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					BBC Learning English
How to…
Tell someone about funny incidents
Neil: Hello, welcome to „How to…‟ with me, Neil Edgeller. In this
programme we‟ll take a look at how to tell friends, or people you know
quite well, about funny or unexpected things which have happened to
you. Perhaps you saw someone famous, or bumped into someone you
haven‟t seen for years. How do you introduce the topic to your friends?
How do you tell the story, and how do you finish it? Listen and find out
more in this week‟s How to…
Neil: It‟s a Monday morning at BBC Learning English and everyone‟s talking
about the weekend. And some very funny things happened. Funny here
means unusual. First of all, listen to Jackie. What happened to her?
Insert
A really funny thing happened to me the other day when I was out with a friend. We
were in a restaurant in London and suddenly I saw that she was just staring at something
on the other side of the room with her mouth wide open and it turned out that Michael
Jackson was sitting there and it was really unexpected, just a really odd experience to
see this really famous person.
Neil: Jackie went to a restaurant with a friend and Michael Jackson was in the
same room, which is, of course, a very strange and unusual situation.
How did she start telling the story? She says, “A really funny thing
happened to me the other day.”
Insert
A really funny thing happened to me the other day when I was out with a friend.
How to… © BBC Learning English 2007
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Neil: This is a good way of introducing funny or unusual events to a friend or
colleague you know quite well. It‟s for informal situations. After she
introduces it, she can then tell the story. At the end, she comments on the
story.
Insert
…it was really unexpected, just a really odd experience to see this really famous person.
Neil: She says, “…it was really unexpected, just a really odd experience…”
Odd is another word meaning strange or unusual. It‟s typical with this
type of story to end with a comment which tells us how you felt. Here‟s
the whole thing again.
Insert
A really funny thing happened to me the other day when I was out with a friend. We
were in a restaurant in London and suddenly I saw that she was just staring at something
on the other side of the room with her mouth wide open and it turned out that Michael
Jackson was sitting there and it was really unexpected, just a really odd experience to
see this really famous person.
Neil: Next I spoke to William. Something very funny happened to him over
the weekend too.
Insert
Something very, very strange and unexpected happened. I was going to the park with
my little niece. When we got there, there were about… I don‟t know, about two hundred
or more clowns, and they were all on bikes or unicycles or whatever and I had my little
niece with me and she went absolutely crazy. She doesn‟t like clowns.
Neil: He took his niece to his local park and there were about two hundred
clowns riding bikes and unicycles. A unicycle‟s a bicycle with only one
wheel. How does he introduce the story? He says, “Something very
strange and unexpected happened.”
Insert
Something very, very strange and unexpected happened.
Neil: And after that he tells the story. And, just like Jackie, he finishes with a
comment which tells us how it ended and what the feeling was.
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Insert
I had my little niece with me and she went absolutely crazy. She doesn‟t like clowns.
Neil: His niece went crazy because she doesn‟t like clowns. Now listen to it all
again.
Insert
Something very, very strange and unexpected happened. I was going to the park with
my little niece. When we got there, there were about… I don‟t know, about two hundred
or more clowns, and they were all on bikes or unicycles or whatever and I had my little
niece with me and she went absolutely crazy. She doesn‟t like clowns.
Neil: Lastly, here‟s Catherine. Something funny‟s just happened to her as well.
Insert
You‟ll never guess what‟s just happened to me. Listen to this, right. I‟ve just gone to get
a sandwich and on my way back this woman came up to me and she said, “I can‟t
believe it‟s you! Can I have your autograph?” Can you believe it?
Neil: She left the office to buy a sandwich and outside the BBC building,
someone asked her for an autograph. They thought she was a famous
person. Listen to how she introduces this story. She says, “You‟ll never
guess what‟s just happened to me. Listen to this, right”.
Insert
You‟ll never guess what‟s just happened to me. Listen to this, right.
Neil: After that, she tells the story and then ends with a comment, this time,
“Can you believe it?” This shows that she‟s really surprised about what
happened.
Insert
Can you believe it?
Neil: Now here‟s Catherine again.
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Insert
You‟ll never guess what‟s just happened to me. Listen to this, right. I‟ve just gone to get
a sandwich and on my way back this woman came up to me and she said, “I can‟t
believe it‟s you! Can I have your autograph?” Can you believe it?
Neil: To recap. If you want to tell a friend about something funny or surprising
that‟s happened to you, you can introduce it like this:
Insert
A really funny thing happened to me the other day.
You‟ll never guess what‟s just happened to me.
Something very, very strange and unexpected happened.
Neil: You then tell the story and end by adding a comment:
Insert
It was really unexpected, just a really odd experience.
She went absolutely crazy.
Can you believe it?
Neil: That‟s all for this How to… Next time you have dinner with Michael
Jackson, you‟ll know how to tell your friends.
BBC Learning English
How to …
Making an appointment
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
Making an appointment Page 1 of 4
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Yvonne: Hello, this is "How to…" from bbclearningenglish.com and I'm Yvonne
Archer. In today's programme… how to make an appointment in English!
Coming up…some key words and phrases that are useful - whether we need to
see a doctor, a dentist, a hairdresser, a lawyer or even a plumber. Listen out for
the phrase Hina uses to make a doctor's appointment…
Hina makes a doctor's appointment
RECEPTIONIST: Bushy Hill Surgery?
HINA: Hello, I'd like to book an appointment please.
RECEPTIONIST: Right, we have Thursday morning at 10 or Friday afternoon at 3pm.
HINA: Thursday morning suits me and I'd prefer to see a lady doctor, if that's possible.
Yvonne: Hina said "I'd like to book…" – "I would like to book…" and then adds "an
appointment, please" - "I'd like to book an appointment, please." Let's hear that
again, but this time, listen out for Hina's special request once she's agreed the
day and time for her appointment. It shows that she thought about what she
needed before she made her phone call…
Fatima makes a doctor's appointment
RECEPTIONIST: Bushy Hill Surgery?
