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LEAR TTED
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HANDBOOK
GRAMMAR
IS ALL YOU NEED
Complicated English Grammar
Explained Simply
COMPLICATED ENGLISH GRAMMAR
EXPLAINED SIMPLY
A GLIMPSE OF WHAT’S AHEAD:
1.
Articles: they finally make sense ………………………………………………………………….. 3
2.
Nouns: countable, uncountable, or…?................................................................. 6
3.
Pluralia tantum and singularia tantum: which is which?……………………….…..…. 10
4.
Bored or boring? Adjectives ending in -ED and -ING......................................... 13
5.
Prepositions of time: a moment of clarity …..………………………………………………. 16
6.
Prepositions of place: at, on or something more fun?…………………………………. 19
7.
Adjective and preposition combinations……………………………………………..…….… 22
8.
Adjectives and adverbs: what’s the difference? ……………………..……………….…. 25
9.
English tenses and their uses ………………………………………..………………….……... 28
10. Reported speech ………………………………………………………………………………..…..….. 33
11. Verb lists: infinitives and gerunds ………………………………………………….…..…..…. 37
12. DO or MAKE? ………………………………………………………………………………….……….... 41
13. How to use zero and first conditional ..............................................................
45
14. Second and third conditional: the sky is the limit …………………..……….………...
49
15. Mixed conditionals ………………………………….…………….………………………..………..
54
16. What is another word for IF? (Unless, provided that, supposing, etc.)………..
57
2
1 ARTICLES: THEY FINALLY MAKE SENSE
What is it? A word that is used with a noun or its equivalent. Articles
work similarly to adjectives in English.
What is the function of an article? An article defines a noun. Simply
put, it points out or refers to nouns.
LinguaHack: Articles describe a noun: whether it’s specific, or
mentioned for the first time, or general, or one of many, etc.
Articles define a noun as specific or unspecific.
Types: definite (THE) / indefinite (A, AN) / zero article (–).
THE DEFINITE ARTICLE “THE”
USE before:
• singular, plural, and
uncountable nouns
Also it can be used before:
•
something that’s already known:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
The school I go to is located not far
from my home.
something specific:
There are many schools in NY, but the
school in my neighborhood is the best
one.
collective adjectives:
the rich, the poor, the elderly etc.
unique phenomena:
the sun, the moon, the sky etc.
geographical features:
oceans, seas, deserts etc.
time of day:
the morning, the evening
titles:
The Queen, The King in the North etc.
centuries, decades:
the 1950s
musical instruments:
the cello, the piano
last names:
The Smiths, The Potters etc.
LinguaHack: try replacing THE with THIS. If the meaning doesn’t change, you’ve
chosen the right article.
3
THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE: “A” AND “AN”
USE before:
• singular nouns only
DO NOT USE before:
• uncountable or plural nouns
Also it can be used before:
• something mentioned for the first
time:
I stayed in an Italian villa last year.
Did I tell you about this?
• something general and not specific:
A dog is a man's best friend.
LinguaHack: A is used before nouns which begin with consonant sounds: a cat, a
school. Important! Make sure to check the sounds, not letters. A noun may start
with a vowel which is pronounced as a consonant: a [ju]niversity — university, a
[ju]phoria — euphoria.
AN is used before nouns which begin with vowel sounds. Important! A noun may
start with a consonant which is pronounced as a vowel, in which case you should
use AN: an [-]onest lady — honest.
ZERO ARTICLE
USE before:
• singular, plural,
and uncountable nouns
Also it can be used before:
• abstract, uncountable nouns:
sugar, conscientiousness
• countries, cities and states:
Austria, Paris, Maryland
exceptions:
the UK, the USA, the People's Republic
of China...
• months, years:
January, March
• days of the week:
Monday, Sunday
• games, sports:
cricket, swimming, hide-and-seek
• lakes, certain mountains, islands:
Lake Chad, Elbrus, Borneo
exceptions: archipelagoes
the Bahamas
• agencies, public institutions:
church, prison, hospital
4
What is mechanical memory?
There is visual memory (which activates when you read) and mechanical memory
(which activates when you draw or write). Mechanical memory helps us remember
the most complicated things for a long time. So, we created a special section for
notes under each chapter. Feel free to make notes any way you want. Use colored
pens to activate your visual memory. Or, simply use this space to write down new
words!
5
2 NOUNS: COUNTABLE,
UNCOUNTABLE, OR…?
Some English nouns can be both countable and uncountable. Is there
any difference? You bet! It all comes down to the meaning of the
word.
For example, you know that “time” is what we measure in seconds,
minutes, hours, days, etc. But “time” also has a second meaning of
experience. For instance:
I have been to the USA three times.
When using “time” both as a concept and as duration, the noun itself
is considered to be uncountable. However, “time” can be countable
when we use the word to mean experience.
How much time did it take to finish the project?
You need to repeat this sentence several times before you
memorize it.
There are many similar examples in English where the meaning of the
word changes depending on whether it’s countable or uncountable.
Let’s take a look at the most common ones where it’s important to
know the difference between the meanings to speak and write fluent
English.
Countable: help or assistance (as in “means”):
Dictionaries are a great aid in learning English.
AID
Uncountable: something that provides help, support, or relief, such as
money or medical supplies:
He refused medical aid as he didn’t trust the doctors.
Countable: a type of bird:
My family has a chicken and some rabbits in our garden.
CHICKEN
Uncountable: meat of the bird that is cooked and eaten:
I prefer chicken over pork.
COFFEE
TEA
BEER
WATER
Countable: when talking about a specific number of beverages:
Can I get 3 teas?
Uncountable: beverage in general:
He really likes drinking tea, but my choice is always a cup of coffee.
6
Countable: observation of facts or events:
EXPERIENCE
All these experiences in my life made me who I am now.
Uncountable: knowledge or skills:
I have a lot of experience in web development.
Countable: confession:
FAITH
My dad was raised in the Christian faith.
