English Grammar - Elementary


Could is the past tense of Can. The negative is could not or couldn't.

+ Could / Couldn't + INFINITIVE VERB


I could speak French very well when I was young.
My father could drive when he was eighteen, but my mother couldn't.
Could you dance when you were ten or did you learn later?
I couldn't open the window last night, it was frozen closed!

Could is also a modal verb and can be used to make polite requests.


Could you tell me the time, please?
Could I borrow the newspaper for just a minute?

Present Simple For Future

The Present Simple can be used to talk about scheduled future events, often related to timetables. We used the present simple as the event is considered "fixed" and unlikely to change time/place.


My train leaves at 7pm tomorrow and I arrive in Toronto at 9pm.
The conference begins on Monday and finishes on Thursday afternoon.
Bob Palmer retires next year, we have to think about his replacement.

Note: Only use the Present Simple to talk about the future for this type of "timetabled" events.


A contraction in English is when two words are joined together and shortened using an apostrophe. The most common use is for subjects are verbs, especially 'to be' and 'to have'.


I'm a builder.
We're not sisters.
They're very unhappy.
We've got three dogs.

Contractions are also used to make negatives in English, using auxiliary verbs such as "do", "be" and "have".


I don't like Mondays!
We aren't very happy today.
My uncle Jack doesn't work anymore.
They haven't been to the museum.

Note: Contractions are not used in short answers.
Q: Are you from Italy?
A: Yes, I am. NOT Yes, I'm.

Be careful how you make the contraction. Usually, the apostrophe takes the place of the vowel.

No, we aren't. NOT No, we are'nt.

English Learning Lounge - iOS App

Our app for iOS to help you improve your English!

  • Full Grammar explanations.
  • Exercises to help with Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening, Reading and Pronunciation.
  • Exam Levels - First, Advanced, Proficiency, IELTS, TOEFL
  • Authentic English listening and reading materials.
  • Fun, imaginative quizzes and games.
  • Full statistics. Track your progress as your English improves!
  • Download today for FREE!


Generally, most nouns in English are regular and you simply add -s to the word.

car → cars
laptop → laptops
bottle → bottles
wall → walls

If the word ends in a s-type sound (s/sh/z/ch, etc), you add -es to the word.

catch → catches
kiss → kisses
buzz → buzzes
watch → watches

Most words ending in -y remove the 'y' and add -ies in the plural.

cherry → cherries
lady → ladies
curry → curries

Most words ending in -o add -es in the plural.

potatos → potatoes
hero → heroes

There are also many irregular plurals which you will need to learn and remember:

child → children
woman → women
wife → wives
sheep → sheep
foot → feet
tooth → teeth
person → people


Spelling can seem to be very complicated to those studying English. But there are some basic rules you can follow to make things a little easier:

1. Y as a long "i": The letter Y makes a long sound of I when it comes at the end of a short word that doesn't have any other vowel.

Examples: by, fly, cry, try, my, hi.

2. Y as a long "e": When 'y' or 'ey' ends a word in an un-stressed syllable, the y has the long sound of e.

Examples: key, money, honey, many, funny.

3. I before E: The spelling is 'i' before 'e' when the sound is long 'e' except after the letter 'c'.

Examples: relieve, relief, reprieve. Notice the change when there is a c preceding the ie: deceive, receipt, receive, ceiling, conceive.

4. E before I: Write e before i when the sound is a long 'a'.

Examples: reign, weight, freight.

5. Oi or Oy: Use "oi" in the middle of a word and use "oy" at the end of a word.

Examples: soil, boil, foil, ahoy, boy, toy.

6. Ou or Ow: Use "ou" in the middle of a word and use "ow" at the end of words other than those that end in n or d.

Examples: house, mouse, mount, borrow, throw, cow.

7. The "ch" sound: At the start of a word, use "ch." At the end of a word, use "tch." When the "ch" sound is followed by "ure" or "ion", use t.

Examples: champion, choose, pitch, watch, catch, picture, rapture.

8. Double Consonants: When b, d, g, m, n, or p appear after a short vowel in a word with 2 syllables, you should double the consonant: b, d, g, m, n, or p.

Examples: manner, rabbit, dagger, banner, drummer.

9. Short-Vowel Rule: When one-syllable words have a vowel in the middle of the word, the vowel normally has a short sound:

Examples: hat, mom, dog, cat, dad, got. If the letter after the vowel is f, l, or s, this letter is often doubled. Examples: staff, ball, pass.

10. Two-Vowels Together: When two vowels are next to each other, the first vowel is usually long (the sound is the same as the sound of the letter) and the second vowel is silent.

Examples: mean, seam, plain, jeans, rain, goat, road, lie, pie.

© 2001-2024 esl-lounge.com