From Learn English – Gerunds – the ‘ing’ form

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Gerunds – the ‘ing’ form

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A gerund is formed by adding ‘ing’ to the end of a verb. This form is like a noun.

I like listening to music.
Watching TV is not always good for you.
Doing exercise is important.
I spent the whole morning studying.
My hobby is playing the guitar.
They enjoy partying.

In each of the sentences above the –ing form is a noun not a verb.

The gerund can have a possessive noun or pronoun before it.

I don’t want you misunderstanding me.
We were amazed by his singing.
Don’t be angry with her coming late.

Now complete the following using the correct form.

  • 1. He likes _ early.
    wake up
    waking up

  • 2. We went to _ together.
    the party

  • 3. She enjoys _ cakes.
    to bake

  • 4. _ is a good way to open your mind.

  • 5. She loves _ shoes.

  • 6. Children hate _ to bed.




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From Learn English – Elementary: Infinitives

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Elementary: Infinitives

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An infinitive is a verb combined with the word to. Most often, an infinitive acts as a noun in the sentence. Less frequently, it acts as an adjective or an adverb.

I want to go home early today.
I hope to be chosen as a member.
I prefer to go there earlier.
You need to consider various rules in writing sentences.
You have to explain your reasoning in detail.
You might wish to act as a teacher.
To leave for a vacation is my only wish at this time.
A common mistake in a relationship is not to trust the other person.
Help me to save the trees!
To be mentally healthy, you must read books.
Do you want me to fill out this form?
Here is our to-do list.
It was nice to meet you.
It is time to move on.
I am young enough to change my habits.
Don’t forget not to make grammar mistakes.
You are required to leave all your belongings here.
I came to see a doctor today.
You have to work harder to succeed.
I need to take three more classes to finish my graduate study.
I got closer to the speaker to listen clearly.
Be sure to check if you have tickets.
I am going to buy the new computer.

Generally, it is not common to split to and the verb except for when you want to emphasize the verb.

I want you to immediately stop doing that.
You have to seriously work hard to succeed.
You need to definitely explain your reasoning in detail.

Now choose the right form to complete the following:

  • 1. I want _ sailing next summer.
    to go

  • 2. Do you need _ any more shoes?
    to buy

  • 3. You should _ out this afternoon. It’s a beautiful day.
    to go

  • 4. We tried _ to the speaker but the crowd was too noisy.
    to listen

  • 5. I hope _ my exams with a high mark.
    to pass




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IELTS test in Iran – December 2013 (Academic Module)

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An IELTS test taker from Iran (thanks, N!) shared these topics and questions from a recent exam:

Listening testIELTS test in Iran

Section 1. A conversation between a job seeker and an employer about a fruit picking job.

Section 2. About various types of ongoing theatrical plays.

Section 3. A conversation between a student and tutor about an ancient language.

Section 4. A teacher was guiding students about facilities available on campus.

Reading test

Passage 1. About two successful companies and their strategies regarding customers and employees.

Passage 2. About similarities of human beings and chimpanzees.

Passage 3. Judgment of people based on their appearance.


Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a chart showing different ways of waste disposal during 6 years in one European country.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

In some countries it is illegal to reject candidates for a job based on their ages. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of this and give your own opinion.

Speaking test


– What is your full name?

– Can I see your ID?

– Where are you from?

– Do you work or study?

– Where do you live?

– Is it an apartment or a house?

– What is your favorite room there?

– Who was choosing your clothes when you were a child?

– What kind of clothes do you wear now?

– What aspect is important for you when choosing clothes?

– Do you help others to choose clothes?

– When did you start using a mobile phone?

– When do you usually turn your mobile phone off? Why?

Cue Card

Describe an outdoor activity that you haven’t done yet and would like to do in the future. Please say

– What activity is it?

– When and where would you like to do it?

– What special skills or equipment would you need?


– Do you think it would be expensive?

– What are the beneficial effects of physical activity, in general?

– Do you think today we are less physically active than in the past? Why?

