Conditional sentences

Affirmative Negative Interrogative
Long Form Contracted Form
I would call I would not call I wouldn’t call Would I call?
You would call You would not call You wouldn’t call Would you call?
He/she/it would call He/she/it would not call He/she/it wouldn’t call Would he/she/it call?
We would call We would not call We wouldn’t call Would we call?
You would call You would not call You wouldn’t call Would you call?
They would call They would not call They wouldn’t call Would they call?
  • The conditional (would + verb) is used to refer to an imaginary or hypothetical
    situation, with an ‘if’ clause in the past. :

    • If I saw an accident I would call an ambulance.
    • I would call an ambulance if I saw an accident.

It is possible that you will never see an accident, but here you are
describing your probable reaction in such circumstances.

    • If Tom had more money, he would buy a sports car.

Tom is not rich, but if he were, this is what he would do.

  • In English there are different conditional structures:
Present + Present
(what is recommended in this situation)
If you see an accident, call a doctor!
Present + Future
(possible future situation)
If I see an accident, I will call a doctor.
Past + Conditional
(imaginary situation)
If I saw an accident, I would call a doctor.
Past Perfect + Conditional Perfect
(the accident occurred but you didn’t see it)

You can do the exercises on this link:

Conditional sentences – exercises

If I had seen the accident, I would have called a doctor.
Social skills

Small Talk

What to do when you’re in a situation where you don’t know anyone? You should try to make a polite informal conversation, in other words ‘small talk’.

Next time you’re in a public place where you don’t know anyone, try some of these phrases, they might help.

Talking about the weather
  • Beautiful day, isn’t it?
  • Can you believe all of this rain we’ve been having?
  • It looks like it’s going to snow.
  • It sure would be nice to be in Hawaii right about now.
  • I hear they’re calling for thunderstorms all weekend.
  • We couldn’t ask for a nicer day, could we?
  • How about this weather?
  • Did you order this sunshine?
Talking about current events
  • Did you catch the news today?
  • Did you hear about that fire on Fourth St?
  • What do you think about this transit strike?
  • I read in the paper today that the Sears Mall is closing.
  • I heard on the radio today that they are finally going to start building the new bridge.
  • How about those Reds? Do you think they’re going to win tonight?
At the office
  • Looking forward to the weekend?
  • Have you worked here long?
  • I can’t believe how busy/quiet we are today, can you?
  • Has it been a long week?
  • You look like you could use a cup of coffee.
  • What do you think of the new computers?
At a social event
  • So, how do you know Justin?
  • Have you tried the cabbage rolls that Sandy made?
  • Are you enjoying yourself?
  • It looks like you could use another drink.
  • Pretty nice place, huh?
  • I love your dress. Can I ask where you got it?
Out for a walk
  • How old’s your baby?
  • What’s your puppy’s name?
  • The tulips are sure beautiful at this time of year, aren’t they.
  • How do you like the new park?
  • Nice day to be outside, isn’t it?
Waiting somewhere
  • I didn’t think it would be so busy today.
  • You look like you’ve got your hands full (with children or goods).
  • The bus must be running late today.
  • It looks like we are going to be here a while, huh?
  • I’ll have to remember not to come here on Mondays.
  • How long have you been waiting?


  1. Special rules for possessives:

We can have two possessive’s forms together:

We are fed up with our neighbor’s tenants’ loud music.

If the possessive form consists of a compound noun or two or more nouns which form a single team or group, we add the ‘s to the last noun only:

Are you coming to my brother in law’s party? (compound noun)

I’m a great fan of Lerner and Lowe’s musicals. (they both wrote as a single team.)

When the nouns do not form a sing group we must use ‘s with both nouns:

Schrodinger’s and Heisenberg’s versions of quantum mechanics had seemed different. (two versions of a theory)

If the possessive noun is part of a prepositional phrase, we usually put the ‘s at the end of a phrase:

  1. Double possessives

We can use a double possessive – noun + of + noun (with possessive ‘s) – to show that first noun means ‘one of several’. We usually use the indefinite article with the pattern:

I heard the story from a friend of my brother’s. (= one of my brother’s friends)

We do not always include the possessive ‘s with the second noun:

They got the information from a friend of the owner.

