would always get the bus to work.
Refusal: won’t/ wouldn’t
eg. She won’t let me borrow the car.
He wouldn’t give me any money.
Criticising Past Behaviour: ought to have/should have + past participle
eg. She shouldn’t have carried so much cash in her bag.
They ought to have caught the robber by now.
eg. You can’t speak loudly in a library.
You can’t park here at rush hours during the week.
be allowed to : to say we have permission to do something
eg. We were allowed to stay up late in the summer holidays.
manage to: to say we succeeded in doing something, often after some difficulty
eg. After being lost for some hours, we managed to find our way out of the forest.
be able to: ability or possibility
eg. I might be able to finish this report on time.
was able to: to have the ability to do something and do it.
eg. I was able to leave work early today.
need/ needn’t/ don’t need to: to talk about things that are necessary (or not) for us to do
eg. I need to go to the bank.
I don’t need to/needn’t go to the bank.
didn’t need to/ needn’t have done: to talk about something that was not necessary to do in the past
NB: these two structures have a difference in meaning
eg. I didn’t need to get a visa to go to Thailand. (so I didn’t)
I needn’t have got a visa to go to Thailand. (but I did)
Levels of Certainty
When we think something is definite: will, won’t, can’t, must, would(n’t)
eg. He’s on holiday so he’ll be relaxing on a beach somewhere.
Due to his financial situation, it won’t be easy for him to go to university.
He can’t be home. All the lights are out.
He must be thrilled that his business is thriving.
I wouldn’t have left home if I’d realised how much it costs.
When we think something is probable: should
eg.The queue is moving quickly, so it shouldn’t be long before we get to the front.
When we think something is possible: may, might, could
eg. I may have been good enough to have played professionally.
He might be downstairs in the study.
He could be working in the garden.
When modal verbs refer to the present we use: modal + infinitive or modal + be + verb + ing
eg. She must do a lot of travelling.
I’m sure he’ll be relaxing on a beach somewhere.
When modal verbs refer to the future we use: modal + infinitive
eg. It won’t be easy for him to go to university.
When modal verbs refer to the past we use: modal + have + past participle
eg. He must have been at high school when I was at primary school.
She might have been to Africa. She’s been to a lot of places!
Introductory ‘it’ as subject:
– If the subject of the verb is long and grammatically complex, we often put it at the end of the clause or sentence and use ‘it’ as the subject of the verb at the beginning of the clause or sentence.
eg. That thousands of people missed out on voting is outrageous.
—> It’s outrageous that thousands of people missed out on voting.
– We can use a number of structures with introductory ‘it’ as subject:
It + verb:
+ adjective + (that): It’s obvious that…
+ (not) + noun + (that): It’s not an issue that…
+ adjective + infinitive with to: It’s fascinating to see…
+ that clause: It appears that not drinking enough water can severely damage your health.
+ object + infinitive with to + that: It shocked her to find out that she was pregnant.
Introductory ‘it’ as object:
-We often use ‘it’ as the object of a verb where ‘it’ refers to a clause later in the sentence.
eg. I like it that my boyfriend appreciates the simple things in life.
We can use these structures with introductory ‘it’ as object:
…verb + it:
+ when: I prefer it when it’s cold.
+ adjective + infinitive with to: I find it easy to learn languages.
A verb usually ‘agrees’ with its subject. A singular subject has a singular verb and a plural subject has a plural verb.
eg. People are beginning to understand the importance of conserving water.
He is hopeful that the operation will be a success.
We use a singular verb:
– if the subject of a verb is a clause: Having a dream keeps you going.
– with nouns that end in -s but are not plural: News is sent via satellite.
– with expressions of quantity, measurement, etc.: Twenty kilometres is a long way to run.
– after words such as everyone, anything, etc.: No one asks why we have to pay.
We use a plural verb:
– for nouns which don’t end in -s but which are not singular:
– after words such as both of, all of, plenty of, a number of, a couple: All of my friends were waiting for me as a surprise.
Some collective nouns and names can take either a singular or a plural form.
– When focusing on countries which are groups of states, an institution or organisation as a whole, the verb is usually singular: The USA has a lot of power in the world today.
– When focusing on a collection of individuals, the verb is usually plural: The Beatles were a famous band in the 60s.
