What is a Pronoun?

Give me two pronouns. Who me?
That’s Not My Job! This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

Pronoun Comparison
Infographic illustrating different types and uses of pronouns

Pronoun Case
subjective, objective, possessive

Pronouns Quiz
Test yourself on the above points


Difference Between Been and Being

Been vs. Being

The proper usage of grammar has been a very big issue, most especially for those who are not native English speakers. It has also been a challenge for many, as to how to properly use some of the English language’s tenses, when there seems to be a lot more than just the plain old past, present and future tenses. In this regard, two words have been quite a nuisance for English beginners, and these are been and being.

If you are confused with the usage of the two, here is a simplified explanation of its proper usage and differences. Foremost, both words are classified as participles, which is simply explained as their ‘to be’ notations. Being is specifically identified as the present participle, whereas been is the past participle. In this connection, it is important to note that almost all present participles have their verb forms ending in ‘ing’, like walking and dancing, (so these verbs are in their present participle tense). The ending of past participles, on the other hand, happen to be in ‘ed’ form, like walked or danced, but there are a few irregular notations, such as swum and spoken.

Being as the present participle, can be used in situations that happen in the present, in a continuous or progressive sense, and in the passive voice or tone. For example, French subjects are being taught in Washington. Thus, it is clear that the action is being done in a continuous fashion. Similarly, being can also be applied in past situations that are still continuous, like, ‘French subjects were being taught when I came to Washington’. Clearly, it is evident that the action was continuous at a certain point in the past.

On the contrary, been as the past participle, and in its passive voice, is applicable in many tenses or situations like the following:

Ø Present perfect tense ‘“ She’s been to Washington thrice.

Ø Present perfect progressive tense ‘“ She’s been working in Washington thrice.

Ø Past perfect tense ‘“ She’s never been in Washington before.

Ø Past perfect progressive tense ‘“ When she came to Washington for the first time, she had been learning French for four years.

Ø Present perfect tense in its passive notation ‘“ French students have been educated sufficiently.

Ø Past perfect tense in its passive form ‘“ John did very well in his exam. The lesson had been taught very objectively.

In summary:

1. Being is present participle, whereas been is past participle.

2. Been can be applied to more tenses compared to being.

Read more: Difference Between Been and Being | Difference Between

Difference Between Going To and Present Continuous

The present continuous tense and the phrase ‘going to’ can overlap at times. Both of them are used to talk about future decisions. The present continuous tense has more possible uses than that, but when used to talk about the future, it does have a different meaning.

Present continuous is, essentially, when the present participle form of a verb – which is usually the one that ends in –ing – is used with a present-tense form of ‘to be’: ‘am’, ‘are’, and ‘is’.

“I am watching television.”

There are a few verbs that cannot be used as a continuous form, which are known as non-continuous. They generally represent things that are not actions that can be seen, such as emotions, desires, or possession. All of those things – loving, wanting, owning – are abstract, while most normal verbs – running, jumping, reading – are concrete actions that you can see someone doing.

The first use of present continuous is to express that an action is happening at the present time, and that it is ongoing.

“She is watering the garden.”

Secondly, it can be used to talk about a bigger project that is in progress. These are usually things that will take a long time to complete, even if they are not being worked on at the time of speaking.

“I am writing a novel.”

It can also be used to talk about a recurring behavior with an adverb like ‘always’ or ‘constantly’, which are placed between the ‘to be’ verb and the present participle. This is almost always used to express irritation at that behavior, and it’s most often used in the third person.

“He’s always changing the subject when I try to talk about my writing.” 

Finally, we have the use that overlaps with ‘going to’: actions that will happen in the near future.

“We can’t do that, because you’re visiting your mother this weekend.” 

‘Going to’, as mentioned above, means something similar to the last example. It is a future tense, and talks about things that will happen because they have been planned,

“I am going to study pre-law.”

It can also mean things that have been predetermined in another way, such as by fate or because other things are pointing toward it happening.

“It is going to rain tomorrow.”

It does look like an example of a present continuous verb, since ‘going to’ is the present participle of ‘go to’, and it is typically used with a present tense of ‘to be’. It actually can be used as a present continuous verb when the sentence is discussing travelling to another place.

“I am going to London.”

You might notice a difference between the present continuous usage and the normal usage. In the present continuous example, ‘am going to’ is the only verb. The other examples each have another verb: ‘study’, ‘run’, ‘rain’, and ‘end up’. In the other examples, ‘going to’ is a modal or auxiliary verb, which means that it is used to modify other verbs.

There is also a difference between using ‘going to’ and a present continuous verb.

