Main English for Everyone: English Grammar Guide

English for Everyone: English Grammar Guide

A self-study English grammar guide using innovative visual learning methods to make even the trickiest points easy to understand, for the approximately 1 million adults in the United States learning English as a second language.

Suitable for English-language learners of all levels, from beginner to advanced, and even experienced English speakers looking for a reminder of key language points, English for Everyone: English Grammar Guide is an intuitive way to study English grammar. Clear illustrations put learning points in context and make them easy to remember, and simple graphics and annotated sample sentences break down grammar constructions, making even difficult points easy to follow.

English for Everyone: English Grammar Guide covers the language skills, vocabulary, and grammar needed for the major global English-language exams, including TOEFL. All learning is practiced across speaking, listening, reading, and writing exercises, offering rounded preparation for work, travel, study, and exams. Download the free app and practice online with free listening exercises at www.dkefe.com.

Series Overview: English for Everyone series teaches all levels of English, from beginner to advanced, to speakers of English as a second language. Innovative visual learning methods introduce key language skills, grammar, and vocabulary, which are reinforced with a variety of speaking, reading, and writing exercises to make the English language easier to understand and learn. Visit www.dkefe.com to find out more.

Year: 2016
Edition: 1
Publisher: DK
Language: english
Pages: 360 / 362
ISBN 10: 1465452699
ISBN 13: 9781465452696
File: PDF, 25.47 MB

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Rachmah
Very helpful for beginners in learning English grammar.
07 May 2019 (09:26) 
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ENGLISH
FO R E V E RYO N E
ENGLISH GRAMMAR GUIDE

Consultant, British English
Diane Hall has been working in English language teaching for over
30 years, as a teacher, trainer, editor, publisher, and writer. She has
published several books, both general courses and grammar books,
for major English-language publishers. She has an MA in Applied
Linguistics, and is currently also an Associate Lecturer in English
grammar and functional linguistics at the Open University.

Consultant, American English
Professor Susan Barduhn is an experienced English-language
teacher, teacher trainer, and author, who has contributed to
numerous publications. In addition to directing English-language
courses in at least four different continents, she has been President
of the International Association of Teachers of English as
a Foreign Language, and an adviser to the British Council
and the US State Department. She is currently a Professor
at the School of International Training in Vermont, USA.

ENGLISH
FO R E V E RYO N E
ENGLISH GRAMMAR GUIDE
conditional

negative

verb

comparative
noun

US Editors Jenny Siklos, Allison Singer
Project Editor Ben Ffrancon Davies
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Sophia MTT
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DK India
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First American Edition, 2016
Published in the United States by DK Publishing
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Copyright © 2016 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Contents
The present simple

8

The present simple negative

12

Present simple questions

14

The present continuous

16

Present tenses overview

20

Imperatives

22

The past simple

24

The past simple negative

28

Past simple questions

30

The past continuous

32

The present perfect simple

34

The present perfect continuous

38

The past perfect simple

40

The past perfect continuous

42

“Used to” and “would”

44

Past tenses overview

46

The future with “going to”

48

The future with “will”

50

Object and subject questions

102

The present for future events

54

Indirect questions

104

The future continuous

56

Question tags

106

The future perfect

60

Short questions

108

The future in the past

62

Short answers

110

Future overview

64

Questions overview

112

The passive

66

Reported speech

114

The passive in the past

68

Tenses in reported speech

116

The passive in the future

72

Reporting verbs

120

The passive with modals

74

Reported speech with negatives

122

Other passive constructions

76

Reported questions

124

Conditional sentences

78

Reported speech overview

128

Other conditional sentences

84

Types of verbs

130

Conditional sentences overview

86

Action and state verbs

132

Future possibilities

88

Infinitives and participles

134

Wishes and regrets

90

Verb patterns

138

Forming questions

94

Verb patterns with objects

142

Question words

98

Verb patterns with prepositions

145

Open questions

100

Phrasal verbs

146

Modal verbs

152

Quantity

202

Ability

154

Approximate quantity

208

Permission, requests, and offers

156

Personal pronouns

210

Suggestions and advice

158

Reflexive pronouns

212

Obligations

162

Indefinite pronouns

216

Making deductions

164

Possession

220

Possibility

166

Defining relative clauses

226

Articles

168

Non-defining relative clauses

228

Articles overview

174

Other relative structures

230

“This / that / these / those”

176

Question words with “-ever”

232

“No / none”

180

“There”

234

“Each / every”

182

Introductory “it”

238

“Either / neither / both”

184

Shifting focus

240

Singular and plural nouns

188

Inversion

242

Countable and uncountable nouns

190

Ellipsis

244

Subject-verb agreement

192

Shortening infinitives

246

Abstract and concrete nouns

194

Substitution

250

Compound nouns

196

Adjectives

252

Numbers

198

Gradable and non-gradable adjectives

256

Comparative adjectives

258

Linking words overview

312

Two comparatives together

263

Prefixes

314

“As... as” comparisons

266

Suffixes

316

Superlative adjectives

268

Easily confused phrases

320

Adverbs of manner

272

Sequencing and organizing

322

Comparative and superlative adverbs

274

Correcting and changing the subject

324

Adverbs of degree

276

Deciding and hedging

326

Adverbs of time

280

Making conversation

328

Adverbs of frequency

282

“So” and “such”

284

Reference

330

“Enough” and “too”

286

Glossary

350

Prepositions

288

Index and Acknowledgments

354

Prepositions of place

290

Prepositions of time

292

Other prepositions

296

Dependent prepositions

298

Coordinating conjunctions

302

Subordinating conjunctions

306

More linking words

310

The present simple
The present simple is used to make simple statements
of fact, to talk about things that happen repeatedly,
and to describe things that are always true.

See also:
Present continuous 4 Present for future
events 19 Adverbs of frequency 102

THE PRESENT SIMPLE
To make the present simple of most verbs,
use the base form (the infinitive without “to”).

The base form of
the verb “to eat.”

Adverbs of frequency
are often used with the
present simple.

With “he,” “she,” and “it,” add “-s” to the base form.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM

The base form of the verb.

SUBJECT

VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

With “he,” “she,” and “it,” “-s” is added.

8

“-S” AND “-ES” ENDINGS
With some verbs, “-es” is added for “he,” “she,” and “it.”
These include verbs ending with “-sh,” “-ch,” “-o,” “-ss,” “-x,” and “-z.”

“-es” is added to
verbs ending
with “-sh.”

“-es” is added to
verbs ending
with “-o.”

“-es” is added to
verbs ending
with “-ch.”

“-es” is added
to verbs ending
with “-x.”

“-es” is added to
verbs ending
with “-ss.”

“-es” is added to
verbs ending
with “-z.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES FORMING THE PRESENT SIMPLE
When the present simple is used with
“he,” “she,” “it,” or one person’s name,
it always ends in “-s” or “-es.”

There is no need to add the auxiliary verb
“do” when forming the present simple. It is
only used to form questions and negatives.

An “s” is added to the
base form “start.”

“Start” without an “s” is only used
for “I,” “you,” “we,” and “they.”

“Do” is only used as an auxiliary verb when
forming negatives or questions.

9

“BE” IN THE PRESENT SIMPLE
“Be” is an important verb with an
irregular present simple form.

“Is” also follows
“she” and “it.”

“Are” also follows
“we” and “they.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

FURTHER EXAMPLES

10

“BE”

REST OF SENTENCE

Contractions can
also be used.

“HAVE” IN THE PRESENT SIMPLE
“Have” is an irregular verb. The third person
singular form is “has” not “haves.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“HAVE”

OBJECT

“Has” is used for the third person
singular: “he,” “she,” and “it.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

11

The present simple negative
To make negative sentences using “be” in the present
simple, “not” is added after the verb. For other verbs,
the auxiliary verb “do not” or “does not” is used.

See also:
Present simple 1 Present overview 5
Types of verbs 49

NEGATIVES WITH THE VERB “BE”
The verb “be” takes the
same form in positive and
negative sentences. The only
difference is adding “not.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT + “BE”

“NOT”

NEGATIVE CONTRACTIONS
“Is not” and “are not”
can be contracted in
two ways. The
subject and verb can
be contracted, or the
verb and “not.” They
mean the same thing.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“I amn’t” is incorrect.

12

“You are”
becomes “you’re.”

“Are not” becomes “aren’t.”

REST OF SENTENCE

NEGATIVES WITH OTHER VERBS IN THE PRESENT SIMPLE
For verbs other than
“be,” “do not” or
“does not” goes
before the verb to
make the negative.
Verb in
base form.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“DO / DOES” + “NOT”

BASE FORM

REST OF SENTENCE

The base form is used no
matter what the subject is.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

This is the contracted
form of “does not.”

COMMON MISTAKES FORMING NEGATIVE SENTENCES
The main verb in a negative sentence
always stays in its base form, even if
the subject is “he,” she,” or “it.”

13

Present simple questions
Questions in the present simple with “be” are formed by
swapping the verb and subject. For other verbs, the auxiliary
verb “do” or “does” must be added before the subject.

See also:
Present simple 1 Forming questions 34
Question words 35 Open questions 36

QUESTIONS WITH “BE” IN THE PRESENT SIMPLE
To form questions in the
present simple using “be,”
reverse the order of the
subject and the verb.

In a question, the verb moves
to the start of the sentence.

In a statement, the subject
comes before the verb.

The subject comes after the verb.

HOW TO FORM
“BE”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

14

SUBJECT

REST OF SENTENCE

Question words can be used before
the verb to form open questions.

QUESTIONS WITH “DO” AND “DOES”
For questions with
verbs other than
“be,” start the
question with
“do” or “does.”
Don’t swap the
subject and the
main verb.

Add “do” to questions
with “I,” “you,” “we,”
and “they.”

Add “does” to
questions with
“he,” “she,” and “it.”

The main verb goes
in its base form.

HOW TO FORM
“DO / DOES”

SUBJECT

BASE FORM OF VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

The verb never takes an “-s” or
“-es” when you ask a question.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Question words can be used before
“do” or “does” to form open questions.

COMMON MISTAKES FORMING PRESENT SIMPLE QUESTIONS
Never add “-s” or “-es” to the base form of the verb when asking
a question, even in the third person singular (“he,” “she,” or “it”).

The main verb always goes in
its base form in questions.

Do not add “-s” or “-es” to the main
verb when asking a question.

15

The present continuous
The present continuous is used to talk about continued
actions that are happening in the present moment.
It is formed with “be” and a present participle.

See also:
Present simple 1 Action and state verbs 50
Infinitives and participles 51

THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS
The present continuous is
used to describe a current,
continued action.

This is the present simple. It describes
a repeated action or situation.

The present continuous
uses the verb “be.”

This is the present continuous. It describes
what is happening right now.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“AM / IS / ARE”

VERB + “-ING”

REST OF SENTENCE

Present participle

FURTHER EXAMPLES

16

The subject and the verb
can be contracted.

PRESENT PARTICIPLE SPELLING RULES
The present participle is formed by adding “-ing” to the base form
of the verb. Some participles have slightly different spelling rules.
Last letter
is an “-e.”

Add “-ing” to form
regular present participles.

Leave out “e.”

Last letters
are “-ie.”

Change
“-ie” to “y.”

Last letters are consonant–vowel–consonant
and the final syllable is stressed.

Double the last
letter, unless it’s
“w,” “x,” or “y.”

TIP

Present participles
follow the same
spelling rules
as gerunds.

FURTHER EXAMPLES
Don’t double the last letter because
the final syllable is not stressed.

COMMON MISTAKES STATE VERBS IN CONTINUOUS TENSES
Action verbs can be used in simple and continuous forms.
State verbs are not usually used in continuous forms.
ACTION

STATE

17

QUESTIONS IN THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS
To ask questions in the present
continuous, swap the subject
and the form of “be.”

