Grammar: Gerunds After Prepositions

1. Gerund after prepositions that stand alone

  1. afterAfter having a shower, I waited for Steven.
  2. before: The tablet must not be taken before getting up in the morning.
  3. by: I manage it by working much longer than 40-hour weeks.
  4. in spite ofIn spite of studying a lot he didn’t pass the exams.
  5. on: What was her reaction on hearing the news?
  6. without: He told the joke without laughing.

2. Gerund after Adjective + Preposition

  1. afraid of: They are afraid of losing the match.
  2. angry about/at: Pat is angry about walking in the rain.
  3. bad at/good at: John is good at working in the garden.
  4. clever at: He is clever at skateboarding.
  5. crazy about: The girl is crazy about playing tennis.
  6. disappointed about/at: He is disappointed about seeing such a bad report.
  7. excited about: We are excited about making our own film.
  8. famous for: Sandy is famous for singing songs.
  9. fed up with: I’m fed up with being treated as a child.
  10. fond of: Hannah is fond of going to parties.
  11. glad about: She is glad about getting married again.
  12. happy about/at: The children are not happy about seeing a doctor.
  13. interested in: Are you interested in writing poems?
  14. keen on: Joe is keen on drawing.
  15. proud of: She is proud of riding a snowboard.
  16. sick of: We’re sick of sitting around like this.
  17. sorry about/for: He’s sorry for eating in the lesson.
  18. tired of: I’m tired of waiting for you.
  19. used to: She is used to smoking.
  20. worried about: I’m worried about making mistakes.

3. Gerund after Noun + Preposition

  1. advantage of: What is the advantage of farming over hunting?
  2. chance of: There’s a chance of catching a cold these days.
  3. choice between: There’s a choice between flying to London Heathrow or Stansted.
  4. danger of: Peggy is in danger of making a mistake.
  5. difficulty in: He has difficulty in texting.
  6. doubt about: He is in doubt about buying the correct software for his computer system.
  7. hope of: There’s little hope of catching the new Corvette.
  8. idea of: I like the idea of setting up a new email account.
  9. interest in: There’s no interest in writing letters.
  10. method of: This is a simple method of finding solutions.
  11. opportunity of: There’s some opportunity of bringing her parents together again.
  12. possibility of: These wheels offer the possibility of riding tubeless.
  13. problem of: He has the problem of swimming too slowly.
  14. reason for: There’s a real reason for winning the contest.
  15. risk of: There’s a risk of digging too deep.
  16. trouble for: He was in trouble for stealing.
  17. way of: This is a new way of building a wall.

4. Gerund after Verb + Preposition

  1. accuse of: They were accused of breaking into a shop.
  2. agree with: I agree with playing darts.
  3. apologize for: They apologize for being late.
  4. believe in: She doesn’t believe in getting lost in the wood.
  5. blame for: The reporter is blamed for writing bad stories.
  6. complain about: She complains about bullying.
  7. concentrate on: Do you concentrate on reading or writing?
  8. congratulate sb. on: I wanted to congratulate you on making such a good speech.
  9. cope with: He is not sure how to cope with getting older.
  10. decide against: They decided against stealing the car.
  11. depend on: Success may depend on becoming more patient.
  12. dream about/of: Sue dreams of being a pop star.
  13. feel like: They feel like going to bed.
  14. get used to: You must get used to working long hours.
  15. insist on: The girls insisted on going out with Mark.
  16. look forward to: I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.
  17. prevent (somebody) from (something): How can I prevent Kate from working in this shop?
  18. rely on (something): He doesn’t rely on winning in the casino.
  19. succeed in: How then can I succeed in studying chemistry?
  20. specialize in: The firm specialized in designing websites.
  21. stop (somebody) from: I stopped Andrew from smoking.
  22. talk about/of: They often talk about travelling to New Zealand.
  23. think about/of: Frank thinks of playing chess.
  24. warn (somebody) against: We warned them against using this computer.
  25. worry about: The patient worries about having the check-up.

TOO MUCH vs MUCH TOO

MUCH

MUCH  indicates a big quantity of an uncountable substance or element  (one that you can’t count).
example: There’s so much snow on the roads at present…

TOO MUCH

If the quantity becomes too big (a negative opinion of the quantity), much is preceded by TOO : TOO MUCH + uncountable noun = an excessive quantity

example: There has been too much rain and the lakes are very high … 

 

MUCH TOO

Another construction describing an excessive quantity is less frequent and is built with an adjective: =

example: This car is much too expensive for me to buy… 
example: This case is much too heavy : you can’t carry it!

In this construction, ‘MUCH’  has here the function of  emphasising and amplifying the adverb ‘too’;   it is equivalent to ‘far too heavy’.

 

There is even an expression : ‘much too much’. It describes a real excess or exaggerated amount of something and always comes after the verb that it describes.

example: He’s eaten much too much today… He’d better start a diet!

 

tooMuchvsMuchToo


 

In the following exercise choose between TOO MUCH and MUCH TOO! 