A euphemism is a word or phrase used to avoid saying something unpleasant or offensive. We use euphemisms to say unpleasant things in a more polite way.
eg. economical with the truth = lie
a senior citizen = an old person
behind the times = old-fashioned
seen better days = to be old and in bad condition
getting on a bit = getting old
hard of hearing = a bit deaf
under the weather = to feel ill
a bit of a handful = difficult to look after
challenging = very difficult
a bit on the chilly side = cold
A/an and one both refer to one thing and are used with singular countable nouns.
We usually use one if we want to emphasise the number.
Compare: It took just an hour to complete.
It took just one hour to complete.
We also use one with day when we are thinking of one particular day but we don’t say exactly which.
eg. I’ll go to the doctor one day next week.
We use one in phrases with one… other/another/the next
eg. He moves from one job to the next with no plan for the furure.
NB: We use ‘a’ with singular countable nouns in exclamations.
eg. What a lovely day!
Few, A Few, Quite, Quite a Few
Quite a few = a considerable number
eg. Quite a few people turned up at the free concert last night.
A few = a small number
eg. Peter and Jane only invited a few close friends to their wedding.
Few = not many or not enough
She has few friends. (formal) = She doesn’t have many friends. (informal)
NB: little/a little is used with uncountable nouns in the same way as few/a few is used with countable nouns.
We can make comparatives with fewer with countable nouns. We use less with uncountable nouns.
There are three types of participle clauses:
– Present participle clause
eg. Pretending not to care that she was alone, she walked confidently into the room.
– Past participle clause
eg. Massaged into the scalp gently, the treatment revitalises lifeless hair.
– Perfect participle clause
Having been ill for so long, she had grown weak and deathly pale.
Participle clauses can replace connecting words such as ‘so’, ‘while’, ‘because’, ‘if’, ‘after’, etc. When we use participles instead of connecting words, we usually leave out the subject and sometimes the auxiliary. We also change the verb to the present, past or perfect forms of the participle.
eg. While you drive along the southern coast, you get a feel for the vastness of the country.
—> Driving along the southern coast, you get a feel for the vastness of the country.
Participle clauses often give information about the causes, results, conditions or time of the events described.
eg. Massaged into the scalp gently, the treatment revitalises lifeless hair. (cause)
Having been ill for so long, she had grown weak and deathly pale. (time)
NB: The subject of a participle clause is usually the same as the subject of the main clause.
eg. Looking at herself in the mirror, she decided she needed a new look.
We use a perfect participle instead of a present participle if the action in the main clause is the result of the events in the participle clause.
eg. Having realised they had won the game with the last goal, the team started congratulating each other.
We can use prepositions with a present or perfect participle to make the meaning clearer.
By exercising everyday and counting calories, she managed to lose weight.
We usually use simple verbs to talk about things that are repeated, permanent or completed.
eg. Present Simple: I often go to the gym. (repeated)
Present Perfect Simple: I’ve sent twenty emails today.(completed recently)
Past Simple: I lived in London for seven years. (completed)
We usually use continuous verb forms to describe a process and to talk about things in progress, temporary or unfinished.
eg. Present Continuous: I think I’m becoming more environmentally aware.(process)
I’m watching a DVD. (in progress)
I’m living with my sister at the moment. (temporary)
Past Continuous: I was walking to work when I saw my friend Tom. (in progress)
Present Perfect Continuous: I’ve been working here for ages. (unfinished)
Activity and State Verbs
– Verbs that describe feelings, opinions or states are not normally used in the continuous form.
eg. love, like, hate, own, be, know, want, need, understand, prefer
– Verbs that describe activities can be used in both the simple and the continuous form.
eg. work, play, do, walk, study, live, read, write, talk, cook, clean
Some verbs can describe activities and states but their meanings change.
This dress fits me perfectly. (It’s the correct size)
They’re fitting new gears. (To put in place)
I expect he’ll be late. ( I believe it will happen)
He’s expecting a client. (wait for)
I see why you’re upset. (understand)
I’m seeing an old friend tonight. (meet)
I think he’s very arrogant. (opinion)
I’m thinking of buying a new car. (consider)
She’s annoying. (permanent characteristic)
She’s being annoying. (temporary behaviour)
She comes from Turkey. (originate)
She is coming from Turkey. (travel)
We use verb + ing (gerunds):
– as an adjective
eg. The way the police were questioning me was rather intimidating.
