Skip to content

B1, B2 & C1 Grammar Reference

Grammar Reference B1,B2,C1

Table of Contents

B1, B2 & C1 Grammar Reference

 
We can’t try to teach all the grammar rules of English here – we’d need a whole website just for that!   This B1, B2 & C1 grammar reference section aims to give you revision of common grammatical structures.  It will remind you of some of the important rules and give you examples of some of the language you need to know at this level. 
 
So how did we decide which structures to include here? Well, we’ve chosen to start with some areas our own students frequently have problems with at B1, B2 & C1. We’ll be adding to this grammar reference section all the time.
 
For a more complete list of functions and structures you need at these levels of the CEFR, go to Use of Language.  And of course there are many excellent grammar books you can refer to.  Our favourite is the English Grammar in Use series published by Cambridge (details of the three levels at the foot of the page). 
We need to remember that the CEFR levels are progressive.  What does that mean?  It means you also need to know the language for the previous level.  So at B1 you already need to know A1 and A2 language points and at B2 you need to know those for A1, A2 and B1.  At C1 you need to know A1, A2, B1 and B2 language points, and of course at C2 you need to know them all. 
 
 

TOO or ENOUGH? Two words that often cause confusion (B1+)

This is one of those points that could be vocabulary or grammar. We’re going to include it under grammar. Why? Because the use of too and enough affects word order, and because you have to consider parts of speech too. We use too and enough to modify nouns, adjectives and adverbs.

TOO

Too usually means more than sufficient or necessary. It can be followed by much or many + noun:

I ate too many cakes and now I feel sick. (countable noun)

I can’t go out tonight – I’ve got too much work. (uncountable noun)

It can also be followed by an adjective or an adverb:

We arrived too late to catch the plane.

He speaks too quietly for me to hear.

Too can also mean less than necessary:

She’s too young to become a gym member.

He’s too short to reach the top shelf.

 

ENOUGH

Enough usually means sufficient. It comes before nouns:

Have you got enough money for your train ticket?

I’ve got enough time to help you now.

It comes after adjectives and adverbs:

She’ll be old enough to drive next year.

If you run quickly enough, you’ll get there before the shops close.

Enough can also mean less than sufficient in negative sentences:

He didn’t have enough battery left to make a phone-call.

She wasn’t old enough to go to the club.

 

PRESENT PERFECT:  The Three Main Uses  (B1 +)

1.  To talk about the recent past, changes and news. 

The key words here are already, just and yet.

Have you been to any parties this month? 
 Yes, I have.  I’ve been to two so far.

How many exams have you done this term?  I’ve already done three.

Lots of new escape rooms have just opened in Seville.  I haven’t been to any yet.

They’ve chosen me to go to England!

Remember to change to past simple when you give more details:

I’ve been to two parties.  The last one was my friend Matt’s birthday.

I’ve done three exams already.  I did two maths exams and one science exam.

Lots of escape rooms have opened in Seville.  My favourite escape room opened last month

They’ve chosen me to go to England!  My teacher told me the news yesterday.

 

2.  To talk about experiences in our lives so far, without specifying when. 

The key words here are ever and never.

Chris has never played Fortnite.  [In her life so far, but maybe she will in future!]

Have you ever been to London?
  Yes, I have / No, I haven’t[ Short-form answers]

How many times have you been there?
  (I’ve been there) twice.

Again, remember to change to past simple when you give more details:

I visited Big Ben.

I went last month.

I had a great time!

3.  To talk about things that started in the past and are still the case now. 

The key words here are how long, for and since.

How long have you lived in Seville?
  For four years / Since I was ten / Since 2014 / All my life / My whole life.

How long have you been in this class?  (I’ve been in this class) for a year / since 2019.

We’ve played chess since we were about seven years old / for about nine years.

