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Grammar Home


It is very important to have a good knowledge of grammar if you are to succeed in any of the international exams. Most of the exams have a section where they test your grammar. You need to write tenses correctly and put words in the correct order in a sentence. In this section you can study grammar and do practice tests by CEF level and by topic.

Grammar points for each CEF Level



The table below shows you the grammar areas that you should be studying at each of the CEF levels:

Council of Europe levels

Grammar

A1

Adjectives: common and demonstrative
Adverbs of frequency
Comparatives and superlatives
Going to
How much/how many and very
common uncountable nouns
I’d like
Imperatives (+/-)
Intensifiers - very basic
Modals: can/can’t/could/couldn’t
Past simple of “to be”
Past Simple
Possessive adjectives

Possessive s
Prepositions, common
Prepositions of place
Prepositions of time, including in/on/at
Present continuous
Present simple
Pronouns: simple, personal
Questions
There is/are
To be, including question+negatives
Verb + ing: like/hate/love

A2

Adjectives – comparative, – use of
than and definite article
Adjectives – superlative – use of definite article
Adverbial phrases of time, place and frequency – including word order
Adverbs of frequency
Articles – with countable and
uncountable nouns
Countables and Uncountables:
much/many
Future Time (will and going to)
Gerunds
Going to
Imperatives
Modals – can/could
Modals – have to
Modals – should

Past continuous
Past simple
Phrasal verbs – common
Possessives – use of ‘s, s’
Prepositional phrases (place, time and movement)
Prepositions of time: on/in/at
Present continuous
Present continuous for future
Present perfect
Questions
Verb + ing/infinitive: like/
want-would like
Wh-questions in past
Zero and 1st conditional

B1

Adverbs
Broader range of intensifiers such
as too, enough
Comparatives and superlatives
Complex question tags
Conditionals, 2nd and 3rd
Connecting words expressing
cause and effect, contrast etc.
Future continuous
Modals - must/can’t deduction
Modals – might, may, will, probably
Modals – should have/might have/etc
Modals: must/have to

Past continuous
Past perfect
Past simple
Past tense responses
Phrasal verbs, extended
Present perfect continuous
Present perfect/past simple
Reported speech (range of tenses)
Simple passive
Wh- questions in the past
Will and going to, for prediction

B2

Adjectives and adverbs
Future continuous
Future perfect
Future perfect continuous
Mixed conditionals
Modals – can’t have, needn’t have
Modals of deduction and speculation
Narrative tenses
Passives

Past perfect
Past perfect continuous
Phrasal verbs, extended
Relative clauses
Reported speech
Will and going to, for prediction
Wish
Would expressing habits, in the past

C1

Futures (revision)
Inversion with negative adverbials
Mixed conditionals in past, present
and future
Modals in the past

Narrative tenses for experience,
incl. passive
Passive forms, all
Phrasal verbs, especially splitting
Wish/if only regrets
Source: British Council / EQUALS Core Inventory

 

 

 

Demonstrative adjectives

Use:
This:                       Use this to talk about something which is near you.
                                                How much is this bag?

These:                  Use these to talk about two or more things which are near you.                                               
                                                Are these your keys?

That:                      Use that to talk about one thing which is far from you.
                                                Is that your house?

Those:                  Use those to talk about two or more things which are far from you.
                                                Who are those children over there?
                                               
Use This, That, These and Those:

  • Before the verb be.

                This is my sister / Those are my children.

  • Before a noun:

                That cake looks delicious! These bags are expensive!

Make questions this way:
                Is this / that your sister?              
                Are these / those your children?

You can contract is after that.
                That is my dad.                                 =>           That’s my dad.
But do not contract is after this.
                This’s my dad.                                 =>           This is my dad.
Do not contract are after These / Those.
               
Common mistakes
Always use a verb in sentences with this, that, these and those.
This lovely bag.                                                =>           This is a lovely bag / This bag is lovely.

Simple adjectives
Use:
Simple adjectives are describing words.

  • They can go before nouns.

                That’s a nice car.

  • They can also follow the verbs be, look, feel, smell, sound and taste.

This food looks nice.  It smells delicious! The cake is lovely!

 

Adverbs of frequency

 

Use:
Use adverbs of frequency to talk about how often you do something.

always = every day
usually = nearly every day
often = on many days
sometimes = on some days       
rarely = on few days
hardly ever = on very few days
never = on no days

Form:
1) Adverbs of frequency often go in present simple sentences.
I often have toast for breakfast.
I usually drive to work.

