Would rather

Rather is an adverb that we can use to express a specific preference. It goes after the modal verb would and before a verb in the base form.

We use would rather with the base form as an alternative to would prefer. Remember that would prefer is followed by a verb in the infinitive form.

Grammar patterns:

would prefer + infinitive

would rather + base form


I’d prefer to go on vacation in July instead of August

I‘d rather go on vacation in July than in August.

Would you prefer to stay in or to go out tonight?

Would you rather stay in or go out tonight?

We can use would rather to talk about what we would prefer another person to do. For that case we use the past tense, even though we are talking about a present or future preference.

Grammar pattern:

would rather + someone + simple past


I’d rather my students took notes during class.

She‘d rather her boyfriend gave her flowers for her birthday.

I‘d rather my students didn’t use their phones during class.

The students would rather their teacher didn’t give them homework every day.

 Grammar Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐

 Speaking Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐

Let’s sing!

This song is perfect to practice “rather than”


How to write a report for the B2 (FCE) test

for B2 Cambridge First


A report is another piece of formal writing. It is based on facts (you’ll probably have to invent those ‘facts’ for the exam, and that’s okay). By writing a good report in English you will demonstrate that you can organize and communicate factual information using a formal tone. As with other pieces of formal writing (for example, essays, formal emails, articles, etc.), there is a special format used to write reports in English.

Parts of an English report
1. Title

This part will give the reader a general idea of the topic of your report.

Make sure that you follow the capitalization rules for titles. You can find more information about how to write titles in English here.

2. Introduction

In this section, you should state clearly the purpose of your report and what information you are going to include.

Try to paraphrase (use your own words) to write the information given in the instructions.

3. Topic points

In these paragraphs, you will give most of the information and details of your report. It should be factual and clear. It shouldn’t sound like a story or like a novel.

You should write at least 2 topic points. One topic point per paragraph. Each paragraph must contain a topic sentence.

What is a topic sentence?

A topic sentence is a sentence that includes the main point (idea) of a paragraph. It has the information that readers need to understand what is the most important point in the paragraph.

The topic sentences guide readers and protect them from confusion. They usually appear at the beginning of each paragraph.

Click here to learn more about topic sentences.

4. Your suggestions/ recommendations

This is the last part of the report. You need to finish it up by writing your recommendations. You must base your recommendation on the facts that you wrote in the topic paragraphs.

Make sure that your recommendations are well-connected with the topic points that you wrote in the previous paragraphs.

Steps to writing a report

Step 1: Make a plan

Step 2: Write it

Step 3: Check it

Now that you know the parts of a report and the steps to follow, let’s see an article sample for the B2 (FCE) Cambridge writing test.

Useful language

For the introduction:

  • This report describes…
  • This report is based on …
  • The purpose of this report is to …

For the topic points:

  • Currently …
  • To begin with …
  • It appears that …
  • It seems that …
  • Furthermore/ In addition
  • In general/ Generally speaking
  • It is generally believed that …
  • almost always/ nearly always
  • Most/ The majority of + noun
  • noun + tend to be + adjective

For your suggestions/ recommendations:

  • All things considered …
  • Based on the findings of this report I recommend/ suggest + verb-ing
  • I would recommend/ suggest + verb-ing
  • Although both… I think that …
  • It would be advisable that …
Pro tips for writing reports

Make sure that you:

  • wrote a title that shows what the report is about
  • divided the report into clear paragraphs with subheadings
  • answered all the parts of the question
  • did NOT use contractions or informal words
  • Used connectors and formulaic expressions (useful language)
Practice time

You have been asked to write a report about entertainment in your city for a travel magazine. Write your report in the comments below.


Useful Phrases for Presentations in English


Presentations are very common in academic and work settings, and they can be a bit challenging.

Here you can find some sentence starters that will help you organize your ideas to sound professional and fluent.

