Grammar Skills


1. Comparatives and Superlatives

What are comparatives and superlatives?
  • Comparatives compare two things

    • The USA is bigger than Austria.

  • Superlatives compare three or more things to show which is the “most” or the “best.” We also use superlatives to show which is the “least” or the “worst.”

    • Russia is the biggest country in the world.

    • Rhode Island is the smallest state in the USA.

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2. Intro To Adverbs

What are adverbs?
  • Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs

  • Many times adverbs help to describe HOW something is done

    • HOW do you drive?

    • Quickly, safely, badly, well, slowly, recklessly, etc.

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3. Negation

What is negation?
  • Negation is the process of turning a positive statement into a negative statement. We can also think of this as stating the “opposite.”

  • Verbs in English are negated by adding “not” to the sentence.

    • Positive sentence: I am happy.

    • Negative sentence: I am not happy.

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4. Intro to Adjectives

What is an adjective?
  • Adjectives describe nouns.

  • How would you describe an elephant?

    • big, gray, huge, smart, patient etc…

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5. Simple Present

What is the simple present?
  • We use the simple present to talk about:

    • Repeated actions or hobbies: I read every morning.

    • Facts: New York City is in the United States.

    • Scheduled events: The bus leaves at 2:30.

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6. Plurals

What are plurals?
  • Plurals are multiple nouns. If we are speaking about more than one item we need to use a plural!

  • In English, most plurals are made by adding -s or -es to a noun

    • 1 dog →  2 dogs

    • 1 box → 2 boxes

    • 1 hero → 2 heroes

  • Some plurals are irregular
    • 1 knife → 2 knives

    • 1 city → 2 cities

    • 1 man → 2 men

    • 1 fish →  2 fish

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7. Prepositions of Time

What are prepositions of time?
  • Prepositions are words that explain how things relate to each other in place, time or movement.

  • Prepositions of time explain how things relate to each other in time.

  • Some of the most common prepositions of time are: On, in, at, before, and after

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8. Past Continuous

What is the past continuous?

We use the past continuous to talk about an ongoing action in the past.

  • In 2010, I was living in Korea.

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9. Yes/No Questions

What are Yes/no questions?
  • We use “Yes/No” questions to discover simple information about someone or something.

  • Most “Yes/no” questions start with “do/does” or the “to be” verb:

    • Are you a student?

    • Do you like pizza?

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10. Wh- Questions

What are wh- questions?

Who, what, when, where and why questions which we use to learn information.

  • What is your name?  

  • Who is your favorite singer?

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11. Articles

What are articles?
  • The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. We need to decide noun-by-noun which article to use in each sentence. Sometimes, we don’t need to use an article at all.

    • An: Do you have an answer?

    • A: I am baking a cake tonight.

    • The: Why aren’t you going to the dance?

    • No article: I want pizza for dinner.

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12. Irregular Verbs

What are irregular verbs?
  • The majority of past-tense verbs in English end in “-ed.”

    • asked, walked, danced…

  • Some of the verbs we use most frequently are irregular:

    • was, ate, took…

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1. Adverbs of Frequency

What are adverbs of frequency?
  • Adverbs of frequency tell us how often or how frequently something happens.

    • I always call my parents on Sunday.

    • Tom rarely studies for his tests.

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2. Present Perfect

What is the present perfect?
  • The present perfect is a verb tense that we use to talk about an unspecified time in the past.

    • I have been to Japan.

    • I have heard that song too many times.

  • To make a sentence in the present perfect, we use this format

    • Subject + have/has + past participle

    • Sarah has left.

  • To make a present perfect sentence negative we add “not”

    • Subject + have/has + not + past participle

    • Sarah has not left. OR Sarah hasn’t left.

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3. Used to

What does “used to” mean?
  • “Used to” can be used as both an adjective and a verb.

  • When we use it as a verb, we are talking about something that happened in the past, that doesn’t happen anymore.

    • I used to play baseball. (I played baseball in the past, but I don’t anymore.)

  • When we use it as an adjective, we are talking about something we are accustomed to.

    • I can drive long distances; I am used to it. (Driving long distances doesn’t bother me.)

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4. Future

What is the future tense?
  • We use the future tense to discuss planned and unplanned actions that will happen in the future and for predictions we have about the future.

  • There are three ways to speak in the future tense. We can use:

    • Will: I will go to work today.

    • Going to: We are going to eat out tonight.