“He” is the subject.

In a question, the verb moves
to the start of the sentence.

This action is happening right now.

HOW TO FORM
“AM / IS / ARE”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

18

SUBJECT

VERB + “-ING”

REST OF SENTENCE

Question words such as “what,” “where,” and “how”
can be used before the verb to form open questions.

THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS NEGATIVE
To make the negative of the present
continuous, add “not” after “be.”

The present participle
stays the same when
you make the negative.

Add “not” after “be” to make the
negative. Contractions are also possible.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“AM / IS / ARE” + “NOT”

VERB + “-ING”

REST OF SENTENCE

The present participle
doesn’t change.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

19

Present tenses overview
THE PRESENT SIMPLE AND THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS
The present simple is used to talk about
permanent situations, regular occurrences,
things that are always true, repeated actions,
and ongoing states.

The present continuous is used to refer
to temporary situations, repeated actions
around the present moment, and ongoing
actions in the present moment.

This is always true.

This is a temporary situation.

PRESENT TENSE QUESTIONS
Present simple
questions with “be”
are formed differently
from other verbs.

The form of “be” comes
before the subject.

Present continuous
questions are always
formed in the same way.

“Do” or “does” is added
before the subject.

The form of “be” comes
before the subject.

COMMON MISTAKES USING “S” IN THE PRESENT SIMPLE
“-s” is never added to the base form of the
verb when asking a question or making a
negative sentence, even in the third person
singular (“he,” “she,” or “it”).

AFFIRMATIVE
An “-s” is added to the base
form in affirmative sentences.

The base form without an “-s” is only
used for “I,” “you,” “we,” and “they.”

20

The present simple and present continuous are used in
different situations. There are different ways to form
questions and negatives with these tenses.

See also:
Present simple 1 Present continuous 4
Forming questions 34 Infinitives and participles 51

This is a repeated action.

This is a continuing state.
This is a repeated action happening
around the present moment.

This is an ongoing action
in the present moment.

PRESENT TENSE NEGATIVES
Present simple
negatives with
“be” are formed
differently from
other verbs.

“Not” is added after
the form of “be.”

Present continuous
negatives are always
formed in the same way.

“Do not” or “does not” is added
between the subject and main verb.

“Not” is added after
the form of “be.”

QUESTION

NEGATIVE
The base form is used
in the negative.

The verb always goes in its
base form in questions.

“-s” or “-es” are not added to the
main verb when asking a question.

“-s” or “-es” are not added to the
main verb in negative sentences.

21

Imperatives
Imperatives are used to give commands or to make
requests. They can also be used to give warnings
or directions.

IMPERATIVES

An exclamation mark is used if the imperative is urgent.

Imperatives are formed using
the base form of the verb
(the infinitive without “to”).
The base form of the
verb “to stop.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

NEGATIVE IMPERATIVES
“Do not” or “don’t”
can be added before
the verb to make an
imperative negative.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

22

See also:
Types of verbs 49 Suggestions and advice 59
Indefinite pronouns 79

SUBJECTS WITH IMPERATIVES
An imperative sentence does not
usually have a subject, but sometimes
a noun or a pronoun is used to make
it clear who is being talked to.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The subject can also
be placed at the end.

For emphasis “you” can be
used in an imperative clause.

POLITE REQUESTS
Imperatives in English
can be considered rude.
Words can be added to
make them more polite.

“Just” can go before
the imperative.

“Please” can be placed before the imperative
verb to make a request more polite.

“Please” can also be placed
at the end of the sentence.

“Do” can go before the imperative
verb to make a request more formal.

MAKING SUGGESTIONS WITH “LET’S”
Base form.

“Let’s” can be used to make
a suggestion for an activity
that includes the speaker.

“Not” goes after “let’s” to form the negative.

23

The past simple
The past simple is used to talk about completed actions
that happened at a fixed time in the past. It is the most
commonly used past tense in English.

See also:
Past simple negative 8 Past simple questions 9
Present perfect simple 11

REGULAR VERBS IN THE PAST SIMPLE
To form a regular verb in the past simple,
“-ed” is added to the base form.

TUESDAY

TODAY

The verb ends in "-ed.”

Fixed point in the past.

HOW TO FORM
Most verbs in the past
simple do not change
with the subject.

SUBJECT

PAST VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

The same form is
used for all subjects.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

24

SPELLING RULES FOR THE PAST SIMPLE
The past simple of all regular verbs ends in “-ed,” but for
some verbs, there are some spelling changes, too.
Last letter is “-e.”

For many regular
verbs, “-ed”
is added.

Just a “-d”
is added.

Last letters are a
consonant and a “-y.”

The “-y” is removed
and “-ied” is
added instead.

A stressed final syllable ending
consonant-vowel-consonant.

The last consonant
is doubled and
“-ed” is added.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

25

IRREGULAR VERBS IN THE PAST SIMPLE
Some verbs do not take
“-ed” to form the past
simple. There are no
specific rules about how
to form irregular verbs
in the past simple.

“Went” is the past simple of “go.”

YESTERDAY

COMMON IRREGULAR VERBS IN THE PAST SIMPLE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

26

TODAY

“BE” IN THE PAST SIMPLE
The past simple of “be”
is completely irregular.
It is the only verb in
the past simple which
changes depending
on the subject.

PAST

NOW

HOW TO FORM
The past simple
of “be” changes
with the subject.

SUBJECT

“BE”

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

27

The past simple negative
The past simple negative is used to talk about things that
did not happen in the past. It is always formed the same
way, unless the main verb is “be.”

See also:
Past simple 7 Present simple negative 2
Types of verbs 49

THE PAST SIMPLE NEGATIVE
The past simple
negative uses “did
not” or “didn’t”
with the base form
of the main verb.
The main verb is
not put into the
past simple.

“played” is the
past simple.

LAST WEEK

To make the negative,
“didn’t” is used with
the base form.

YESTERDAY

TODAY

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“DID NOT / DIDN’T”

“Didn’t” or “did not” are used
to make the negative, no
matter what the subject is.

The base form of the
main verb is used in
the past simple negative.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Did not” is only used for
emphasis, or in formal situations.

28

BASE FORM OF VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

COMMON MISTAKES BASE FORMS IN THE PAST SIMPLE NEGATIVE
When using the negative form of the past simple, “didn’t” plus the main
verb in the base form is used. The main verb is never in the past simple.
“Play” should be in
the base form.

The main verb should only go into the
past simple if it’s a positive statement.

THE PAST SIMPLE NEGATIVE OF “BE”
To form the past simple negative of “be,”
“not” is added after “was” or “were.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WAS / WERE”

“NOT”

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Was not” is often
shortened to “wasn’t.”

“Were not” is often
shortened to “weren’t.”

29

Past simple questions
Questions in the past simple are formed using “did.” For
past simple questions with “be,” the subject and the verb
“was” or “were” are swapped around.

See also:
Past simple 7 Forming questions 34
Types of verbs 49

QUESTIONS IN THE PAST SIMPLE
Use “did” plus the base form of the verb
to ask a question in the past simple.
In the statement the main
verb is in the past simple.

“Did” goes before
the subject.

The main verb
is in its base form.

You can add question words
to ask open questions.

HOW TO FORM
“DID”

SUBJECT

BASE FORM OF VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Add question words
to make open questions.

30

QUESTIONS IN THE PAST SIMPLE WITH “BE”
To make a question
using the verb “be” in
the past simple, swap
the order of the subject
and “was” or “were.”

In a question, the verb and
the subject swap places.

In a statement, the subject
comes before the verb.

The subject comes after the verb.

HOW TO FORM
“WAS / WERE”

SUBJECT

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Add question words
to make open questions.

31

The past continuous
The past continuous is used in English to talk about actions
or events that were in progress at some time in the past. It is
formed with “was” or “were” and a present participle.

See also:
Past simple 7
Infinitives and participles 51

THE PAST CONTINUOUS
Past simple shows the action
happened once and is now finished.

English uses the past
continuous to talk about
ongoing actions that were
in progress at a certain
time in the past.

11:30AM

12:00PM

12:30PM

The past continuous
shows the action went
on for some time, but
is now finished.
Past continuous describes
a continuing action.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
“Was” or “were” followed by the present participle form the past continuous.
SUBJECT

“WAS / WERE”

“Was” or “were” is used
depending on the subject.

32

VERB + “-ING”

REST OF SENTENCE

“-ing” is added
to the main verb.

THE PAST CONTINUOUS FOR SCENE-SETTING
The past continuous is often used in storytelling
to set a scene or describe a situation.

THE PAST CONTINUOUS AND THE PAST SIMPLE
When English uses the past continuous and past simple together, the
past continuous describes a longer, background action, and the past
simple describes a shorter action that interrupts the background action.
CONTINUING BACKGROUND ACTION

INTERRUPTING MAIN ACTION

FURTHER EXAMPLES

33

The present perfect simple
The present perfect simple is used to talk about events
in the recent past that still have an effect on the present
moment. It is formed with “have” and a past participle.

See also:
Past simple 7 Present perfect continuous 12
Infinitives and participles 51

PRESENT PERFECT
The present perfect can be used to talk about
the past in a number of different ways:
To give new information
or news.

To talk about a repeated
action that continues to
happen over a period of time.

To talk about an event that
started in the past and is still
happening now.

FURTHER EXAMPLES THE PRESENT PERFECT

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“HAVE / HAS”

PAST PARTICIPLE

“Has” is used for
“he,” “she,” and “it.”

34

REST OF SENTENCE

REGULAR PAST PARTICIPLES
Regular past participles are formed
by adding “-ed” to the base form.

IRREGULAR PAST PARTICIPLES
English has a lot of irregular past participles, which
sometimes look very different from the base form.

COMMON MISTAKES PAST SIMPLE FORMS AND PAST PARTICIPLES
It is important not
to mix up past
simple forms with
past participles.

This is the past participle of “see.”

This is the past simple form of “see,”
and shouldn’t be used in perfect tenses.

35

“GONE / BEEN”
“Be” and “go” are
both used in the
present perfect
to talk about
going somewhere,
but they have
different meanings.

She is still in Florida.

She went to Florida, but
now she is back home.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

36

THE PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE AND THE PAST SIMPLE
The past simple is used to talk about something that happened at a definite
time. The present perfect is used when a particular time is not specified.
There’s no specific date, so
the present perfect is used.

A specific date, 2010, is given,
so the past simple is used.

2010

NOW

2003

2008

2010

2014

NOW

FURTHER EXAMPLES
PAST SIMPLE

PRESENT PERFECT

THE PRESENT PERFECT IN US ENGLISH
US English often uses the past simple when
UK English would use the present perfect.

37

The present perfect continuous
The present perfect continuous is used to talk about a
continuing activity in the past that still has an effect on
the present moment. It usually refers to the recent past.

See also:
Past simple 7 Present perfect simple 11
Infinitives and participles 51

THE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS
The present perfect continuous describes an activity that took place over a period
of time in the recent past. The activity might just have stopped or might still be happening.
The past activity
often affects the
present moment.

PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

FURTHER EXAMPLES
“I have” can be shortened to “I’ve.”

“He has” can be shortened to “He’s.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“HAS / HAVE”

“BEEN”

Use “have” or “has,”
depending on the subject.

38

VERB + “-ING”

“Been” stays the
same for all subjects.

OBJECT

“-ing” is added to
the main verb.

THE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS AND THE PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE
The present perfect continuous is used to show that an activity in the
past was in progress. It is possible that the activity is still taking place.
PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The present perfect simple is used to show
that an activity in the past is finished.
PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

39

The past perfect simple
English uses the past perfect simple with the past simple
to talk about two or more events that happened
at different times in the past.

