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Tip Sheet

Im going to show you how to deal with ten of the most typical aspects of
English grammar that are tested on the CAE Use of English paper, part 4. Of
course, there are many other grammar points that are tested, but all you
need to do is follow the same basic concepts that are explained here in order
to analyse the sentences and find the answer.

Heres a list of what you will find here.

AS SOON AS IMMEDIATELY

INVERSION

ACTIVE PASSIVE

WISH + PAST PERFECT

COMPARATIVES

FUTURE FORMS

NO ANY

POSITIVE NEGATIVE

GERUND/INFINITIVE

The single best piece of advice I can give you is this: FOCUS ON FORM, NOT
MEANING. Form refers to how the sentence is constructed grammatically.
This is a lot more important than what the sentence or the words mean.

To do this you will need to develop your ability to:

a) analyse sentences, so you know whats going on and how to use that
information to help you find the answer.

b) memorize example sentences so you dont have to always be thinking


about the grammar, you can just use your memorized example
sentence as a model which you can copy.

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AS SOON AS IMMEDIATELY

Lets look at our first example:

1. Please contact me immediately when you get the results.

AS

Please let me know as soon as you get the results.

To make it easier, lets take the analysis in steps.

Step 1

We look at the second sentence and see whats missing. Here its the concept
of immediately and something that means the same as contact me and
starts with let. So we are being tested on two things here.

Step 2

We ask ourselves this question: Do we know any words or phrases that


mean the same as immediately? Do any of them contain the word as? This
leads us to as soon as.

Step 3

Now ask: Which phrase starting with let means the same as contact me?
This leads us to let me know.

And there we have our answer.

NOTE

In this transformation steps two and three are interchangeable.

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INVERSION

2 The fight started as soon as I walked through the door.

SOONER

No sooner had I walked through the door then the fight started.

Lets break this one down in steps as well.

Step 1

Whats missing? Something that means the same as as soon as and


something that means the same as walked through the door.

Step 2

The given word is sooner, so logically we can assume that the phrase which
means the same as as soon as must include the word sooner. This leads us
to no sooner.

Step 3

Ask yourself: How does no sooner work? What always follows it (or at
least, what almost always follows it)? Well, we can learn all about that when
we study a grammatical concept called inversion This is where we invert the
subject and the verb. Normally, we would say I had walked, right? But here,
with the phrase no sooner, we invert the words I and had. We use this
technique to create a more dramatic effect.

Now studying inversion is definitely a good idea, but lets say you hate
grammar and you dont have much time to study, so heres a short cut:
simply memorise a sentence with No sooner! And heres a great exam tip, as
soon as you sit down and the invigilator says you can begin, write your
memorised no sooner sentence down on the exam paper. Dont wait till you
get to part 4 and need to remember it, write it down straight away. Then
when you need it later, you have it right there as a reference

So lets say we either know that no sooner is used with inversion or we use
our memorised sentence, either way we arrive at No sooner plus inverted
subject/verb and verb in past perfect tense. The verb of course we know is to
walk, so theres our answer!

NOTE 1

Even if you dont know the meaning of the verb you can still arrive at a
correct answer by following these steps!

NOTE 2
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Inversion is frequently tested on this part of the test. If you can get one into
your written composition, that would also be very good! Do a search on
Google using grammar inversion rules to learn more, or ask your teacher for
help.

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ACTIVE PASSIVE

Another aspect of English grammar that is tested all the time in this exercise
is Passive Voice. Typically you will get an active sentence and then you will
have to change it to passive. Like this:

3 They warned me not to go to certain parts of the town because they were
too dangerous.

WARNED

I was warned not to go to certain parts of the town because they were too
dangerous.

So heres the breakdown:

Step 1

What is missing? They warned me is missing, and not to go is missing.

Step 2

The rewrite starts with I. Why? Where does this come from? It comes from
the me in the original sentence. This should (hopefully) tell you that we are
looking at an active-passive transformation.

Step 3

Following our active to passive rules we see that the verb in the given
sentence is warned and that it is in the past simple tense. We take this verb
and put it into the V3 form, (identical in spelling and pronunciation but
different grammatically). As warned is our given word, we now have the
given word used correctly. Great!

Step 4

Still following our active to passive rules, we add the auxiliary verb to be,
which we need to form the passive. We know that the verb warned in our
original sentence is in the simple past. Therefore our auxiliary verb to be
must also take the simple past, and this gives us was warned.

Step 5

We need to decide if we need to include the agent or not. This is the person
or thing doing the action (the subject in the original sentence). In our
example the agent is they. This would then give by them in our rewrite.
BUT when we have an undefined subject/agent in the active sentence we DO
NOT need to specify the agent in the passive sentence, e.g. here we DO NOT

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write by them. This is ugly and unnecessary and it just plain sucks. Dont do
it!