2) Adverbs of frequency usually go before a verb.
I never smoke.                   NOT       I smoke never / Never I smoke.

3) But adverbs of frequency go after the verb be.
I’m always on time.        NOT       I always am on time.

Common mistakes
1) Some students write adverbs of frequency in the wrong place.
I drink often coffee.<         =>           I often drink coffee.
I always am tired on Mondays.            =>            I’m always tired on Mondays.

 

Comparatives


 

Use:

Use the comparative form to talk about how two things are different.
I am taller than you.
This book is thicker than that one.

Form:

1) If an adjective has one syllable, add er to the end. If it ends in e already, just add r.
tall   =>  taller     nice  =>  nicer
thick  =>  thicker    late  =>  later

2) If an adjective ends in one vowel and one consonant, write the consonant again, then write er. But never write a w twice.
big   =>  bigger     new   =>  newer (NOT newwer) thin  =>  thinner    slow  =>  slower (NOT slowwer) slim  =>  slimmer
My brother is thinner than me.

3) If an adjective has two syllables and ends in y, change the y to i and add er.
funny   =>  funnier     silly   =>  sillier
Which of these books is funnier?

5) Some adjectives have irregular superlative forms. These are listed below.
good  =>  better
bad   =>  worse
far   =>  further

Add than after a comparative adjective to compare one thing with another. However, this is not always necessary.
My house is smaller than yours.    My house is smaller than yours.

be going to

Use:
Use be going to to talk about your personal plans for the future.

I’m going to see my sister at the weekend.
Are you going to marry Paul?

Form:
1)  The form of the positive and negative sentences and questions is shown below.

Positive


I

am / ‘m

 

going to

 

verb (infinitive form)

you

are / ‘re

he / she / it

is / ‘s

we

are / ‘re

they

are / ‘re

Negative


I

‘m not

 

going  to

 

verb (infinitive form)

you

aren’t    OR   ‘re not

he / she / it

isn’t OR     ‘s not

we

aren’t    OR   ‘re not

they

aren’t    OR   ‘re not

Questions


Am

I

 

going  to

 

verb (infinitive form) ?

Are

you

Is

he / she / it

Are

we

Are

they

2)  The short reply to a ‘be going to’ question is ‘Yes, I am’, ‘Yes, she is’ etc. You cannot contract these short sentences.
Yes, he’s. =>  Yes, he is.

The short negative replies are:
No, I’m not.
No, you’re not / No, you aren’t.     
No, he’s not / No he isn’t. No, she’s not / No she isn’t. No, it’s not / no it isn’t.
No, we’re not / No, we aren’t.
No, they’re not / No, they aren’t.

Common mistakes:

1)  Some students forget to add the verb ’be’ before ‘going to’.

I going to see my friends tonight.   =>  I’m going to see my friends tonight.

2) Some students forget to invert the subject and be in questions.

What time you are going to leave? =>  What time are you going to leave?

 

How


 

Use:      
Use How to get information about numbers and quantities.
You can use it to find out about age, size, length, cost and much more.

Form:
1)            Dimensions
Use How big to find out about size.
How big is your car?

Use How long to find out about length, and How wide to ask about width.
How long is the River Nile? How wide is it?

Use the words long and wide in your answers to make them clear.
It’s a hundred miles long. It’s a mile wide.

2)            Age
Use How old to find out about age.
How old is your sister?
You can reply: ‘She’s ten’ or ‘She’s ten years old’ NOT ‘She’s ten years’.

3)            Time     
Also use How long to ask about time.
How long is the film?        It’s about two hours long.
How long does it take to get there?         About three hours.

4)            Quantity
Use How much to ask about cost. Also use How much with uncountable nouns.
Remember to put any uncountable nouns directly after ‘much’.
How much is this bag?    
How much money do you have? NOT     How much do you have money?

Use How many to ask about countable nouns.  Remember to put any countable nouns directly after ‘many’.
How many people are coming? NOT       How many are coming people?

How many questions often use the word there.
How many people are there in your class?            NOT       How many people are in your class?       

 

Uncountable Nouns


Use:      
Some nouns are countable – you can count them. These include:
apples, books, cars, trees
Some nouns are uncountable – you cannot count them. These include:
water, oil, rice, fruit, bread, information, money

Uncountable nouns have different grammar rules from countable nouns.

countable singular nouns
e.g. apple

countable plural nouns
e.g. apples

uncountable nouns
e.g. fruit

 

Singular countable nouns always need a determiner:
a, this, that, my, the etc.

