Frequently Asked Questions about English with answers and examples

Dear Readers! Do you want to speak English better? I’m pretty sure that most of you would like to improve English. So I thought I would share with you some real situations, frequently asked questions about English (Grammar, Tenses, Vocabulary…) that have been raised by my students, real English learners. I have set out in this post the actual question and my preferred reply with example. There can often be a few options so I have set out the options in each situation. It is always better to learn from questions raised by other students as they normally arise in others day to day English studies.

How to improve English? - Frequently asked questions about English grammar, vocabulary, English Tenses with detailed answers and examples

Questions about English raised by REAL English Learners

Q: Can you explain the use of WISH

A: Just to review the use of WISH in English

  • Present Tense (use past simple or continuous) Ex. I wish I were taller
  • Future Tense (could or would) Ex. I wish he would stop playing, I wish I could go home
  • Past Tenses (regrets) Ex. I wish I had not eaten that pizza (Past Perfect)

Q: If you have a minute: if a person learnt to run very fast when he was 5, will we say

  1. he can run so fast since his childhood,
  2. he could run so fast since his childhood or
  3. he has been able to run so fast since his childhood?

A: It depends on whether he learnt to run fast when he was a child and can still do so in that case I would say “he has been able to run so fast since his childhood”.

If he cannot run fast now you would say “he was able to run so fast when he was a child”.

The other options “he can run” and “he could run” do not work with SINCE as it is a time related word in English.

You could say – He could run so fast WHEN he was a child or He can run so fast now (can does not have a past format) only present (that is why we use could in this situation as a past format of can).

To help you better understand the use of SINCE in English, here is a short video lesson where I explain how to use SINCE in English and what is the difference between SINCE and FOR:

Q: My gran has artificial/fake/false/counterfeit teeth. Counterfeit – is about deceiving somebody on purpose, right? So it is wrong here. Fake is also about pretending, probably. But what is the real difference between the artificial and false in English?

A: The answer is False teeth as it is historic situation. When old people lose their natural teeth they get false teeth. In this sense they are also artificial because they are not natural. So in this situation even though we ALWAYS refer to them as false teeth there is no difference.

For example: In the war many soldiers lost limbs (arms and legs) when they came home they were often fitted with artificial limbs (not false limbs) even though the words are similar.

However, to demonstrate the difference between artificial and false let us look at this situation. A man was arrested by the police officer. When asked for his address he gave a false address (not artificial).

The difference is this false means untrue (literal meaning) or the opposite to the truth.  Artificial is the opposite to natural (man made).

Q: Hello Harry! 2 questions for you about English grammar rules if you have a minute!

1. The phone is ringing. I wonder who it can be. It ____ Nick. He promised to call at this time. He always keeps his promises. can/will/should/ought to

and

2. Let’s organize a fancy-dress ball! It ____ be really funny! has to/could/would/can

A: Hi, Good Day.

1. 2 possible answers: it will be Nick (as he promised to call at that particular time) or it should be Nick (he promised to ring but it could also be someone else)

2. It could be really funny (some might also say it would be funny but I prefer it could be)

If you need only 1 answer for No 1 then I would say will be.

Q: Good day! Could you please explain the difference between

How many guests will be there? and How many guests will there be?

A: There is a difference in the meaning, it is subtle. How many guests will be there means how many will be at the venue  (restaurant, party etc). How many guests will there be – is asking how many people in total. It may not sound different in some cases but it can be different.

The second option may best be used when booking a theatre or restaurant. I might say how many people will be there (in total at the theatre: the entire audience) when booking the theatre for my guests they may ask how many guests will there be? (How many tickets do you want/wish?) I hope this helps.

Q: There is a question – What’s the correct English tense to use in this exercise?

Why were you late yesterday?

I ___/wait/______ at the bus stop for over 40 minutes before the bus arrived.

A: I was waiting at the bus stop. – the Past Continuous Tense

Q: Hello, Harry! We have two simple sentences – I am in the office = I am at work. May we say “I am at the office”?

A: Yes it is used. In the office or in my office are both used, when actually in that place. At work or at the office is more general.

Q: If I say “I am at the office” cannot be understood, that I am near the office?

A: I am at the office will usually means the same as at work. Near the office will mean nearly there but not quite there yet.

That’s all for today. I hope that questions about English asked by my students, real English learners, will help you improve your English skills. Please feel free to ask YOUR questions about English Grammar Tenses, Vocabulary, etc in the comments below.

Intermediate English lessons via Skype with native English teacher

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