English Learning Notes


In this section we look at the grammar of verbs—their structure and form—and how we use them in spoken and written English.

Some languages have 30+ forms of a verb! English has 8 at most :)

The concept of tense in English is a method that we use to refer to time - past, present and future. Many languages use tense to talk about time. Other languages have no concept of tense at all, but of course they can still talk about time, using different methods.

Linking, Intransitive and Transitive Verbs
To understand sentence construction, it helps if you know a little about three types of verb:1.linking verbs2.intransitive verbs3.transitive verbs

Catenative Verbs
The word catenative comes from the Latin catena meaning "chain". Catenative verbs combine with other verbs and can form a chain of two or three or more verbs.

-ing Form
We make the -ing form by adding -ing to the base verb and adjusting the spelling as necessary

Subject-Verb Agreement
In a sentence, the verb must agree in number with the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

Continuous Tenses and Meaning
There are some verbs that we do not normally use with continuous (or progressive) tenses. And there are other verbs that have one meaning with simple tenses and a different meaning with continuous tenses.

Infinitive or -ing?
Sometimes we need to decide whether to use a verb in its:to-infinitive form - to do, to sing or in its:-ing form - doing, singing

Tag Questions
A tag question is a special construction in English. It is a statement followed by a mini-question. We use tag questions to ask for confirmation. They mean something like: "Is that right?" or "Do you agree?" They are very common in English.

A statement is a sentence that tells you something. A question is a sentence that asks you something. A statement does not require an answer. A question requires an answer.

200 Phrasal Verbs List
200 common phrasal verbs, with meaning and example sentence

We use the modal auxiliary verb should mainly to give advice or make recommendations, talk about obligation or talk about probability and expectation.

We use the modal auxiliary verb would mainly to talk about the past, talk about the future in the past and express the conditional mood.

shall vs. will
The difference between shall and will is often hidden by the fact that we usually contract them in speaking with 'll. But the difference does exist.

have to, must
Have to is NOT an auxiliary verb (it uses the verb have as a main verb). We include have to here for convenience.

can, could, be able to
can and could are modal auxiliary verbs. be able to is NOT an auxiliary verb (it uses the verb be as a main verb). We include be able to here for convenience.

Modal Verbs
Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs (also known as "helping verbs"). Normally modal verbs cannot work alone and must work with a main verb. The so-called "semi-modals" work partly like modals and partly like main verbs.

There are several structures in English that we call conditionals or if conditionals. The word "condition" means "situation or circumstance". If a particular condition is true, then a particular result happens

used to do
We use used to do to talk about the past. It is not a tense but it is like a tense. It is a special structure. We use the structure used to do for the past only.

be used to
be used to is an expression. It is not a tense. If I say "I am used to Thailand", it is like saying "I am accustomed to Thailand."

be used to vs. used to do
We say used to do when talking about the past. It is not a tense but it is like a tense. It is a special structure. We use the structure used to do for the past only.

Passive Voice
"Voice" is a grammatical category that applies to verbs. Voice in English expresses the relationship of the subject to the action.