Unit 64 `Will’ and `going to’

Read Time:2 Minute, 38 Second

Main points

* When you are making predictions about the future or talking about future intentions, you can use either `will’ (`I will walk’) or `going to’ (`I am going to walk’).

* For promises and offers relating to the future, you use `will’ (`I will walk’).

* For future events based on arrangements, you use the future continuous (`I will be walking’).

* For events that will happen before a time in the future, you use the future perfect (`I will have walked’).

1 You cannot talk about the future with as much certainty as you can about the present or the past. You are usually talking about what you think might happen or what you intend to happen. This is why you often use modals. Although most modals can be used with future reference, you most often use the modal `will’ to talk about the future.
Nancy will arrange it.
When will I see them?

2 When you are making predictions about the future that are based on general beliefs, opinions, or attitudes, you use `will’.
The weather tomorrow will be warm and sunny.
I’m sure you will enjoy your visit to the zoo.

This use of `will’ is common in sentences with conditional clauses.
You’ll be late, if you don’t hurry.

When you are using facts or events in the present situation as evidence for a prediction, you can use `going to’.
It’s going to rain . (I can see black clouds)
I’m going to be late. (I have missed my train)

3 When you are saying what someone has decided to do, you use `going to’.
They’re going to have a party.
I’m going to stay at home today.

WARNING: You do not normally use `going to’ with the verb `go’. You usually just say `I’m going’ rather than `I’m going to go’.

`What are you going to do this weekend?’ – `I’m going to the cinema.’

When you are announcing a decision you have just made or are about to make, you use `will’.
I’m tired. I think I’ll go to bed.

4 In promises and offers relating to the future, you often use `will’ with the meaning `be willing to’.
I’ll do what I can.
I’ll help with the washing-up.

Note that you can use `will’ with this meaning in an `if’-clause.
I’ll put you through, if you’ll hang on for a minute. (= if you are willing to hang on for a minute)

WARNING: Remember that you do not normally use `will’ in `if’-clauses.
See Unit 66 for more information on `if’-clauses.

If you do that, you will be wasting your time.
The children will call out if they think he is wrong.

5 When you want to say that something will happen because arrangements have been made, you use the future continuous tense.
I’ll be seeing them when I’ve finished with you.
I’ll be waiting for you outside.
She’ll be appearing at the Royal Festival Hall.

6 When you want to talk about something that has not happened yet but will happen before a particular time in the future, you use the future perfect tense.
By the time we phone he’ll already have started.
By 2010, he will have worked for twelve years.

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Unit 66 Conditionals using `if’

Read Time:3 Minute, 0 Second

Main points

* You use conditional clauses to talk about a possible situation and its results.

* Conditional clauses can begin with `if’.

* A conditional clause needs a main clause to make a complete sentence. The conditional clause can come before or after the main clause.

1 You use conditional clauses to talk about a situation that might possibly happen and to say what its results might be.

You use `if’ to mention events and situations that happen often, that may happen in the future, that could have happened in the past but did not happen, or that are unlikely to happen at all.
If the light comes on, the battery is OK.
I’ll call you if I need you.
If I had known, I’d have told you.
If she asked me, I’d help her.

2 When you are talking about something that is generally true or happens often, you use a present or present perfect tense in the main clause and the conditional clause.
If they lose weight during an illness, they soon regain it afterwards.
If an advertisement does not tell the truth, the advertiser is committing an offence.
If the baby is crying, it is probably hungry.
If they have lost any money, they report it to me.

WARNING: You do not use the present continuous in both clauses. You do not say `If they are losing money, they are getting angry.’

3 When you use a conditional clause with a present or present perfect tense, you often use an imperative in the main clause.
Wake me up if you’re worried.
If he has finished, ask him to leave quietly.
If you are very early, don’t expect them to be ready.

4 When you are talking about something which may possibly happen in the future, you use a present or present perfect tense in the conditional clause, and the simple future in the main clause.
If I marry Celia, we will need the money.
If you are going to America, you will need a visa.
If he has done the windows, he will want his money.

WARNING: You do not normally use `will’ in conditional clauses. You do not say `If I will see you tomorrow, I will give you the book’.

5 When you are talking about something that you think is unlikely to happen, you use the past simple or past continuous in the conditional clause and `would’ in the main clause.
If I had enough money, I would buy the car.
If he was coming , he would ring.

WARNING: You do not normally use `would’ in conditional clauses. You do not say `If I would do it, I would do it like this’.

6 `Were’ is sometimes used instead of `was’ in the conditional clause, especially after `I’.
If I were as big as you, I would kill you.
If I weren’t so busy, I would do it for you.

You often say `If I were you’ when you are giving someone advice.
If I were you, I would take the money.
I should keep out of Bernadette’s way if I were you.

7 When you are talking about something which could have happened in the past but which did not actually happen, you use the past perfect in the conditional clause. In the main clause, you use `would have’ and a past participle.
If he had realized that, he would have run away.
I wouldn’t have been so depressed if I had known how common this feeling is.

WARNING: You do not use `would have’ in the conditional clause. You do not say `If I would have seen him, I would have told him’.

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Unit 65 Present tenses for future

Read Time:1 Minute, 56 Second

Main points

* When you are talking about the future in relation to official timetables or the calendar, you use the present simple (`I walk’).

* When talking about people’s plans and arrangements for the future, you use the present continuous (`I am walking’).

* In `if’-clauses, time clauses, and defining relative clauses, you can use the present simple (`I walk’) to refer to the future.

1 When you are talking about something in the future which is based on an official timetable or calendar, you use the present simple tense. You usually put a time adverbial in these sentences.
My last train leaves Euston at 11.30.
The UN General Assembly opens in New York this month.
Our next lesson is on Thursday.
We set off early tomorrow morning.

2 In statements about fixed dates, you normally use the present simple.
Tomorrow is Tuesday.
It’s my birthday next month.
Monday is the seventeenth of July.

3 When you want to talk about people’s plans or arrangements for the future, you use the present continuous tense.
I’m meeting Bill next week.
They’re getting married in June.

4 You often talk about the future using the present tense of verbs such as `hope’, `expect’, `intend’, and `want’ with a `to’-infinitive clause, especially when you want to indicate your uncertainty about what will actually happen.
We hope to see you soon.
Bill expects to be back at work tomorrow.

After the verb `hope’, you often use the present simple to refer to the future.
I hope you enjoy your holiday.