1 Greeting the Audience
  • Good morning/ good afternoon/ good evening everyone
  • Welcome to my presentation
  • If you don’t know me, my name is …
  • I work/ study in … department/ program/ lab
  • I’d like to thank you all for coming today
  • It’s a great pleasure to be here with you today
2 Introducing the topic
  • Today I’m going to talk about/ show you …
  • I’m here today to present…
  • What I want to talk about today is…
  • As you can see on the screen, our topic today is…
  • I’ve divided my presentation into three main parts
  • As you can see from the agenda/ outline I’ll be talking about…
  • Before we begin I want to point out that all the slides/ the proposal/ the final report will be sent to you by (day) at (time)
  • I’ll be handing out copies of the slides at the end of my presentation
  • I can email the PowerPoint presentation to anyone who would like it
  • I would like to start by (+ing verb) …
3 Connecting your ideas
  • First, I would like to talk about/ show you …
  • First, I’d like to give you an overview of….
  • Next, I’ll focus on… and then ….
  • What I am going to focus next is…
  • This leads directly to my next point
  • This brings us to the next point/question
  • Let’s now move on to/turn to…
  • Then I’ll go on to highlight what I see as the main points of….
  • Finally, I’d like to address the problem of…
4 Highlighting important information
  • One thing that I want to stress is…
  • I’d like to stress/highlight/emphasize the following points…
  • The interesting/significant/important thing about…. is….
5 Summarizing ideas
  • Before I move on, I’d like to recap the main points
  • Let me briefly summarize the main issues
  • I’d like to summarize what I’ve said so far…
6 Describing visuals
  • As you can see here, …
  • Now, let’s look at/let’s have a look at/take a look at/
  • As the graph/table shows/indicates…
  • From Table/ Figure … we can see/conclude/show/estimate/calculate/infer that…
  • The chart/ graph compares…
7 Closing
  • Well, this brings me to the end of my presentation/talk
  • That covers just about everything I wanted to say about…
  • Thank you for your attention
8 Questions and comments
  • If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them
  • Are there any questions?
  • If you have any questions, I’d be pleased to answer them.
  • And now I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have
9 If there are some technical problems
  • I’m sorry about the (tech/sound) problem. Ex. I’m sorry about the slow connection
  • Thanks for bearing with me = Thanks for your patience
  • It will be just one moment
  • I apologize for not having enough time/ handouts/ chairs/ samples

Confusing Adjectives -ed/ing


In English there are 2 patterns for adjectives:

1. verb be + adjective

I’m interested in English movies.

English movies are usually very interesting.

2. adjective + noun

It’s such an interesting class.

She is such an interesting woman.

3. -ed or -ing

There is a group of adjectives that can end in –ed or –ing. However, the meaning of the adjective changes depending on the ending. For example, interested/interesting, tired/tiring, confused/confusing, surprised/surprised, etc.

We use the ed ending to talk about how we feel. Adjectives ending with –ed are used primarily with nouns that are people or animals.

We use the –ing ending to describe a noun or when the noun is the reason of the feeling. Basically, the –ing adjective shows why a person is feeling a certain way. Adjectives ending in –ing are used primarily with nouns that are things.


Practice Time
Speaking practice

Click on the image to open the game


How to Write a Short Story for the B1 Preliminary Test (PET)


A short story is a piece of fiction that has a limited number of words and a few characters.

Parts of a short story
  • Title: It summarizes the whole story, or it is related to the main theme. The theme is the central idea or belief in a short story.
  • Exposition: It is the beginning of the story where you introduce the main characters. It also serves as the introduction to the next part.
  • Climax: It is the action part where the main characters try to solve the conflict or problem.
  • Resolution: In this part, the conflict is solved.

Let’s see a short story sample for the B1 Writing test

Useful vocabulary for a short story

Time expressions:

  • at that moment
  • as soon as
  • _____ minutes later
  • just in time
  • then
  • after that
  • meanwhile
  • while
  • one morning in + month
  • one afternoon in + month
  • one evening in + month

Adverbs and adverbials to spice up your story

  • suddenly
  • in the end
  • eventually
  • unexpectedly
  • right away
  • nearly
  • actually
  • in fact
  • apparently
  • gradually
  • basically
  • obviously
  • anyway
  • all of a sudden
  • without warning

Finishing your short story

  • in the end
  • eventually
  • finally
  • luckily
  • when it was all over

Verb tenses used for short stories

Short stories usually take place in the past, for that reason the most common narrative tenses you should use for your short story are:

Practice time

Write a short story beginning with one of the sentences below:

Plan the content:

  • It was midnight when the phone rang.
  • Alex had been working hard all day and was looking forward to going home.
  • We had been driving for hours when we saw the sign for a small hotel and decided to stop.

