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Decoding 33+1 Small Grammars

English Language Exam Preparation: Learn about every grammar pieces which are vital for your exam!
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Created by Betty Zsoldos
Last updated 2/2016
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In this course you can find everything you need to know for an English Language Exam - grammar-wise.

Do you know that if you are not well-prepared grammatically, you have no chance at all to succeed in your exam? Unfortunately, it is not like that: you wake up and make up your mind to go and take an exam that morning. Without a decent preparation - sorry, but you won't have a chance to pass!

Believe me, this is the truth! I've been preparing students for language exams for over 20 years. I know inside-out what you need to know!

So, in this course you will get a more than 3-hour video, with its all written script, so that you can easily follow the explanations.

With this course you will be absolutely ready for the exam if you are over the 7 Greatest Grammars (see my other courses: Decoding English Verb Tenses, Decoding 3 Great Grammar Pieces, Decoding 3 More Great Grammars.)

So, come with me, you'll like this journey! :-)


Who is the target audience?
  • This course is advised for students at intermediate, upper-intermediate, and early advanced level. Unfortunately, basic level, or late-advanced level students cannot make a good use of this course
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What Will I Learn?
better understand and correctly apply all those small grammar pieces that are vital part of the English language.
better equipped with all those grammars that are necessary for an intermediate, high-intermediate and/or advanced level English language exam.
View Curriculum
  • Students need to understand min. 60-70 % of the Promo Video and/or should be higher than pre-intermediate level.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 37 Lectures Collapse All 37 Lectures 02:50:11
2 Lectures 06:17

Do you have the foundation and the structure of your house?

You know what I mean, don't you?

If you had my previous courses, you know that

with Decoding Verb Tenses,

with the 3 Great Grammar Pieces and

with the 3 More Great Grammars we have had everything you need for a massive building.

Wow, congratulations! We have accomplished a lot!

However, would you move into a house which is half-done: the rooms are not pained, not even plastered, the bathroom is not tiled, and there is no running water in the kitchen? Of course you wouldn't like that.

So, in the present course we will nicely accomplish your house. We will learn everything that you need to know to be a perfect Interior Designer – in the English Language.

With this knowledge you will have a straight passport to IELTS, Cambridge or any other language exams at intermediate, high-intermediate and advanced level.

That's why now we will analyse grammar at a bit higher level, as I do suppose, you are really over the basic level. For example, when we examine the use of “the” we will not discuss for example when to use “a/an” and when “the”. However we will discuss what it means when “the” is followed by an adjective, or what the difference is between “going to prison” or “going to the prison”.

In this course there will be a lot of memory work. I will give you some lists of words which are necessary for the exam. I strongly advise you to find the script next to the videos, and learn these words. How? For example

1. you can group them as you like, or

2. you can use a mindmap

3. you can link them to other words, or… there are plenty other ways. The point is that: you should revise them again and again!

So, are you ready to take a more than 3-hour journey with me? Let's start!

Preview 02:44


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 courses Decoding English Grammar. If you have, it is unnecessary to introduce her and her high-quality work. If not, I strongly advise you to have those courses, too.

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 03:33
34 Lectures 02:40:01

In English there are plenty of nouns that are irregular in terms of their plural forms.

Now we will just focus on nouns that are normally countable in other languages, but in English.

Accommodation, advice, baggage, luggage, cash, clothing, equipment, evidence, fun, furniture, homework, housework, housing, information, jewellery, luck, machinery, money, news, permission, poetry, pollution, research, rubbish, safety, scenery, transport, underwear, work…

It is incorrect to say: 2 news, 3 advice, 5 furniture, … - so how could you use it to express their quantity? E.g.:

- I've got 2 pieces of news a good one and a bad one.

- He gave me 3 pieces of advice.

- There were 5 pieces (items) of furniture in the room.

By the way, “news”. Can you see, it ends with “s”, however, it is not plural. We have some other words, like this, e.g. gymnastics, or physics. Take care, because a singular verb must be followed. E.g. Physics was my favourite subject in school.

When can you use plurals even if the object is “singular”?

