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 the B1 level learners can use a limited range of verbs followed by an -ing form.

B1 50x33   I would like to stay there a few years to finish studying and to have my own money to start thinking of travelling. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Spanish - Latin American)

B1 50x33   So, would you mind telling Mr and Mrs Thomas? (CELSP; Chinese)

Learners are also able to use a wide range of verbs followed by a to-infinitive.

B1 50x33   … it’s one of the reasons I decided to change class. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; French)

B1 50x33   I’m going to buy pictures to hang on the wall, because my room seems to be very cold and very unfriendly. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

B1 50x33   I prefer to stay in the countryside, which I think is better. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Slovak)

B1 level learners can use some verbs of requesting and commanding followed by a direct object and a to-infinitive.

B1 50x33   I would like you to come to a picnic on Saturday. (Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools; Spanish - Latin American)

B1 50x33   I would like you to come to my office on 16th of May to discuss the terms of the contract. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary; Polish)

B1 50x33   Your parents want you to go on holiday with them this summer. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Russian)

They can use make and let + infinitive without to.

B1 50x33   Let me know if it is suitable for you. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary; Portuguese)

B1 50x33   She makes me smile when I’m sad. (Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools; Serbian)

B1 50x33   I think you should talk with your parents and try to make them understand how you feel and what you prefer. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Italian)

Learners at the B1 level can also use help + object + infinitive with or without to with no change in meaning.

B1 50x33   I wanted to help him to make some friends. He’s just like me. (Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools; Turkish)

B1 50x33   I hope that it will help you to keep fit. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Russian)

B1 50x33   This house is terrible and I hope you can help me find something better. (Skills for Life: Entry 3; Polish)

Finally, learners use would prefer + to-infinitive at this level. Would prefer to is often used by learners to be more polite.

B1 50x33   I would prefer to meet you at six o’clock instead of four at the café in my hometown. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

B1 50x33   I’d prefer to go on holiday with my friends. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

So, although learners at the B1 level make limited progress with verb patterns that utilise the gerund form, they make a significant amount of progress with their use of the infinitive (with and without to). As learners move on to the B2 level, the gerund becomes a focus on learner progress once again.

Cambridge University Press