1) Your sister’s __________________ clever to make this mistake twice.
  1. much too much
  2. too much
  3. much too
2) Tom’s __________________ shy! He’ll never speak in front of so many people …
  1. much too
  2. much too much
  3. too much
3) I think there’s __________________ snow on the roads to let the family go now.
  1. much too
  2. much too much
  3. too much
4) There we are again ! You’ve had __________________ chocolate again and now you’re feeling sick!
  1. much too
  2. too much
  3. much too much
5) You must be kidding! This car is __________________ expensive for me just to look at it, let alone buy it!
  1. much too much
  2. much too
  3. too much
6) These schoolboys are __________________ lazy to volunteer for extra work for the community.
  1. much too
  2. much too much
  3. too much
7) Sheila is __________________ fluent in French to take an ‘Intermediate Course’… She must follow the ‘Advanced Course’.
  1. much too much
  2. too much
  3. much too
8) No, Sam ! I won’t take it, I won’t! There’s far __________________ money for me to accept it.
  1. much too much
  2. too much
  3. much too
9) Look at this poor kid! He’s had __________________ computer time and is exhausted!
  1. much too much
  2. too much
  3. much too
10) I haven’t had __________________ sleep recently … I’d need a good night’s rest !
  1. too much
  2. much too
  3. much too much

ANSWERS:

1) much too
2) much too
3) too much
4) too much
5) much too
6) much too
7) much too
8) too much
9) much too much
10) too much

Vocabulary: Compound Nouns

What is a Compound Noun?

Compound nouns are words for people, animals, places, things, or ideas, made up of two or more words. Most compound nouns are made with nouns that have been modified by adjectives or other nouns.

In many compound nouns, the first word describes or modifies the second word, giving us insight into what kind of thing an item is, or providing us with clues about the item’s purpose. The second word usually identifies the item.

Compound nouns are sometimes one word, like toothpaste, haircut, or bedroom. These are often referred to as closed or solid compound nouns.

Sometimes compound nouns are connected with a hyphen: dry-cleaning, daughter-in-law, and well-being are some examples of hyphenated compound nouns.

Sometimes compound nouns appear as two separate words: full moon, Christmas tree, and swimming pool are some examples of compound nouns that are formed with two separate words. These are often referred to as open or spaced compound nouns.

 

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Compound Noun Examples

The more you read and write, the more compound noun examples you’ll encounter. The following sentences are just a few examples of compound nouns.

 

Compound nouns can be made with two nouns:

  • Let’s just wait at this bus stop.
  • I love watching fireflies on warm summer nights.
  • While you’re at the store, please pick up some toothpaste, a six-pack of ginger ale, and some egg rolls.

 

Compound nouns can be made with an adjective and a noun:

  • Let’s watch the full moon come up over the mountain.
  • Please erase the blackboard for me.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a noun:

  • Be sure to add bleach to the washing machine.
  • Let’s be sure to stay somewhere with a swimming pool.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a verb:

  • He always gets up before sunrise.
  • I really could use an updated hairstyle.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a preposition:

  • Checkout is at noon.
  • Please remember to schedule your dog’s annual check-up.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a prepositional phrase:

  • My mother-in-law is the kindest person I know.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a preposition and a noun:

  • Do you believe in past lives?
  • This city is vibrant, so it’s hard to believe it has a thriving criminal underworld.

 

Compound nouns can be made with a noun and an adjective:

  • We need a truckful of mulch for the garden.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Choose the word that makes each of these nouns into a compound noun.

    1. Fund __________ (A – driver, B – seat, C – raiser)
    2. News __________ (A– paper, B – story, C – travels)
    3. Sun ____________ (A– day, B – glasses, C – heat)
    4. Child ___________ (A – hood, B – ren, C – play)
    5. Door ___________ (A– frame, B – handle, C – way)

Fill in the blanks to complete each compound noun, or with the one-word compound noun that fits best.

  1. Prevent a heart _________ by eating properly and getting enough exercise. (A – stroke, B –attack, C – murmur)
  2. Do you prefer peppermint or cinnamon flavored _____________? (A– cookies, B – toothpaste, C – applesauce)
  3. The full ___________ looked enormous as it rose over the horizon. (A – moon, B – sun, C –sunset)
  4. I’m going to the barber for a _____________. (A – trim, B – new style, C – haircut)
  5. They’re digging a new swimming ____________ in the park. (A – suit, B – pool, C – game)
  6. I’d love to learn to pilot an ____________(A–boat, B – airplane, C – submarine)
  7. One reason donuts are fattening is that they’re fried in cooking _____. (A – oil, B – sugar, C –pans)
  8. Sherrie is upset because she lost an ______________. (A – input, B – earring, C – friendship)
  9. We put a ____________ in the garden to chase birds away.(A – runway, B – sunshade, C –scarecrow)
  10. 15.I’ve got to pick up a package at the post ___________. (A – man, B – office, C – book)

 

 


 

 

 

Answer Key: 1 – C, 2 – A, 3 – B, 4 – A, 5 – C

Answer Key: 6 – B, 7 – B, 8 – A, 9 – C, 10 – B, 11 – B, 12 – A, 13 – B, 14 – C, 15 – B

 

 

Original content from gingersoftware.com

 

 

Grammar: Noun As Adjective

As you know, a noun is a person, place or thing, and an adjective is a word that describes a noun:

adjective noun
clever teacher
small office
black horse

 

Sometimes we use a noun to describe another noun. In that case, the first noun “acts as” an adjective.

noun as
adjective
noun
history teacher
ticket office
race horse

The “noun as adjective” always comes first

If you remember this, it will help you to understand what is being talked about:

  • a race horse is a horse that runs in races
  • a horse race is a race for horses
  • a boat race is a race for boats
  • a love story is a story about love
  • a war story is a story about war
  • a tennis ball is a ball for playing tennis
  • tennis shoes are shoes for playing tennis
  • a computer exhibition is an exhibition of computers
  • a bicycle shop is a shop that sells bicycles

The “noun as adjective” is singular

Just like a real adjective, the “noun as adjective” is invariable. It is usually in the singular form.