See also:
Past simple 7 Present perfect simple 11
Past perfect continuous 14 Participles 51

THE PAST PERFECT SIMPLE
When talking about two events that happened at different times in the
past, the past simple describes the event that is closest to the time of
speaking. The past perfect describes an event further back in the past.
PAST PERFECT SIMPLE

PAST SIMPLE

8:10PM

8:20PM

NOW

7:00AM

7:30AM

NOW

HOW TO FORM
Use “had” followed by the past participle to form the past perfect.
SUBJECT

“Had” does not change
with the subject.

40

“HAD”

PAST PARTICIPLE

The past participle expresses
the action in the past.

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Even if the past simple action is first in
the sentence, it still happened later.

THE PRESENT PERFECT AND PAST PERFECT
PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE

The present perfect is used to talk about
an action that took place in the recent past
and is still relevant to the present moment.

ONE HOUR AGO

NOW

PAST PERFECT SIMPLE

The past perfect is used to talk
about an action that took place
before another moment in the past.

ONE HOUR BEFORE

PAST

NOW

41

The past perfect continuous
English uses the past perfect continuous with the past
simple to talk about an activity that was in progress
before another action or event happened.

See also:
Past simple 7 Present perfect continuous 12
Infinitives and participles 51

THE PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS
The past simple refers to
a specific completed event
in the past. The past perfect
continuous describes a
repeated action or continuing
activity that was taking place
before that completed event.

PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

PAST SIMPLE

TWO YEARS BEFORE

PAST

NOW

SIX HOURS BEFORE

PAST

NOW

HOW TO FORM
The past perfect continuous is formed
using “had been” plus a present participle.
SUBJECT

“HAD BEEN”

“Had been” doesn't
change with the subject.

42

VERB + “-ING”

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

THE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS AND PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS
PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The present perfect continuous is used
to talk about an action in progress or
repeated activity that was taking place
until the present moment.

TWO HOURS AGO

NOW

PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The past perfect continuous is used to
talk about an ongoing action or repeated
activity that was taking place until
another specified moment in the past.

TWO HOURS BEFORE

PAST

NOW

43

“Used to” and “would”
When talking about habits or states in the past, “used to”
or “would” are often used. English often uses these forms
to contrast the past with the present.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 4
Past continuous 10 Adverbs of frequency 102

“USED TO”
“Used to” can be
used with the
base form of a
verb to talk about
past habits.

Refers to a past habit.

PAST

“Used to” can also
be used to talk
about fixed states
at some indefinite
time in the past.

Refers to a past state.

PAST

FURTHER EXAMPLES

44

NOW

NOW

“Used” becomes “use” in
questions and negative forms.

COMMON MISTAKES “USED TO” AND THE PAST CONTINUOUS
When talking about habits
in the past, “used to”
should be used. It is
incorrect to use the past
continuous in this context.

The past continuous shouldn’t be
used to talk about past habits.

ANOTHER WAY TO SAY “USED TO” WITH HABITS
“Used to” can be replaced by “would” in writing and formal speech, but
only to talk about past habits. These statements often include a reference
to time to describe when, or how often something happened.
Refers to a past habit.

6 YEARS AGO

5 YEARS AGO

4 YEARS AGO

NOW

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES “WOULD” WITH STATES
“Would” cannot be
used to talk about states
in the past. “Used to”
must be used instead.
“Would” cannot be used in this
way with state verbs.

45

Past tenses overview
PAST TENSES
The past simple refers to a single,
completed action in the past.

The present perfect simple refers to an unfinished action
or series of actions that started in the past, or past actions
that still have a consequence in the present moment.

This is a completed action
in the past that is now over.

The past continuous refers to a continuing
action in the past.

Eve is still in London, so it is still
relevant to the present moment.

The present perfect continuous refers to a continuing
activity in the past that still has a consequence in the
present moment.

This is a consequence
in the present moment.

At that moment, he was in the
process of washing his car.

PAST SIMPLE AND PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE
The past simple is used to refer to single,
completed actions or events in the past.
These no longer have a consequence in
the present moment.
The essay is finished, so
the past simple is used.

This is no longer relevant to the present
moment, because the keys were found.

46

The present perfect simple is used to
refer to actions or events in the past that
are unfinished, or still have consequences
in the present moment.
The essay is unfinished, so the
present perfect simple is used.

The keys are still lost in the present moment,
so the present perfect simple is used.

There are eight different ways to talk about the past
in English. The differences between the past simple
and the present perfect simple are particularly important.

See also:
Past simple 7 Present perfect simple 11
Infinitives and participles 51

The past perfect simple refers to an action or event that
took place before another action or event in the past.

“Used to” and “Would” are used to talk about
repeated actions in the past that no longer happen.

The past perfect continuous refers to a continuing
action or event that was taking place before another
action or event that happened in the past.

“Used to” can also be used to refer to a fixed state at
some indefinite time in the past that is no longer true.

“Live” is a state, so
“would” can’t be used.

KEY LANGUAGE NARRATIVE TENSES
Narrative tenses are types of past tense that are used when telling a story.
The past continuous is used to set the scene. The past simple describes actions in the story.
The past perfect is used to talk about things that happened before the beginning of the story.

PAST CONTINUOUS

PAST PERFECT

PAST SIMPLE

47

The future with “going to”
Future forms in English are formed using auxiliary verbs.
One of the most commonly used constructions is
“going to” plus the base form of the main verb.

See also:
The future with “will” 18
Future continuous 20 Future in the past 22

HOW TO FORM THE FUTURE WITH “GOING TO”
SUBJECT

“BE”

BASE FORM OF VERB

“GOING TO”

“GOING TO” FOR FUTURE PLANS
“Going to” is used to talk about future events
that have been planned in advance, rather
than decided upon at the time of speaking.

“Be” matches the
subject of the sentence.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Not” is added after the verb
“be” to make the negative.

48

Base form of verb.

“Going to” doesn’t
change with the subject.

REST OF SENTENCE

“GOING TO” FOR PREDICTIONS
“Going to” is also used to make predictions
when there is evidence in the present moment.

“Going to” gives
the prediction.

Evidence in the present moment means
that you can make a prediction.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

QUESTIONS WITH “GOING TO”
Questions with
“going to” are formed
by swapping the
subject and “be.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Question words can be added
to the start of the question.

49

The future with “will”
“Will” is used to form some future tenses in English.
It can be used in several different ways, which are all
different from the future with “going to.”

See also:
The future with “going to” 17
Infinitive and participles 51

HOW TO FORM THE FUTURE WITH “WILL”
SUBJECT

“WILL”

BASE FORM OF VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

the new movie.
“Will” doesn’t change
with the subject.

THE FUTURE USING “WILL”

TIP

English uses “will” when talking about the future in four main ways:

Remember to use the
future with “going to” for
predictions based on current
evidence, and for decisions
made before the time
of speaking.

To make a
prediction about
what you think
will happen.
This prediction is not
based on evidence.
Contraction

To offer to
do something
for someone.

To make a
promise.
This decision was not
planned in advance.

To describe a
decision you’ve
just made.

50

“WILL” FOR PREDICTIONS
“Will” is used to talk about predictions about the future when
there is no firm evidence for that prediction.

There is no firm evidence that
the person will like the movie.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Probably" means something
is likely, but not definite.

“WILL” FOR QUICK DECISIONS
“Will” is used to describe quick decisions that
someone has made at the time of speaking. They
are often a solution to an unexpected problem.

“Will” shows you have just
made the decision.

FURTHER EXAMPLES
“Will not” or “won’t” is the
negative form of “will.”

“So” is often used to join a
situation to a quick decision.

51

“WILL” FOR MAKING OFFERS
“Will” is also
used to offer to
do something
for someone.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“WILL” FOR MAKING PROMISES
"Will" can be used when
making a promise.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

52

“THINK” WITH “WILL”
“Think” can be used with “will” to show that a
prediction is just an opinion, or a decision is not final.
“That” is used after “think,”
but it can be left out.

This is an uncertain
prediction.

This decision is still
being considered.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Think” is made negative, rather than “will.”

FUTURE WITH “SHALL”
“Shall” is used instead of “will” when asking for a decision, or making offers or suggestions.
In these cases, it is only used with “I” or “we.” It is rarely used in US English.

“Shall” is being used
to make an offer.

“Shall” is being used
to make a suggestion.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

53

The present for future events
The present simple and present continuous can be used
to talk about future events that are already planned. They
are usually used with a future time word or time phrase.

See also:
Present simple 1 Present continuous 4
Prepositions of time 107

THE PRESENT SIMPLE FOR FUTURE EVENTS
The present simple
can be used to talk
about events that are
scheduled to take
place in the future.

This refers to a point
in the future.

Present simple.

NOW

10PM

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

FURTHER EXAMPLES

54

PRESENT SIMPLE

FUTURE TIME PHRASE

THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS FOR FUTURE EVENTS
The present continuous
can be used to talk
about pre-arranged
future events. Time
markers usually show
whether the event is in
the present or future.

“At the moment” shows the
action refers to the present.

Time clause “tomorrow” shows
the action refers to the future.

Present continuous refers
to Dave’s present activity.

Present continuous refers to a
future event that is planned.

NOW

TOMORROW

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

PRESENT CONTINUOUS

FUTURE TIME PHRASE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

55

The future continuous
The future continuous can be formed using “will” or
“going to.” It describes an event or situation that will
be in progress at some point in the future.

See also:
Present continuous 4 “Will” 18
Infinitives and participles 51

THE FUTURE CONTINUOUS WITH WILL
The future continuous describes an event that will be in progress at a given time in the future
which is often stated. The event will start before the stated time and may continue after it.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS

FUTURE CONTINUOUS

NOW

10 YEARS’ TIME

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WILL BE”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

56

PRESENT PARTICIPLE

OBJECT

THE FUTURE CONTINUOUS WITH “ANYWAY”
The future continuous can also be used to talk about events that
are going to happen as a matter of course or “anyway.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Anyway” is implied here.

NEUTRAL QUESTIONS
The future continuous is also used to ask neutral questions:
questions asked for information, not to make a request.
NEUTRAL QUESTION
Future continuous.

REQUEST
Future simple.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

57

THE FUTURE CONTINUOUS TO TALK ABOUT THE PRESENT
You can also use the future continuous to speculate about
what is happening at the present moment.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

58

THE FUTURE CONTINUOUS WITH “GOING TO”
The future continuous can sometimes be formed with “going to”
instead of “will,” but this is less common. It can be used in most future
continuous constructions except to speculate about the present.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“BE”

“GOING TO BE”

PRESENT PARTICIPLE

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

59

The future perfect
The future perfect is used to talk about an event that will
overlap with, or finish before, another event in the
future. It can be used in simple or continuous forms.

See also:
Infinitives and participles 51
Prepositions of time 107

THE FUTURE PERFECT
The future perfect is used to describe an action
or event that will be finished before a certain future time.

NOW

NOVEMBER

“By” has a similar
meaning to “before.”

DECEMBER

JANUARY

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WILL HAVE”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

60

PAST PARTICIPLE

OBJECT

TIME PHRASE

THE FUTURE PERFECT CONTINUOUS
The future perfect continuous can be used to predict the length of an activity.
This tense looks back from the imagined finishing time in the future.

LAST JULY

NOW

JULY

FURTHER EXAMPLES
TIME PHRASE

SUBJECT

“WILL HAVE BEEN”

PRESENT PARTICIPLE

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

61

The future in the past
There are a number of constructions in English that can
be used to describe thoughts about the future that
someone had at some point in the past.