Look at that cat!
Can I have an apple?
Is this your bag?

 

 

Plural countable nouns do not need a determiner.

I like apples. 
Dogs are friendly.

But they can be used with determiners:
Where are my shoes?
Are those pens yours?

 

Uncountable nouns do not need a determiner.

I like fruit. 

But they can use singular determiners:

This fruit is nice.

 

 

 

You can count countable nouns.
Can I have five apples please?

 

You cannot count uncountable nouns.
Can I have five breads please?

 

Use singular verbs and determiners.
This apple is nice.

 

Use plural verbs and determiners.
These apples are nice.

 

Use singular verbs and determiners.
This bread is nice.

 

Some determiners can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

some, a lot of, lots of, loads of, plenty of, any

We’ve got some potatoes. We need some bread.
We don’t have any potatoes. We don’t have any bread.

 

Some determiners can only be used with countable nouns:

several, various, a few, many

Some determiners can only be used with uncountable nouns:

much, a bit of, a little

 
 
 

Would like/ like


Use:
1)            Would like means want, but it is more polite.
You can use it in sentences and questions.
I’d like a biscuit.
Would you like some tea?

2)            You can also use it to talk about your dreams and ambitions.
I’d like to go to Japan.
I wouldn’t like to live here!

You can also use I’d love and I’d hate to talk about dreams.
I’d hate to live in the countryside.
I’d love to work with Simon.

Form:
1)            Would like is the same for all persons.
I would like some tea.
You would like some tea.
He / she / James would like some tea.
We would like some tea.
They / our clients would like some tea.

2)            To make questions, invert the subject and would.
  Would you / James / your clients like some tea?

3)            Use wouldn’t to make the negative form.
  I wouldn’t like to work there.

4)            Would like can be followed by a noun or to + verb.
  noun:    Would you like a biscuit?
  verb:     Would you like to go to Malaysia?

5)            In positive sentences, you can contract would to ‘d.
I would like to go to the USA.      =>           I’d like to go to the USA.
But NOT in negative sentences:
I’dn’t like to work in a factory.   =>           I wouldn’t like to work in a factory.
And NOT in short answers:
Would you like to have a horse?
Yes, I’d.    =>           Yes, I would.

6)            Be careful not to confuse would like and like
Use like to talk about things you like all the time.
I like chocolate cake. It’s my favourite food.
Use would like to talk about things you want now, or at some time in the future.
  I’d like a cup of coffee please.
  I’d like to work in a chocolate factory.

 

Imperative Forms


 

Use:
Use the imperative form to give instructions, orders and warnings.

Must is often used in signs and notices to give instructions.

Form:
1)            Do not use a subject when giving orders.
You wash your hands.    =>            Wash your hands.

Always use the infinitive form of the verb, without to.
To sit down please.          =>           Sit down please.

Use Don’t to make the negative form.
Don’t sit there!

2)            Written instructions on signs often use Do not, not Don’t.
Do not cross this line.

3)            When giving instructions to a friend, you can soften the order by using ‘you’. However, this is usually only done in spoken English.
First you put the mixture into a bowl, and then you add two eggs. Then you whisk it.

4)            Some written signs use Must / Must not.
All visitors must wear a badge.
Passengers must not talk to the driver.

Notice how plural nouns (visitors / passengers) are generally used in signs.         

Common mistakes:
1)            Some students use to after Don’t / Must
Don’t to go in that door.                =>            Don’t go in that door.

 

Past simple

Use:
Use the past simple to talk about finished events in the past. Use it to tell stories, jokes and anecdotes.

Form:
1)            Many past tense verbs are formed by adding -ed to the end of the verb.
want      =>           wanted
start       =>           started

If a verb ends in e, just add d (liked, hoped).
If a verb ends in y, delete y and add ied (studied, carried). But don’t do this if the verb ends in a vowel + y (played, NOT plaied. stayed, NOT staied)

But a lot of past tense verbs are irregular. You need to learn each one separately. Here are some examples.
have      =>           had                        make     =>           made
take       =>           took                       sit           =>           sat
get         =>           got                         feel        =>           felt

Past simple verbs are the same for all persons.
I went; you went; he went; she went; they went; we went...    