– Do you think we should only blame technology for that?

– Why do some people like doing dangerous activities like parachuting?

– In your opinion, why is there an increased interest in these activities compared to the past?

Related posts:

  1. IELTS Speaking test in Iran – May 2013 Our friend from Iran shared the questions he was asked…
  2. IELTS test in Iran – September 2013 (Academic Module) An IELTS test taker from Iran (thanks, A!) shared this…
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  4. IELTS test in Iran and Nigeria – April 2013 (Academic Module) The topics below were shared by IELTS test takers from…
  5. IELTS test in the UK – June 2013 (Academic Module) Our friends C and R shared the information below after…

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6min: What are managers for?: 30 Dec 13

6min: What are managers for?: 30 Dec 13

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What does a manager do and could the workplace survive without them?

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Ask about English – Weather Vocabulary

Ask about English

Alexander from Russia asks:

Weather vocabulary

A beach in England with a cloudy skyWhat is the difference between rainy and  showery?

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Catherine Chapman answers:

Catherine ChapmanHello Alexander and thanks very much for your question! Well, the English language has lots of weather-related vocabulary – that’s probably because the weather in the UK is so changeable! So, let’s look at the two adjectives that you’ve asked about – that’s rainy and showery. When we say something like:It’s a very rainy day today

We mean it’s raining a lot – probably for most of the day, with only the odd break here and there in the rain, or maybe no breaks at all. But when we describe the weather as showery, what we mean is that usually it rains for a while, then it stops raining for a while and then it starts again and there’s off-and-on rain through the day.

When we talk about the weather in English, we generally use a mixture of adjectives and nouns and we have a few standard expressions as well. Here are some more words and expressions related to wet weather:

drizzle (n) / drizzly (adj)

very soft, light rain, which usually continues for a long time

pouring (adj)

raining very heavily

sleet (n)

freezing rain; a mixture of rain and snow together

It’s chucking it down!
It’s raining really heavily

Nice weather for ducks!
It’s raining very heavily

Now here’s some vocabulary for hot weather:

boiling (adj)

very hot

sweltering (adj)

very hot

scorching (adj) / a scorcher (n)

extremely hot

a heatwave (n)

a period of extremely hot and dry weather that lasts for several days or even weeks

Now here’s some vocabulary for cold weather:

chilly (adj)

quite cold

freezing (adj)

very cold

bitter (adj) / bitterly cold
extremely cold

frost (n) / frosty (adj)

this is the name for the layer of ice crystals that forms on exposed objects when the weather’s very cold. This often happens overnight, and when you wake up in the morning everything’s white!

icicle (n)

the kind-of pointed stick of ice which is formed by the freezing of dripping water.

Now for wind, we can say:

breeze (n) / breezy (adj)

a light wind, and is often quite refreshing when the weather is hot

blowy (adj)

quite windy

blustery (adj)

wind blowing in short but strong and frequent bursts

high winds
strong winds

Northerly / North wind(s)
this refers to wind direction, but it means where the wind comes from, not where it’s blowing to. So a North windblows from the North.

It’s a bit wild out there!
we can say this when it’s very windy and rainy.

There are also several phrases that you can use when you want to ask about the weather. Here are some of them:

What’s it like outside?

And another one:

What’s the weather like?

Here’s another one:

Is it raining? 
Is it snowing?
Is it sunny out there?

And finally,

Have you seen the weather forecast?

And if you want to answer this question, by talking about the weather in general, there are a few adjectives that go with the word weather which you can use. You can say,

It’s beautiful weather

Another way to say this is:

Oh it’s lovely weather today

If the weather’s not so good you can say:

It’s horrible weather today

And if it’s raining and windy and cold you can say:

Oh it’s foul weather today!

Well, I hope my answer’s been useful, Alexander, and that the weather in Russia is lovely today!