HINA: Hello, I'd like to book an appointment please.
RECEPTIONIST: Right, we have Thursday morning at 10 or Friday afternoon at 3pm.
HINA: Thursday morning suits me and I'd prefer to see a lady doctor, if that's possible.
Yvonne: Hina decided that she wanted to see a female or a woman doctor, so she said:
"I'd prefer to see a lady doctor, if that's possible."
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Hina makes a doctor's appointment
HINA: Thursday morning suits me and I'd prefer to see a lady doctor, if that's possible.
Yvonne: Like the word 'please', adding "if that's possible" is also a simple and polite
way to soften a request – and that probably encourages the receptionist or the
person we're booking an appointment with to be even more helpful!
IDENT
Yvonne: Next, Finn has a terrible toothache and wants to make an appointment with the
dentist. Again, we hear the same key phrase plus 'an appointment' being used.
But what special request does Finn have and how does he make it sound polite?
Finn makes a dental appointment
RECEPTIONIST: Good morning, Northern Dental Surgery.
FINN: Oh hello there, I've got a toothache and I'd like to book an appointment to see the
dentist today, if you can.
RECEPTIONIST: Hmmm… we're kind of booked up today – oh, actually, we could
squeeze you in at 5.
Yvonne: Finn adds "if you can" rather than 'if possible' to his special request so that he
sounds polite when asking for an urgent appointment – he wants to see the
dentist at very short notice. Both phrases 'if possible' and 'if you can' have the
same meaning and do the same job so you can use either!
But back to our key phrase "I'd like to book…" This time, "an appointment"
plus the infinitive of a verb - "…to see" - plus the job title of the person he
wants to see 'the dentist' are all added. Listen again…
Finn makes a dentist's appointment
FINN: I'd like to book an appointment to see the dentist today, if you can.
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Yvonne: So it's simple enough to make our key phrase longer when we want to add
extra information. Finn didn't know the dentist's name, but if you do know the
name of the person you want to see, you can simply add the preposition 'with'
plus their name to our key phrase. For example, "I'd like to book an
appointment with Steve". And if you only know the person's job title, you can
say, for example: "I'd like to book an appointment with the plumber please".
Here's Finn again as he tries to make another appointment; which noun does he
add to the key phrase "I'd like to book…"?
Finn makes an appointment with his hairdresser
RECEPTIONIST: Good morning, "A Cut Above"
FINN: Oh, hello there. I'd like to book a haircut for today please.
Yvonne: Finn wants 'a haircut' so he simply says: "I'd like to book a haircut"- and of
course, he adds 'please'…
Finn makes an appointment with his hairdresser
RECEPTIONIST: Good morning, "A Cut Above"
FINN: Oh, hello there. I'd like to book a haircut for today please.
Yvonne: So to recap - we can book something, like a service for our car or a haircut…
Finn makes an appointment with his hairdresser
FINN: Oh, hello there. I'd like to book a haircut for today please.
Yvonne: But we book an appointment to see someone, like a doctor or a specific named
person…
Finn makes a dental appointment
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FINN: …I'd like to book an appointment to see the dentist today, if you can.
Yvonne: Well, that's all for today's "How to…", but why not visit us at
bbclearningenglish.com for more on how to make an appointment plus test
what you've learned with our quizzes, games and other programmes?
BBC Learning English
How to …
Making an appointment
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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USEFUL TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT…
Making an appointment in English might seem more difficult than it really is. So here are a
couple of helpful things we can do and think about before we speak to the receptionist – the
person who usually organises appointments…
TIP #1 - Jo
You're not going to understand everything that a native speaker says to you at all times. But
don't worry and don't be afraid to tell them that you haven't understood. Don't be scared; the
most important thing is that you make your appointment and achieve what you want to
achieve.
As Jo says, it's perfectly okay to ask the receptionist to repeat anything that you don't
understand. And if you're speaking in English on the telephone, it's easy to forget what you
want to say because you get nervous. Here's what John does so that he doesn't forget anything
          in this case, when making an appointment with his mechanic:
TIP #2 - John
When I want my car serviced, before I even make an appointment, I make a list of all the
things I want checked and all the things I know that need repairing.
Like John, if you write down everything you want to say in English before making your
appointment, you won't have to worry about forgetting anything!
BBC Learning English
How to …
make an appointment
Quiz
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For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: ____________ an appointment.
a: I'd like book
b: I like to book
c: I'd like to book
2: I've got a terrible toothache; I‟d like to see the dentist _____________.
a: now
b: today, if possible
c: right away
3: I‟d like to book _______________ please.
a: a haircut
b: a haircutter
c: haircut
4: I'd like to book _____________ the plumber, please.
a: to appoint
b: with
c: an appointment with
5: I'd like to book an appointment __________________Dr Lee please.
a: to see
b: to hear
c: to meet
6: Hello, my car needs a service. Is Steve available to do it ______ Thursday?
a: in
b: on
c: at
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ANSWERS
For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: ______________________ an appointment.
a: I'd like book
Wrong – you need to use the infinitive of one of the verbs here.
b: I like to book
Wrong – you need an extra word here.
c: I'd like to book
Correct – this is a simple way to book an appointment.
2: I've got a terrible toothache; I‟d like to see the dentist _____________.
a: now
Wrong – this request isn't polite.
b: today, if possible
Correct – This is a good way to make a polite request for an appointment at short notice.
c: right away
Wrong – this request isn't polite.
3
: I‟d like to book _______________ please.
a: a haircut
Correct – This is a clear and simple way to make an appointment.
b: a haircutter
Wrong – There's no such noun; someone who cuts our hair is 'a hairdresser' or 'a barber'.
c: haircut
Wrong – you need a determiner before the noun.
4: I'd like to book _____________ the plumber, please.
a: to appoint
Wrong – we tend to use ‘appoint' when we talk about formally giving someone a job or a
position.
b: with
Wrong – you need some extra words here.
c: an appointment with
Correct – You can use this phrase before a job title or a proper noun.