Remember the difference in use:

for a period of time (for ten minutes, two days, nine weeks, 100 years etc)

since a point in time (since I was a child, yesterday, my birthday, Tuesday, 2010 etc)

There are some exercises for you to practise with here: Using the Present Perfect.

FUTURE FORMS: Talking about plans  (B1 +)

The future form we choose to use when we’re talking about our plans depends on how sure we are about them.  Study these examples.

ORGANISED PLANS (99% sure)

I’m flying to London (I’ve already got my ticket).

I’m visiting my cousins (they’re expecting me).   We’re going on holiday (it’s organised).

Present Continuous: to be + verb+ing:  We use this form to talk about definite plans involving other people.

PERSONAL INTENTIONS

I’m going to stay in Seville (I’ve got my own plans).

We’re going to relax at home.

to be + going to + infinitive:  We use this form to talk about intentions.  We may be quite sure what we want to do, but these aren’t definite plans.

50/50 PLANS

I haven’t decided. I was going to go to the mountains, but it’s very cold now. So I’m not sure.

Perhaps I’ll go, or maybe I’ll stay at home / I might go, or I might stay at home.

perhaps/maybe + will + infinitive / might + infinitive:  We use this form to talk about possible plans, things we haven’t decided about yet.

 

PRONUNCIATION TIP:  Remember to use contractions:

I will – I’ll /aɪl/                     

You will – you’ll /jɔ:l/

He will – he’ll /hɪəl/            

She will – she’ll /ʃɪəl/                

It will – it’ll /ɪtəl/

We will – we’ll /wɪəl/         

They will – they’ll /ðeɪjəl/

Not sure what those strange phonemes are?  Practise your pronunciation with the excellent OUP interactive phonemic chart. 

Zero, 1st & 2nd CONDITIONALS  (B1 +)

These three conditionals all refer to the present or the future.  Let’s revise how we make them (their grammar), and when we choose to use them (their function).

ZERO CONDITIONAL

We use this to talk about something that’s always true: universal truths.  We also use it with imperatives.

What happens if you heat water to 100 degrees?

When you heat water to 100 degrees, it boils.

If I drink too much red wine, I get a terrible headache.

If you’re tired, go to bed.  (Imperative)

Don’t wait for me if you’re in a hurry. (Imperative)

FORMULA:  IF/WHEN + PRESENT TENSE / PRESENT TENSE or IMPERATIVE

The ‘if’ clause can go first or second.  If it goes first, you need a comma (as you can see in this phrase!).  Don’t use a comma if it goes second (as you can see in this phrase!).  This is the case with all conditional sentences.

If you run a lot (comma), you sweat.

You sweat (no comma) if you run a lot. 

When I get a headache (comma), I usually take an aspirin. 

I usually take an aspirin (no comma) when I get a headache.

FIRST CONDITIONAL  

We use this to talk about everyday, probable present/future situations.  We also use it to make promises or threats.

If you pass all your exams, I’ll buy you a new mobile.

I’ll call the police unless you move your car right now!

When my family come to visit, I’ll show them round the city.

I’ll show them round the city when they come to visit.

FORMULA:  IF/WHEN/UNLESS + PRESENT TENSE / WILL + INFINITIVE      

If it’s sunny this weekend, I’ll go to the park.

When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, I’ll travel all over the world!

We’ll be able to meet again when the pandemic’s over.

I won’t help you unless you help me.

SECOND CONDITIONAL

We use this to talk about possible but less probable, improbable or even impossible present/future situations.  We also use it to give advice.

If I were you, I’d be more careful.

What would you do if someone stole your car?

I´d (I would) call the police if someone stole my car.

If they paid me more, I might work harder.

If I were an animal, I’d like to be my dog!

FORMULA:  IF + PAST TENSE / WOULD or MIGHT or COULD + INFINITIVE

If I had enough money, I’d buy a new car.

If Loli could see (if she wasn’t blind), she’d like to drive a car.

If Lourdes could play any instrument, she’d choose the piano.