5 In subordinate clauses, the relationships between tense and time are different. In `if’-clauses and time clauses, you normally use the present simple for future reference.
If he comes, I’ll let you know.
Please start when you are ready.
We won’t start until everyone arrives.
Lock the door after you finally leave.

6 In defining relative clauses, you normally use the present simple, not `will’, to refer to the future.
Any decision that you make will need her approval.
Give my love to any friends you meet.
There is a silver cup for the runner who finishes first.

7 If you want to show that a condition has to be the case before an action can be carried out, you use the present perfect for future events.
We won’t start until everyone has arrived.
I’ll let you know when I have arranged everything.

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Unit 68 I wish, If only, ..as if..

Read Time:2 Minute, 37 Second

Main points

* You use `I wish’ and `If only’ to talk about wishes and regrets.

* You use `..as if..’ and `..as though..’ to show that information in a manner clause is not or might not be true.

1 You can express what you want to happen now by using `I wish’ or `If only’ followed by a past simple verb.
I wish he wasn’t here.
If only she had a car.

Note that in formal English, you sometimes use `were’ instead of `was’ in sentences like these.
I often wish that I were really wealthy.

When you want to express regret about past events, you use the past perfect.
I wish I hadn’t married him.

When you want to say that you wish that someone was able to do something, you use `could’.
If only they could come with us!

When you want to say that you wish that someone was willing to do something, you use `would’.
If only they would realise how stupid they’ve been.

2 When you want to indicate that the information in a manner clause might not be true, or is definitely not true, you use `as if’ or `as though’.
She reacted as if she didn’t know about the race.
She acts as though she owns the place.

After `as if’ or `as though’, you often use a past tense even when you are talking about the present, to emphasize that the information in the manner clause is not true. In formal English, you use `were’ instead of `was’.
Presidents can’t dispose of companies as if people didn’t exist.
She treats him as though he was her own son.
He looked at me as though I were mad.

3 You can also use `as if’ or `as though’ to say how someone or something feels, looks, or sounds.
She felt as if she had a fever.
He looked as if he hadn’t slept very much.
Mary sounded as though she had just run all the way.

You can also use `it looks’ and `it sounds’ with `as if’ and `as though’.
It looks to me as if he wrote down some notes.
It sounds to me as though he’s just being awkward.

4 When the subject of the manner clause and the main clause are the same, you can often use a participle in the manner clause and omit the subject and the verb `be’.
He ran off to the house as if escaping.
He shook his head as though dazzled by his own vision.

You can also use `as if’ or `as though’ with a `to’-infinitive clause.
As if to remind him, the church clock struck eleven.

5 In informal speech, people often use `like’ instead of `as if’ or `as’ to say how a person feels, looks, or sounds. Some speakers of English think that this use of `like’ is incorrect.
He felt like he’d won the pools.
You look like you’ve seen a ghost.
You talk just like my father does.

You can also use `like’ in prepositional phrases to say how someone does something.
He was sleeping like a baby.
I behaved like an idiot , and I’m sorry.

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Unit 67 `If’ with modals; `unless’

Read Time:2 Minute, 38 Second

Main points

* You can use a modal in a conditional clause.

* You use `unless’ to mention an exception to what you are saying.

1 You sometimes use modals in conditional clauses. In the main clause, you can still use a present tense for events that happen often, `will’ for events that are quite likely in the future, `would’ for an event that is unlikely to happen, and `would have’ for events that were possible but did not happen.
If he can’t come, he usually phones me.
If they must have it today, they will have to come back at five o’clock.
If I could only find the time, I’d do it gladly.
If you could have seen him, you would have laughed too.

`Should’ is sometimes used in conditional clauses to express greater uncertainty.
If any visitors should come, I’ll say you aren’t here.

2 You can use other modals besides `will’, `would’ and `would have’ in the main clause with their usual meanings.
She might phone me, if she has time.
You could come, if you wanted to.
If he sees you leaving, he may cry.

Note that you can have modals in both clauses: the main clause and the conditional clause.
If he can’t come, he will phone.
See Units 79 to 91 for more information.

3 In formal English, if the first verb in a conditional clause is `had’, `should’, or `were’, you can put the verb at the beginning of the clause and omit `if’.

For example, instead of saying `If he should come, I will tell him you are sick’, it is possible to say `Should he come, I will tell him you are sick’.
Should ministers decide to hold an inquiry, we would welcome it.
Were it all true, it would still not excuse their actions.
Had I known, I would not have done it.

4 When you want to mention an exception to what you are saying, you use a conditional clause beginning with `unless’.
You will fail your exams.
You will fail your exams unless you work harder.

Note that you can often use `if…not’ instead of `unless’.
You will fail your exams if you do not work harder.

When you use `unless’, you use the same tenses that you use with `if’.
She spends Sundays in the garden unless the weather is awful.
We usually walk, unless we’re going shopping.
He will not let you go unless he is forced to do so.
You wouldn’t believe it, unless you saw it.

5 `If’ and `unless’ are not the only ways of beginning conditional clauses. You can also use `as long as’, `only if’, `provided’, `provided that’, `providing’, `providing that’, or `so long as’. These expressions are all used to indicate that one thing only happens or is true if another thing happens or is true.
We were all right as long as we kept our heads down.
I will come only if nothing is said to the press.
She was prepared to come, provided that she could bring her daughter.
Providing they remained at a safe distance, we would be all right.
Detergent cannot harm a fabric, so long as it has been properly dissolved.

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Unit 70 Infinitives

Read Time:3 Minute, 19 Second

Main points

* Some verbs are followed by a `to’-infinitive clause. Others are followed by an object and a `to’-infinitive clause.

* Some verbs are followed by a `wh’-word and a `to’-infinitive clause. Others are followed by an object, a `wh’-word, and a `to’-infinitive clause.

* Nouns are followed by `to’-infinitive clauses that indicate the aim, purpose or necessity of something, or that give extra information.

1 Some verbs are followed by a `to’-infinitive clause. The subject of the verb is also the subject of the `to’-infinitive clause.

* verbs of saying and thinking

agreeexpectlearnplan
choosehopemeanpromise
decideintendofferrefuse

She had agreed to let us use her flat.
I decided not to go out for the evening.

* other verbs

failmanagepretendtendwant

England failed to win a place in the finals.

2 Some verbs are followed by an object and a `to’-infinitive clause. The object of the verb is the subject of the `to’-infinitive clause.

* verbs of saying and thinking

adviseencourageinvitepersuadeteach
askexpectorderremindtell

I asked her to explain.
They advised us not to wait around too long.