Uncountable: strong belief in something (not in religious sense):
I have faith that we’ll reach all of our goals.
Countable: a specific meal or dish:
FOOD
The food was great, thank you for the dinner!
Uncountable: something that people and animals usually eat:
We need food to survive.
Countable: : a political right:
Animals have freedoms too, they can’t be kept in cages.
FREEDOM
Uncountable: the quality or state of being free, having a free will:
When I climbed the mountain, I experienced a feeling of complete
freedom.
Countable: a drinking container:
GLASS
Pour the water into the glass, please.
Uncountable: glass as material:
The vase is made of colored glass.
Countable: fine threads:
HAIR
My dog’s hairs are all over the apartment!
Uncountable: hairs collectively:
Monica has the shiniest hair I’ve ever seen on a girl.
Countable: a tool to smooth clothes:
IRON
An iron is an appliance that most households have.
Uncountable: material (metal):
That ancient sword was made of solid iron.
Countable: any device serving as a source of illumination:
LIGHT
Christmas lights always fascinate me.
Uncountable: energy, physical phenomenon:
I woke up because of the light coming from the window.
Countable: a person or thing that you love:
LOVE
He was my first love in the high school.
Uncountable: the feeling of liking in general:
I feel so much love inside of me!
Countable: something remembered from the past; a recollection:
She had a lot of memories of them together.
MEMORY
Uncountable: the ability to remember information, experiences, and
people:
It’s important to keep your memory sharp even when you get older.
Countable: a specific sound:
NOISE
She made a funny noise that made us laugh.
Uncountable: a loud or unpleasant sound:
I don't really like loud noise.
7
Countable: a newspaper, essay, any kind of a written document:
PAPER
To obtain a new passport, one must prepare all the necessary papers first.
Uncountable: a material that you write on or wrap things with:
The envelope was made of beige paper.
Countable: a distinctive attribute or characteristic:
An employee must have such qualities as honesty and open-mindedness.
QUALITY
Uncountable: the standard of something as measured against other things
of a similar kind:
The quality of this Turkish fabric is exceptional.
Countable: a certain, usually specified, amount or number of something:
QUANTITY
Energy production leads to large quantities of hazardous wastes.
Uncountable: total amount or number in general:
It’s usually better to choose quality over quantity in production.
Countable: a part or division of a building enclosed by walls, floor, and
ceiling:
ROOM
Can we find a free room to have a conversation?
Uncountable: space that can be occupied:
Let’s make some room in the center, where we could dance.
Countable: silence as a specific period of time when nobody’s talking or
making any sounds (for example, embarrassed silence):
SILENCE
The silence between us was almost touchable.
Uncountable: as a state of silence in general:
I love silence and being alone in my room.
Countable: a period of time when a person is asleep (for example,
napping):
SLEEP
A healthy 8-hour-sleep is what you need right now.
Uncountable: a temporary state of inactivity:
Sleep is what every human being needs for living.
Countable: an act of smoking tobacco:
SMOKE
— Want to have a smoke outside now?
— I already had one, thanks.
Uncountable: a visible suspension of carbon in air, typically one emitted
from a burning substance:
This smoke was thick and black, like a veil.
Countable: a specific rate:
SPEED
The shape of this car is made for higher speeds.
Uncountable: distance traveled per unit of time:
150 km/h is the maximum speed on this highway.
Countable: the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for:
SUCCESS
The play was a success!
Uncountable: favorable or desired outcome:
I want to be proud of my success, not apologize for it.
Countable: a piece of fine art:
WORK
You are a work of art, honey.
Uncountable: something done or made:
My work includes checking emails and making coffee for my boss.
8
9
3 PLURALIA TANTUM AND
SINGULARIA TANTUM: WHICH IS
WHICH?
Sounds a little intimidating, doesn’t it? But don’t let these Latin
phrases scare you. They mean simple things.
A pluralia tantum is a noun that appears only in the plural form,
while singularia tantum is a noun that has no plural form and is only
used with singular verbs.
It’s that simple. Let’s dive deeper and see which nouns fall under
these two categories.
SINGULARIA TANTUM
Singularia tantum can be found in the following classes of nouns:
•
abstract nouns:
•
materials, substances:
•
singular nouns that end in -S:
•
some other nouns:
wealth, love, anger, kindness, fun
water, wine, cheese, copper, bread, milk
news
advice, information, progress, knowledge, money, hair
If you want to use these nouns in plural, you can add a word “piece”
which indicates a portion of something or a part of the whole. For
example:
She gave me a nice piece of advice the other day.
FUN FACT: there is an exception to every rule, and this rule… is no
exception! Here are a few examples:
•
names:
•
when a noun can also be countable:
•
Clean Waters
Can I get three coffees?
when an abstract noun becomes specific and changes its
meaning:
Will you invite all your little loves to the birthday party?
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PLURALIA TANTUM
Pluralia tantum can be found in the following classes of nouns:
•
some academic disciplines/fields:
•
some diseases/conditions:
•
clothes that come in pairs:
•
games:
•
tools and devices:
•
some proper nouns:
•
nouns with the same singular and plural forms:
•
collective nouns:
•
other nouns:
linguistics, physics, ethics, maths, politics etc.
measles, rickets, rabies, mumps, diabetes, heebie-jeebies,
jimjams, jitters, hysterics etc.
suspenders, breeches, trousers, slacks, shorts, leggings, pants,
jeans etc.
bowls, billiards, draughts, darts, cards etc.
scissors, shears, glasses, stairs, tweezers, scales, arms,
pincers etc.
the Middle Ages, Athens, the Netherlands, the Highlands, the
Canaries, Maldives, Bahamas, Levis, the United Nations, the
United States etc.
means, headquarters, series, crossroads, species, works,
barracks
people, police, gentry, cattle, staff
goods, customs, quarters, belongings, outskirts, suburbs, the
tropics, pros and cons, manners, guts, congratulations, troops,
clothes, arms, credentials, odds, surroundings
LinguaHack: Some of these words can be used in singular form
HOWEVER the meaning will be different.