Right Wrong
boat race boat races NOT boats race, boats races
toothbrush toothbrushes NOT teethbrush, teethbrushes
shoe-lace shoe-laces NOT shoes-lace, shoes-laces
cigarette packet cigarette packets NOT cigarettes packet, cigarettes packets

In other words, if there is a plural it is on the real noun only.

A few nouns look plural but we usually treat them as singular (for example news, billiards, athletics). When we use these nouns “as adjectives” they are unchanged:

  • a news reporter, three news reporters
  • one billiards table, four billiards tables
  • an athletics trainer, fifty athletics trainers

Exceptions: When we use certain nouns “as adjectives” (clothes, sports, customs, accounts, arms), we use them in the plural form:

  • clothes shop, clothes shops
  • sports club, sports clubs
  • customs duty, customs duties
  • accounts department, accounts departments
  • arms production

How do we write the “noun as adjective”?

We write the “noun as adjective” and the real noun in several different ways:

  • two separate words (car door)
  • two hyphenated words (book-case)
  • one word (bathroom)

There are no easy rules for this. We even write some combinations in two or all three different ways: (head master, head-master, headmaster)

How do we say the “noun as adjective”?

For pronunciation, we usually stress the first word:

  • shoe shop
  • boat-race
  • bathroom

Can we have more than one “noun as adjective”?

Yes. Just like adjectives, we often use more than one “noun as adjective” together. Look at these examples:

car production costs: we are talking about the costs of producing cars

noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun
costs
production costs
car production costs

 

England football team coach: we are talking about the coach who trains the team that plays football for England

 

noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun
coach
team coach
football team coach
England football team coach
England football team coaches

 

Note: in England football team coach can you see a “hidden” “noun as adjective”? Look at the word “football” (foot-ball). These two nouns (foot+ball) have developed into a single noun (football). This is one way that words evolve. Many word combinations that use a “noun as adjective” are regarded as nouns in their own right, with their own dictionary definition. But not all dictionaries agree with each other. For example, some dictionaries list “tennis ball” as a noun and other dictionaries do not.

 

government road accident research centre: we are talking about a centre that researches into accidents on the road for the government

 

noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun as
adjective
noun
centre
research centre
accident research centre
road accident research centre
government road accident research centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Original Content from: https://www.englishclub.com

Grammar: Describing Time

FOR

“For” is used in time expressions to talk about the duration of an action. “I have worked in this company for 11 years”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have information on the exact amount of time that an action has taken: “Sasha Grey has been a leading figure in her field for quite some time now”. Something that is worth noting about “For” in this usage is that it generally occurs in perfect tenses: present perfect (I have done), present perfect progressive (I have been doing), past perfect progressive (I had been doing) and so on.

 

SINCE

“Since” tells us when the action began; whether it has concluded or not is irrelevant. It can be used with a time expression: “It has been raining since 11:00 a.m.” or with a moment that works as a reference in time (this is the adverbial case): “She has been the breadwinner in her house since she got divorced”. This latter use has been the source of confusion regarding how similar it is to the conjunction “Because”. Simple:“Because” introduces a reason why something happens; “Since” points out when something began happening.

 

UNTIL

Quite opposite to “Since”, “Until” mentions when an action ends. It can also appear accompanied by a time or a date: “We drank absinthe until 4:00 a.m.” or a moment working as a reference in time: “He laughed until his belly ached”. Now, they are complementary opposites, but please, avoid using “Since” and “Until” together in the same sentence. We’ll take care of that right away.

 

FROM & TO

This is a combo you always need together. Just think of a screenshot when you are writing an e-mail, there are two boxes you must fill out: FROM –where you write the address of the one who sends the message- and TO –where you write the address of the person receiving the message. Origin and destination. Alpha and Omega. Beginning and end. Thus, From” and “To” work together to indicate when the action begins and when it ends.We performed a Harlem Shake from 2:30 p.m. to 2:32 p.m. and we were exhausted, both physically and intellectually”.

 

You will be on the safest path if you remember but this: If you use “Since”, don’t use “Until”. If you use “Since” or “Until”, don’t use “For”. And if you use “From” and “To”, don’t use any of the others.

Grammar: MUCH / MANY / FEW / LITTLE

1. When do we use much and when many?

Both of these words are used in Questions and Negatives. Do not use these words with Affirmative verbs.

  • much: uncountable nouns (milk, marmalade, money, time etc.)
  • many: countable nouns (bottles of milk, jars of marmalade, dollars, minutes etc.)

Examples:

  • How much money have you got?
  • How many dollars have you got?

 

This sentence is not correct: There is much water in the sea

You can use MANY with an affirmative verb, but you cannot use MUCH.

MUCH is only correct in Questions and Negatives.


2. When do we use a little/little and when a few/few?

  • a little: non countable nouns (milk, marmalade, money, time etc.)
  • a few: countable nouns (bottles of milk, jars of marmalade, dollars, minutes etc.)

Examples:

  • He has a little money left.
  • He has a few dollars left.

We use few and little without the article a to point out a negative meaning.

Examples:

  • A few students of our school know this. (There are some student who know it.)
  • Few students know this. (It is almost unkonown.)

Grammar: Unreal Conditionals

We use this kind of conditional when we talk about something that is not real: either something that is impossible or something that is imaginary or very unlikely.

We move the tenses back one step (sometimes called backshifting) to show this unreality.

 

So, when we are talking about the present, we use the past tense or past modals, and when we are talking about the past we use past perfect or modal with have + past participle. (We also use the past tense to talk about future unreal things, which is less logical for learners.)

The second and third conditionals are examples of unreal conditionals. We don’t use when with unreal conditionals.


Impossible things in the present

This can be one specific thing or things in general. We use the past simple in the if-clause, and would + infinitive in the main clause. This is the classic second conditional.