– in reduced relative clauses
eg. People (who are) living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
– after certain verbs
eg. I regret going to the party last night.
– after prepositions
eg. She displayed her generosity by donating all the money to charity.
We use past participles:
– in reduced relative clauses where the original clause contains a passive verb
eg. The framed football jersey, (which was) signed by the team, hangs in his office.
– as an adjective
He was interested as soon as I mentioned the money.
Past verb forms do not always refer to past time.
When we want to talk about what we would like to happen we can use:
– it’s time/would prefer + infinitive with to
– it’s time/would prefer + subject + past verb form
– would sooner/would rather + infinitive
– would sooner/would rather + subject + past verb form
eg. It’s time to realise that we are all responsible for the environment.
It’s time we all made an effort to recycle.
I’d prefer to spend money on developing new forms of energy.
I’d prefer it if people concentrated on the small things they can do to help.
I’d sooner go myself to help out.
I’d sooner the government would do more to help.
I’d rather drive my car less.
I’d rather people used public transport more often.
NB: When we talk about past situations with would sooner/would rather + subject + verb, we use the Past Perfect or Past Perfect Continuous.
eg. I’d rather you’d done it yourself.
In formal, usually written English, we tend to put the preposition before the relative pronoun.
eg. It’s David’s book on which the film was based.
In less formal, usually spoken English, we tend to put the preposition at the end of a relative clause.
eg. It’s David’s book that the film was based on.
When transforming informal sentences of this kind to more formal English, we follow these rules:
– if the relative pronoun ‘that’ refers to a person, we change it to ‘who’ or ‘whom’
– if the relative pronoun ‘that’ refers to a thing, we change it to ‘which’
– we move the preposition from the end of the sentence to before the relative pronoun.
eg. She’s the woman who I spoke to yesterday. —> She’s the woman to whom I spoke yesterday.
It’s David’s book that the film was based on. —> It’s David’s book on which the film was based.
None/ Both/ All/ One/ Neither/ Most… Of Which/ Whom
Determiners combine wıth ‘of which’ or ‘of whom’ in non-defining relative clauses. They refer to words or phrases in the previous clause.
eg. This is one of many of his jokes, none of which are particularly funny.
In formal written English we can use
– ‘both of whom’, instead of ‘who both’
eg. He invited two friends from university, both of whom now reside in New York.
– a relative clause with ‘all of which’ instead of a normal clause with ‘all’
eg. She found some jeans, a coat and two sweaters that were suitable and bought them all.
—> She found some jeans, a coat and two sweaters that were suitable, all of which she bought.
Some nouns and verbs have the same form, but usually we have to add a suffix to a verb or an adjective to form a noun.
We make nouns by adding these suffixes to verbs: -ance, -y, -er, -sion, -al, -ment, -ure
eg. recover —> recovery, divide —> division, excite —> excitement
We make nouns by adding these suffixes to adjectives: -ness, -ity
eg. lonely —> loneliness, possible —> possibility
Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs:
We make adjectives by adding these suffixes to nouns: -ly, -y, -ous, -al, -ic, -ed
eg. nature —> natural, joy —> joyous, talent —> talented
We make adverbs by adding -ly to adjectives
eg. quiet —> quietly, violent —> violently, confident —> confidently
We make adjectives by adding these suffixes to verbs: -ive, -ent/-ant, -able/-ible
eg. eat —> edible, produce —> productive, create —> creative
We make verbs by adding these suffixes to adjectives: -ise, -en, -ify
eg. intense —> intensify, broad —> broaden, internal —> internalise
When we describe a noun, there is a certain order that adjectives follow:
opinion + size + age + colour + origin + material + noun
eg. a beautiful, big, medieval, silver, Roman, metal sword.
However, we try not to put too many adjectives in front of a noun! We avoid doing this by adding phrases with ‘and’, ‘with’, or ‘in’ or adding a relative clause.
eg. an original oil painting signed and dated by the artist
When we add ‘ever’ to question words it usually means one of the following:
– It doesn’t matter where, who, when, etc. It can be any place, any person, any time, etc.