Agustín would be happier if Betis won more games!

There are exercises for you to practise here: Zero, 1st & 2nd Conditionals.

3rd CONDITIONAL  (B2 +)

We use this to talk about past situations that can no longer be changed; hypothetical situations.  We imagine how events in the past could have been different.  It’s often used to express regret or to criticise.

The 3rd conditional is the only one that refers to the past.  Let’s revise how to form it (its grammar), and when we use it (its function).

If I hadn’t drunk so much red wine, I wouldn’t have woken up with a terrible headache.

You wouldn’t have missed the bus if you’d got up when I called you!

What would have happened if we’d never met?

Might we have been happier if we’d been born in a different era?

FORMULA:  IF + PAST PERFECT / WOULD or COULD or MIGHT + HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE

Remember, as with all conditional sentences the ‘if’ clause can go first or second.  When the ‘if’ clause goes first, you need a comma: 

If I hadn’t overslept, I wouldn’t have been late for work.

Don’t use a comma when the ‘if’ clause goes second:

I wouldn’t have arrived late if I’d got up on time.

Things would have turned out very differently if we’d known the truth.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a teacher?

To practice this grammar structure, go to The 3rd Conditional.

I WISH … / IF ONLY … Present and past wishes  (B2+)

We can use ‘I wish’ or ‘If only’ to express wishes. This grammar point is closely related to the second and third conditionals.

PRESENT WISHES

When we make a wish about the present or future, we use the past simple. In many languages they use a subjunctive, but this isn’t common in English. So we use the past simple to make it less real, as we do with the second conditional.

Look at these examples of wishes, and the conditional sentences they could lead to:

CONTEXT: I want to buy a new bike, but I can’t, because I haven’t got enough money.

WISHES: If only I could buy a new bike. I wish I had enough money.

(2nd conditional: If I had enough money, I’d buy a new bike.)

CONTEXT: It’s cold and rainy, and I’d much rather be on a tropical beach than working in London! But I can’t afford a holiday.

WISHES: I wish I was/were* on a tropical beach! If only I could afford a holiday.

(2nd conditional: I’d go on a tropical holiday if I could afford it.)

*We can use either form of the verb ‘to be’ here. Normally, of course, we say ‘I was …’, but there are phrases like “If I were you, I’d …’ where it’s more common to use were.  In formal speech or writing, were always sounds better.

 

PAST WISHES / REGRETS

We’ve already used the past simple to make present and future wishes. So if we want to make a wish about the past, we have to use the past perfect. What we’re really doing here is expressing regrets about something we can no longer change, so this leads naturally to the third conditional.

Look at these examples of wishes, and the conditional sentences they could lead to:

CONTEXT: I didn’t study very hard for the exam, so I failed it. I’m sorry about it.

WISHES: I wish I’d studied harder. If only I hadn’t failed it. (But I didn’t study harder, and I did fail it, and I can’t change that now.)

(3rd conditional: If I’d studied harder, I wouldn’t have failed the exam.)

CONTEXT: I said something really horrible to my friend and she was really upset. I’m sorry about it.

WISHES: I wish/If only I hadn’t said that to my friend. (But I did say it, and I can’t change that now.)

(3rd conditional: If I hadn’t said something horrible, she wouldn’t have been upset.)

 

WISH + WOULD

We can also use wish with would + infinitive, but this is a very different kind of wish. We use this structure when we’re annoyed, impatient, or dissatisfied with a present situation or action.

I wish they’d be quiet. (I’m annoyed because the kids are making so much noise.)

I wish they’d lift Coronavirus restrictions. (I’m impatient to get back to ‘normal life’.)

I wish you wouldn’t lie to me. (You’re lying to me and I really don’t like it.)

NOTE: When we want something to happen in the future, we use hope + present/future, NOT wish + would:

I hope it’s a nice day tomorrow.

I hope I pass my Aptis exam.

I hope she’ll like the present I’ve bought her.

