🇬🇧 Phrasal verb practice

Which phrasal verb fits best – and do you have to change the form?

Choose from the following:

come round            go off            knock out            make up            pass on            run away (run off)          run over             take off            turn out            work out

1. I’ve … … a joke. Do you want to hear it?

2. He was … … in a rugby match. He was unconscious for a few seconds but then he … …

3. The plane … … from Heathrow on time, but there was a delay at Delhi airport.

4. The thief grabbed my bag and then … …

5. It was cloudy earlier, but it has … … nice!

6. Luckily, the bomb … … when the station was empty, so no was hurt.

7. Did you forget to … … my message yesterday?

8. I’m still shaking – I almost … … a dog this morning on the way to work.

9. My daughter has a maths problem that she just can’t … …

🇬🇧 Their, there and they’re

Their, there and they're

What are the differences between their, there and they're?

They’re really not very difficult; when you learn about their differences, there shouldn’t be too many problems.

Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they, like the more common possessive forms: my, your, his and her

 “They bought their car on eBay.”

Their is generally plural, but increasingly it is accepted in place of the singular his or her in some situations:

“Someone’s left their book on the table.”

There is an adverb which means “in, at or towards that place,” as in “He is there on holiday.” So, there is really the opposite of here. There is also used as a pronoun introducing a sentence or clause, as in “There is still a chance that we will win.”

They’re is a contraction of the words they and are, as in “They’re looking for a way to master these difficult words!”

Little tips for spelling:

  • There (like “over there”) contains the word hereHere and there go together nicely.
  • Their contains the word An heir is someone who inherits something, so (by coincidence) there is a sense of possession in this word as well.

🇬🇧 Mixed conditionals

Mixed Conditionals

If I had studied a bit harder, I would be more confident about mixed conditionals!

We are very grateful to our students and social media followers for all interactions, especially suggestions for blog topics. This post is in response to a question from one of our Instagram followers: mixed conditionals. In English there are two typesof mixed conditionals:

  1. Present result of a past condition

We use this mixed conditional when we refer to a hypothetical (unreal) past situation and its probable result in the present.

Structure:

If + past perfect (condition clause) + present conditional (main clause)

Examples:

  • If I had caught the earlier train, I would be at home by now
  • If she had married David, she would probably be travelling a lot more
  • If she hadn’t lost her ticket, she would be at the concert now

Note: these examples can be swapped around without any change in meaning:

  • I would be at home by now if I had caught the earlier train
  1. Past result of present condition

This mixed conditional is used to explain a hypothetical (unreal) present situation and its most likely past result.

Structure:

If + simple past (condition clause) + perfect conditional (main clause)

Examples:

  • If they were interested in birdwatching, this holiday home would be perfect for them
  • If she could ride, her dad would have bought her a horse
  • If I had more money, I could have helped you out

As with the examples in the first section, these phrases can be switched around without any change in meaning:

  • I could have helped you out if I had more money

Also note: if you are able to use these mixed conditionals it is a sign of high-level English use – congratulations! But remember: they are not as common as the more straightforward first-, second- and third conditionals.

🇬🇧 Question Forming

When using a question word:
Use this formula to form questions:

QU A S M

Question word    Auxiliary verb     Subject    Main verb [and then the rest of the sentence…]

Here are some example questions on the topic of holidays, and some model answers which include some common mistakes (corrected for you).

Where did you go on holiday?

I went in to France.

When did you go to Sweden?

I went there the last summer.

How did you get there?

I went there in by plane. = I flew there.                        I got there on foot. = I walked there.

Who did you go with?

I went with my family.

How long did you stay there?

I stayed (for) two weeks.

We decided to stay for an extra week.

What did you do at night?

Yes/No questions: The formula is almost the same:

QU A S M

Question word    Auxiliary verb     Subject    Main verb [and then the rest of the sentence…]

Did you have a good time?

            No, I had a terrible time!

Did it rain in Scotland?

            Yes, it rained every day!

Do your parents still live in Sicily?

             Yes, they have lived there for seventy years.

🇬🇧 World Cup Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs pop up everywhere! This post is a way of saying goodbye to England’s footballers, until it all kicks off again in a few weeks…

[How many phrasal verbs can you spot? And how many of them do you understand without having to look up in a dictionary?]

England have been knocked out of the world cup. They didn’t give up but they fell short at the semi-final stage. Some people were very worked up about this; someone I saw in the town centre even threw up after the match – but that could have been for other reasons.

So now we can carry on with our normal lives, and some of us need to work off the weight we have put on. Now, instead of sitting on the sofa watching TV and drinking beer, maybe we can take up a new sport…

Never give up - frog and heron illustration

Remember: most phrasal verbs have a more formal equivalent which is usually a Latinate word, and many have two meanings – one literal and one abstract. These are the phrasal verbs that appeared above:

phrasal verb

synonym

meaning/example sentence

second meaning?

pop up

occur

Appear or occur suddenly

 

kick off

commence

the first action of a football match

“The match kicks off at 7pm”

to start, more generally

look up

 

(of a word) to search for

(of a situation) to improve

“Things are really looking up”

knock out

(very often used in the passive voice)

eliminate

to remove a player or team from a tournament by beating them

to make someone unconscious

“The boxer knocked out his opponent”

give up

quit

to stop trying

to stop doing something

fall short

fail

to not have the ability to achieve the success that was expected

 

throw up

vomit

  

carry on

continue

We carried on singing, even when the players had left the pitch

 

work off

get rid of

To lose something by work or effort

 

take up

 

to start something new, usually a new hobby

 

🇬🇧 The contracted ‘have’.

