Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some idioms with ‘hand’

A big hand for = please welcome e.g. A big hand for John and his band.
All hands on deck! (originally used on ships)=everybody must help e.g. All hands on deck! We need to clean this mess.
Lend a hand = help e.g. Let’s lend our neighbours a hand in moving.
Hands off! = Don’t touch; leave alone. e.g. Hands off! That’s my bag.
Hands up!= to ask members of a group to agree to something. e.g. Hands up if you want to go swimming.
On the one hand..but on the other = Used to contrast two ideas e.g. On the one hand, it’s a very economical car, but on the other, it was expensive to buy.
Out of hand = Out of control e.g. The party is getting out of hand.
To have the upper hand = have the advantage e.g. As far as the competition goes, I believe our team has the upper hand.
Win hands down = defeat effortlessly e.g. We won the competition hands down.
Second hand = not new e.g. That shop sells second hand books.
In the hands of = in the possession of e.g. My passport is in the hands of the Immigration Authorities.
Hand over = pass on e.g. I’m handing over my responsibilities to the new manager.
In good hands = well cared for e.g. The dog that was run over is in good hands now.
Have one’s hands full = to be busy e.g. I won’t be able to go out this Friday as I have my hands full.
By hand = manually e.g. They picked the fruit by hand.
Have one’s hands tied = restricted by regulations e.g. I’m afraid I can’t do anything about it. My hands are tied.
Work hand in hand with= work closely with e.g. We work hand in hand with our branches.
Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing = lack of communication between two parts of the same organization

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Some slang words

Slang is vocabulary that is used in informal spoken English.

a stupid or crazy person – an airhead, barmy, bonkers, go bananas, not all there, nutter, psycho, lost the plot
excellent – awesome, ace, brill, cool, fab, wicked, solid, neat
a mistake – a booboo
man – bloke, dude
tired – beat, bushed, knackered
lacking in good taste – cheesy, tacky
attractive – hot, fit, a knockout, a stunner
television - telly
someone who watches too much tv - a couch potato
in a bad mood - cranky
sleep - kip
someone with a lot of money - loaded
to have no money - skint
toilet - loo
friend - mate
unimportant - mickey mouse
ta - thanks

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Adjectives that can be turned into verbs with -en

A sharp knife →to sharpen a knife
A sweet cake → to sweeten a cake by adding more sugar
A weak argument → to weaken links
A short man → to shorten trousers
A bright smile → to brighten your day
A wide road → to widen a road
A strong man → to strengthen muscles
A long flight → to lengthen your holidays
Tight trousers → to tighten your grip
A flat envelope → to flatten an envelope
Straight hair → to straighten your hair
Broad shoulders→ to broaden your horizons

Monday, 19 July 2010

IELTS WritingTips -

IELTS ReadingTips -

IELTS Listening Tips -


Manner: how?
e.g. well, quickly, slowly, hard, fast
They answered the question badly.

Place: where?
above, up, there, here, upstairs
They have lived there for a long time.

Time: when?
then, soon, recently, now, afterwards
She arrived from Russia yesterday.

Degree: how much?
so, too, very, really, quite, much
They were very unhappy.

Frequency: how often?
always, never, sometimes, often, usually
It frequently rains in the summer.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Verbs + to + infinitive

decide, afford, promise, offer, forget, manage, plan, want, refuse, arrange, agree seem, try, fail, hope + to + infinitive

e.g. We decided to go to India as we could afford to pay for the flight. The airlines promised to give us good seats and offered to fly us first class. Even though we forgot to book a taxi, we managed to get to the airport on time. We planned to stop at Dubai as we wanted to shop. They refused to issue us a visa there so we arranged to speak to the authorities. They finally agreed to let us out of the airport. The flight to India seemed to take forever. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t as I failed to switch off the TV screen. I hope to travel again soon.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Adjectives with –ed and –ing

Adjectives ending in –ed describe someone’s emotions.

e.g. I felt relaxed during the exam.
We were worried when we heard the news.
They were tired after the long game of football.
He has always been interested in the news.

Adjectives ending in –ing describe the thing/person that produces the emotion.

e.g. My trip to Vietnam was exciting.
The way he eats is disgusting.
I had an embarrassing moment today.
The city map was confusing.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Relative Pronouns (who, that, which, whose, where)

Who/that refers to people.
e.g. I really like the actor who/that stars in that film.

That/which refers to things or animals.
e.g. Isn’t that the cat that/which we saw yesterday?
e.g. The computer that/which is on the desk is mine.

Whose is when something belongs to someone, a country, an organization.
e.g. I have a friend whose dog is called Lassie.
e.g. Vietnam whose population is over 86 million is located in Southeast Asia.
e.g. The UN is an international organization whose headquarters are in New York.

Where refers to a place where an action takes place.
e.g. Can you show me the street where you were raised?
e.g. That’s the house where the party was held.


Both, either, neither are used to talk about 2 things, people or groups.

Both X and Y: (adds one idea to another) e.g. Both my father and mother have blue eyes.

Either X or Y: (shows 2 choices) e.g. You can use either a pen or a pencil in the exam.

