Expressing Purpose

to + inf. + something
I learn English to speak more fluently

so + obj./subj. pronoun + modal + clause
She trains hard so she can can win the race.

so that + obj./subj. pronoun + modal + clause
Carlos is on a diet so that he will lose weight.

so as + to + inf + clause
I finished work early so as to get home early.

so as not to + inf. + clause
I took an umbrella so as not to get wet in the rain.

to avoid + ing. + clause
I save money to avoid having money problems.

in order to + inf. + clause
She murders her husbands in order to inherit their money.

in order not to + inf. + clause
Clara doesn’t drink alcohol in order not to make a fool of herself at parties.

in case + subj. / obj. + clause
I am taking a coat in case it gets cold later.

Mixed Conditionals

The mixed conditional describes a hypothetical present result of an unreal past condition.

Conditionals are all about time.

2nd is in the present but uses the past to tell us it is hypothetical.
Condition – If I were younger, (present)
Result – I would look prettier (present).

3rd conditional is in the past and is again hypothetical.
Condition – If I had studied Medicine, (past)
Result – I would have been a Doctor. (past)

In mixed conditionals you can use any part of the conditional (condition/result) depending on when and what you are trying to say.


If I had studied Medicine, (3rd condition past) I would be a Doctor now (2nd result present).
If Raul we’re not so ugly, (2nd condition present) I would have married him (3rd result past).

Structure of Mixed Third/ Second Conditional
In this type of mixed conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if‘ clause is the past perfect, and the tense in the main clause is the present conditional.

If + Past Perfect, Present Conditional (would/wouldn’t + Verb (bare form))

For example:
If I had listened to your advice, I wouldn’t be in the mess. (but I didn’t and I am)
If he had checked the map, he wouldn’t be lost. (but he didn’t and he is lost now)
If I had gone to university, I would be a doctor now. (but I didn’t and now I clean hotels)

Using the Mixed Third/ Second Conditional
We use the mixed third/ second conditional to express that if something had been different in the past there would be a present result.

For example:
If you had taken my advice, you wouldn’t be so unhappy now. (but you didn’t and you are still married to that horrible, lying, cheating evil bitch)

Mixed Second/ Third Conditional
The mixed conditional describes a hypothetical past result of an unreal present or continuing condition.

Structure of Mixed Second/ Third Conditional
In this second type of mixed conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if‘ clause is the simple past, and the tense in the main clause is the perfect conditional.

If + Past Simple, Perfect Conditional (would/wouldn’t + have + Past Participle.

For example:
If I were a good cook, I would have invited them to dinner. (but I’m not and I didn’t)
If you weren’t such a poor dancer, you would have got a job in the chorus line in that musical. (but you are and you didn’t get the job)

Using the Mixed Second/ Third Conditional
We use the mixed second/ third conditional to express that due to certain present conditions something already happened in the past.

For example:
If you were a better cook, that meal would have been edible! (but you’re not and it was horrible)

In these mixed conditional sentences, you can also use modals in the main clause instead of would to express the degree of certainty, permission, or a recommendation about the outcome.

For example:
If he had enough money, he could have done this trip to Hawaii.
If he’d gone to university, he might have a better job.

Informal ways of speaking

Common phrases to ask how someone is:
What’s up?
What’s new?
What have you been up to lately?
How’s it going?
How are things?
How’s life?

Common phrases to say how you are:
I’m fine, thanks. How about you?
Pretty good.
Same as always
Not so great.
Could be better

Cant complain

Common phrases to say thank you:
I really appreciate it.
I’m really grateful
That’s so kind of you.
I owe you one. (this means you want/need to do a favor for the other person in the future)

Common phrases to respond to thank you:
No problem.
No worries
Don’t mention it.
My pleasure.

Common phrases to end a conversation politely:
It was nice chatting with you.
Anyway, I should get going.

Common phrases to ask for information:
Do you have any idea…?
Would you happen to know…?
I don’t suppose you (would) know…?

Common phrases to say I don’t know:
I have no idea/clue.
I can’t help you there.
(informal) Beats me.
I’m not really sure.
I’ve been wondering that, too.

Common phrases for not having an opinion:
I’ve never given it much thought.
I don’t have strong feelings either way.
It doesn’t make any difference to me.
I have no opinion on the matter.

Common phrases for agreeing:
That’s so true.
That’s for sure.
I agree 100%
I couldn’t agree with you more.
(informal) Tell me about it! / You’re telling me!
(informal) I’ll say!
I suppose so. (use this phrase for weak agreement – you agree, but reluctantly)

Common phrases for disagreeing:
I’m not so sure about that.
That’s not how I see it.
Not necessarily

Common phrases to respond to great news:
That’s great!
How wonderful!

Common phrases to respond to bad news:
Oh no…
That’s terrible.
Poor you. (Use this to respond to bad situations that are not too serious)
I’m so sorry to hear that.

Common phrases to invite someone somewhere:
Are you free… [Saturday night?]
Are you doing anything… [Saturday night?]
(informal) Do you wanna… [see a movie?]
(formal)Would you like to… [join me for dinner?]

Common phrases for food:
I’m starving! (= I’m very hungry)
Let’s grab a bite to eat.
How about eating out tonight? (eat out = eat at a restaurant)
I’ll have… (use this phrase for ordering in a restaurant)

Common phrases for price:
It cost a fortune.
It cost an arm and a leg.
That’s a rip-off. (= overpriced; far more expensive than it should be)
That’s a bit pricey.
That’s quite reasonable. (= it’s a good price)
That’s a good deal. (= a good value for the amount of money)
It was a real bargain.
It was dirt cheap. (= extremely inexpensive)
What’s the damage? (how much)

Common phrases for weather:
It’s a little chilly.
It’s freezing. (= extremely cold)
Make sure to bundle up. (bundle up = put on warm clothes for protection against the cold)

Common phrases for hot weather:
It’s absolutely boiling! (boiling = extremely hot)
it scorching hot outside

Common phrases for being tired:
I’m exhausted.
I’m dead tired.
I’m beat
I can hardly keep my eyes open
I’m gonna hit the sack. (hit the sack = go to bed)
I’m knackered.

Expressions with Time

a devil of a time: something difficult

a legend in one’s own time: one who gains renown within his or her lifetime (also inspired “a legend in (one’s) own mind,” referring to an egotistical person who believes himself or herself to be more significant than he or she actually is)

a matter/question of time: said in reference to a state that will soon change

a rare old time: an enjoyable experience

a race against time: said of trying to accomplish something critical in a short time frame

a stitch in time: the first half of a proverb (ending with “saves nine” and with an obscure origin) that refers to the wisdom of taking precaution

a whale of a (good) time: an especially exciting or fun experience
ahead of time: before the agreed time

ahead of (one’s) time: said of someone or something that has an innovative approach or style or one that the world is not ready for

all in good time: an expression that encourages patience

all the time in the world: an unlimited amount of time

all the time: in addition to referring to habitual or continuous occurrence, can refer to knowing about something throughout a given period

at a set time: at the agreed time

at all times: always

at no time: never

at the appointed time: at the agreed time

bad time: an inconvenient moment or an unfortunate experience

before (one’s) time: said of something that existed or occurred before one was born or when one was too young to recall that thing, or said in reference to someone’s unexpectedly early death

behind its time/the times: late, not keeping up, or obsolete

bide (one’s) time: be patient

big-time operator: someone who is or thinks he or she is important or influential

big-time spender: one who spends a lot of money, or said ironically about a frugal person

borrowed time: an uncertain amount of time, at the end of which something will no longer exist or occur