  1. Specifying and classifying possessives

Specifying possessives show a relationship with something specific such as a person or place. They usually answer the question ‘Whose…?’

Marion washes the children’s clothes on Tuesdays. (= the clothes belonging to the children)

Classifying possessives describe the type of thing something is. They answer the question ‘What kind of…?’ and are similar to compound nouns.

Janice has opened a shop specializing in children’s clothes. (= clothes any children can wear)


Reported Speech

If the reporting verb is in the past form (said, told,…) you have to change the tense.
Direct speech Indirect speech Direct Speech Indirect speech
Present simple Past simple go went
Present progressive Past progressive am/is/are going was/were going
Past simple Past perfect went had gone
Past progressive Past perfect progressive was/were going had been going
Present perfect simple Past perfect has/have gone had gone
Present perfect progr. Past perfect progressive has/have been going had been going
Future Conditional I will go would go
Example: Peter said: “Carol is a nice girl.” Peter said (that) Carol was a nice girl.
Don’t change these verbs: might, could, would, should
Example: He said:”I might arrive late.” He said (that) he might arrive late.
You don’t need to change the present tense into the past tense if the information in the direct speech is still true or a general fact.
Example: Frank said (that) his sister is / was a secretary.
When you form the reported speech you have to pay attention that the pronouns refer to the correct persons.
Examples: Susan said: “My parents are clever scientists.”
Susan said (that) her parents were clever scientists.
Tom said: “I like PE best.”
Tom said (that) he liked PE best.
They said: “We went swimming with our friends.”
They said (that) they had gone swimming with their friend.
Betty said: “Sam told me the truth.”
Betty said (that) Sam had told her the truth.
Direct speech Indirect speech
She said I – my – me she – her – her
He said I – my – me he – his – him
They said we – our – us they – their – them
You and your:
They told her / him / me / them / us: “George likes you.”
They told her / him / me / them / us (that) George liked her / him / me / them / us.
They told her / him / me / them / us: “George likes your sister.”
They told her / him / me / them / us (that) George likes her / his / my / their / our sister.
They told her / him / me / them / us: “You are clever.”
They told her / him / me / them / us (that) she / he / I / they / we was / were clever.
Expressions of time and place – we have to change them.
Direct speech Indirect speech
Time now then
today that day
yesterday the day before
tomorrow the next / following day
last week, month,… the previous week, month,… / the week, month,… before
next week, month,… the following week, month,…
a (week,…) ago a (week,…) before
Place here there
this that
these those
Example: She said: “I have already seen Carol today.”
She said (that) she had already seen Carol that day.
Reported Questions
If there is a question word we keep it.
Examples: They asked me:”Where is the next supermarket?”
They asked me where the next supermarket was.
She asked them:”How often do you play golf?”
She asked them how often they played golf.
If there is no question word we start the reported speech with if or whether
Examples: She asked me:”Do you like some tea?”
She asked me if/whether I liked some tea.
We asked them:”Did she arrive in time?”
We asked them if/whether she had arrived in time.
Reported Requests
If someone asks you in a polite way use (not) to + infinitive
Examples: He asked her:”Could you close the door, please?”
He asked her to close the door.
She asked them:”Help me, please.”
She asked them to help her.
Reported Orders
If someone doesn’t ask you politely or gives you an order use (not) to + infinitive
Examples: He told me:”Be quiet!”
He told me to be quiet.
She told us:”Don’t stay up too late!”
  She told us not to stay up too late

Relative Clauses with WHO, WHICH and THAT

We can use relative clauses to make two sentences into one sentence.


This is my friend. He lives in New York
There are three books. They form the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series
I’ve got a camera It takes great photos.

This is my friend who lives in New York.

There are three books which form the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series.

I’ve got a camera that takes great photos.

The relative clause gives us more information about the person or thing in the main clause.

We introduce a relative clause with a relative pronoun (who, which, that)

WHO is for a relative clause about people:

Do you know the man who owns that shop?

Stephenson is the man who built the locomotive.

WHICH is for a relative clause about animals or things:

I have got a new mobile phone which cost $100.