A third pronunciation.

I have two sisters. Do you have a dog?

The pronunciation of “have” is easy, right?

In a recent post we saw that the verb ‘have’ is pronounced as /hæf/ when it’s used as a modal verb.

“I have to finish this essay today!”

But there is a third way to pronounce “have”. Listen to these sentences.

“If I’d passed my exams, I’d’ve become a doctor.”

“If my parents had stayed in France, I’d’ve gone to a French school.”

These sentences both contain contractions: I’d’ve is how we pronounce “I would have” in natural-speed English. So, “have”can be pronounced /əv/. This pronunciation is very common in conditional sentences, but it’s not the only time you’ll hear it. Here are some more examples.

“Your documents should’ve been delivered yesterday.”


“I would’ve helped you.”

🇬🇧 Have to

Pronunciation practice.

Pronunciation practice Have To

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To have” is one of the first words you learn in English, right?

The pronunciation is easy, right?

Well…

I have a dog.

/aɪ hæv ə dɒg/

This is easy, although most English people would usually say:

I’ve got a dog.

Anyway, you also know that we can use “have to” to mean “must”.

 I’m a postman, so I have to get up very early.

In this sentence, the pronunciation of “have” changes, and so does the pronunciation of “to”. Listen to the sound file.

Can you hear the changes?

The “v” in have changes to “f” and “to” becomes a weak sound: /tə/

 

Now, try to pronounce these sentences below, and then listen to check.

1. I have to study a lot harder.

2. Do you have to get a visa?

3. You don’t have to wear a tie.

4. I have to be home by nine o’clock tonight.

🇬🇧 Language learning phrases

If you are learning English, you will probably talk about which other languages you can speak: are you a beginner, or becoming fluent? Do you know a few words of any exotic languages?

Old wooden letter blocks for printing language

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some useful expressions, but which word is missing?

My cousin is bilingual … French and German.                                                [in / at / with]

I am not fluent … Chinese, but I am pretty good … reading it.                        [for / in / at]

I can get … in Russian.                                                                                     [up / to / by]

I went to Turkey last year and I picked … a bit of the language.                      [on / out / up]

I can’t speak a word … Hungarian.                                                                   [of / with / from]

I know enough Swahili to … a basic conversation.                                           [do / have / make]

Finally, here are three phrases to describe someone’s level of language ability. Do they all have the same meaning, or are they different?

I am a native speaker of Korean.

Korean is my mother tongue.

Korean is my first language.

🇬🇧 Royal wedding vocabulary

Not everyone is a royalist of course, but most people agreed it was a lovely wedding on the 22nd of May. What new words can we learn from the BBC article about the day? Let’s look at some of the people involved:

Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
  • Bridesmaid
  • Page boy
  • Well wishers
  • Lip-reader
  • Husband-to-be

Bridesmaid: a woman or girl who is an attendant of a bride

Pageboy: a young boy who attends the bride and groom at a wedding

Six bridesmaids and four pageboys played a major supporting role as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot. Prince George and Princess Charlotte – Prince Harry’s niece and nephew – were among the children, all aged between two and seven, under the spotlight of the world’s media at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Well-wisher: a person who desires happiness or success for another, or who expresses such a desire.

The first glimpse of the groom suggested that Prince Harry was in typical buoyant spirits, smiling and laughing as he waved to the crowds of well-wishers on his arrival.

Lip-reader: someone who can interpret speech by watching the speaker’s lip and facial movements without hearing the voice. This is especially useful in the deaf community, but also when someone’s voice cannot be heard because they are speaking quietly.

One lip reader says Ms Markle discreetly asked her new husband: “Do we kiss?”

To which the prince quietly replied: “Yeah”.

 Husband-to-be: a man who is going to be married soon; a fiancé.

During the service, the prince couldn’t seem to relax. In contrast, Ms Markle cut a much calmer figure, smiling often and looking into the eyes of her husband-to-be.

🇬🇧 You can do the can-can, can’t you?

Pronunciation practice

What is this? 

Image of a coke can.

Yes, it’s a can of fizzy drink. Probably quite unhealthy.

It’s a can. /kæn/ 

It must be one of the easiest English words to pronounce. Right?

Well…

When we use “can” to mean “able to” the pronunciation changes.

In the following sentence, “can” is an auxiliary verb with weak pronunciation:

My sister can speak three languages.

“Can” is now pronounced /kən/ (the schwa means that the vowel sound disappears almost completely)

and the stressed parts of the sentence are “sis” in sister and “lang-” in “languages”.

This weak form can also be used in questions:

Can I help you with your homework?

Can you play the guitar?

 

I don’t want to be negative, but…

When we make negative sentences using “can’t” the vowel sound is stronger again:

I can’t do this, it’s too difficult!

You can’t see the sea from here.

Also, there is now equal stress on the “can’t” and the following verb. [Listen to the above sound files again]

Pronunciation of can’t:/kɑːnt/

So, these sentences are easy to form, but not so easy to pronounce perfectly. Look at the examples below and see if you can say them out loud. Then listen…

1. Can you help me in the kitchen, please?

2. I can write better than I can speak.

3. You can do anything if you try!

4. How fast can you run?

Watch a video of this post on our Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BizwJpwg5-d/

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