For more practice, go to “I wish” y “If only”.

IT’S TIME … + past simple (B2+)

It’s time + past simple …’ refers not to the past, but to the present. It’s another example of using the past simple to talk about the present (and future).

It’s time we took this problem seriously’ means that we should take it seriously from now on. It also implies that it’s a bit late happening – we should have taken it seriously before now.

Look at these examples:

CONTEXT: It’s really late! We should have gone home by now.

It’s time we went home.

CONTEXT: You ought to have told the truth from the beginning.

It’s time you told the truth.

We can imply more criticism by using the qualifiers ‘about’ and ‘high’:

CONTEXT: You promised to clean the kitchen, but you haven’t even started!

It’s about time you cleaned the kitchen!

CONTEXT: The government still hasn’t made it compulsory to wear face-masks indoors.

It’s high time the government made it compulsory to wear face-masks indoors.

Let’s compare this structure with ‘It’s time + to + infinitive’, which means that it’s the right time to do something now.

CONTEXT: Your children always go to bed at 10pm. It’s 10pm.

It’s time to go to bed.

CONTEXT: You’re seeing your friend off at the station. The train is about to leave.

It’s time to say goodbye.

REPORTED SPEECH  (B2 +)

When we tell someone what another person has told us, we’re changing direct speech to reported speech.  There are four main points to consider when we do this.

  1. In general, the verb goes back a tense.

present simple past simple                      

past simple past perfect              

present continuous past continuous    

past continuous past perfect continuous          

present perfect past perfect                               

past perfect stays the same

present perfect continuous past perfect continuous   

past perfect continuous stays the same

MODAL VERBS:

can could               

will would

must had to (have to had to) 

should, might, may stay the same

  1. Time expressions change.

today that day

this morning that morning (afternoon, evening, etc)

tonight that night

yesterday the previous day or the day before

tomorrow the following day or the day after

next year the following year or the year after

last year the previous year or the year before

now then or at that time

ago before/previously

  1. Place expressions change.

here there

this place that place

these those

  1. Pronouns change.

“I can’t hear you” said Dad Dad said he couldn’t hear me

You can see each type of change in the following examples:

“I saw you here yesterday” said Elsa.

Elsa told me she (pronoun) had seen (verb) me (pronoun) there (place) the previous day (time).

“I’ll see you in this class tomorrow” Tom promised.

Tom promised he (pronoun) would (modal verb) see me (pronoun) in that class (place) the following day (time).

REPORTED QUESTIONS

When you’re reporting a question, there are more changes you need to make.  As well as changing the tenses, pronouns and adverbs, you must also remember the following points.

  1. We don’t use the auxiliary ‘do’ in reported questions.

“Which photo do you prefer?” asked Nicco.

Nicco asked me which photo I preferred.

“Where does your brother play chess?” asked Julio.

Julio asked me where my brother played chess.

  1. We use if  or whether  in yes/no questions.

“Do you have satellite TV?” asked Mario.

Mario asked me if/whether I had satellite TV.

“Did you enjoy the party?” asked Alex.

Alex asked me if/whether I had enjoyed the party.

  1. The verb ‘to be’ always goes after the subject. 

(In direct questions it goes after the question word.)

“What’s your favourite film?” Fernando asked.

Fernando asked me what my favourite film was.

“What are you going to do?” asked Pablo.

Pablo asked me what I was going to do.

  1. Never use a question mark in a reported question.

Direct question: “Do you like tea?’

Reported question: He asked me if I liked tea.

REPORTING VERBS

Try to use a variety of verbs when you’re reporting what someone has said, not just say, tell and ask.  This really improves your style.  Think about what the person was doing with the language they used.  Were they making a promise or a suggestion?  Or were they complaining, or giving advice?

Make sure you also think about the type of structure that must go after the verb.  Does it need an infinitive?  Or a gerund (-ing form), or a clause?  Or can we use it with several different structures? 

