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Read the introduction, contents and first chapter of
Everyday English Grammar. See how much English grammar you didn’t know how to use properly.

everyday english grammar book

Please note that this is only an excerpt of chapter one.
You can download the whole chapter for free by clicking on 'Read' above.




This upper intermediate-level handbook of 25 essential English constructions – mostly conjunctions, but with a few useful verbs and prepositions too- will provide you with a much deeper understanding of things you probably already know. It is not a reference book, but a self-study course. Read and study it from beginning to end. It should take you only five weeks (one chapter a week), and when you finish it, you will notice a big improvement in your understanding and use of some very important, everyday English constructions.

The book is designed for upper intermediate students, but even if your English is more advanced, you will still find it extremely useful. Everything contained within it can be found in other books and online, but not in as much detail, nor in such clear English.The detail is practical detail rather than academic or technical; the information given is not there to be clever, but to help you. It is information you really need to know, and therefore you should find it very interesting to read.

The examples are simple but realistic, and there is a special emphasis on negative constructions and typical mistakes.The material is equally suitable for students of both British and American English, and very helpful for the writing sections of Cambridge First Certificate, IELTS (General Training Version) and TOEFL exams. (Please note that this is not an exam course book; I’m just saying that it will help you in the free writing sections of these exams.) However, for those not doing exams, the material is just as important and practical.

Also included in this handbook are useful exercises and dialogue, which will test you on what you have learnt in each chapter. I hope you enjoy Alex Stead’s wonderful illustrations too. There are no games and “fun” things to do.The fun is that you will enjoy improving your use of English conjunctions and verbs, and feel much more confident in your everyday English grammar.

Good luck

Steven Collins

Chapter One



We use “for” when we say how long the action has been in progress and “since” for the time at which the period began.


  • I’ve been waiting (present perfect continuous) here for an hour.
  • I’ve been waiting here since 3.30.
  • She has been living inToronto for five years.
  • She has been living in Toronto since 2007.
  • John has felt (present perfect) that way for many years.
  • John has felt that way since he was a child.

Note that the present perfect and present perfect continuous tenses are generally used in sentence constructions with “for” and “since”.

Typical mistakes:

  • I’m standing (present continuous) in this queue for over 45 minutes.
  • I’m standing in this queue since 2.15

This should be:

  • I’ve been standing (present perfect continuous) in this queue for over 45 minutes.
  • I’ve been standing in this queue since 2.15.

Remember: don’t use the present continuous with “for” and “since”.


Negative examples:

  • You haven’t called your mother for nearly two months.
  • You haven’t called your mother since May.
  • I haven’t lived in London for 10 years.
  • I haven’t lived in London since 2002.

Note that the present perfect is generally used in a negative sentence with “for” and “since” and not the present perfect continuous.


Someone might ask you the following question:

  • How long are you here for?

This may confuse you because it doesn’t mean “How long have you been here?” It refers to the future.

It actually means:

  • How long will you be here for?


  • How long will you be staying

Your answer should be:

  • I’m here for 6 months.

This doesn’t mean “I’ve been here for 6 months” but:

  • I’ll be here for 6 months.


Also take note of the following question with “since”:

  • How long is it since you last saw your brother?

and the answer could be:

  • Now we are in June, it’s six months since I last saw my brother.

The meaning is the same as “Now we are in June, I haven’t seen my brother since January”,but the construction is quite different. Note that the “since” clause above begins with “it is” (“it’s six months since”) and the question starts with “How long is it...” The adverb “last” comes after “since”, but before the verb (“saw”).And it’s the past simple tense (“I last saw”) which is used rather that the present perfect (“I haven’t seen”) or present perfect continuous (“I’ve been waiting”).

Some more examples:

  • How long is it since Jane last visited?
  • It’s such a long time since we last got to spend some time together.

Providing/Provided that/As long as


These conjunctions all mean “only if”.


  • I will come to school tomorrow providing/ provided that/as long as I feel well.”
  • Providing/Provided that/As long as you don’t mind waiting, the bus is more convenient.
  • Providing/Provided that/As long as you have done your homework, you can watch the football match.

Please note that the conjunctions “providing” and “provided” have no connection with the verb “to provide”; a completely different meaning.


Note that “providing/provided that/as long as” are, like most conjunctions, followed by the present simple or present perfect tense and not the future.

Typical mistake:

  • We will go on holiday next year providing/ provided that/as long as we will have enough money.

This should be:

  • We will go on holiday next year providing/ provided that/as long as we have enough money.

Remember: don’t use the future after “providing/ provided that/as long as”.


Please note that “Providing/Provided that/As long as” should only be used for positive or neutral situations and events; i.e. not negative ones.

Typical mistake:

  • I will move to another country to look for work providing/ provided that/ as long as I don’t get a visa to stay here.

This should be:

  • I will move to another country to look for work if I don’t get a visa to stay here.

The example above given as a typical mistake is wrong because not getting a visa is a negative event.The following examples, however, are correct even though a negative construction is used: a negative construction does not always mean a negative situation.

  • Providing/Provided that/As long as you don’t mind waiting, the bus is more convenient (see second example under 1.a above)
  • He will go to the park providing/provided that/ as long as it doesn’t rain.

“Don’t mind waiting” describes a neutral situation and “doesn’t rain” is a positive event; so even though the construction is negative, the meaning isn’t.


“Providing/Provided that/As long as” can also be used in a situation expressing a supposition where the main clause is in the conditional tense (“would stay”,“would marry”) but the subordinate clause, headed by these constructions, is in the past (“found”,“was”).

See examples below:

  • I would stay in New York providing/provided that/ as long as I found a good job.
  • Providing/Provided that/As long as I was in love, I would marry someone a lot older than me.
"I would stay in New York providing i found a good job"

Chapter One in Use



ANNA: Dad, is it OK if I go out with some friends tonight?

DAD: As long as I know where you’re going.

ANNA: I haven’t seen them for a long time; since Christmas, in fact. I suggested we go to Starbucks for a coffee despite what happened last time.

DAD: I can’t remember. What happened last time?

ANNA: We were told that unless we stopped talking so loudly, we would be asked to leave.

DAD: Ah yes.Well this time, be a bit more considerate; otherwise you might never be allowed to go back there again.

ANNA: Oh, and dad? I promise not to be late, providing there are trains running, of course.

DAD: Well. In spite of the weather being awful this evening, I think the trains will still run. Enjoy yourself...and be careful!

Chapter One: Exercise


Answers on page 70

  1. You will never succeed in life (providing/ unless/ otherwise) you work very hard.

  2. I a(have known/ know/ knew) him b(since/ despite/ for) many years.

  3. We went on holiday a(in spite of/ despite of/ although) the fact that we didn’t have much money. Next year I suggest b(to stay/ staying/ we will stay) at home.

  4. You can come to my party a(unless/ otherwise/ providing) you b(brought/ bring/ will bring) a bottle of wine with you.

  5. It’s a very long time a(for/ unless/ since) I last b(went/ have been/ will be going) to that restaurant.

  6. (Despite I have/ In spite having/ Despite having) many friends here in Australia, I miss my family back home.

  7. If you want to complain, I suggest you (speak to/ to speak to/ will speak to) the manager.

  8. I would have a dog a(as long as/ unless/ since) I b(will have/ have/ had) enough time to look after it properly.

  9. You must wear a coat; (unless/ otherwise/ in spite of) you might catch a cold.

  10. He is worried about the weather, and I don’t really know what to suggest b(him/ to him/ from him). Everything should be fine b( provided that/ as long/ despite) it doesn’t snow.