* other verbs

allowforcegethelpwant

I could get someone else to do it.
I didn’t want him to go.

Note that `help’ can also be followed by an object and a base form.
I helped him fix it.

WARNING: You do not use `want’ with a `that’-clause. You do not say `I want that you do something’.

3 Some verbs are followed by `for’ and an object, then a `to’-infinitive clause. The object of `for’ is the subject of the `to’-infinitive clause.

appealaskpaywish
arrangelongwait

Could you arrange for a taxi to collect us?
I waited for him to speak.

4 Some link verbs, and `pretend’ are followed by `to be’ and an `-ing’ form for continuing actions, and by `to have’ and a past participle for finished actions. See also Unit 73.
We pretended to be looking inside.
I don’t appear to have written down his name.

5 Some verbs are normally used in the passive when they are followed by a `to’-infinitive clause.

believe, consider, feel, find, know, report, say, think, understand

He is said to have died a natural death.
Is it thought to be a good thing?

6 Some verbs are followed by a `wh’-word and a `to’-infinitive clause. These include:

askexplainimaginelearnunderstand
decideforgetknowrememberwonder

I didn’t know what to call him.
She had forgotten how to ride a bicycle.

Some verbs are followed by an object, then a `wh’-word and a `to’-infinitive clause.

askremindshowteachtell

I asked him what to do.
Who will show him how to use it?

Some verbs only take `to’-infinitive clauses to express purpose.
See Unit 97.

The captain stopped to reload the gun.
He went to get some fresh milk.

7 You use a `to’-infinitive clause after a noun to indicate the aim of an action or the purpose of a physical object.
We arranged a meeting to discuss the new rules.
He had nothing to write with.

You also use a `to’-infinitive clause after a noun to say that something needs to be done.
I gave him several things to mend.
`What’s this?’ – `A list of things to remember.’

8 You use a `to’-infinitive clause after a noun group that includes an ordinal number, a superlative, or a word like `next’, `last’, or `only’.
She was the first woman to be elected to the council.
Mr Holmes was the oldest person to be chosen.
The only person to speak was James.

9 You use a `to’-infinitive clause after abstract nouns to give more specific information about them.
All it takes is a willingness to learn.
He’d lost the ability to communicate with people.

The following abstract nouns are often followed by a `to’-infinitive clause:

ability, attempt, chance, desire, failure, inability, need, opportunity, unwillingness, willingness

Note that the verbs or adjectives which are related to these nouns can also be followed by a `to’-infinitive clause. For example, you can say `I attempted to find them’, and `He was willing to learn’.
See Unit 95 for information on nouns that are related to reporting verbs and can be followed by a `to’-infinitive clause.

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Unit 69 Verbs with `-ing’ clauses

Read Time:2 Minute, 8 Second

Main points

* Many verbs are followed by an `-ing’ clause.

* Some verbs are followed by an object and an `-ing’ clause that describes what the object is doing.

1 Many verbs are followed by an `-ing’ clause. The subject of the verb is also the subject of the `-ing’ clause. The `-ing’ clause begins with an `-ing’ form. The most common of these verbs are:

* verbs of saying and thinking

admit, consider, deny, describe, imagine, mention, recall, suggest

He denied taking drugs.
I suggested meeting her for a coffee.

Note that all of these verbs except for `describe’ can also be followed by a `that’-clause. See Unit 76.
He denied that he was involved.

* verbs of liking and disliking

adore, detest, dislike, dread, enjoy, fancy, like, love, mind, resent

Will they enjoy using it?
I don’t mind telling you.
`Like’ and `love’ can also be followed by a `to’-infinitive clause. See Unit 71.

* other common verbs

avoidcommencedelayfinishinvolvekeep
misspostponepractiseresistriskstop

I’ve just finished reading that book.
Avoid giving any unnecessary information.

* common phrasal verbs

burst out, carry on, end up, give up, go round, keep on, put off, set about

She carried on reading.
They kept on walking for a while.

Note that some common phrases can be followed by an `-ing’ clause.

can’t helpcan’t standfeel like

I can’t help worrying.

2 After the verbs and phrases mentioned above, you can also use `being’ followed by a past participle.
They enjoy being praised.
I dislike being interrupted.

After some verbs of saying and thinking, you can use `having’ followed by a past participle.

admitdenymentionrecall

Michael denied having seen him.

3 `Come’ and `go’ are used with `-ing’ clauses to describe the way that a person or thing moves.
They both came running out.
It went sliding across the road out of control.
`Go’ and `come’ are also used with `-ing’ nouns to talk about sports and outdoor activities. See Unit 56.

Did you say they might go camping?

4 Some verbs can be followed by an object and an `-ing’ clause. The object of the verb is the subject of the `-ing’ clause.

catchimaginepreventwatch
findleavestop

It is hard to imagine him existing without it.
He left them making their calculations.

Note that `prevent’ and `stop’ are often used with `from’ in front of the `-ing’ clause.
I wanted to prevent him from seeing that.

Most verbs of perception can be followed by an object and an `-ing’ clause or a base form. See Unit 72.
I saw him riding a bicycle.
I saw a policeman walk over to one of them.
See also Unit 94 for `-ing’ clauses after nouns.

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Unit 71 Verb + `to’- or `-ing’

Read Time:2 Minute, 33 Second

Main points

* Some verbs take a `to’-infinitive clause or an `-ing’ clause with little difference in meaning. Others take a `to’-infinitive or `-ing’ clause, but the meaning is different.

1 The following verbs can be followed by a `to’-infinitive clause or an `-ing’ clause, with little difference in meaning.

attempt, begin, bother, continue, fear, hate, love, prefer, start, try

It started raining.
A very cold wind had started to blow.
The captain didn’t bother answering.
I didn’t bother to answer.

Note that if these verbs are used in a continuous tense, they are followed by a `to’-infinitive clause.
The company is beginning to export to the West.
We are continuing to make good progress.

After `begin’, `continue’, and `start’, you use a `to’-infinitive clause with the verbs `understand’, `know’, and `realize’.
I began to understand her a bit better.

2 You can often use `like’ with a `to’-infinitive or an `-ing’ clause with little difference in meaning.
I like to fish.
I like fishing.

However, there is sometimes a difference. You can use `like’ followed by a `to’-infinitive clause to say that you think something is a good idea, or the right thing to do. You cannot use an `-ing’ clause with this meaning.
They like to interview you first.
I didn’t like to ask him.