  • If I had enough money, I would buy a car. (But I don’t have enough money.)
  • If I knew her phone number, I would call her. (But I don’t know her phone number.)

We can use other past modals in the main clause, like should, could, might or ought to.

  • If I knew her number, I could call her.
  • If I knew her number, I might call her.

We can’t use modals that don’t have a past form, like must. Instead we use would have to.

  • If I was still at school, I would have to wear a uniform. NOT: If I was still at school, I must wear a uniform.

We can use were instead of was in the if-clause in formal English. (You should use this for exams!)

  • If he were president, he would raise taxes.
  • If it were summer, we could go to the beach.
  • If she were a student, she would live at the university.

However, it’s very common to use was. The only place that we see were in everyday speech is in the fixed expression “if I were you“.

  • If I were you, I wouldn’t eat all that chocolate.

When the verb in the if-clause is be, we can use were instead of was and drop if and invert were and the subject. This is very formal.

  • Were I rich, I wouldn’t do this job.
  • Were you the president, would you raise taxes?

Unlikely or impossible things in the future

This is another use of the classic second conditional. The choice between the first conditional and the future use of the second conditional is often about how certain the speaker feels.

We use if + past simple, would + infinitive.

  • If I had enough time next week, I would come and see you. (But I won’t have enough time.)
  • If she passed the exam, she could become a doctor. (But I don’t think that she will pass.)

We can use other past modals (in the same way as with impossible things in the present).

  • If I had enough time next week, I could come and see you.

 

We can also use were instead of was (in the same way as with impossible things in the present).

  • If it were July next month (and not December), we could go camping.

 

We can also use the unreal conditional to be polite, even if the conditional is likely to be fulfilled.

  • If you came early and helped me get ready, it would be really helpful.

 

In the same way that we can use will in the if-clause of real conditionals (when will means ´willing´, and not the future), we can also use would in the if-clause of an unreal present or future conditional. This is common in polite requests.

  • If you would help me, I’d be very grateful. (= if you were willing to help me.)

 

We can also use should in the if-clause – this suggests that the condition is very unlikely and is formal.

  • If they should agree to come, we would be delighted.

Even more formally, we can drop if and invert should.

  • Should they agree to come, we would be delighted.

 

We can also make the condition weaker by using happened to in the if-clause. And we can use should and happen to together.

  • If she happened to read the newspaper, she would see your article.
  • If she should happen to read the newspaper, she would see your article.

 

The structure be to can be used in future unreal conditionals. It is more formal, and it makes the speaker sound less certain that the usual use of the past simple. We use were for all subjects.

  • If she were to become a doctor, she would work in Canada. (I’m very uncertain that she’s going to become a doctor.)

This can be made even more formal by dropping if and inverting were.

  • Were she to become a doctor, she would work in Canada.

 


Other tenses with Unreal Present and Future Conditionals

We can use the past continuous in the if-clause.

  • If it was raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can use were with the past continuous, instead of was.

  • If it were raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can drop if and invert were with the past continuous. This is very formal.

  • Were it raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can use a modal with a continuous infinitive in the main clause. This is more common with impossible things in the present.

  • If it were raining, we wouldn’t be going to the park. (In fact, we are going to the park now.)
  • If I knew her phone number, I wouldn’t be trying to reach her by email. (In fact, I am trying to reach her by email now.)

We can use a question in the main clause.

  • If you had a lot of money, what would you spend it on?

Past Unreal Conditionals

This is the classic third conditional. It’s usually used to talk about imaginary things in the past – things that didn’t happen. So, it’s often used to express regret.

We use the past perfect in the if-clause (back shifted one step from the real tense, which is the past simple) and we use would + have + past participle in the main clause (backshifted one step from a past modal).

  • If I had studied harder, I would have passed the exam. (But I didn’t study hard and so I didn’t pass.)

We can use continuous forms in both or either clause.

  • If I hadn’t been working, I would have gone to the party.
  • If I hadn’t been working, I would have been dancing at midnight.
  • If I had caught the plane, I would have been lying on the beach yesterday.

We can use different modal in the main clause, usually might or could.

  • If I hadn’t been working, I could have gone to the party.
  • If I had woken up earlier, I might have caught the plane.

You can use questions in the main clause.

  • If her car hadn’t broken down, what time would she have arrived?

We can drop if and invert had to make the conditional more formal.

  • Had you got up earlier, we wouldn’t have missed the plane.

We can also use the structure be to in unreal past conditionals. It is not very common. It makes the conditional less certain and is very formal. We use were for all subjects.

  • If she were to have thought about it a bit more, she wouldn’t have done that.

This can be made even more formal by dropping if and inverting were.

  • Were she to have thought about it a bit more, she wouldn’t have done that.

Mixing unreal conditionals

We can mix the times of the two clauses. Present unreal situation, past result. We can use the past simple in the if-clause (like the second conditional) and would + have + past participle in the main clause (like the third conditional) to talk about something that’s generally true but had a result in the past.

  • If she wasn’t French, she wouldn’t have moved to Paris.
  • If he wasn’t so lazy, he wouldn’t have failed the exam.
  • If I was rich, I would have been able to buy a new car.
  • If I could speak Spanish, I would have moved to Mexico.

Past unreal situation, present result.

We can use the past perfect in the if-clause (like the third conditional) and would + infinitive in the main clause (like the second conditional) to talk about something unreal in the past that has a result in the present.

  • If I had gone to bed earlier last night, I wouldn’t be so tired now
  • If she hadn’t spent all her money, she would be rich now.