buy time: postpone an event for one’s advantage

by the time: said in reference to a time after something else has occurred

caught in a time warp: unchanged in an antiquated or obsolete way

crunch time: a critical period

face time: time spent in someone else’s company

for the time being: for now

from time to time: occasionally

do (the) time: serve time in jail or prison

down time: rest period

get the time: become available

give (one) a hard time: be critical

good-time Charlie: one who seeks pleasure

good times: pleasant experiences

hardly have time to breathe: said when one is busy

have a time of it: experience difficulty

having quite a time: having a pleasurable experience, or having difficulty

have time on (one’s side): don’t have to hurry

I’ll catch you some other time: I’ll talk to you later when it’s more convenient for you

in next to no time: almost instantly

in the fullness of time: after enough time passes

in the right place at the right time: in a figurative sense, fortuitously prepared for some eventuality; also, literally, located in a position that is advantageous or fortunate

it’s about time: said to express impatience, or relief that something has finally occurred (usually accompanied by an exclamation point)

it’s high time: it is the appropriate time; one has waited long enough

keep time: maintain the beat in music

lose no time: do something immediately

make good time: proceed quickly or in a reasonable amount of time

make time for: set aside a period of time to accommodate someone or something

make up for lost time: catch up on time wasted or as a result of going slowly or not going at all

mark time: wait

not able to call (one’s) time (one’s) own: too busy

old-time: old-fashioned

on time: punctual

once upon a time: long ago

out of time: said in reference to no longer having time to do something

pass the time (of day) with: chat with

pressed for time: lacking enough time to do something

run that by me one more time: say that again

sands of time: a poetic reference to the passage of time as represented by sand in an hourglass

the big time: said in reference to achieving prominence in some endeavor

the time has come: the occasion is appropriate

the time of (one’s) life: a memorable experience

time and tide wait for no man: the world makes no allowance for one being late

time bomb: something that will inevitably result in a negative consequence

time flies: a reference to the fleeting nature of time

time is money: time is important because using it wisely or unwisely affects one’s ability to earn money

time on (one’s) hands: spare time

time out: in sports, a short period when play ceases; by extension, a break from activity (also used as the announcement of a request for a time out, as is time by itself)

(stuck in a) time warp: said in reference to observing something that or someone who appears outdated

time was: there was a time when

time’s a-wastin’: time is running out

time to hit the road: time to depart

time works wonders: the passage of time resolves problems

when the time is ripe: when the time is appropriate

withstand the test of time: endure

wouldn’t give (one) the time of day to: ignored

Animal Idioms

Ant in one’s pants
People who have ants in their pants are very restless or excited about something.

Eager beaver
The term eager beaver refers to a person who is hardworking and enthusiastic, sometimes considered overzealous.

Bee in one’s bonnet
Someone who has a bee in their bonnet has an idea which constantly occupies their thoughts.

Birds of a feather flock together
If two people are birds of a feather, they are very similar in many ways, so they naturally spend time together.

A dark horse
Someone who is more clever or skilful than anyone expects

A lone wolf
Someone who is not very social with other people

A guinea pig
Someone who is part of an experiment or trial

The travel bug
A very strong desire to travel

To have butterflies in your stomach
To be nervous

An early bird
A person who gets up early in the morning, or who starts work earlier than others.

A home bird
Somebody who prefers to spend his social and free time at home.

A busy bee
A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task.

A lone bird/ wolf
Someone who prefers his won company or who has little social contact with others.

An odd bird/ fish
An eccentric person whose behavior or way of life is regarded as strange.

A rare bird
Somebody or something of a kind that one seldom sees.

A dog in the manger
A person who selfishly prevent others from using, enjoying or profiting from something even though he/ she cannot use or enjoy it himself.

A cold fish
Somebody who is not often moved by emotions, who is regarded as being hard and unfeeling.

A dark horse
Someone whose past is a mystery; a person who keeps their interests and ideas secret, especially someone who has a surprising ability or skill.

A lame duck
A person or enterprise (often a business) that is not a success and that has to be helped.

A sitting duck
An easy target.

Narrative Facial Gestures – C2

his eyes widened
her eyes went round
her eyelids drooped
his eyes narrowed
his eyes lit up
his eyes darted
he squinted
she blinked
her eyes twinkled
his eyes gleamed
her eyes sparkled
his eyes flashed
his eyes glinted
his eyes burned with…
her eyes blazed with…
her eyes sparked with…
her eyes flickered with…
_ glowed in his eyes
the corners of his eyes crinkled
she rolled her eyes
he looked heavenward
she glanced up to the ceiling
she winked
tears filled her eyes
his eyes welled up
her eyes swam with tears
his eyes flooded with tears
her eyes were wet
his eyes glistened
tears shimmered in her eyes
tears shone in his eyes
her eyes were glossy
he was fighting back tears
tears ran down her cheeks
his eyes closed
she squeezed her eyes shut
he shut his eyes
his lashes fluttered
she batted her lashes
his brows knitted
her forehead creased
his forehead furrowed
her forehead puckered
a line appeared between her brows
his brows drew together
her brows snapped together
his eyebrows rose
she raised a brow
he lifted an eyebrow
his eyebrows waggled
she gave him a once-over
he sized her up
her eyes bored into him
she took in the sight of…
he glared
she peered
he gazed
she glanced
he stared
she scrutinized
he studied
she gaped
he observed
she surveyed
he gawked
he leered
his pupils (were) dilated
her pupils were huge
his pupils flared
her nose crinkled
his nose wrinkled
she sneered
his nostrils flared
she stuck her nose in the air
he sniffed
she sniffled
she smiled
he smirked
she grinned
he simpered
she beamed
her mouth curved into a smile
the corners of his mouth turned up
the corner of her mouth quirked up
a corner of his mouth lifted
his mouth twitched
he gave a half-smile
she gave a lopsided grin
his mouth twisted
she forced a smile
he faked a smile
her smile faded
his smile slipped
he pursed his lips
she pouted
his mouth snapped shut
her mouth set in a hard line
he pressed his lips together
she bit her lip
he drew his lower lip between his teeth
she nibbled on her bottom lip
he chewed on his bottom lip
his jaw set
her jaw clenched
his jaw tightened
a muscle in her jaw twitched
he ground his jaw
he snarled/his lips drew back in a snarl
her mouth fell open
his jaw dropped
her jaw went slack
he gritted his teeth
she gnashed her teeth
her lower lip trembled
his lower lip quivered
she paled
he blanched
she went white
the color drained out of his face
his face reddened
her cheeks turned pink
his face flushed
she blushed
he turned red
she turned scarlet
he turned crimson
a flush crept up her face
he screwed up his face
she scrunched up her face
he grimaced
she winced
she gave him a dirty look
he frowned
she scowled
he glowered
her whole face lit up
she brightened
his face went blank
her face contorted
his face twisted
her expression closed up
his expression dulled
her expression hardened
she went poker-faced
a vein popped out in his neck
awe transformed his face
fear crossed her face
sadness clouded his features
terror overtook his face
recognition dawned on her face

