• Phrasal Verbs

    Phrasal Verbs

    Like many grammars, we treat phrasal verbs as one kind of multiword verb. Other grammars may class all multiword verbs as “phrasal verbs”.

    The structure of a phrasal verb is:

    verb + adverb

    Phrasal verbs can be:

    • transitive (direct object)
    • intransitive (no direct object)

    Look at these examples of phrasal verbs:

      phrasal verb meaning example sentence
      direct object
    transitive put off postpone We will have to put off the meeting.
    turn down refuse They turned down my offer.
    intransitive get up rise from bed I don’t like to get up.  
    break down cease to function He was late because his car broke down.  

    Separable phrasal verbs

    When phrasal verbs are transitive (that is, they have a direct object), we can usually separate the two parts. For example, “turn down” is a separable phrasal verb. We can say: “turn down my offer” or “turn my offer down“. Look at these example sentences:

      They turned down my offer.
      They turned my offer down.

    However, if the direct object is a pronoun, we have no choice. We must separate the phrasal verb and insert the pronoun between the two parts. Look at these examples with the separable phrasal verb “switch on”. Note that the last one is impossible:

      John switched on the radio.
      John switched the radio on.
      John switched it on.
      John switched on it.
    Separable or inseparable?
    Many dictionaries tell you when a phrasal verb is separable. If a dictionary writes “look (something) up”, you know that the phrasal verb “look up” is separable, and you can say “look something up” and “look up something”. It’s a good idea to write “sthg/sby” as appropriate in your vocabulary book when you learn a new phrasal verb, like this:

    • get up
    • break down
    • break sthg off
    • turn sthg/sby down

    This tells you if the verb needs a direct object (and where to place it).

  • What is a Determiner?

    What is a Determiner?

    Determiners are one of the nine parts of speech. They are words like theanthis, some, either, myor whose. All determiners share some grammatical similarities:

    • Determiners come at the beginning of a noun phrase, before adjectives.
    • Determiners limit or “determine” a noun phrase in some way.
    • Many determiners are “mutually-exclusive”: we cannot have more than one of them in the same noun phrase.
    • If we do have more than one determiner, they go in a very specific order.

    Look at these example noun phrases. The first word in each noun phrase is a determiner:

    • the dog
    • those people
    • some brown rice
    • either side of the road
    • seven pink elephants
    • your oldest child
    • which car
  • Interrogative Determiners: what, which, whose

    Interrogative Determiners

    what, which, whose

    The interrogative determiners are: whatwhichwhose

    Whose iPad did you use?
    car keys are these?
    What stupid man told you that?
    books did you read?
    Which red pen do you want?
    three teachers do you prefer?

    Whose means “belonging to which person”: They didn’t know whose car it was.

    What is for asking for information specifying something: What time did you arrive? I wonder what reason he gave.

    Which is for asking for information specifying one or more people or things from a definite set: Which table would you prefer? I wonder which teacher told him that.

    Like all determiners, interrogative determiners come at the beginning of a noun phrase, so they come in front of any adjective(s).

    Look at these example sentences:

    • Whose iPhone was stolen?
    • He couldn’t remember whose car keys they were.
    • What idiot told you that?
    • I don’t know what non-fiction books he was reading.
    • I asked them which Italian car was best.
    • Which nightclubs on the Champs Elysées did you go to?
  • Adverb Position

    Adverb Position

    When an adverb modifies a verb, there are usually 3 possible positions within the sentence or clause:

    1. FRONT – before subject   Now I will read a book.
    2. MID – between subject + verb I often read books.
    3. END – after verb/object read books carefully.  

    When an adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it usually goes in front of the word that it modifies, for example:

      adverb adjective  
    She gave him a really dirty look.
      adverb adverb  
    We quite often study English.

    The position of an adverb often depends on the kind of adverb (manner, place, time, degree). The following table gives you some guidelines for placement based on the kind of adverb.

    kind of adverb mainly modifies sentence usual position
    manner verbs She spoke gently.   END
    place verbs He lived here.   END
    time definite verbs I’ll do it today.   END
    frequency We often go to Paris. MID
    degree verbs, adj. and adv. I nearly died. MID
    It was terribly funny. before adj.
    He works really fast. before adv.
    Warning: these are guidelines only, and not complete. There are many exceptions.
  • Kinds of Adverbs

    Kinds of Adverbs

    Adverbs of Manner

    Adverbs of Manner tell us the manner or way in which something happens. They answer the question “how?”. Adverbs of Manner mainly modify verbs.

    • He speaks slowly. (How does he speak?)
    • They helped us cheerfully. (How did they help us?)
    • James Bond drives his cars fast. (How does James Bond drive his cars?)
    We normally use Adverbs of Manner with dynamic (action) verbs, not with stative or state verbs.

    • He ran fast. She came quickly. They worked happily.
    • She looked beautifully. It seems strangely. They are happily.

    Adverbs of Place

    Adverbs of Place tell us the place where something happens. They answer the question “where?”. Adverbs of Place mainly modify verbs.

    • Please sit here. (Where should I sit?)
    • They looked everywhere. (Where did they look?)
    • Two cars were parked outside. (Where were two cars parked?)

    Adverbs of Time

    Adverbs of Time tell us something about the time that something happens. Adverbs of Time mainly modify verbs.

    They can answer the question “when?”:

    • He came yesterday. (When did he come?)
    • want it now. (When do I want it?)

    Or they can answer the question “how often?” (frequency):

    • They deliver the newspaper daily. (How often do they deliver the newspaper?)
    • We sometimes watch a movie. (How often do we watch a movie?)

    Adverbs of Degree

    Adverbs of Degree tell us the degree or extent to which something happens. They answer the question “how much?” or “to what degree?”. Adverbs of Degree can modifyverbsadjectives and other adverbs.

    • She entirely agrees with him. (How much does she agree with him?)
    • Mary is very beautiful. (To what degree is Mary beautiful? How beautiful is Mary?)
    • He drove quite dangerously. (To what degree did he drive dangerously? How dangerously did he drive?)
  • Articles: This-That-These-Those

    this that

  • Emphasis

    emphasis emphasis2

  • Present perfect and past simple – differences

    Present perfect and past simple – differences


    Present perfect Past simple


    Unfinished state/action

    Spain has governed the enclave of Ceuta since 1580.

    Finished state/action

    Spain governed the state of Western Sahara from 1958 to 1976.


    Unfinished time

    I haven’t seen Keith this morning yet.

    (It’s still morning)

    Finished time

    I didn’t see Keith at all this morning.

    (It’s now afternoon/evening.)


    Present relevance

    The Indian Government has imposed a ban on tiger hunting to prevent the extinction of tigers.


    No present relevance

    The Indian Government imposed a ban on tiger hunting a few years ago.

    Indefinite time

    I’ve been to Eurodisney twice.

    Definite time

    I went to Eurodiseny in 1999 and 2000.