Coffee – Two coffees, please (the same with beers, teas)

Think about the next nouns: hair, stone, difficulty, fear, land, rain, water, and a lot others… - when you use them in plural, you think of some of a particular thing: There are three fishes in the water – it means: three types of fish.

Preview 08:42

There are words which are used just in plural, E.g.:

- police E.g. Some police were injured in the riot.

- team E.g. Our team are winning.

Irregular plurals:

- goose, geese / foot, feet / mouse, mice

Latine endings:

- bacterium, bacteria / stimulus, stimuli / syllabus, syllabi

Typical spelling mistakes with “o-oes”, “f-ves” and “is/es” “x-ices” endings:

- echo, echoes / hero, heroes / tomato, tomatoes

- knife, knives /shelf, shelves / half, halves

- crisis, crises / basis, bases / paralysis, paralyses

- appendix, appendices / matrix, matrices / index, indices

Some nouns which are the same form in singular and in plural:

- deer, deer / fish, fish / sheep, sheep / species, species / offspring, offspring / means, means

Here we must speak about plural nouns that followed by a singular verb, if we take them as ONE unit, e.g.:

Fish and chips is my favourite.

This 500 dollar is going to be quickly spent.

20 % of my salary is spent on food.

Geese & the police (irregular plurals)

As you know we use “some” in positive sentences.

E.g. There are some trees around the building.

But when can you find it in question?

E.g. “Can I get some money?” - I hope, I can. So, we use “some” in questions, where you expect a “yes” answer.

Note that you can never use “some” in negative sentences.

E.g. I wouldn't believe anything like this.

So, we use “any” in negative sentences, and in questions.

However, what does it mean if we use “any” in a positive sentence?

E.g. Anybody can do that. He could buy anything he wanted. I can travel anywhere.

This time “any” refers to a person, a thing, or a place that is not a particular, not a special one!

“Few”, “a few”, “just a few” is used for countable things.

E.g. I have few / a few / just a few friends. - Each of them is correct, however, they are different!

“A few” has a kind of positive suggestion, it means: some.

E.g. I have a few (= some) friends.

“Few” means: “just a few”, so it has a kind of not-so-positive suggestion.

E.g. I have few (just a few) friends, so I am lonely!

The above example fits for “little”, but do not forget, we use “little, a little, just a little” for uncountable things!

E.g. I have little / a little / just a little money. - Again: they are all correct, but they are different!

E.g. I have a little (= some) money, so I can travel.

E.g. I have little (= just a little) money, so I'm a bit broke.

I have a little money (some, any, (a) little, (a) few

Mainly there are two questions concerning the usage of “both, every, each and all”:

- how to use them with “of”

- the verb followed by them is singular or plural.

“Both” is used for “2”, so the verb is plural.

E.g.: Both are Australians.

You can use “of”, so: “Both of us (of them) are Australians.

However, in any other cases “the” must be used after “of”:

E.g. Both girls have a pet. = Both of the girls have a pet.

E.g. Both houses are on the coast. = Both of the houses are on the coast.

“Each” is used for “3” or more, however, its verb is singular!

E.g.: Each was happy. Each student was happy.

Take care, when you use it with “of the”, because after that a plural noun must be followed, and then a singular verb!

E.g.: Each of the students was happy!

“Every” is used with a singular noun and a singular verb.

E.g.: Everybody loves him. Every summer is very hot here.

Never use “of” with every!

“All” is used with plural nouns and plural verbs:

(Take care, now we take only that meaning of “all” as a quantity, like: every one of a number of things or people. We do not take the other meaning of “all” as whole, like in the sentence: “All day I was tired.”)

E.g. All children have to be quiet in the library.

You can use “of the” with “all”:

E.g. All of the books are published.

Note that in the above examples after “of” not just “the” can be used, but any possessive:

E.g. Both/Each/All OF my/your/ his laptops ….

Both criminals are... (both, each every, all)

As you know, we use “both” in positive sentences. Instead of “both” neither must be used in negative sentences. However the grammar rule is different.

E.g. Neither team was good enough.

When it is used with “of”, this is:

E.g. Neither of the teams was good enough.

Anyway, do not forget that neither is used in other context, too.