 


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Grammar: Conditionals Explained In Depth

if_greenA conditional is made up of two parts: the “if-clause” and the “main clause”. We can put either one first and it doesn’t change the meaning. We usually use a comma when we put the “if-clause” first.

 

In the example below, ‘if it rains’ is the if-clause and ‘we’ll go to the cinema’ is the main clause.

  • If it rains, we’ll go to the cinema.
  • We’ll go to the cinema if it rains.

Although in grammar books we often learn about the zero, first, second and third conditionals, there are also other ways to use conditionals.


Real Conditionals

Real conditionals talk about things that are either true, or likely to be true. Grammar books often talk about how we use them to talk about general truths (the zero conditional) and to talk about the future (the first conditional), but we can also use them in other ways. The tenses in real conditionals follow the normal rules for tense and modal use.

Present real conditionals: General truths

We use present real conditionals to talk about general truths (this is the classic zero conditional). The result (in the main clause) always happens if the condition (in the if-clause) happens. This kind of conditional is common when we’re talking about scientific or mathematical facts. We often use the present simple in both clauses. This makes sense as we usually use the present simple to talk about things that are generally true.

  • If you mix oil with water, it floats.
  • If you add two and two, you get four.

 

Present real conditionals: Habits in the present or general habits.

We also often use the present simple in both clauses when we’re talking about habits. Whenever the thing in the if-clause happens, then the thing in the main clause follows. Again, it makes sense to use the present simple, as we often use it for present habits.

  • If my husband cooks dinner, I clean up.
  • If John goes to London, he visits his sister.

This means that every time my husband cooks dinner, I clean up. And it means that every time John goes to London, he visits his sister.

Using other verb tenses for general truths and habits.

It’s also possible to use other present tenses in both clauses (the present continuous / present perfect / present perfect continuous). We don’t need to use the same tense in both clauses. This is most common with habits.

  • If I’m travelling, I phone my children every day.
  • If she hasn’t had her coffee, she’s grumpy.

But we can also use different present tenses if we’re talking about general truths (though it’s more common to use the present simple in both clauses.)

  • If this paint has dried properly, it is waterproof.

We can also use modal verbs in either clause, especially can and may.

  • If I move around, I can concentrate better.

If we want to tell people how they should behave or give general advice, we can use an imperative in the main clause.

  • If you discover a fire, call the fire brigade immediately.
  • If you have a headache, take some paracetamol.

Present real conditionals for specific situations

We can also use a real conditional to talk about something specific in the present, not something that’s a general truth or a habit, and a result that is in the future or present. It’s common to use a modal verb in the main clause.

  • If it’s raining outside now, we can call a cab. (I don’t know if it’s raining.)
  • If John and Amanda are on their way here now, you should start making dinner.

We can use will + infinitive or will + be + verb-ing in the main clause when we’re making a guess about the present. This use of will isn’t talking about the future, rather it’s using will to make a guess about the present.

  • If Lucy’s at home, she’ll be reading.

Past real conditionals for past habits and past general situations

We can also talk use conditionals to talk about habits and things that used to be true in the past but that are no longer true now. Usually we use two past simple tenses.

  • If we didn’t want to cook, we went to a restaurant. (Now we don’t do that.)
  • If there was too much rain, the roads flooded and we didn’t go to school.

We can also use the past continuous (to show that something started before and finished after another action in the past) and the past perfect (to show that one thing happened before another thing in the past).

  • If my father was reading, we weren’t allowed to disturb him.
  • If I had worked late, I still got up for my early lecture.

We can also use used to and would for past habits with the past real conditional.

  • If I had free time, I used to go snowboarding.
  • If I had free time, I would read a novel in a little café near my house.

We can use past modals in either clause.

  • If I could, I went snowboarding.
  • If I had free time, I could go snowboarding.

Past real conditionals for specific situations

We can also use a real conditional to talk about something specific in the past, which has a result in the past. We usually don’t know if the event in the if-clause happened or not.

  • If the storm hit Florida, it caused a lot of damage. (I don’t know if the storm hit Florida, but if it did, it definitely caused damage.)

It’s very common to use modal verb + have + past participle in the main clause. This makes the result in the main clause less certain.

  • If she left early, she will have gone home.
  • If she left early, she could have gone home.
  • If she left early, she might have gone home.
  • If she left early, she must have gone home.
  • If she left early, she can’t have gone home.

Real conditionals in the future

When we talk about the future, we use real conditionals to say that we think the condition is possible or likely.

Usually, we use if + present simple, will + infinitive. This is the classic first conditional.

Remember that in this case, even though we use the present tense, it has a future meaning. (This is similar to using the present to talk about the future in other subordinate clauses in English, like after when or as soon as. See my present simple page for more information.)

  • If it rains, I’ll stay at home. (This means that I think it’s possible or likely that it will rain, and if it rains, then I will definitely stay at home.)

We can also use other present tenses in the if-clause.

  • If it’s raining at 10am, I’ll stay at home.

We use the present continuous because in this conditional, we imagine that the rain started before 10am and will finish after 10am. At 10am, the action of raining will be happening. Even though we’re using the present continuous, we’re still talking about future rain. We can use be going to in the main clause. This gives a feeling of ‘we intend to stay at home’.

  • If it rains, I’m going to stay at home.

We can use an imperative in the main clause.

  • If it rains, take your umbrella!
  • If it rains, don’t forget to close the windows.

We can use modal verbs in the main clause. If I think that the condition is probably going to happen but I’m not certain that the result will happen even if the condition does, then I can use a different modal in the main clause. We don’t use would in this case.

  • If it rains, we might stay at home.
  • If it rains, we may stay at home.
  • If it rains, we can stay at home.
  • If it rains, we should stay at home.
  • If it rains, we could stay at home.
  • If it rains, we must stay at home.

