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Decoding 3 Great Grammar Pieces

English Language Exam Preparation: Learn about Passive Voice, Conditionals, and Causative
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57 students enrolled
Created by Betty Zsoldos
Last updated 12/2015
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  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What Will I Learn?
better understand and correctly apply Passive Voice, Conditionals, and Causative.
get higher scores at English language exams, because Passive Voice, Conditionals, and Causative are a fundamental part of English grammar
View Curriculum
  • Students need to understand min. 60-70 % of the Promo Video and/or should be higher than pre-intermediate level.


In this course I'm going to introduce you to 3 great pieces of English grammar, namely: Passive Voice, Conditionals and Causative.

They are absolutely necessary to be understood and applied well whether you take an exam, or make yourself understood in everyday life. We will speak about these grammar pieces in a nutshell but I promise, you will know everything you need to know for the exam or in real-life situations.

I'll will explain these grammar pieces very clearly, giving plenty of examples, and a very interesting exercise before the quiz at each section.

The most important thing we will learn is: “Formulas”. You might not have liked formulas at school, but now, in this course you will recognise they are here to help you.

Let me give you an example. Which is correct:

I have my skirt shortened – or: I have shortened my skirt?

The formula: have sg done, or: have done sg? Well, both are correct, but they have different meanings! … So, yes, formulas are the key! If you learn them you can be sure your English communication will be amazingly easier, and your exam-preparation skills will improve drastically! This guarantees your success!

So, come and join!

I hope, we will meet soon!

Betty Zsoldos

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is meant for all who are preparing for an English language exam, and want to develop their grammar. However, the course is not for beginners, or pre-intermediate students. If you are not sure about your level, please check how much you understand from the promo video. If you could get more than 60-70 percent of it, you are welcome at the course!
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 18 Lectures Collapse All 18 Lectures 01:29:48
2 Lectures 07:18


First of all thank you very much for buying this course! I do appreciate that you invest into your own development and that, you've chosen me to be your partner!

Now, let me call your attention to some important things about this course:

- In this course I'm going to introduce you to 3 great pieces of English grammar, namely: Passive Voice, Conditionals and Causatives. They are absolutely necessary to be understood and applied well whether you take an exam, or make yourself understood in everyday life. We will speak about these grammar pieces in a nutshell but I promise. you will know everything you need to know for the exam or real-life situations.

- Would you like to know what the only word is, that summarises this course? … This is “Formula!” What does it mean? Well, the main point is to learn the correct formula that fits that given grammar and then use it! It guarantees your success! By the end of the course you will absolutely agree with me, that this is extremely important!

Before jumping in, let me give you some Practical Advice:

- Please, promise to yourself that you will get through these grammar points again and again – do not expect yourself to know everything after one listening. Unfortunately knowing grammar is not the same as using it well. What makes it the same is Revision! This will ensure that you fix this information well!

- At each part after the summaries - but before the quiz - I'll give you 20 sentences as examples to practice. Now there is something that you must understand. You must use these examples the best way to fix your learning. Concretely I want you to do a very special and exciting translation exercise, that I'll explain how to do. I'm sure you will enjoy them, so please, never skip them!

And lastly: In my previous course: Decoding English Verb Tenses, I said that it was the foundation for all English grammar. Now you will see, it is difficult (or impossible) to learn the other grammar pieces if you haven't learnt verb tenses. So, please, if you have failed to learn them correctly, revise them. If you would like to buy that course, I am very happy to give you a coupon. Just contact me at:

So, I'm so-so excited to start the work with you!

Thank you for your attention! See you soon!

Preview 03:48

In this video an ex-student of mine, Andrew will introduce me. He will tell you why I am competent...:-)


My name is Andrew, Betty's ex-student. I know her very well because she was teaching me for years and I owe a lot to her.

Probably you have also met her in her other course: Decoding English Verb Tenses. If you have it is unnecessary to introduce her and her high-quality work. If not, I strongly advise you to also have that course.

So, now let's speak about her:

This is Betty Zsoldos, a Hungarian-born lady who lives in Australia.