See also:
Past continuous 10
Infinitives and participles 51

THE FUTURE IN THE PAST USING “WAS GOING TO”
The future in the past is used to
look back on an earlier prediction.
Where “going to” is used to talk
about the future from the present,
“was / were going to” is used to
talk about a past view of it.

EARLIER

NOW

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WAS / WERE”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

62

“GOING TO”

BASE FORM

REST OF SENTENCE

THE FUTURE IN THE PAST USING “WOULD”
Where “will” is used to talk
about a future event from the
present, “would” is used to talk
about a past view of it.

EARLIER

NOW

FURTHER EXAMPLES

THE FUTURE IN THE PAST USING THE PAST CONTINUOUS
The past continuous is used to talk about an
arranged future event from a time in the past.

MONDAY MORNING

MONDAY AFTERNOON

NOW

FURTHER EXAMPLES

63

Future overview
THE FUTURE
The present simple can be used to talk about
events that are timetabled or scheduled to
take place in the future.

The simple future is the most common form
used to refer to an event in the future.

The present continuous can
be used to talk about future
arrangements and plans.

The future continuous describes an event that will be
in progress at a given time in the future. The event will
start before the stated time and may continue after it.

“GOING TO” AND “WILL”
English uses both “going to” and “will” to talk about the future. They can sometimes have a
very similar meaning, but there are certain situations where they mean different things.
“Will” is used to
make predictions
that aren’t based on
present evidence.

“Going to” is used when
there is evidence in the
present moment to
support a prediction.

64

This is a prediction
without firm evidence.

English uses different constructions to talk about the
future. These are mostly formed with the auxiliary
verb “will” or a form of “be” with “going to.”

The future perfect is used to predict when
an action or event will be finished. This tense
looks back from an imagined time in the future.

See also:
The future with “going to” 17
The future with “will” 18

The future in the past describes thoughts about the
future that someone had at some point in the past.
There are three ways to form this construction.

“Am going to” becomes
“was going to.”

“Will” becomes
“would.”

The future perfect continuous is used to predict
the eventual duration of an activity. This tense
looks back from the endpoint of the action.

“Am starting” becomes
“was starting.”

This decision was not
planned in advance.

“Will” is used when
a decision is made
at the time of speaking.

This decision has already been planned.

“Going to” is used
when talking about
a decision that has
already been made.

65

The passive
In most sentences, the subject carries out an action and the
object receives it, or the result of it. In passive sentences,
this is reversed: the subject receives the action.

See also:
Present simple 1 Present continuous 4
Infinitives and participles 51

THE PRESENT SIMPLE PASSIVE
Passive sentences take emphasis away from the agent (the person or thing doing the
action), and put it on the action itself, or the person or thing receiving the action.
In the present simple passive, the present simple verb becomes a past participle.
The focus is on “many people.”

The subject of the active sentence is “many people.”

“Study” changes to “is studied.”

The focus is on “this book,” which is
the subject of the passive sentence.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The speaker doesn’t mention the agent
because the verb obviously refers to the police.

The passive is used when the
agent is obvious, unknown,
or unimportant. It is also
useful when describing a
process where the result of
the action is important.

The agent is not mentioned because
the process is more important.

“Be” and the subject swap places to form questions.

HOW TO FORM
All passives use a form of “be” with a past participle. The agent (the thing doing the action)
can be introduced with “by,” but the sentence would still make sense without it.
SUBJECT

66

“AM / IS / ARE”

PAST PARTICIPLE

“BY”

THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS PASSIVE
The present continuous passive
is used to refer to ongoing actions.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS

PRESENT CONTINUOUS PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“AM / IS / ARE”

The thing that
receives the action.

“BEING”

Present simple
of “be.”

PAST PARTICIPLE

REST OF SENTENCE

The past participle describes
what happens to the subject.

67

The passive in the past
English uses the passive voice in the past to stress the
effect of an action that happened in the past, rather
than the cause of that action.

See also:
Past simple 7 Past continuous 10
Present perfect 11 Past perfect 13

THE PAST SIMPLE PASSIVE
The past simple passive is used when referring to a single completed
action in the past, focusing on the effect rather than the cause.
PAST SIMPLE

PAST SIMPLE PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WAS / WERE”

The thing that
receives the action.

68

PAST PARTICIPLE

“Was” is for singular subjects,
and “were” is for plural subjects.

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb is a
past participle.

THE PAST CONTINUOUS PASSIVE
The past continuous can also be used in the passive
voice. It is used to refer to ongoing actions in the past.
PAST CONTINUOUS

PAST CONTINUOUS PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WAS / WERE”

The thing that
receives the action.

“BEING”

“Was” is for singular subjects,
and “were” is for plural subjects.

PAST PARTICIPLE

"BY" + AGENT

The main verb is expressed
as a past participle.

69

THE PRESENT PERFECT PASSIVE
The present perfect passive is used to talk about events in
the past that still have an effect on the present moment.
PRESENT PERFECT

PRESENT PERFECT PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The subject and verb swap
places to form questions.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“HAS / HAVE”

The thing that
receives the action.

70

“BEEN”

“Been” stays the same no
matter what the subject is.

PAST PARTICIPLE

The main verb is expressed
as a past participle.

THE PAST PERFECT PASSIVE
The past perfect passive is used to refer to events
that happened before another event in the past.

PAST PERFECT PASSIVE
PAST PERFECT

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

The thing that
receives the action.

"HAD BEEN"

“Had been” stays the
same with any subject.

PAST PARTICIPLE

The main verb is expressed
as a past participle.

71

The passive in the future
English uses the passive voice in the future to stress
the effect of an action that will happen in the
future, rather than the cause of that action.

See also:
Future with "will" 18 Future perfect 21
Infinitives and participles 51

THE FUTURE SIMPLE PASSIVE
The future simple passive is usually formed with "will" rather than "going to."
FUTURE SIMPLE

FUTURE SIMPLE PASSIVE

It is not known or important who will catch the thief.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WILL BE”

The thing that
receives the action.

72

PAST PARTICIPLE

“Will be” doesn’t change
with any subject.

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb is a
past participle.

THE FUTURE PERFECT PASSIVE
The future perfect passive is used to talk about events
that will be finished at some point in the future.
FUTURE PERFECT

FUTURE PERFECT PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

The thing that
receives the action.

“WILL HAVE BEEN”

“Will have been” stays the
same with any subject.

PAST PARTICIPLE

The main verb is
a past participle.

73

The passive with modals
Modal verbs in English can be used in passive forms.
As with other passive constructions, the emphasis
changes to the object that receives the action.

See also:
Present perfect simple 11 Passive 24
Modal verbs 56

MODALS IN THE PRESENT PASSIVE
Modals in passive forms don’t change. The sentence starts with
the modal, then the verb “be” plus the past participle.
PRESENT WITH MODAL

PRESENT PASSIVE WITH MODAL

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

MODAL VERB

The thing that
receives the action.

74

Other modal verbs
can go here.

“BE”

PAST PARTICIPLE

“Be” stays the same no matter
what the subject is.

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb is a past
participle form.

MODALS IN THE PERFECT PASSIVE
Modals in perfect tenses can become passive
by replacing “have” with “have been.”
PERFECT WITH MODAL

PERFECT PASSIVE WITH MODAL

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

MODAL VERB

The thing that
receives the action.

Other modal verbs
can go here.

“HAVE BEEN”

PAST PARTICIPLE

“Have been” stays the same
with any subject.

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb is a past
participle form.

75

Other passive constructions
Many idioms in English use passive forms. Some idioms
use standard rules for passive forms, while others are
slightly different.

See also:
Passive voice 45 Reporting verbs 24
Defining relative clauses 81

REPORTING WITH PASSIVES
Some passive constructions are used to distance
the writer or speaker from the facts. They are
often used in academic writing or news reports.
“IT” + PASSIVE REPORTING VERB

SUBJECT + PASSIVE
REPORTING VERB

“THERE” + PASSIVE
REPORTING VERB

FURTHER EXAMPLES

76

“THAT” CLAUSE

INFINITIVE CLAUSE

“TO BE / TO HAVE BEEN”

USING “GET” IN PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIONS
“Get” can sometimes replace “be” in passive sentences.
This form is more informal than the passive with “be.”

PRESENT SIMPLE PASSIVE

PAST SIMPLE PASSIVE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“GET / GOT”

The thing that
receives the action.

PAST PARTICIPLE

A form of “get” is
used instead of “be.”

REST OF SENTENCE

The past participle describes
what happens to the subject.

77

Conditional sentences
Conditional sentences are used to describe real or
hypothetical results of real or hypothetical situations.
They can use many different verb forms.

See also:
Present simple 1 Imperatives 6
Past simple 7 Future with “will” 18

THE ZERO CONDITIONAL
RESULT

ACTION

The zero conditional,
also called the “real”
conditional, refers to
things that are always
true. It is used to
describe the direct
result of an action.

“If ” and “when” mean
the same thing in the
zero conditional.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The result clause can go to the beginning of the
sentence. The comma is removed in this case.

HOW TO FORM
“IF / WHEN”

ACTION (PRESENT SIMPLE)

Present simple
describes the action.

78

Comma goes at the end of
the “if ” or “when” clause.

COMMA

RESULT (PRESENT SIMPLE)

Result is described
using present simple.

CONDITIONALS WITH IMPERATIVES
Imperatives can be used in
conditional sentences. The “if ”
clause describes a hypothetical
situation and the imperative
clause describes what someone
should do if that hypothetical
situation actually happens.

SITUATION

SUGGESTED ACTION

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The order is reversed, so there is no comma.

Negative

HOW TO FORM
“IF”

PRESENT SIMPLE

“If ” shows that the
sentence is conditional.

Present simple tense
describes the situation.

IMPERATIVE

COMMA

Comma comes at the
end of the “if ” clause.

The imperative gives
the suggested action.

79

THE FIRST CONDITIONAL
The first conditional, also called the “future real” conditional, uses
“if ” to describe a realistic action that might lead to a future result.
LIKELY ACTION

FUTURE RESULT

HOW TO FORM
The first conditional is usually introduced by an “if ” clause, followed
by the present simple. The future with “will” expresses the result.
“IF”

PRESENT SIMPLE

“If ” shows that the
sentence is conditional.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

80

Present simple tense
describes suggested action.

COMMA

FUTURE WITH “WILL”

Comma goes at the
end of the “if ” clause.

Future with “will”
describes the result.

THE SECOND CONDITIONAL
The second conditional, also called the “unreal” conditional, uses “if ” to describe
an unlikely or unreal action or event. The described result is also very unlikely.
UNLIKELY EVENT

UNLIKELY RESULT

HOW TO FORM
The second conditional is usually introduced by an “if ” clause with a past simple verb.
“Would” or “could” plus the base form of the main verb expresses the result.
“IF”

PAST SIMPLE

“If ” shows that the
sentence is conditional.

Past simple tense
describes the action.

COMMA

“WOULD / COULD” + BASE FORM

Comma goes at the
end of the “if ” clause.

Result is described
using “would” + verb.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

81

THE THIRD CONDITIONAL
The third conditional, also called the “past unreal” conditional, is used
to describe unreal situations in the past. It is often used to express
regret about the past because the hypothetical situation that it
describes is now impossible as a consequence of another past action.

UNREAL PAST SITUATION

UNREAL PAST RESULT

This didn’t happen.

So this didn’t happen either.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Might” means this possibly
would have happened.

“Could” means this possibly
would have happened.

HOW TO FORM
“IF”

“HAD” + PAST PARTICIPLE

The “if “ clause is the
unreal past condition.

82

“WOULD / COULD / MIGHT”

Using different modals changes the
certainty of the imagined result.