Clothes becomes cloth (woven fabric), glasses (pair of lenses) becomes
glass (material or container), and quarters (a place where someone lives)
becomes quarter (one fourth of something).
As you can see, a noun changes its meaning, that’s why we only consider
one meaning when talking about pluralia tantum nouns.
11
12
4 BORED OR BORING? ADJECTIVES
ENDING IN -ED AND -ING
You know -ED and -ING as endings of English Simple and Progressive
tenses. However, these also serve as endings for verbal adjectives
(i. e. an adjective which is similar to a verb in form and meaning). It’s
not always easy to understand the difference, especially if you have
just started learning English. But we are here to help! First step is to
understand when either ending is used.
An adjective ending in -ED describes a CONDITION, EXPERIENCE of
an object or a person (usually temporary):
entertained (pleasantly occupied); tired (in need of rest or sleep)
An adjective ending in -ING describes a QUALITY (usually
permanent):
entertaining (funny and enjoyable); tiring (causing one to need to
rest)
These adjectives are used to describe people or situations.
HOWEVER, they have different meanings:
My teacher is boring. vs. My teacher is bored.
My teacher is not interesting. vs. My teacher lacks interest.
Here is another example with the word “shocking.”
I was shocked by this accident. vs. I found this accident rather shocking.
Both sentences have different structures, but the meaning stays the
same. Each adjective has its own function:
As a person, I felt surprised (-ED), and the situation caused the
feeling of surprise (-ING).
Grammatically there are different ways to express the same
meaning:
My husband is so depressed. vs. My husband is feeling down.
13
Commonly confused adjectives ending in -ED and -ING:
confusing — confused
exciting — excited
frightening — frightened
worrying — worried
interesting — interested
thrilling — thrilled
exhausting — exhausted
surprising — surprised
amazing — amazed
annoying — annoyed
troubling — troubled
insulting — insulted
inspiring — inspired
fascinating — fascinated
This is just a short list of pairs of commonly confused adjectives in English. It’s
possible to form them from transitive verbs, however they may sound strange, so
it’s always a good idea to look them up in a dictionary.
IMPORTANT! Adjectives ending in -ED/-ING form comparatives and
superlatives with more/less and most/least unlike other adjectives
for which -er/-est is added.
He seemed like the most interested one in the crowd.
She is less annoyed than I am.
LinguaHack: Since adjectives ending in -ED and -ING are derived from
verbs, they keep some of the verbs’ properties. One of them is that
adjectives ending in -ED use the same prepositions as the verbs from
which they are derived. For example, I’m interested IN something, she is
worried ABOUT something... In contrast, adjectives ending in -ING do not
share this feature. Always make sure to check with a dictionary.
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15
5 PREPOSITIONS OF TIME:
A MOMENT OF CLARITY
What is a preposition of time in English? A preposition of time allows
us to discuss a specific time period when something happened, is
happening or will happen in the future. This refers to a date, time of
the day, month, etc. Prepositions of time might also indicate the
duration of an action.
There are three main ones: multifaceted IN, AT and ON. And a few
others: since, during, to, for, etc. Each of them has a specific function.
All together they help describe numerous situations. It’s
recommended to learn them all to understand and be able to
properly apply them in context.
AT/IN/ON are often used to indicate a particular time of an action. For
example: I went fishing on Monday. I cross stitch in the evenings.
LinguaHack: In this case, prepositions of time emphasize the fact
of an action happening at a specific time NOT the duration of an
action.
• clock time:
at 8 PM, at 6 o’clock
AT
• with words: night, midnight, sunrise, sunset, dawn
• with the word: weekend (UK English)
• with words: moment, minute
at that moment, at the minute
• with words: beginning and end, followed by of:
at the end of the week
• meals:
at breakfast, at dinner
• holidays that don’t have “day” in their name:
at Christmas, at Easter
• time of the day (exception: at night):
in the morning, in the afternoon
• months and time of year:
in August, in winter
IN
• years, decades, centuries:
in 1995, in the 90s, in the 15th century
• semesters, terms, quarters:
in the first semester
• academic years/grades:
in my 1st university year, in the 7th grade
• meaning “during”:
I’ll easily do this in an hour.
• meaning “an interval of time before something”:
I’ll start doing this in 30 minutes.
16
• days of the week:
on Sunday, on Sunday evening
• dates:
on the 4th of July; on September, 5
ON
• holidays that have “day” in their name:
on my birthday
BUT: at birthday party
• with the word day:
on this day in history
• with the word weekend (US English)
• with the word vacation
• on holidays (UK English)
IMPORTANT! Do NOT use prepositions of time with the following
marker words:
•
•
•
•
•
next day, week, year, month, etc.
last Monday, night, year, etc.
this afternoon, month, etc.
every day, night, years, etc.
also with: today, tomorrow, yesterday
Below you will find a list of prepositions of time which are used to
indicate that an action is happening for some time (with no indication
of the beginning or end), it ended or it has started at some point in
the past and is still happening.
DURING
FOR
SINCE
UNTIL
TO
• throughout the course or duration of a period of time:
during our conversation, during my exam, during this semester
• to show an amount of time up until now:
I’ve been a teacher for 5 years.
• from a definite past time until now, focus is on the starting point in
the past:
He’s been learning English since the school years.
• up to the point in time, focus on the end point:
The party won’t start until I walk in.
• when paired with “from” to indicate the beginning and end of
something:
from Monday to Friday
• to indicate time:
It’s ten to six.
PAST (US) • to indicate time:
It’s 20 past/after six.
AFTER (UK)
BY
• indicating the end of a particular time period:
I’ll be there by 6 PM.
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18
6 PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE: AT, ON
OR SOMETHING MORE FUN?
Now it’s time to move on to the next category of prepositions:
prepositions of place. Prepositions of time indicate WHEN an action
happens, while prepositions of place indicate WHERE it happens.