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Step 6

Our passive construction is now finished (was warned), so now we need to


look at what else is missing. We already know it is not to go. So ask yourself
this question: Can I simply use these same words? The answer here is YES of
course! And thats the answer.

NOTE 1

When you see the first sentence start with the very vague and non-defined
pronoun they, you should immediately think, Aha! This is probably an
active-passive transformation. Note the word probably, but most of the time
you will be right. We do not like active sentences which start with an
undefined they in English, we find them ugly. So we use passive sentences
instead.

NOTE 2

Not all active-passive transformations start with they. You must look
carefully, using the step-by-step process to see if it is an active-passive
transformation or not.

NOTE 3

This grammar point is tested very often indeed, so you really should know it
well. Also, with a bit of practice it is really easy! Do a search on Google for
active to passive transformations or ask your teacher for help.

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WISH + PAST PERFECT

Heres another one that examiners love.

4 I regret breaking up with my girlfriend.

HAD

I wish I hadnt broken up with my girlfriend.

So what is going on here? Lets have a look:

Step 1

Whats missing? Its regret and breaking.

Step 2

How else can we express the concept of regret? Well, when we regret
something we did do, we can say we wish we hadnt done it and when we
regret something we didnt do, we can say we wish we had done it. This is
the meaning of the word regret in this context. When used with a gerund (-
ing form), regret expresses something about the past that we wish we had
done differently.

Step 3

We need to decide if our rewrite is going to be in the positive or negative


form. In order to know which it is we ask ourselves a yes/no question. This is
a question that gives the answer yes or no. If the answer to our question is
yes our rewrite must be in the negative and if the answer to our question is
no our rewrite must be in the positive.

Here we would ask:

Did you break up with your girlfriend?

The answer, of course, is:

Yes, you did.

So here the rewrite needs to be in the negative it is something that you did
which you wish you had not done.

Step 4

Now we need to make our rewrite with wish. So we need to learn how wish
sentences that express regret are formed. They take the past perfect like this:

subject + wish + same subject + had +V3


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Remember that our example is in the negative form. Our verb is to break, so
that gives us: I wish I hadnt broken.

Again, you can simply learn the grammar or memorise a regret sentence and
then memorise the matching wish sentence.

There is a lot more to wish. It can be tested in many ways and often is. Do a
search on Google with wish in English grammar for more information, or ask
your teacher.

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AS KEEN ON

Heres another one with that tricky little word as:

5 I am a lot keener on travelling than my sister.

AS

My sister isnt as keen on travelling as I am.

Step 1

This time we cannot simply ask what's missing? because the two sentences
are very different. Instead, lets ask the question What's going on?

Well, we can see that the original sentence is a comparative sentence in the
positive. It says something about me and travelling compared to something
about my sister and travelling. How do we know? Because the word keener
is an adjective in the comparative form with an -er ending. And we have the
word than, which always indicates comparison.

You don't need to know what keener means, you only need to know the
pattern: keen - keener keenest. Focusing on form (= grammatical
structure) is usually more useful than focusing on meaning.

Step 2

Now let's look at the rewrite. The first thing to notice is that it doesn't start
with I, it starts with my sister. Next we see the verb is in the negative.
Logically, if I am keener on X than my sister is, then my sister is not as keen
on X as I am. Logic is a very useful tool in language learning!

Step 3

The given word is as, so we know that this must be a variation of the
structure as + adjective + as, but this would give us as keen as I am, which
isn't right because on travelling is missing. If we can say keener on
travelling, then we can also say keen on travelling and now we have our
answer.

Note

These transformations should be really easy - you learn how to do


comparative sentences in your first week of learning English. Perhaps you
remember the following two sentences:

John is taller than Sally. Sally isn't as tall as John.

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The only difference at CAE level is that the sentences are a bit more complex
but if you follow these simple steps. Everything will become clear.

Remember these transformations are tested all the time, so it's really worth
your while spending some time studying comparisons.

LIKELY

Now, as you should know, there are many ways to talk about the future in
English; it is not so simple as a future tense, or even different future tenses.
We can use the present simple, the present continuous, going to , future
simple, future continuous, future perfect and then we also have different
expressions to express degrees of probability/certainty that can go with the
present simple e.g. likely, bound to, no doubt, expected. Most students know
the future tenses more or less, but many students forget to study these
expressions and of course, they are often tested on this part of the exam. So,
lets have a look:

6 Well probably win the contract.

LIKELY

We are likely to win the contract.

Step 1

What's missing? Well, its

i) a future tense OR a word or expression that has future meaning

ii) probably

iii) the verb to win

Step 2

The clue here is probably, so we need to ask ourselves: how else do we


express probability in English? This leads us to likely.

Step 3

Now we need to think about how likely works. It goes with the verb to be in
the present simple and is followed by the infinitive + to construction, which
gives us are likely to win. Which is the answer.