“HAVE” + PAST PARTICIPLE

The conditional clause
is the unreal result.

THE MIXED CONDITIONAL
SECOND CONDITIONAL

THIRD CONDITIONAL

The second conditional is used to talk about
hypothetical situations in the present.

The third conditional is used to talk about
hypothetical situations in the past.

PAST SIMPLE

PAST PERFECT

“WOULD” + INFINITIVE

“WOULD” + “HAVE” + PAST PARTICIPLE

MIXED CONDITIONAL

Mixed conditionals are usually used to talk about
hypothetical present reults of unreal past situations.

Unreal past.

Unreal present.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Mixed conditionals are often
used to express regret.

Mixed conditionals refer to future situations
when used with future time markers.

83

Other conditional sentences
English allows for some variations in conditional sentence
structures. These give more information about the context
of the conditional.

See also:
Future with “will” 18
Modal verbs 56

CONDITIONAL SENTENCES WITH MODAL VERBS
First, second, and third conditional sentences can use different
modal verbs in their “result” clauses. These can be used to express
uncertainty, possibility, or obligation, amongst other things.
FIRST CONDITIONAL

In the first conditional,
“will” can be replaced
by a variety of modal
verbs to talk about
different ideas.
Different modal
verbs can go here.

SECOND CONDITIONAL

In the second conditional,
“would” can be replaced
by “could” or “might” to
express ability, possibility,
or uncertainty.

THIRD CONDITIONAL

In the third conditional, “would” can be replaced by “could”
or “might” to express ability, possibility, or uncertainty.

84

FIRST CONDITIONAL WITH “UNLESS”
“Unless” can be used instead of “if ” in conditional
sentences. “Unless” means “if… not,” so the future result
depends on the suggested action not happening.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

FORMAL THIRD CONDITIONAL
The third conditional can be made more formal by
swapping “had” with the subject and dropping “if.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

85

Conditional sentences overview
TYPES OF CONDITIONAL
The zero conditional
is used to talk about
situations that will
always happen. It is
used to talk about
general truths.

PRESENT SIMPLE

PRESENT SIMPLE

The second conditional
is used to talk about
hypothetical situations
that are very unlikely to
happen, but are usually
still possible.

PAST SIMPLE

“WOULD” + BASE FORM

USING COMMAS IN CONDITIONAL SENTENCES
When the action comes before the result,
a comma separates the two clauses of the
conditional sentence. However, when the
result comes first, no comma is used.
A comma is used if the action comes first.

The result can come at the
beginning of the sentence.

86

“If ” or “when” can sit between the
action and result, without a comma.

There are four types of conditional sentences. The zero
conditional refers to real situations, but the first, second,
and third conditionals all refer to hypothetical situations.

The first conditional
is used to talk about
hypothetical situations
that are likely to happen.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7
Past perfect simple 13 Modal verbs 56

PRESENT SIMPLE

“WILL” + BASE FORM

The third conditional
is used to talk about
hypothetical situations
that definitely will not
happen. The result
is no longer possible
because of the imaginary
cause in the past.

PAST PERFECT

“WOULD” + “HAVE” + PAST PARTICIPLE

COMMON MISTAKES USING OTHER TENSES IN CONDITIONAL SENTENCES
“Will,” “would,” and “would have” should not be used
in the “if ” clause when forming conditional sentences.

“Will” doesn’t go in the “if ” clause.

“Would” doesn’t go in the “if ” clause.

“Would have” doesn’t go in the “if ” clause.

87

Future possibilities
There are many ways to talk about imaginary future
situations. Different structures can be used to indicate
whether a situation is likely or unlikely.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7
Past perfect simple 13

LIKELY FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
“What if ” or “suppose” followed by the present tense can be
used to express a future outcome that is likely to happen.
“What if ” means “what would happen
if an imagined situation occurred?”

Present tense shows the speaker believes this is likely to happen.
“Suppose” refers to the consequences of an imagined situation.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

UNLIKELY FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
“What if ” or “suppose” followed by the past simple
can be used to express a future outcome that is
possible, but unlikely to happen.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

88

The past tense shows
the speaker thinks this
is unlikely to happen.

THINGS THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED
“What if ” and “suppose” can also be used with the past perfect
to describe situations that were possible in the past, but that
didn’t happen, or might not have happened.

The past perfect shows that this
didn’t happen, but it was possible.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

IN CASE
“In case” or “just in case” plus the present tense are
used to show planning for a possible future situation.

Present tense.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Just” is added to “in case” to talk about
preparation for a situation that is less likely.

89

Wishes and regrets
English uses the verb “wish” to talk about present and
past regrets. The tense of the verb that follows “wish”
affects the meaning of the sentence.

See also:
Past simple 7 Past perfect simple 13
Modal verbs 56

“WISH” AND PAST SIMPLE
“Wish” is used with the
past simple to express
regrets and desires
about the present,
which could still
happen or come true.

The past simple is used here
to talk about the present.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WISH”

SUBJECT

“Wish” or “wishes,”
depending on the subject.

90

PAST SIMPLE

REST OF SENTENCE

The past simple expresses wishes
or regrets about the present.

“WISH” AND PAST PERFECT
“Wish” is used with the past perfect to talk
about regrets about the past. This form is used
when it is too late for the wish to come true.

The past perfect is used to talk
about a regret in the past.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“WISH”

SUBJECT

“Wish” or “wishes,”
depending on the subject.

PAST PERFECT

REST OF SENTENCE

The past perfect expresses
regrets about the past.

91

“WISH” FOR FUTURE HOPES
“Wish” can also be used to
talk about hopes for the
future. “Wish” with “could” is
usually used when someone
is expressing a desire to do
something themselves.

“Wish” with “would” is
used when someone
is expressing a desire
for someone else to
do something.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

92

[I would like to be able to move somewhere warmer.]

[She wants her teacher to give out less homework in the future.]

ANOTHER WAY TO SAY “I WISH”
PRESENT REGRETS

Stronger regrets about the present can be
expressed by using “if only” and the past simple.

PAST REGRETS

Stronger regrets about the past can be
expressed by using “if only” and the past perfect.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

PAST REGRETS
“Should have” or “ought to have” are used to express regret
that something did or didn’t happen in the past.
Past participle.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The negative form “ought not to have“ is rarely
used in UK English and never used in US English.

93

Forming questions
If a statement uses “be” or an auxiliary verb, its question form
is made by inverting that verb and the subject. Any other
question is formed by adding “do” or “does.”

See also:
Present simple 1 Types of verbs 49
Modal verbs 56

QUESTIONS WITH “BE”
To make a question
using the verb “be,”
the verb goes before
the subject.

In a statement, the subject comes before the verb.

In a question, the
verb comes before
the subject.

The subject comes after the verb.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
“BE”

94

SUBJECT

REST OF SENTENCE

QUESTIONS WITH “BE” IN THE PAST
To ask questions about
the past using the verb
“be,” the subject and
verb swap places.

The subject and “was / were” swap places.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

QUESTIONS WITH AUXILIARY VERBS
For questions including
an auxiliary verb, such
as “have,” “will,” and
“could,” the subject and
the auxiliary verb swap
places. The main verb
stays where it is.

Auxiliary comes first.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Main verb doesn’t move.

If a question has more than one
auxiliary verb, only the first one moves.

95

QUESTIONS WITH “DO” AND “DOES”
Questions in the present
simple without the verb
“be” or an auxiliary verb
start with “do” or “does”
and have the main verb
in its base form. The
subject and main verb
do not swap around.
“Do” or “does”
goes at the start.

The main verb changes
to its base form.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
“DO / DOES”

96

SUBJECT

BASE FORM OF VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

QUESTIONS WITH “DID”
Questions in the past
simple without the verb
“be” or an auxiliary verb
start with “did” and have
the main verb in its base
form. The subject and main
verb do not swap places.

Past simple statement.

“Did” is the past
simple form of “do.”

The main verb
is in its base form.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES BASE FORMS IN QUESTIONS WITH “DO”
When questions are formed with the auxiliary verb
“do,” the main verb must be in the base form.

97

Question words
Open questions are questions that do not have
simple “yes” or “no” answers. In English, they
are formed by using question words.

See also:
Forming questions 34
Prepositions of time 107

QUESTION WORDS
There are nine common question words in English.
What is used to ask
questions about things.

Why is used to ask for reasons.

When is used to ask
questions about time.

Where is used to ask about
places or directions.

Whom is a formal version of “who,” that can
only be used as an object of a question.
Who is used to ask about people.

98

How is used to ask about a condition,
or the way something is done.

How can also be used with an adjective or
an adverb to ask about the degree to which
the adjective applies.

Which is used to ask someone to specify
between two or more named things.

Whose is used to ask who is
the owner of something.

“WHAT / WHICH”
“What” is used when the question is general. “Which” is used
when there are two or more possibilities in the question.
There are no choices in the question.

The question includes a choice of possible answers.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“HOW OFTEN” AND “WHEN”
“How often” is used to ask about the frequency with which someone does an activity.
“When” is used to ask about the specific time that they do something.
“How often” asks about frequency.

“When” asks about the specific
time something happens.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

99

Open questions
Open questions can’t be answered with “yes” or “no.”
They are formed differently depending on the
main verb of the question.

See also:
Present simple 1 Question words 35
Verbs 49

OPEN QUESTIONS WITH “BE”
If the main verb of the
sentence is “be,” the
question word goes at
the beginning of the
question and the form of
“be” goes straight after it.

The question is “open”
because it can’t be
answered “yes” or “no.”

“Be” comes after
the question word.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
QUESTION WORD

100

“BE”

REST OF SENTENCE

OPEN QUESTIONS WITH OTHER VERBS
For all questions except those
formed with “be,” the question
word is followed by an auxiliary
verb. If there is already an
auxiliary verb in the sentence,
it is also used in the question.
If there is no auxiliary verb,
a form of “do” is added.

This auxiliary verb is already in the
sentence, so it stays in the question.

Auxiliary “do” follows the question word.

The question word
goes at the beginning.

The main verb changes
to its base form.

HOW TO FORM
QUESTION WORD

AUXILIARY VERB

SUBJECT

MAIN VERB

FURTHER EXAMPLES

101

Object and subject questions
There are two kinds of question: object questions
and subject questions. They are formed in different
ways and are used to ask about different things.

See also:
Present simple 1 Types of verbs 49
Verbs with objects 53

OBJECT QUESTIONS
Object

Use object questions
to ask who received
an action, not who
did the action. They
are called object
questions because
the question word
is the object of the
main verb.

Subject

Auxiliary

The answer is the
object of the question.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
OBJECT

Different question
words can be used here.

102

AUXILIARY

SUBJECT

The auxiliary tells you whether the question
is talking about the past or the present.

VERB

SUBJECT QUESTIONS
Question doesn’t use “did.”

Subject questions are used to ask
who did an action. They are called
subject questions because the
question word is the subject of
the main verb. They do not use
the auxiliary verb “do.”

The answer is the subject
of the question.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
“Who” and “what” are the most
common pronouns used in
subject questions.

SUBJECT

VERB

OBJECT

COMMON MISTAKES OBJECT AND SUBJECT QUESTIONS
Object questions must use a form
of the auxiliary “do.”
“Did” is the auxiliary verb
in this object question.

Do not use inversion to
form object questions.

Subject questions do not use an auxiliary verb and the word
order stays the same as in a normal statement.
The word order stays the
same as a normal statement.

“Do” is only used as an auxiliary verb
when forming object questions.

103

Indirect questions
Indirect questions are more polite than direct questions.
They are very common in formal spoken English,
particularly when asking for information.

