Grammar Spotlight

GrammarThe English Grammar Profile (EGP) is a sister resource to the English Vocabulary Profile, and has been put together by Anne O'Keeffe (Limerick University) and Geraldine Mark, the co-authors, along with Ron Carter and Mike McCarthy, of English Grammar Today (Cambridge University Press). Mark and O'Keeffe investigated the extensive data in the Cambridge Learner Corpus to establish when learners begin to get to grips with different linguistic structures. 

A series of insights from their research will be posted on this page, each one putting the spotlight on an interesting aspect of learner grammar development. Please note that all of the learner examples come from the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a 55-million word electronic collection of written learner data. The examination and the candidate’s first language are given in brackets after each learner example.

See the latest Grammar Spotlight entry below. Scroll right down to the bottom of this page to browse through previous entries.


Learners at C1 level can use the negative question form as a persuasion strategy.

C1 50x33   Don’t you just hate taking the bus to school every morning? Well, I have a perfect solution for you, a great bike with good brakes, a bell and lights. It is a great bike but since I never use it, I would be happy to sell it to you. (CELSH; Dutch)

C1 50x33   Don’t you find that when you are having a shower or bath, you occasionally run out of water? (Cambridge English: Advanced; Korean)

Learners can use the negative question form to check opinions.

C1 50x33   Doesn’t it sound fascinating? (Cambridge English: Advanced; Korean)

C1 50x33   Don’t we all like presents? (Cambridge English: Advanced; Dutch)

C1 50x33   Don’t you think that fashion always looks funny if it is not the fashion of today? (Cambridge English: Advanced; Russian)

C1 level learners can use the present simple with a wide range of reporting verbs, including demonstrate and illustrate, especially in academic contexts.

C1 50x33   The popularity of this TV game in Russia clearly demonstrates the nature of human fears and dreams. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Russian)

C1 50x33   The two charts illustrate the number of employees, and the trends in profit for three factories, namely the factories located in London, Leeds, and Bristol, which belong to the same company, during the year 2003. (Cambridge English: Business Higher; Chinese)

No significant progress with the present simple is made at the C2 level. However, the progress made by learners at C1 is impressive in the sense of purpose seen with learner choices of language use. Learners at this level use the negative question form to both persuade and check opinions. As to be expected of learners at this advanced level, progress is also made in the range of vocabulary items used, which can be utilised in more formal or academic contexts.

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