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English grammar exercises

Here are some English grammar exercises with answers.

Some and any

Here are three typical mistakes with some and any.

1. I don't have some friends.
2. I haven't got any book.
3. I'd like tea, please.

The basic grammar rules for using some and any are:

1. Use some in positive sentences, and any in negative sentences
"I have some money."
"I don't have any books."
"I'd like some tea, please."

Note that in the first example, the noun "money" is uncountable. In the second, "books" is plural countable.

2. Use a / an when the noun is singular.
"I haven't got a book" (NOT "I haven't got any book.")

3. Use "some" when we consider the noun to be restricted in a particular way, and any when the noun is not restricted.

"Would you like some sugar in your coffee?" (I'm imagining one or two spoonfuls of sugar, rather than a larger quantity.)

"Do you have any questions?" (On any subject or point that you like – you can ask me absolutely everything!)

4. We can use some and any as pronouns
"Have you got any brothers or sisters?"
"No, I haven't got any."

Do we need any bread from the shop?
"No, we've got some."

Exercise

Decide whether to use some, any, a/an or nothing in the sentences below.

1. Do you like —– soap operas?
2. Would you like —– milk in your coffee?
3. She has —– beautiful clothes.
4. Is there —– good time to call you?
5. There's —– cheese in the fridge.
6. Did you eat all those chocolates? No, I didn't eat —–.
7. He has —– good ideas.
8. He had —– good idea yesterday.
9. Is there —– tea left?
Yes, there should be. I've just had —–

Answers

1. Do you like soap operas?
2. Would you like some / any / – milk in your coffee?
3. She has some beautiful clothes.
4. Is there a good time to call you?
5. There's some cheese in the fridge.
6. Did you eat all those chocolates? No, I didn't eat any.
7. He has some good ideas.
8. He had a good idea yesterday.
9. Is there any tea left?
Yes, there should be. I've just had some.

How to use would and could to be polite

The modal auxiliaries "would" and "could" are important, as they help you to be polite and diplomatic when you speak or write English.

This is especially useful when you want something from another person, or in certain situations where being diplomatic is important, such as in a negotiation, or when you are speaking to someone in authority (such as your boss!)

Would

We use "would" to talk about hypothetical situations, not facts. Using "would" helps to put a distance between us and the other person.

You can use "would" to replace "will", "want" and the verb to be.

For example, rather than saying "That is a problem", say "That would be a problem". (i.e. it would be a hypothetical problem.)

Rather than "I want a bigger discount", say "I would like a bigger discount".

Could

We use "could" instead of "can" to be polite. Remember: often in English past forms are more polite than present forms, because they create a distance. (i.e. they are further back in time, rather than being in the present.)

You can use "could" to replace "can" or to talk about possibility, ability and permission.

For example, rather than saying "Can I interrupt?", say "Could I interrupt?"

Instead of saying "What discount are you going to offer?", say "What discount could you offer?"

Exercise

Here are some things you want to speak about with your boss. Make each of them more polite and diplomatic by using would or could.

1. I want more time off.
2. Are you going to give me a new computer?
3. Can I work from home tomorrow?
4. Will you be able to give me a raise next month?
5. Can you give me more time to finish the report?
6. Are you able to provide me with a company car instead of a salary increase?
7. Is it possible to get an assistant?
8. I can't guarantee that I'll be available for overtime.

Answers

1. I would like more time off. (I want more time off.)
2. Could you give me a new computer? (Are you going to give me a new computer?)
3. Could I work from home tomorrow? (Can I work from home tomorrow?)
4. Would you be able to give me a raise next month? Or Could you give me a raise next month?
(Will you be able to give me a raise next month?)
5. Could you give me more time to finish the report? (Can you give me more time to finish the report?)
6. Would you be able to provide me with a company car? Or Could you provide me with a company car?
(Are you able to provide me with a company car instead of a salary increase?)
7. Could I get an assistant? (Is it possible to get an assistant?)
8. I couldn't guarantee that I would be available for overtime. (I can't guarantee that I'll be available for overtime.)

Using just

1. We can use "just" to refer to something which happened only a few minutes before. To do this, use the present perfect tense:

The postman has just been.
I've just phoned the school.

"Just" goes before the auxiliary and the main verb.

You can also use "already" here, although "already" doesn't give the idea that the action happened only very recently.

Because we use "just" to mean only very recently, we can also use it in the past simple with "before":

"We got home just before the rain started."