We can use can, may and must with their usual meanings in the if-clause.

  • If I must, I’ll come at 10am.
  • If I can, I’ll come at 10am.
  • If I may, I’ll come at 10am. (= If I’m allowed, I’ll come at 10am.)

We can make the condition less certain by using should or happen to or both in the if-clause. Should is extremely formal and sounds old-fashioned now. These examples mean that I am not very sure that it will rain.

  • If it should rain, I’ll stay at home.
  • If it happens to rain, I’ll stay at home.
  • If it should happen to rain, I’ll stay at home.

We can make a first conditional very formal by dropping if and using should with inversion.

  • Should it rain, I will stay at home.

We can use will or won’t in the if-clause when we’re using them with their modal meanings of willingness / refusal / insistence. Otherwise, we don’t use a future tense in the if-clause.

  • If he won’t help, I won’t either. (= If he refuses to help.)
  • If you’ll arrive early, I’ll be very grateful. (= If you’re willing to come early.)
  • If you will smoke so much, of course you’ll get a sore throat. (= If you insist on smoking so much.)

We can use will have + past participle (the future perfect) in the main clause to talk about something that will happen before another moment in the future.

  • If we don’t hurry up, the film will have started.
  • If we miss this train, our flight will have left (when we get to the airport).

Mixed time real conditionals: Past conditionals for specific situation, with a present result

We can use a past tense or the present perfect in the if-clause to say that we’re not certain that action in the if clause happened, but if it did happen, this is the result in the present.

  • If John has seen my message, he is on his way here. (I don’t know if John has seen my message or not, but if he has, he’s on his way here now.)

It’s common to use a modal verb in the main clause, especially will + infinitive or will + be + verb-ing to make a guess about the present. (We don’t use would in this case.)

  • If Lucy went home, she’ll be there now.
  • If she caught the plane, she should be arriving now.
  • If the parcel arrived, the children will be happy.
  • If he missed the train, he could still be at the station.
  • If he didn’t call Lucy, she might not know about the meeting.

Mixed time real conditionals: Past conditionals for specific situations, with future results

We can use a past tense or the present perfect in the if-clause and will in the main clause to say that we’re not certain that action in the if-clause happened, but if it did happen, this will be the result in the future.

  • If Julie went home early, she’ll be there when the delivery arrives later.
  • If Amanda has been working today, she’ll be tired tonight.

It’s also very common to use a modal verb in the main clause.

  • If Julie went home early, she might be there later.
  • If John went to school today, he could be home at 5pm.
  • If she’s done the shopping, she can make us a lovely meal tonight.

Mixed time real conditionals: Present conditionals for specific situations, with future results

We can use a present tense in the if-clause and a future tense in the main clause if we want to say that a situation happening now will have an effect on the future.

  • If David’s studying now, he’ll go to the gym later.
  • If Lucy’s at work now, she won’t leave until at least 7pm.

We can use a modal verb in the main clause.

  • If it’s raining outside now, we might not go to the park later.

Mixed time real conditionals: Present or future for specific situations that lead to an idea about the past

It’s sometimes possible to have an if-clause referring to the present or future and a main clause referring to the past, especially with must have and can’t have for deductions

  • If she got 100% on the exam, she must have studied very hard.

Is it a zero or a first conditional?

This sometimes seems a tricky distinction, but actually the tenses in real conditionals follow the normal tense rules.

So, if you’re talking about something that’s generally true or a habit, then you need the present simple in the main clause (in the same way that you’d use the present simple for habits or general truths in a normal non conditional sentence).

And if you’re talking about something that will happen in the future, then you need a first conditional. In some situations, you can use either – they are both correct.

  • If you go out in the sun without sun cream, you get burned. (= A general truth. This happens every time you go out in the sun.)
  • If you go out in the sun without sun cream, you’ll get burned. (= A prediction about the future. I think if you go out without sun cream later today, then after that you will get burned.)

When and If

For general truths conditionals, present habit conditionals and past habit conditionals, we can replace if with when or whenever.

  • When / whenever you mix oil with water, it floats.
  • When / whenever you add two and two, you get four.
  • When / whenever my husband cooks dinner, I clean up.
  • When / whenever John goes to London, he visits his sister.
  • When / whenever we didn’t want to cook, we went to a restaurant.
  • When / whenever my father was reading, we weren’t allowed to disturb him.

For habits, if tends to mean that something doesn’t happen very often, whereas when suggests it happens regularly.

  • When I have a day off, I like to go swimming. (I often have days off.)
  • If I have a day off, I like to go swimming. (I don’t often have days off.)

This is different with future conditionals (the first conditional). With future conditionals, when and if have very different meanings.

  • If it stops raining, we’ll go out. (I don’t know if it is going to stop raining or not.)
  • When it stops raining, we’ll go out. (I’m sure that it will stop raining later.)

Unreal Conditionals

We use this kind of conditional we are talking about something that is not real, either something that is impossible or something that is imaginary or very unlikely. We move the tenses back one step (sometimes called backshifting) to show this unreality.

So, when we are talking about the present, we use the past tense or past modals, and when we are talking about the past we use past perfect or modal with have + past participle. (We also use the past tense to talk about future unreal things, which is less logical.)

The second and third conditionals are examples of unreal conditionals. We don’t use when with unreal conditionals.

Impossible things in the present

This can be one specific thing or things in general. We use the past simple in the if-clause, and would + infinitive in the main clause. This is the classic second conditional.

  • If I had enough money, I would buy a car. (But I don’t have enough money.)
  • If I knew her phone number, I would call her. (But I don’t know her phone number.)