The most common prepositions of place are... the same AT,
IN and ON.
• to be inside a particular institution for
a particular reason:
AT
at the hospital, at school
• to be at an event:
at a conference, at the party
• to be near something:
she waited for me at the door.
What’s the difference between AT
and IN? The preposition AT is used to
describe the fact of a person or thing
being at a geographical location,
while IN indicates that the person or
thing is actually inside the structure
or place.
For example:
I was in the university but then I went
out for a smoke.
I was at university today and had
3 classes.
• to be inside a closed space, whether
abstract or specific:
IN
in the box, in the car, in the film
• compass directions:
in the North, in the South
• cities and countries:
in New York, in Russia
LinguaHack: try adding “building” to
the situation you are describing, if it
sounds right and doesn’t make the
sentence redundant, it means you
should use IN.
• to be located on a surface:
lying on the table, sitting on the sofa
• to be located directly next to a river:
on the coast, on the shore, on the
beach
• to be located on a road:
on my way, on this path, on the road
ON
• to be located inside a vehicle, public
transport:
on the train, on the bus
• floors:
on the 5th floor
• directions:
on the left/right
• TV, radio:
on the TV, on the radio
19
There are many other prepositions of place.
IMPORTANT! All prepositions could be used with either specific or
abstract spaces. Very often prepositions of place and time are used in
metaphorical transfers and idiomatic expressions. For example:
to be under pressure = to experience stress
to run away from one’s problems = to avoid problems
to be under control = to be controlled
to be on edge = about to lose control, acting crazy
ABOVE
BELOW
UNDER
ACROSS
TO
at a higher level or layer:
11 km above sea level
the clouds above us
at a lower level or layer:
10 degrees below zero
He’s so much below average
a position below or beneath something:
To be under pressure»
The kitten is hiding under the car
from one side to the other of something:
The supermarket is just across the street
expressing motion in the direction of a particular location:
I go to school every day
expressing motion closer to someone/something:
TOWARDS
I was going towards him slowly
in relation to; often used with feelings, emotions:
I have no feelings towards him
FROM
INTO
ONTO
THROUGH
BY
NEXT
TO
BESIDE
OVER
to show the place where someone or something starts:
I came from Russia
to move INSIDE of something (into), to a position ON something (onto):
The dog ran into the house and jumped onto the sofa
from one end or side of something to the other:
I’ve been going through a lot of stress recently
He was crawling through the jungle
to be nearest in space or position:
The teacher is standing by/next to/at his desk
to be above or higher than something else:
She wore a jacket over a light blouse
We drove over the empty bridge
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21
7 ADJECTIVE AND PREPOSITION
COMBINATIONS
You already know that adjectives are words that are used to describe
the properties and qualities of people, things, places, i. e. nouns or
pronouns.
Sometimes adjectives occur in a sentence by themselves.
He is a handsome man.
My dad is strict.
There are many cases in which adjectives are combined with
prepositions. Failure to use the right preposition might result in a
loss of meaning. You might find something similar in your native
language.
Unfortunately, there is no rule to tell you which preposition goes with
which adjective. So, when you learn a new adjective, it's a good idea to
learn the preposition that goes with it, and memorize it. Here are
some examples of such combinations:
I’m amazed at it.
I’m disappointed in it.
I’m capable of doing it.
If you have something similar in your native language, make sure to
double check the prepositions in English—they might be completely
different.
As you study English, you will become more and more familiar with
how these combinations are used, but at first, it’s important to write
them down and memorize them.
Here is a list of most common adjective and preposition
combinations. Make sure to learn them by heart to be able to use
them correctly the next time you practice English with someone.
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AT
to be good/bad at
replace good/bad with any synonym: terrible, amazing, perfect,
awful…
to be surprised at
to be angry at
to be lucky at
IN
to be interested in
to be involved in
to be disappointed in
to be experienced/skilled in
ON
to be keen on
to be hooked on
to be based on
OF
to be afraid/scared/terrified of
to be fond of
to be proud of
to be capable of
to be tired of
to be aware of
to be certain/sure of
to be ashamed of
to be envious of
to be accused of
to be jealous of
to be guilty/innocent of
FOR
to be known/famous for
to be grateful/thankful for
to be prepared/ready for
to be responsible for
to be good/bad for
to be sorry for
WITH
to be angry with
to be (dis)satisfied with
to be pleased with
to be bored with
to be associated with
to be blessed with
to be friendly with
TO
to be married to
to be friendly to
to be similar to
to be rude to
to be allergic to
to be related to
to be used to
BY
to be amazed/shocked/impressed/fascinated/inspired... by
here you can use pretty much any other adjective that describes
feelings or emotions and is used in passive voice.
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24
8 ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS:
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
In English, an adjective describes a noun or pronoun, while an adverb
describes a verb or anything apart from a noun and pronoun and is
used to answer how questions.
It’s easy to form adverbs from adjectives. In most cases, an adverb is
formed by adding -LY to an adjective:
glad — gladly
nice — nicely
loud — loudly
light — lightly
FACT #1: If an adjective ends in -L, the letter duplicates in an adverb:
beautiful — beautifully
If an adjective ends in -Y, replace it with -I and add -LY:
crazy — crazily
If an adjective ends in -ABLE, -IBLE, or -LE, replace the -E with -Y:
simple — simply
FACT #2: To every rule there is an exception! The following adverbs
and adjectives have the same form:
close — close
free — free
live — live
daily — daily
hard — hard
long — long
early — early
high — high
low — low
fair — fair
late — late
right — right
far — far
like — like
wide — wide
fast — fast
likely — likely
wrong — wrong
25
Let’s go into detail about when to use adverbs and when to use
adjectives.
An ADJECTIVE is normally used:
1
Before a noun which it describes:
Rex is a very good and well trained dog.
I had wonderful teachers at school.
2
After linking verbs such as be, seem, look, feel, sound,
taste, smell, appear, which describe senses, and some other
verbs such as remain, stay, lie, get, grow, fall, prove, turn,
run.
