Tag Archives: grammar

Adverbs of frequency Learn English Grammar

We use adverbs of frequency when we talk about how often we do something. We usually use it with the present and past simple tenses and the future tenses.

These are the most common adverbs.

Adverbs of frequency

always 100 % He always eats breakfast
usually 90 % I usually eat lunch in the office.




She often goes to bed late.


regularly 70% We regularly walk on the beach.


40-50%   I sometimes go to the library.



hardly ever


I seldom go to the theatre.

never 0% Vegetarians never eat meat.


The adverb usually goes after the subject at the beginning of the sentence. Here are some adverb of frequency examples.


I always clean my teeth in the morning and before going to bed at night.

We usually go to the cinema on Fridays but this week we’re going to a birthday party.

My neighbours frequently play music in the evenings. It drives me mad because it is so loud!

They occasionally like to try out a new restaurant.

We hardly ever go to the theatre because it is too expensive.


There are also other ways of saying how often we do something. These expressions usually go at the beginning or the end of the sentence.


Every now and then we take a trip to the beach with the kids so they can play on the beach.

Every so often my boss brings in cakes for everyone in the office.

We like to visit our friends in London every once in a while.


We can also use ‘every’ and a specific time period, for example,

Every morning

Every day

Every week

Every Sunday

Every month

Every Christmas

Every year

Every ten years


We have family round for lunch every Sunday.

The Olympics is held every four years.

Halley’s comet passes the Earth every 75 years. The last time was in 1986.

Another way of saying how often,

Once a week

Twice a day

Three times a year

Several times a month


You should brush your teeth twice a day.

The head of the company only visits our office four times a year.

They eat out in restaurants five times a week because they don’t like cooking.


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few fewer less English determiners

This post looks at the differences between English determiners such as  few, fewer, fewest, little, less, least. It is a common problem for many English language learners and even native speakers can confuse them whilst speaking.


= not many

We use FEW and A FEW with countable nouns (nouns we can count, one car, two cars etc)


Comparative and superlative: few, fewer, fewest

Few has a slightly negative meaning – not many, not as much as we thought or wanted. It is also more formal than ‘not many’

‘The journey didn’t take long today. There were few cars on the road.’

Compare with, ‘There weren’t many cars on the road.’

‘He has few friends. He prefers to be on his own.’


= some

‘I am only inviting a few people to my party this year. Last year was crazy.’

‘We saw a few good films at the cinema last month.’

‘I want to have a few days off work next week. I need to visit my mother who is in hospital.’

We can also use ‘a few’ instead of a noun.

‘Would you like some of my chips? I can’t eat all of them.’  ‘Thanks, I’ll have a few.’


= not as many

‘Fewer people smoke today than twenty years ago.’

‘Shops are selling fewer newspapers these days because a lot of people read the news online.’


= the smallest number

‘Browntree University has the fewest applicants in the country.’


= a small amount

Little and a little are used with uncountable nouns, for example: water, information, air, time.

Comparative and superlative: little, less, least


Like ‘few’, little is used in a slightly negative way. There is not enough or not as much as expected.

‘The government said there was little information about the attack.’


‘Do you fancy a quick coffee?’ ‘I have a little time before my train. Yes, I’d love one, thanks.’


= not as much

‘Hurry up! We have less time than I thought. We need to be at the station in half an hour.’

‘In many companies, women still earn less than men.’

IMPORTANT: Many native speakers often use less with countable nouns when speaking. E.g. ‘There were less people there today’. However, in formal writing, it is important to try to use the correct form for countable and uncountable nouns.


= the lowest amount

‘Lincoln is the least expensive city for university students.’


This is not used as a determiner but is used as an adjective.

‘A lesser woman (one who is not as strong or brave) might have stopped by now.’

few fewer less The English Tower

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Comparatives and Superlatives: Learn English Grammar


Past continuous Learn English

This post looks at the past continuous and asks;

What is the past continuous?

When is the past continuous used?

At the end are 5 advanced-level uses of the past continuous for more confident learners.

 The past continuous uses the past of the verb ‘be’ and the infinitive + ‘ing’

 Subject         was/were     infinitive + ‘ing’  

I                       was                 playing           tennis

You                 were                playing           tennis

He/she/it         was                 playing           tennis

We/they         were                playing           tennis

  Continue reading Past continuous Learn English

Infinitive With To Learn English Grammar

This post looks at using the English infinitive with to. It is used after certain adjectives and verbs.


  1. The first to do something.

He was the first to arrive at the party.

  1. The next to do something.

Sam was the next to arrive.

  1. The last to do something.

Tom and Mary were the last to arrive.


