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Articles and useful tips connected to grammar and English language learning

Tense Combinations with the Narrative Tenses

By Rob Lane In a previous article, we looked at the narrative tenses: past simple, past continuous, and past perfect. Although these tenses are not very difficult in theory, in practice, learners have difficulty using them fluently in conversation. In this article, we will look at how these tenses are typically combined using linking words to form more complex sentences. Before reading this article, I recommend that you read the article entitled The Past – Which Tense. To review, past simple i [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:36+00:00 December 15th, 2015|English Language Club|

Could have, Should have, and the Third Conditional

By Rob Lane In this post, we will look the structures could have done, should have done, and the third conditional. All three are past hypothetical structures. These structures are typically used to comment on the past. That can include appraisals, commenting on past situations, and expressing regret. Past modals, and more specifically, modal perfect can be difficult to use correctly and learners often avoid using it. This is a shame because similar structures are used in many other languages, [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:34+00:00 November 23rd, 2015|English Language Club|

Enough and Plenty

By Rob Lane The words enough and plenty are often misused, particularly at Intermediate level. They are very common words and learners should take care to use them correctly. Both words can be used to express quantity. Enough means a sufficient amount whereas plenty means enough and potentially more. Do we have enough time? Don't worry, my friend. We have plenty of time. Enough Enough can be used as an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, and an interjection. Use enough before a noun but after an [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:25+00:00 November 9th, 2015|English Language Club|

Phrasal Verb List – Part One

By Rob Lane In a previous article, we saw an overview of phrasal verbs outlining how to study and use them. If you have not read the introduction, you should go back and do so before reading this. In this article, we will see some of the most common phrasal verbs along with a brief explanation and example for each. Remember that there are often a number of different possible meanings for each phrasal verbs. In the list below I have included only the most common for each verb. Note that with ea [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:24+00:00 October 20th, 2015|English Language Club|

Improve your Fluency – Collocation

By Rob Lane Lexical Collocations The concept of collocation is, unfortunately, only introduced to learners in most textbooks at upper-intermediate and advanced level. However, everybody uses them every day and most of the time they work. But, sometimes they don't. Have you ever heard someone say they made a party? Have you ever heard a native speaker say it? Has the speaker made or done a mistake? If two words are a collocation, that means that it is common for native speakers to use them toge [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:23+00:00 September 25th, 2015|English Language Club|

Position of Adverbs

By Rob Lane Learners often have difficulty with putting adverbs in the correct position in sentences. In this article, I will give an overview of the types of adverbs and where they go in sentences. Generally, there are three positions: front, middle, and end. The types of adverb we will see are manner, place, time, frequency, degree, and comment. Readers should remember that this article is designed as an overview and a lot of other things are possible.   Adverbs of Manner e.g. carefully [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:21+00:00 September 28th, 2014|English Language Club|

Quantifiers – much, many and a lot of

By Rob Lane Much, many and a lot of are quantifiers which are used to indicate the amount or quantity of a countable or uncountable noun. Other examples of quantifiers include a little, a few, some, all and enough. In this article, I will focus on many, much and a lot of as these can be particularly confusing for learners. I will outline some of the fundamental rules first in a way that should allow learners to use them with minimal risk of error. Then, I will deal with some of the exceptions [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:15+00:00 September 1st, 2014|English Language Club|

Future Perfect

  By Rob Lane Introduction In the last post, we looked at Future Continuous. Another tense that we see frequently with this is Future Perfect. In the previous article, I gave an example of this. A. Can we meet at 2 pm tomorrow? B. Unfortunately, I’ll be having lunch with a client at 2. But, we’ll have finished by 2.30 so I can come to your office then. Although both Future Continuous and Future Perfect have limited application, you should be familiar with them. Typically, you will focus o [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:14+00:00 August 12th, 2014|English Language Club|

Future Continuous

  By Rob Lane In a previous article we saw that four key tenses are used for future: present simple for schedules, future simple (will) for reactions or new decisions, going to when you have intention, and present continuous when the future is arranged. There are many other ways in which we can express future ideas. One of these structures is future continuous.   A. Can we meet at 2 pm tomorrow? B. Unfortunately, I'll be having (1) lunch with a client at 2. But, we'll have finished ( [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:12+00:00 July 16th, 2014|English Language Club|

Phrasal Verbs – An Introduction

By Rob Lane Phrasal verbs are often frightening for learners. While they are commonly used by native speakers, learners have difficulty understanding and using them. A phrasal verb is a verb comprised of a verb and one or two propositions. James picked Sam up from the station. Joan is looking forward to her vacation. In the classroom, dictionaries, and textbooks, a broad definition of phrasal verbs is used. A more restricted definition does not include phrasal verbs that have a literal sense. [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:43:11+00:00 July 2nd, 2014|English Language Club|

Inversion with Negative Adverbials

Inversion with Negative Adverbials By Rob Lane   Negative adverbials are words or phrases used to be restrictive, emphatic, or dramatic. They are used at the beginning of sentences and require one to invert the following subject and verb. Only then did I realise my error. Never before have I seen such beauty. Seldom do I eat fast food. Although more commonly used in written English, they are also used in spoken English. The most common mistake people make with these structures is to fail to [...]