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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5: Hello, I've got a terrible cough, so I'd like to book __________________Dr Lee, please.
a: an appointment to see
Correct – This is the right verb to use!
b: an appointment to hear
Wrong – is this the correct verb to use here?
c: an appointment to meet
Wrong – is this the correct verb to use here?
6: Hello, my car needs a service. Is Steve available to do it ______ Thursday?
a: in
Wrong – we would use this preposition before a block of time, e.g." in a week's time". Try
again!
b: on
Correct – this is the correct preposition!
c: at
Wrong – we would use this preposition before a specific time, e.g. "at 3 pm". Try again!
BBC Learning English
How to …
Asking for and giving directions
Listening activity
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Listen to the directions and find which building on the map is the Post Office. You can find a
transcript and the answer on the next page.
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Transcript:
A: Hello, excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the nearest Post Office?
B: Erm, yea, sure – you go straight up this street. Take the second turn on the right. Keep
going along there, across one junction, and it‟s right there on your left.
A: Thanks
B: Oh, no, hang on, wait a minute, there‟s a closer one. Walk up this street, take the first left
and there‟s a Post Office on your right at the next junction, sorry, I forgot about that one.
A: Thanks again
Answer:
There are two Post Offices. One is building F but the nearest is building N.

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ANSWERS
1: If you go up to the fifth floor, you'll find his office ____ your right as you come out
the elevator.
a: on
2: Go to the end of the road and ____ left by the traffic lights.
b: turn
3: _____ a right just after the supermarket.
b: Take
4: You ____ his house, it's painted bright pink!
b: can’t miss
5: Go ____ up to the end of the road.
a: straight
BBC Learning English
How to …
Asking for and giving directions
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Jackie: Hello, welcome to BBC Learning English dot com. I'm Jackie Dalton. Today's
programme is all about giving and understanding directions. Our reporter
Helen is new to London and has been out asking people for directions to
various different places. We'll take a look at some of the key phrases that come
up as she tries to find her way around. Let's start with a simple one.
Examples
Can you tell me how to get to the nearest toilet, please?
To the nearest toilet? Yes, you just go down the stairs here, turn right and it's just on your
right.
Jackie: Nice and easy. 'Turn right' or 'turn left' – a simple way of telling people in
which direction they should go. And if you want to describe the position of a
particular place in relation to the person you can say it's 'on your right', or 'on
your left'. Let's listen to that clip once more.
Examples
Can you tell me how to get to the nearest toilet, please?
To the nearest toilet? Yes, you just go down the stairs here, turn right and it's just on your
right.
Jackie: Now listen out for a slightly different way of telling someone to turn left or
right.
Examples
Can I ask you how to get to the nearest bus stop please?
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Just go straight to the bottom there, just take a left turn, take a left turn – and that's it, yeah,
it's just round the corner.
Jackie: That's another way of telling someone to go in a particular direction – earlier
we heard the phrase 'turn right' or 'turn left', you could also say 'take a left' or
'take a left turn'.
A word that's already come up five times is 'just'. Listen to how it's used.
Examples
You just go down the stairs here, turn right and it's just on your right.
Just go straight to the bottom there, just take a left turn, take a left turn – and that's it, yeah,
it's just round the corner.
Jackie: 'Just' is a sort of filler and a way of suggesting that what the person has to do
isn't difficult: 'Just go down the stairs' somehow sounds easier than 'Go down
the stairs'. Listen again:
Examples
You just go down the stairs here, turn right and it's just on your right.
Just go straight to the bottom there, just take a left turn, take a left turn – and that's it, yeah,
it's just round the corner.
Jackie: One thing that can be confusing when it comes to directions is the use of the
word 'right'. Listen to this clip – the word 'right' is used in three different ways.
Examples
Do you know how to get to Covent Garden?
Yeah, yeah, you just go…at the end of the street, go left and then go right and take the second
right around the Aldwych theatre, go right up there, then go left and Covent Garden Market
will just be right in front you – you just walk down…
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Jackie: Let's break that down.
Examples
go left and then go right
Jackie: simple enough – 'go right' means the same as 'turn right' or 'take a right'. What
about here?
Examples
around the Aldwych theatre, go right up there
Jackie: 'Go right up there' could be interpreted in two different ways and even a native
English speaker could get confused here. The man could have meant 'turn
right', or he could have meant 'go all the way up there'. 'Go right up there' - 'go
all the way up there'. We say things like 'go right to the end of the road' to
mean 'go all the way to the end of the road' – very different from taking a right
turn. A clue is often in the prepositions. If you‟re telling someone to turn, it
often comes with the preposition 'at'. For example, 'Go right at the main road'.
Whereas the preposition 'up' – 'Go right up the main road' – tends to mean go
all the way up the main road. If you're not sure, just ask. So that's two different
uses of 'right'. What about the third?
Examples
and Covent Garden Market will just be right in front you
Jackie: 'Covent Garden will just be right in front of you'. He could also have said
'Covent Garden will be directly in front of you' or 'immediately in front of you'
                    it's not far away. 'Right in front of you' in this context means 'it's not far
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away'. Let‟s listen to the next set of directions. Listen out for an expression in
this clip which means 'it's very easy to see'.
Examples
I was wondering if I could ask you how to get to the nearest tube station?
Err, you could use Holborn tube station, which is straight down Oxford street, turn right and
keep going up Kingsway and you won't miss it, it's on the right.
Jackie: Did you spot the expression? 'You won't miss it' is a nice way of saying 'it's
very easy to see'. Now listen to the beginning of this sentence.
Examples
keep going up Kingsway and you won't miss it, it's on the right.
Jackie: 'Keep going' is a good way of telling someone they will have to walk or drive
for a while before they get to a certain point.
Let's end with a couple of questions to check you've understood some of
today's language.
Which is correct: 'The building is at your right' or 'The building is on your
right'?