– An unknown place, person, time, etc.
eg. Whoever wants to go to the beach should get in the car now! (It doesn’t matter who)
Wherever you go I’ll always be with you. (It doesn’t matter where)
Whenever I watch TV I get a headache. ( It doesn’t matter when)
Whoever left the house in such a mess is in trouble! (I don’t know who)
NB: – Whenever can also mean every time. eg. Whenever I ask her out she says she’s busy. (Every time)
– Whichever is usually followed by ‘of’ eg. Whichever of you gets to the theatre first should start queuing for tickets.
– We can use wherever, whoever, however, whatever, whenever and whichever to show surprise or emphasise something. eg. Whatever’s the matter? Wherever is that?
– We can use wherever, whoever, however, whatever, etc. informally to say we don’t really mind. Whatever is the most commonly used and suggests the speaker doesn’t care and therefore sounds rude.
We can modify gradable adjectives with adverbs to say that something has more or less of a quality.
More of a quality: very, rather, really, extremely
Less of a quality: a bit, a little, fairly, slightly
Gradable adjectives: interesting, scared, surprised, difficult, tired, big, busyeg. I saw a really interesting movie last night.
That restaurant is fairly busy.
We can’t use the same modifying adverbs with non-gradable adjectives. We must use intensifying adverbs to emphasise their quality.
Intensifying adverbs: absolutely, completely, entirely, totally, utterly
Non-gradable adjectives: fascinating, terrified, amazed, impossible, shattered, awful, excellent, huge, superb, terrible
eg. I was completely shattered by Friday.
The concert was absolutely superb.
NB: We can use ‘really’ for both gradable and non-gradable adjectives.
Impersonal report structures are commonly found in reports and newspapers when we want to distance ourselves from information which is not necessarily our opinion.
Reporting with The Passive:
– it + passive + that-clause
eg. It is believed that an assassination attempt was made on the president.
Other verbs used with this structure are: accept, agree, allege, claim, consider,
expect, feel, know, predict, say, suggest, think, understand.
– subject + passive + infinitive with to
eg. Knife crime is said to be on the increase in the western suburbs.
Other verbs used with this structure are: believe, consider, find, know, think.
– there + passive + infinitive with to
eg. There is expected to be more unrest in the city centre following the president’s decision.
Other verbs used with this structure are: allege, believe, claim, estimate, find, rumour, say, think.
Reporting with ‘seem’ and ‘appear’
– ‘seem’ and ‘appear’ are not used in the passive.
– we can use a that-clause after It seems/It appears.
– we can use an infinitive with to after seem/appear.
eg. It seems that nobody witnessed the crime.
People appear to be dissatisfied with the support they have received from the government.
Addition: We use connecting words to join clauses and sentences that add information.
as well/ too – come at the end of a clause
eg. Alice works at the supermarket during the day. She has a night job, too/ as well.
also – at the beginning or the middle of a clause
eg. The weather is really unpredictable these days. There can also be storms, so be careful./ Also there can be storms so be careful.
not only with but
eg. The city is not only crowded but extremely polluted.
what’s more/ besides – at the beginning of a sentence
eg. I don’t have time to wash the dishes. What’s more/ Besides, it’s your turn, anyway.
NB: We don’t use also, too or as well in negative clauses. We use either.
eg.I haven’t been to Bodrum or Izmir either.
the moment/ as soon as – at the beginning of a clause to say something will happen immediately after something else has happened. When we are talking about the future we use the Present Simple after the connecting words rather than the future form.
eg.As soon as/ The moment I get paid, I’ll take you out for dinner
When we are talking about the past we use Past Simple after the connecting words.
eg. As soon as/ The moment I got home, I went straight to bed.
ever since – at the beginning of a clause means continually since that time.
eg. Ever since I met him he’s been unemployed.
first/ originally – at the beginning of a clause before the main verb or after the verb ‘be’ to talk about something as it was in the past.eg. The house first/ originally built in the 1920s was later used as a police station.
from then on/ ever since then – at the beginning of a sentence means continually since the time indicated in a previous sentence or clause
eg. I saw my first ballet when I was six. From then on/ Ever since then it’s been my dream to become a ballerina.