Well, don't think that speaking English was always easy for her! When I asked Betty about her learning, she recalled her story:

Till the age of 25 she didn't speak English at all. Then, one day she got into a situation when she said: never again. She met young foreigners, who loved her kids (yes, by the age of 25 she had 4 little kids:-) and she couldn't communicate with these people at all, apart from some body-language! They offered some languages, and she shook her head, and she felt so-so ashamed. So, the next day she rushed to friends to help her to learn some English.

Well, you know, learning another language is not easy. Getting used to another nation's way of thinking might be very strange – at least, it was for her. But she developed fast, and in 3 years she was asked to teach in language school, then soon she became one of the most popular English teachers in her hometown. Then she went to get her Cambridge Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language for Adults. Plus she has had 22 years of experience in teaching. That's a lot!

The other professional part of her is a Master Coach, NLP Master and a trainer. These extras ensure that she really knows a great deal about how learning takes place.

So, trust her, and let her prove that she is the best sherpa, who will make you enjoy this journey!

Preview 03:30
Passive Voice
5 Lectures 23:42

Passive Voice is based on logic. If you like mathematics you will like this. On the other hand I could say that Passive Structure is based on Verb Tenses. (So, please, if you do not understand verb tenses, first revise that or take that course of mine (you can ask me for a coupon at

Notice that NOT every sentence can be used in passive. So when?

- You will need 3 elements for it: Subject + Verb + Object

- For example Somebody waters the flowers (every morning).

The verb can be in any tenses, so if you could understand well the verb tenses, it will be easy for you to use Passive Structure.

So, the question is: When do we use this structure?

There are mainly two reasons:

- we don't know who makes the action, for example it is “somebody” or “they”, or

- we know exactly who makes the action, that is: who is the subject but it is not important, as the point is on the action and the object.

And how to form Passive Voice? You'll see it in the next session!

Preview 03:59

As we have mentioned, for Passive Voice you need minimum 3 elements in the Active Voice:

Subject + Verb + Object

Somebody cleans the street

They built that church

The managers will address this issue

His boss gave him a pay-rise

Looking at the subject you can see that it is typically: Somebody, or They, or someone more concrete, but that is not important.

As for the verbs: I use one-one example from present, past and future, but in the next session you'll see how we form passive structures in different tenses.

In the last example we can find two objects: “him” and “pay-rise”. There are some verbs which often have two objects, like “buy” “offer” “bring” etc. We'll see how they behave in Passive Voice.

To make Passive Structure you start with the Object of the Active Sentence, then you use the right form of “be” and the verb comes in 3 rd form.

Subject + “be” + 3rd form

The street is cleaned

That church was built

This issue will be addressed by the managers

A pay rise was given to him (by his boss)

He was given a pay-rise (by his boss)

Notice 3 important things:

1. If you want to emphasise the Subject of the Active Sentence, use “by”

2. Those verbs which have two objects, passive structure can be used two ways: You can use either of them but take care with preposition “to”.

3. In the “be” column, make sure you use the write tense of “be”!

How to Form Passive Voice

Let's see some further examples:

The email has been sent.

This bridge had been destroyed before the war.

That statue will have been erected before Christmas.

Her ghost can be seen after midnight.

The wire mustn't be touched.

These pills should be taken 3 times a day.

Passive Voice in Simple Tenses

Passive Structure in All Tenses

20 Examples for Passive Voice
1 page

Have you learnt Passive Voice?
12 questions
6 Lectures 29:30

Books typically describe 3 conditionals, however there is FOUR! But what is “conditional” about. Briefly: it means: hypothesis. For hypothesis there is a key-word, this is “if”.

What kind of sentences do you say with “if”? Think about it for a moment!

If you look at your answers and you group them you can discover that we use “if” basically around 4 situations:

- general present – for which we typically use “present simple” tense

- future – for which we use “future simple”

- unreal, imaginary present

- unreal, imaginary past.

According to this, we have FOUR conditionals. The first two is about real situations, the third and the fourth one is unreal, imaginary situations.

We are going to learn them in details in the next sessions!

