English Grammar Lessons

Will – other uses

Older textbooks often refer to ‘will’ as ‘the future tense’ and this has confused a lot of learners. It is important to remember that when we talk about the future we cannot always use ‘will’ and that when we use ‘will’ we are not always talking about the future. Here ‘will’ is clearly referring to […]


We don’t use ‘Shall’ very frequently in modern English, particularly in American English. It is used to make offers and suggestions and to ask for advice. What time shall we meet? Shall we vote on it now? What dress shall I wear? Shall I open the window? You only really need to know that about […]

The Passive

We use the active form to say what the subject does. For example: I speak English every day at work. I repaired the flat tire on the car. We use the passive form to say what happens to people and things, to say what is done to them. For example: English is spoken here. The […]

The Imperative

We can use the imperative to give a direct order. Take that chewing gum out of your mouth. Stand up straight. Give me the details. We can use the imperative to give instructions. Open your book. Take two tablets every evening. Take a left and then a right. We can use the imperative to make […]

The -ing form

The –ing form can be used like a noun, like an adjective or like a verb. Smoking is forbidden. I have a long working day. I don’t like dancing. When it is used like a noun it may or may not have an article before it. Marketing is a very inexact science.  The marketing of […]


bility’. Can you do that? I can’t manage to do that. You can leave your car in that parking space. You cannot smoke in here. Notice that there are two negative forms: ‘can’t’ and ‘cannot’. These mean exactly the same thing. When we are speaking, we usually say ‘can’t’. We use ‘can’ to talk about […]


‘Could’ is used to make polite requests. We can also use ‘can’ for these but ‘could’ is more polite.  Could you help me, please? Could you lend me some money? Could I have a lift? Could I bother you for a moment? If we use ‘could’ in reply to these requests, it suggests that we […]


We can use ‘may’ to ask for permission. However this is rather formal and not used very often in modern spoken English May I borrow your pen? May we think about it? May I go now? We use ‘may’ to suggest something is possible It may rain later today. I may not have time to […]

Should 1

We use ‘should’ for giving advice. You should speak to him about it. He should see a doctor. We should ask a lawyer. We use ‘should’ to give an opinion or a recommendation. He should resign now. We should invest more in Asia. They should do something about this terrible train service. ‘Should’ expresses a […]

Should 2

We can use ‘should’ after ‘reporting verbs’ such asdemand  insist  propose  recommend  suggest He demanded that we should pay for the repair. She insisted that she should pay for the meal. I have proposed that he should take charge of the organization.  The committee recommends that Jane should be appointed. We have suggested that Michael […]

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