Note

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You should always ask yourself: Is it necessary to change the verb? If there
is a way to complete the rewrite using the same verb as in the original
sentence, then probably that is the correct answer.

You can find more of these expressions and see how they work by doing a
search on Google on talking about probability in English, or ask your teacher
for help.

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NO - ANY

Another area which confuses many students is the use of NO and ANY (also
NOBODY/ANYBODY and NOTHING/ANYTHING). Heres an example:

7 I have no plans to leave Austria.

PLANS

I dont have any plans to leave Austria.

Step 1

As soon as you see a word like no or nobody or nothing in the original


sentence you should immediately ask yourself: Is it possible to do the rewrite
with the matching word, that is, any, anybody or anything? (And vice versa
of course ). Remember: it WONT always be this that is being tested, you
will have to analyse the sentence carefully to make sure, but usually it will be.

Step 2

So, how do we do the rewrite with the matching word? Well, with no/any it
works like this:

no is a negative word that goes with the noun when the verb is in positive
I have so therefore no plans

any is a negative word that goes with the noun when the verb is in negative
I don't have so therefore any plans.

Note

You should also notice that the given word will NOT typically be no or any,
that would be too easy!

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REPORTED SPEECH EXAMPLE ONE

Direct Speech to Reported Speech is another aspect of English grammar that


is often tested, especially with specific reporting verbs. Here is our first
example:

8 Dont touch my computer! said Alan.

TOLD

Alan told me not to touch his computer.

Step 1
As soon as you see that the original sentence is in direct speech, you can be
sure that the rewrite will be in reported speech so the question to ask
yourself is: How do I do this in reported speech?

Step 2
The given word is told. This is the V2 form of the verb to tell, so we need to
think about how tell works grammatically. Well, we tell SOMEONE to do
SOMETHING.

Step 3
Now that we have our basic structure (tell someone to do something), we
need to fit our example to it. The verb in the original is touch, so we know
our answer must include to touch. However, in the original it's in the
negative form, so our answer must be negative as well. So we have to think
about how to use a negative with the infinitive.

The best way to do this is to memorize an example (and remember to write it


down at the beginning of the exam). A good one is the famous quote from
Hamlet by Shakespeare: To be or not to be. So that gives us not to touch.

Step 4
Ok, so now we need to know which word to use for someone. Alan could be
speaking to me or him or her or them. All these options would be correct
but well stick with me for our example.

Step 5
Lastly, we need to change the word my. When Alan is speaking, he is talking
about himself, so of course he says my computer. When you are reporting
what Alan said Alan is in the third person (this means that he is not you and
nor is he the person you are speaking to). Alan is a mans name so we have
to use his the third person masculine singular form that matches my.

Note
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Many people have problems with reported speech but it follows a very clear
logic, all you need to do is to take it slowly and analyse the given sentence
piece by piece to get your answer. See how important it is to learn how to
analyse?

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REPORTED SPEECH EXAMPLE TWO

Our second example is with the verb refuse.

9 I will not go out with you, said Janet.

REFUSED

Janet refused to go out with me.

Step 1
As soon as you see that the original sentence is in direct speech, you can be
sure that the rewrite will be in reported speech so the question to ask
yourself is: How do I do this in reported speech?

Step 2
The given word is refused. This is the V2 form of the verb to refuse, so we
need to think about how refuse works grammatically. Well, we refuse to do
SOMETHING.

Step 3
Now that we have our basic structure (refuse to do something), we need to
fit our example to it. The verb in the original is go out with, so we know our
answer must include to go out with.

Step 4
At this point many students get confused because following the logic of
previous examples we see that the original sentence is in the negative and
therefore think that the rewrite should also be in negative. But here we have
to remember that to refuse to do something is the same as saying you will
not do something. The negation is already contained in the verb refuse. So
we do not need a negative word. And there we have our answer: Janet
refused to go out with me. Easy!

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INFINITIVE/GERUND

Another very commonly tested transformation is INFINITIVE/GERUND.

10 I always avoid talking to the boss if I can.

NOT

I try not to talk to the boss.

Once again, here you are being tested on two things: changing a positive
sentence to a negative sentence and going from a gerund to an infinitive.
Whenever you see a gerund, you should immediately think: Aha! A gerund
so, can I make a new sentence with an infinitive? So, step one, we take
talking and change it to to talk. We now have our infinitive. Step two: we
need to use the word not, so we remember our Shakespeare mnemonic from
before (To be or not to be, remember?) and we get not to talk. Step three:
We know that its always talk to someone so we probably dont need
anything between talk and to the boss.

Step four: we know we need a verb after I and we know that avoid always
takes gerund, so it cant be avoid. We need to think of a construction that
means the same as avoid AND which also includes the meaning of if I can
because these words are not in the second sentence and the two sentences
have to be as close in possible in meaning. We know from our own
experience of life, or simply because its obvious, that you cant always avoid
talking to the boss, but you can try not to. So theres our answer. Simple

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