E.g. Neither his grammar, nor his vocabulary was good enough for the exam.

You can recognise that “neither – nor” context, and in this sentences you cannot use “of the”.

Also notice that “neither” (just like either, both, each, all) can be used without a noun.

E.g.: Neither was good enough.

None is used to refer to 3 or more things or people. This is the pair of “all”, which makes the sentence negative.

E.g. None of us is happy with the result.

Note that “none” is can be followed by a plural noun as well as an uncountable noun:

E.g.: None of the diets helped.

E.g.: None of the money was spent.

Neither is good enough (neither & none)

Because she didn’t have a car she asked her boyfriend to give her a lift.

As it was raining I didn’t go to the training.

Since I was practically broke myself I couldn’t invite my friends.

We will go outing as soon as it stops raining.

As long as she got well paid, she went playing golf.

Although he was rich he usually drove the old, shabby, run-down car.

I worked a lot, however, I always found time for important things.

He is a perfect dancer in spite of being almost blind.

Despite the fact that they had no money they felt wealthy.

Unless he arrives soon, I'll leave without him.

Wait until he has finished speaking.

Santa Clause shook his beard so much that the lake froze.

He wrote a love-letter so that he could make a good impression.

Since, however, despite, unless (conjunctions 1)

Whenever I see a Fred Astaire film I get impressed at his professional dance.

Whatever you do, James, don’t ask her why she hasn’t got a baby, yet.

However funny it is, there is something grotesque in it.

The poor kid had to eat his dinner whether he liked it or not.

Either the lack of money or the lack of energy lead to the poor quality.

Neither me nor my husband wanted to take up some more job.

I’ll pay you well if you do me a favour.

When it rains a lot, my plants grow faster.

I wouldn’t join the march even if you paid me.

I drank a glass of water even though the water was freezing.

Provided (Providing) that they don’t do anything stupid they can organize that party well.

You should ring your parents in case you miss the bus.

Once he has had a bit more experience, he’ll play in a famous football team.

Whatever, whether, even if, once... (conjunctions 2)

What words do you use when you compare people or things, and more importantly what is the difference between these words?

So + Adjective.

E.g. It is so good! You are so nice! Yesterday it was so cold (that the lake froze).

After this you cannot use a noun! If you think you want to add a noun, you need to use “such” instead of “so”.

Such (a) + Adjective + Noun

E.g. It is such a good film. He had such a big smile. We made such a fantastic party.

Be careful, there is not always “a” after such. If you use an uncountable noun (1), or a plural noun (2), you mustn't use “a”.

E.g. Such behaviour is not tolerable. (1)

E.g. We cannot keep such stupid rules. (2)

Be + Like + Noun

E.g. I am like my sister. (We closely resemble each other.) He is like an elephant.

Do not mistake “like” for “as”.

“like” means: very similar, but not that.

E.g. She is like an angel. (but she is not that!) - I work as a teacher. (because I am that!)

As + adjective + As

E.g. this is as big as the Taj Mahal.

I am as poor as a mouse.

He's like a lion (so, such, like,

There were some things in the past that I regularly did, however, I do not do them any more.

In my childhood:

- I sucked my thumb. = I used to suck my thumb.

- I screamed when I didn't like something. = I used to scream...

- I thought that every old lady was a witch. = I used to think that…

When I was a teenager:

- I played the guitar. = I used to play the guitar.

- I met my friends every day. = I used to meet my friends every day.

- I didn't smoke or get drunk. = I didn't used to smoke or get drunk.

So, we use “used to (+verb)” to describe general activities in the past that are never repeated in the present!

Do not get mixed “used to +verb” with “be/get used to + verb+ing”!

- I am not used to living in such a noisy environment.

- Can you get used to listening to his complaints all the time?

- I haven't got used to working with arrogant people like him.

Be/get used to + verb+ing is about describing how easy/difficult to put up with a situation that is not easily tolerable for us.

