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which? and what? 


  • We ask which? when there is a limited choice
    • Which size do you want - small, medium or large
  • Before of and one, we can use which but not what
    • Which of the countries in Europe have you visited?
    • Look at those stars. Which one is the nearest?


  • We ask what? when there is a wide choice
  • What is your shoe size?

Sometimes both are possible:

  • Which/what day next week can you come and see us



some and any


  • Some means 'a certain (not large) number or amount of'
  • Some is used mostly in affirmative sentences
  • We also use some questions when we expect people to say 'Yes'
  • Examples:
    • She's got some interesting ideas
    • There is some mud on the carpet
    • 'Could I have some coffee?' 'Sure. And would you like some biscuits?'


  • We use any instead of some:
    • in negative sentences,
    • in most questions,
    • with if and with words like never, hardly, refuse, doubt (which have a negative kind of meaning)
  • Examples:
    • Do you know any good jokes?
    • If you find any mistakes, please tell me
    • We got there without any difficulty
    • He hasn't got any money.
    • She never has any fun.
    • refuse to give him any help

The difference between somebody/anybodysomeone/anyonesomething/anything, etc. is the same as the difference between some and any


so and such

We use so before an adjective (without a noun) or an adverb

We use such before (adjective +) noun. A/an comes after such

Such and so emphasise. To talk about similarity, we prefer like this/that


Have and have got

  • We use have or have got for possession, relationships, illnesses etc.
  • We can use have or have got. There is no difference in meaning.
  • With this meaning (something is mine) we do not use continuous forms.
  • Present:
    • Do you have any questions? Have you got any questions? Have you any questions? (the last one is less usual)
    • I don’t have any questions. I haven’t got any questions. I haven’t any questions? (the last one is less usual)
  • Past:
    • In past questions and negative sentences we use did/didn’t:
  • you have a car when you were living in Paris? I didn’t have my phone, so I couldn’t call you. Lisa had a long hair, didn’t she?
    • For the past we use had (usually without got)
  • We use have (without got) for things we do or experience:
    • Examples:
      • Have breakfast / dinner etc.
      • Have coffee / something to eat etc.
      • Have a shower / bath
      • Have a holiday / a break / a rest
      • Have an experience / an accident
      • Have a look (at something)
      • Have a chat / a discussion (with somebody)
      • Have trouble / difficult / fun / a good time etc.
      • Have a baby (=give birth to a baby)
    • Have got is not possible in these expressions. Compare:
      • Sometimes I have (=eat) a sandwich for my lunch. (not I’ve got) but:
      • I’ve got some sandwiches. Would you like one?
    • In this context in questions and negative sentences we use do/does/did


Used to / get used to / would

  • Used to + infinitive: past habitual action / state
    • Examples:
      • This theatre used to be a hospital.
      • He used to work till late at night. (He doesn’t anymore)
    • There is not present form for used to. Compare: He used to play tennis (past) VS He plays tennis (present)
    • The normal question form is did you use to…? The negative form is didn’t use to...
  • be/get used to + gerund/noun: habitual action
    • Examples:
      • She isn’t used to driving on the left
      • I haven’t get used to leaving abroad yet.
    • Do not confuse I used to do and I’m used to doing. The structure and meaning is different:
      • I used to live alone (=I lived alone in the past, not any more)
      • I am used to living alone (=I live alone, and I don’t find it strange or difficult because I’ve been lining alone for some time)
  • Would: repeated past action and routine
    • When I was at my grandparents’ cottage I would wake up early and go for a ride.\
    • Every week he would buy his mother a bunch of flowers
  • Unfulfilled past events intended to take place, but didn’t happen
    • Examples:
      • I was going to call you, but I forgot
      • I was thinking of going to Italy this year, but I haven’t decided
    • Some verbs are not normally used in continuous for e.g. know and want)


Tenses: Present Simple

  • We use present simple to talk about things in general, to say that something happens all the time or repeatedly, or that something is true in general.
  • We don’t use present tenses to say how long something has been going on (I have known her for years NOT I know her for years)
  • Third person forms:
    • Most common: by adding -s
    • Word ends in vowel + -y: -s
    • Word ends in consonant + -y: change -y to -ies
    • After s, x, ch, sh: -es


  • I drink coffee at breakfast.
  • I smoke.