There are many different reporting verbs, and we can’t explain them all here.  But here are some common examples to get you started.

promise, explain, complain … + verb + that + clause

She promised that she would help him.

The teacher explained that the test would be the next day.

We complained that it wasn’t fair.

agree, offer, promise … + to + infinitive

I agreed to meet him there.

They offered to drive me home.

She promised to buy me a present.

advise, encourage, remind …+ indirect object + to + infinitive

My mum advised me to tell the truth.

My teacher encouraged us to speak in class.

I reminded my son to take his football with him.

suggest, recommend, deny … + verb + ing

We were bored, so I suggested going to the cinema.

The guide recommended walking, but we went by bike.

The man denied stealing the car.

Here are some Reported Speech exercises for you to do.

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME: Examples & Rules  (B1 +)

It can be difficult to remember which preposition to use, especially when they don’t translate to the same word in your language (and they often don’t!).  Students often say (and they’re not wrong!) that there aren’t many reliable rules to follow in English grammar.  But in this case we’re in luck – there are some rules you can learn to follow about prepositions of time! 

Most time expressions go after these three little words: at, in, on.  For example at six o’clock, in September, on Monday.  Or they don’t need a preposition at all, for example today, last week.

In the pdf document attached here you’ll find lots of examples of time expressions that take at, in, on or no preposition.  You’ll also find clear summaries of the rules that should help you decide which form to use when you’re speaking or writing in English.  You can download it for free and add it to your study material.

https://aptistutor.com/PREPS-OF-TIME-RULES.pdf

Then try these exercises to practise Prepositions of Time.

NB.  If you’d like more pdf documents to download, please leave a comment in the box below.  If there’s enough interest, we’ll see what we can do.

AGREEING & DISAGREEING: Spoken Grammar  (B1 +)

There’s no conversational part to the Aptis Speaking Test; you just answer questions and describe things or experiences.  This is why part of the grammar component of the Aptis Core Test deals with the use of grammar when speaking.  (For a full explanation of this, read Aptis Grammar Practice Test 1.)

The spoken grammar questions are more conversational than the written grammar questions.  The language may be formal or informal.  They usually take the form of a short exchange, as in the following informal example:

Peter: “I really love science fiction films”

Vally: “[ Me neither / Me too / Nor do I ] “

The correct answer here is ‘Me too‘.

So this spoken grammar section is about the language of agreeing and disagreeing.  Your responses depend on whether you’re agreeing with a positive (+) or a negative (-) statement. 

The two most common expressions are: me too (+) and me neither (-).  These work with any grammatical structure.  However, we often respond with other grammar-specific short phrases.  These responses also depend on what verbs the other speaker uses.

AGREEING WITH A POSITIVE STATEMENT (Me too!):

We use the word so when agreeing with a positive statement. 

With the verb ‘be’, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’m happy – So am I

I was in the centre yesterday – So was I

With the verb ‘have got’, we use have (without got).

I’ve got a bike – So have I

But when ‘have’ is an auxiliary verb, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’ve been to Berlin – So have I

I‘d already told him –  So had I

With modal auxiliary verbs, we use the same modal verb.

I can swim – So can I

I’d (I would) love to go to New Zealand – So would I

I’ll (I will) go tomorrow – So will I

I should visit her – So should I

When the main verb isn’t an auxiliary verb*, we use ‘do’ in the same tense as the main verb.

I walk every morning – So do I

I like chocolate – So do I

I went to Paris last year – So did I

I hated that film – So did I

I have* a problem – So do I

I had a pet as a child – So did I

*have isn’t acting as an auxiliary verb here; it’s a main verb.

AGREEING WITH A NEGATIVE STATEMENT (Me neither!):

We use the words  neither  or  nor  when agreeing with a negative statement. Remember that  nor  and  neither  are negative words, so they accompany an affirmative verb (neither was I).  This is because you can’t use a double negative in English (neither wasn’t I is INCORRECT).