I used to eat snails. - I got used to live on an island.


a copy, omlettes, model aeroplanes, a boat, a cake, crazy plans, an attempt, an effort, an offer an excuse, a suggestion, a decision, an exception, a phone call, a mistake, a fuss, a noise, am arrangement, a journey, progress, love, a bed, a fire, war, peace


the shopping, something, the ironing, nothing, the accounts, some reading, something funny, some work, a lot of walking, some swimming, good, business, on's best, (someone) a favour, one's hair, one's duty, 100 mph/kph

Make progress & do business (make / do)

Verb + To + Verb:

would like to do, agree to do, aim to do, ask to do, able to do, choose to do, dare to do, decide to do, expect to do, fail to do, forget to do, happen to do, offer to do, prepare to do, promise to do, plan to do, threaten to do, want to do, wish to do,

It is + adj + to do, e.g.: I'm sorry to disturb you.

There is … for sy to…, e.g.: There is no chance for him to win

Verb + Verb+ing:

like doing, enjoy doing, keep doing, don't mind doing, prefer doing sg to doing sg, admit doing, avoid doing, can't help doing, consider doing, deny doing, suggest doing,

However, there are some words that have different meaning with “ing” or “to” forms:

“She tried to catch the frog, but it was too quick to jump.”

“She tried kissing – now she knows what it is like.”

“I remember sending that letter.” = I remember I sent that letter.

“I'll remember to lock the door.” = I will keep it in mind.

“I was in a hurry to get home quickly, but I stopped to talk to Helen.” = stopped in order to talk...

“I was in a hurry to get home quickly, so I stopped talking to Helen.” = finished talking

Stop talking, stop to talk (to + verb, verb+ing)

I travelled to Paris …

Why did you travelled to Paris?

to see and cheer up my friend.

In this example to = in order to.

So: I travelled to Paris (in order) to see and cheer up my friend.

In both cases the subject is the same (I).

I travelled so that I see and I cheer up my friend.

(“so that” can be used, too, if the subject is the same.)

But, if the subject is different instead of “to/in order to” you must use: so that

E.g. I travelled to Paris so that my friend shouldn't be so lonely. / I took up more classes so that my students could be well-prepared for the exam.

She smiled to impress me (to, in order to, so that)

Who did you say you were talking to?

Well, this question is a mix of two:

“What did you say?” and: “Who were you talking to?”

The question world followed by these types of questions, like: “what do you say?, what did you read? What could you hear” pushes the first “what” and occupies its place.

Take care: in the second part of the sentence you must use straight word order!

How would you say:

What did you learn - how old was Kennedy when he died?

What did you read – what is the poorest country in the world?

What do you think – does she loves me?


How old did you learn Kennedy was when he died?

What did you read the poorest country is in the world?

Do you think she loves me?

Who did you say you were speaking to?

Do you know the song (by Pink Floyd): I wish you were here…?

What does it mean?

If you've learnt the Conditionals, it is easy to understand:

This is second conditional – expressing things that are unreal, imaginary in the present!

Note that after I wish … or If only … you apply 2nd conditional to express present, and 3rd conditional to express past!

I wish you were here! - It means: I would love you to be here, but you are not, so, I miss you!

I wish you had been here! - It means: I wanted you to be here, but you were not, so I missed you!

When speaking about the present, you can say sentences like these:

I wish you were happier.

I wish I knew.

I wish I had more money.

The same sentences for the past:

I wish you had been happy (in your marriage).

I wish I had known it (then I wouldn't have failed).

I wish I had had more money (then I could have bought that house).

I wish you were here

“I am said to be a good teacher.”

This sentence has a lot to do with the Passive Voice, so you will easily understand this, if you could learn the usage of Passive.

The above sentence mean:

They say that I am a good teacher.

A lot of times people say, think, believe, suppose, expect, etc. something. These times we use Passive (do you remember, we use passive if either we don't know who the subject is, or it is not important, and if there is an object).

Instead of: They say / think / believe / suppose / expect / … that we are talented, - say:

“We are thought / believed / supposed / expected / … to be talented.

Some more examples:

The young boy was supposed to steal the medal.

Home-made cakes are believed to be the most delicious.

I have been expected to win.

Memorise the structure:

Somebody + be (in the right form) + 3rd form of say / think / … + to + verb

He is said to be a gentleman

Typically there are plenty of mistakes around these words:

advise, suggest, recommend, tell, ask,

For example which of them would you use here:

I … him to take cod fish oil.

