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.


At A2 level learners can use the affirmative and negative forms with an increasing range of regular and irregular verbs.

A2 50x33   They are very important to me, because they bring me good luck. (Cambridge English: Key; Bulgarian)

A2 50x33   I don’t need the video because I’ve got the DVD. (Cambridge English: Key; Greek)

A2 50x33   It doesn’t cost very much. (Cambridge English: Key; Italian)

Learners at A2 level can also use the present simple with a limited range of mental process verbs, including think, hope and know.

A2 50x33   I think my bag is in your kitchen. (Cambridge English: Key; German)

A2 50x33   I hope that you feel better. (Skills for Life: Entry 2; Polish)

A2 50x33   Do you know that I am going to a concert on Saturday? (Cambridge English: Key; Tamil)

Learners can use yes/no and wh- question forms with you.

A2 50x33   Do you have a mobile phone? (Cambridge English: Key; Greek)

A2 50x33   What do you think about my mobile phone? (Cambridge English: Key; Turkish)

A2 50x33   Who do you want to come to the concert? (Cambridge English: Key; Spanish)

A2 level learners are also able to form indirect questions with Do you know + how / where / why / what.

A2 50x33   Do you know how to get to my house? (Cambridge English: Key; Spanish)

A2 50x33   Do you know which present I like best? (Cambridge English: Key; Chinese)

Learners can use the present simple with Why don’t you…?, Why don’t we…? and if you want / if you like in order to make suggestions.

A2 50x33   Why don’t you wear your black suit? (Cambridge English: Key; Arabic – Levant)

A2 50x33   Why don’t we go to a disco when the film ends? (Cambridge English: Key; Spanish – Latin American)

A2 50x33   We could have dinner after that if you want. (Cambridge English: Key; Arabic – Egyptian)

A2 50x33   We can go there, if you like. (Cambridge English: Key; Vietnamese)

They can also use the present simple with adverbs of indefinite frequency.

A2 50x33   People usually try to eat their breakfast between 7 and 9 am. (Skills for Life: Entry 2; Polish)

A2 50x33   They always make special things for their celebrations. (Skills for Life: Entry 2; Panjabi)

Learners can use the present simple after if to talk about real and imagined situations.

A2 50x33   If you want some help, I will be free next week. (Cambridge English: Key; French)

A2 50x33   If you go with your parents, you will go walking or swimming, but if you go with friends, you will have more fun. (Cambridge English: Key; German)

A2 50x33   Don’t forget to wear colourful clothes because if you wear white clothes, you will get paint on them. (Cambridge English: Key; Thai)

A2 50x33   [talking about a toothbrush] It is very important for me because if I don’t have it, I can’t clean my teeth. (Cambridge English: Key; Thai)

Learners also use the present simple to give instructions and directions.

A2 50x33   Then you turn right and my house is on your left. (Cambridge English: Key; Greek)

A2 50x33   To find my house you have to leave the bus at the station “Unberhof”. Then you go straight on for about fifty meters. (Cambridge English: Key; Swiss German)

A2 50x33   Then you walk for a few minutes. See you tomorrow. (Cambridge English: Key; Italian)

So, at the A2 level, learner confidence in forming questions in the present simple increases along with the range of verbs available to them. Learners use the present simple for more purposes at this level, showing skill in discussing imagined situations and giving instructions or directions.

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