Repeated actions (how often)

  • Every year we go on holiday to Spain.
  • I get the bus to work every day.
  • I get up at 8 o’clock every morning.

Unchanging situations

  • He works in Washington.
  • They speak fluent French. Nurses look after patients in hospital.
  • He drives a bus.
  • The café opens at 7:30 in the morning


  • You go to the end of the road and then you turn right.
  • Pour the contents into cold water and stir for two minutes.
  • First you chop the meat, and then you fry it.

General truths (laws of nature,  scientific facts)

  • The Earth goes around the Sun.
  • If you heat ice, it melts.
  • Ice melts when heated.

Fixed arrangements (timetables, programmes, etc.)

  • The exam starts at 14:00.
  • We leave tomorrow at 6 o’clock.
  • The match begins at 8:30 next Monday.

Declarations & promises

  • I suggest that you…
  • I promise that I won’t be late
  • In the same way we say: I apologise…, I advise…, I insist…, I agree…, I refuse…

Dramatic narration

  • The lights go out and a figure tears out of the villa.

Time expressions: usually, often, always, every day, in the morning, on Monday, etc.


Tenses: Present Continuous

Most popular use cases:

  • It is often used to describe something that is happening now.
  • Verbs that refer to emotions or desires don’t usually take the continuous form (fear, love, hate …)

We often tell stories with present tenses in an informal style:

  • We use the present simple  for events – things that happen one after another.
  • We use present continuous  for background – things that are already happening when the story starts, or that continue through part of the story

There is this Scotsman, you see, and he is walking  through the jungle when he meets gorilla. And the gorilla is eating a snake sandwich. So the Scotsman goes up to gorilla and says...

Action in progress (started but not finished)

  • He’s sleeping at the moment
  • It’s raining
  • They’re hunting for a flat
  • I’m reading a book - Said to a friend when talking on the phone
  • Kate wants to work in Italy, so she is learning Italian

An action happening right now

  • You are learning about the present continuous.
  • I am using the internet.

Temporary situations

  • He is sarcastic – It’s his nature
  • He is being sarcastic. – It’s not his nature; he is just behaving this way now.

Future planned events (fixed arrangements for the nearest future)

  • We’re going on holiday next week.
  • I’m leaving early today.
  • They are going on an excursion tomorrow.

Describing annoying habits with always, forever, constantly

  • He’s always forgetting his phone!
  • You’re constantly complaining about my family!
  • You are always leaving off the toothpaste.

Describing current trends

  • Many people are becoming vegetarian.
  • Heavy metal is making a comeback.
  • Oil prices are rising at present

Time expressions: now, at present, at the moment, these days, still, today, tonight, nowadays, this year etc.


State verbs

State verbs describe a state and do not have continuous forms. These include verbs related to:

  • Senses:  see, hear, smell, feel, taste;
    • Can have continuous form, but there is a change in meaning:
    • I’m seeing my dentist tomorrow. (= a prior arrangement)
    • Do you see those birds? (Ability to see)
  • Thinking:  think, agree, believe, consider, doubt, expect, feel (=think)
    • The verbs think, consider and expect can have continuous forms when they refer to an activity.
    • Be quite please! I’m thinking.
    • I think you are wrong. (= I believe)
  • Emotion and feeling:  feel, forgive, hate, loathe, like, dislike, love, mind, wish, etc.
  • Other: appear / seem, be, belong, have (=posses), keep (=continue), matter, owe, posses / own, etc.
    • can have continuous forms in certain expressions such as: have a bath, have a nap, have fun, have a good time, etc.
    • We are having a good time at the party when the fire broke out. 
    • Since you have his phone number, you can call him. (=posses)


Tenses: Present Perfect

  • Connects the past and the present
  • We use is especially for finished actions that are important now.
  • They have result now or they are news
  • The exact time is not important and is not specified. (when definite time is given, we use Past Simple)
  • When we give more details, we usually switch to  the Past Simple: I’ve had a terrible day at the office today. My secretary went home sick and we lost a contract.
  • Note that we use Past Simple to talk about the origin of something present:  Who wrote that?; Bill gave me this necklace,

started actions which are continuing up to now

  • I’ve known Peter since we were children. (= I still know him)
  • He has lived in Manchester for five years. (= he is still leaving there)
  • He has written three books

finished actions in an open period of time

  • She has changed jobs twice this year. (another change is possible this year)
  • I haven’t seen Bob today. (but I might still see him later)

life experience

  • I have never been to Portugal. (but I can still go there)
  • He has seen that film already.(he could still watch it again)

finished actions with a visible result

  • I’ve lost my keys. (= so I can’t get in now)
  • A: Is Sally there? B: No, she’s gone out (= she is out now)
  • I have cut my finger.

finished actions that happened recently

  • The President has announced new tax reforms.
  • I’ve just seen Suzy.
  • She has just painted her room.