We can use other past modals in the main clause, like should, could, might or ought to.

  • If I knew her number, I could call her.
  • If I knew her number, I might call her.

We can’t use modals that don’t have a past form, like must. Instead we use would have to.

  • If I was still at school, I would have to wear a uniform. NOT: If I was still at school, I must wear a uniform.

We can use were instead of was in the if-clause in formal English. (You should use this for exams!)

  • If he were president, he would raise taxes.
  • If it were summer, we could go to the beach.
  • If she were a student, she would live at the university.

However, it’s very common to use was. The only place that we see were in everyday speech is in the fixed expression “if I were you“.

  • If I were you, I wouldn’t eat all that chocolate.

When the verb in the if-clause is be, we can use were instead of was and drop if and invert were and the subject. This is very formal.

  • Were I rich, I wouldn’t do this job.
  • Were you the president, would you raise taxes?

Unlikely or impossible things in the future.

This is another use of the classic second conditional. The choice between the first conditional and the future use of the second conditional is often about how certain the speaker feels. Again, we use if + past simple, would + infinitive.

  • If I had enough time next week, I would come and see you. (But I won’t have enough time.)
  • If she passed the exam, she could become a doctor. (But I don’t think that she will pass.)

We can use other past modals in the same way as with impossible things in the present.

  • If I had enough time next week, I could come and see you.

We can also use were instead of was in the same way as with impossible things in the present.

  • If it were July next month (and not December), we could go camping.

In the same way that we often use the past tense when we’re making requests in order to be more polite, we also use the unreal conditional to be polite, even if the conditional is quite likely to be fulfilled.

  • If you came early and helped me get ready, it would be really helpful.

In the same way that we can use will in the if-clause of real conditionals when will has a volitional meaning rather than a future meaning, we can also use would in the if-clause of an unreal present or future conditional when ‘would’ is used with a meaning of willingness / refusal / insistence. This is common in polite requests.

  • If you would help me, I’d be very grateful. (= if you were willing to help me.)

In the same way as with real conditionals, we can use should in the if-clause. Again, this suggests that the condition is very unlikely and is formal.

  • If they should agree to come, we would be delighted.

Even more formally, we can drop if and invert should.

  • Should they agree to come, we would be delighted.

Again, we can also make the condition weaker by using happened to in the if-clause. And we can use should and happen to together.

  • If she happened to read the newspaper, she would see your article.
  • If she should happen to read the newspaper, she would see your article.

We can use the structure be to in future unreal conditionals. It is more formal, and it makes the speaker sound less certain that the usual use of the past simple. We use were for all subjects.

  • If she were to become a doctor, she would work in Canada. (I’m very uncertain that she’s going to become a doctor.)

This can be made even more formal by dropping if and inverting were.

  • Were she to become a doctor, she would work in Canada.

Other tenses with for unreal present and future conditionals

We can use the past continuous in the if-clause.

  • If it was raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can use were with the past continuous, instead of was.

  • If it were raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can drop if and invert were with the past continuous. This is very formal.

  • Were it raining at 10 o’clock, we wouldn’t go to the park.

We can use a modal with a continuous infinitive in the main clause. This is more common with impossible things in the present.

  • If it were raining, we wouldn’t be going to the park. (In fact, we are going to the park now.)
  • If I knew her phone number, I wouldn’t be trying to reach her by email. (In fact, I am trying to reach her by email now.)

We can use a question in the main clause.

  • If you had a lot of money, what would you spend it on?

 

Past Unreal Conditionals

This is the classic third conditional. It’s usually used to talk about imaginary things in the past – things that didn’t happen. So, it’s often used to express regret.

We use the past perfect in the if-clause (back shifted one step from the real tense, which is the past simple) and we use would + have + past participle in the main clause (backshifted one step from a past modal).

  • If I had studied harder, I would have passed the exam. (But I didn’t study hard and so I didn’t pass.)

We can use continuous forms in both or either clause.

  • If I hadn’t been working, I would have gone to the party.
  • If I hadn’t been working, I would have been dancing at midnight.
  • If I had caught the plane, I would have been lying on the beach yesterday.

We can use different modal in the main clause, usually might or could.

  • If I hadn’t been working, I could have gone to the party.
  • If I had woken up earlier, I might have caught the plane.

You can use questions in the main clause.

  • If her car hadn’t broken down, what time would she have arrived?

We can drop if and invert had to make the conditional more formal.

  • Had you got up earlier, we wouldn’t have missed the plane.

We can also use the structure be to in unreal past conditionals. It is not very common. It makes the conditional less certain and is very formal. We use were for all subjects.

  • If she were to have thought about it a bit more, she wouldn’t have done that.

This can be made even more formal by dropping if and inverting were.

  • Were she to have thought about it a bit more, she wouldn’t have done that.

Mixing unreal conditionals

We can mix the times of the two clauses. Present unreal situation, past result. We can use the past simple in the if-clause (like the second conditional) and would + have + past participle in the main clause (like the third conditional) to talk about something that’s generally true but had a result in the past.

  • If she wasn’t French, she wouldn’t have moved to Paris.
  • If he wasn’t so lazy, he wouldn’t have failed the exam.
  • If I was rich, I would have been able to buy a new car.
  • If I could speak Spanish, I would have moved to Mexico.

Past unreal situation, present result.

We can use the past perfect in the if-clause (like the third conditional) and would + infinitive in the main clause (like the second conditional) to talk about something unreal in the past that has a result in the present.

  • If I had gone to bed earlier last night, I wouldn’t be so tired now
  • If she hadn’t spent all her money, she would be rich now.