The horse which won the race has died.

THAT can be used for people, animals, and things:

I’ve contacted all the students that took the exam.

It’s a phone that plays music.



  1. This is the man _________ saved the child.
  2. This is the car________ he bought 10 years ago.
  3. Hose offered an apology ________ Fiona didn’t accept.
  4. Brian said goodnight to his roommate Justin _______ continued playing video games.
  5. He drank the juice _____ he made himself.
  6. Jane, _______ hates spiders, carry bug-stomping boots wherever she goes.


Answers: 1.who, that; 2.which, that; 3.which; 4.who; 5.which, that; 6.who


Modal verbs of ability

Can / Be able to (ability in the present/future)

‘Can’ is more usual and less formal than ‘be able to’ when talking about the present or future. Ann can type fast.

I can pay you next week. (usual)

I will be able to pay you next week. (less usual)

Was able to (= managed to do) (ability in the past) is used for either repeated or single actions.

I was able to go on a trip round the city last week. (single action)

Could (ability in the past)

‘Could’ is more usual than ‘was able to.’ It is used in statements for repeated actions.

However, with the verbs see, hear, smell, understand, etc. we normally use ‘could’ for single actions.

She could / was able to play the violin when she was six. (repeated action)

I could smell something burning. (single action)

Could / Was able to can both be used in negations and questions for either repeated or single actions.

She couldn’t / wasn’t able to pass her driving test. (past single action)

Were you able to / Could you get to work every day’ last week? (past repeated action)

Can is used in the present.

Could is the past tense of can. We use be able to form all the other tenses.

I will be able to get a job when I finish school.


Complete the sentences with can, can’t, could or couldn’t and the verbs below:

Come           open         read         drive         use         stop

  1. I’m sorry I ___________________ to your party on Saturday
  2. Oliver’s joke was so funny that we ______________________ laughing.
  3. Xenia ____________________ but she hasn’t got a car.
  4. “Oh, no, my battery’s dead! I _______________________ my mobile phone.”
  5. When Jake was five, he _______________________ and write.
  6. Claire tried, but she ___________________ the door.

Complete the answers using was/were able to:

  1. A: Did you get to the concert on time?

B: Yes, although there was traffic, we __________________________________ .

  1. A: Did Ben manage to find his watch?

B: Yes, after searching the entire house, he __________________________________ .

  1. A: Did you finish your work in the garden?

B: Yes. It took all afternoon but I ________________________________________ .

  1. A: Did you have a hard time finding the place?

B: No. We _____________________________________ quite easily.

Fill in can/ be able to in the correct form:

  1. I __________________________ to speak perfect English very soon.
  2. “__________________________ you hear me, Mum?”
  3. They _________________________ swim since they were five.
  4. When he got to the front door, he ______________________ hear a dog barking inside a house.
  5. I would love ______________________ to fly an airplane.

Order of Adjectives

We sometimes put more than one adjective in front of a noun. We put ‘opinion’ adjectives (what we think, not facts), e.g. amazing, boring, comfortable, before others:

Look at these amazing multi-colored tropical fish.

I love my comfortable old leather armchair

We put adjectives describing type or purpose (what something is for) next to the noun.

These adjectives are often part of the noun:

Amazing multi-colored tropical fish. (= type of fish)

A long steel hunting knife. (= knife used for hunting)

When we use other adjectives, we usually put them in this order:

opinion size shape age color origin material type noun
valuable large round Italian bedroom mirror
old red silk wedding dress

We don’t usually use more than three or four adjectives in front of a noun. If we want to give more information we use another clause or sentence:

Wrong: My uncle has a really valuable large old black Italian sports car.

Right: My uncle has a large black Italian sports car, which is old and really valuable.


I wish, if only, it’s time

  • Wish and if only + past simple/would

We use wish + past simple to talk about present situations when we are unhappy with the situation:

I wish we were still on holiday. (We aren’t on holiday now.)

We wish we didn’t live so far away. (We live too far away to see our friends.)

I wish we had a new car. (Our car keeps breaking down.)

If only means the same but it can have a little more emphasis:

If only I didn’t get angry so easily! (= I get angry easily, but I don’t like it.)