These verbs are not action verbs, but verbs that link an
adjective to a subject providing more information about it.
You seem tired, get some sleep.
I need to prove him wrong!
Stay calm and enjoy English lessons!
An ADVERB is normally used:
1
To modify a verb, adjective or another adverb.
She danced very gracefully.
He got there incredibly quickly.
This assumption is perfectly accurate.
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9 ENGLISH TENSES AND THEIR USES
There are 12 basic English tenses, each of which belongs to one of
three categories: Past, Present and Future, like in many other
languages. Tenses can be Simple, Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect
Progressive.
Grammatical tense is a category that expresses action with reference
to time, the duration of an action, whether it has ended by the
moment of speaking or will only start in future. We can emphasize
various details about an action by applying the grammatically correct
tense.
There are two tenses in English which can be formed only with the
use of a verb: Present Simple (he writes) and Past Simple (he wrote).
For the rest of the tenses, you need to use auxiliary verbs such as be,
have, will.
It’s always difficult for language learners to study the tenses of a
foreign language, because oftentimes they are totally different from
their native language ones. This is due to cultural differences in
thinking.
For example, Present Perfect is sometimes confusing to learners.
You might think it’s a past tense and translate the sentence
accordingly. However, for English native speakers it refers to an
action that occurred or began in the past and continued to the present
time. Which means it’s a present tense. That’s why you should never
attempt to translate from your native language to English literally or
word-for-word. It’s important to learn to think as a native speaker
and consider all aspects of tense usage.
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Ready to learn the difference between all English tenses? Let’s dive in!
SIMPLE TENSES
This is usually the first type of tenses that every English language
learner encounters. It’s multifaceted and the most commonly used.
Genius lies in simplicity... Simple tenses are no exception!
Simple tenses are used to describe facts, habitual activities,
promises (will), guesses or assumptions about the future (will),
finished or one-time actions in the past.
Past Simple: I visited my aunt in the hospital yesterday.
Present Simple: I visit my aunt in the hospital today.
Future Simple: I will visit my aunt in the hospital tomorrow. Promise!
Past Simple is used for actions that happened at a specific time, for
example, a certain number of days/months/years ago, yesterday, last
summer, 3 months ago, at 8 o’clock, etc.
PROGRESSIVE TENSES
Progressive tenses, also called Continuous tenses, are used to
describe periods of time in the past, present, or future.
Grammatically progressive tense shows an “ongoingness” of the
action denoted by the verb rather than the result of an action. Present
Progressive is easy to recognize by common signal words such as
now, at the moment, this week, today.
Present Progressive is also used for definite future arrangements or
plans, when you know for sure that you will be doing something in
future (for example, attend an exhibition or go to someone’s birthday
party). This is no longer an assumption, it’s a plan that you have
decided or organized.
Past Progressive: I was studying in the morning yesterday.
Present Progressive: I am studying at the moment.
Future Progressive: I will be studying all day long tomorrow.
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PERFECT TENSES
Perfect verb tenses are the most difficult for English learners. The
term “perfect” can be confusing. Indeed, just take a look at the
examples below: these forms are way more complicated that
anything you’ve studied before.
Past Perfect: I had bought a new car before I realized I had gone
broke.
Something that happened before another action in the past. Past
Perfect is often used with Past Simple to make it clear which action
happened first.
Present Perfect: I have bought a new car and now I drive it every day.
An action that started in the past and continues to the present.
LinguaHack: Any one-time action in the past with a result in the present
is considered to be continued and incomplete. The focus is always on the
result: I’ve bought a car, so now I can drive it.
Future Perfect: I will have bought a new car by 2021.
Action will have been completed at some point in the future. The
focus is again on the result, not on the duration of an action, no
matter how long it takes to complete it.
PERFECT PROGRESSIVE TENSES
Past Perfect Progressive: I had been learning English before I went
to college.
Present Perfect Progressive: I have been learning English for 10
years.
Future Perfect Progressive: I will have been learning English for a
decade by 2021.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We’ve seen it somewhere before... Oh,
we know!
LinguaHack: Check out the Perfect tenses and the rules of their usage.
Now switch the focus from the result to the duration of an action. Bingo!
You now know when to use Perfect Progressive tenses!
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It’s no secret that all these tenses are very confusing. The rule of
thumb is to keep it simple. If you can say something using the simple
tenses, there is no need to form complicated and sophisticated
structures rich in Past Perfect Progressive and Future Perfect
tenses. You should be able to form them and use properly, but they
don’t have to become a part of your everyday life.
VERB
TENSES
PAST
PRESENT
FUTURE
PERFECT
PROGRESSIVE
PERFECT
PROGRESSIVE
SIMPLE
It is going to
rain tonight.
It rained yesterday.
It rains every spring.
PAST SIMPLE verb
PRESENT SIMPLE
verb
WILL + V-inf or BE
GOING TO + V-inf
It was raining when
I went to school.
It is raining
at the moment.
It will be raining
by the time I get
to school.
WAS/WERE + V-ing
AM/IS/ARE + V-ing
WILL BE + V-ing
It had already rained
before I left.
I have driven a
motorcycle in rain
many times.
It will have rained
15 mm by the end
of the day.
HAD + past
participle of a verb
HAS/HAVE + past
participle of a verb
WILL HAVE + past
participle of a verb
It had been raining
for two days before
we saw the sun.
It has been raining
for the whole week.
It will have been
raining for three days
by the time it stops.
HAD BEEN + V-ing +
for/since
HAS/HAVE BEEN +
V-ing + for/since
WILL HAVE BEEN +
V-ing + for/since
It will rain this
September a lot.
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32
10 REPORTED SPEECH
In English, there are two ways to narrate the spoken words of a
person: direct speech and reported speech. Direct speech describes
something that we usually see in a form of dialogues:
— Hey, Jack, how are you doing, buddy?
— Thanks, Nate, pretty well actually. I can’t complain..