See also:
Present simple 1 Forming questions 34
Types of verbs 49

INDIRECT OPEN QUESTIONS
Indirect questions often start with
a polite opening phrase. After the
question word, the word order in
indirect questions is the same as
in positive statements.

The verb comes after the subject.

Indirect questions start with an opening phrase.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Indirect questions leave out
the auxiliary verb “do.”

HOW TO FORM
OPENING PHRASE

A polite opening phrase comes first.

104

QUESTION WORD

SUBJECT

VERB

INDIRECT CLOSED QUESTIONS
Indirect closed questions are formed using “if ” or “whether.”
In this context, “if ” and “whether” mean the same thing.

Polite opening phrase

The subject comes before the verb.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
OPENING PHRASE

“IF / WHETHER”

SUBJECT

VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

A polite opening
phrase comes first.

COMMON MISTAKES WORD ORDER WITH INDIRECT QUESTIONS
When a question has an
opening phrase, the word
order in indirect questions
is the same as in a statement.
There is no inversion, and
“do” is not added.

105

Question tags
In spoken English, small questions are often added to the ends
of sentences. These are called question tags, and they are most
often used to invite someone to agree.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7
Types of verbs 49 Modal verbs 56

QUESTION TAGS USING “BE”
The simplest question tags
use the verb “be” with
a pronoun matching the
subject of the sentence.

STATEMENT

QUESTION TAG

FURTHER EXAMPLES

For statements with “I,” “aren’t I?” is used
in the negative question tag, not “amn’t I?”

TIP

Question tags
are mostly used
in informal
situations.

HOW TO FORM
A positive statement is followed by a negative question tag,
and a negative statement is followed by a positive question tag.
POSITIVE STATEMENT

Verb is positive.

NEGATIVE STATEMENT

Verb is negative.

106

NEGATIVE QUESTION TAG

Question tag uses negative form of verb.

POSITIVE QUESTION TAG

Question tag uses positive form of verb.

QUESTION TAGS USING AUXILIARY VERBS
For most verbs other
than “be,” a present
simple statement
is followed by a
question tag with
“do” or “does.”

PRESENT SIMPLE

QUESTION TAG

PAST SIMPLE

QUESTION TAG

A past simple statement
is followed by a question
tag with “did.”

A statement with
an auxiliary verb
is followed by a
question tag with the
same auxiliary verb.

Statements with modal
verbs such as “could,”
“would,” and “should”
are followed by
question tags that use
the same modal verb.

AUXILIARY
VERB

Auxiliary verb

MODAL VERB

MAIN
VERB

QUESTION TAG

Main verb
describes the action.

Question tag
uses the same
auxiliary verb.

QUESTION TAG

INTONATION WITH QUESTION TAGS
If the intonation goes up
at the end of the question
tag, it is a question
requiring an answer.
If the intonation goes down
at the end of a question tag,
the speaker is just inviting
the listener to agree.

107

Short questions
Short questions are a way of showing interest during
conversation. They’re used to keep conversation going,
rather than to ask for new information.

See also:
Present simple 1 Forming quetsions 34
Types of verbs 49

SHORT QUESTIONS
Short questions must be in the same tense as the statement they’re responding to.
If the statement is positive, the short question should be positive and vice versa.
The subject from the statement is replaced with the relevant pronoun.

For statements
using “be,” the short
question uses the
same form of “be.”

For other verbs, a
form of “do” is used.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“I am” becomes
“are you” because
it is directed back
at the speaker.

The negative is
used to match
the statement.

108

The past simple of
“do” is used to match
“went,” which is the
past simple of “go.”

The third person
form “does” is
used to match
“studies.”

SHORT QUESTIONS WITH AUXILIARY VERBS
If a statement contains an
auxiliary verb, including
modal verbs, that auxiliary
verb is repeated in the
short question.
Here, “have” is an auxiliary verb
forming the present perfect.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

SHORT QUESTIONS IN US ENGLISH
In US English, short questions
are sometimes not inverted.

The subject and verb
are not inverted, but
this is said with a
rising intonation.

109

Short answers
When answering closed questions in English, some words
can often be left out to make responses shorter. These
short answers are often used in spoken English.

See also:
Present simple 1 Types of verbs 49
Modal verbs 56 “There” 85

SHORT ANSWERS
When the question uses the verb “be,” “be” is used in the same
tense in the short answer. When the question uses the auxilary
verb “do,” “do” is used in the same tense in the short answer.
Question uses “be.”

“A doctor” doesn’t need to
be repeated in the answer.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

110

Question uses “do.”

“Like coffee” doesn’t need to
be repeated in the answer.

SHORT ANSWERS WITH AUXILIARY VERBS
When the question uses
an auxiliary verb,
including modal verbs,
the same auxiliary verb is
used in the short answer.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES SHORT ANSWERS WITH AUXILIARY VERBS
If a question uses an auxiliary
verb, including modal verbs,
it must be used in the short
answer. The main verb
should not be used at all.

SHORT ANSWERS WITH “THERE”
When the question uses “there,”
it is also used in the answer.

Short for: “No, there isn’t
a hotel in the town.”

111

Questions overview
FORMING QUESTIONS
Questions in English are
formed either by swapping
the positions of the subject
and the verb, or by using
the auxiliary verb “do.”

The subject and
“be” swap places.

SUBJECT AND OBJECT QUESTIONS
Questions in English are formed differently depending on whether they
are asking who or what did an action or who or what received an action.

STATEMENT
Subject

Subject questions ask who did an action.
The question word is the subject of the main
verb. They do not use the auxiliary verb “do.”

SUBJECT QUESTION
Question doesn’t use “did.”

112

Object

Object questions ask who received an action. The
question word is the object of the question. They
usually use the auxiliary verb “do.”

OBJECT QUESTION
Question uses “did.”

Questions in English are formed in different ways
depending on the main verb. Open and closed questions
are formed differently, and spoken with different intonation.

The subject and the
auxiliary verb swap places.

See also:
Forming questions 34 Question words 35
Question tags 39 Short questions 40

A form of “do” goes before the subject.
The main verb goes in its base form.

QUESTION TAGS AND SHORT QUESTIONS
Question tags are added to the end of a question, usually
to ask someone to agree with you. A positive statement
is followed by a negative question tag, and vice versa.

Short questions are used to show that someone is
listening to the speaker. They are positive for positive
statements and negative for negative statements.

CLOSED AND OPEN QUESTIONS
Closed questions can only be
answered with “yes” or “no.” When
they are spoken, the voice often
rises at the end of the question.
Open questions are formed by adding
question words to the start of the question.
They can be answered in many different
ways. The tone of the speaker’s voice
usually falls at the end of open questions.

113

Reported speech
The words that people say are called direct speech.
Reported speech is often used to describe what
someone said at an earlier point in time.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7
Types of verbs 49

REPORTED SPEECH

Direct speech uses the present simple.

The main verb in reported
speech is usually “said.”
The reported verb is
usually in a different tense
from the direct speech.

Reported speech uses the past
simple for the reported verb.

“That” is usually added after
“said” in reported speech.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
Can be left out.

SUBJECT

The person
who said the
direct speech.

114

“THAT”

“SAID”

Past simple
of “say.”

The subject of the
direct speech. “I”
becomes “he.”

SUBJECT

PAST SIMPLE

REST OF SENTENCE

Present simple in direct
speech becomes past
simple in reported speech.

“TELL” IN REPORTED SPEECH
In reported speech, “tell” can also be used as
the main verb. It must be followed by an
object, which shows who someone is talking to.
“Say” does not need to
be followed by an object.

“Tell” must be followed by an object.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“That” can also be
left out in reported
speech with “told.”

COMMON MISTAKES “SAY” AND “TELL” IN REPORTED SPEECH
“Told” must have an object.

“Said” cannot have an object.

115

Tenses in reported speech
In reported speech, the reported verb usually “goes back”
a tense. Time and place references and pronouns
sometimes also change.

See also:
Present continuous 4 Past continuous 10
Past perfect simple 13 Modal verbs 56

REPORTED SPEECH IN DIFFERENT TENSES
The tense used in reported speech is usually one
tense back in time from the tense in direct speech.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS

PAST CONTINUOUS

PRESENT PERFECT

PAST PERFECT

FUTURE WITH “WILL”

MODAL VERB “WOULD”

MODAL VERB “CAN”

MODAL VERB “COULD”

116

REPORTED SPEECH AND THE PAST SIMPLE
The past simple in direct speech can either stay as the
past simple or change to the past perfect in reported
speech. The meaning is the same.
DIRECT SPEECH
WITH PAST SIMPLE

REPORTED SPEECH WITH
PAST SIMPLE OR PAST PERFECT

REPORTED SPEECH WITHOUT CHANGE OF TENSE
If the situation described is ongoing, the verb does
not have to change tense in reported speech.

Amelia still likes eating cake.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

117

TIME AND PLACE REFERENCES
If speech is reported some time after it was said, words
used to talk about times and places may need to change.
The time reference is
“yesterday” in direct speech.

The time reference is
“the day before” in
reported speech.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

118

OTHER CHANGES IN REPORTED SPEECH
In reported speech, pronouns may also need to be
changed to ensure they refer to the correct person or thing.

“These” is replaced by
the more distant “those.”

“This” is replaced by
the more distant “that.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

119

Reporting verbs
In reported speech, “said” can be replaced with a wide
variety of verbs that give people more information about
how someone said something.

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7
Types of verbs 49

REPORTING VERBS WITH “THAT”
“Say” and “tell” do not
give any information
about the speaker’s
manner. They can be
replaced with other
verbs that suggest the
speaker’s mood or
reason for speaking.

Shows unwillingness on
the part of the speaker.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

REPORTING VERB (PAST TENSE)

Verb introduces reported
speech and gives more
information about it.

120

“THAT”

PAST TENSE

Verb is followed
by “that.”

Reported speech
changes tense as usual.

REPORTING VERBS WITH OBJECT AND INFINITIVE
Some reporting verbs are followed by an object and an infinitive. English often
uses these verbs to report orders, advice, and instructions.

Reporting verb

Object

Infinitive

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

REPORTING VERB (PAST TENSE)

The object shows who
was being spoken to.

OBJEC T

INFINITIVE

REST OF SENTENCE

The infinitive usually expresses an
order, instruction, or piece of advice.

121

Reported speech
with negatives
Negatives in reported speech are formed in the same
way as negatives in direct speech. “Not” is used with the
auxiliary, or with the main verb if there is no auxiliary.

REPORTING NEGATIVE AUXILIARIES
When the direct speech is negative using “do not,” “is not,” and “has not,”
“do,” “is,” or “has” changes tense, rather than the main verb.

Present simple negative.

Past simple negative.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

122

See also:
Present simple negative 2
Past simple negative 8 Types of verbs 49

REPORTING OTHER VERBS WITH NEGATIVES
If a reporting verb is followed by an object and an infinitive, “not”
goes between the object and the infinitive to form the negative.

“Not” makes the reported speech negative.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

123

Reported questions
Reported questions are used to describe questions that
someone has asked. Direct questions and reported
questions use different word orders.

See also:
Forming questions 34
Open questions 36 Types of verbs 49

REPORTED OPEN QUESTIONS
Direct open questions
are reported by swapping
the order of the subject
and the verb.

The subject comes before the
verb in reported questions.

The tense in reported questions usually moves one
tense back from the tense in direct questions.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

An object can be included to say who was asked the original question.

The object of the reporting verb can be left out.

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

REPORTING VERB

The main verb in reported
questions is usually “ask.”

124

The object can
be left out.

OBJEC T

QUESTION WORD

The subject comes before the
verb in reported questions.

SUBJECT

VERB

The tense moves one tense
back from direct speech.

REPORTING QUESTIONS WITH “DO”
When a direct question uses
the verb “do,” this is left out of
reported questions.