But before going on let me tell you that this is a grammar piece that is easy to understand, but it needs lots of, lots of practice, especially the 2 nd and 3rd conditionals. You'll see why!

Introduction to Conditionals

Please, answer the next questions:

What do you do

- if a stranger shouts at someone in the street?

- if your neighbour is listening to music too loudly?

- if you get upset about something unfair?

- if you are short of money?

- when you can't fall asleep?

Are these situations familiar to you? Well, they are familiar to me, so let me tell you how I react in these real-life situations:

If a stranger shouts at someone in the street, I stop and try to find out what the problem is.

If my neighbour is listening to music too loudly, first I just wait then I go to ask him to turn it down.

If I'm short of money, I buy goods at a discount price.

Now we could speak about the content and discuss whether my reaction is good or bad, however, let's focus on grammar.

So, what can you see?

The points are:

- Zero conditionals are always about real-life situations, and we use present simple to express that

- Instead of “if” we can use “when”, too.

- The sentences consist of two parts and in both parts we use present simple

What makes it interesting:

- we agreed that this is about present situations, however, you can simply use it for the past, too, using Past Simple! E.g. In my childhood if I couldn't fall asleep I counted up to 100.

This conditional typically does not cause problems for students!

Zero Conditional

What will you do

- if it rains at the weekend?

- if you fail the exam?

- if you don't have money for a good holiday?

- if you wake up too early tomorrow morning?

- if a politician gets elected at the next vote who you don't agree with?

If it rains at the weekend, I'll stay at home to learn English.

If I fail the exam, I'll practise more.

If a politician gets elected at the next vote who I don't agree with, I'll send him a letter to explain what I want.

Again, please, look at these examples, and draw the consequences for yourself!

Here's the summary:

- 1st conditional is about a real-life situation in the future.

- the sentences consists of two parts.

- There is NO “will” after “if”!!! - that part is like Zero Conditional, so we will know it is about future just from the next part of the sentence.

- “will” is used ONLY in the other part of the sentence.

- The two parts of the sentences can be exchanged: e.g. I'll go hitch-hiking if I don't have money.

First Conditional

“Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try...”

Just imagine what you would do in these present situations:

- if you had no money to buy your food for today

- if you were asked to leave the place in three days you live in

- if your friend announced to get married to an aggressor?

- if you could prevent the 3rd World War by risking your own life?

- if you got a personal letter from someone very famous?

Anyone can get into these situations, however, the chance might be not high, or not very probable. That's why we say, 2 nd conditional is about unreal, imaginary present – take care, they are NOT about the past!!!

Let's see some answers:

If I had no money to buy food for today, I would ask a friend of mine to help me out.

If I was asked to leave the place in three days I live in now , I would get upset, but then I would go to the net to find something to rent.

If I could prevent the 3rd World War by risking my own life, I wouldn't happily sacrifice myself.

Looking at the sentences what are the things that pop out?

- After “if” we use the 2nd form of the word, which we also use for past tense, however, it is NOT PAST tense here, but present!!!

- In the second part of there is “would”. “Could” also come here, e.g. I you asked me, I could do something for you!”

Second Conditional

Now I'm going to ask you some questions that highly probably were not true in your past, so I just ask you to go back in your past and imagine these situations.

What would you have done

- if your parents had wanted to rearrange your marriage (just like in India)

- if you had been born in a slum somewhere in Africa

- if you had ever met a UFO

- if your parents had won the lottery

- if there hadn't been a technological revolution

Do not forget, this is about going back to past and just imagine what if it had been different…

Here are some probable answers:

If my parents wanted to rearrange my marriage I would have felt awful and maybe I would have run away.

If I had been born in a slum somewhere in Africa, I wouldn't have had a chance for good education.

If there hadn't been a technological revolution, We couldn't have this online course now.

Well, this is not easy, isn't it? I'll help you to find the keys:

- After “if” you must use “had” + verb 3rd form” and in the other part of the sentence: “would” + “have” + “verb 3 rd form”.

- Instead of “would” you can use: “could”, “may/might”, “must”, too.