(advise, tell, ask – most probably in past tense)

The structure is:

to tell / advise / ask / want somebody to do sg.

So, what about suggest and recommend? Because they are used in these ways:

- suggest/recommend doing something, or

- suggest/recommend that somebody (should) do something

He suggested dancing, I advised to leave

Out of these 3 sentences 1 is wrong. Which one?

1. I could see him steal the purse.

2. I could see him to steal the purse.

3. I could see him stealing the purse.

1st and 3rd ones are correct, the 2nd one is incorrect.

However, does it all the same if we use gerund (-ing form)?


Using just the verb it means you could see or hear the whole activity. So in our 1 st example you could see how the theft approached the bag, cut it out, took out the purse, and run away with it.

Another example: I knew it was earthquake, I felt the ground tremble under my feet.

Using gerund (-ing form) you could see or hear just a part of the activity.

E.g.: I was in my room and I heard someone whistling as he was passing my house.

I could see him steal (see, hear, feel sy do/doing)

I want to get more money. I don't want to be broke.

I don't think you have problems with these sentences. However, how do you express, if you want the same for your friends?

Here's the correct structure:

I want + the person + to get more money.

And where do you put “no” in the sentence? Well, there are two options:

I don't want + the person + to be broke.


I want + the person + not to be broke.

(Don't forget, instead of “no” you can use “never” and it goes to the same place: E.g. I never want you to be poor.)

These structures are the same with ask, tell, advise, etc.


I ask you to behave nicely.

Please, tell your mum to send more cookies.

We advise him to learn more.

I want to get rich, I want you to get successful

Do you know that “the + adjective” describes people of that particular group?

E.g. the poor = poor people, the rich = rich people, the blind = blind people, the dead = dead people, the sick = sick people, the injured = injured people…

We can also describe nations this way + “s”

So who are the people who live in Germany, America, Russia, Italy, Australia, Canada?

We can speak about the Germans, the Americans, the Russians, the Italians, the Australians, the Canadians.

However, there are some exceptions, where we drop “s”:

the Frech, the English, the Chinese, the Japanese. (and all those where the ending is: -ch, -sh, -ese

The rich, the blind, & the French (the + adjective)

There basically 4 nouns (4 places) where you must take care of using “the”:

school, prison, church, hospital

It is correct to say: “I went to hospital.” or “I went to the hospital.” However, they have different meaning.

If you go to school – you are a student.

If you go to church – you are religious, and you pray there.

If you go to hospital – you are sick and need to be treated.

If you go to prison – you are a prisoner.

But: if you go to “the” school, church, hospital, prison – you go there as a visitor, or, for example a worker.

E.g. My mum goes to church and every Sunday I go to the church to pick her up and take her home.

Go to prison & go to the prison

Somebody is boring or bored?

First of all notice that:

The book is interesting, the film is boring, the news is shocking, the football-match is exciting, the dog is frightening…


You are interested in the book,

you are bored of the film,

you are shocked at the news,

you are excited about the football-match,

you are frightened of the dog.

However, it doesn't mean that a person cannot be described with an adjective with -ing form:


He is an interesting / boring / exciting… person!

Exciting lady @ excited man (adjective + ing/ed)

Learn some adjectives with their prepositions:

Before we jump in, please, keep in mind that whenever you use a verb after a preposition, you must use it with “ing” form.

be short of sg, be responsible for sy/sg, be kind to/of sy, be sorry for sg /about sg, be capable of doing sg, be crowded with, be jealous of sy, be ashamed of sg, be good/bad/perfect… at sg, be interested in sg, be married to, engaged to sy, be upset about sg, be fed up with sg, be tired of sg, be proud of sy, be fond of sy, be bored of sg


Most people are short of money.

We are all responsible for our situation.

That's very kind of you! - But: I tried to be kind to her, but she refused me.

I'm so sorry for being late.

I'm capable of doing high quality work.

The morning bus is always crowded with workers going to the mine.

Judy was ashamed of her parents.

I am good at mathematics, but bad at physics.