We can also use "just" to refer to the immediate future. Follow "just" with either "about to" or "going to":

"Don't go out now – we're just about to / we're just going to have lunch.

2. "Just" also means "enough – but with a very small margin".

For example, "I've got just enough time to buy a paper before the train leaves."
(I only have a minute or so – certainly not enough time to buy a paper and a sandwich!)

Exercise: Put these sentences into the correct order.

1. I left / the car keys / realised / just / where / I've
2. just / my book / finished / I've
3. get home / enough / have / petrol / to / we / just
4. I've / her / seen / just
5. finished / before / the lights / the / just / The film / went out
6. earn / to pay / enough / We / just / the bills
7. to / just / call her / I'm / about
8. going / He's / check / just / to

Answers

1. I've just remembered where I left the car keys.
2. I've just finished my book.
3. We have just enough petrol to get home.
4. I've just seen her.
5. The film finished just before the lights.
6. We earn just enough to pay the bills.
7. I'm just about to call her.
8. He's just going to check.

Essential linking words

One of the most popular pages on our site is Linking words. (The words and phrases you need to connect your ideas.) Take a look at it if you haven't already – there are explanations and example sentences to help you use these words effectively.

The list is long – we have many ways in English of saying the same thing! So here's a shorter guide to the most essential linking words in English.

For example – to give an example. You can have this either at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.

And – the easiest way to add information. Put it between two clauses or before the final item in a list.

Also – to add an idea or emphasise. "We also went to Greece on our holiday."

To summarise – use at the beginning of the sentence. "To summarise, we will go ahead with the plan."

Firstly, Secondly, Finally – use these to sequence your ideas. Use at the beginning of the sentence.

Because – to give a reason. You can have this at the beginning of the sentence, or between two clauses.
"Because I'm allergic to seafood I didn't order the prawns." "I didn't order the prawns because I'm allergic to seafood."

As – another way to say "because" and used in the same way.

So – an informal equivalent to "therefore" to give a result. Use it between clauses: "It was hot outside, so we sat indoors."

If you use "so" at the beginning of a sentence (with stress), it's like saying "well"..
"So, you're a friend of Joe's aren't you?"

But – the easiest way to contrast an idea. It's usually used between two clauses.
"I don't like milk, but I like yoghurt."

It can come at the beginning of a sentence to contradict someone.
"We should go to New York."
"But you said it was too expensive!"

However is more formal, and is used at the beginning of a sentence.
"We are interested in your proposal. However, we will only be able to discuss it in September."

Exercise

Fill the gaps in the sentences with a linking word

1. I love the cinema, —– I'm interested in knowing who's won the Oscars.

2. She listens to most music. She loves classical, but she's —– a fan of jazz.

3. He's great with languages. —– he speaks French and Italian, and is now learning German.

4. We went to Italy last year, —– we didn't visit Rome.

5. I like Italy —– the food is so good.

Answers

1. I love the cinema, so I'm interested in knowing who's won the Oscars.
2. She listens to most music. She loves classical, but she's also a fan of jazz.
3. He's great with languages. For example, he speaks French and Italian, and is now learning German.
4. We went to Italy last year, but we didn't visit Rome.
5. I like Italy because the food is so good.

Using like

We can use both "like" and "as" to say how things are similar in English.

Remember: the grammar of these two words is different. "Like" is followed by a noun or pronoun, while "as" is followed by a subject and verb, or a preposition.

Example: "You're just like your mother!"
"I think the same as you do."

For more information on how to use like / as, see this grammar page.

We can use "like" in other ways to talk about similarity.

to resemble
look like: "She looks like her mother."

to describe
to be like: "What's he like?
"What is it like?"
It's a bit like …."

With sense verbs
feel like: "This feels like plastic to me."

taste like: "This cake is fabulous – it tastes like a cross between mousse and ice-cream."

smell like: "It smells like something has gone off in the fridge."

sounds like: "It sounds like we won't be able to go on holiday after all."

looks like / looks as if: "It looks like it's going to rain" / "It looks as if it's going to rain."

Exercise

Complete the following sentences.

1. I went to Scotland last month.
Oh really? What ———- ?
Beautiful.

2. Have you met David's brother, Paul?
He's just —— him.
I think that physically they both take after their father – they ———– him.