“I am going to get a cat.”

“I am getting a cat.”

The second sentence is about getting a cat and the first sentence places more emphasis on the ‘going to’ part. The first sentence focuses more on the decision to get a cat, while the second focuses more on the act of getting the cat.

To summarize, the present continuous form is used to talk about things that are happening, whether in the moment, over a long period of time, or are recurring. It can also be used to talk about future events. ‘Going to’ modifies other verbs to make them future tense. When talking about future events, a present continuous emphasizes the events while ‘going to’ is more about the decision to make those evens happen.

Read more: Difference Between Going To and Present Continuous | Difference Between

Difference Between “Have To” and Must”


“Have to” and “must” are very similar in meaning and can often times be used interchangeably. You can say: “She must go to the store” and “She has to go to the store.” The meanings here are the same. As such, many people use them in this way with no distinction. There are some differences that need to be noted, however, to use them properly.

“Must” is an example of a modal verb. Here are some examples of other modal verbs: can, could, shall, should, ought to, will, would, and might. They are used to with other verbs to express ideas like possibility and necessity. It should be noted that “have to” functions as a verb.

“Have to” serves to convey the idea of necessity. For example: “You have to go to the store.” And “I have to remember the password.” These sentences help the reader or listener to understand that it is necessary go to the store and to remember the password. “Have to” can also be used to strongly recommend that someone do or try something. “You have to see that movie, it was great.”

“Have to” can also be used with “to do with” to mean to deal with or concern something. For example: “What does this movie have to do with that book?” This shows that the movie and the play may or may not be related based on the context.

On the other hand, “must” is used to convey a stronger meaning than simply “have to”, it’s more forceful. “You must be here by 1:00pm.” In this sentence, the use of “must” gives more import to the need to be here by 1:00pm. However, it can also be used to show that something is logically the result of something else. For example, “The dog is barking, someone must be at the door.” Here we see that because the dog is barking, the logical conclusion to draw is that someone is at the door.

“Must” can also be used to emphasize a statement. For example: “I must say, this is an excellent meal” or “I must warn you, it’s dangerous in that part of town”. “Must” can also be used to express annoyance at some action, used primarily in American English. For example: “Must you play your music so loudly?” “Must” can also be combined with certain adjectives or nouns to denote things that are highly recommended as well. For example “That’s a must-see movie.” This cannot be done with the word “have”.

It should be noted that there is a difference in the negative forms. “Must not” is used much like a command, for example: “You must not smoke in here.” It’s letting you know that it is not permitted to smoke in here and that it is prohibited. But “not have to” isn’t quite as strong or limiting. For example, “You don’t have to pick me up at exactly 5:00.” This indicates that the individual is not required to pick the person up exactly at 5:00 but they can if they choose to.

While “must” and “have to” can often be used interchangeably, there are marked differences between the two. Knowing how they are used will give you more variety in speaking and writing in English. It will make your English much richer and full of meaning.

Read more: Difference Between “Have To” and Must” | Difference Between

Difference Between Should and Must

Should vs Must

The words “should” and “must” are modal auxiliary verbs or simply modals. They provide information about the function of the main verb following it. Both “should” and “must” are similar in meaning except that “must” is a much stronger word as compared to “should.”

“Should” is the past tense of “shall.”  “Should” is used to denote recommendations, advice, or to talk about what is generally right or wrong within the permissible limits of society. For instance:

  • You should chew your food properly.
  • We should respect our parents.
  • You should stop smoking.
  • You must clean our car regularly.

In all these statements, there is a probability or recommendation of some kind.

“Must” is used to talk about an obligation or a necessity. It is used when people are compelled to do something. For instance:

  • You must clean the house as your mom is not well.

Here, it is imperative that you clean the house or else the house won’t be cleaned and remain untidy.

  • We must obey the law.

This statement compels us to abide by the law or we will have to face the punishment enforced by the law.

  • You must hurry if you have to catch the train.

In this statement, it is emphasized that you certainly have to move quickly as you are running late. If you do not hurry up, you will miss the train. This sentence is an example of a compellation for achieving a certain aim.

  • One must keep his word.

Here again the sentence directs that people are required to or are compelled to do something (here it is keeping one’s word) by the use of threat or force.

The main difference between the two words “should” and “must” is that “must” is a stronger word, as mentioned before. The probability of “must” is much more than that of “should.” For instance:

  • You must do your homework now. (It is already late, and if you do not start doing your work now, you will not be able to finish your work on time. This will lead to punishment or a penalty.)

You should do your homework now. (It is the right time that you start doing your work.)