3 After `remember’, `forget’, and `regret’, you use an `-ing’ clause if you are referring to an event after it has happened.
I remember discussing it once before.
I’ll never forget going out with my old aunt.
She did not regret accepting his offer.

You use a `to’-infinitive clause after `remember’ and `forget’ if you are referring to an event before it happens.
I must remember to send a gift for her child.
Don’t forget to send in your entries.

After `regret’, in formal English, you use a `to’-infinitive clause with these verbs to say that you are sorry about what you are saying or doing now:

announcelearnsee
informsaytell

I regret to say that it was all burned up.

4 If you `try to do’ something, you make an effort to do it. If you `try doing’ something, you do it as an experiment, for example to see if you like it or if it is effective.
I tried to explain.
Have you tried painting it?

5 If you `go on doing’ something, you continue to do it. If you `go on to do’ something, you do it after you have finished doing something else.
I went on writing.
He later went on to form a computer company.

6 If you `are used to doing’ something, you are accustomed to doing it. If you `used to do’ something, you did it regularly in the past, but you no longer do it now.
We are used to working together.
I used to live in this street.

7 After `need’, you use a `to’-infinitive clause if the subject of `need’ is also the subject of the `to’-infinitive clause. You use an `-ing’ form if the subject of `need’ is the object of the `-ing’ clause.
We need to ask certain questions.
It needs cutting.

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Unit 72 Verbs with other clauses

Read Time:2 Minute, 28 Second

Main points

* `Make’ and `let’ can be followed by an object and a base form.

* Some verbs of perception can be followed by an object and an `-ing’ clause, or an object and a base form.

* `Have’ and `get’ can be followed by an object and a past participle.

* `Dare’ is followed by a `to’-infinitive clause or a base form.

1 You can use an object and a base form after `make’ to say that one person causes another person to do something, or after `let’ to say they allow them to do something.
My father made me go for the interview.
Jenny let him talk.

2 Some verbs of perception are used with an object and an `-ing’ clause if an action is unfinished or continues over a period of time, and with an object and a base form if the action is finished.

feelhearseewatch

He heard a distant voice shouting.
Dr Hochstadt heard her gasp.

You normally use an `-ing’ clause after `notice’, `observe’, `smell’, and `understand’.
I could smell Chinese vegetables cooking.
We can understand them wanting to go.

3 You can use an object and a past participle after `have’ or `get’, when you want to say that someone arranges for something to be done. `Have’ is slightly more formal.
We’ve just had the house decorated.
We must get the car repaired.

You also use `have’ and `get’ with an object and a past participle to say that something happens to someone, especially if it is unpleasant.
She had her purse stolen.
He got his car broken into at the weekend.

4 You use `have’ followed by an object and an `-ing’ clause, or an object and a past participle, when you want to say that someone causes something to happen, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Alan had me looking for that book all day.
He had me utterly confused.

5 You use `want’ and `would like’ with an object and a past participle to indicate that you want something to be done.
I want the work finished by January 1st.
How would you like your hair cut, sir?

6 `Dare’ can be followed by a `to’-infinitive clause or a base form in negative or interrogative sentences:

* when there is an auxiliary or modal in front of `dare’
He did not dare to walk to the village.
What bank would dare offer such terms?

* when you use the form `dares’ or `dared’ (but not `dares not’ or `dared not’)
No one dares disturb him.
No other manager dared to compete.

You must use a base form in:

* negative or interrogative sentences without an auxiliary or modal before `dare’
I daren’t ring Jeremy again.
Nobody dare disturb him.
Dare she go in?

* negative sentences with `dares not’ or `dared not’
He dares not risk it.
Sonny dared not disobey.

Note that the phrase `how dare you’ is always followed by a base form.
How dare you speak to me like that?

`Dare’ is rarely used in affirmative sentences.

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Unit 73 Link verbs

Read Time:1 Minute, 50 Second

Main points

* Link verbs are used to join the subject with a complement.

* Link verbs can have adjectives, noun groups, or `to’-infinitive clauses as complements.

* You can use `it’ and `there’ as impersonal subjects with link verbs.

1 A small but important group of verbs are followed by a complement rather than an object. The complement tells you more about the subject. Verbs that take complements are called `link’ verbs.

appear, be, become, feel, get, go, grow, keep, look, prove, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

I am proud of these people.
She was getting too old to play tennis.
They looked all right to me.

2 Link verbs often have adjectives as complements describing the subject.
We felt very happy.
He was the tallest in the room.
See Units 31 to 33 and Unit 47 for more information about adjectives after link verbs.

3 You can use link verbs with noun groups as complements to give your opinion about the subject.
He’s not the right man for it.
She seemed an ideal person to look after them.

You also use noun groups as complements after `be’, `become’, and `remain’ to specify the subject.
He became a geologist.
Promises by MPs remained just promises.
This one is yours.

Note that you use object pronouns after `be’.
It’s me again.

4 Some link verbs can have `to’-infinitive clauses as complements.

appeargrowprove
getlookseem

He appears to have taken my keys.
She seemed to like me.

These verbs, and `remain’, can also be followed by `to be’ and a complement.
Mary seemed to be asleep.
His new job proved to be a challenge.

5 You can use `it’ and `there’ as impersonal subjects with link verbs.
It seems silly not to tell him.
There appears to have been a mistake.
See Units 17 and 18 for more information.

You can use `be’ with some abstract nouns as the subject, followed by a `that’-clause or a `to’-infinitive clause as the complement.

advice, agreement, answer, decision, idea, plan, problem, solution

The answer is that they are not interested in it.
The idea was to spend more money on training.

Some can only have a `that’-clause.

conclusion, explanation, fact, feeling, reason, report, thought, understanding

The fact is that I can’t go to the party.

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Unit 74 Reporting the past

Read Time:3 Minute, 3 Second

Main points

* A report structure is used to report what people say or think.

* You use the present tense of the reporting verb when you are reporting something that someone says or thinks at the time you are speaking.

* You often use past tenses in report structures because a reported clause usually reports something that was said or believed in the past.

1 You use a report structure to report what people say or think. A report structure consists of two parts. One part is the reporting clause, which contains the reporting verb.
I told him nothing was going to happen to me.
I agreed that he should do it.

The other part is the reported clause.
He felt that he had to do something.
Henry said he wanted to go home.
See Units 75-77 for more information on report structures.

2 For the verb in the reporting clause, you choose a tense that is appropriate at the time you are speaking.

Because reports are usually about something that was said or believed in the past, both the reporting verb and the verb in the reported clause are often in a past tense.
Mrs Kaur announced that the lecture had begun.
At the time we thought that he was mad.

