Just get on with it! Phrasal verbs with ‘get’.

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter
phrasal_verbs_get
My last blog about phrasal verbs attracted a lot of comments. Many of them were from people who find phrasal verbs difficult. One reason is that so many of them are formed with very common verbs such as get, give, set, or put.

I totally understand why this is a problem, and as I often say to my students, I do apologise for the English language! However, saying sorry won’t help, so here is the first in a series of blogs looking at phrasal verbs formed with common verbs, in this case get.

Firstly, it may sound obvious, but start by learning the most common phrasal verbs. A good place to begin is with a small learner’s dictionary. For example, the Cambridge Essential Dictionary, written for beginners, has only 9 phrasal verbs with get. In other words, the people who…

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Take it away! (Phrasal verbs that use ‘take’)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford​​​​
takeitaway
Continuing with our occasional series on the subject of phrasal verbs, we look this week at ones formed with the verb ‘take’.

Phrasal verbs are extremely common in English. That is why teachers are so keen to teach them even to beginners. One of the first phrasal verbs that students of English learn is take off, meaning ‘to remove something, often a piece of clothing’:

I was hot so I took my jacket off.

Students also learn early on the aeroplane sense of the same phrasal verb, meaning ‘to begin to fly’:

Twenty minutes later, the plane took off.

Note that this sense is intransitive, meaning that it has no object.

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Think long and hard; the language of decisions

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter​
think_long_and_hard
One of the best ways (perhaps the best way) to improve your English is to learn how words go together in phrases, idioms, or other patterns such as verb/noun or adjective/noun pairs (often called ‘collocations’).

This blog looks at some useful phrases and collocations connected with the subject of decisions, something we often discuss.

Firstly, make is the verb most often used with decision, but we often say that we reach or come to a decision too, especially when we need to put a lot of thought into it (= think about it carefully).

If we have a difficult/tough decision to make, we will want to take time to considerthepros and cons/advantages and disadvantages of the possible choices (= the good and bad things about them). We will weigh them up (= decide which are most important) carefully. When…

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You must read this! (‘Have to’ or ‘must’?)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford
youmust
In these blogs we make a point of looking at areas that often cause difficulties for learners of English. This week we are considering how we talk about obligation – the fact that we mustdo something, either because of a rule or some other need. We will start with the differences between ‘have to/need to’ and ‘must’, and when we use one and not the other.

Have to/Need to

The first thing to say is that if we want to talk about something that it is necessary to do, ‘have to’ and ‘need to’, (followed by the infinitive of the main verb), generally sound correct and natural:

You have to/need to be there for eight o’clock.

I have to/need to get some money out.

You have to/need to get a form from the office.

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Present perfect or past simple?

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

present_perfectby Kate Woodford
Present perfect or past simple?

This is a tricky area of the English language for low-level learners, so let’s look again at the rules.

When we start studying English, we learn that to talk about an action that started and finished in the past, we use the past simple tense, (for regular verbs, the base verb + -ed):

I finished the course a month ago.

cooked dinner.

We saw Jamie yesterday.

Notice that we naturally use time expressions with the past simple – yesterday, amonth ago, 2005, etc. Remember that when we use one of these words or phrases, we do not use the present perfect tense:

I’ve been to the USA in 2008.

I went to the USA in 2008.

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What are you doing tonight? – the future in English

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford
What_are_you_doing_tonight

The future in English is complicated. The problem is that there are so many different ways of talking about it, and the differences between those various ways are sometimes quite slight. This week and next, we’re looking at the range of tenses and structures that we use to talk about the period of time that is to come.

We’ll start with a really useful tense – the present continuous (be + v-ing), (Notice, by the way, that we’re not starting with ‘will’ – more of that later…):

We are having dinner with friends tonight.

I’m seeing the dentist tomorrow.

What are you doing this weekend?

I’m starting my course next month.

We use this tense for talking about the planned future – things that we have already arranged to do. We use it both in statements and questions, and…

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What will you be doing this time next week? – the future in English part 2

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford
What_will_you_be_doing_this_time_next_week
Last week we looked at the most basic tenses and structures that are used for talking about the future. This week, we’re considering some more future tenses and structures and thinking about exactly how they are used.

Let’s start with the present simple. Like the present continuous, this tense can be used for talking about future events that are planned, or ‘in the diary’:

We leave for France next Tuesday.

Term starts next week.

Her plane getsin at three in the morning.

Notice that two of the above examples relate to events that are not only planned, but planned by someone else, as part of an official diary or timetable. This is a typical use of the present simple for future events.

We should mention another important use of the present tense for relating the future, and one that students sometimes get…

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