This is a good example of direct speech since both speakers express
their OWN thoughts on the spot. This isn’t someone’s opinion they are
discussing. This is exactly what they are thinking, or what they want
to know by asking questions. We see and hear it firsthand, in their
own words.
Reported speech is a means of expressing the content of a dialogue
or someone’s statements. When we report what someone says, we
simply change the subject.
He asked me, how I was doing. I said that I was doing pretty
well and couldn’t complain.
You’ve probably noticed that not only the structure of the sentence
has changed but also the tenses. Reported speech requires the
correct sequence of tenses. Sequence of tenses is a set of rules that
governs the agreement between the tenses of verbs in related
clauses or sentences.
When does a shift of tenses occur in the reported speech?
If a verb of the main sentence is in the present or future tense,
then a verb of the clause is in the same tense as in the direct
speech.
— I will always love you. ⟶ He says he will always love me.
This is pretty simple. It only becomes somewhat complicated when
you use a verb of the main sentence in the past tense (e. g. “He
said...”). Then the tense of the clause changes as well.
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Let’s see the sequence of tenses in action and try to clear up all
doubts! Here is a very handy table for you. Enjoy! J
DIRECT SPEECH
PRESENT SIMPLE
— I go to work every day.
PRESENT PROGRESSIVE
— I’m working out at the moment.
PRESENT
PRESENT PERFECT
— We’ve been to the USA twice.
PRESENT PERFECT PROGRESSIVE
— I’ve been studying for 6 hours.
PAST SIMPLE
— I bought a car yesterday.
PAST PROGRESSIVE
PAST
REPORTED SPEECH
PAST SIMPLE
She said that she went to work
every day.
PAST PROGRESSIVE
He said that he was working out
at that moment.
PAST PERFECT
They said that they had been to
the USA twice.
PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE
She said that she had been
studying for 6 hours.
PAST PERFECT
He said that he had bought a car
the day before.
PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE
— I was watching the game.
She said that he had been
watching the game.
PAST PERFECT (DOESN'T
CHANGE)
PAST PERFECT
PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE
(DOESN'T CHANGE)
PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE
She said that she had known this
— I had known this before you told
before he told her.
me.
— We had been going out for 6
months before we moved in
together.
FUTURE SIMPLE (WILL)
FUTURE
— I will always be by your side.
He said that they had been going
out for 6 months before they
moved in together.
FUTURE IN THE PAST (WOULD)
She said that she would always
be by my side.
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Hold on! It would be too easy, if there weren’t any exceptions!
The tense of the clause doesn’t change if the original statement is
general truth or a scientific fact:
— The 4th of July is America’s national holiday.
She said that the 4th of July is America’s national holiday.
But tenses are not the only thing you should be changing. The same
goes for demonstrative pronouns and adverbs. Here are a few
examples:
DIRECT SPEECH
REPORTED SPEECH
THIS
THAT
THESE
THOSE
NOW
THEN
HERE
THERE
TODAY
THAT DAY
TOMORROW
THE NEXT DAY
AGO
BEFORE
YESTERDAY
THE DAY BEFORE
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
TWO DAYS LATER
THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY
TWO DAYS BEFORE
NEXT YEAR/MONTH...
THE FOLLOWING YEAR/MONTH...
LAST...
PREVIOUS...
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And a few more:
— I was studying for an exam yesterday.
He said that he had been studying for an exam the day before.
— I’m feeling a little too anxious these days.
I said that I was feeling a little too anxious those days.
We also change personal and possessive pronouns, because they
too need to be in agreement:
— I will lend you my book for the weekend.
She said she would lend me her book for the weekend.
Got it? Now, let’s see how to report questions. Use IF or WHETHER
to report Yes/No questions:
— Will you eat?
I asked her, whether/if she would eat.
In what, where, why, who, when or how questions, we use the same
question word to report the question:
— Where do you want to go next summer?
They asked me where I wanted to go the following summer.
— What are you doing?
She asked me what I was doing.
LinguaHack: You might think that only “say” and “ask” verbs are used to
introduce reported speech in the sentence. But that would be too boring!
In fact, you can use a whole bunch of verbs instead: COMPLAIN, CLAIM,
ADMIT, DENY, EXPLAIN, INSIST, STATE, PROMISE… Or any other
synonym of “say, “state,” or “ask.”
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11 VERB LISTS: INFINITIVES AND
GERUNDS
Do you know the difference between “I like doing something” and “I
like to do something”? What about “stop doing something” and “stop
to do something”? Or “try doing something” and “try to do
something”? If not, read on and unlock new knowledge!
There is nothing complicated here. If you want to follow a verb with
another verb, you have two options:
First: verb + to + infinitive
Second: verb + gerund
There are certain verbs that can only be followed by one or the
other—these verbs must be memorized. There are also verbs that
can be followed by both gerund and infinitive with a change in
meaning. It might sound a bit complicated, but let’s take a closer
look.
HERE IS A LIST OF COMMON VERBS FOLLOWED BY AN INFINITIVE:
agree
He agreed to finish the task for me.
choose
decide
I expect you to cook the dinner tonight.
expect
forget
help
My boss manages to send hundreds of
emails per day.
hope
manage
promise
refuse
want
would like
would love
would prefer
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HERE IS A LIST OF COMMON VERBS FOLLOWED BY A GERUND (-ING
ENDING):
admit (to)
deny
finish
mind
avoid
I admit eating all the cake, okay!
I need to keep on practising.
He felt like running after her and
begging to stay.
dislike
give up
miss
(can’t) help
enjoy
practise
(can’t) stand
fancy
involve
put off
consider
feel like
keep (on)
risk
imagine
There are also verbs that can be followed by a gerund or infinitive
with little to no change in meaning. For example: hate, like, love,
prefer. You typically should use a gerund when talking about an
activity. An infinitive is used to emphasize the fact that you like/dislike
this particular action and not some other action or its result.
I love eating pizza so much!