1 Write what happened simply, in about 50 words.

2 Think about how you could improve your story by adding more details. For example, adjectives and adverbs.

3 Think about what tenses you need for each part of the story. For example, how to set the scene, and what significant events happened before the story starts.

Write your story in about 100 – 120 words in the box below.


Determiners: both, either … or, neither … nor


1. We use both to refer to two things, people, or animals together.

  • We can use both + noun

I like both coffee and tea. (I like coffee and I like tea)

Both those women are my friends. (Those two women are my friends)

  • We can use both of + an object pronoun

We both dislike soccer. (subject pronoun + both) or

Both of us dislike soccer. (both + of + object pronoun)

2. We use either …. or … to talk about a choice between two options.

(+) verb + either … or …

Every year I travel either to New York or Paris on Christmas holidays.

3. We use neither … nor … to talk about two things that are not possible.

(-) verb + neither … nor …

Last year I couldn’t go neither to New York nor Paris on New Year due to the pandemics.

4. We can we use either … or …/ neither … or at the beginning of a sentence. In those cases we can use both singular verbs or plural verbs.

  • If both elements that go after either/neither and or/nor are singular, we use a singular verb.

Either my sister or my mom is going to cook dinner for Christmas.

Neither Alicia nor her daughter speaks English.

  • If the element that goes after or/nor is plural, we use a plural verb.

Either my manager or my colleagues are going to help me with the project.

Neither the teacher nor her students are going to go to the school party.

More examples:
Time to practice

Quantifiers: all, most, every, and each


1.We use all + noun or all of the + a plural or uncountable noun

all = in general

all (of) the = specific

All animals need food.

All of the animals in the safari are dangerous.

2. We use everybody or everything + singular verb

everybody = all people

everything = all things

Everybody is in the classroom.

Everything in this store is so expensive.

3. We use most to say the majority

most = general

most of = specific

Most Canadians speak English.

Some Canadians Speak English and French

Most of the students in this class are from Brazil.

4. We often use all of or most of + object pronoun

All of us are excited for the trip.

Most of them look sad.

5. Use every + singular countable noun to mean “all of a group”. It emphasizes on the complete group.

Every classroom in this school has a projector.

6. We use each to express the idea of ‘one by one’. It emphasizes individuality.

Each employee has a coffee maker in their offices.

More examples:
Time to practice


How to make a plan to improve your English


So your dream is to improve your English. But how many times have you failed?

You have spent a lot of time dreaming, thinking or talking about what you want. But you haven’t taken the necessary steps to achieve it.

It’s not because you are lazy or incapable. It’s because perhaps you are confused or you don’t know where to start. You don’t have a PLAN yet.

English learning plans, can serve as a roadmap or guide to making your dreams a reality.

An English learning plan can help you if:

  • You are confused
  • You feel that your learning progress is out of control
  • You feel your learning progress is stagnant
  • You struggle making the right decisions
  • You feel lost and lack direction
  • You have tried many things and nothing has helped
  • You are tired and want to give up

What is an English learning planing?

An English learning plan is both a roadmap and a reminder of your goals. It helps you realize your dreams and the things that you need to do to make them true.

An English learning plan can help you to become aware of your strengths and your weaknesses.

Your English learning plan doesn’t need to be super detailed. It should be flexible so you can adapt it according to the circumstances.

Don’t forget that LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE. Things happen. Your plan needs to leave room for unexpected changes and crises.

Making English learning plans can help you achieve your goals easier than if you are confused and have no idea what to do.

5 benefits of having an English learning plan

1 An English learning plan helps you make your dreams a reality

An English learning plan gives you the confidence to take action and be proactive.

2 An English learning plan helps you prioritize

Making an English learning plan helps you identify what you want and focus on things that move you in the right direction

3 An English learning plan helps you make better decisions

When you know your goals it is easier to make the right decisions that help you accomplish your goals

4 An English learning plan keeps you motivated

When you write down your goals it’s easier to stay focused and motivated.