3 Although you normally use past tenses in reports about the past, you can use a present tense in the reported clause if what you are saying is important in the present, for example:

* because you want to emphasize that it is still true
Did you tell him that this young woman is looking for a job?

* because you want to give advice or a warning, or make a suggestion for the present or future
I told you they have this class on Friday afternoon, so you should have come a bit earlier.

4 You use a present tense for the reporting verb when you are reporting:

* what someone says or thinks at the time you are speaking
She says she wants to see you this afternoon.
I think there’s something wrong.

Note that, as in the last example, it may be your own thoughts that you are reporting.

* what someone often says
He says that no one understands him.

* what someone has said in the past, if what they said is still true
My doctor says it’s nothing to worry about.

5 If you are predicting what people will say or think, you use a future tense for the reporting verb.
No doubt he will claim that his car broke down.
They will think we are making a fuss.

6 You very rarely try to report the exact words of a statement. You usually give a summary of what was said. For example, John might say:

`I tried to phone you about six times yesterday. I let the phone ring for ages but there was no answer. I couldn’t get through at all so I finally gave up.’

You would probably report this as:

John said he tried to phone several times yesterday, but he couldn’t get through.

7 When you are telling a story of your own, or one that you have heard from someone else, direct speech simply becomes part of the narrative.

In this extract a taxi driver picks up a passenger:
`What part of London are you headed for?’ I asked him.
`I’m going to Epsom for the races. It’s Derby day today.’
`So it is,’ I said. `I wish I were going with you. I love betting on horses.’

You might report this as part of the narrative without reporting verbs:

My passenger was going to Epsom to see the Derby, and I wanted to go with him.

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Unit 75 Reported questions

Read Time:2 Minute, 14 Second

Main points

* You use reported questions to talk about a question that someone else has asked.

* In reported questions, the subject of the question comes before the verb.

* You use `if’ or `whether’ in reported `yes/no’-questions.

1 When you are talking about a question that someone has asked, you use a reported question.
She asked me why I was so late.
He wanted to know where I was going.
I demanded to know what was going on.
I asked her if I could help her.
I asked her whether there was anything wrong.

In formal and written English, `enquire’ (also spelled `inquire’) is often used instead of `ask’.
Wilkie had enquired if she did a lot of acting.
He inquired whether he could see her.

2 When you are reporting a question, the verb in the reported clause is often in a past tense. This is because you are often talking about the past when you are reporting someone else’s words.
She asked me why I was so late.
Pat asked him if she had hurt him.

However, you can use a present or future tense if the question you are reporting relates to the present or future.
Mark was asking if you’re enjoying your new job.
They asked if you’ll be there tomorrow night.

3 In reported questions, the subject of the question comes before the verb, just as it does in affirmative sentences.
She asked me why I was late.
I asked what he was doing.

4 You do not normally use the auxiliary `do’ in reported questions.
She asked him if his parents spoke French.
They asked us what we thought.

The auxiliary `do’ can be used in reported questions, but only for emphasis, or to make a contrast with something that has already been said. It is not put before the subject as in direct questions.
She asked me whether I really did mean it.
I told him I didn’t like classical music. He asked me what kind of music I did like.

5 You use `if’ or `whether’ to introduce reported `yes/no’-questions.
I asked him if he was on holiday.
She hugged him and asked him whether he was all right.
I asked him whether he was single.

`Whether’ is used especially when there is a choice of possibilities.
I was asked whether I wanted to stay at a hotel or at his home.
They asked whether Tim was or was not in the team.
I asked him whether he loved me or not.

Note that you can put `or not’ immediately after `whether’, but not immediately after `if’.
The police didn’t ask whether or not they were in.
See Units 74, 76, and 77 for more information on reporting.

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Unit 76 Reporting: `that’-clauses

Read Time:2 Minute, 52 Second

Main points

* You usually use your own words to report what someone said, rather than repeating their exact words.

* Report structures contain a reporting clause first, then a reported clause.

* When you are reporting a statement, the reported clause is a `that’-clause.

* You must mention the hearer with `tell’. You need not mention the hearer with `say’.

1 When you are reporting what someone said, you do not usually repeat their exact words, you use your own words in a report structure.
Jim said he wanted to go home.

Jim’s actual words might have been `It’s time I went’ or `I must go’.

Report structures contain two clauses. The first clause is the reporting clause, which contains a reporting verb such as `say’, `tell’, or `ask’.
She said that she’d been to Belgium.
The man in the shop told me how much it would cost.
You often use verbs that refer to people’s thoughts and feelings to report what people say. If someone says `I am wrong’, you might report this as `He felt that he was wrong’. See Unit 77 for more information.

2 The second clause in a report structure is the reported clause, which contains the information that you are reporting. The reported clause can be a `that’-clause, a `to’-infinitive clause, an `if’-clause, or a `wh’-word clause.
She said that she didn’t know.
He told me to do it.
Mary asked if she could stay with us.
She asked where he’d gone.

3 If you want to report a statement, you use a `that’-clause after a verb such as `say’.

admit, agree, answer, argue, claim, complain, decide, deny, explain, insist, mention, promise, reply, say, warn

He said that he would go.
I replied that I had not read it yet.

You often omit `that’ from the `that’-clause, but not after `answer’, `argue’, `explain’, or `reply’.
They said I had to see a doctor first.
He answered that the price would be three pounds.

You often mention the hearer after the preposition `to’ with the following verbs.

admitcomplainmentionsuggest
announceexplainsay

He complained to me that you were rude.

4 `Tell’ and some other reporting verbs are also used with a `that’-clause, but with these verbs you have to mention the hearer as the object of the verb.

convincenotifyreassuretell
informpersuaderemind

He told me that he was a farmer.
I informed her that I could not come.

The word `that’ is often omitted after `tell’.
I told them you were at the dentist.

You can also mention the hearer as the object of the verb with `promise’ and `warn’.
I promised her that I wouldn’t be late.

5 Note the differences between `say’ and `tell’. You cannot use `say’ with the hearer as the object of the verb. You cannot say `I said them you had gone’. You cannot use `tell’ without the hearer as the object of the verb. You cannot say `I told that you had gone’. You cannot use `tell’ with `to’ and the hearer. You cannot say `I told to them you had gone’.

6 The reporting verbs that have the hearer as object, such as `tell’, can be used in the passive.
She was told that there were no tickets left.

