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.


 

A1 level learners can use a limited range of verbs followed by a to-infinitive.

A1 50x33   I like to go to the zoo. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Arabic - Other)

A1 50x33   Sometimes I don’t like to go out because it’s very cold. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Tagalog)

A1 50x33   I want to invite you for dinner. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Panjabi)

They can use like followed either by a to-infinitive or an -ing form with no change in meaning.

A1 50x33   I like to work with my teacher. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Italian)

A1 50x33   I don’t like to eat at College. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Italian)

A1 50x33   I like reading lots of magazines. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Hungarian)

A1 50x33   I don’t like doing homework in college. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Thai)

Learners at the A1 level can also use would like to + infinitive.

A1 50x33   I would like to meet you to give you some information about the Brannl State and the shops near her. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Arabic - Other)

A1 50x33   I’d like to invite you on Sunday about six o’clock in the evening. (Skills for Life: Entry 1; Polish)

An increasing range of verbs followed by a to-infinitive is used once the A2 level is achieved.

A2 50x33   I bought them because I hope to go to England this year and the weather isn’t very good. (Cambridge English: Key; Italian)

A2 50x33   Please remember to bring your pyjamas and your toothbrush. (Cambridge English: Key; Greek)

A2 50x33   Don’t forget to come. (Cambridge English: Key; Farsi)

Learners are able to use verbs expressing preference followed either by a to-infinitive or an -ing form with no change in meaning. Surprisingly, at the A2 level, learners are able to use prefer + to-infinitive but not prefer + -ing.

A2 50x33   I love to cook. (Skills for Life: Entry 2; French)

A2 50x33   I love cooking and also baking. (Cambridge English: Key; Spanish - Latin American)

A2 50x33   I prefer to play football but I often go to the gym. (Skills for Life: Entry 2; Farsi)

A2 level learners can use enjoy followed by the -ing form.

A2 50x33   We enjoy playing the piano and singing together. (Cambridge English: Key; Farsi)

A2 50x33   You know I really enjoy listening to music. (Cambridge English: Key; Chinese)

In addition, they can use would love followed by a to-infinitive to give emphasis.

A2 50x33   I’d love to do the concert. (Cambridge English: Key; French)

A2 50x33   I’d love to hear it! (Cambridge English: Key; Greek)

So, by the A2 level, learners are able to use the to-infinitive and -ing forms interchangeably in appropriate contexts and demonstrate knowledge of where a particular form is required. As learners move on to the B1 level, the infinitive becomes central to learner progress.

Cambridge University Press