Narrative Gestures – C2

he lowered his head
she hung her head
he ducked
she bowed her head
he covered his eyes with a hand
she pressed her hands to her cheeks
she raised her chin
he lifted his chin
her hands squeezed into fists
his hands tightened into fists
she clenched her fists
she balled her fists
he unclenched his fists
her arms remained at her sides
he shrugged
she gave a half shrug
he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug
she gave a dismissive wave of her hand
she raised a hand in greeting
he waved
she held up her hands
he lifted his hands
she held up her palms
he threw his hands in the air
she brushed her palms together
he rubbed his hands together
she made a steeple of her fingers
he spread his hands
she gesticulated
he waved his hands
she clapped her hands
he snapped his fingers
she held up a finger
he pointed
she gestured with a thumb
he jerked his thumb toward…
she extended her middle finger toward him
he gave her the finger
she gave him the thumbs up
she put her hands on her hips
she shoved her hands in her pockets
he jammed his hands in his front pockets
she rested a hand on her hip
she jutted out her hip
she folded her arms
he crossed his arms over his chest
she hugged herself
he wrapped his arms around himself
she rocked back and forth
she spread her arms wide
he held out his arms
she held out her hand
he extended a hand
he shook his head
she nodded
he bobbed his head
she tilted her head
he cocked his head
she inclined her head
he jerked her head in the direction of…
she turned her face away
he looked away
his breaths quickened
0she panted
she was breathing hard
his chest rose and fell with rapid breaths
she took in a deep breath
he drew in a long breath
she took in a sharp breath
he gasped
she held her breath
he let out a harsh breath
she exhaled
0he blew out his cheeks
she huffed
he sighed
she snorted
she laughed
he giggled
she guffawed
he chuckled
she gave a bitter laugh
he gave mirthless laugh
she tittered
he cackled
she rubbed her shoulder
he kneaded his shoulder
he rolled his shoulders
she tensed her shoulders
he massaged the back of his neck
she rubbed her temples
she rubbed her hands on her thighs
she ran her hand through her hair
he threaded a hand through his hair
he raked his fingers through his hair
he shoved his hair back away from his face
she toyed with a lock of hair
she played with her hair
she twirled her hair
she wrapped a curl around her finger
she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear
she undid her ponytail and shook out her hair
she tossed her hair
he buried his hands in his hair
he stroked his beard
he scratched his beard
she tugged at her earlobe
he bit a nail
she chewed on a cuticle
she picked at her nails
she inspected her fingernails
he plucked at the cuff of his shirt
she picked a piece of lint from her sleeve
he adjusted the lapels of his jacket
she fiddled with her earring / bracelet
he twisted the wedding ring on his finger
she played with her cell phone
he tugged at his shirt collar
he adjusted his tie
she smoothed down her skirt
she scratched her nose
he scratched his head
he rubbed his forehead
she rubbed her eyes
she pinched the bridge of her nose
he held his nose
she slapped her forehead
he smacked his forehead
he facepalmed
he slapped a hand over her mouth
she covered her mouth with her hand
she pressed her fingers to her lips
he held his finger up to his lips
he rubbed his chin
she pressed a hand to her throat
he clutched his chest
he leaned against the wall
she bounced on her toes
she jumped up and down
he tapped his foot
she stomped her foot
she folded her hands in her lap
she drummed her fingers on the table
he tapped his fingers on the table
he slammed his hand on the table
she pounded her fist on the table
she set her palms down flat on the table
he rested his hands on the table
she set her hands on the table, palms up
he leaned back in his chair
she hooked her feet around the chair legs
he gripped the arm of the chair
she put her hands behind her head
he put his feet on the desk
he fidgeted
she jiggled her foot
he swung his leg
she crossed her legs
he uncrossed his legs
she crossed her ankles in front of her
she stretched out her legs in front of her
he sprawled out
he put his feet on the desk
she cringed
he shuddered
she flinched
he shivered
she trembled
his body shook
she cowered
he shrank from…
she huddled in the corner
he pulled away
she jerked away
he turned away
she jolted upright
he stiffened
she straightened
he tensed
he jumped
she jumped to her feet
he stood up
she rose from her seat
she relaxed
he hunched
she slouched
her shoulders sagged
his shoulders slumped
she wilted
he went limp
he rolled his shoulders
she squared her shoulders
she clasped her hands behind her back
he puffed out his chest
she thrust out her chest
he propped his chin on his hand
she rested her chin on her palm
he yawned
she stretched
he turned around
she whirled around
he pivoted
she reeled
she stepped away
she drew nearer
he leaned closer
she inched forward
he loomed closer
he paced
she shifted from one foot to the other
he swayed on his feet
she dragged her feet
she pumped a fist
he thrust his fists in the air
she punched the air

Cómo escribir un ensayo – parte dos

In the First exam the writing consists of two parts. Here we look at Part 1, the compulsory essay.

a – Read the task carefully and underline the keywords.
Ex. Write an opinion essay based on the statement – Experiments that cause suffering to animals can never be justified.

b – Make a note of the register you need to use – typically it will be semi-formal or neutral.

c – Write a short list of grammatical structures you should use.
Ex. passive, impersonal passive for general beliefs, perf. tenses for past, pres. simple for your opinion.

d – Write a short vocabulary list, try to include abstract nouns, fixed phrases and collocations.
Ex. experimentation, advances in medical research, human/clinical trials, medicine, play God.

e – Group ideas into 4 logical paragraphs. [see structure below]

f – Write an appropriate title. Rephrase the words in the task, use a question to engage the reader.
Ex. Is it ever justifiable to inflict suffering on animals for human benefit?

g – Begin your writing and remember to check that you are using the grammatical structures and vocabulary you made a note of earlier.

h – Read through your work and correct any errors with grammar, spelling and punctuation. Check verb patterns/dependent prepositions.
Ex. depends + on, look + into, appears + to

i – Ask yourself….
Do your ideas flow logically?
Have you answered the task and not gone off topic?

Para 1. Introduction with brief background.
General beliefs in past and in present about experimentation – in brief.

Para 2. Arguments for.
Advances in medical research and human health.

Para 3. Arguments against.
Animal welfare, animal rights, cruelty.

Para 4. Summary + your opinion
Use fixed phrases to summarise both for & against and state your opinion.

Language suggestions
Use strong adjectives for your opinions.
Ex. intolerable, inhuman, unjustifiable, wholly justifiable, perfectly acceptable

Use correct collocations,
Ex. conduct + experiments, research + findings, cause + suffering

You can easily check on Google
In Search enter > research + collocations – easy!

Examples of basic collocations
Advantage / Benefit (+) or Disadvantage / Drawback (-)
main / most obvious / key / the biggest / the greatest / the most important / the least important (dis)advantage of animal experimentation is…

another / a further / an additional / one more (dis)advantage of animal experimentation is…

Formas de hablar

speak: make use of words in a normal voice.
May I speak to George?

talk: speak to give information, say things.
What are they talking about?

hesitate: be slow to speak (or act) because one is uncertain or unwilling to talk.
He hesitated before answering my question.

whisper: speak softly, without vibrating the vocal cords, privately or secretly.
She whispered the secret word in my ear.

hiss: say something in a loud whisper. (Snakes also hiss).
‘Get out!’ she hissed at me furiously.

mumble: speak unclearly, so that others can’t hear.
He mumbled something at me which I didn’t understand.

mutter: speak in a low voice, which is hard to hear.
She was muttering something to herself as she went out.

murmur: speak in a soft, quiet voice that is difficult to hear clearly.
The classmates murmured during the test.

hum: make a low continuous sound, when you take a long time deciding what to say.
She hummed at the beginning of the oral exam.

grunt: make short sounds or say a few words in a rough voice, when you don’t want to talk. (Pigs also grunt).
She grunted a few words and left the table.

stammer: speak with pauses and repeating the same sound or syllable, habitually or from fear or excitement.
P-p-please give me the p-p-pen,’ he stammered.

stutter: stammer.
P-p-please give me the p-p-pen,’ he stuttered.

quaver: speak tremulously, because you are nervous or upset.
Her voice quavered for a moment but then she regained control.