Most reporting verbs that do not need the hearer as object, such as `say’, can be used in the passive with impersonal `it’ as subject, but not `answer’, `complain’, `insist’, `promise’, `reply’, or `warn’.
It was said that the money had been stolen.
See also Units 74 and 77.

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Unit 77 Other report structures

Read Time:2 Minute, 30 Second

Main points

* When reporting an order, a request, or a piece of advice, the reported clause is a `to’-infinitive clause, used after an object.

* When reporting a question, the reported clause is an `if’-clause or a `wh’-word clause.

* Many reporting verbs refer to people’s thoughts and feelings.

1 If you want to report an order, a request, or a piece of advice, you use a `to’-infinitive clause after a reporting verb such as `tell’, `ask’, or `advise’. You mention the hearer as the object of the verb, before the `to’-infinitive clause.

advise, ask, beg, command, forbid, instruct, invite, order, persuade, remind, tell, warn

Johnson told her to wake him up.
He ordered me to fetch the books.
He asked her to marry him.
He advised me to buy it.

If the order, request, or advice is negative, you put `not’ before the `to’-infinitive.
He had ordered his officers not to use weapons.
She asked her staff not to discuss it publicly.
Doctors advised him not to play for three weeks.

If the subject of the `to’-infinitive clause is the same as the subject of the main verb, you can use `ask’ or `beg’ to report a request without mentioning the hearer.
I asked to see the manager.
Both men begged not to be named.

2 If you want to report a question, you use a verb such as `ask’ followed by an `if’-clause or a `wh’-word clause.
I asked if I could stay with them.
They wondered whether the time was right.
He asked me where I was going.
She inquired how Ibrahim was getting on.

Note that in reported questions, the subject of the question comes before the verb, just as it does in affirmative sentences.
See Unit 75.

3 Many reporting verbs refer to people’s thoughts and feelings but are often used to report what people say. For example, if someone says `I must go’, you might report this as `She wanted to go’ or `She thought she should go’.

Some of these verbs are followed by:

* a `that’-clause

accept, believe, consider, fear, feel, guess, imagine, know, suppose, think, understand, worry

We both knew that the town was cut off.
I had always believed that I would see him again.

* a `to’-infinitive clause

intendplanwant

He doesn’t want to get up.

* a `that’-clause or a `to’-infinitive clause

agree, decide, expect, forget, hope, prefer, regret, remember, wish

She hoped she wasn’t going to cry.
They are in love and wish to marry.

`Expect’ and `prefer’ can also be followed by an object and a `to’-infinitive.
I’m sure she doesn’t expect you to take the plane.
The headmaster prefers them to act plays they have written themselves.

4 A speaker’s exact words are more often used in stories than in ordinary conversation.
`I knew I’d seen you,’ I said.
`Only one,’ replied the Englishman.
`Let’s go and have a look at the swimming pool,’ she suggested.

In ordinary conversation, it is normal to use a report structure rather than to repeat someone’s exact words.

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Unit 78 The passive voice

Read Time:2 Minute, 45 Second

Main points

* You use the passive voice to focus on the person or thing affected by an action.

* You form the passive by using a form of `be’ and a past participle.

* Only verbs that have an object can have a passive form. With verbs that can have two objects, either object can be the subject of the passive.

1 When you want to talk about the person or thing that performs an action, you use the active voice.
Mr Smith locks the gate at 6 o’clock every night.
The storm destroyed dozens of trees.

When you want to focus on the person or thing that is affected by an action, rather than the person or thing that performs the action, you use the passive voice.
The gate is locked at 6 o’clock every night.
Dozens of trees were destroyed.

2 The passive is formed with a form of the auxiliary `be’, followed by the past participle of a main verb.
Two new stores were opened this year.
The room had been cleaned.

Continuous passive tenses are formed with a form of the auxiliary `be’ followed by `being’ and the past participle of a main verb.
Jobs are still being lost.
It was being done without his knowledge.

3 After modals you use the base form `be’ followed by the past participle of a main verb.
What can be done?
We won’t be beaten.

When you are talking about the past, you use a modal with `have been’ followed by the past participle of a main verb.
He may have been given the car.
He couldn’t have been told by Jimmy.

4 You form passive infinitives by using `to be’ or `to have been’ followed by the past participle of a main verb.
He wanted to be forgiven.
The car was reported to have been stolen.

5 In informal English, `get’ is sometimes used instead of `be’ to form the passive.
Our car gets cleaned every weekend.
He got killed in a plane crash.

6 When you use the passive, you often do not mention the person or thing that performs the action at all. This may be because you do not know or do not want to say who it is, or because it does not matter.
Her boyfriend was shot in the chest.
Your application was rejected.
Such items should be carefully packed in tea chests.

7 If you are using the passive and you do want to mention the person or thing that performs the action, you use `by’.
He had been poisoned by his girlfriend.
He was brought up by an aunt.

You use `with’ to talk about something that is used to perform the action.
A circle was drawn in the dirt with a stick.
He was killed with a knife.

8 Only verbs that usually have an object can have a passive form. You can say `people spend money’ or `money is spent’.
An enormous amount of money is spent on beer.
The food is sold at local markets.

With verbs which can have two objects, you can form two different passive sentences. For example, you can say `The secretary was given the key’ or `The key was given to the secretary’.
They were offered a new flat.
The books will be sent to you.
See Unit 52 for more information on verbs that can have two objects.

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Unit 80 Modals * negation, questions

Read Time:1 Minute, 59 Second

Main points

* You use negative words with modals to make negative clauses.

* Modals go in front of the subject in questions.

* You never use two modals together.

1 To make a clause negative, you put a negative word immediately after the modal.
You must not worry.
I can never remember his name.
He ought not to have done that.

`Can not’ is always written as one word, `cannot’.
I cannot go back.

However, if `can’ is followed by `not only’, `can’ and `not’ are not joined.
We can not only book your flight for you, but also advise you about hotels.

2 In spoken English and informal written English, `not’ is often shortened to `-n’t’ and added to the modal. The following modals are often shortened in this way:

could not* couldn’t
should not* shouldn’t
must not* mustn’t
would not* wouldn’t

We couldn’t leave the farm.
You mustn’t talk about Ron like that.

Note the following irregular short forms:

shall not* shan’t
will not* won’t
cannot* can’t

I shan’t let you go.
Won’t you change your mind?
We can’t stop now.

`Might not’ and `ought not’ are sometimes shortened to `mightn’t’ and `oughtn’t’.