I love to eat pizza, but I hate to order it.
I prefer not telling anyone my plans.
I prefer not to tell you my plans this time.
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LET’S MOVE ON TO THE TRICKY VERBS WHICH CHANGE THEIR MEANING DEPENDING ON THE
STRUCTURE YOU USE. HERE IS A DETAILED TABLE.
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40
12 DO or MAKE?
There are tons of idiomatic expressions with the verbs DO and MAKE.
No wonder these two are so frequently confused even by those who
have been studying English for a while! You might even be confused
yourself! Luckily, we are here to break it down for you.
Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks—everything that
has nothing to do with the process of creating something. DO helps
execute tasks:
You did a nice job, Harry.
My mom is doing the shopping now.
By contrast, MAKE is used for creating or producing something with
your own hands, e. g. to set the table or to make a mistake:
This bag was made in China.
She made a funny sound.
I made $3 million dollars this year.
DO usually refers to the action itself, while MAKE refers to the result.
There are many common English collocations with DO and MAKE.
Even though there is a common meaning for both types, many
expressions don’t strictly follow the instructions we outlined above.
You should simply memorize them one by one. One step at a time :)
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COMMON ENGLISH COLLOCATIONS WITH DO:
do the shopping
do the work
do the dishes
do business
do a great/poor/awesome job
do a report
do something/anything
do good/bad
do your best
do an exam
do your hair
do damage
do harm
do your duty
do a course
do research
do a favour
COMMON ENGLISH COLLOCATIONS WITH MAKE:
make breakfast/dinner/lunch
make a sandwich
make some tea
make money
make friends
make up something
make a call
make a joke
make an excuse
make a promise
make a fuss
make sure
make a list
make progress
make a mistake
make a choice/decision
make an exception
make a difference
make up your mind
make a sound
make an appointment
make an attempt
make a discovery
make fun of something
make friends
make the bed
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These verbs can also be used in the following way:
I’ve got a job to do.
I’ve got a call to make.
DO can also replace a verb, if its meaning is obvious in the context, for
example:
I’ll do the lawn, and you’ll do the dishes. = I’ll mow the
lawn and you’ll wash the dishes.
LinguaHack: You can answer with DO + it to a question with MAKE.
For example:
— Can you make a sandwich for me?
— I’ll do it a little bit later.
A few more examples of sentences with DO and MAKE:
You need to do your best in order to achieve a lot in life.
Luckily, nowadays people can make a doctor’s appointment
online.
I usually do research before buying anything expensive. I read
reviews and other people’s opinions.
He got into social activism because he wanted to make a
difference.
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44
13 HOW TO USE ZERO AND FIRST
CONDITIONAL
Zero Conditional
(generally known facts)
IF/WHEN
When
If clause
(condition)
Main clause
(result)
Present Simple
Present Simple
Michael is on the
beach,
he always gets
a sunburn.
Are you 100% sure that eating chocolate will make you gain some
extra weight? Do you know how to say it to your friend, so he doesn’t
offer you candies again? That’s right! Use zero conditional. When you
are 100% confident in the result in the present/future, opt for zero
conditional.
When to use:
1
Laws of nature:
If the temperature is below zero, water freezes.
When it gets cold, migratory birds fly away to warmer places.
2
Something that’s always true:
I have a food allergy. If I eat shrimps, I feel sick.
The lights turn on if you press this button.
LinguaHack: You can replace IF with WHEN, because unlike other
conditionals, they mean the same thing in zero conditionals: when there
is a specific situation, you get a specific result.
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First Conditional
(real possibilities in the present or future)
If clause
(condition)
Main clause
(result)
Present tenses
Future tenses,
modal verbs, imperative
you give her flowers,
she will be happy.
In case
we are expecting
someone,
I will tidy the apartment.
If
you don’t pass your
finals,
you can't go on vacation
with your friends.
you are done with
your project,
go help your sister with
hers.
IF
If
When
If you sleep through your alarm and miss the class, your professor
might either get angry at you or let it pass, because they might be in a
good mood today. But who knows what will happen exactly? If you are
not so sure about the result, use the first conditional.
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When to use:
1
Real possibilities:
If Carl drinks coffee in the evening, he will not fall asleep (but
in some cases he might fall asleep because drinking coffee
doesn't always ruin his sleeping pattern).
You will enter Stanford if you pass your SATs with flying colors
(but it is not 100% guaranteed as there might also be other
requirements from the university).
2
To offer help or services, provide suggestions:
If you don’t want to go out tonight, we can stay in and
watch a movie.
If you need any help, just call me and I'll be right by
your side.
3
Warnings and threats:
I will never forgive him if he doesn’t take his words back.
You will injure yourself if you don't follow the safety rules.
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48
14 SECOND AND THIRD CONDITIONAL:
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT
Second Conditional
(impossible and imaginary situations in the present or future)
If clause
(condition)
Main clause
(result)
Past
(Simple or
Progressive)
would/could/might
+ verb infinitive
If
I worked as
a bed and
mattress tester,
I would have
a dream job.
If
Kendal was more
athletic,
she could be
on the school
basketball team.
IF
We all use imagination in our daily lives. What if we all could speak
English fluently? Then, most probably, we would all be constantly
traveling and meeting new people. Second conditional is used to
describe impossible or imaginary situations in the present or future.
The important thing about the second conditional is that it’s very
unlikely that the condition will happen. It’s an imaginary situation with
an imaginary result, which is possible to happen in the present or
future but not very real.
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When to use:
1
To describe things in the present or future that will
probably not happen:
Sarah would buy fresh croissants for breakfast every morning if
she lived in Paris (but she lives in London).
If I didn’t have a car, it would be difficult to get around LA (but I do
have a car).
If he was sleeping, it wouldn’t be so noisy upstairs.
2
To give advice:
The use of WERE in second conditionals is recommended with all
subjects such as I, he, she, it, Rachel, that place, etc. Using WAS is
also acceptable. “If I were you” is an idiom.