lisp: speak with /th/ sounds instead of /s/ sounds.
You’re very thilly, Thimon. (You’re very silly, Simon.)

babble = gabble = gibber = jabber: talk foolishly, in a way difficult to understand.
Her fever made her babble without stopping.

ramble: talk continuously, in a confused way.
Stop rambling and get to the point, please!

slur: speak unclearly, without separating the words correctly.
He was so drunk that he slurred to the bartender for more.

chat: have a friendly informal conversation.
They chatted away in the corner.

chatter: talk quickly and at length about something unimportant.
Please stop chattering, I’m trying to listen to the TV!

gossip: talk about the affairs of other people.
She was gossiping about her neighbours all day.

call: speak in a loud clear voice, shout, cry.
They called for help.

shout: speak in a loud voice, in anger or to get attention.
He had to shout because the music was too loud.

whoop: shout loudly and happily.
The children whooped when we entered the fair.

cry (out): make a sharp noise, in pain or surprise.
She cried out in terror when the old man appeared suddenly.

yell: cry out loudly, in fear, pain or excitement.
She yelled in terror when she saw the dead cat.

scream: cry out very loudly on a high note, in fear, pain, anger or laughter.
The baby was screaming the whole day.

shriek: scream.
The men shrieked with laughter.

bellow: shout in a deep voice.
The captain bellowed orders at the crew.

squeak: speak in a high-pitched voice.
She squeaked out a few words nervously.

squeal: speak in a high-pitched voice, with longer and louder sounds than in a squeak.
Let me go!’ she squealed.

whine: complain in a sad, annoying voice about something.
I don’t want to go,’ whined Peter.

chirp / chirrup (UK): speak in a happy high voice.
All finished!’ she chirped.

cheer: shout because of happiness.
The public cheered when the team appeared.

croak: speak with a deep hoarse voice.
She had such a terrible cold that she could only croak.

blurt out: say something suddenly and tactlessly.
She blurted out the bad news before I could stop her.

snap: say something quickly in an angry way.
‘What do you want?’ the waiter snapped.

splutter: talk quickly in short confused phrases, in anger or surprise.
But… what… where… how could you?’ she spluttered.

bark (out): say something quickly in a loud voice.
‘What do you want?’ the shop assistant barked.

Conectores formales – B2

When writing a semi formal or formal essay, report or article use these connectors…

Moreover – additional supporting evidence.


Studies show a an increase in social isolation as well as impaired interpersonal skills. Moreover, an American study published evidence supporting previous studies…

In addition to/additionally – supporting evidence.


In addition to the survey’s findings it was also discovered that…

Therefore – consequence.


Evidence gathered from our Student Survey suggests that current technology within the classroom is inadequate. I therefore recommend that….

Likewise – additional information.


The study indicated a drop in intelligence. Likewise, exam results were also negatively affected.

Similarly – additional information.


The study indicated a drop in intelligence. Likewise, exam results were also negatively affected.

However – contrasting evidence.


The results of the survey were analysed and provided a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young. However, family background and upbringing were equally important.

Although – contrasting evidence.


The results of the survey were analysed and provided a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young, although family background and upbringing were equally important.

Whereas – contrasting evidence.


Whereas the results of the survey were analysed and provided a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young, it should be noted that they were not 100% reliable.

Despite/In spite of – contrasting evidence.


Despite the results of the survey providing a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young, family background and upbringing were found to be equally important.

In fact – statement of fact opinion.


The results of the survey were analysed and provided a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young, in fact there could be no doubt about the results. 

Indeed – reinforcement of fact.


 The results of the survey were analysed and provided a clear indication of the negative impact of technology on the young, indeed there could be no doubt about the results. 

Vocabulario inglés – PET Speaking Part 3

​Here’s some advice about vocabulary for the photos in the individual turn, Part 3.
Remember the aim is to talk about the photo and not describe it and for this you need a good level of vocabulary.

Below is a short list of example themes that might be the subject of the photo, as well as a list of vocabulary for one of the themes, in this case Holidays.

You need to create a list of words for all themes, but in reality should memorise about 10 words, phrases from each list rather than try to remember them all!

To find vocabulary go to Google search, enter vocabulary shopping, for example.

Shopping (supermarkets, street markets, clothes, food)
Holidays (beach/city/countryside)
Family activity (eating, watching TV, cooking etc.)

Example vocabulary

All inclusive
Package holiday
Camping holiday
Cycling holiday
Weekend break
City break
Tropical paradise
Busy streets
Tourist attractions
Go for a get away
Go on holiday
Go on a cruise
Go sightseeing
Go hiking

Go camping

Sun drenched
Palm fringed

You travel (verb) by train, plane, bus, coach, bike.
You go on or take a trip, excursion, voyage, holiday, weekend break, city break.
You go sightseeing (to see monuments, galleries etc.).
You can buy souvenirs, keepsakes.
At the beach you can sunbathe (verb), go for a swim, a paddle, a dip.
At the beach you need suncream, sunglasses, a parasol, a deckchair, a towel, a bucket and spade.
To fly you need to have your tickets, boarding pass.
At the airport you need to check in your luggage, suitcases and go shopping in duty free.

Vocabulario inglés – discutiendo

Arguing in English -vocabulary

You can have…

An argument
A disagreement
A fall/falling out
A quarrel
A slanging match
A tiff
A Lover’s tiff
A row
A blow up
A barny

A Punch up – with violence
A set to – with violence

You can also…
Say your peace
Speak your mind

Then you can…

Make up
Make it up
Kiss and make up
Make peace

Settle your differences
Offer an Olive branch
Forgive and forget

El personaje britanico – the British character

Excessive Politeness

Politeness is one thing, but the tendency to apologise every time you brush past someone on the street is another.

As pleasant as it is to shout “thank you driver” every time we leave the bus, and spend hours quibbling over who’s going to pay the restaurant bill, our civilities can surpass the limit at times.


While the use of sarcasm isn’t an exclusively British thing, the subtleness and frequency with which we employ it is what differentiates us from the rest.

Many Brits will apply mockery and irony in everyday conversation almost subconsciously, and it’s something many just don’t get.

Self mockery

Brits are very good at mocking themselves. We’re continually saying things like “God, I’m an idiot” or “look at the state of me” in everyday conversation, while British comedians are forever inciting laughter about British traditions, at which we are the first to laugh.

Keeping Quiet

Harking back to our excessive politeness, British people have a tendency to remain quiet and deal with it when it comes to uncomfortable or unpleasant situations. A good thing, you may think, but it only increases the extent to which we moan about the horror we endured afterwards.

Drinking tea

This is the most common giveaway, especially if a Brit ever finds themselves surrounded by people who only seem to believe in drinking herbal tea. Rather a builder’s brew any day, thanks.


Only a Brit would avoid getting on a bus purely because they see someone on there who they’ll have to make small talk with, or run from a room the minute they feel uncomfortable.

We so easily feel ‘awkward’, and we dedicate a lot of our lives to trying to escape from these situations.


There’s no doubt about it, we are the world’s booziest nation. While Europeans will enjoy a night out on a few glasses and Americans tend to save it for house parties, Brits drink with the sole object of getting wasted, and aren’t afraid to make it a wholly public affair.


Brits are often somehow incapable of revealing what we are really thinking. Things like “no offence, but…” and “I’ll bear it in mind” are prime examples of phrases that we often say when we actually mean something very different. The all-too-common “I’m fine” line is another classic lie.


We love our all-inclusives. Pay one sum of money over the Internet and get the whole lot: flights, seedy hotel, unlimited alcohol and a whole load of other sunburnt Brits to sunbathe, drink and eat too much with. Oh, how cultured we are.

