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August 2008

In this Issue

Free English Online
Write English
Test Your English
Grammar Spot
Desktop Software
Try Your own Tutor
Writing Courses
Readers' Questions

Write English like an Expert!

Free membership
Free membership

Test Your English
Test Your English

Useful Websites...

Free Membership
Online Courses
Online Grammar
Grammar FAQ
Study Guides
Irregular Verbs
Confusing Words
Study in the UK
Jobs for Teachers

Study English in Britain
Study English in the UK

Quick Quote

Correct spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by schoolma'ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world.
Henry Louis Mencken

Confusing Words

statue | stature


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If you are really serious about knowing your level you will want to take a full assessment with an English4Today tutors who will evaluate your spoken and written level as well as your grammar, vocabulary and reading levels.

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Grammar Spot : Just + Present Perfect

July Grammar Spot

You probably know the Stevie Wonder song which has the lyrics:

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

Well, thanks to Stevie Wonder we can have a look at one of those little grammatical twists that are sent to annoy us all but especially those who are trying to learn how English works. Let's look at a couple of sentences with 'just' in them:

  • I've just failed my exams and will have to study for them again.
  • She has just lost her car keys and can't leave for work.

The adverb of time, 'just' + verb, indicates that an action is in the very recent past and is completed so why don't we always use the Simple Past (as Stevie Wonder does in the song). Well, you can use the Simple Past here and it would not be wrong.  What complicates it is that using 'just' with the Present Perfect to talk about a complete, recent past action is also correct. We often use it with the Present Perfect when there is result in the present or future of the past action (as in the examples above).

But we are talking about fairly fine distinctions here and I would say that Stevie Wonder's grammar is spot on in this part of the song!

Just to keep you thinking - 'just' can also be used to mean ' the only reason'. For example, 'I just called to say I love you' could also mean ' the only reason I called was to say I love you'. I'll leave you with that until next time!

For the full article about just and the Present Perfect and a discussion of the various exeptions have a look at the the English4Today Blog entries while you listen to the accompanying podcast episode.

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Readers' Questions : Would and Could

Readers' QuestionsEvery month we publish one question from an English4Today member in the newsletter. However, we answer a lot more in the Online Grammar FAQ and a lot of them have podcast sound files with the answers.

This month's question was sent in by Mahesh, an English4Today member from India : Mahesh asks, 'What is the difference between ‘would’ and ‘could’?'

This is a very common question and there seems to be a lot of confusion about what the difference is exactly between ‘would’ and ‘could’. As with a lot of questions sent in by advanced English learners, this question is really about pointing out fairly fine distinctions in usage and special cases (such as 'would like') where only one choice is possible. Because this month's answer is a bit too long for the newsletter we've posted a comprehensive answer to Mahesh's question on the Grammar FAQ with sound file and examples.


Get the full answer now

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