If I were you, I’d confess her my feelings.
3
To offer help or services, provide suggestions:
If Kathie wanted to see that band, I could get you two tickets.
We are not sure if Kathie really wants to go to that concert, that’s why
we use the second conditional instead of the first.
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Third Conditional
(impossible conditions in the past)
If clause
(condition)
Main clause
(result)
Past Perfect or
Past Perfect
Progressive
would/could/might +
have + V3
If
my parents hadn’t
moved to Berkeley,
I wouldn’t have met my
future husband.
If
the police had been
more careful,
they might have caught
the suspect faster.
IF
Third conditional is used to describe imaginary situations in the past;
how things could have been different in the past. These are
impossible conditions and their results contradict what really
happened in the past.
This is the conditional to use when you want to give someone a
lesson, express resentment about mistakes made in the past or to
complain about something you wish you had never done: If only I
hadn’t acted as an idiot; If only I had done that differently; If only she
had agreed... Everything would be different now, right?
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When to use:
1
To describe imaginary situations in the past:
If we hadn't rented a car, it would have been difficult to get
around LA last month (but we rented a car and we drove
everywhere).
You could have travelled to Italy last year if you hadn't splurged
all your money on a new iPhone (but you wasted all the money and
you couldn't afford going to Italy).
2
To criticize someone for something that already happened:
If you had been more thoughtful, you wouldn't have
offended her with your words.
3
To express a regret about the past:
If I had had more time with my granddad, I would have thanked
him for everything he had done for me.
LinguaHack: English native speakers mostly use the second conditional
because people like to imagine things and give advice. Mixed conditional
is a rare type though—this one you might not hear very often. Let’s take a
closer look at what it means.
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15 MIXED CONDITIONALS
Mixed Conditionals
All four types of conditionals belong strongly to either past, present
or future. So, what do you do when your condition is about something
that happened in the past, but the result refers to the present? Or
vice-versa? This is where you would use mixed conditionals!
Mixed conditionals are a combination of the past, present and future
which allows us to fully describe even more situations, where regular
conditionals wouldn’t be as effective.
If clause
(condition)
Main clause
(result)
Second (condition refers to the
present/future)
Third (result refers to the past)
1. If I had someone to help me with
all the chores (I live alone and no
one helps me with house work).
1. I would have gone out with my friends
yesterday (I had to stay at home and
do the chores instead of hanging out
with my friends).
1. If you were more proactive (but
you are passive).
1. you would have asked that girl out
ages ago (you still haven’t done it yet).
1. If I wasn’t leaving tomorrow
(I have a plane ticket and I am
going on vacation).
1. I would have come over yesterday and
have helped you fix your car (but I
didn’t come over and didn’t help fix the
car).
Third (condition refers to the past)
Second (result refers to the
present/future)
1. If Nick had thought through the
whole journey (but he didn’t do it
in advance).
1. we wouldn't be searching for a place
to stay now (we are searching for a
place to stay right now).
1. If Venya hadn’t taken up learning
English (but he started learning
English a long time ago).
1. he wouldn’t be where he is today (but
he is successful now).
1. If you had gotten that job (but you
didn’t get it).
Second (condition refers
to the past)
1. If she came back late last night,
2. If you did all the homework,
1. If he drank all the juice,
1. we would be packing our house for a
move next week (we are not doing it
next week).
First (result refers to the
present/future)
1. she won’t come to classes today.
2. you won’t have problems at the test
tomorrow.
3. I’ll be so mad at him.
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Mixed conditionals are advanced, and it’s not always clear what tense
they refer to.
The easiest one to remember is a combination of first and second
conditionals: if something had happened in the past, it would result in
something else in the future. It might not seem obvious at first, but
with practice you will get there!
If she came back late last night, she won’t
come to classes today.
The most complicated conditional is where you use the second and
third types, because those can even swap!
When you approach such sentences, the first thing to do is to figure
out which part of the sentence is in the past, and which is in the
present. Let’s look at some examples.
If you were more proactive you would have
asked that girl out ages ago
Here we see that the condition is in the present. It’s a trait of that
person, his permanent quality. He is just a passive individual. Even
though we use Past Simple (If you were...). This is the second
conditional.
The main clause is however in the past. Because you are so passive
(now), you still haven’t asked that girl out (haven’t done it before and
up until now).
Everything changes when we use the third conditional for the if
clause, and the second for the main clause.
If Nick had thought through the whole journey, we wouldn't
be searching for a place to stay now
If he had thought through everything in the past (third conditional),
then today we would have a different result (second conditional).
LinguaHack: Draw a timeline with tenses. Now take the above examples
and place them on this timeline. Check where each of the if and main
clauses belongs.
PAST
NOW
FUTURE
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56
16 WHAT IS ANOTHER WORD FOR IF?
(UNLESS, PROVIDED THAT, SUPPOSING, ETC.)
WORD
CONDITIONAL
WHEN
0
UNLESS (=IF NOT)
0, 1
Unless he loved her, he wouldn’t sacrifice his career for her.
PROVIDING/
PROVIDED
(THAT)
1
Providing I have enough money, I will chip in for a present for
Natalie.
SO/AS LONG AS
0, 1
So/as long as you promise to quit binge-watching Netflix, I will
pay for your subscription.
SUPPOSE/
SUPPOSING
1, 2 AND 3
When we drink coffee, our blood pressure rises.
Suppose he popped you a question, would you say yes?
Suppose you won a lottery?
OTHERWISE
1
BUT FOR
2 AND 3
AND/OR
EXAMPLE
1
Start working on your CV. Otherwise you will have a hard time
finding a good job (If you don’t start working on your CV, you
will have hard time finding a good job).
But for his help, I would have failed that test (if he hadn’t
helped me).
Leave that room again and you will be grounded for a week.
Don’t leave that room or you will be grounded for a week.
IN CASE OF/
IN THE EVENT OF
1
In case you get hungry, take some soup from the fridge.
In the event of fire, call 911.
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