By | 2017-12-13T20:42:01+00:00 June 12th, 2014|English Language Club|

Some and Any, Much and Many

  The differences between some and any, and also, much, many, and a lot, often cause difficulties for learners. These are examples of quantifiers. Although the rules are not complicated, there are a number of exceptions that can cause confusion. In this article, we will look at the rules for these and see examples to illustrate the differences and potential errors in use. This article looks at the basic usage of these words and so learners should appreciate that there are other ways that th [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:08+00:00 May 27th, 2014|English Language Club|

Wish and If Only

Wish & If Only By Rob Lane In an earlier post, we looked at the second conditional and saw that it is formed by using past simple in the conditional clause. This conditional is used for hypothetical ideas in present or future. In a number of structures in English, the past simple is used when we speak about hypothesis in present or future. The verb wish requires similar construction. If only can be used with the same structures. In this post, I will set out three commonly used structures wit [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:09+00:00 May 8th, 2014|English Language Club|

Comparison with Adjectives

Comparison with Adjectives by Rob Lane   In this article, we will look at some of the simple forms used for comparison. These patterns are rigid and learners must respect the pattern to avoid typical mistakes. Firstly, we will look at comparisons of similarity, and then comparisons of difference. Comparing difference is much more complex than comparing similarity so learners should be careful with the rules.   Comparing Similarity X (be) + as + adjective + as Y Tom is as tall as Sam. & [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:10+00:00 April 24th, 2014|English Language Club|

Have Something Done

Have Something Done   In a previous post we looked at some standard passive structures. We saw that usually in a passive structure, the person who does the action is not mentioned. In this post we will look at two causative structures. These structures are used when someone employs another person to do an action. Today, I had my hair cut. Learners often have trouble with these structures because there are a number of structures which look similar. I will begin with the two main forms, some [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:11+00:00 April 2nd, 2014|English Language Club|

Expressing Obligation

Expressing Obligation By Rob Lane   In the last post, I wrote about how ability is expressed using modal verbs and phrases. In this article, I will give an overview obligation. Obligation may be described as pressure on a person to do something or not to do something. There are strong obligations such as rules and necessities, and weak obligations such as advice. Obligations may be internal, from the speaker’s body or mind, and external obligations such as regulations. In this post, we will [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:11+00:00 March 18th, 2014|English Language Club|

Expressing Ability

Expressing Ability By Rob Lane   Ability can be expressed using modal verbs and phrases.  Learners often prefer to use be able to because it is the easiest to form. As learners progress, they begin to use can, could, and managed to. It is at this point that learners encounter usage rules and often make mistakes. In this article, I will focus on the most commonly used modals for ability and the most typical mistakes. While the present forms are simple, the past forms have particular rules wh [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:11+00:00 March 4th, 2014|English Language Club|

Tenses for Future

Tenses for Future by Rob Lane   There are a number of tenses used to speak about the future. Some of these are present tenses used with a future sense while others are specifically future only. Sometimes learners can be confused by the functions of each tense. This is not helped by the fact that some tenses share functions and so more than one tense may be used for the same idea. In this article, I will outline the main functions of the four most common tenses used for the future and compar [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:12+00:00 February 18th, 2014|English Language Club|

Used to

Used to By Rob Lane In this article we will look at some structures that include used to.  Learners have difficulty with these structures, particularly to see the differences in function, and then in the application of structure.Because they are so similar in structure, you must take care with the to avoid confusion.   Structures and Function Subject + used to + verb Samuel used to be a mechanic. He used to repair cars. Subject + be + used to + noun/ verb-ing Damien is used to spicy food. H [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:12+00:00 February 4th, 2014|English Language Club|

Conditionals – An Overview

Conditionals – An Overview   By Rob Lane     Hello and welcome to this week’s article. In this article, we will look at the conditionals in English. We will see five conditionals: zero, first, second, third and mixed. A conditional sentence is formed by a main clause (the consequence), a conjunction (if), and a conditional clause (the condition). Jim will go to the beach if it is sunny.   There are many possible variations of the standard conditionals. You should pay attention to the f [...]

By | 2017-10-11T09:19:13+00:00 January 21st, 2014|English Language Club|