The second is correct – we use the preposition 'on'. 'The building is on your
right.'
Which of these would be a correct way of telling someone to turn left: 'Take a
left' or 'Have a left'?
The first one is correct. 'Have a left' doesn't make sense – 'Take a left' is fine.
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Which of these phrases means turn right: 'Go right to the end of the road' or
'Go right at the end of the road'?
The second one, with the preposition 'at' means turn right. 'Go right up the
road' usually means go all the way up the road.
That's all for now, but keep practising your English with our quizzes, games
and programmes on BBC Learning English dot com.
BBC Learning English
How to …
Asking for permission
Reading activity
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For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: Can he ____________ to?
a: comes
b: come
c: came
2: Could my brother __________ your car at the weekend?
a: borrowed
b: borrows
c: borrow
3: „Can I use that for a minute?‟ means …
a: I want to use it for about sixty seconds.
b: I want to use it for a long time.
c: I want to use it for a short length of time.
4: Which of these sentences has the word „please‟ in a correct place?
a: Could please I use your phone?
b: Could I please use your phone?
c: Could I use please your phone?
5: What is most important in speech to indicate politeness?
a: Using the word please.
b: Smiling when you are speaking.
c: The tone of voice and pronunciation.
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ANSWERS
1: Can he ____________ to?
b: come – CORRECT. After „can‟ use the base infinitive.
2: Could my brother __________ your car at the weekend?
c: borrow - CORRECT. After „could‟ use the base infinitive.
3: „Can I use that for a minute?‟ means …
c: I want to use it for a short length of time. CORRECT
4: Which of these sentences has the word „please‟ in a correct place?
b: Could I please use your phone? CORRECT
5: What is most important in speech to indicate politeness?
c: The tone of voice and pronunciation. CORRECT
BBC Learning English
How to …
Asking permission
How to … © bbclearningenglish.com
Asking permission Page 1 of 5
Jackie: Hello this is BBC Learning English dot com, with me, Jackie Dalton. This
programme is about asking permission – which means asking someone if
you're allowed to do something. We're going to hear examples from around the
office. Listen to this first example, which shows one of the most common ways
of asking permission.
Examples
Hinna, can I use your computer for a minute?
Jackie: Very simple: the phrase 'can I' followed by the verb. But what verb form
comes after the phrase 'can I'? Listen to these two examples of asking.
Examples
Can he call you back later?
Can I use your scissors?
Jackie: 'Can' is the base form of the verb, which is the infinitive without 'to. Now let's
listen to a slightly different way of asking permission.
Examples
Oh Emily, I forgot to bring my phone charger today, could I borrow yours for a minute please?
Jackie: Instead of 'can I borrow', we hear 'could I…?' Using 'Could I…?' instead of
'Can I…?' sounds slightly more formal. You might use 'could' if you want to be
more polite. Like the word 'can', 'could' is always used with the base infinitive
form of the verb.
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Examples
Could she write me a summary of the report?
Jackie: You may have spotted a phrase that came up at the end of a couple of the
phrases we heard earlier.
Examples
Hinna, can I use your computer for a minute?
Oh Emily, I forgot to bring my phone charger today, could I borrow yours for a minute please?
Jackie: Both speakers asked permission to do something 'for a minute'. They didn't
literally mean they would spend sixty seconds using the computer or
borrowing the phone charger. But it's a way of showing that you only want to
borrow something for a short time and you're trying not to bother the other
person too much.
Examples
Hinna, can I use your computer for a minute?
Oh Emily, I forgot to bring my phone charger today, could I borrow yours for a minute please?
Jackie: We also heard the magic word 'please' at the end of that question. Parents often
get very cross with their children if they ask permission without using the word
'please'. But the reality is that it's often fine not to include it. We tend to use
intonation in our questions to sound polite, so we don't always need the extra
'please'. Listen to these examples. The first doesn't sound very polite.
Examples
Could I have that. (demanding)
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Jackie: But the second…
Examples
Could I have that? (questioning)
Jackie: Sounds more like a polite question than an aggressive demand because of the
way the voice goes up.
Examples
Could I have that. (demanding)
Could I have that? (questioning)
Jackie: Listen to some more examples of the differences.
Examples
Could I see you.
Could I see you?
Jackie: The second phrase came across as a polite question, unlike the first. What
about here?
Examples
Could you give that to me?
Could you give that to me.
Jackie: This time, the first question was sounded more polite because of the way it was
asked. As long as you ask your question in a polite tone of voice, you need a
'please' – having said that, there's never anything wrong with using 'please'
when asking permission.
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Jackie: Let's look at another structure for asking permission.
Examples
Matt, would it be OK if I took the afternoon off on Friday?
Jackie: Would it be OK if – fairly informal way of asking permission. You could also
say 'Would it be alright if…?' What verb form follows these questions?
Examples
Matt, would it be OK if I took the afternoon off on Friday?
I'm not feeling well today would it be alright if I did this tomorrow?
Jackie: In both these cases, the phrases are followed by the past subjunctive form of
the verb. However, you could also use the present form – this sounds slightly
less formal.
Examples
Matt, would it be OK if I take the afternoon off on Friday?
I'm not feeling well today would it be alright if I do this tomorrow?
Jackie: So 'Would it be OK if…? and 'Would it be alright if…?' can be followed by the
present or, for a slightly more formal effect, the past subjunctive. If you want
to be even more polite, another variation on the structures we've just heard is
'Would I be able to…?'
Examples
Would I be able to talk to you about something?
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Jackie: 'Would I be able to' – a polite way of asking permission. Now it's time to check
you've understood the things we've looked at. Which of these requests is
correct – the first or the second?
Examples
Can she sits here?
Can she sit here?
Jackie: The second phrase is correct – remember 'Do you mind if…?' is used with the
base infinitive verb form. Now, w hich of these two questions sounds the most
formal?
Examples
Would I be able to talk to you about something?