Aversion to PDA

The British struggle with public displays of affection. Fondling lovers are cringy and unwelcome at all times, and the commonplace reaction is to tell them to “get a room” as soon as a couple so much as hugs.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre los niveles de inglés?

​I’m often asked what the difference is between the different levels in English, for example B1 & B2. So here’s my opinion.


A2 is very, very basic.  You are expected to be able to understand very simple instructions and information when reading or listening. 

Writing is also easy with a limited expectation of vocabulary and the most basic of grammar, for example present and past simple, continuous, and future simple. 

Speaking is judged on your ability to answer questions from an information sheet, have the most basic of interaction, as well as being able to pronounce the alphabet. 

Students who take B1 and are given A2 really must have performed badly in the exam to score so very low.


In my opinion B1 is quite a low level and adds maybe 30% to what you learn in A2.

Unlike A2 in B1 you are expected to be able to understand basic spoken and written information and also context. This means a larger vocabulary and better skills with listening and reading. Vocabulary is mainly basic word forms, a handful of phrasal verbs and mainly Celtic based words, for example put, take, give etc. These are extremely important for the 5 parts of Reading (synonyms, modals etc.) and the 3 parts of writing, particularly the sentence transformations in part 1.  

The grammar is also a little more complex with reported speech, zero, first and second conditionals, passives, comparatives etc, and again these are mainly tested in the 3 parts of writing.  

Writing is still quite simple with informal emails and short stories, but speaking is very different. You need to be able to describe, exchange opinions, hypothesise and interact conversationally. We have an in-depth post about the speaking part. 


Upper intermediate 
Overall B2 is not very different to B1 but the level of required understanding is much higher. It adds about 25% more to what you learn in B1. 

Grammar is very similar but you are expected to know the subtle differences in meaning between verb forms, verb and noun patterns, dependent prepositions, collocations etc. You need greater vocabulary and knowledge of phrasal verbs, set expressions, idioms etc. In B2 you have more abstract word forms and particularly Latin based words (though these are the same in Spanish, in 90% of cases). 

Listening is quite different, questions are more subtle and people speak much quicker and with different accents. Again, we have a post dedicated to Listening (B1, B2, C1).

The biggest difference is writing – you are expected to be able to write informally, semi formally and formally for letters, articles, reviews, reports etc. This requires extensive use of complex grammatical structures, for example perfect tenses, participle clauses etc.

Use of English is a separate unit in the exam and is very difficult as it requires a good knowledge of word forms, dependent prepositions, collocations, etc.

There are some badly educated English people who would struggle to produce a good example of writing, Use of English or speaking at this level.


Advanced is the hardest level in my opinion. It adds 70% more to what you are taught in all lower levels. You cannot study and pass this level quickly.

Complex grammar and thousands of new words/idioms etc make this level very dense.

Listening is very very difficult with natural speech, very subtle tricks and at fast speeds.

Speaking is similar to B2 but themes are more abstract and you are expected to be able to hypothesise about abstract concepts and themes.. 

Writing and use of English are similar to B2 but at a much higher level. Complex grammatical structures are expected, especially in semi/formal writing such as reports, articles etc. These include inversions, 3rd conditional structures and many fixed phrases and idioms, 

Reading is very difficult with a required level of vocabulary that cannot be compared to other lower levels. Reading can be narrative, academic, scientific, or business orientated.


C2 really only adds a layer of vocabulary onto C1. It is very language heavy with very little grammar because 99% if it is covered in C1. 

It is the icing on the cake for those who have C1 but as a native speaker I personally don’t think it deserves its reputation for fluency – it means you are proficient or very very good in a language but not to the same extent as a born native. Language is not only a collection of structures and words, it is cultural and in the blood. Having said that, C2 remains the ultimate level a student can reach in any language test.

Adverbs & Adjectives for interest


Remember the order of adjectives is very important in English.

Opinion | age | size | colour | material

I just bought a beautiful new, small, blue, cotton dress.

Also remember that in English an adjective cannot exist without a noun – it is not an object. So never use a plural form adjective.

There are two yellows chairs. x

There are two yellow chairs. √

Advanced conditionals

These conditional structures are all hypothetical to a greater or lesser degree.

If + subj + (should) happen + to + inf

If you (should) happen to see Maria tell her I will call her later.

if + subj + was/were to + inf

If you were to win the lottery how would you spend it?

supposing/imagine + (that) + subj + past simple/past perfect

Imagine you won the lottery what would you do?

Inversions are used in formal writing and are very easy to use.

The structure is very simple. We take out if, invert the position of the aux and subject, and begin with the aux.


If I had known Ricardo was stupid I wouldn’t have married him.

Had I known Ricardo was stupid I wouldn’t have married him.

Vocabulary – describing people advanced

Some adjectives in English are irregular and very specific – they either describe how we feel emotionally or physically, or both.

We usually use this structure…
Subject + feel/s + adjective
example – I feel fabulous.

Here are some adjectives and expressions.

‘The dogs bollocks’ – both
‘Top dog’ – both
Awesome – both
Fantastic – both
Destroyed – both

Annihilated – physical
Crap – physical
Crappy – physical
Stupendous – physical
Amazing – physical
Fabulous – physical
‘Fighting fit’ – physical
‘Fit as a butcher’s dog’ – physical

‘On cloud nine’ – emotional
‘On top of the world’ – emotional
Invincible – emotional
Untouchable – emotional
Superior – emotional
Deflated – emotional
Let-down – emotional
Inferior – emotional
Small – emotional
Insignificant – emotional
Empty – emotional
Defeated – emotional
Elated – emotional
Euphoric – emotional..

Vocabulary – Family for B2 opinion essay

Essay title

What is the role of parents in today’s society?

Nucleur family
Extended Family
Father / Fatherhood
Mother / Motherhood
Parents / Parenthood
Child / Childhood
Single parent
Latchkey kids
Social values
Social norms
Moral upbringing
Socially acceptable

Raise a child
Bring up a child

Rising violence
Rising sexual violence
Rising suicide
Lack of empathy
Lack of social skills

Compras – vocabulario en inglés B2 FCE C1 CAE

vocabulario por compras en Inglés. B2 y C1

  • advertising campaign: a series of advertisements to persuade people to buy something
  • big brand names: large well-known companies or product names
  • to be careful with money: to not over-spend
  • carrier bag: bags (usually plastic) supplied by shops
  • customer service: the degree to which customers are treated well
  • to get into debt: to owe money
  • to give someone the hard sell: to put pressure on someone to buy something
  • high street names: well-known shops
  • independent stores: small shops independent of large companies
  • local shops: community shops
  • loyalty card: a card issued by a shop to allow customers to save money on the basis of what they spend
  • must-have product: a product that is very popular that a lot of people want to have
  • to be on a tight budget: to have a limited amount of money to spend
  • to be on commission: to pay someone in relation to the amount they sell
  • a pay in cash: to pay for something using coins or paper money
  • to pay the full price: to pay the full amount for something
  • to pick up a bargain: to buy something much cheaper than the normal price
  • to run up a credit card bill: to owe money on a credit card
  • to shop around: to try different shops to find the best deal
  • shop assistant: the person who serves customers
  • to shop until you drop: to do a lot of shopping
  • to slash prices: to reduce prices a great deal
  • to snap up a bargain: to buy something quickly that is being sold cheaply
  • summer sales: a period in the year when things are sold cheaply
  • to try something on: to see if an item of clothing fits or is suitable
  • to be value for money: to be worth the cost
  • window shopping: to visit a store to look at items without the intention of buying anything

Adverbios Inglés – B2 C1

adverbios en Inglés para B2 y C1

In my opinion adverbs are equally as important as the verbs they describe.

