The rules given in reference books, and indeed dictionaries, can sometimes be rather misleading, or represent incomplete ideas. As I teach (and study!) advanced language use, I often have to question reference guides, and have recently encountered two examples of this. To show how the dictionary does not always tell the whole truth, here are some additional considerations for this/next and the not only…but also rule. Continue reading
With negative questions that require a yes or no, there can sometimes be confusion in the correct way to answer. Grammatically, you may assume that a negative question answered in the affirmative should be a negative statement (i.e. “Doesn’t it look good?” – “Yes it doesn’
t.”). A friend of mine teaching in Vietnam was told that this was given as a rule by one of her fellow teachers, as taught in a reference book. Theoretically this may make sense, but in practice this is NOT how negative questions work. In fact, the answer to a negative question will often be very similar to the answer to a positive question. Here’s why: Continue reading
One of the things Brighton is most famous for, and a common sight in any great English seaside resort, is piers. Following on from my brief tale of Walking on the Beach, then, the subject of piers is a good topic for our next spot the mistake reading exercise. Again, the passage below contains mistakes that focus on the rules of the English tenses and verb use. These are designed to be tricky! Continue reading
The following quiz was originally posted on Goodreads – it’s a quick exercise to test understanding of different tense forms. The questions are based on the 12 basic English tense forms. Complete the following sentences using the appropriate tense form. In the given context, one answer is correct for each question. Continue reading
Since I published The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide, I have been working on an exercise book to accompany it, 101 English Tenses Exercises. Containing no less than 101 exercises to really drill all the rules of the tenses. I need your help, though – my original idea was to exercise each lesson in the book, following a similar structure. It’s the wrong approach, it’s too complicated and simply not fun!
So, if you have a spare few minutes, I’d like to ask for some feedback. What English grammar exercises would you like to see? What are your favourite types of English exercise? Which do you like least?
On my site, I usually post gap fill exercises – either with individual sentences (e.g. this future tenses exercise) or in the form of a reading text (e.g. The Christmas Mess). These would be the bulk of the exercises in the book. Are there other styles you’d prefer to see?
I’m dividing the exercises into grammar themes (e.g. Past Simple or Past Continuous?) and more general themes for mixed tense exercises, which can build specific vocabulary (for example Christmas vocabulary). What topics would you like to see most?
Please comment below or contact me here if you have any thoughts on my upcoming project. After all, above all else I am trying to write something that is both enjoyable and useful to you!
Following on from the quick exercises for negative simple statements, this exercise will test understanding of negative simple question forms. Negative simple questions are formed by placing do, did or will before the subject and not after the subject, or by forming a negative contraction, don’t, didn’t, won’t before the subject. If we’re asking a question of the person who made the statement, any first person statements should be changed to second person (i.e. I -> you, we -> they). The following exercise has 15 negative statements in mixed tenses that can be converted to negative questions. The answers are given below the exercise. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the differences between the words plain and plane; it’s one of many articles I have on this site exploring confusing, or easily misunderstood, words and phrases. With so much content on this site, I thought it was time I created a quick, simple list of such articles so you can quickly learn the differences. I’ve placed example sentences beneath each heading so you can get an idea of what you’ll learn. Continue reading
Negative simple tenses are formed using either do, does, did, will or the verb to be and not, followed by the bare infinitive. Below is a group of exercises to test this understanding – using the information provides, form complete negative simple sentences. The answers are given at the bottom. Continue reading
Questions are formed in the simple tenses by using either do, does, did or will before a bare infinitive, or with the verb to be. The following exercise will help you practice converting simple statements into question form in the past, present and future. Use the example sentences to make questions – while these cover simple tense forms, the sentences are not necessarily easy. And remember, first person questions (I, we) should be converted to the second person (you, they)!
- The red bird flew through the trees.
- Did the red bird fly through the trees?
The new Coen Brother’s film Hail, Caesar! was recently advertised with a trailer focused on the strange English expression “Would that it were so simple.” (if you haven’t seen it, check it out here!). This is an interesting construction, generally seen as would that + past tense, which you might otherwise see as “Would that I knew”, “Would that there was another way” or many other possibilities. It is also not always joined with that, for example would he knew the answer, though this is far less common. It is not a strange tense, though, merely an idiomatic use of more archaic language. Continue reading