Announce a piece of news

  • A light passenger plane has crashed in Sydney

emphasis on an achievement

  • How many things we have done?
  • How many times we have done?
  • How much we have done?

How often something has happened

  • I have seen that film ten times.
  • We have been to that pub many times.
  • Benjamin has been to Africa several times this year

Time expressions (‘any time up to now’): this year, today, since, yet, for, already, just, ever, so far, recently, lately, still, how long, this is the first / second / only  time, in the last few days, since I arrived, never/ever, this is the only / best / worst etc.

We don’t normally use Present Perfect with expressions which refer to a finished time: yesterday, last week, three years ago, then, when


Tenses: Present Perfect Continuous

  • unfinished actions that are continuing up to now, especially when we say how long they lasted (we don’t use Present Simple to say how long something has lasted)
  • temporary situations or habits
  • actions that have recently finished, with relevant results now
  • Present Perfect – something is completed, achieved i.e. I’ve read your book (= I’ve finished it)
  • Present Perfect Continuoussituation continues i.e. I’ve been reading you book (= I’m enjoying it’ I haven’t finished)
  • We prefer Present Perfect to talk about permanent or very long-lasting situations:
    • He has been living in Doncaster for the last month
    • I’ve lived here all my life

Emphasis on duration (how often, how long)

  • How long have you been reading this book?
  • It has been snowing since Tuesday

unfinished actions that are still happening in the present (focusing on action)

  • I’ve been living here for three years(= and still live here now)
  • I have been waiting for two hours (= and I’m still waiting!)

temporary situations or habits

  • I have been jogging a lot recently. (= I don’t normally do this)
  • I’ve been reading that book you suggested. (= not quite finished)
  • He has been living in Doncaster for the last few months (compare with He lived there all his life)

actions that have recently finished, with relevant results now

  • It’s been raining. (which is why I am wet)
  • I’ve been studying late this week. (which is why I’m tired)
  • She has been painting her room. (it smells of paint)

Actions showing annoyance, irritation or surprise

  • What you have been doing to my computer?

Time expressions: for, since, how long, lately, recently, all day, the last half hour etc.


Tenses: Past Simple

Most popular usasge:

  • The basic form of the past tense in English.
  • It doesn’t matter how long ago ‘things’ happened., the duration is also not important.

completed actions that happened earlier:

  • He left an hour ago. (direct time reference)
  • She phoned before the boss came. (indirect time reference)
  • I watched the film yesterday.
  • The Romans invaded Britain.

completed states that happened earlier:

  • Her dog died last year.
  • Their second child was born last week.

completed feelings that happened earlier

  • He never wanted children when he was a teenager.
  • As a child, she wanted to be a ballet dancer.

news details

  • We’ve been visiting family. We stayed with my sister and uncle.
  • I’ve just come back from a great holiday. I went to Rome and Venice

Past habits actions

  • He travelled / used to travel a lot when he was young.

unlikely or impossible situations – second conditional

  • If it wasn’t raining, we would be outside playing.
  • If I had more time, I would do more sport.

reported speech

  • “I like pizza” – She said she liked pizza.
  • “I play cricket” – He said he played cricket.


Past tenses can make requests, questions and suggestions more polite (they sound less direct than present tenses):

  • I wondered if you were free this evening
  • How much did you want to spend, sir?

The past modal forms would, could, and might are often used this way:

  • I thought it would be nice to have a picnic
  • Could I ask you to translate it to me?

Time expressions: finished time words i.e. yesterday, Last night/week/year, than, when, ago, how long ago…? etc.