3. What's this made of? It ——- cotton, but it looks —– linen.

4. I want to go to the beach today. It ——— it's going to be a beautiful day.

6. This soup is wonderful. It ——– a combination of tomatoes and potatoes.

Answers

1. I went to Scotland last month.
Oh really? What was it like?
Beautiful.

2. Have you met David's brother, Paul?
He's just like him.
I think that physically they both take after their father – they look like him.

3. What's this made of? It feels like cotton, but it looks like linen.

4. I want to go to the beach today. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day.

6. This soup is wonderful. It tastes like a combination of tomatoes and potatoes.

Prepositions of location and direction

Take a look at our page on prepositions of location and direction, then decide which preposition should go in the gaps. (Sometimes more than one preposition is possible.)

At school, I had to sit ———- a boy I hated. His name was Simon and he had a horrible habit of sneezing without covering his mouth. The girls sitting ———- me poked me in the back with a pencil every time he sneezed so that I knew they were laughing at me.

She lives in a beautiful village. Her house isn't isolated: in fact ———- is the village shop. ———- the village shop (so you can't see it from the road) is an old church. There's also a small river. If you walk ———- the river, eventually you come to the next village.

In a big city like London, you should be careful when you ———- the road – especially if you're not used to traffic driving on the left. If you're driving, be careful when you go ———- roundabouts, as the traffic comes from the right, not the left.

His living room is very minimalist. He's got one sofa, and ———- that is his TV. He doesn't have many pictures ———- the walls, and only one rug ———- the floor. ———- the sofa is a bookshelf, but he only has a few books ———- it.

Answers

At school, I had to sit next to a boy I hated. His name was Simon and he had a horrible habit of sneezing without covering his mouth. The girls sitting behind me poked me in the back with a pencil every time he sneezed so that I knew they were laughing at me.

She lives in a beautiful village. Her house isn't isolated: in fact opposite is the village shop. Behind the village shop (so you can't see it from the road) is an old church. There's also a small river. If you walk along / by /beside the river, eventually you come to the next village.

In a big city like London, you should be careful when you cross the road – especially if you're not used to traffic driving on the left. If you're driving, be careful when you go round roundabouts, as the traffic comes from the right, not the left.

His living room is very minimalist. He's got one sofa, and opposite that is his TV. He doesn't have many pictures on the walls, and only one rug on the floor. Behind the sofa is a bookshelf, but he only has a few books on it.

Adjectives -ed and -ing

There are many pairs of adjectives that can end with -ed or with -ing. For example: interested / interesting; excited / exciting. How do you know which one to use?

The rule is that when you describe the thing itself, you use the -ing form. For example, "English is an interesting language". Or, "At school, I found geography boring."

However, when you describe how you feel about that thing, use the -ed form. For example, "I was interested in the English exercises, but bored by the geography lessons."

(For more examples of how you feel about something, see our page on emotions.)

Exercise

Choose the correct adjective to go in the gaps.

Most students feel a little (worried / worrying) on their first day at school, as they're not really sure what to expect. Should they be (frightened / frightening) that the teachers will ask them difficult questions, or that they won't make friends? Perhaps they'd find the school (bored/ boring) or their classmates (annoyed / annoying).

The first day at school is a bit like your first day in a new job. You might be a little (worried / worrying) that you'll get stuck in traffic and be late, and you also have the "butterflies in your stomach" feeling about starting a new phase in your life. It's (excited / exciting) and (terrified / terrifying) at the same time. The first day is always (tired / tiring), but the second day always feels better. At least it's more familiar and there's less to feel nervous about.

Answers

Most students feel a little worried on their first day at school, as they're not really sure what to expect. Should they be frightened that the teachers will ask them difficult questions, or that they won't make friends? Perhaps they'd find the school boring or their classmates annoying.

The first day at school is a bit like your first day in a new job. You might be a little worried that you'll get stuck in traffic and be late, and you also have the "butterflies in your stomach" feeling about starting a new phase in your life. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time. The first day is always tiring, but the second day always feels better. At least it's more familiar and there's less to feel nervous about.

Adjective order

Take a look at our page on adjectives, then try the exercise.

Exercise

Put these adjectives in the right order

funny little old-fashioned toy
desk Italian leather red diary
fat middle-aged science unfriendly teacher
Chinese paper red lantern
big comfortable old sofa

Answers

funny little old-fashioned toy
red Italian leather desk diary
unfriendly fat middle-aged science teacher
red Chinese paper lantern
big old comfortable sofa




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