Is it OK if I leave early?
Jackie: The first question is more formal 'Would I be able to…?' sounds more distant
than 'Is it OK if I…? That's all for this week, but in a later programme
we'll be exploring some of the structures you can use to answer these questions.
BBC Learning English
How to …
respond to compliments
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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William: Hello, and welcome to How to… our guide to the everyday language of life.
My name‟s William Kremer. I take every opportunity to shock my colleagues
here at BBC Learning English dot com and earlier on I gave several of them a
big shock. I went around the office complimenting them.
Why did I compliment them? Did they look good? Had they made programmes
that I‟d enjoyed? Well no, not really. I just wanted to see how they would react
          how they would respond - to my compliments.
I started off by approaching Carrie at the photocopier. How did she react when
I gave her a compliment?
William: Hello Carrie. You‟re looking lovely today…
Carrie: What are you after?
William: What do you mean, what am I after? I‟m just saying you look lovely. I like
your purple T-shirt.
Carrie: It‟s just you don‟t ever normally give me compliments so you must be after
something…
William: Well, I told you that my colleagues would be shocked by me paying them
compliments. When I told Carrie that I thought she looked lovely she said:
„What are you after?‟
William: Hello Carrie. You‟re looking lovely today…
Carrie: What are you after?
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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William: „What are you after?‟ means „What do you want?‟. Carrie thinks that I am
being nice to her because I want to ask her a favour. She said that I didn‟t
normally compliment her so „I must be after something‟. „What are you after?‟
is a humorous, and quite common response to an unexpected compliment. It is
sometimes said that the British don‟t know how to respond to compliments. So
after Carrie‟s rather disappointing answer, I thought I‟d try someone from
abroad, so I approached my colleague Khalid….
William: Khalid!
Khalid: Hello!
William: Khalid‟s busy. But I just wanted to say… erm you‟re looking fantastic today.
As always, actually! You‟re so smart….
Khalid: Oh thank you! What do you want?
William: You‟re the second person that‟s said that! No, I don‟t want anything, I don‟t
need you to translate anything at all… I just thought I… I… I thought you look
very smart.
Khalid: Well thank you so much, that‟s very, very kind. I got my shirt from er Dubai
actually – erm, very cheap shop in Dubai… erm – it didn‟t cost me a lot of
money but I think it‟s nice, and you think it‟s nice.
William: Well, either I don‟t ever pay people compliments or my colleagues never
receive any! Khalid also asked me if I wanted anything – if I was looking for a
favour. But then he said, „Thank you so much, that‟s very kind‟.
William: … I just thought I… I… I thought you look very smart.
Khalid: Well thank you so much, that‟s very, very kind. I got my shirt from er Dubai
actually – erm, very cheap shop in Dubai… erm – it didn‟t cost me a lot of
money but I think it‟s nice, and you think it‟s nice.
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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William: After Khalid thanked me for the compliment, he went on to tell me about his
shirt – specifically that it hadn‟t cost much money. In Britain this is quite a
common way of responding to compliments about clothes – to say that actually
your clothes aren‟t so special. We often say „Ooh, it was only cheap‟ or maybe
„I‟ve had it for ages‟. You‟re not disagreeing with the compliment, but saying
this kind of thing shows that you‟re surprised by it.
Next, I complimented Callum Robertson on his programme Grammar
Challenge, and he replied using a standard phrase.
William: So, I listened to one of your grammar challenges the other day… and erm… I
thought it was fantastic
Callum: Ah well, it‟s very nice of you to say so, thanks
William: Callum said ‘It‟s very nice of you to say so‟
Callum: Ah well, it‟s very nice of you to say so, thanks
William: Now, there‟s an important strategy that people use in reacting to compliments.
That is to return the compliment – to give a compliment back to the person
who gave it to you! Listen to my conversation with Hina:
William: No, I … I… thought that I‟d, I‟d come over and compliment you on the way
you‟re looking today because I think you‟re looking very smart…
Hina: Thank you Will, that‟s very kind of you to say. You‟re looking very smart and
tall as usual….
William: I‟m tall! Yes – I can‟t help, I‟m always looking tall, that‟s just the way I am!
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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William: Hina returned my compliment by saying that I was looking very tall. Normally,
we don‟t say that people look tall, we say that they are tall… that‟s why I told
Hina that I‟m always looking tall.
Hina: You‟re looking very smart and tall as usual….
William: I‟m tall! Yes – I can‟t help, I‟m always looking tall, that‟s just the way I am!
I am actually a very tall person, and I get a lot of compliments about my height.
Old ladies are always saying to me „Oh, you‟re lovely and tall‟. That sounds
very nice, but actually it gets pretty boring. And, it can be quite difficult for me
to return the compliment. It would be very strange for me to say „Oh, thank
you very much. You‟re lovely and short‟!
But, after someone compliments you, you always need to say something.
Goodbye!
BBC Learning English
How to …
respond to compliments
Quiz
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
respond to compliments - Quiz Page 1 of 3
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For each question choose the best answer.
1: A: You‟re looking very smart today, Neil!
B: _______________
a: That‟s very kind of you to say so
b: That‟s very kind of you to say it
c: It‟s all very well for you to say that
2: A: Oh Anna, I love your dress!
B: ______________________
a: Really? Why?
b: Really? It was only cheap…
c: Yes, it‟s lovely isn‟t it?
3: A: Well done on getting that contract, Paul.
B: ______________________
a: Thanks but it wasn‟t all my work…
b: Thanks but it was all my work…
b: Thanks but it wasn‟t work…
4: A: You look very swish, Lizzy!
B: ______________________
a: Thanks very much! You do two!
b: Thanks very much! You do to!
c: Thanks very much! You do too!
5: A: I like your shirt, Mark.
B: ______________________
a: What are you doing after?
b: What are you doing after me?
c: What are you after?
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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ANSWERS
1: A: You‟re looking very smart today, Neil!