We have always been interested in what is behind the political issues.

I'm engaged to an Australian engineer.

Don't be upset about the news.

Anyone would be fed up with his arrogant behaviour.

I got tired of learning.

Young students are often bored of long lessons.

Are you proud of your homeland?

My mum is fond of animals.

We are fed up with the boss (adjective + preposition)

Here's a list of some prepositions and nouns that belong together:

Please, keep in mind that whenever you use a verb after a preposition, you must use it with “ing” form.

on fire, in the picture, in the photo, on Tv, on the Net, in the radio, at school, at university, on purpose, in/out of stock, in half an hour, in good health, in cash, on sale / for sale, in a bad mood, by mistake = by chance = by accident, in hunger, in danger, in time / on time, in a loud voice, on duty, in debt


Look, that house is on fire!

What can you see in that picture, and in this photo?

There was nothing interesting on Tv, neither in the radio.

In my country, the expectations are very high at school and at university.

Did you do it on purpose?

Unfortunately your order is out of stock at present.

Could you come here in half an hour?

My dad wasn't in good health for years before he died.

Would you prefer to pay in cash or by card?

When something is on sale you can get it at a discount price.

He would like to buy my Porsche but it is not for sale.

He's always in a bad mood for no reason.

These words mean the same by mistake, by chance, by accident.

Most people are in hunger in the third world.

In the war-zones people are in constant danger.

The cathedral is on fire (preposition + noun)

Learn these verbs with their preposition:

Please, keep in mind that whenever you use a verb after a preposition, you must use it with “ing” form.

accuse sy of doing sg, complain to sy about sg, rely on sg/sy, run out of sg, die of sg, thank for sg, succeed in sg, blame sy for sg, think of / about sg, dream of / about, hear of / about, believe sg / in, consist of, lie to sy, attitude to, stare at sg/sy, look at sg or sy / for sy or sg / forward to doing sg / up sg / up to sy / down on sy

They accused him of stealing.

The workers complain about their working conditions.

Rely this task on me, I'll finish it in time.

He's so irritating, I always run out of patience.

Most people die of heart attack.

Thank you for your generous offer.

Now I'll succeed in doing this business.

It's not my fault. Don't blame me for breaking the glass.

I think of you a lot. I've been thinking about this issue for a week now.

I've never dreamt of such luck!

What did you hear about Paleo diet?

I don't believe a word he says. Do you believe in your own power?

This material consist of 3 parts.

Never lie to your therapist, anyway, how could she help you?

How can you have such a negative attitude to the poor?

I hate when a man stares at me.

Look at that photo. I'm looking for my glasses. We're looking forward to seeing you. I tried to look up this information but couldn't find it. I've always looked up to authentic people. Don't look down on less educated people!

I cannot rely on him (verb + prepostion)

Phrasal Verbs are idiomatic phrases which consist of a verb + a particle, typically a preposition.

Now we'll look at just some of them, the most important ones for the exam.

How do you know that it is a verb with a preposition, like: look at, or this is a phrasal verb? Well, a phrasal verb often has a different meaning than a verb + preposition.

E.g. I looked up and I could see a yellow helicopter. (Verb + presposition)

E.g. I looked up the unknown word in the dictionary. (Phrasal verb. Meaning: find information)

No-one will ever ask you if a verb is a phrasal verb or not, but anyway, you have to recognise if the verb + a particle (typically a preposition) have a strange meaning in the sentence, the most probably they belong together with a new meaning.

What makes it difficult, they can even be separated,


He knocked the glass over.

Don't let me down.

Give these books away.

The area of phrasal verbs is huge. Here we'll focus on just two fields as examples that are most often asked at the exams.

1. Look + its prepositions:

look at, look for, look after, look up, look up to, look down on, look forward to (+ ing), look out!

If you don't know them, check them in the dictionary.