    • Present Continuous: Are they driving there tomorrow?

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5. Quantifiers

What are quantifiers?
  • A quantifier is a word (or phrase) placed before a noun to indicate amount or quantity

    • There are so many people here!

    • Have you seen any good concerts?

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6. Past Perfect

What is the past perfect?
  • The past perfect is a verb tense that we use to talk about an action that happened before another action (or a specific time) in the past.

    • I had been to Japan before I became a teacher.

    • I had heard that song so many times that I became sick of it.

  • To make a sentence in the past perfect, we use this format

    • Subject + had + past participle

    • Sarah had left.

  • To make a past perfect sentence negative we add “not”

    • Subject + had + not + past participle

    • Sarah had not left. OR Sarah hadn’t left.

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7. Prepositions of Place and Time

What are prepositions of place and time?
  • Prepositions are words that explain how things relate to each other in place, time or movement.

  • Some prepositions are used for place and time. These prepositions are fromto, and through. Some prepositions, like by and until are only used for time.

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8. Modals of Ability and Permission

What are modals of ability and permission?
  • Modals are helping verbs. Modals of ability help us say what we are able (or not able!) to do and what we are allowed (or not allowed!) to do.

    • Can you come to my party?

    • I might be able to go later.

    • You shouldn’t arrive later than midnight.

  • We always use modals of ability and permission with other verbs

    • Correct: They couldn’t speak English very well.

    • Incorrect: They couldn’t English very well.

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9. First Conditional 

What is the first conditional?

We use the first conditional to talk about things that are likely to happen in the future:

  • If it snows, I will stay home.

  • If she goes to the party, I will ask her to dance

  • If I read the book, I will pass the test.

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10. Possessive Pronouns

What are possessive pronouns?
  • We use possessive pronouns to show ownership.

    • That pen is mine.

    • The books are theirs.

    • Ours is the biggest.

    • His is the best!

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11. Prepositions of Place

What are prepositions of place?
  • We use prepositions to describe how things relate to each other. Prepositions of place include on, in and at.

    • The book is on the table.

    • Jessica is at the office.

    • Alex lives in Spain!

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12. Modals of Obligation

What are modals of obligation?
  • We use modals of obligation to discuss responsibilities and to give advice.

  • The three most common modals of obligation are must (strong obligation), have to (strong to medium obligation) and should (weak obligation).

    • I must take my father to the hospital right now!

    • I have to go to work tomorrow.

    • I should clean my room.

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1. Indirect Questions

What are indirect questions?

Indirect questions are polite questions. They are a little more difficult than direct questions, but they make us sound friendly and respectful.

Direct question

  • Where is Tom?

Indirect question

  • Do you have any idea where Tom is?

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2. Passive Voice

What is the passive voice?
  • The passive voice puts emphasis on the object instead of the subject.

    • Active voice: Bob threw the ball.

    • Passive voice: The ball was thrown by Bob.

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3. Reported Speech

What is reported speech?
  • Reported speech is how we report what others have said

    • She said that the meeting was at noon.

    • He told me to be on time.

  • Reported speech is different from a direct quotation. If we want to report exactly what someone said, we use quotation marks:

    • Direct quotation: The President said, “My fellow Americans.”

  • Reported speech is more commonly used in spoken English, while direct quotations are more frequently used in writing.

    • Reported speech: The President called us his fellow Americans.

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4. Second Conditional

What is the second conditional?
  • We use the second conditional to talk about impossible or unlikely situations.

  • If I had millions of dollars, I would buy a mansion. It’s highly unlikely that a normal person would ever have millions of dollars, so we use second conditional to talk about what we WOULD do with that money if we did have it.

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5. Third Conditional

What is the third conditional?
  • We use the third conditional to talk about the past.

  • We use it to imagine how our lives would be now (in the present) if we had done something differently in the past.

  • For example: If I had become a doctor, I would have gotten more money in my last paycheck.

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6. Modals of Probability

What are modals of probability?
  • Modals of probability help us express how sure we are about something.

  • The modals of probability are must, might, may, could, and can’t.

    • Chris must have drunk the coffee I made.

    • Gerry might have texted her last night.

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7. Prepositions of Purpose: “To” & “For”

What are prepositions of purpose?
  • We use prepositions of purpose to describe goals and feelings rather than things.

    • I am happy to see you.

    • She wants to learn English.

    • I am sorry for your loss.

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