Personal and Impersonal Passive

Personal Passive simply means that the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence. So every verb that needs an object (transitive verb) can form a personal passive.

Example: They build houses. – Houses are built. Continue reading „Personal and Impersonal Passive“

Passives: object complements

After some verbs the direct object can be followed by an object complement – a noun or adjective which describes or classifies the object.

  • They elected him their leader.
  • The other children called her stupid.
  • We all regarded her as an expert.
  • Queen Victoria considered him a genius.

Continue reading „Passives: object complements“

Passives: Verbs with two objects

Many verbs can be followed by two objects – an indirect object and a direct object. The indirect object usually refers to a person and the direct object usually refers to a thing. Two structures are possible.

  • She gave me (indirect object) a nice gift (direct object).
  • She gave a nice gift (direct object) to me (indirect object).

Continue reading „Passives: Verbs with two objects“

Verbs not used in the passive

Not all verbs can have passive forms. Passive structures are not possible with intransitive verbs like die, cry or arrive, which cannot have objects.

  • He died yesterday.
  • The baby cried aloud.

Continue reading „Verbs not used in the passive“

Present perfect and simple past: differences

We do not use the present perfect with expressions that refer to a completely finished period of time, like yesterday, last week, when, then, five years ago, in 1995. The simple past is used with this meaning. Continue reading „Present perfect and simple past: differences“

Past verb forms with present or future meaning

A past verb form does not always have a past meaning. Verbs like I had, you went and I was wondering are often used to talk about the present or the future.

after if, unless, supposing etc.

After if, unless and words with similar meanings, we often use past verb forms to refer to the present or the future. Continue reading „Past verb forms with present or future meaning“

Present tenses to talk about the future

When we talk about future events which have already been planned or decided, or which we can see are on the way, we often use present tenses.

The present progressive

The present progressive is used mostly to talk about personal arrangements and fixed plans, especially when the time and place have been decided. Continue reading „Present tenses to talk about the future“


Need is used both as an ordinary verb and as an auxiliary verb.

As an ordinary verb

As an ordinary verb need is used in the sense of ‘require’. It has the usual forms needs and needed. Ordinary need is followed by an infinitive with to.

  • One needs to be punctual.
  • Everybody needs to be loved.
  • He needed some more time to decide the question.

Questions and negatives are made with do.

  • Do you need to go now?
  • I don’t need to talk to him.

As an auxiliary verb

Continue reading „Need“

Ought to

Ought is a modal auxiliary verb. There is no –s in the third person singular.

  • She ought to understand. (NOT She oughts to …)

Ought is different from other auxiliary verbs. It is used with to

  • We ought to respect our parents.
  • We ought to help the poor.

Note that to is dropped in question tags. Continue reading „Ought to“

Must and Have to: The difference

Both must and have to can be used to express the conclusion that something is certain. Note that have to is more common in American English.

  • He must be mad to do this. (OR He has to be mad to do this.)
  • You must be joking. (You have got to be joking.)

Conclusions about the past are usually expressed with must followed by the perfect infinitive (have + past participle). Continue reading „Must and Have to: The difference“