2)            Form negatives this way:

I, you, he , she, we, they...

didn’t

infinitive verb
know, see, go

Don’t use the past verb in negative sentences.
I didn’t had dinner.         =>           I didn’t have dinner.

3) Form questions this way:


Did

I, you, he , she, we, they...

infinitive verb
know, see, go

Common mistakes:
Some students use the past verb in questions.
Did you saw the film?     =>                           Did you see the film?

 

Possessive ‘s

Use:
Possessive adjectives after a name and before a noun.
They tell you who owns something.
This is John’s coat.
Is this Tina’s bag?

Don’t use ‘s after things.
I clean the garden’s pond every week. =>           I clean the pond in the garden every week.
What’s the book’s name?                           =>           What’s the name of the book

You can usually use ‘s after organisations and groups of people.
It’s the government’s decision.   OR          It’s the decision of the government.
Ton is the company’s new  director.        OR          Tom is the new director of the company.

You can use ‘s after time expressions.
What time is tomorrow’s meeting?
 
You can sometimes use ‘s after countries and cities.
India’s population is rising.
But you cannot do this if it refers to a person.
I met London’s mayor last week.              =>           I met the mayor of London last week.
England’s Queen is well-known. =>           The Queen of England is well-known.

Form:

  • To make the possessive form, add ’s to the end of the name.

Is that Jack’s bag?

  • With two names, only add ‘s to the second name.

That’s Jane and Harry’s house.                NOT        That’s Jane’s and Harry’s house.

  • If something belongs to two or more people, put the apostrophe(‘) after the plural s. Do not write a second s.

My parents’ house is really big. NOT        My parents’s house is really big.

However, if the plural noun is irregular, write the apostrophe (‘) before the S.
The children’s party was great. NOT        The childrens’ party was great. 

 

present continuous


 

Use:
1)           Use the present continuous to talk about actions which are happening now.
           Ellen is having a bath at the moment.
           Right now, Mark is talking to her manager.

Form:
Positive


I

am / ‘m

 

verb+ing

You

are / ‘re

He / She / It

is / ‘s

We / They

are / ‘re

Negative


I

‘m not

 

verb+ing

You

aren’t / ‘re not

He / She / It

isn’t / ‘s not

We / They

aren’t / ‘re not

Question


Am

I

 

verb+ing

Are

you

Is

he / she / it

Are

we / they

Spelling Rules:

If a verb ends in e, delete the e before you add –ing.
come =>           I’m coming.
have  =>           He’s having lunch.

Common mistakes
1)            Some students forget the verb be.
            I watching television.                 =>           I’m watching television.
            She not coming.       =>           She’s not coming.
2)            Some students make questions incorrectly.
            She is working?        =>           Is she working?
3)            Some students make spelling mistakes.
            I’m studing law.   =>           I’m studying law.
           

 

Here, There

Use:
Here:

  • Use here when you find something.

                                Where’s my bag?                             It’s hereHere it is!

  • Here means that something is near you.

                                Is your dad here?                             Yes, he is.

There:                  

  • Use there to talk about what exists.

                                There’s a cafe, a bank, a shop and a park in the town.

  • Use there to talk about how many things there are.

                                There are three people in my family.
                                There are ten students in the class.

  • And use there to talk about where things are.

                                There is a bathroom opposite the bedroom.
                                There’s a cash machine near the cafe.

  • Use there, or over there, to talk about something that is not near you.

                                Where’s my bag?             It’s over there, near the door.

Form:

1)            Use here and there with be.
                Here is your bag. Your bags are here.
                There is a nice restaurant in town. There are some good shops in town.
               
2)            You can contract is after here and there. You cannot contract are.
                Here is Joe!                                                         =>           Here’s Joe!
                There is a great café near here.                  =>There’s a great café near here.

                Here are your bags!                                        =>           Here’re your bags.
                There are three kids in my family.             =>           There’re three kids in my family.

3)            Make questions by inverting here / there and be:
                Is there a nice restaurant in town?          
                Are there any good shops in town?
                How many shops are there in the town?

Common mistakes
1. Some students do not use there to talk about things that exist.
                A restaurant is in my town.         =>           There is a restaurant in my town.
                Ten students are in my class.      =>           There are ten students in my class.

2. Some students forget to invert there and be in questions.
                How many students there are in your class?=>
                How many students are there in your class?

 

FOR THE NEXT TOPICS RETURN TO "the rest of the grammar home" ON THE NEXT POST.

 




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