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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Reported speech – how to say what someone told you

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter
reportedspeech
We often need to tell people what someone else has said to us:

He said he wanted to come with us.

She told me she hadn’t seen the document.

This is what the textbooks call ‘reported speech‘, because you are reporting what has been said to you.

To use reported speech correctly, you have to be careful about what tense you use. The basic rule is that you look at the tense the speaker used, then you go back one tense to report it.

So, for instance, if someone says something in the present tense, you report it in the past tense:

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Stressed?

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford

stressedIf you had a break over the festive period, I hope you came back feeling relaxed. But now that you’ve been back at work for a few weeks, you’re probably already starting to feel stressed (=worried and nervous). Of course you are – we’re all stressed (or stressed out), and we never tire of talking about it! So let’s look at some other ways to express it.

If you are tense,anxious or on edge, you are nervous and not able to relax: I felt so tense, waiting for the interview to start./You seem a little on edge this morning. Both tense and anxious are also used to describe situations that cause feelings of worry or nervousness, such as sports games: There were some tense/anxious moments in the second half of the game.

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Highly delighted, bitterly disappointed, ridiculously cheap: adverbs for emphasis.

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

[by Liz Walter]

adverbsforemphasis
We often make adjectives stronger by putting an adverb in front of them. The most common ones are very and, for a stronger meaning, extremely:

He was very pleased.

The ship is extremely large.

However, we don’t use very or extremely for adjectives that already have a strong meaning, for example fantastic, delighted, huge, furious. For these, the most common adverb is absolutely. Utterly is even stronger, and is usually used for adjectives with a negative meaning:

This apartment is absolutely perfect for us.

At the end of the day, I was utterly exhausted.

Really is slightly informal, and used both with strong adjectives and other adjectives:

Your shoes are really dirty.

Her bedroom is really tiny.

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