While/ As – at the beginning of clauses means that something happens during the same time as something else.
eg. While I was walking down the street I saw my friend walking her dog.
Afterwards/ Then – at the beginning of sentences to talk about something that happens after the time mentioned.
eg. We went out for lunch on our first date. Afterwards,/ Then we went for a romantic stroll on the beach.
Meanwhile – at the beginning of a sentence to talk about an event that happens while something else is happening.
eg. I anxiously waited for the phone to ring. Meanwhile, I tried to read a book but I couldn’t concentrate.
although/ even though – to contrast two clauses in the same sentence, at the beginning or middle of the sentence.
eg. Although/ Even though Tanya can cook, she usually eats out.
whereas – to introduce a subordinate clause which you are comparing to something you said in the main clause, at the beginning or the middle of a sentence.
eg. My boyfriend is having trouble quitting smoking, whereas I gave up quite easily two years ago.
however – to contrast two sentences, at the beginning of the second sentence.
eg. I like coffee. However, if I drink too much I have a bad reaction to it.but – to contrast two clauses in a sentence.
We don’t use but at the beginning of sentences in formal written English.
eg. Most people like summer, but I prefer winter.
unless – in conditionals to mean ‘if not’
eg. I won’t go outside unless it stops raining.
in case – to talk about something we do to prepare for a possible situation in the future
eg. Take some water in case you get thirsty.
otherwise – to talk about an undesirable outcome if something else doesn’t happen.
eg. We must save water, otherwise there will be a world shortage.
provided/ providing/ as long as / assuming – can be used instead of ‘if’ in conditionals
eg. I would take a year off and go travelling, providing I had enough money.
provided/ providing/ as long as – can also be used to mean ‘only if this happens’
eg. Pitt bulls can be loyal pets, providing they are trained properly.
whether – as an alternative for ‘if’ in conditionals when two or more alternatives are mentioned.
eg. Whether the death penalty is right or wrong, there are many who protest against it.
imagine/ suppose/ supposing – mean ‘form a picture in your head about what something could be like’
eg. Suppose you get stuck on a desert island, what would you do?
imagine/ suppose/ supposing – instead of ‘if’ in questions
eg. Imagine there was no need for money, what kind of world would we live in?
Reason and Result:
because/ because of – to give the reason for something, at the beginning of a clause of reason
eg. I lent Steve ten dollars because he didn’t have money for the train.
because of is followed by a noun clause
eg. Because of volcano ash, there were no flights in or out of Europe.
as/ since – can be used to mean because
eg. Since you are tired, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
so/ as a result/ therefore/ consequently – to introduce the result of a situation.
eg. My English is really bad. As a result, he didn’t understand me.
due to/ owing to – to introduce the result of a situation, at the beginning of a phrase, followed by a noun phrase
eg. Owing to bad weather yesterday we didn’t go cycling.
Zero conditional: If + subject + Present Simple, subject + Present Simple
—> talks about a general truth/fact
eg. If water reachs 100 degrees, it boils.
NB: we can use ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ in zero conditionals
First conditional: If + subject + Present Simple, subject + will + infinitive
—> talks about a future possibility
eg. If you study hard for the exam, you’ll pass.
NB: we can use ‘might’ instead of ‘will’ to mean ‘will perhaps’ in first conditionals
Second conditional: If + subject + Past Simple, subject + would + infinitive
—> talks about unlikely or hypothetical situations in the present or future
eg. If I won the lottery, I’d travel around the world.
NB: we can use ‘could’ instead of ‘would’ to talk about ability or possibility, and
we can use ‘might’ instead of ‘would’ to mean ‘would perhaps’ in second conditionals
Third conditional: If + subject + Past Perfect, subject + would + have + past participle
—> talks about hypothetical situations in the past
eg. If I hadn’t gone to London, I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend.
NB: we can use ‘could’ and ‘might’ instead of ‘would’ to mean ‘would perhaps’ in third conditionals
It is possible to use a variety of verb forms in conditional sentences, not just those in the four basic conditionals.