5 An English learning plan makes you recognize your strengths and weaknesses

An English learning plan is a tool that makes you think critically and reflect on your learning needs. It helps you identify the skills that you master and the skills you need to improve to achieve your goals.

How to make an English learning plan: step by step

1. The most important thing to making any plan is, to BE HONEST with yourself.

2. Take a moment to reflect on your habits, your learning story, your circumstances, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

3. No one but you can identify the things that are easy for you and the things that are challenging for you.

4. You are the only one that can identify the things/ habits/ beliefs that are preventing you from moving forward.

5. Finally, remember that becoming fluent in English is a goal that will require that you spend a lot of time and resources. If you are not willing to pay the price then it will always be a DREAM.

6. If you are not willing to organize your life, give up unhealthy habits or if you can’t change your lifestyle to accommodate time to practice, then it’s going to be very difficult to improve your English.

Now it’s time to make your own learning plan

Below you can see a template that will help you reflect and create your own English learning plan.


How to Write a Formal Email

for the B1 Cambridge test (PET) or the General Training IELTS test

Formal emails are the ones that people write to people they don’t know well. The language used in this type of emails is more formal and polite.

informal emailformal email
family members
people we know well
people we don’t know
bosses or managers
doctors, teachers and professors

Formal emails have a standard format, so they must include the following parts:

  1. Greetings

We say hi to the other person. Depending on the kind of relationship we have with the person we are writing to, we can use the following greetings:

  • Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name,

For example: Dear Mr. Smith,

  • Dear Sir/ Madam,

If you don’t know the name and last name of the recipient

  • To whom it may concern

This is a more generic formulaic expression.

2. Introduction

In this part we must indicate briefly and clearly the reason for writing. It should be consistent with the subject of the email. We can use the following introductory phrases:

  • I’m writing with regards to … (email subject)
  • I’m writing to … (ask, inform, request, send, confirm, etc)
  • I’m writing in reference to … (email subject, e.g. a job post, an advertisement, a website, etc)

3. Body

There are no formulaic expressions or conventional formulas for the body of the text because the information that we share in the body of the email varies according to what you need to communicate.

There is one general rule for this part: it should be divided into short paragraphs.

4. Closing paragraph

There are various ways to end your email. The most common formulaic expressions are the following:

  • I look forward to hearing from you soon / at your earliest convenient time.
  • Thank you in advance.
  • Thank you for your attention.
  • If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  • For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  • Please let me know if you have any questions.

5. Goodbye

Here you can find a list with the most common phrases to end a formal email:

  • Sincerely,
  • Kind regards,
  • Best regards,
  • Yours faithfully, (only if you began your email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’)
  • Yours sincerely, (only if began your email with ‘Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name)
  • Regards,

6. Signature

We write our full name (name + last name)

Now that you know which parts should be included in a formal email, let’s see an example:

Ana has read an ad about some English courses in a school website.

  • She is 23 years old. She has graduated from college.
  • She wants to take an IELTS course in July.
  • She needs to get information about dates and prices.
  • She wants to stay with a host family.
  • She wants a room for her and her friend.
Language School

Come and study English at our school!
Summer and winter intensive courses
Highly experienced teachers
One month courses for all levels
Reasonable prices
Accommodation with host families
Pro tips for writing formal emails
  • Use the standard format that English speakers use to write formal emails.
  • Use formulaic expressions.
  • DO NOT use contractions (I’m, I’ve, I’d, don’t, can’t, won’t, etc.).
  • Use formal words and indirect questions (e.g. I was wondering if …/ I would be grateful if you …)
  • Don’t forget to START your email by saying why are you writing or what you are

Time to practice

The best way to improve your writing is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.

Write an email to get more information about the following course:

Computer courses in Canada
One -or two-week courses in different parts of Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax)
Professional instructors
Morning and afternoon classes
All levels, beginners to advanced
Small groups or private lessons

For more information email Robert Anderson at

Don’t forget to explain why you are writing and give some personal information

Ask your questions, and ask them to send you information


Clauses of Purpose


To, in order to , as to, for, and so that are words that help us talk about purposes or goals clearly and fluently.

Time to practice

The best way to improve your English is by practicing. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.