About Catherine Chapman

Catherine Chapman has a BA (hons) in Communication Studies, CTEFLA, DELTA and a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and English Language Teaching with Manchester University (UK). She has taught EFL, EAP and IT skills in several countries, worked in ELT management and has developed web-based ELT/EAP materials projects in institutions including Istanbul Technical University (Turkey) and Newcastle University (UK). She now works as an ELT Writer for BBC Learning 

Ask about English – Weather Vocabulary

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Continuous Tenses

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Thu, 12/26/2013 – 08:33 — Chris McCarthy


The continuous tense shows an action that is, was, or will be in progress at a certain time. The continuous tense is formed with the verb ‘be’ + -ing form of the verb.

The Present continuous can be used to show an action which is happening at the time of speaking.

I am having dinner at the moment.

The Past continuous can be used to show an action which was happening in the past. It is important to remember that the Past continuous is usually used to show an action which was happening when another action, which is usually shorter, happened at the same time, stopped the continuous action or started after the continuous action.

I was having dinner when Sarah called me.

I was walking along the beach when it started raining.

The Future continuous is used to show that an action will be happening at a time in the future.

I will be having dinner at my parents’ house tomorrow.

Here are some verbs in the continuous tense:


He is having a shower now. (Present continuous)

He was having a shower when the phone rang. (Past continuous)

He will be having a shower, so take the house keys when you go out. (Future continuous)


He is running right now. (Present continuous)

He was running when I saw him yesterday. (Past continuous)

He will be running tomorrow morning. (Future continuous)


I am watching a really good film now. (Present continuous)

I was watching a really good film when there was a power cut. (Past continuous)

I will be watching my favourite TV show when you arrive tomorrow. (Future continuous)


I am doing my homework at the moment. (Present continuous)

I was doing my homework all night. (Past continuous)

I will be doing my homework tonight. (Future continuous)

There are some verbs that do not take the continuous tense. These are verbs that explain or describe states rather than actions.

I like pasta. NOT I am liking pasta.

I am tired. NOT I am being tired.

I heard the car crash from my house. NOT I was hearing the car crash from my house.

Lesson by Tristan

Now choose the correct tense for the following:

(remember to look at the time expressions to help you)

  • 1. I _ a book when I heard the noise from the garden.
    will be reading
    was reading
    am reading

  • 2. Sarah _ in the next marathon. She is training hard for it.
    will be running
    was running
    is running

  • 3. We _ dinner when you arrive tomorrow evening.
    will be having
    were having
    are having

  • 4. The car _ at least 90 kph when it hit the side of the road.
    was doing
    will be doing
    is doing

  • 5. Danny _ at our Karaoke party last night.
    was singing
    will be singing
    is singing

Continuous Tenses

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IELTS Speaking test in the UK – December 2013

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Our friend A from the UK shared these IELTS Speaking topics from a recent exam (the additional cue card is what A’s friend had).

Speaking testIELTS test in the UK


– What is your full name?

– Can I see your ID?

– Where are you from?

– Do you work or study?

– What is the meaning of your name?

– Is there any traditions to name babies in a particular way in your culture?

– Did you stress out recently?

– What was the reason?

– What makes you feel stressed usually?

– Where do you live?

– Describe your apartment.

– Which room is your favourite?

– Do you plan to move from this apartment?

Cue Card 1

Describe a place (such as a hospital, school, office) that you know well. Please say

– What place is it?

– Where is it?

– What did you do there?


Cue Card 2

Talk about a successful family business you know. Please say

– What is it?

– Where is it located?

– Why do you think it is successful?


– What are the main facilities you need to work in a hospital?

– Does a big building make you happy at work?

– Does workplace affect your personal life?

– Do you think people work longer hours nowadays? Why?

– Do you think big buildings cause environmental damage?

– How can you compensate for environmental damage?

Related posts:

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  3. IELTS test in Afghanistan – December 2012 (Academic Module) The writing topics and speaking questions below were shared by…
  4. IELTS Speaking test in the UK – April 2013 Our kind friend A who took the IELTS exam in…
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IELTS Speaking test in the UK – December 2013

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