– We can use the future with going to instead of the present to show future intention.
eg. If you’re going to buy a house, you’ll need to get a mortgage. (variation of first conditional)
– We can use a continuous form instead of a simple form to emphasise an action in progress.
eg. He wouldn’t have seen her if he hadn’t been jogging through the park. (variation of third conditional)
– We can use a modal instead of a present form to give advice, for example.
eg. If the medicine has no effect, you should return to the doctor. (variation of a zero conditional)
In mixed conditionals, the main clause and the ‘if’ clause sometimes refer to a different period of time.
The most common combinations are second and third conditionals.
eg. If I hadn’t had a tattoo, I wouldn’t be disappointed now. ( If clause refers to the past, main clause refers to the present)
If I had remembered to lock the door, we would still have our TV. (If clause refers to the past, main clause refers to the present)
If they weren’t so skilled at their jobs, they would have been fired long ago. (If clause refers to the present, main clause refers to the past)
If I hadn’t lost my passport, I’d be leaving tonight. (If clause refers to the past, main clause refers to the future)
We can use ‘should’ or ‘happen to’ in the ‘if’ clause in the first conditional if we want to suggest that something is very unlikely. We can also combine the two.
eg. If anyone happens to see the wanted man, they should call the police immediately.
Should anyone come across the stolen goods, they should phone this crime hotline.
If anyone should happen to get a photo of the man, they should hand it in to the police immediately.
We can use inversion in unreal conditional sentences when the first verb of the ‘if’ clause is were, had or should. We can leave out if and put the verb at the beginning of the clause.
eg. Were they to discover the treasure, they would be millionaires. (If they were to discover the treasure…)
Had he gone to India instead of China, he would never have become fluent in Chinese. ( If he had gone to India…)
Should you have any more trouble, please don’t hesitate to call. ( If you should have any more trouble…)
When we need to explain or clarify something we have already said, we often use phrases to indicate to the listener that we are going to say the same thing in a different way.
Which simply/just/basically means…
And what it/this/that means is…
What I mean by that is…
By which I mean…
What I’m trying to say is…
Which is to say…
To put it simply…
That is to say…
Or to put it another way…
In other words…
NB: We can also use “i.e.” (that is) or “meaning” to paraphrase.
eg. We can meet there, i.e. at the restaurant.
She said she was busy on Saturday night, meaning she wasn’t going to come.
Words and phrases used to modify comparative forms:
A big difference —> decidedly, a good deal, significantly, distinctly
A small difference —> somewhat, barely, marginally
eg. significantly more intelligent, marginally higher
A big difference —> way, loads, miles, not half as … as, not anywhere near as … as
A small difference —> a tiny bit, much the same, pretty much the same, more or less the same
eg. not half as expensive as, a tiny bit longer
Cleft sentences divide a message into two parts, using what or if clauses. They can shift the focus of attention to more important or contradictory information. The information we choose to focus on is put after what or if in the sentence.
eg. The sentence: Sarah studied architecture at Curtin University.
can be rewritten as: It was Sarah who studied architecture at Curtin University. (focus is on Sarah)
or: It was architecture that Sarah studied at Curtin University. (focus on architecture)
or: It was at Curtin University that Sarah studied architecture. (focus on Curtin University)
The what clause is immediately followed by known information.
eg. We’ll get together for lunch every Wednesday and chat.
What we chat about is how different our lives have become.
We know that they chat because of the speaker’s previous sentence. The new information, that they chat about how different their lives have become, is in the second part of the sentence. We join the two clauses in this type of cleft sentence with be.
What we do every Sunday is sit down for a long, late lunch.
What makes me really angry is Tom being late for dinner.
What is of utmost importance is how to get good grades.
To focus on an action we can use: what + subject + do + be (+ subject) + infinitive clause.
eg. What Liam does is act as confidently as he can at job interviews.
To focus on a whole sentence we can use what happens + be + subject + clause.
eg. What happens is she always manages to burn the toast.
NB: When we use who, why, whose, when, where, etc instead of what, we usually use an expression like a person, a reason, etc with or without the wh- word.
eg. A person (who) I can trust is my doctor.
The reason (why) we meet every week is to keep in touch.
We can reverse the order of the clauses in wh- cleft sentences without changing the meaning.
eg. My doctor is a person (who) I can trust.