2. Verb + up:

be fed up (with sg/sy), wake up, get up, give up, take up, keep up, stand up, stand up for sy, speak up for sy, grow up, bring up, hurry up, pick up sg, pick sy up, do up, set up, put up, shut up, hold-up, hands-up, keep up with sy) warm up, call up, put up, put up with sy/sg, blow up, break up, split up, push-up, come up (with an idea), show up, turn up, hang up, count up to (100), pump up, cheer up, beat up, tear up, own up, cover up, mix up, boil up, roll up, add up, brush up, lock up, dress up, wind up, end up (with), what's up, time is up, sell up, hush up, burst up (in tears), clear up, make up, make up for sg, make up with sy, make up your mind

Don't let me down (phrasal verbs)

Try to figure out the rules:

You are tired, aren't you?

She lives in Sydney, doesn't she?

We'll go swimming, won't we?

You could speak Russian, couldn't you?

She wasn't good at tennis, was she?

Sue cannot dance well, can she?

Notice that for a question-tag we use that auxiliary that you would use when starting its “yes-no” question. The second rule is that, if the sentence is positive, “no” form comes in the tag, and if the sentence is negative, there is no “no” form in the tag.

Notice that, the question-tag of “let's” is: “shall we?”, and for the imperatives: “will you?”

E.g.: Let's go dancing, shall we?

E.g.: Turn down the music, will you?

Take care and do not mix the above tags up with these kinds of sentences:

- “She is pretty.” “Is she?”

- “I didn't sleep at all.” “Didn't you?”

- “My mum can speak five languages.” “Can she?”

You must recognise that in this examples there are two speakers. “B's” questions express surprise, meaning: “Really?”

She is pretty, isn't she? (Question tags)

“I live in Australia.” - “So do I.”

“My father is old.” - “So is my father/So is mine.”

“I will win.” - “So will I.”

You can see, in these examples, “B” expresses: “me, too.”

However, what can “B” say if he/she is/does/has/did/will/… “not”? B will answer: “But I am/do/can/will/did/… not.”

The above sentences are positive. Let's see negative sentences, and the same types of responses:

“I don't speak French.” - “Nor do I.” (or Neither do I.)

“I wouldn't lie.” - “Nor would I.” (or Neither would I.)

“I haven't got used to this noise.” - “Nor have I. (or Neither have I.)

Both “nor” and “neither” is correct, it's up to you which you choose.

Summarising the possible answers:

“I have got a horse.” “So have I.” or: “But I haven't.”

“I don't have a horse.” “Nor/Neither have I.” or: “But I have.”

I love beer. So do I. (So will I & nor can my wife)

Look at these two sentences:

- The man who is standing there is my brother.

- The police are examining the evidence which has been found in the attic.

In clauses like this you can drop who/which + “be” in the given tense, so the sentences look like this:

- The man (who is) standing there is my brother. - The man standing there is…

- The police are examining the evidence (which has been) found in the attic. - … the evidence found…

Notice that you can drop just together “who/which/that + be (in the right form)”. It is incorrect to say sentences like: The man is standing there is my brother. / The man who standing there is my brother.

What sentences could you form with these words:

bird chirping, baby crying, items sold, items being sold, shoes worn out…

The “items being sold” can be a problem for you, however, the same rule applies:

… items which were being sold…

E.g. I spent all my money on items (which were) being sold on sale.

A man standing, evidence found (noun + verb+ing/ed)

What is the difference between these two sentences:

- I have a 5-year-old child.

- My child is 5 years old.

In the first sentence “5-year-old” is an adjective that gives information about the age of my child.

This time we do not use “s” after “year”, and we use hyphens.

Are you not sure when to use it? That so simple: if you find the noun after the adjective, it is always hyphenated, like in this example:

- a 30-minute lecture, or: a lecture which took 30 minutes

- a 3-legged chair, or: a chair that has 3 legs

- a 70-year-old teacher, or: a teacher who was 70 years old

- a 2-room flat, or: a flat with 2 rooms

A 5-year-old child, a 10-page letter

The more I work, the more I earn.

What does it mean?

If I work 2 hours I earn 50 dollars.

If I work 4 hours I earn 100 dollars.

If I work 6 hours I earn 150 dollars.

However: The more I work, the less I sleep.

If I work 8-9 hours, I sleep around 7-8 hours. But if I work more, I sleep less.

Sometimes I work 12 hours and then I sleep only 6 hours, or less.