We can also put a noun before the infinitive if we are talking about sequencing (putting something into numerical order e.g. first, second, third etc)


Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.

Will the last person to leave the room, please turn off the lights?

They were the second team to enter the competition.

  1. We use infinitive with to after want and would like.


I want to see that new French film that is on at the cinema.

Would you like to come with me?


I would like to book a table for four at seven o’clock, please.


Jack had to leave work early today because he had a doctor’s appointment.


  1. After some question words.


I don’t know where to go on holiday this year.

She wanted to know how to get to the station.

When he offered me the job, I didn’t know what to say.

The kids can be so noisy. They never know when to stop.


  1. After certain verbs (usually verbs of thinking and feeling. Below is a table of some of the most common verbs).


Agree Do you agree to help us?
Arrange I want to arrange a meeting to discuss the new computer system.
Decide I have decided to take the job in New York.
Expect I expected to meet the manager today but he’s ill.
Forget Don’t forget to feed my cat whilst I’m on holiday.
Hope I hope to see you again very soon.
Intend She intends to start her own company.
Learn Peter had always wanted to learn to play the piano.
Like John likes to sing in the shower.
Love We love to go on walking holidays in the mountains.
Manage I managed to finish the work before my boss returned.
Plan We plan to visit my parents at the weekend.
Prefer I prefer to play tennis.
Promise I promise to visit again soon.
Refuse I refuse to listen to your lies.
Remember Could you remember to close the door when you leave?
Tend She tends to talk too much because she’s nervous.
Try Can you try to be more quiet, please. I’m trying to work.


  1. After adjectives


I’m pleased to meet you.

She was sad to see him go.

They were excited to be in the Olympic team.

I would love to eat some chocolate but I’m on a diet at the moment.


  1. Verb + object + to infinitive


I need you to look after the kids while I go the doctor.

We took my parents to see the new Star Wars film.

He wants you to help him paint the kitchen.

Traditionally, grammar experts said you must not split the infinitive. This means to put a word between ‘to’ and the ‘verb’ as in Star Trek’s famous line, ‘To boldly go..’  Strict rules say it should read ‘To go boldly..’  Although, in everyday English, speakers often split the infinitive. It might be a good idea to avoid doing this in formal writing, however.

Further reading:

The Gerund: Learn English Grammar

It and there Learn English Grammar





It and there Learn English Grammar

It and there


The sentences below use the pronouns SHE/HE/THEY. However, we often use it and there as pronouns. This post looks at the different uses of it and there.

My mother lives in Spain now because SHE is retired and she wanted to live in a hot country.

My dog is ten this year.  HE was born on Christmas day.

My children are taking me to my favourite Italian restaurant today and  THEY have booked a table for 8 o’clock.

In English, a clause usually needs a subject or a pronoun instead of the subject. The only time we do not use a pronoun or noun or it and there is when we use the ‘imperative’, for example;

Turn up the heating please.

Go away.

Tell me.  I need to know!

If we have no other subject, we use it or there.


Continue reading It and there Learn English Grammar

English adjectives learn English grammar

English adjectives

This blog post looks at the different types and order of English adjectives. In English we usually write adjectives before the noun.  However, sometimes, for example, in literary writings, we can put them after the noun.  We can also put adjectives after a verb. Sometimes they can be two words together, for example: well-known.  These are known as compound adjectives. 

Adjectives before the noun:

The happy, smiling man danced with his new wife.

Commas ( , ) are put between the adjectives but not before the noun.

Adjectives after the noun:

The man, happy and smiling, danced with his new wife.

The adjectives are separated with ‘and’ and commas are put before and after the adjectives.  If you take out the adjectives, the sentence is still grammatically correct.

The two sentences say the same thing but have a different effect. 

Adjectives after a verb:

The man was happy and smiling.


Adjectives are put in to a word order, for example:

The large, blue, Chinese vase was the most beautiful I had ever bought.


The Chinese, blue, large vase …. OR The blue, Chinese, large vase etc.

It can be confusing for learners.  Here is a table to show the order of adjectives:


Relates to






Lovely, friendly, ugly, unusual








Big, tiny, medium




Physical quality



Dirty, clean, smooth







Round, curvy, square







Youthful, old, young







Blue, pink, orange







Dutch, French, Russian







Metallic, wood, plastic







Four-sided, U-shaped







Cooking, writing


For my birthday I got a beautiful, small, old, blue and white Chinese, ceramic cooking pot.

Compound adjectives

These are adjectives that contain two or more words.  They are joined together with a hyphen (-). Here are some examples of the most commonly used compound adjectives.