Note that `may not’ is very rarely shortened to `mayn’t’ in modern English.

3 To make a question, you put the modal in front of the subject.
Could you give me an example?
Will you be coming in later?
Shall I shut the door?

Modals are also used in question tags.
See Units 7 and 8 for more information.

4 You never use two modals together. For example, you cannot say `He will can come’. Instead you can say `He will be able to come’.
I shall have to go.
Your husband might have to give up work.

5 Instead of using modals, you can often use other verbs and expressions to make requests, offers, or suggestions, to express wishes or intentions, or to show that you are being polite.

For example, `be able to’ is used instead of `can’, `be likely to’ is used instead of `might’, and `have to’ is used instead of `must’.
All members are able to claim expenses.
I think that we are likely to see more of this.

These expressions are also used after modals.
I really thought I wouldn’t be able to visit you this week.

6 `Dare’ and `need’ sometimes behave like modals.
See Unit 72 for information on `dare’ and Units 71 and 90 for information on `need’.

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Unit 79 Introduction to modals

Read Time:1 Minute, 50 Second

Main points

* The modal verbs are: `can’, `could’, `may’, `might’, `must’, `ought’, `shall’, `should’, `will’, and `would’

* Modals are always the first word in a verb group.

* All modals except for `ought’ are followed by the base form of a verb.

* `Ought’ is followed by a `to’-infinitive.

* Modals have only one form.

* Modals can be used for various different purposes. These are explained in Units 80-91.

1 Modals are always the first word in a verb group. All modals except for `ought’ are followed by the base form of a verb.
I must leave fairly soon.
I think it will look rather nice.
Things might have been so different.
People may be watching.

2 `Ought’ is always followed by a `to’-infinitive.
She ought to go straight back to England.
Sam ought to have realized how dangerous it was.
You ought to be doing this.

3 Modals have only one form. There is no `-s’ form for the third person singular of the present tense, and there are no `-ing’ or `-ed’ forms.
There’s nothing I can do about it.
I’m sure he can do it.

4 Modals do not normally indicate the time when something happens. There are, however, a few exceptions.

`Shall’ and `will’ often indicate a future event or situation.
I shall do what you suggested.
He will not return for many hours.

`Could’ is used as the past form of `can’ to express ability. `Would’ is used as the past form of `will’ to express the future.
When I was young, I could run for miles.
He remembered that he would see his mother the next day.

5 In spoken English and informal written English, `shall’ and `will’ are shortened to `-‘ll’, and `would’ to `-‘d’, and added to a pronoun.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
I hope you’ll agree.
Posy said she’d love to stay.

`Shall’, `will’, and `would’ are never shortened if they come at the end of a sentence.
Paul said he would come, and I hope he will.

In spoken English, you can also add `-‘ll’ and `-‘d’ to nouns.
My car’ll be outside.
The headmaster’d be furious.

WARNING: Remember that `-d’ is also the short form of the auxiliary `had’.

I’d heard it many times.

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Unit 81 Possibility

Read Time:2 Minute, 49 Second

Main points

* You use `can’ to say that something is possible.

* You use `could’,`might’, and `may’ to indicate that you are not certain whether something is possible, but you think it is.

1 When you want to say that something is possible, you use `can’.
Cooking can be a real pleasure.
In some cases this can cause difficulty.

You use `cannot’ or `can’t’ to say that something is not possible.
This cannot be the answer.
You can’t be serious.

2 When you want to indicate that you are not certain whether something is possible, but you think it is, you use `could’, `might’, or `may’. There is no important difference in meaning between these modals, but `may’ is slightly more formal.
That could be one reason.
He might come.
They may help us.

You can also use `might not’ or `may not’ in this way.
He might not be in England at all.
They may not get a house with central heating.
Note that `could not’ normally refers to ability in the past. See Unit 83.

3 When there is a possibility that something happened in the past, but you are not certain if it actually happened, you use `could have’, `may have’, or `might have’, followed by a past participle.
It could have been tomato soup.
You may have noticed this advertisement.

You can also use `might not have’ or `may not have’ in this way.
He might not have seen me.
They may not have done it.

You use `could not have’ when you want to indicate that it is not possible that something happened.
He didn’t have a boat, so he couldn’t have rowed away.
It couldn’t have been wrong.

You also use `could have’ to say that there was a possibility of something happening in the past, but it did not happen.
It could have been awful. (But it wasn’t awful.)
You could have got a job last year. (But you didn’t get a job.)

4 You also use `might have’ or `could have’ followed by a past participle to say that if a particular thing had happened, then there was a possibility of something else happening.
She said it might have been all right, if the weather had been good. (But the weather wasn’t good, so it wasn’t all right.)
If I’d been there, I could have helped you. (But I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t help you.)

5 `Be able to’, `not be able to’, and `be unable to’ are sometimes used instead of `can’ and `cannot’, for example after another modal, or when you want to use a `to’-infinitive, an `-ing’ form, or a past participle.
When will I be able to pick them up?
He had been unable to get a ticket.

6 You use `used to be able to’ to say that something was possible in the past, but is not possible now.
Everyone used to be able to have free eye tests.
You used to be able to buy cigarettes in packs of five.

7 Note that you also use `could’ followed by a negative word and the comparative form of an adjective to emphasize a quality that someone or something has. For example, if you say `I couldn’t be happier’, you mean that you are very happy indeed and cannot imagine being happier than you are now.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
He could hardly have felt more ashamed of himself.

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Unit 82 Probability and certainty

Read Time:2 Minute, 40 Second

Main points

* You use `must’, `ought’, `should’, or `will’ to express probability or certainty.

* You use `cannot’ or `can’t’ as the negative of `must’, rather than `must not’ or `mustn’t’, to say that something is not probable or is not certain.

1 When you want to say that something is probably true or that it will probably happen, you use `should’ or `ought’. `Should’ is followed by the base form of a verb. `Ought’ is followed by a `to’-infinitive.
We should arrive by dinner time.
She ought to know.

When you want to say that you think something is probably not true or that it will probably not happen, you use `should not’ or `ought not’.
There shouldn’t be any problem.
That ought not to be too difficult.

2 When you want to say that you are fairly sure that something has happened, you use `should have’ or `ought to have’, followed by a past participle.
You should have heard by now that I’m leaving.
They ought to have arrived yesterday.

When you want to say that you do not think that something has happened, you use `should not have’ or `ought not to have’, followed by a past participle.
You shouldn’t have had any difficulty in getting there.
This ought not to have been a problem.