B: _______________
a: That‟s very kind of you to say so
Correct – This is a standard way to receive a compliment
b: That‟s very kind of you to say it
Wrong – How do we refer to something someone has just said?
c: It‟s all very well for you to say that
Wrong – This has a different meaning. You sound like you are going to disagree with the
person
2: A: Oh Anna, I love your dress!
B: ______________________
a: Really? Why?
Wrong – This is a slightly impolite way to receive a compliment
b: Really? It was only cheap…
Correct – This is one way to show surprise at the compliment
c: Yes, it‟s lovely isn‟t it?
Wrong – You can say this, but it’s slightly unusual to agree with compliments
3: A: Well done on getting that contract, Paul.
B: ______________________
a: Thanks but it wasn‟t all my work…
Correct – You are sharing responsibility for your success
b: Thanks but it was all my work…
Wrong – You need to share responsibility for the success
c: Thanks but it wasn‟t work…
Wrong – You need to share responsibility for the success
4: A: You look very swish, Lizzy!
B: ______________________
a: Thanks very much! You do two!
Wrong – Check your spelling here
b: Thanks very much! You do to!
Wrong – Check your spelling here
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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c: Thanks very much! You do too!
Correct – This is an easy way to return a compliment
5: A: I like your shirt, Mark.
B: ______________________
a: What are you doing after?
Wrong – This isn’t the phrase you need
b: What are you doing after me?
Wrong – This isn’t the phrase you need
c: What are you after?
Correct – This is a humorous and common response in the UK
BBC Learning English
How to … make informal invitations
Quiz
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: Do you _______ a pint?
a: feel
b: feel like
c: like
2: Do you fancy a ________ ?
a: museum
b: new house
c: chocolate bar
3: Are you ____ ____ a drink after work?
a: up for
b: up to
c: up against
4: Are you up for _____ _____ a museum with me?
a: go to
b: to go to
c: going to
5: Q. Do you fancy going to a concert this weekend?
____________________________________
a: Yes, I‟d love one!
b: Yes, I‟d love to!
c: Yes, I fancy!
6: Q. Are you up for another drink?
____________________________________
a: That sounds
b: Sure, OK
c: I love one!
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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ANSWERS
For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: Do you _______ a pint?
a: feel
Wrong - You need another word here
b: feel like
Correct – This is one way to make an informal invitation
c: like
Wrong – ‘Do you like a pint’ is a general question, not an invitation
2: Do you fancy a ________ ?
a: museum
Wrong – We use ‘fancy’ to describe having something, but you can’t have a museum!
b: new house
Wrong – We use ‘fancy’ to describe wanting small things, not big expensive things
c: chocolate bar
Correct – This is the kind of object you might use this phrase for
3: Are you ____ ____ a drink after work?
a: up for
Correct – ‘to be up for something’ means to want to do or try something
b: up to
Wrong – This is correct English, but it isn’t an invitation. ‘Up to’ means ‘able to do’
something
c: up against
Wrong – ‘Up against’ means ‘in opposition to’
4: Are you up for _____ _____ a museum with me?
a: go to
Wrong – You need to use a gerund with ‘up for’ when you are talking about activities
b: to go to
Wrong – You need to use a gerund with ‘up for’, not an infinitive
c: going to
Correct – This is a good way to invite someone to do an activity with you
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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5: Q. Do you fancy going to a concert this weekend?
____________________________________
a: Yes, I‟d love one!
Wrong – you use this to talk about objects, not activities
b: Yes, I’d love to!
Correct – This is one way to agree to an activity
c: Yes, I fancy!
Wrong – you need an object here
6: Q. Are you up for another drink?
____________________________________
a: That sounds
Wrong – You need an adjective here, e.g. ‘That sounds nice’
b: Sure, thanks
Correct – You can agree to informal invitations in this way
c: I love one!
Wrong – This should be ‘I’d love one’
BBC Learning English
How to … make informal invitations
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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SIG
William: Hello and welcome to How to… the programme from BBC Learning English
that tells you… well… it tells you how to say things.
TAG
My name‟s William Kremer and over the next three weeks, I‟m going to be
telling you how to invite people to do things and say yes or no to other
people‟s invitations.
And today we‟re looking at informal invitations, and in particular, how to ask
someone whether he or she would like to go for a pint. If you live in the UK, or
have ever been to the UK, then you must know what I mean by „a pint‟. I mean,
a glass of beer, usually served in a pub: a pint of beer. We also often say „a
drink‟ to mean an alcoholic drink such as beer.
So, let‟s imagine that it‟s five o‟clock on a Friday and you‟ve had a hard week
and it‟s time for a pint. What‟s a good way of asking other people if they‟d like
a drink too?
Well, in the next clip, Diarmuid is going to invite Catherine out for a pint. See
if you can hear what words Diarmuid uses to do this.
Examples
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Diarmuid: Catherine, I‟m just going for a drink after work this evening – do you fancy a
pint?
Catherine: Ooh, I‟d love one.
William: Diarmuid asks, „Do you fancy a pint?‟ In British English, if you „fancy‟
something, it means that right now you want to have it. For example, „I fancy
an ice cream‟, „I fancy a hamburger‟
.
Examples
Diarmuid: Catherine, I‟m just going for a drink after work this evening – do you fancy a
pint?
Catherine: Ooh, I‟d love one.
William: Catherine says that she‟d love a pint, so she‟s agreeing to go for a drink with
Diarmuid. Now let‟s hear another way of inviting someone out for a pint:
Examples
Diarmuid: Are you up for a pint after work Catherine?
William: Diarmuid asked Catherine if she was „up for a pint‟.
Examples
Diarmuid: Are you up for a pint after work Catherine?
William: If someone is up for something, it often means that he or she would like to do
something or try something. This is a common expression in spoken English.
Examples
Diarmuid: Are you up for a pint after work Catherine?
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William: OK, let‟s look at a third way of inviting someone out for a pint.
Examples
Diarmuid: Do you feel like a pint, Catherine?
