Grammar articles

“Arrive in” or “arrive at”?

Here’s the rule for using ‘arrive in’ and ‘arrive at’: use arrive in for towns, cities and countries use arrive at for buildings and parts of buildings. So, using this grammar rule, we would say: He arrived in London. (arrive in because London is a city) President Obama arrived in France yesterday. (arrive in because France is a country) I arrived at the station just ... »

What are stative verbs and why do learners need to understand them?

Understanding what stative verbs are will help learners of English use simple and continuous tenses more accurately. We can divide English verbs into two categories: stative verbs and dynamic verbs. Dynamic verbs Dynamic verbs are ‘action’ verbs. They refer to: activities (things we physically do): play, walk, speak, wash, wait, listen, etc. things that happen (processes):  grow, chang... »

Understanding transitive and intransitive verbs

Why do we need to understand transitive vs. intransitive? Knowing if a verb is transitive or intransitive helps learners to use words correctly and improves grammar accuracy. To understand what transitive and intransitive verbs are, it’s first necessary to understand what the object of a verb is. Take a look at these two simple sentences: My mother likes tea. My mother laughed. ‘My mot... »

When to use “a” or “an”

Ask about the spelling rule for using ‘a’ or ‘an’ before a word and you’ll probably hear: ‘a‘ before words beginning with a consonant (‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’, ‘f’, etc.); ‘an‘ before words beginning with a vowel (‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’, ‘u’). So we sa... »

“Two million” or “two millions”?

“Two million” or “two millions”?

I received emails from two people last week asking about the word million. Both people asked the same question: ”What is the plural of million? Is it millions, or is it million (without ‘s’)?” The answer is that million, like the words hundred, thousand and billion, has two possible plural endings. Sometimes we say million, sometimes millions. Without the plural ending -s 1... »

Common mistakes learners make when forming conditional sentences

Four conditional forms English has four conditional structures: the zero, first, second and third. In this post we’ll look at some common problems that students of English have with the structure of conditional sentences. First of all, here’s a quick reminder of what conditional sentences are: Common mistakes The zero conditional In the zero conditional, both clauses are in the present... »

Which should we use: “have” or “have got”?

Learners often want to know if have and have got are the same. They want to know which of the two they should use and if they are interchangeable. ”Can we use either one of them whenever we want?” they ask. The answer is that have and have got are the same in meaning when we want to express possession of something. And, yes, they are very often interchangeable. There are, however, some... »

Linking verbs: when an adjective—not an adverb—should follow a verb

Action verbs are the type of verbs that elementary students learn first. They also learn that if we want to say how we do something we should use an adverb (quickly, badly, well, etc.) with the verb. So, we say: She sings badly. He speaks quickly. The team played well. I waited patiently. However, there is a group of verbs—called linking verbs—which are not action verbs and are not used with an ad... »

Top three mistakes made by native English speakers

In this post I’ll look at some common mistakes made by native English speakers. Instead of making a long list, I’ve chosen three errors that are prevalent among my compatriots. (I’m British, so this is aimed at the Brits.) Before anyone starts ranting “Grammar police!”, let me just tell you that I’m an English teacher and am doing this to make my own students fe... »

How to get the future right: using present tenses to express the future

Ways of expressing the future by using a present tense »

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