To keep in touch is the reason (why) we meet every week.
We can use the thing/something/all/anything/one thing, etc in place of what/whatever in cleft sentences.
eg. One thing I Iove doing on Saturdays is going for a drive.
Anything I try to do to help is unappreciated.
In cleft sentences with an it clause, the speaker emphasises the information in the clause with it, and the verb that follows it is be.
eg. It isn’t until after I ‘ve taken a shower that I really wake up in the morning.
It’s my sister who is coming to visit us.
NB: In cleft sentences with an it clause, who can be used instead of that when referring to people.
When there is a plural noun in the it clause we still use a singular verb form of verb be.
eg. It’s the waiters that I find really rude. NOT It are the waiters…
We use an object pronoun after it + be.
eg. It’s her that doesn’t want to go to the party.
We can use reflexive pronouns:
– after like, as well as, as(for), etc instead of object pronouns
eg. What makes people like yourself want to be an actor?
– to emphasise a noun, pronoun or noun phrase
eg. I like the work, but the job itself is very tiring.
– to make it clear that an object refers to the same person/thing as the subject of the verb.
eg. He read the letter to himself.
– with verbs such as exert, pride, occupy; and dress, shave, wash if we want to emphasise that someone does the action themselves.
We do not usually use reflexive pronouns with these verbs: concentrate, feel, meet
eg. I feel very relieved. NOT I feel myself very relieved.
We can use the Present Perfect with time expressions which mean up to and including now.
eg. over the past few days/months/years
during the last couple of days/weeks/months
up until now
We can use the Past Simple with definite time expressions in the past.
eg. yesterday, a few weeks ago, last year, in 1970, etc
Some time expressions can be used with both the Present Perfect and the Past Simple.
A: I answered about 20 emails at work today.
B: I’ve answered about 20 emails at work today.
A: I saw a lot of movies during the school holidays.
B: I’ve seen a lot of movies during the last few days.
A: Since I finished university I’ve been to a lot of job interviews.
B: I’ve been to a lot of job interviews since I’ve been unemployed.
A: As soon as I finished work, I went to the gym.
B: As soon as I’ve finished work, I’m going to the gym.
In all the above cases, speaker A uses the Past Simple because the event was completed at a definite time in the past or he/she considers the period of time as finished.
Speaker B uses the Present Perfect because the time period or event is still continuing or he/she considers the period of time as still continuing.
NB: As soon as can be replaced with once/when/after. eg. Once I’ve finished work, I’m going to the gym.
During can be replaced with in. eg. I saw a lot of movies in the school holidays.
We use up until/ until/ till/ up to + now eg. I’ve directed three movies up until now.
We use It’s the first time with the Present Perfect to say when something happens for the first time. eg. It’s the first time I’ve been on a plane.
We can say This is/ that’s the first/second/third,etc time with the Present Perfect. This is the second time I’ve been to Istanbul.
When we use two verbs together the form of the second verb usually depends on the first.
Verbs can be followed by the following patterns:
+ gerund : keep on, miss, stop, avoid, begin, continue, don’t mind, end up, enjoy, finish, hate, keep, like, love, forget, prefer, regret, remember, start, try
eg. I regret going to that party last night. I stopped smoking last year. He doesn’t mind doing the housework. Try doing yoga.
+ infinitive with to: need, expect, manage, stop, try, learn, begin, continue, decide, forget, hate, hope, like, love, plan, prefer, pretend, refuse, regret, remember, seem, start
eg. She needs to see a doctor. We expect to see an increase in sales from November. She realised she’d forgotten to lock the door when she left.
+ object + infinitive: help, let, make
eg. She helped him get up off the floor. They let him borrow the car to get to the airport. The teacher made the students stand when he entered the classroom.
+ object + infinitive with to: persuade, allow, encourage, help, ask, convince, expect, force, pay, teach
eg. She persuaded him to join the football team. I expected them to be hungry when they arrived. They paid the band to play at their wedding reception.
+ infinitive: would, can, could, had better, might, should, will, would rather
eg. She might study abroad. You’d better find out what she wants. He would rather die than go to prison.
NB: Some verbs can use more than one verb pattern and have the same meaning. Some verbs can use more than one verb pattern but change meaning.