3 You also use `should have’ or `ought to have’ to say that you expected something to happen, but that it did not happen.
Yesterday should have been the start of the soccer season.
She ought to have been home by now.

Note that you do not normally use the negative forms with this meaning.

4 When you are fairly sure that something is the case, you use `must’.
Oh, you must be Sylvia’s husband.
He must know something about it.

If you are fairly sure that something is not the case, you use `cannot’ or `can’t’.
This cannot be the whole story.
He can’t be very old – he’s about 25, isn’t he?

WARNING: You do not use `must not’ or `mustn’t’ with this meaning.

5 When you want to say that you are almost certain that something has happened, you use `must have’, followed by a past participle.
This article must have been written by a woman.
We must have taken the wrong road.

To say that you do not think that something has happened, you use `can’t have’, followed by a past participle.
You can’t have forgotten me.
He can’t have said that.

6 You use `will’ or `-‘ll’ to say that something is certain to happen in the future.
People will always say the things you want to hear.
They’ll manage.

You use `will not’ or `won’t’ to say that something is certain not to happen.
You won’t get much sympathy from them.

7 There are several ways of talking about probability and certainty without using modals. For example, you can use:

* `bound to’ followed by the base form of a verb
It was bound to happen.
You’re bound to make a mistake.

* an adjective such as `certain’, `likely’, `sure’, or `unlikely’, followed by a `to’-infinitive clause or a `that’-clause
They were certain that you were defeated.
I am not likely to forget it.
See Unit 33 for more information on these adjectives.

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Unit 83 Ability

Read Time:2 Minute, 47 Second

Main points

* You use `can’ to talk about ability in the present and in the future.

* You use `could’ to talk about ability in the past.

* You use `be able to’ to talk about ability in the present, future, and past.

1 You use `can’ to say that someone has the ability to do something.
You can all read and write.
Anybody can become a qualified teacher.

You use `cannot’ or `can’t’ to say that they do not have the ability to do something.
He cannot dance.

2 When you want to talk about someone’s ability in the past as a result of a skill they had or did not have, you use `could’, `could not’, or `couldn’t’.
He could run faster than anyone else.
A lot of them couldn’t read or write.

3 You also use `be able to’, `not be able to’, and `be unable to’ to talk about someone’s ability to do something, but `can’ and `could’ are more common.
She was able to tie her own shoelaces.
They are not able to run very fast.
Many people were unable to read or write.

4 You use `was able to’ and `were able to’ to say that someone managed to do something in a particular situation in the past.
After treatment he was able to return to work.
The farmers were able to pay the new wages.
We were able to find time to discuss it.

WARNING: You do not normally use `could’ to say that someone managed to do something in a particular situation. However, you can use `could not’ or `couldn’t’ to say that someone did not manage to do something in a particular situation.

We couldn’t stop laughing.
I just couldn’t think of anything to say.

5 When you want to say that someone had the ability to do something in the past, but did not do it, you use `could have’ followed by a past participle.
You could have given it all to me.
You know, she could have done French.

You often use this form when you want to express disapproval about something that was not done.
You could have been a little bit tidier.
You could have told me!

6 You use `could not have’ or `couldn’t have’ followed by a past participle to say that it is not possible that someone had the ability to do something.
I couldn’t have gone with you, because I was in London at the time.
She couldn’t have taken the car, because Jim was using it.

7 In most cases, you can choose to use `can’ or `be able to’. However, you sometimes have to use `be able to’. You have to use `be able to’ if you are using another modal, or if you want to use an `-ing’ form, a past participle, or a `to’-infinitive.
Nobody else will be able to read it.
…the satisfaction of being able to do the job.
I don’t think I’d have been able to get an answer.
You’re foolish to expect to be able to do that.

8 You also use `can’ or `could’ with verbs such as `see’, `hear’, and `smell’ to say that someone is or was aware of something through one of their senses.
I can smell gas.
I can’t see her.
I could see a few stars in the sky.
There was such a noise we couldn’t hear.

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Unit 84 Permission

Read Time:2 Minute, 39 Second

Main points

* You use `can’ or `be allowed to’ to talk about whether someone has permission to do something or not.

* You usually use `can’ to give someone permission to do something.

* You usually use `can’ or `could’ to ask for permission to do something.

1 You use `can’ to say that someone is allowed to do something. You use `cannot’ or `can’t’ to say that they are not allowed to do it.
Students can take a year away from university.
Children cannot bathe except in the presence of two lifesavers.

You use `could’ to say that someone was allowed to do something in the past. You use `could not’ or `couldn’t’ to say that they were not allowed to do it.
We could go to any part of the island we wanted.
Both students and staff could use the swimming pool.
We couldn’t go into the library after 5 pm.

2 You also use `be allowed to’ when you are talking about permission, but not when you are asking for it or giving it.
When Mr Wilt asks for a solicitor he will be allowed to see one.
It was only after several months that I was allowed to visit her.
You’re not allowed to use calculators in exams.

3 In more formal situations, `may’ is used to say that someone is allowed to do something, and `may not’ is used to say that they are not allowed to do it.
They may do exactly as they like.
The retailer may not sell that book below the publisher’s price.

4 When you want to give someone permission to do something, you use `can’.
You can borrow that pen if you want to.
You can go off duty now.
She can go with you.

`May’ is also used to give permission, but this is more formal.
You may speak.
You may leave as soon as you have finished.

5 When you want to refuse someone permission to do something, you use `cannot’, `can’t’, `will not’, `won’t’, `shall not’, or `shan’t’.
`Can I have some sweets?’ – `No, you can’t!’
`I’ll just go upstairs.’ – `You will not!’
You shan’t leave without my permission.

6 When you are asking for permission to do something, you use `can’ or `could’. If you ask in a very simple and direct way, you use `can’.
Can I ask a question?
Can we have something to wipe our hands on please?

`Could’ is more polite than `can’.
Could I just interrupt a minute?
Could we put this fire on?

`May’ is also used to ask permission, but this is more formal.
May I have a cigarette?

`Might’ is rather old-fashioned and is not often used in modern English in this way.
Might I inquire if you are the owner?

7 You have to use `be allowed to’ instead of a modal if you are using another modal, or if you want to use an `-ing’ form, a past participle, or a `to’-infinitive.
Teachers will be allowed to decide for themselves.
I am strongly in favour of people being allowed to put on plays.
They have not been allowed to come.
We were going to be allowed to travel on the trains.

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