Reported questions leave out
the auxiliary verb “do.”

The past form of the verb
is usually used.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The tense doesn’t always change.

COMMON MISTAKES WORD ORDER IN REPORTED QUESTIONS
It is incorrect to swap
the verb and object
in reported questions.

125

REPORTED CLOSED QUESTIONS
If the answer to a question in direct speech is “yes” or “no,” “if ” or “whether”
is used to report the question. “Whether” is more formal than “if.”

Direct question.

Reported question uses “if ” or “whether.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

In reported questions with “if ” and “whether,”
the object after “asked” can be left out.

Reported questions with “if ” and “whether”
leave out the auxiliary verb “do.”

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“ASKED”

The object can be left out.

126

OBJEC T

“IF / WHETHER”

SUBJECT

VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

“If ” and “whether” mean the same thing, but “whether” is more formal.

REPORTING QUESTIONS WITH “OR”
“If ” or “whether” can also be used to report
questions that use “or” in direct speech.

The verb changes tense.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

127

Reported speech overview
CHANGING REFERENCES IN REPORTED SPEECH
Certain words have
variable reference, which
means their meaning is
context-dependent.
In order to retain the
meaning of the direct
speech, reported
speech usually revises
tenses, pronouns,
and time references.

TENSE

The tense usually moves back.

REPORTING VERBS IN THE PRESENT TENSE
The reporting verb can be in the present tense.
In this case, the tense of the sentence doesn’t change.

Reporting verb is in
the present tense.

The main verb doesn’t
change tense.

Using “tell” in the present tense
can be more emphatic than “say.”

128

When forming reported speech from direct speech,
some words change in order to keep the meaning
consistent. Other words stay the same.

PRONOUNS

See also:
Present simple 1 Past simple 7 Tenses in reported
speech 44 Modal verbs 56 Personal pronouns 77

TIME REFERENCES

“Tomorrow” changes to
“the next day” to keep
the meaning the same.

“My” changes to
“her” to refer back
to the first speaker.

REPORTING MODAL VERBS
Most modal verbs, except for “will” and “can,” behave differently from other verbs.
No matter what the tense of the direct speech, they don’t change in reported speech.

The modal verb is the
same as in direct speech.

The reported verb also doesn’t
change from direct speech.

129

Types of verbs
Verbs can be described as main verbs or auxiliary verbs.
Main verbs describe actions, occurrences, or states of being.
Auxiliary verbs modify the meaning of main verbs.

See also:
Present perfect simple 11
Modal verbs 56

MAIN VERBS
“Play” is the main verb
that describes an action.

Main verbs are the most
important verbs in a sentence.
They can describe actions or
states, or they can be used to
link a subject to a description.

AUXILIARY VERBS
Auxiliary verbs are used with
main verbs to modify their
meaning. Auxiliary verbs are
used very frequently to form
different tenses.

PRESENT PERFECT

SUBJECT

AUXILIARY VERB

PARTICIPLE

OBJECT

“Has” is an auxiliary verb here. It’s being
used to form the present perfect.

SUBJECT

The auxiliary verb “do” is
used to make questions and
negatives of statements that
don’t already have an
auxiliary verb.

Modal verbs are also
auxiliary verbs. They modify
the meaning of the main
verb, expressing various
notions such as possibility
or obligation.

130

AUXILIARY VERB

SUBJECT

AUXILIARY VERB

SUBJECT

MODAL VERB

MAIN VERB

OBJECT

MAIN VERB

OBJECT

MAIN VERB

OBJECT

LINKING VERBS
Linking verbs express a state of
being or becoming. They link a
subject to a complement, which
renames or describes the subject.

Subject

Complement

FURTHER EXAMPLES

TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE VERBS
Some verbs take an object,
which is a noun or phrase
that receives the action of
the verb. Verbs which take
an object are known as
transitive verbs.
Some verbs never
take an object. These
verbs are known as
intransitive verbs.

SUBJECT

VERB

SUBJECT

VERB

OBJECT

“Read” can be used with
or without an object.

Some verbs can
be either transitive
or intransitive.

Some verbs can take two
objects, a direct object
and an indirect object.

SUBJECT

VERB

SUBJECT

VERB

The indirect object
benefits from the action.

OBJEC T

INDIRECT OBJECT

DIRECT OBJECT

The direct object is what
the verb “gave” refers to.

131

Action and state verbs
Verbs that describe actions or events are known as
“action” or “dynamic” verbs, whereas those that describe
states are known as “state” or “stative” verbs.

See also:
Present simple 1 Present continuous 4
Past simple 7 Past continuous 10

ACTION AND STATE VERBS
Action verbs usually describe what people or things do.
State verbs usually say how things are or how someone feels.
ACTION VERB

Action verbs can be used in
simple forms and continuous forms.

STATE VERB

State verbs are not usually
used in the continuous form.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES USING STATE VERBS IN CONTINUOUS TENSES
Most state verbs cannot be
used in continuous forms.

State verbs are only usually
used in the simple form.

State verbs can’t usually be
used in continuous forms.

132

USING STATE VERBS IN CONTINUOUS FORMS
Some verbs can be both action and state verbs. When these verbs are
describing an action, they can be used in continuous forms.

ACTION

STATE

A few state verbs can be used in continuous forms, keeping their stative meaning.
The use of a continuous form emphasizes a change, development, or temporary situation.
CONTINUOUS FORM

SIMPLE FORM

133

Infinitives and participles
Infinitives and participles are forms of verbs that
are rarely used on their own, but are important
when making other forms or constructions.

See also:
Present continuous 4
Present perfect simple 11

INFINITIVES
The infinitive is the simplest form of the verb. English verbs have two types of infinitive.
VERB

“TO”

Sometimes the infinitive is formed with
“to” plus the verb. This is sometimes
known as a “full” or “to” infinitive.
“ TO”

When the infinitive is formed
without “to,” it is known as the base
or simple form, or the bare infinitive.

BASE FORM

PRESENT PARTICIPLES AND GERUNDS
Present participles and gerunds are formed by adding “-ing” to the base form of the verb.
They are spelled the same, but they perform different functions in a sentence.
Present participles are
most commonly used
with auxiliary verbs to
form continuous tenses.
SUBJECT

PRESENT CONTINUOUS

AUXILIARY VERB

PRESENT PRINCIPLE

OBJECT

REST OF SENTENCE

The present participle is being used
to make the past continuous.

Gerunds are verbs that are used
as nouns. They are sometimes
known as verbal nouns.

SUBJECT

VERB

“Playing” is a gerund here. Along with
“tennis,” it forms the subject of the sentence.

134

COMPLEMENT

PRESENT PARTICIPLE AND GERUND SPELLING RULES
All present participles and gerunds are formed by adding
“-ing” to the base form of the verb. The spelling of some
base forms changes slightly before adding “-ing.”
Last letters
are “-ie.”

Last letter
is a silent “-e.”

Main verb.

“-ing” is added to form
regular present participles.

The “-e” is left out
and “-ing” is added.

“-ie” changes
to “y.”

Last letters are
consonant–vowel–consonant
and the final syllable is stressed.

The last letter
doubles, unless
it’s “w,” “x,” or “y.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES
The last letter is not doubled
because "per" is not stressed.

The last letter is doubled because the
pattern is consonant–vowel–consonant.

The last letter of the verb
doesn't double if it’s “y.”

The “-e” is dropped from the verb.

135

PAST PARTICIPLES
Past participles are used with
auxiliary verbs to form perfect
simple tenses, such as the
present perfect simple.
SUBJECT

PRESENT PERFECT

AUXILIARY VERB

PAST PARTICIPLE

OBJECT

REST OF SENTENCE

SPELLING RULES FOR PAST PARTICIPLES
Regular past participles are made with the base form of the verb plus “-ed.”
The spelling of some of these base forms changes a bit before adding “-ed.”

Last letter is “-e.”

For many regular
verbs, “-ed” is added.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

136

“-d” is added.

Last letters are a
consonant and a “-y.”

The “-y” is replaced
with “-ied.”

Last letters are
consonant–vowel–consonant
and the final syllable is stressed.

The last consonant is
doubled and “-ed” is added.

IRREGULAR PAST PARTICIPLES
Many verbs in English
have irregular past
participle forms. They
often look quite different
from their base form.

PAST PARTICIPLE

FURTHER EXAMPLES
BASE FORM

PAST PARTICIPLE

SAMPLE SENTENCE

137

Verb patterns
Some verbs in English can only go with a gerund or an
infinitive. Some verbs can go with either. These verbs
often describe wishes, plans, or feelings.

See also:
Types of verbs 49
Infinitives and participles 51

VERBS WITH INFINITIVES
VERB

English uses the infinitive
with “to” after certain verbs
that describe someone’s plans
or wishes to do an activity.
Main verb describes a plan
or wish to do an activity.

FURTHER EXAMPLES
The infinitive doesn’t change no matter what the tense of the main verb is.

OTHER VERBS FOLLOWED BY INFINITIVES

VERBS FOLLOWED
BY INFINITIVES

138

INFINITIVE

Infinitive with “to”
describes the activity.

VERBS WITH GERUNDS
English uses gerunds after
certain verbs that say how a
person feels about an activity.

GERUND

VERB

The verb describes feelings
about an activity.

The word for the activity
is in gerund form.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

OTHER VERBS FOLLOWED BY GERUNDS

VERBS FOLLOWED
BY GERUNDS

139

VERBS FOLLOWED BY INFINITIVE OR GERUND (NO CHANGE IN MEANING)
Some verbs can be followed by a gerund (an “-ing” form)
or a “to” infinitive, with little or no change in meaning.
You can often use both forms interchangeably.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

OTHER VERBS FOLLOWED BY INFINITIVE OR GERUND (NO CHANGE IN MEANING)

VERBS FOLLOWED BY
INFINITIVE OR GERUND
(NO CHANGE IN MEANING)

140

VERBS FOLLOWED BY INFINITIVE OR GERUND (CHANGE IN MEANING)
Some verbs change their meaning depending on the form of the verb that
follows them. The infinitive is used to describe the purpose of the main
verb’s action. The gerund is often used to talk about the action which is
happening around the same time as the main verb’s action.

FURTHER EXAMPLES
VERB + INFINITIVE

VERB + GERUND

141

Verb patterns with objects
Some verbs, known as transitive verbs, have objects. When
these verbs are followed by infinitives or gerunds, the object
must come between the verb and the infinitive or gerund.

See also:
Types of verbs 49
Infinitives and participles 51

VERB WITH OBJECT AND INFINITIVE
Some verbs that are followed by
an infinitive must also have an
object before that infinitive.

VERB + OBJECT + INFINITIVE

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

FURTHER EXAMPLES

142

VERB

OBJECT

INFINITIVE

REST OF SENTENCE

COMMON MISTAKES VERB PATTERNS WITH “WANT”
When the verb “want” is followed by an
object and an infinitive, it is not formed
with a “that” clause.

“Want” should be followed
by an object and infinitive.

“Want” can’t be followed
by a “that” clause.

VERB + OBJECT + GERUND PATTERNS
Some verbs that are followed
by a gerund must also have an
object before that gerund.

VERB + OBJECT + GERUND

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

VERB

OBJECT

GERUND

REST OF SENTENCE

FURTHER EXAMPLES

143

DOUBLE OBJECT VERBS
The direct object is the person
or thing that an action happens
to. The indirect object receives
the same action. If the indirect
object is the focus of the
sentence, it comes after the
direct object plus “to” or “for.”

DIRECT OBJECT

INDIRECT OBJECT

The preposition is dropped when
the order of the objects is reversed.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

USING DOUBLE OBJECT VERBS WITH PRONOUNS
If the direct object is a
pronoun, it must come
before the indirect object.

