Sunday, 18 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect Continuous

We use the present perfect continuous for actions that had been happening for a period of time before the past time you are thinking about. e.g. I was exhausted when I arrived home. I'd been working hard the whole day.

POSITIVE SENTENCES (‘d / had been + ing)
I/You/He/She/It/We/They had been playing for two hours before realising it was time to go home.

The students had been imitating the teacher during the lesson and that's why they were sent home.
His grandmother wasn't well and he had been helping her for some time.
The forest fire had been burning for a few hours before the fire brigade arrived.
Her mother had been calling her for quite a while before she finally responded.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (had not (hadn’t) been + ing)
I/You/He/She/It/We/They hadn’t been watching TV when the doorbell rang.

The teenagers hadn't been hitch hiking when the police found them.
I told them not to make a noise but they hadn't been keeping quiet so I didn't take them to the park.
He hadn't been introducing the guests when he was called to make a speech.
We hadn't been holding on tightly and that's why we were injured in the accident.

Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they been waiting for Caroline's arrival?

Had the clubbers been hanging up their coats before entering the club?
Had Kate been climbing that tree when she fell and broke her arm?
Had the builders been building that house when the earthquake occurred?
Had they actually been carrying those heavy rucksacks across Canada?

Friday, 16 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect Continuous

We use present perfect continuous for:-
  • Actions that started in the past and are still going on. The emphasis is on how long an action lasted e.g. I have been painting this room for a week and I still haven’t finished yet.
  • Actions that happened over a long period of time and have stopped but have present results e.g. The workers have been working extremely hard to meet the Christmas deadlines but they have stopped for a week.
Time expressions: for, since, all day/morning/year, for ages/a long time/many years.

POSITIVE SENTENCES (have ('ve) / has ('s) been + ing)
I/You/We/They have been sleeping all day.
He/She/It has been sleeping all day.

I have been looking for my glasses all day and I still haven’t found them.
The catering company has been making tea for delegates since the conference started this morning.
We have been picking apples off trees on this farm for many years.
Ever since he stared going out with Maggie he has been paying for everything.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (have not (haven’t) / has not (hasn’t) been + ing)
I/You/We/They haven’t been sleeping all day.
He/She/It hasn’t been sleeping all day.

We haven’t been keeping any rabbits because we don’t have time to look after them.
Due to government restrictions, the hunters haven’t been hunting deer this season.
His health hasn’t been improving despite all the medication he has been given.
Our paediatrician told us she hasn’t been growing at all.

Have I/you/we/they been sleeping all day?
Has he/she/it been sleeping all day?

Has she been counting stock all morning?
Has Robert been coughing this week or is he feeling better?
Have the prisoners been crawling through that tunnel for a long time?
Have the players been crying since their football team lost the match?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

General Training - Model Answer (Task 2)

Some people think that young people should be ambitious. Others believe that it is fine if young people do not have big aims in life. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

When we think of young people, we imagine them to be full of energy, to have grand dreams and wishes to be successful in their lives. These ambitions are what often drive them in their work or personal lives to achieve their desired goals.

Ambition may be thought of as being positive as it provides the motivation to move forward and is a necessary ingredient to reaching one’s aims. It is a good idea for young people to be ambitious as the older generation tends to lose this aspect of their personality as they become older because what they once valued as being important changes. Creativity and new products and services often result from ambitions that youngsters may have. As people want to reach a certain standard they need to find alternative ways to do this in a competitive environment leading to creativity and drive.

On the other hand, many young people go through life without any ambition. This depends on a person’s character and what they want from their lives, or perhaps their aims are personal and too small to benefit society as a whole. In addition, being over-ambitious often makes a person malicious or selfish because to get ahead in a cut-throat world these characteristics are required.

In my opinion, youngsters, particularly in their 20s should be ambitious. They should have hopes and dreams, whether big or small, professional or social and work towards them. Life without any ambition would be monotonous.

Question taken from Exam Essentials IELTS Practice Tests p.198

Monday, 12 November 2012

Verbs - Past Perfect

We use past perfect for completed actions in the past that happened before other completed past actions e.g. I had never visited Romania before last year.

Time expressions: already, after, before, by the time, when, for, since, as soon as.

POSITIVE SENTENCES ('d/had + past participle)

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had eaten before going for a walk.

I had already married Diana before I fell in love with Josie!
After we had met we became good friends.
As soon as she had mended the hole in her trousers, they ripped again.
Once they had mixed the flour, they added raisins.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (had not/hadn't + past participle) 

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had not (hadn't) eaten before going for a walk.

We hadn’t moved the sofa by the time they arrived. That’s why they were angry when they came home.
The dog hadn’t obeyed Thomas when he told it to go home.
When we went for a visit they hadn’t offered us any tea.
She hadn’t opened the machine to see if it was working before she rang the Service Department.

QUESTIONS (had + past participle)  

Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they eaten before going for a walk?

Had she packed her bags by the time the taxi arrived?
Had the class painted landscapes before?
Had Mike and Andrea parted before he moved to Uzbekistan?
Had Joss passed Mark by the time they had reached the half way line?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect

We use present perfect (has/have + past participle):
  • To talk about the past with no time reference, so time isn’t important or we don’t know the time e.g. We’ve already eaten, thank you.
  • For actions/situations that started in the past and continue in the present. We are more interested in the present result of a past action e.g. Have you been to the factory lately?
Expressions used with present perfect: been, ever, for, since, just, yet, already, never, recently, lately, today, this morning/week/month/year

Since + the point in time when it started e.g. I’ve been here since January/ the beginning of the year / one o’clock / Tuesday / 2011 / 2nd March / the war started

For + the period of time e.g. I’ve been here for twenty minutes / a few hours /ten days / three weeks/ two months / five years /a long time

For regular verbs, past participle = infinitive + ed

Past participle of irregular verbs


I/You /We/They have (‘ve) stopped.
She/He/It has (‘s) stopped.