A verb contains no information other than if it’s a fact about an action/state or the action/state in progress.

Only an adverb can give the details needed for how that action or state is done. Without them the language is boring, sterile.

Adverbs fall into 3 main categories.
To tell us how often the action is performed or state is reached.
Used in all tenses.
She always feels sick when we travel by car.

To tell us about the action/state’s strength, depth, impact and importance
Used in all tenses
He walked slowly to the door.

To tell us emotional, metaphorical information about the action/state.
Used in all tenses
He walked painfully to the car.

Mixed adverbs add more impact and information.
He walked slowly, painfully towards the door.

This is very complex and I would recommend that you put the adverb after the verb. There are some intensifying adverbs that must go before the verb, for example hardly.

There are many verbs that cannot go before the verb but this is because of the nature of the verb and usage.
The bell rang loudly. Yes
The bell loudly rang. Grammatically Yes. Usage No.

Some adverbs can be put both before and after the verb but there is a shift of emphasis.
They quickly kissed. = the time before they kissed was very short.
They kissed quickly. = the kiss was very short.

Adverbs that are also adjectives.
A good example of this is hard/hardly.

Hard as an adjective describes difficulty.
The exam was hard.

Hard as an adverb is an intensifier.
He studied hard for the exam.

Hardly is an intensifying adverb meaning very little.
He hardly studied for his exam.

Irregular adverbs
Most adverbs are formed by adding the suffix ly to an adjective but not all.

For example – good/well

Adverbs + Adjectives
We tend to use intensifiers a lot with adjectives. They always go before the adjective.
She is suitably skilled for the job.

The only problem is understanding that you cannot use all intensifying adverbs with every adjective. Because of this we have extreme adjectives and extreme intensifiers.

0-90% intensity
A little, Quite, Fairly, Rather, Very, Incredibly

90-100% intensity
Completely, Totally, Absolutely

These adverbs must then be used with the correct adjective depending on the adjectives own intensity.

For example – with heat
warm, hot
It was a rather hot day90-100%
boiling, roasting, sweltering, scorching
It was scorching weather.

Really is an exception and can be used to intensify all adjectives.

Some adverbs can be tricky to use because their function changes depending on context and even intonation.
For example.
A bit
A bit of milk. = some milk

Positive intensifier
A bit special. = very special

Negative – intensifier
A bit expensive. = very expensive.

I’d rather you pay it personally. = emphasis on you making payment.
I’d rather you pay it personally. = emphasis on my opinion.

Vocabulary – walking

​Walk – usually with purpose

I’ll walk to/from the shop.

Stroll – with/without purpose

I’ll stroll to the shop/about/around the town.

Meander – usually without purpose

I’ll have a meander about/around the town 

Wander – usually without purpose

I’ll have a wander about/around the town.

Amble – with/without purpose

I’ll amble to the shop/about around the town.

Mooch – usually without purpose

I’ll mooch about/around the town.

Vocabulary – sleep

Sleepiness – noun
Sleep – noun/verb
Sleepily – adverb
Sleepy – adjective
Asleep – adjective

Verb & adjective collocations
Fall asleep
Drift asleep
Lull asleep (lullaby – a song sung to babies to help them fall asleep)

Phrasal verbs
Nod off
Doze off

Adjective – noun collocations
Heavy sleep / heavy sleeper
Light sleep / light sleeper

Adjective – adjective collocations
sound asleep

​Adverbs Just, Yet, Already

Usage – perfect tenses

*Yet is always negative.

subj. + have + participle + yet
I haven’t eaten dinner yet.


subj. + have + adverb + infinitive
I have yet to eat dinner (this is very formal and not a perfect tense structure)

Just, already

subj. + have + adverb + participle
I have just eaten dinner.
I have already eaten dinner.


Conditional structures can be very complicated and complex. But in their simplest forms follow these basic rules.

condition clause / result clause

You can reverse the position of the clauses and they mean the same.

result clause / condition clause

The possibility of each conditional changes from always true to no possibility.

Zero – an eternal truth
pres. simple + pres. simple
If you drink poison you die.

First – an imagined present with a future result – possible
pres. simple + will/modal
If I study hard I will/might/could/should pass my exam.

Second – an imagined present with a present result – low possibility
past simple + modal 
If I studied harder I would/might/could/should be smarter.

Third – an imagined past with a past result – impossible
past  perfect + would/could/might + present perfect
If I had studied harder I would/might/could have been smarter.

We have alternatives to if… as long as, even if, whether, providing, unless.

The following sentences all mean the same and have the same result – no rain = beach
If it doesn’t rain I will go to the beach.
As long as it doesn’t rain I will go to the beach.
Providing it doesn’t rain I will go to the beach.
I will go to the beach unless it rains.

But these do not – no rain/rain = beach
I will go to the beach whether it rains or not.
Even if it rains I will go to the beach.

We very often use if/whether in non conditional structures but we understand that behind the structure there is an unspoken condition that we are not being told.

That job in China is great but whether (or not)  I go is another thing.
That job in China is great but If I go is another thing.

Vocabulary – healthy options

Go on a diet, Put on a diet, Calorie controlled diet, Break a diet, Yo-yo diet/dieter, Do exercise,Train (gym)

Healthy options, Healthy choices, Healthy body, healthy mind, Sound in body, sound in mind, Healthy lifestyle, Active/sedentary lifestyle

Vitamin rich, Protein rich, Rich in fatty acids, Low in salt, Low in fat, Salt free, Sugar free, Additive free

​Expressions with mind…

Never mind = don’t worry, forget it…
«Mum I failed my exam».
» Never mind, you can try again.»

On my mind = something you are worried about…
«The exam has been on my mind.»

Out of my mind = worried, drugged…
«I’ve been out of my mind with worry over the exam.»

Never you mind = for someone else to forget, not worry about something.
» Mum, why did uncle Carlos touch your bottom?»

«Never you mind,» says mum.

To describe personality…
Narrow minded
Broad minded
Open minded
Closed minded

Direct and Indirect questions

The main types of question forms with examples. For B1 and above.


The structure depends on the type of question.

Question Word
Who, whose, what, where, when, why, how

Question word or wh- words that begin a direct question usually have the structure…

question word + aux + subject/+verb
how old are you?
where do you live?

Remember we use the verbs do, be, have as auxiliaries.

Subject = Question word
When the subject of the question is the question word we use the following structure.

question word + verb + object
What makes you happy?
Who said that?

If the answer to a question can only be yes or no then we use the aux and this structure.

aux + subj + verb
Do you like paella?
Have you eaten dinner?

We cannot use the auxillary DO in indirect questions. They can be divided into 2 clauses, the polite expression, and the question. The structure is…

expression + question word + subject + verb
– May I ask what time the film starts?

Would you tell me if/whether you like fish?
(not, do you like..)

Expressions include..
May I ask…
Would you tell me…
Can/could you tell me…
Would you mind telling me…

Here’s some examples…
How short is the book?
Would you tell me how short the book is?
Has she finished her exam?
May I ask if/whether she has finished her exam?

Formal letter of complaint

Writing a formal letter of complaint. 

Formality is used to put distance between the writer and reader.

1. Remember to begin your letter,
To whom it may concern,

2. Finish it with,
I await your response and solution to the problem.

3. Don’t use contractions.

4. Use formal verbs, example…
Get – receive
Want – expect
Buy – purchase
Work/Play – function

5. Use passive structures.
When I opened the box I found that the player was damaged.

6. Use inversions. Example…
Had I known it was defective.

7. Keep it simple and clear.

8. Use more formal adjectives and adverbs to strengthen your feelings.

The level of service was outrageous.
I would very much appreciate.