With the verb ‘be’, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’m not hungry – Neither am I / Nor am I

I wasn’t tired last night – Neither was I / Nor was I

With the verb ‘have/have got’, we use have (without got).

I haven’t got a pet – Neither have I / Nor have I

But again, when ‘have’ is an auxiliary verb, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I haven’t been to Australia – Neither have I / Nor have I

I had never seen him before – Neither had I / Nor had I

With modal auxiliary verbs, we use the same modal verb.

I can’t speak Japanese – Neither can I

I wouldn’t like to live with a smoker – Neither would I

I won’t (will not) tell her – Neither will I / Nor will I

I shouldn’t go – Neither should I / Nor should I

When the main verb isn’t an auxiliary verb, we use ‘do’ in the same tense as the main verb.

I don’t like tomatoes – Neither do I / Nor do I

I didn’t visit Angie – Neither did I / Nor did I

I don’t do exercise every day – Neither do I / Nor do I

I didn’t have* a pet – Neither did I / Nor did I

*again, have isn’t acting as an auxiliary verb here; it’s a main verb.

DISAGREEING WITH A POSITIVE STATEMENT:

We use a short-form question and answer to show disagreement.  The rules are the same regarding the use of verbs.

With the verb ‘be’, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’m happy – Are you? I‘m not.

I was in the centre yesterday – Were you?  I wasn’t.

With the verb ‘have got’, we use have (without got).

I’ve got a bike – Have you?  I haven’t.

Again, when ‘have’ is an auxiliary verb, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’ve been to Berlin – Have you?  I haven’t.

I‘d already told him –  Had you?  I hadn’t.

With modal auxiliary verbs, we use the same modal verb.

I can swim – Can you?  I can’t.

I’d (I would) love to go to New Zealand – Would you? I wouldn’t.

When the main verb isn’t an auxiliary verb*, we use ‘do’ in the same tense as the main verb.

I walk every morning – Do you?  I don’t.

I went to Paris last year – Did you?  I didn’t.

I have* a problem – Do you?  I don’t.

I had a pet as a child – Did you?  I didn’t.

*have isn’t acting as an auxiliary verb here; it’s a main verb.

DISAGREEING WITH A NEGATIVE STATEMENT:

We use a short-form question and answer to show disagreement.  The rules are the same regarding the use of verbs.

With the verb ‘be’, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I’m not hungry – Aren’t you?  I am.

I wasn’t tired last night – Weren’t you?  I was.

With the verb ‘have/have got’, we use have (without got).

I haven’t got a pet – Haven’t you?  I have.

And when ‘have’ is an auxiliary verb, we use the same verb in the same tense.

I haven’t been to Australia – Haven’t you?  I have.

I had never seen him before – Hadn’t you?  I had.

With modal auxiliary verbs, we use the same modal verb.

I can’t speak Japanese – Can’t you?  I can.

I wouldn’t like to live with a smoker – Wouldn’t you?  I would.

When the main verb isn’t an auxiliary verb, we use ‘do’ in the same tense as the main verb.

I don’t like tomatoes – Don’t you?  I do.

I didn’t visit Angie – Didn’t you?  I did.

I don’t have time – Don’t you?  I do.

I didn’t have* a pet – Didn’t you?  I did.

*again, have isn’t acting as an auxiliary verb here; it’s a main verb.

You can practise agreeing and disagreeing here.

PASSIVE FORMS 1:  The basics  (B1 +)

There are four main points you need to consider when you want to use the passive voice.  Let’s revise the basics here. 

How to form the basic passive

This formula works for all tenses (and from B2 on you need to be familiar with all of them):

They took the dog to a new home.        

The dog was taken to a new home.

NOTE: We do not include by them in this case, as it gives us no information.

 

So when do we use the passive?

We use it when we want to focus attention on the person or thing affected by the action.  So in the example above, we want to focus more on children than on stories of wild animals.