Tenses: Past Continuous

Most popular usasge:

  • We use Past Cont. to say that something was going on around a particular past time
  • Past Cont. and Past Simple can be used together:
    • Past Cont.: longer background action or situation
    • Past Simple: shorter action that interrupted it or happened in the middle
  • Cont. forms are used mostly for temporary actions and situations. For longer, more permanent situations we prefer the Past Simple.

for incomplete actions that happened earlier

  • He was working yesterday evening.
  • She was still working at eight o’clock yesterday evening

past actions in progress interrupted by another action

  • I was shopping when you called.
  • She was leaving when the phone rang.
  • It was raining when I got up.

to describe a story’s background

  • As the sun was setting, he took out the ring and proposed.
  • I was having such a lovely dream when the alarm went off.

to indicate a change of mind

  • I was going to watch a film but I cleaned the house instead.
  • I was going to clean the house but ended up playing on the computer.

to emphasise duration

  • I was working on that new project all weekend.
  • They were playing cards all night.

Polite inquires; Past Continuous can make requests even less direct, and so more polite than Past Simple

  • I was wondering if you could help me
  • I was wondering if I might use your phone

for old habits that no longer happen with always, forever, constantly

  • He was always forgetting his keys.
  • She was always singing in the shower.
  • When she was at school, she was always loosing things

in reported speech

  • I am saving to buy a new car” - he said he was saving to buy a new car.
  • We are planning our holiday” –they said they were planning their holiday.

Time expressions: while, when, as, all morning/evening/day/night etc.


Tesnes: Past Perfect

Most popular usasge:

  • To show that past action was completed
  • When we already talking about the past and want to talk about earlier past for a moment
  • To make clear the order of events in the past.
  • We often use the Past Perfect after when and after to show that something was completely finished

Referring to a point further in the past from a past point in time

  • I had saved my files before the computer froze.
  • We were late. The film had started by the time we arrived.
  • She had already typed all the letters before her boss arrived

Something was completely finished (with when, after)

  • When he had painted the kitchen and bathroom, he decided to have a rest.
  • After I had finished the report, I realised it was too late to post it

Unlikely or impossible past situations –third conditional

  • If I had worked harder, I would have passed the exam.
  • If I had known you were visiting, I would have baked a cake

Past equivalent of the Present Perfect; Compare:

  • Bob had always dreamed of being in a musical, but he never got the chance.
  • Tom has always dreamed of being in a musical; he might make it one day.

Reported speech

  • I have already eaten” – he said he had already eaten.
  • I have finished my homework”– she said she had finished her homework.

Time expressions:  before, after, already, just, for, since, till/until, by the time, never, etc.


Tenses: Past Perfect Continuous

Most Popular Usage:

  • Corresponds to the present perfect continuous, but refers to a time in the past.
  • The process is more important than the results.

Something that started in the past and continued up to another time in the past

  • He had been having a lunchtime sleep when his boss walked in.
  • I had been working as a software developer before switching to sales.
  • She had been cooking all day long when Tom came home with some fish and chips.
  • It wasn’t raining when we went out. The sun was shining. But it had been raining, so the ground was wet

something that finished just before another time in the past (for effects)

  • It had been snowing and the roads were slippery.
  • When she was at school, she was always loosing things –that is why I was so tired.

actions producing visible results in the past (equivalent of Present Perfect Continuous)

  • She was covered in pain because she had been painting her room.

reported speech

  • I have been working all weekend” –she said she had been working all weekend.
  • We have been talking for over an hour” – they said they had been talking for over an hour.

Time expressions:  for, since, how long, before, until, etc.


since and for

since + starting point: we use since when we say when something started

  • He’s been here since ten o’clock.
  • We’ve had this care since December
  • I’ve known her since University


for + period: we use for when we say how long something has lasted

  • He’s been here for two hours.
  • We’ve had this car for six months.
  • I’ve known her for a very long time.


Sentences with since usually have a perfect tense. But past tenses are possible in the time expression after since. Compare:

  • I’ve known her since 1980.
  • I’ve known her since we were  students.

A present tense is sometimes used in the main clause to talk about changes:

  • She looks quite different since her illness.
  • It’s a long time since lunch. (note the structure: It is… since…)


Sentences with for have a perfect tense when the meaning is ‘time up to now’, but other tenses are used with other meanings:

  • I’ve known her for ages.
  • I was in that school for three years.
  • She’s staying for another week.
  • He’ll be in hospital for a month.