William: In this situation, if you feel like something, you fancy it. And so the question
for Diarmuid is, „Do you feel like a pint?‟
Examples
Diarmuid: Do you feel like a pint, Catherine?
MUSIC and STING
William: Now, see if you can hear a difference between the following sentences:
Examples
Diarmuid: Do you feel like a pint, Catherine?
Diarmuid: Do you feel like going for a pint, Catherine?
William: Well, the second sentence features a gerund – „going‟. We can use gerunds to
talk about activities instead of objects. The activity we‟re talking about here is
going for a pint. Listen again.
Diarmuid: Do you feel like going for a pint, Catherine?
William: In this situation, Diarmuid can choose whether to talk about the pint itself -
„Do you feel like a pint‟ - or the activity of going for a pint – „Do you feel like
going for a pint?‟ But, sometimes we don‟t have a choice. For example, we
can‟t say „Do you feel like a museum?‟ because you can‟t buy a museum! So
we would have to say „Do you feel like going to a museum with me?‟
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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There are also gerund forms for the other questions we‟ve heard:
Examples
Diarmuid: Do you fancy going for a pint, Catherine?
Diarmuid: Are you up for going for a pint, Catherine?
William: Now sometimes, in very informal situations like this, you don‟t even have to
ask a question in order to invite people to do something. What do I mean? Well,
listen to the following conversation. Diarmuid has just finished working…
Examples
Diarmuid: Right, that‟s me finished! I think I might go down the bar for a pint…
Catherine: I‟m up for that!
William: Diarmuid tells everyone that he‟s going to the bar. He hasn‟t asked them if they
want to come, but it‟s clear that they can come if they want. And, as it happens,
Catherine is up for it.
Examples
Diarmuid: Right, that‟s me finished! I think I might go down the bar for a pint…
Catherine: I‟m up for that!
William: Now, a quick word about accepting invitations. At the start of the programme,
we heard Catherine say yes like this:
Examples
Catherine: Ooh, I‟d love one.
William: But if Catherine‟s being asked to do an activity, the response is slightly
different:
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Diarmuid: Do you fancy going for a pint, Catherine?
Catherine: Ooh I‟d love to, what time?
William: If we‟re talking about activities, we should say „I‟d love to‟ not „I‟d love one‟.
There are lots of other ways of accepting invitations. She could say something
like:
Catherine: That‟d be fun.
William: Or she could say:
Catherine: That sounds lovely.
William: Or she could just say:
Catherine: OK, cool.
William: Now if you‟ve been listening to this programme and you‟ve been thinking,
„But I don‟t like beer!‟ well, we‟re going to be looking at the more complicated
business of saying „no‟ to invitations in a separate programme.
But, for today that‟s me finished. I think I might go down the bar for a pint….
BAR FX and Music
BBC Learning English
How to … make polite invitations
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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SIG
William: Hello and welcome to How to… the programme from BBC Learning English
where we give you useful language for some everyday situations.
TAG
My name‟s William Kremer. Now you may remember that in a different
programme we found out how to invite people informally, by saying things
like:
Examples
Diarmuid: Are you up for a pint after work Catherine?
William: Today, we‟re looking at making invitations again, but this time they‟re going to
be a little bit more formal. Let‟s start by listening to a short clip. Diarmuid is
inviting Catherine to a barbeque, which is a kind of meal you can cook outside,
usually in the summer.
Examples
Diarmuid: Catherine, are you free on Friday?
Catherine: I think so. Why?
Diarmuid: Well, I‟m going to have a barbeque on Friday night, in my back garden – I
wondered if you‟d like to come along.
Catherine: Yeah, I‟d love to. That sounds really nice.
Diarmuid: OK, you‟re not vegetarian are you?
Catherine: No, no I‟m not.
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Diarmuid: Ah, you‟ll be fine with burgers.
William: Would you like to hear that clip again? Would you like to hear it now? Well,
I‟ll play it again a bit later, but first I want to look at this phrase, „Would you
like?‟ „Would you like…‟ means „Do you want?‟ but it‟s slightly more polite.
So a slightly more polite way of saying „Do you want a banana?‟ is:
Examples
Elena: Would you like a banana?
William: …and a slightly more polite way of saying „Do you want to come for a drink?‟
is
Examples
Elena: Would you like to come for a drink?
William: So, „Would you like to do something?‟ is a very good way of asking questions
politely.
But, usually when we‟re being polite, we try and make what we say longer by
using other phrases. Listen to Diarmuid:
Examples
Diarmuid: I wondered if you‟d like to come along
William: Diarmuid says, „I wondered if you‟d like to come along‟, which is a shortened
way of saying „I wondered if you would like to come along‟ but it‟s sometimes
hard to hear the „-d‟, „I wondered if you‟d like to come along‟. „To wonder‟,
means „to think‟ or „to ask yourself‟ but the meaning of the word isn‟t that
important here; Diarmuid is just using the phrase to be polite.
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Let's practise using this phrase, „I wondered if you‟d like‟. You‟re going to
hear Elena. After she says a direct question, see if you can change it into a
sentence beginning, „I wondered if you‟d like‟. You‟ll hear the correct answer
after a short pause.
Music
Elena: Would you like a chocolate bar?... I wondered if you‟d like a chocolate bar….
Would you like to come for a drink?... I wondered if you‟d like to come for a
drink… Would you like to see my photos?... I wondered if you‟d like to see my
photos.
End Music
William: How did you do? By the way, you can also say, „I was wondering if you‟d
like….‟ It has exactly the same meaning.
Elena: I was wondering if you‟d like to see my photos.
William: I was wondering if you‟d like to hear the whole conversation between
Catherine and Diarmuid again…. You would? OK, here it is:
Examples
Diarmuid: Catherine, are you free on Friday?
Catherine: I think so. Why?
Diarmuid: Well, I‟m going to have a barbeque on Friday night, in my back garden – I
wondered if you‟d like to come along.