Neither X nor Y: (adds 2 negative ideas together) e.g. He’s neither rich nor famous.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A few, a little, few, little

A few / a little means ‘some’ and so refers to a positive idea.
e.g. I have a few ideas that I’d like you to listen to. (plural noun)
We have a little money saved for our holiday. (uncountable noun)

Few / little means ‘not many’ and ‘not much’ and so refers to a negative idea.
e.g. They have few friends in this city. (plural noun)
There is little water. Can you fetch some more? (uncountable noun)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Question tags

Question tag = 2 words added at the end of a statement to make it a question. Mostly used in spoken English.

After a positive statement we use a negative tag.

After a negative statement we use a positive tag.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Verbs + -ing

We like/love/adore/enjoy playing computer games.

They don’t mind looking after the children.

We hate/dislike/detest/can’t stand/can’t bear studying for exams.

When is she going to start/stop/finish eating?

Go + verb + -ing for sports and activities
We are going shopping/dancing/fishing/walking/cycling.
Yesterday we went jogging/riding/sailing/diving.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A lot of/lots of/much/many

A lot of/lots of = ‘a large quantity of’ (informal)
Countable plural nouns: e.g. He eats a lot of sweets. He doesn’t eat lots of apples.
Uncountable nouns e.g. Was there a lot of traffic today?
Used for: √, X, ? sentences

Much (formal)
Uncountable nouns e.g. I don’t speak much English. Do you drink much water?
Used for: X, ? sentences

Many (formal)
Countable plural nouns: e.g. We have been on many trips. I haven’t seen many horses on this farm. Are there many hotels in this area?
Used for: √, X, ? sentences


Some and any are quantity words used to talk about plural or uncountable nouns.

I have some friends in London. (plural noun)
I would like some fruit. (uncountable noun)

Some in offers and when asking for something
? Can you get me some apples? (plural noun)
? Would you like some tea? Do you want some advice? (uncountable noun)

? Have you got any friends in London? (plural noun)
? Have they got any furniture in their house? (uncountable noun)
X I haven’t got any friends in London. (plural noun)
X They haven't got any information. (uncountable noun)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Negative questions

This is how negative questions are formed:-

Are you from Vietnam? X Aren’t you from Vietnam?
Do you work in an office? X Don’t you work in an office?
Did she go to the party? X Didn’t she go to the party?
Is that your mobile phone? X Isn’t that your mobile phone?
Have you seen my bag? X Haven’t you seen my bag?
Will you help us? X Won’t you help us?
Would you like some water? X Wouldn’t you like some water?
Was the food good? X Wasn’t the food good?
Can he come on time? X Can’t he come on time?
They like cats. X Don’t they like cats?
That was a great film. X Wasn’t that a great film?
He has been to Vietnam. X Hasn’t he been to Vietnam?
I paid by credit card. X Didn’t I pay by credit card?

Negative questions are used to show:-
surprise e.g. Aren’t you supposed to be at work now?
anger e.g. Why didn’t you call me?
Uncertainty e.g. Isn’t her name Pam?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Adjectives + prepositions

They’re afraid/frightened/scared of flying.
She’s sick of eating fast food.
The car is full of toys.

We’re good/brilliant/bad at English.

China is famous for its Great Wall.
Water is good for our skin.
Soft drinks are bad for our teeth.

With (somebody or something)
I’m angry/annoyed/fed up with him for coming late to work.
They’ve been busy with the new project.

It is good/interesting/exciting to see the changes.
She was glad/pleased/happy/amazed to hear the news.
He was sad/disappointed/surprised to hear the news.
Is it expensive/cheap/easy/hard to buy a house?
That family has been cruel/kind/good/generous to me.

Are you interested in video games?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Friday, 2 July 2010

Fractions and symbols

1/2 a half
1/3 a third
2/3 two thirds
1/4 a quarter
3/4 three quarters
1/5 a fifth
4/5 four fifths
1/6 a sixth
1/10 a tenth
3/10 three tenths
1/100 a hundredth

+ plus, add, positive
- minus, subtract, negative
X multiplied by
÷ divided by
= equal to
% percent


We use can/could with the basic verb (without "to").

I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they can/could walk...
X I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they can’t/couldn’t play...
? Can/Could I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they find...

Can is used for present time e.g. I can sing quite well.
for future time e.g. I can drive you to work tomorrow.

Could is used for past time e.g. I couldn’t call you yesterday.

We use can/could for:
→Permission e.g. You can’t use your phone during an exam.
→Ability e.g. I can speak 3 languages.
→To ask for something e.g. Can I have a glass of water, please?
→To offer help e.g. Can I help you carry your shopping bags?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

There is/are

Short form: there’s (there is)
We use there is with a singular noun

There is a shopping centre. (singular noun)
X There isn’t a shopping centre.
? Is there a shopping centre?

OR with an uncountable noun (e.g. bread, water, petrol, meat, plastic, etc.)

There is some milk. (uncountable noun)
X There isn’t any milk.
? Is there any milk?

We use there are with plural nouns.

There are some shopping centres.
X There aren’t any shopping centres.
? Are there any shopping centres?

We use there is/are to describe something:

In my city there are 2,000 banks. There aren’t any zoos. There is a large shopping centre but there isn’t a public swimming pool. Is there a library in the city centre? Are there any interesting books in the library?

OR to point something out:

There is a documentary on TV tonight. There isn’t any money in my pocket. There isn’t any milk in the cake. There are some pandas in the zoo.