If the indirect object is a
pronoun, it can come before
or after the direct object.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

144

Verb patterns with prepositions
Some verb patterns include prepositions. Prepositions
cannot be followed by infinitives, so these verb patterns
only use gerunds.

See also:
Infinitives and participles 51
Verb patterns 52 Prepositions 105

VERB WITH PREPOSITION AND GERUND
If a preposition is followed
by a verb, the verb must be
a gerund (the “-ing” form).

Gerund

FURTHER EXAMPLES

VERB WITH OBJECT, PREPOSITION, AND GERUND
If a verb takes an
object, that object must
come between the verb
and the preposition.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

145

Phrasal verbs
Some verbs in English have two or more words in them,
and usually have a new meaning when they are used
together. These are called phrasal verbs.

See also: Verb patterns with objects 53
Prepositions 105 Separable phrasal verbs R20
Inseparable phrasal verbs R21

PHRASAL VERBS
Phrasal verbs have a verb plus one or more particles (prepositions or adverbs.)
The particle often changes the usual meaning of the verb.
PHRASAL VERB

Particle

Verb

HOW TO FORM

The verb takes the third person “-s.”

The particle always
comes after the verb.
The verb changes form
to match the subject
as usual. The particle
never changes form.
This is wrong. The particle
should never change.

This is wrong. The particle
should come after the verb.

FURTHER EXAMPLES
Negatives are formed in the usual way.

Questions are formed
in the usual way.

146

PHRASAL VERBS IN DIFFERENT TENSES
When phrasal verbs are used in different
tenses, the verb changes, but the particle
remains the same.

The particle
never changes.

PRESENT SIMPLE

PAST SIMPLE

PRESENT CONTINUOUS

FUTURE WITH “WILL”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

147

SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS
If a phrasal verb has a
direct object, it can
sometimes go
between the verb and
the particle. Phrasal
verbs that do this are
called “separable”
phrasal verbs.

The object can go
after the particle.

The object can also go between
the verb and the particle.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

COMMON MISTAKES SEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS
If the direct object of a separable
phrasal verb is a pronoun, it
must go between the verb and
the particle.

148

Pronoun

The pronoun cannot go at
the end of the sentence.

INSEPARABLE PHRASAL VERBS
Some phrasal verbs cannot be separated. The object must always
come after the particle; it can never sit between the particle and the
verb. This is true whether the object is a noun or a pronoun.
The verb and the particle
must stay together.

This is wrong. The object can’t sit
between the verb and the particle.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

149

THREE-WORD PHRASAL VERBS
Three-word phrasal verbs
have a verb, a particle,
and a preposition. The
particle and preposition
often change the usual
meaning of the verb.

VERB + PARTICLE + PREPOSITION

The verb changes
with the subject.

The particle and preposition
never change form.

INTONATION
In spoken English, the stress is on the
middle word of a three-word phrasal verb.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

TIP

Most, but not all,
three-word
phrasal verbs are
inseparable.

“GET BACK FROM”
“Get back from” can be separable or inseparable depending on the context.
When “get back from” means “to
return from,” it is always inseparable.
When “get back from” means “to retrieve
from” it is separable. The object must go
between “get” and “back.”

150

NOUNS BASED ON PHRASAL VERBS
Some nouns are made from phrasal verbs, often formed
by joining the verb and the particle together. When
these words are spoken, the stress is usually on the verb.
Verb

Particle

Stress is on the
first syllable.

Sometimes, the noun is formed by putting the particle in front
of the verb. In these cases, the spoken stress is usually on the particle.

Stress is on the
first syllable.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

151

Modal verbs
Modal verbs are very common in English. They are used
to talk about a variety of things, particularly possibilities,
obligations, and deductions.

USES OF MODAL VERBS
English has many modal verbs. Each modal verb
can can be used in several different contexts.

ABILITY

PERMISSION

REQUESTS

OFFERS

SUGGESTIONS AND ADVICE

OBLIGATION

LOGICAL DEDUCTIONS

152

See also:
Present simple negative 2
Forming questions 34 Types of verbs 49

MODAL VERB FORMATIONS
Modal verbs share certain characteristics. They don’t change form to match
the subject, and they are always followed by a main verb in its base form.
Their question and negative forms are made without “do.”
SUBJECT

MODAL VERB

The modal verb stays the
same for any subject.

BASE FORM

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb stays
in its base form.

Negatives are formed by adding “not”
between the modal verb and main verb.

Questions are usually formed by swapping
the subject and the modal verb.

“Ought to” and “have to” are exceptions because they use “to” before the base form. “Ought to” is a
more formal way of saying “should,” and “have to” means “must.” They both act like normal verbs.

153

Ability
“Can” is a modal verb that describes what someone is
able to do. It is used in different forms to describe past
and present abilities.

See also:
Present simple 1
Future with “will” 18

“CAN / CANNOT / CAN’T”
“Can” goes between the subject and the main verb.
The verb after “can” goes in its base form.

Base form of verb.

“Can” is always the same. It doesn’t
change with the subject.

The negative form of “can” is “cannot” or “can’t.”

TIP

The long negative
form “cannot” is
always spelled as
one word, not
two words.

The more common,
short form of “cannot.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

154

“CAN / CANNOT / CAN’T”

BASE FORM

OBJECT

“COULD” FOR PAST ABILITIES
“Could” is the past form of “can”
and is used to talk about an ability
in the past. “When” plus a time
setting can be used to say when
someone had the ability.

Describes a present ability.

The time frame can be
set with a phrase about
an age, day, or year.

Describes a past ability.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

Negative form.

“CAN” IN THE FUTURE
It is not grammatically
possible to talk about
the future using “can.”
“Will be able to”
is used instead.

“Will can” is incorrect.

The negative
is formed with
“not able to”
or “unable to.”

“Will be unable to” can also
be used, but it’s less common.

155

Permission, requests, and offers
“Can,” “could,” and “may” are used to ask permission
to do something, or to ask someone to do something
for you. They can also be used to offer to help someone.

ASKING PERMISSION AND MAKING REQUESTS
“Can” is the most common
modal verb used to ask
permission or to make
a request.

“Please” is used in
polite requests.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

156

Informal answers
use “can” as well.

Negative answers can be
more polite by adding
“I’m sorry” or “I’m afraid.”

“Could” replaces “can” for
more formal situations,
such as in business or
to talk to strangers.

“May” can also be used
in formal situations.

See also:
Types of verbs 49
Modal verbs 56

MAKING OFFERS

FURTHER EXAMPLES

“Can” and “may” can also be used to offer
to do something for someone.

“May” is only used for
formal situations.

SHALL FOR OFFERS AND SUGGESTIONS
“Shall” is used to find out if someone thinks a certain
suggestion is a good idea. This is not often used in US English.

157

Suggestions and advice
The modal verb “could” can be used to
offer suggestions. “Could” is not as strong
as “should.” It communicates gentle advice.

See also:
Conditional sentences 29 Types of verbs 49
Modal verbs 56

“SHOULD” FOR ADVICE
“Should” is used when the speaker
wants to make a strong suggestion.

“Should” comes before the advice.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“SHOULD”

MAIN VERB

“Should” is a modal verb,
so it stays the same no
matter what the subject is.

158

REST OF SENTENCE

“Should” is followed by the
base form of the main verb.

“OUGHT TO” FOR ADVICE
“Ought to” is a more formal and less common way to say “should.”
It is not usually used in the negative or question forms.

“IF I WERE YOU”
English uses “if I were you”
to give advice in second
conditional sentences.
The advice is expressed
using “I would.”

English uses “were,” not
“was,” in this context.

The advice comes after “I would.”

FURTHER EXAMPLES

The suggestion can come first
without changing the meaning.

There is no comma before “if.”

“HAD BETTER”
“Had better” can also be used to give very strong or urgent
advice that can have a negative consequence if it is not followed.

159

“COULD” FOR SUGGESTIONS
“Could” is often used to suggest a solution to
a problem. It states a possible course of action
without necessarily recommending it.

“Could” means that the
action is a possibility;
a choice that might
solve the problem.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
SUBJECT

“COULD”

MAIN VERB

“Could” is a modal verb,
so it doesn’t change
with the subject.

160

REST OF SENTENCE

The main verb stays
in its base form.

“COULD” AND “OR” FOR SUGGESTIONS
When people give suggestions using “could,” they
often give more than one option to choose from.

“Or” is used to give an
alternative suggestion.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

If the main verb is the
same for both suggestions,
it isn’t repeated after “or.”

The modal verb
doesn’t have to be
repeated after “or.”

MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS
One of the most common ways of recommending something
or making a suggestion is to use modal verbs.

TIP

Emphasis can be added by
putting “really” in front
of “should,” “ought to,”
and “must.”

General suggestion.

Stronger suggestion.

Very strong suggestion.

161

Obligations
In English, “have to” or “must” are used when talking
about obligations or things that are necessary.
They are often used to give important instructions.

See also:
Future with “will” 18 Types of verbs 49
Modal verbs 56

OBLIGATIONS
“Must” and “have to” both
express a strong need or
obligation to do something.
“Must not” is a strong
negative obligation. It means
something is not allowed.
“Don’t have to” means
something is not necessary,
or there is no obligation.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

HOW TO FORM
“Must” does not change
with the subject, but
“have to” becomes “has
to” in the third person
singular. Both forms are
followed by the base
form of the main verb.

162

SUBJECT

“MUST / HAVE TO”

MAIN VERB

REST OF SENTENCE

COMMON MISTAKES “MUST NOT” AND “DON’T HAVE TO”
“Must not” and “don’t have to” do not mean the same thing.
“Must not” is used to give an instruction that forbids
someone from doing something. “Don’t have to” is used to
tell someone that it is not necessary that they do something.

“MUST” AND “HAVE TO” IN THE FUTURE
There is no future form of “must.” The future of
“have to” is formed with the auxiliary verb “will.”

“Will must” is incorrect.

“Must not” does not have a future form. “Don’t have to” can be
used in the future by changing “don’t” to “will not” or “won’t.”

“MUST” AND “HAVE TO” IN THE PAST
There is no past form of “must.” The past
tense of “have to” is used instead.

163

Making deductions
Modal verbs can also be used to talk about how likely or
unlikely something is. They can be used to guess and make
deductions about what has happened or is happening now.

See also:
Types of verbs 49
Infinitives and participles 51 Modal verbs 56

SPECULATION AND DEDUCTION
The modal verbs “might” and “could” are used
to talk about something with uncertainty.
“Might” and “could”
can be used to talk
about uncertainty.
The modal verb doesn’t
change with the subject.

“Might not” is used
to describe negative
things that are
not certain.
“Must” is often
used to speculate
about the present.

“Cannot” and
“can’t” are used
when someone is
certain something
is impossible.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

164

“Not” goes after
the modal verb.

The modal verb is usually followed
by the base form of the main verb.

SPECULATION AND DEDUCTION ABOUT THE PAST
“Must have” with
a past participle is
used to speculate
about the past when
the speaker is sure
something happened.

Past participle

“Must” can be replaced
with “may,” “might,”
or “could” when the
speaker is not sure
whether something
happened or not.

“Can’t” or “couldn’t”
can be used to refer
to something that
the speaker is certain
did not happen.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

165

Possibility
Modal verbs can be used to talk about possibility, or to
express uncertainty. “Might” is the most common modal
verb used for this purpose.

See also:
Present simple 1 Infinitives and participles 51
Modal verbs 56

“MIGHT” FOR POSSIBILITY
“Might” can be added to different phrases to
refer to past, present, or future possibilities.
PAST POSSIBILITY

“MI