Catherine: Yeah, I‟d love to. That sounds really nice.
Diarmuid: OK, you‟re not vegetarian are you?
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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Catherine: No, no I‟m not.
Diarmuid: Ah, you‟ll be fine with burgers.
William: Did you hear the question that Diarmuid asked Catherine at the beginning:
Examples
Diarmuid: Catherine, are you free on Friday?
William: Diarmuid asked Catherine if she was „free‟ on Friday. He‟s checking that she
isn‟t busy. Another way of checking is to ask the opposite question: „Are you
doing anything on Friday?‟ Hopefully, whoever you‟re speaking to won’t be
doing anything! Or, you could just ask „What are you doing on Friday?‟
Now, before we finish, let‟s hear a different conversation. This time, Diarmuid
is asking Catherine to a dinner party.
Examples
Diarmuid: What are you doing on Friday, Catherine?
Catherine: Er, I‟m not sure yet. I might be going out but I haven‟t made any firm plans.
Why?
Diarmuid: OK, well I‟m going to have a dinner party at my house and I would very much
like it if you could come along.
Catherine: Oh right, yes I‟d love to. Is it a formal occasion?
Diarmuid: No, it‟s just a few old friends really. You‟ll… you‟ll… you‟ll have a good time,
you‟ll like the people. About nine o‟clock?
Catherine: That‟d be lovely. Shall I bring a bottle?
Diarmuid: Oh I think so…!
Catherine: OK then!
William: This time, Diarmuid says „I would very much like it if you could come along‟.
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This is very polite and very friendly, because it shows Catherine that her
coming to his party is important to him.
Examples
Diarmuid: And I would very much like it if you could come along.
William: When Catherine says „Shall I bring a bottle?‟, she‟s offering to take a bottle of
wine to Diarmuid‟s dinner party.
Examples
Catherine: That‟d be lovely. Shall I bring a bottle?
William: You can listen to both the conversations in this programme again on the How
to… webpage on BBC Learning English dot com, where you can also find out
more about today‟s phrases.
The next episode of How to will be published next Wednesday…. and I would
very much like it if you could come along. Goodbye
BBC Learning English
How to … make polite invitations
Example dialogues
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Diarmuid: Catherine, are you free on Friday?
Catherine: I think so. Why?
Diarmuid: Well, I‟m going to have a barbeque on Friday night, in my back garden – I
wondered if you‟d like to come along.
Catherine: Yeah, I‟d love to. That sounds really nice.
Diarmuid: OK, you‟re not vegetarian are you?
Catherine: No, no I‟m not.
Diarmuid: Ah, you‟ll be fine with burgers.
Diarmuid: What are you doing on Friday, Catherine?
Catherine: Er, I‟m not sure yet. I might be going out but I haven‟t made any firm plans.
Why?
Diarmuid: OK, well I‟m going to have a dinner party at my house and I would very much
like it if you could come along.
Catherine: Oh right, yes I‟d love to. Is it a formal occasion?
Diarmuid: No, it‟s just a few old friends really. You‟ll… you‟ll… you‟ll have a good time,
you‟ll like the people. About nine o‟clock?
Catherine: That‟d be lovely. Shall I bring a bottle?
Diarmuid: Oh I think so…!
Catherine: OK then!
BBC Learning English
How to … make polite invitations
Quiz
How to … © BBC Learning English 2007
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For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: ____ _____ ____ to come to my house for dinner?
a: Do you like
b: Would you like
c: Will you like
2: I ____ ____ ____ like to see my photos
a: wondered if you
b: wondered if you‟d
c: wandered if you‟d
3: I ____ ____ if you would like to join me for a pint after work
a: was wondering
b: was wondered
c: am wondering
4: Are you _____ on Friday evening?
a: occupied
b: vacant
c: free
5: I ____ _____ _____ _____ _____ if you could come along
a: would very much like it
b: would very like it much
c: will like it very much
6: Shall I bring _____ ______?
a: a bottle?
b: some bottle of wine?
c: some wines?
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ANSWERS
For each question choose the one correct answer.
1: ____ _____ ____ to come to my house for dinner?
a: Do you like
Wrong – You are not asking about general likes and dislikes, so ‘Do…’ is wrong
b: Would you like
Correct – This is a polite way to offer something or make an invitation
c: Will you like
Wrong – You are not asking about a future plan but an idea, so the future tense is wrong
2: I ____ ____ ____ like to see my photos
a: wondered if you
Wrong – you need to have ‘would’ in this sentence, either in a full or contracted form
b: wondered if you’d
Correct – this is a polite way to offer something or make an invitation
c: wandered if you‟d
Wrong – Be careful! 'Wandered' has the same pronunciation as 'wondered’ but a different
meaning
3: I ____ ____ if you would like to join me for a pint after work
a: was wondering
Correct – this is a polite way to invite someone out for a drink after work
b: was wondered
Wrong – This shouldn’t be in the passive voice, so you don’t need ‘was’
c: am wondering
Wrong – We usually use simple past tense or past continuous with this phrase
4: Are you _____ on Friday evening?
a: occupied
Wrong – This is correct grammar, but ‘occupied’ is too formal
b: vacant
Wrong – We tend to use vacant to mean ‘empty’, e.g. ‘Is this seat vacant?’
c: free
Correct – this is a very common way to check if someone is busy
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5: I ____ _____ _____ _____ _____ if you could come along
a: would very much like it
Correct – This is a very polite and friendly way to invite someone
b: would very like it much
Wrong – Check your word order here
c: will like it very much
Wrong – This sentence is not in the future tense
6: Shall I bring _____ ______?
a: a bottle?
Correct – This is a normal way to offer to bring a drink, usually wine
b: a wine?
Wrong – ‘wine’ is normally uncountable. So ‘Shall I bring some wine?’ would be OK
c: some wines?
Wrong – ‘wine’ is normally uncountable. So ‘Shall I bring some wine?’ would be OK

				
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