Here’s an example of a short letter of complaint. The first of each paragraph is informal, the second (in italics) is corrected and is formal.

To whom it may concern,

The other day I bought a new mobile phone from you.
I recently, Tuesday the 7th of March,  purchased a mobile phone from your Regents Street store, London.

The assistant told me that it was easy to use and I could use the internet.
I was assured by a member of staff that it was both simple to operate and Internet enabled.

When I got home and tried it I was unhappy because the instructions were complicated and not like he said.
However, upon arriving home and attempting to power on the device, I found it simply would not function.

After trying to connect to the Internet I couldn’t.
I was therefore unable to access either the telephone or the internet. Outrageous!

The assistant didn’t tell me the truth and I am not happy about it. I want to bring it back and get a refund. Tell me how.
I was completely misled by the assistant, and the entire experience has left me bitterly disappointed.

I expect full recompense and await a swift response.

Yours sincerely.
Good day.

wish & regret

​Sentence transformation and hypothetical meaning with Wish and Regret.


When speaking hypothetically about a present or future situation with Wish or Regret we put either the auxiliary or the main verb into a past tense. We do not put both if there is an auxillary and a main verb – only the auxiliary.

Present with Wish

I wish he studied more. 

I wish he was studying more.

I wish he would study more.

I wish he didn’t make so many mistakes.

Past with Wish

If we are talking about a past situation we use past perfect.

I wish he had studied more.

I wish he hadn’t made so many mistakes.


We don’t use past perfect continuous.


The rule for Regret is different.

In present 

This is used for formal announcements and only with certain verbs, for example inform, tell, say.

I regret to tell you that you have not got the job.

In past 

We can use either verb+ing or present perfect continuous to talk about the past.

I regret telling her.

I regret having told her.

Environment vocabulary


Decimation of flora and fauna

Slash and burn

Human encroachment

Soil erosion
Global warming

Ozone depletion

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse gases

Polar melt

Rising sea levels

Coastal erosion

Climate change

Fossil fuels – coal, oil, shale

Carbon footprint

Carbon tax

Renewables – tidal, solar, wind

Biofuels – plant derived energy

Energy efficient


Car sharing
Natural disaster

Environmental catastrophe


FCE Computer Based Exam Practice Test

Please note these links will open in a new window or tab and require Firefox.

FCE Computer based reading exam – click the  link

Answer key for reading
The following link will load a PDF into your browser which you can see, download or print.

FCE Reading answers

FCE Use of English Computer based examclick the link

Answer key for Use of English
The following link will load a PDF into your browser which you can see, download or print.

FCE use of English Answers

FCE Writing Computer based exam – click the link

Passive Sentences

Passive voice verbs are used in writing much more often than in speech, and they are used in some types of writing much more often than in others. Passives are used more in journalism (newspapers, magazines) than in fiction (novels, stories), but most journalists and fiction writers use far more active than passive sentences. However, passives are very common in all types of scientific and technical writing. Scientific articles often contain more passive than active sentences. You should not use passive voice verbs unless you have a good reason.

  1. Relationship between active and passive:
  2. The objectof the active verb is the subject of the passive verb (“English” in the example sentences below). Therefore, verbs which cannot be followed by objects (intransitive verbscannot be used in passive voice.

These are some common intransitive verbs: appear, arrive, come, cry, die, go, happen, occur, rain, sleep, stay, walk. These verbs cannot be used in passive voice.

  1. The passive verb always contains a form of the auxiliary verb be. The form of bein the passive verb phrase corresponds to the form of the main verb in the active verb phrase (see the underlined words in the example sentences below). That is, if the active main verb is simple present tense, then a simple present tense form of be is used in the passive verb phrase; if the active main verb is -ING, then the -ING form of be is used in the passive verb phrase; and so on.
  2. The main verb in a passive predicate verb phrase is always the participleform of the verb.
  3. Some examplesof active and passive sentences:

ACTIVE: They speak English.
PASSIVE: English is spoken.

ACTIVE: They spoke English.
PASSIVE: English was spoken.

ACTIVE: They will speak English.
PASSIVE: English will be spoken.

ACTIVE: They are going to speak English.
PASSIVE: English is going to be spoken.

ACTIVE: They are speaking English.
PASSIVE: English is being spoken.

ACTIVE: They were speaking English.
PASSIVE: English was being spoken.

ACTIVE: They have spoken English.
PASSIVE: English has been spoken.

ACTIVE: They had spoken English.
PASSIVE: English had been spoken.

ACTIVE: They will have spoken English.
PASSIVE: English will have been spoken.

  1. Perfect progressiveverb forms are generally used in active voice only. That is, these are good English sentences:

ACTIVE: They have been speaking English.
ACTIVE: They had been speaking English.
ACTIVE: They will have been speaking English.

But sentences like these are rarely used:

PASSIVE: English has been being spoken.
PASSIVE: English had been being spoken.
PASSIVE: English will have been being spoken.

  1. Most passive sentences do not contain an agent; all active sentences contain an agent.
  2. An agentis the subject of the active verb. In the example sentences above, the agent is “they” in all the active sentences; the passive sentences do not contain an agent.
  3. When a passive sentence contains an agent, it is in a prepositional phrase following the verb. For example:

English is spoken by them.

In the following sentences, the noun “teachers” is the agent in both sentences. “Teachers” is also the subject of the active verb, but “exams” is the subject of the passive verb.

ACTIVE: Teachers prepare exams.

PASSIVE: Exams are prepared by teachers.

  1. You should not use passive voice unless you have a good reason.

Here are some good reasons for using passive voice:

  1. Passive voice is often used when the agent(the doer of an action; the subject of an active verb) is obvious, unknown, or unnecessary:

Oranges are grown in California.
Toyotas are made in Japan.
Her purse was stolen.

  1. Passive voice is often used when the agentis known, but the speaker/writer doesn’t want to mention it:

She was given bad advice.
A mistake has been made.

  1. Passive voice is often used when the agentis very general such as people or somebody.

English is spoken here.
The door should be locked.

  1. Passive voice is often used when the speaker/writer wants to emphasize a result:

Several thousand people were killed by the earthquake.

  1. Passive voice is often used when the speaker/writer wants to keep the same subjectfor two or more verbs but this would not be possible if both verbs were the same voice (active or passive).

For example, in a conversation about George, a speaker would probably use sentence a below rather than sentence b (both sentences are correct).

  1. George hadseveral interviews before he was hired by a software company.
    b. George had several interviews before a software company hired him.

Countable & Uncountable nouns (1)

Nouns can be countable or uncountable. When you learn a new noun you should make a note of whether it is countable or uncountable as we use different words with countables and uncountables.
Countable nouns

  • There is a cat in the garden.
  • There are some birds in the trees.

For positive sentences we can use a/an or some (with a plural verb form)

  • There isn’t a dog in the garden.
  • There aren’t any birds in the tree.

For negatives we can use a/an or any (with a plural verb form).

  • Is there an orange on the tree?
  • Are there any chairs in the garden?
  • How many chairs are there?

In questions we use a/anany or how many.

Uncountable nouns

  • There is some milk on the floor.

Uncountable nouns have no plural. The verb form is singular and we use some.

  • Is there any sugar?
  • How much wine is there?

In questions we can use any or how much.

Other expressions of quantity

  • There are a lot of apples on the trees.
  • There is a lot of snow on the road.