  • You must rest. (You are not well, and if you continue working, your health is going to get worse.)

You should take a rest. (You are tired, and if you do not take a rest, you are going to get sick.)

The synonyms of “should” include: ought, allow, feel, leave, become, suffer, sustain, allow, etc. The synonyms for “must” are: condition, demand, necessity, requirement, requisite, obligation, etc.


  1. “Must” represents more of an obligation while “should” represents a probability or recommendation.

Read more: Difference Between Should and Must | Difference Between

Exceptions for Conditional Sentences

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So far you have only learned the basic rules for Conditional Sentences. It depends on the context, however, which tense to use. So sometimes it’s possible for example that in an IF Clause Type I another tense than Simple Present is used, e.g. Present Progressive or Present Perfect.

Conditional Sentences Type I (likely)

Condition refers to: IF Clause Main Clause
future action Simple Present If the book is interesting, … Future I …I will buy it.
Imperative …buy it.
Modal Auxiliary …you can buy it.
action going on now Present Progressive If he is snoring, … Future I …I will wake him up.
Imperative …wake him up.
Modal Auxiliary …you can wake him up.
finished action Present Perfect If he has moved into his new flat, … Future I …we will visit him.
Imperative …visit him.
Modal Auxiliary …we can visit him.
improbable action should + Infinitive If she should win this race, … Future I …I will congratulate her.
Imperative …congratulate her.
Modal Auxiliary …we can congratulate her.
present facts Simple Present If he gets what he wants, … Simple Present …he is very nice.

Conditional Sentences Type II (unlikely)

Condition refers to: IF Clause Main Clause
present / future event Simple Past If I had a lot of money, … Conditional I …I would travel around the world.
consequence in the past Simple Past If I knew him, … Conditional II …I would have said hello.

Conditional Sentences Type II (impossible)

Condition refers to: IF Clause Main Clause
present Past Perfect If I had known it, … Conditional I …I would not be here now.
past Past Perfect If he had learned for the test, … Conditional II …he would not have failed it.


Conditional Sentences—Rules You Need to Know

  • There are four types of conditional sentences.
  • It’s important to use the correct structure for each of these different conditional sentences because they express varying meanings.
  • Pay attention to verb tense when using different conditional modes.
  • Use a comma after the if-clause when the if-clause precedes the main clause.

Conditional sentences are statements discussing known factors or hypothetical situations and their consequences. Complete conditional sentences contain a conditional clause (often referred to as the if-clause) and the consequence. Consider the following sentences:

If a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens.
I would travel around the world if I won the lottery.
When water reaches 100 degrees, it boils.

What Are the Different Types of Conditional Sentences? There are four different types of conditional sentences in English. Each expresses a different degree of probability that a situation will occur or would have occurred under certain circumstances.

  • Zero Conditional Sentences
  • First Conditional Sentences
  • Second Conditional Sentences
  • Third Conditional Sentences

Let’s look at each of these different types of conditional sentences in more detail.

How to Use Zero Conditional Sentences

Zero conditional sentences express general truths—situations in which one thing always causes another. When you use a zero conditional, you’re talking about a general truth rather than a specific instance of something. Consider the following examples:

If you don’t brush your teeth, you get cavities.
When people smoke cigarettes, their health suffers.

There are a couple of things to take note of in the above sentences in which the zero conditional is used. First, when using the zero conditional, the correct tense to use in both clauses is the simple present tense. A common mistake is to use the simple future tense.

When people smoke cigarettes, their health will suffer.

Secondly, notice that the words if and when can be used interchangeably in these zero conditional sentences. This is because the outcome will always be the same, so it doesn’t matter “if” or “when” it happens.

How to Use First Conditional Sentences

First conditional sentences are used to express situations in which the outcome is likely (but not guaranteed) to happen in the future. Look at the examples below:

If you rest, you will feel better.
If you set your mind to a goal, you’ll eventually achieve it.

Note that we use the simple present tense in the if-clause and simple future tense in the main clause—that is, the clause that expresses the likely outcome. This is how we indicate that under a certain condition (as expressed in the if-clause), a specific result will likely happen in the future. Examine some of the common mistakes people make using the first conditional structure:

If you will rest, you will feel better.
If you rest, you will feel better.

Explanation: Use the simple present tense in the if-clause.

If you set your mind to a goal, you eventually achieve it.
If you set your mind to a goal, you’ll eventually achieve it.

Explanation: Use the zero conditional (i.e., simple present + simple present) only when a certain result is guaranteed. If the result is likely, use the first conditional (i.e., simple present + simple future).