She has cycled across the country before, so she’s really fit.
We’ve taken some beautiful shots of flowers for the exhibition.
Kumar has done the ironing and he’s cooking now.
The housewives have knitted jerseys for their grandchildren.
The boy scouts have caught some trout for dinner!
You have cleaned your car a million times. I don’t think you need to do it again this week!

I/You/We/They have not (haven’t) stopped.
She/He/It has not (hasn’t) stopped.

Lisa hasn’t taken a bath yet so we’ll probably be late.
The patients haven’t taken their medication today.
They haven’t met up for coffee for a long time.
We haven’t driven our new car yet. We only bought it yesterday.
Simon hasn’t read the newspaper so I don’t think he knows about it.
I haven’t ever listened to music using a record player before.

Have I/you/we/they stopped?
Has she/he/it stopped?

Have you played golf on that new golf course?
Have the secretaries been on the training course?
Has Sam ever changed a tyre before?
Has Tony washed the plates yet? We don’t have clean ones for the guests.
Has Greg ever worn a tie to work?
Have the customers used the phone service yet?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Verbs - Past Continuous

We use past continuous for:-
  • Actions in progress in the past e.g. Helen was having breakfast at 8:00.
  • A short action in the middle of a longer action e.g. The fishermen were going home (long action = past continuous) when they saw a shark (short action = past simple).
Expressions with the past continuous: While, when, as.

We don’t use the past continuous for verbs which describe a state (thoughts, feelings, senses, possession) e.g. agree, be, believe, belong, contain, exist, forget, hate, have (possession), hear, imagine, know, like, love, mean, mind, need, notice, owe, prefer, realise, remember, seem, suppose, understand, want, wish

POSITIVE SENTENCES (was/were + ing)
I/She/He/It was playing
You/We/They were playing

She was putting her make-up on when I rang her.
They were cooking for many guests so they needed to start early.
He was exercising at the gym at 8pm last night.
We were sewing the children's fancy dress costumes so we couldn't come.
They were shopping for the party when we bumped into them.
Sandra was jogging in the park when the dog attacked her.
We didn't go into the room because the housekeeper was cleaning.
Toby was brushing his teeth because he had a meeting to go to.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (wasn’t/weren’t + ing)
I/She/He/It was not (wasn’t) playing
You/We/They were not (weren’t) playing

Charles wasn't shaving when I arrived to take him to work.
They weren't painting their house yesterday as they needed a break.
I wasn't washing the dishes. In fact, I was relaxing.
You know we weren't playing cards. We had a group assignment to finish off.
The workers weren't digging the road when I went to check up on them.
We parked outside but we weren't eating at that restaurant.

Was I/She/He/It playing?
Were You/We/They playing?

Were you packing your bags this morning for the trip?
Were you rowing as early as 6am?
Was Bill tanning when the swimmer drowned?
Were the unemployed workers waiting in a line to get in?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Verbs - Past Simple

We use past simple for:-
  • Completed actions in the past e.g. We went to the cinema yesterday.
  • Actions that interrupted longer actions in the past e.g. Elaine dropped in while we were having dinner.
Expressions with the past simple: yesterday, last weekend/week/night/month/year, two minutes/hours/days/nights/weeks/months/years ago

We add ed to regular verbs. The verb is the same for all persons: I/You/He/She/It/We/They played

Verbs ending in e, add d e.g. like → liked
Consonant (b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,t,v,w,x,y,z) + y = i + ed e.g. study→studied
Vowel (a,e,i,o,u) + consonant = double consonant + ed e.g. stop→stopped
She woke up at 7 o'clock yesterday.
The shop sold over 2.000 ice-creams last month.
As the train arrived early this morning I managed to get to work on time.
I got undressed and went straight to bed.
That house was buit 5 years ago.
Peter drank a glass of water before he continued talking.
The Chinese won the most gold medals in the paralympic games in London.
While his parents were away on holiday, he broke his piggy bank and spent all his savings.
He fell off his bike yesterday and broke his leg.
They changed their currency at the airport.
We ate burgers last night.
He went into the house slowly so as not to wake anyone.

Irregular verbs

Subject + did not + infinitive for all persons and verbs (regular and irregular)
 I/You/He/She/It/We/They did not (didn’t) play

I didn't grow up in India.
We didn't have a washing machine when we were studying at university.
I didn't think about it until I had reached home.
The students didn't understand the lesson very well.
We didn't hear about the news because we never watch TV.
They didn't close the suitcase well and it opened during the trip.
Whenever she spoke to the parrot, it didn't repeat her words.
They took the car to the mechanic but he didn't fix it because he didn't have the spare parts for it.

Did + subject + infinitive for all persons and verbs (regular and irregular)
Did I/You/He/She/It/We/They play?

Did he go up the stairs or use the elavator?
Did the class finish the assignment on time?
Did the police officers follow the bank robbers after the bank robbery?
Did they manage to pull them up?
Did you remember to switch off the gas when you left the house?
Did the company answer back to the letter of complaint you sent?
Did Mike receive the package he was waiting for?
Did the children put the toys back where they found them?

Past Simple of the verb 'to be'

It was snowing yesterday.
He wasn't at the football match because he was at work.
Were they happy to hear the news?