- Let's find something interesting, again:

In the second half of the last sentence, I come back to the present. I start the hypothesis with past, however, I imagine how would it result in the present. This is very often a case. Some more examples:

If I hadn't heard about that crisis, I wouldn't worry now.

Third Conditional

20 Examples for Conditionals
1 page

Now you can check your knowledge about Conditionals. Good luck!

Have you learnt Conditionals?
12 questions
3 Lectures 17:48

We can be very able, but we cannot do everything without others' help. Lots of times we ask other people to do some work or some favour for us, maybe because they are more professional, or less busy, or for other reasons.

So, then how can you express that it is not you, who does the job, but someone else?

Basically there are two ways:

1. you don't tell who does the job, but through a formula you express it's not you

formula 1:

have / get + something + verb 3rd form


I had the tap fixed yesterday. - Meaning: The tap was leaking, someone came to fix it.

2. you tell who does the job using another formula

make + (concrete) person + verb


I made Joe fix the tap. - Meaning: I asked Joe to fix the leaking tap and he did it. (Don't forget, this is past tense, that's why “make” is in past tense.

Of course I can say: “I asked Joe to fix the tap.” - But in strictly speaking, it is not causative, just another grammar formula!

Now let's go to the next session to learn more about it!

Introduction to Causation

Now you know that there are two basic forms:

1. Somebody does the job for you – but we don't know who the person is !

The formula again:

Have (or get) + something + 3rd form.

Some examples:

1. I will have my skirt shortened. (Future Simple)

2. My father had some butter brought from the shop (Past Simple)

3. Lili has had her hair dyed violet. (Present Perfect Simple)

4. I'm having my car washed. (Present Continuous)

5. Did you have your fence painted? (Past Simple)

In all these examples you can use “get” instead of have, so

1. I will get my skirt shortened.

2. My father got some butter brought…

3. Lili has got her hair dyed violet.

4. I'm getting my car washed.

5. Did you get your fence painted?

2. Somebody does the job for you – and we know who the person is !

The formula again:

make + somebody + verb

Some examples:

1. We made the insurance company pay for the damage.

2. My mother used to make the cleaner wash the curtains 3 times a year.

3. I didn't make my kids sit down and do their homework right after school.

4. The film makes me cry.

5. What would make you happy?

You can see to express what tense you want to refer to, you indicate it through “make”, like: will make, have made, etc…

Please, note that, if you prepare for higher than upper-intermediate level exam (e.g. for advanced level) you should also learn these two structures:

get + somebody + to + verb

have + somebody + verb

Two Basic Forms of Causation

20 Examples for Causation
1 page

Now you can check if you learnt Causation! Good luck with it!

Have you learnt Causation?
12 questions
1 Lecture 04:34

In this lecture you will hear the summary of the 3 Great Grammar Pieces: Passive Voice, Conditionals, and Causative.

Summary of the Course
My Last Words and Your Next Steps
1 Lecture 03:56
My Last Words and Your Next Steps
About the Instructor
4.6 Average rating
42 Reviews
248 Students
5 Courses
English Teacher: Cambridge Diploma + 22 years teaching

I am known as Betty Zsoldos, officially: Erzsebet Zsoldos; a Hungarian-born woman living in Australia.

I am an English teacher with a Cambridge Diploma in teaching English for Adults as a Second Language, plus I have 22 years of experience in teaching! I have had very different kind of learners from people with special needs to managing directors.

The other professional side of me is a Master Coach, a trainer, and an NLP Master. I also hold a diploma in educational psychology. These extras allow me to know a great deal about meta-learning, e.g. how our memory works, how real learning takes place, and how to help different types of learners to build quickly new neurological pathways to promote and fix learning.

My little secret is that: at the age of 25 I didn't know even one word of English: I started from zero, I had to learn even: "yes" and "no". I felt awkward and clumsy while learning; yet, I developed fast and in 3 years I was asked to teach in language schools. Soon I was the most popular English teacher in my hometown.

Why? Just because I understood all the difficulties grown-up learners were going through...

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