How to Use Second Conditional Sentences

Second conditional sentences are useful for expressing outcomes that are completely unrealistic or will not likely happen in the future. Consider the examples below:

If I inherited a billion dollars, I would travel to the moon.
If I owned a zoo, I might let people interact with the animals more.

Notice the correct way to structure second conditional sentences is to use the simple past tense in the if-clause and an auxiliary modal verb (e.g., could, should, would, might) in the main clause (the one that expresses the unrealistic or unlikely outcome). The following sentences illustrate a couple of the common mistakes people make when using the second conditional:

If I inherit a billion dollars, I would travel to the moon.
If I inherited a billion dollars, I would travel to the moon.

Explanation: When applying the second conditional, use the simple past tense in the if-clause.

If I owned a zoo, I will let people interact with the animals more.
If I owned a zoo, I might let people interact with the animals more.

Explanation: Use a modal auxiliary verb in the main clause when using the second conditional mood to express the unlikelihood that the result will actually happen.

How to Use Third Conditional Sentences

Third conditional sentences are used to explain that present circumstances would be different if something different had happened in the past. Look at the following examples:

If you had told me you needed a ride, I would have left earlier.
If I had cleaned the house, I could have gone to the movies.

These sentences express a condition that was likely enough, but did not actually happen in the past. The speaker in the first sentence was capable of leaving early, but did not. Along these same lines, the speaker in the second sentence was capable of cleaning the house, but did not. These are all conditions that were likely, but regrettably did not happen.

Note that when using the third conditional, we use the past perfect (i.e., had + past participle) in the if-clause. The modal auxiliary (would, could, shoud, etc.) + have + past participle in the main clause expresses the theoretical situation that could have happened.

Consider these common mistakes when applying the third conditional:

If you would have told me you needed a ride, I would have left earlier.
If you had told me you needed a ride, I would have left earlier.

Explanation: With third conditional sentences, do not use a modal auxiliary verb in the if-clause.

If I had cleaned the house, I could go to the movies.
If I had cleaned the house, I could have gone to the movies.

Explanation: The third conditional mood expresses a situation that could have only happened in the past if a certain condition had been met. That’s why we use the modal auxiliary verb + have + the past participle.

Exceptions and Special Cases When Using Conditional Sentences

As with most topics in the English language, conditional sentences often present special cases in which unique rules must be applied.

Use of the Simple Future in the If-Clause

Generally speaking, the simple future should be used only in the main clause. One exception is when the action in the if-clause will take place after the action in the main clause. For example, consider the following sentence:

If aspirin will ease my headache, I will take a couple tonight.

The action in the if-clause is the aspirin easing the headache, which will take place only after the speaker takes them later that night.

“Were to” in the If-Clause

The verb phrase were to is sometimes used in conditional sentences when the likely or unlikely result is particularly awful or unthinkable. In this case, were to is used to place emphasis on this potential outcome. Consider these sentences:

If I were to be sick, I would miss another day of work.
If she were to be late again, she would have to have a conference with the manager.
If the rent were to have been a penny more, they would not have been able to pay it.

Note that the emphatic “were to” can be used to describe hypothetical scenarios in the present, future, and past.

Punctuating Conditional Sentences

Despite the complex nature of conditional sentences, punctuating them properly is really simple!

Here’s the skinny:

Use a comma after the if-clause when the if-clause precedes the main clause.

If I’d had time, I would have cleaned the house.

If the main clause precedes the if-clause, no punctuation is necessary.

I would have cleaned the house if I’d had time.

What’s the difference? ‘Will’ and ‘be going to’

Will + infinitive Be going to + infinitive
A decision at the moment of speaking:

Julie: There’s no milk.
John: Really? In that case, I’ll go and get some.

A decision before the moment of speaking:

Julie: There’s no milk.
John: I know. I’m going to go and get some when this TV programme finishes.

A prediction based on opinion:

I think the Conservatives will win the next election.

A prediction based on something we can see (or hear) now:

The Conservatives are going to win the election. They already have most of the votes.

A future fact:

The sun will rise tomorrow.

For promises / requests / refusals / offers:

I’ll help you tomorrow if you like.

More examples:

    • (The phone rings)
      Julie: I‘ll get it!
      (‘I’m going to get it’ is very strange because it makes us think that Julie knew the phone was going to ring before it did).


  • I‘m going to go on holiday next week.
    (‘I’ll go on holiday next week’ makes it sound like you’ve only just decided at that minute. Of course, this is possible, but normally we plan our holidays more in advance!).

Other points about the future:

We use the present continuous tense for definite future arrangements. Often, it doesn’t really matter if we choose ‘be going to’ or the present continuous. In the following example, there is really very little difference in meaning:

  • I‘m going to the cinema tonight.
  • I‘m going to go to the cinema tonight.