 


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Grammar: Modal Verbs – Would

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A piece of wood

“Would” (pronounced “wood”) is most commonly used to create conditional verb forms. It also serves as the past form of the modal verb “will.”

Additionally, “would” can indicate repetition in the past (although “used to” is a more commonly-used structure).

For more information on the grammar behind the modal verb “would,” visit the following tutorials: Conditional Tutorial, Future in the Past, Would Have or Will Have? and Would Always.

 

Examples:

  • If he were an actor, he would be in adventure movies. conditional
  • I knew that she would be very successful in her career. past of “will”
  • When they first met, they would always have picnics on the beach. repetition


Using “Would” in Present, Past, and Future

Modal Use

Positive Forms

Used in Past, Present and Future

Negative Forms
Used in Past, Present and Future
In Conditional Structures

1. If I were president, I would cut the cost of education.

2. If I had been president, I would have cut the cost of education.

3. If I were elected president next year, I would cut the cost of education.

 

1. If I were president, I would not raise taxes.

2. If I had been president, I would not have raised taxes.

3. If I were president, I would not sign the tax increase next week.

Would as
Past of “will”

I said I would help you.

He told me he would be here before 8:00.

 

I said I wouldn’t help you.

He told me he would not be here before 8:00.

Would (or Used To)
Describing Repetition in Past

When I was a kid, I would always go to the beach.

When he was young, he would always do his homework.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t go into the water by myself.

When he got older, he would never do his homework.

 

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS

 

Original material from English Page

Grammar: So or Such

The following is a mini-tutorial on the use of “so” and “such.” After you have studied the tutorial, complete the associated exercises. If you already know how to use “so” and “such,” you can skip the explanation and go directly to the exercises.


So + Adjective

“So” can be combined with adjectives to show extremes. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • The music is so loud! I wish they would turn it down.
  • The meal was so good! It was worth the money.

..with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show extremes which lead to certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • The music is so loud that I can’t sleep.
  • The music is so loud I can’t sleep.
  • The meal was so good that we decided to have dinner at the same restaurant again tonight.
  • The meal was so good we decided to have dinner at the same restaurant again tonight.

So + Adverb

“So” can be combined with adverbs to show extreme actions. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • She spoke so quickly! She sounded like an auctioneer.
  • He paints so well! I am sure he is going to become a famous artist.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show extreme actions which lead to certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • She spoke so quickly that I couldn’t understand her.
  • She spoke so quickly I couldn’t understand her.
  • He paints so well that they offered him a scholarship at an art school in Paris.
  • He paints so well they offered him a scholarship at an art school in Paris.

So + Many / Few + Plural Noun

“So” can be combined with “many” or “few” plus a plural noun to show extremes in amount. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • I never knew you had so many brothers!
  • She has so few friends! It’s really quite sad.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show extremes in amount which lead to certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • I never knew you had so many brothers that you had to share a bedroom.
  • I never knew you had so many brothers you had to share a bedroom.
  • She has so few friends that she rarely gets out of the house.
  • She has so few friends she rarely gets out of the house.

So + Much / Little + Non-countable Noun

“So” can be combined with “much” or “little” plus a non-countable noun to show extremes in amount. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • Jake earns so much money! And he still has trouble paying the rent.
  • They have so little food! We need to do something to help them.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show extremes in amount which lead to certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • Jake earns so much money that he has lost all sense of what a dollar is worth.
  • Jake earns so much money he has lost all sense of what a dollar is worth.
  • They have so little food that they are starving to death.
  • They have so little food they are starving to death.

So + Much / Little / Often / Rarely

“So” can be combined with words like “much,” “little,” “often,” or “rarely” to describe how much or how often someone does an action. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • Earl drinks so much! It’s not good for his health.
  • My sister visits us so rarely! I really miss her.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show the results of extreme actions. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • Earl drinks so much that it is starting to interfere with his work.
  • Earl drinks so much it is starting to interfere with his work.
  • My sister visits us so rarely that my kids wouldn’t even recognize her.
  • My sister visits us so rarely my kids wouldn’t even recognize her.

Such + Adjective + Noun

“Such” can be combined with an adjective and a noun to show extremes. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • Don has such a big house! I think it’s a little ridiculous.
  • Shelly has such beautiful eyes! I have never seen that shade of blue before.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show extremes which lead to certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • Don has such a big house that I actually got lost on the way to the bathroom.
  • Don has such a big house I actually got lost on the way to the bathroom.
  • Shelly has such beautiful eyes that she got a job as a make-up model.
  • Shelly has such beautiful eyes she got a job as a make-up model.

NOTE

Remember that without the noun you need to use “so.”

Examples:

  • such beautiful eyes that
  • so beautiful that

Such + Judgemental Noun

“Such” can also be combined with judgemental nouns for emphasis. This form is often used in exclamations.

Examples:

  • He is such an idiot! He says the stupidest things.
  • She is such a genius! We could never do this work without her.

.. with “That”

The above form can be combined with “that” to show certain results. The “that” is usually optional.

Examples:

  • He is such an idiot that nobody would hire him.
  • He is such an idiot nobody would hire him.
  • She is such a genius that they immediately gave her a position at the university.
  • She is such a genius they immediately gave her a position at the university.

Such + Noun (This type of…)

“Such” can also mean “this type of…” or “that type of…”

Examples:

  • The archeologist had never seen such writing before he discovered the tablet.
    this/that type of writing
  • She usually doesn’t receive such criticism.
    this/that kind of criticism
  • Frank has never made such mistakes before.
    these/those kinds of mistakes

RELATED EXERCISES

 

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