A lot of can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

  • Bill Gates has much money.

Notice that we don’t usually use ‘much’ or ‘many’ in positive sentences. We use ‘a lot of’.

  • Bill Gates has a lot of money.
  • There’s a lot of beer but there isn’t much wine.
  • There are a lot of carrots but there aren’t many potatoes.

We use not many with countable nouns and not much with uncountable nouns.



Countable & Uncountable nouns (2)

Some words can be both countable and uncountable depending on how they are used.

  • Would you like a chocolate?
  • Would you like some chocolate?

In a box of chocolates, the chocolates are countable and you can take one.
When you have a bar of chocolate the chocolate is uncountable and you can take some.

There are several other nouns that can be both countable and uncountable.

  • Can I have a glass of water, please?
  • There’s some broken glass on the pavement.

Glass’ is one. Many foodstuffs can be countable or uncountable. Think about the difference between ‘an ice cream’ and ‘some ice cream’ and ‘a coffee’ and ‘some coffee

‘few/a few’ and ‘little/a little’

We use few and a few with countable nouns and we use little and a little with uncountable nouns.

  • A few friends are coming round for dinner tonight.
  • We’ve got a little time before our train leaves. Shall we go to a museum?

A few and a little both mean ‘some’. They have a positive meaning.

  • I’ve got very few friends here. I feel really lonely.
  • We’ve got very little time – hurry up or we’ll miss the train.

Few and little both mean ‘almost none’. They have a negative meaning.

Commonly confused words

  • I’d like an information about train times please
  • I’d like some information about train times please.

Although ‘information’ is countable in many languages, it is uncountable in English.

  • Have you had any news from Pete?
  • I haven’t brought much luggage with me.
  • Can you give me some advice please?

As well as information, the following words are all uncountable: newsluggageadvicefurnitureweathertravel.



Articles in English are invariable. That is, they do not change according to the gender or number of the noun they refer to, e.g. the boy, the woman, the children

‘The’ is used:

  1. to refer to something which has already been mentioned.

An elephant and a mouse fell in love.

The mouse loved the elephant’s long trunk,
 the elephant loved the mouse’s tiny nose.

  1. when both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about, even if it has not been mentioned before.

‘Where’s the bathroom?
‘It’s on
 the first floor.’

  1. in sentences or clauses where we define or identify a particular person or object:

The man who wrote this book is famous.
‘Which car did you scratch?’ ‘The red one.
My house is
 the one with a blue door.’

  1. to refer to objects we regard as unique:

the sun, the moon, the world

  1. before superlatives and ordinal numbers:

the highest building, the first page, the last chapter.

  1. with adjectives, to refer to a whole group of people:

the Japanese, the old

  1. with names of geographical areas and oceans:

the Caribbean, the Sahara, the Atlantic

  1. with decades, or groups of years:

she grew up in the seventies

A / AN

Use a’ with nouns starting with a consonant (letters that are not vowels), 
 with nouns starting with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)


  • Aboy
  • Anapple
  • Acar
  • Anorange
  • Ahouse
  • Anopera

An before an h mute – an hour, an honour.
A before u and eu when they sound like ‘you’: a european, a university, a unit

The indefinite article is used:

  • to refer to something for the first time:
    An elephant
    and a mouse fell in love.
    Would you like
     a drink?
    I’ve finally got
     a good job.
  • to refer to a particular member of a group or class


  • with names of jobs:
    John isa doctor.
    Mary is training to be
     an engineer.
    He wants to be
     a dancer.
  • with nationalities and religions:
    John isan Englishman.
    Kate is
     a Catholic.
  • with musical instruments:
    Sherlock Holmes was playinga violin when the visitor arrived.
    (BUT to describe the activity we say «He plays the violin.»)
  • with names of days:
    I was born ona Thursday
  • to refer to a kind of, or example of something:
    the mouse hada tiny nose
    the elephant had
     a long trunk
    it was
     a very strange car
  • with singular nouns, after the words‘what’ and ‘such’:
    What a shame!
    She’s such
     a beautiful girl.
  • meaning ‘one’, referring to a single object or person:
    I’d likean orange and two lemons please.
    The burglar took
     a diamond necklace and a valuable painting.

Notice also that we usually say a hundred, a thousand, a million.

NOTE: that we use ‘one to add emphasis or to contrast with other numbers: 
I don’t know one person who likes eating elephant meat.
We’ve got six computers but only one printer.

Adjectives & Prepositions


Some adjectives go with certain prepositions. There is no real pattern – you need to learn them as you meet them. Here are some examples but remember that there are many other adjective + preposition combinations that are not covered here.

With ‘at’

  • I’m quite good at English but I’m bad at maths and I’m terrible at physics.

With ‘for’

  • Jogging is good for your health but smoking is bad for you.
  • The town is famous for its cheese.

As well as ‘good for’, ‘bad for’ and ‘famous for’ we also say ‘qualified for’ ‘ready for’, ‘responsible for’, ‘suitable for’ and several others.

With ‘of’

I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself, thank you.
I’m very fond of this old sweatshirt.

As well as ‘capable of’ and ‘fond of’ we also say ‘aware of’, ‘full of’, ‘tired of’ and several others.

With ‘with’

  • We’re very pleased with your progress.
  • You’re not still angry with me are you?

As well as ‘pleased with’ and ‘angry with’ we also say ‘bored with’, ‘delighted with’, ‘satisfied with’ and several others.

With ‘to’

  • She’s the one who’s married to a doctor, isn’t she?
  • You’ll be responsible to the head of the Finance department.

Notice that you can be responsible for something but responsible to someone.

Other common adjective + preposition combinations include ‘interested in’ and ‘keen on’. It’s a good idea to make a note of new combinations in your vocabulary notebook as you meet them. Remember that a preposition is followed by a noun or a gerund (‘ing’ form).

Do & Make

When do you use DO?

DO is used as follows:

1. DO is used when talking about work, jobs or tasks. Note, they do not produce any physical object.

Have you done your homework?I have guests visiting tonight so I should start doing the housework now.I wouldn’t like to do that job.

2. DO is used when we refer to activities in general without being specific. In these cases, we normally use words like thing, something, nothing, anything, everything etc.

Hurry up! I’ve got things to do!Don’t just stand there – do something!Is there anything I can do to help you?

3. We sometimes use DO to replace a verb when the meaning is clear or obvious. This is more common in informal spoken English:

Do I need to do my hair? (do = brush or comb)Have you done the dishes yet? (done = washed)I’ll do the kitchen if you do the lawns (do = clean, do = mow)

Remember Do can also be as an auxiliary verb (for making questions in the present tense – Do you like chocolate?) For more about Do used in this case, see our page about Do vs Does. Here we will be talking about Do as a normal verb.

When do you use MAKE?

Make is for producing, constructing, creating or building something new.

It is also used to indicate the origin of a product or the materials that are used to make something.

His wedding ring is made of gold.The house was made of adobe.Wine is made from grapes.The watches were made in Switzerland

We also use Make for producing an action or reaction:

Onions make your eyes water.You make me happy.It’s not my fault. My brother made me do it!

You make after certain nouns about plans and decisions:

Make the arrangements, make a choice

We use Make with nouns about speaking and certain sounds:

Make a commentmake a noisemake a speech

We use Make with Food, Drink and Meals:

Make a cakemake a cup of teamake dinner

Compare Do and Make

A: You have to make a cake for Simon.

B: I’ll do it later.

Notice how in the response the verb DO is used. This is because the meaning is clear and to avoid saying “I’ll make it later.” which could sound repetitive.