Look at these two sentences:

Active:  My boss has given me a promotion.

Passive:  I’ve been given a promotion!

I am more important (to myself!) than my boss, so a passive sentence is more natural here.

Now look at these two sentences:

Active:  Someone stole my bike.

Passive:  My bike was stolen.

In this example we don’t know who carried out the action, so again, the passive is a more natural choice.  And again, my bike is more important to me than the thief is.

Here’s another pair of sentences:

Active:  I made some mistakes.

Passive:  Some mistakes were made.

Here, we don’t want to say who did it.  (Politicians often use this construction!)

The passive voice is often used in news reports and historical or scientific writing.  For example:

The election results will be announced tonight.

The baths were built by the Romans.

Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming.

If we want to say who or what carried out the action, we always use the preposition by.

Another area where the passive is typically used is to describe processes:

First, the fresh coffee beans are passed through a pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the bean. Then the beans are separated according to their weight as they pass through water channels.

 

Transforming questions into the passive

To change questions into the passive, we follow the same basic formula.

Active: Are they mending your car?

Passive: Is your car being mended?

Active: Have they given you the parcel yet?

Passive: Have you been given the parcel yet?

For questions with the auxiliary ‘do’, use ‘to be’ in the same tense as the auxiliary verb, plus the past participle of the main verb.

Do (present simple) they usually teach dogs to do tricks?    

Are (present simple) dogs usually taught to do tricks?

Did (past simple) they ever find their dog again?                        

Was (past simple)their dog ever found again?

 

Sentences with two objects

Sometimes sentences have two objects, and these sentences can be transformed in two ways. How we transform them will depend on which object we want to emphasise. Look at this sentence:

Active: They will give John a prize.

So who, or what, are we more interested in?

Passive: John will be given a prize(We’re more interested in John here.)

Passive: A prize will be given to John.  (We’re more interested in the prize here.)

 

NOTE:  Remember, ‘to be born’ is always a passive construction.

When was he born? He was born in 1999.           

When were you born? I was born in….

Thousands of babies are born every day.

When will your baby be born?

Here are some exercises to practise passive to active transformations.

 

PASSIVE FORMS 2:  The Causative ‘Have’  (B2 +)

What’s the difference in meaning in these two sentences?

a) She’s cutting her hair.

b) She’s having her hair cut.

In the first sentence she’s cutting her own hair.  In the second, someone else – presumably the hairdresser – is cutting her hair. This is another passive form. When we arrange (and usually pay) for someone else to do something for us, we use the causative have. Most teachers refer to this structure as ‘have something done’.

causative have

The agent (the hairdresser) isn’t usually necessary, as it’s often obvious. That’s to say, you don’t usually have your hair cut by a dentist!

As with the basic passive transformations, this formula works for all tenses.

 

So when do we use it?

We use it when we want to make it clear that although someone else performed the action, we were involvedWe arranged or organised it, and we (probably) paid for it.  This makes it different to the basic passive.  Look at these two sentences:

My hair was cut.  (Someone else cut my hair.)

I had my hair cut.  (I arranged – and paid – for a hairdresser to cut my hair.)

So we often use ‘have something done’ when we’re talking about the service industry, as in the hairdresser example.  You can have your nails painted, or have your arm tattooed.  Think about repairs – we don’t often do those ourselves either.  So we have the car mended, or have the washing machine repaired.

You’ll find some exercises to practice this structure here.

If you want more grammar practice, we recommend the excellent ‘English in Use’ series published by Cambridge. There’s also an Elementary version.

NOTE: Our website, www.aptistutor.com, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and we use affiliate Amazon links. If you buy something through our site, you’ll pay the same price and we’ll get a micro-commission for linking you to Amazon Spain. This goes towards site maintenance. Thanks in advance!

4 thoughts on “B1, B2 & C1 Grammar Reference”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.