In English we can express how 2 verbs relate to each other by the form of: “the more … the more...” It does not mean you always use these words, but you must use “the” + comparative form of the adjective.


- The more I ate the fatter I got around my waist.

- The louder my neighbour listened to the music the angrier I become.

- The nicer you are to others, the happier you will feel.

However, instead of: “The sooner something gets done the better it is.” - we take a shortcut, and say: The sooner, the better.

The sooner, the better (the more... the more)

“It” and “There” is still a question at intermediate, high-intermediate and advanced level.

See the next examples:

It is your mother who always complains about something.

It is the management that cannot control the situation.

It is money that causes such a headache for most people.

Of course you could say:

- Your mother always complains…

- The management cannot control…

- Money causes…

However, using the structure of “it is … who/that...” emphasises the subject.

What about “there”? You learnt that we use “there” if we tell, for example, where something can be found. E.g. There is a good pub at the corner.

You can also use there with must be, should be, might be, etc.


- Is there a cheap ticket to Budapest? - Yes, there must be, I'll look around.

- There aren't any lights on. There can't be anyone in the office.

- If people were more tolerant, there would be more peace, joy and laugther.

It is your mum, who... There might be a mistake... (it-might)

When learning a new word I strongly advise you to learn its noun, verb, and adjective forms, too.

What does it mean?

You meat the word: competitor – this is the person, who compete.

So, the verb is: compete. Noun: competition. Adjective: competitive.

If you learn the words this way your vocabulary will immensely improve in short time.

Let's see some examples:

to examine – exam / examination (examiner, this is the person) – exmining/examined

to exist – existence – existing

to take (your) revenge – revenge – vengeful, revengeful

to help – (a) help – helpful/helping (hand)

to inform – information - informative

Wish-wish-wishful (word-builder)

Collocations are two or three words in English that likes each other's company, that's why they often co-locate together more often than it would be by chance, e.g. a newborn baby or newly wedded. These two examples are strong collocations, because if they can be often found together, but there are light collocations, too, such as: speak English, or play football.

Why are they important for us?

If you are preparing for a language exam, you meet a lot of gap-filling exercise. It is very important for you quickly find out what type of word is missing. Of course for that you must know a lot about how English grammar works, for example, in Reported Question you cannot use a question word order. E.g. He asked how I was.

To be able to fill in a gap quickly and accurately you need to lots of collocations, that can be:

- an adjective + a noun: sharp knife

- noun + verb: babies cry

- verb + adverb: run quickly

- adverb + verb: vaguely remember

- a verb + preposition (phrasal verbs): look for

- a verb + noun: share a house

Very interesting to note that if you change a word in the collocation into a synonym, most often you will get something strange: e.g. we don't say: quick train, but “fast train”, and we don't say fast shower, but “a quick shower”.

Bloody hell! (collocations)

Let's see the usage of “had better” and “would rather”.

Had better is used to give advice. It is correct to say:

- I'd better go home now.

- You'd better not answer just listen.


- I'd better you listened. - Note that, after: “I'd better you/he/we… “ the verb is used in the 2 nd form (that we also use for past tense. So, this is not past tense, only the form is the same!)

Would rather means: would prefer, but used in the same way as “had better”.

- I'd rather have a word with him.

- I'd rather not answer his arrogant style.


- I'd rather you left very now. (Again, don't forget, this is not past tense!)

+1: I'd better you left now! (had better & would rather)
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Thank you very much for this journey! I have really enjoyed it and I hope you also have.

If you are still with me, it means you are really committed and engaged. These qualities will lead you to great success!

With these 33+1 grammars, plus with my previous courses of Decoding Eglish Verb Tenses, Decoding 3 Great Grammar Pieces, and Decoding 3 More Great Grammars you have accomplished the 7 Greatest Grammar of English.

Now, your turn comes: Practise!

I often experience that students love to get new information, they love to have “ahha” moments when they recognise something new, or when “penny drops”. However, real learning takes place if it is engages not just the cognitive part of the brain but when we “stretch”, when we make certain effort to put the theory into practice.

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Good luck if you take an exam.


My last words & Your next steps
About the Instructor
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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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