Describes somewhere with a lot of light.

We live on a very brightly-lit street.  I find it difficult to get to sleep at night.


Describes an area that has a high population (a lot of people living there)

Parking is always a problem in densely-populated areas of the city.


Describes someone who is very kind.

My kind-hearted boss gave 50% of his salary to charity last year.


Describes something that was planned just before it was done.

We booked a last-minute holiday to Spain last month.  We booked it on Friday and flew to Barcelona on the Sunday!


Usually describes someone who is around forty to sixty years old.

Police are looking for a tall, middle-aged man with red hair and a beard.


Describes someone who is not open to new ideas and opinions.

The manager’s narrow-minded ideas made everyone in the office unhappy.


Describes something that is not modern

He always wore old-fashioned clothes.


Describes someone who is really wants to do something or behave in a particular way, even if it is not a good idea.

He was also a strong-willed child.  He never listened to anyone.


Describes someone, usually children or animals, who behaves in a way that people think is good or correct.

I taught an extremely well-behaved class today.  The children were all very quiet and polite.

If the adjective comes after the noun, we do not need a hyphen.


It was a well-behaved class.

The class was well behaved.


He is a well-known actor.

He is well known.


Compound adjectives with numbers



There was a five-second delay.



We had a fifteen-minute wait before they opened the doors.



There was a four-hour delay between flights yesterday.



We had a two-day stopover in Bangkok when we went to Australia last year.



My boss took a three-week holiday to go and climb Mount Everest.



I had a six-month contract working for Siemens in Germany.



My five-year-old son has just started school.



They live in a twenty-storey building.


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Adjectives ending in ed and ing




Adjectives ending in ed and ing

Adjectives ending in ed and ing

This post looks at adjectives ending in  ed or ing.  For example, look at the following sentences.  Can you see the difference between the two sentences?  They both contain an adjective from the verb ‘confuse’ but the endings are different.


English learners are often confused by adjectives. 

English learners often think that adjectives are confusing. 


Confused and confusing are both adjectives.  However, they are used in different situations.  This post explains when to use ‘ed’ and when to use ‘ing’.

For example:

I was bored.  The film was really boring.

Below is a list of some of the most common adjectives that can take either the ‘ed’ or ‘ing’ form.


VERB                          ‘ed’ adjective           ‘ing’ adjective


aggravate                            aggravated                         aggravating

alarm                                   alarmed                               alarming

amaze                                  amazed                                amazing

amuse                                  amused                               amusing

annoy                                  annoyed                             annoying

astonish                            astonished                        astonishing

bore                                     bored                                    boring

challenge                         challenged                          challenging

confuse                             confused                             confusing

convince                          convinced                           convincing

depress                            depressed                           depressing

disappoint                     disappointed                   disappointing

disgust                             disgusted                           disgusting

embarrass                     embarrassed                   embarrassing

encourage                     encouraged                      encouraging

excite                                excited                                exciting

exhaust                         exhausted                           exhausting

frighten                        frightened                          frightening

frustrate                       frustrated                          frustrating

interest                         interested                          interesting

please                             pleased                               pleasing

relax                                relaxed                               relaxing

satisfy                             satisfied                            satisfying

shock                              shocked                            shocking

terrify                             terrified                           terrifying

tire                                    tired                                   tiring

worry                               worried                           worrying


Adjective + ‘ed’

These describe how a person feels.

He often felt tired and depressed so he made an appointment to see the doctor.

The little boy was terrified of clowns.

I am disappointed that you can’t come to the wedding because  I was looking forward to seeing you there.

It was the best holiday ever! I felt totally relaxed all week. 

I’m so frustrated with my boss. 


Adjective + ‘ing’

These describe the thing or person that makes you feel the emotion. 


He told his doctor that his work was really tiring and depressing.

The little boy thinks clowns are terrifying.

You can’t come to the wedding?  That is so disappointing .  I was looking forward to seeing you there.

It was the best holiday ever!  It was so relaxing.

My boss is so frustrating.

adjectives ending in ed and ing


Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the

Indefinite and definite articles: A, an, the


This post looks at when we use a, an and the. We call A and AN ‘indefinite articles’ because they describe something that is not definite; not specific.  They are used to describe a general thing not a particular thing. THE is a ‘definite article’.  Therefore, listener and speaker both know which thing the speaker is talking about.

A AN THE The English Tower Learn English

Indefinite Articles: Using A and An

We use a or an to talk about singular countable nouns (one noun that you can count), for example:

A dog, a hospital, a thought, a letter, a dream, a neighbour, a wedding, a house,

Continue reading Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the