Note: We don’t use wish and if only with a present tense:

I wish I have a better job.       I wish I had a better job.

To express a wish about the future, we use hope + present tense verb, not wish:

I wish you have a good holiday.     I hope you have a good holiday.

We can use wish/if only + would (not) to talk about a habit in someone else that we would like to change:

If only Jenny would talk about her problems.

I wish you wouldn’t bite your nails!

      Wish and if only + past perfect

We use wish/if only + past perfect to talk about a past situation or action that we regret:

I’ve failed my exams. I wish I’d studied harder.

If only I hadn’t left my jewelry here. I left it in the drawer and it’s been stolen.

I’m really tired. I wish I’d gone to bed earlier.

Note: We don’t use wish/if only with the past simple if we want to talk about the past:

If only I didn’t shout at my boss last week.     If only I hadn’t shouted at my boss last week.

  •          It’s time and would rather

We use the past tense after it’s time and would rather when we are talking about the present.

  •                  It’s (about) time means we think that someone should do something:

      Come on – it’s time we went home.

      It’s about time you got on the plane.

  •                It’s high time + a past simple verb is stronger and suggests that he action is urgent:

     It’s high time you started looking for a flat of your own! You can’t stay here forever.

  •               We can also use the infinitive with to (with or without for + object pronoun):

     Come on – it’s time (for us) to go home.

     It’s about time (for you) to get on the plane.

We use would rather to say what we prefer:

    I’d rather we stayed at home. (= I’d prefer to stay…)

   We’d rather we didn’t go by plane. (= We’d prefer not to go…)

   Would you rather I paid you now or later? (= Would you prefer me to pay you now or later?)


-ED and -ING forms of adjectives

We sometimes use verbs ending in –ed and –ing as adjectives:

I like painted furniture.

Do you like smoked meat?

The police are looking for a missing person.

Some people say Leonardo da Vinci invented first flying machine.

Many –ed and –ing adjectives describe feelings, but we use them in different ways. We use:

  • -ed adjectives to describe how we feel:

I’m confused.

The students are interested.

  • -ing adjectives to describe the thing that causes our feelings:

The rules are confusing.

It’s an interesting lesson.

We often use –ing adjectives to ask about or give an opinion about something:

Do you think horror films are frightening? (= or they frighten you?)

My cousin is really boring. (= He makes me feel bored)

We don’t use –ing adjectives to talk about how we feel;

Tell me more about the course.  I am very interesting.   I am very interested.



  1. I am doing the same thing every day. My job is so ________________.
  2. I have nothing to do. I am ______________.
  3. I don’t understand this exercise. I am so _______________.
  4. The rules are rather __________. I don’t understand them.
  5. My trip has been canceled. I am so _________________.
  6. The play of our team was very bad. It was so ______________.

Answers: 1. boring, 2. bored, 3. confused, 4. confusing, 5. disappointed, 6. disappointing

misused words

Hope vs Wish

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between these two words.

The word HOPE is used to talk about possible situations that we desire in the past, present or future which are possible. For example:

I haven’t looked the weather forecast yet. I hope it’s sunny.

I hope you have a nice holiday.

I hope I will be promoted soon.

The last two examples are about the future. In English, we can use the future tense or the present tense after the word “hope” to talk about the future. Both are natural.

On the other hand, WISH is used to talk about situations that we desire, but which are the opposite of the current reality or which are impossible. We can use wish + past tense to talk about our situation right now. For example:

I wish I had an umbrella. It’s raining outside.

I wish I didn’t have to travel on Sunday.

I wish I were taller.

When we use wish + past perfect tense, we are talking about regrets we have from the past. For example:

I wish I hadn’t stayed at home for the weekend.

I wish I had gone to bed earlier last night.

We can use wish + would + verb to talk about situations that often happen in our lives that we don’t like. For example:

I wish my boyfriend would help me clean the house

I wish my neighbors wouldn’t play their music so loudly.

We can also use wish + noun to talk about things that we desire for other people. In these cases, the meaning of  “wish” is more similar to “hope”. This way of using “wish”, however, is much less common that the other ways. For example:

We wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Wish me luck on my exam.

I wish you health and happiness.