We use the present simple tense in two cases. First, we use it for a timetabled event in the future, like public transport or the start of a class:

  • My train leaves at six tonight.
  • His class starts at 9 am tomorrow.

Second, we use it after certain words, when the sentence has a future meaning. These words are: before / after / as soon as / until / when:

  • I’ll call you when I get home.
  • She’s going to study after she finishes dinner.
  • Please drink some water as soon as you complete the race.


Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs).

Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation.

There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English (literature) and learning useful phrases off by heart (study tips).

The following table contains rules for some of the most frequently used prepositions in English:

Prepositions – Time

English Usage Example
  • on
  • days of the week
  • on Monday
  • in
  • months / seasons
  • time of day
  • year
  • after a certain period of time (when?)
  • in August / in winter
  • in the morning
  • in 2006
  • in an hour
  • at
  • for night
  • for weekend
  • a certain point of time (when?)
  • at night
  • at the weekend
  • at half past nine
  • since
  • from a certain point of time (past till now)
  • since 1980
  • for
  • over a certain period of time (past till now)
  • for 2 years
  • ago
  • a certain time in the past
  • 2 years ago
  • before
  • earlier than a certain point of time
  • before 2004
  • to
  • telling the time
  • ten to six (5:50)
  • past
  • telling the time
  • ten past six (6:10)
  • to / till / until
  • marking the beginning and end of a period of time
  • from Monday to/till Friday
  • till / until
  • in the sense of how long something is going to last
  • He is on holiday until Friday.
  • by
  • in the sense of at the latest
  • up to a certain time
  • I will be back by 6 o’clock.
  • By 11 o’clock, I had read five pages.

Prepositions – Place (Position and Direction)

English Usage Example
  • in
  • room, building, street, town, country
  • book, paper etc.
  • car, taxi
  • picture, world
  • in the kitchen, in London
  • in the book
  • in the car, in a taxi
  • in the picture, in the world
  • at
  • meaning next to, by an object
  • for table
  • for events
  • place where you are to do something typical (watch a film, study, work)
  • at the door, at the station
  • at the table
  • at a concert, at the party
  • at the cinema, at school, at work
  • on
  • attached
  • for a place with a river
  • being on a surface
  • for a certain side (left, right)
  • for a floor in a house
  • for public transport
  • for television, radio
  • the picture on the wall
  • London lies on the Thames.
  • on the table
  • on the left
  • on the first floor
  • on the bus, on a plane
  • on TV, on the radio
  • by, next to, beside
  • left or right of somebody or something
  • Jane is standing by / next to / beside the car.
  • under
  • on the ground, lower than (or covered by) something else
  • the bag is under the table
  • below
  • lower than something else but above ground
  • the fish are below the surface
  • over
  • covered by something else
  • meaning more than
  • getting to the other side (also across)
  • overcoming an obstacle
  • put a jacket over your shirt
  • over 16 years of age
  • walk over the bridge
  • climb over the wall
  • above
  • higher than something else, but not directly over it
  • a path above the lake
  • across
  • getting to the other side (also over)
  • getting to the other side
  • walk across the bridge
  • swim across the lake
  • through
  • something with limits on top, bottom and the sides
  • drive through the tunnel
  • to
  • movement to person or building
  • movement to a place or country
  • for bed
  • go to the cinema
  • go to London / Ireland
  • go to bed
  • into
  • enter a room / a building
  • go into the kitchen / the house
  • towards
  • movement in the direction of something (but not directly to it)
  • go 5 steps towards the house
  • onto
  • movement to the top of something
  • jump onto the table
  • from
  • in the sense of where from
  • a flower from the garden

Other important Prepositions

English Usage Example
  • from
  • who gave it
  • a present from Jane
  • of
  • who/what does it belong to
  • what does it show
  • a page of the book
  • the picture of a palace
  • by
  • who made it
  • a book by Mark Twain
  • on
  • walking or riding on horseback
  • entering a public transport vehicle
  • on foot, on horseback
  • get on the bus
  • in
  • entering a car  / Taxi
  • get in the car
  • off
  • leaving a public transport vehicle
  • get off the train
  • out of
  • leaving a car  / Taxi
  • get out of the taxi
  • by
  • rise or fall of something
  • travelling (other than walking or horseriding)
  • prices have risen by 10 percent
  • by car, by bus
  • at
  • for age
  • she learned Russian at 45
  • about
  • for topics, meaning what about
  • we were talking about you

Exercises on Prepositions