BAD: After lunch we went for sightseeing.
GOOD: After lunch we went sightseeing.
BAD: They wanted me to take them for sightseeing.
GOOD: They wanted me to take them sightseeing.
go sightseeing, take sb sightseeing, etc (WITHOUT for ): 'Today we're just relaxing by the pool and tomorrow we're going sightseeing.'
BAD: We're going to do a sightseeing tomorrow.
GOOD: We're going (to do some) sightseeing tomorrow.
Sightseeing is an uncountable noun: 'Some people aren't interested in sightseeing.'
BAD: We visited all the famous sightseeing places.
GOOD: We saw all the famous sights.
BAD: Nagasaki is famous for its sightseeing spots.
GOOD: Nagasaki is famous for its tourist attractions.
To refer to places that tourists like to visit, use sights (plural) or tourist attraction/spot (NOT sightseeing place/spot ): 'I've always wanted to see the sights of London.'
BAD: She began to think she was becoming mad.
GOOD: She began to think she was going mad.
go mad (NOT become ) =: 'Eventually, rejected by Hamlet, Ophelia goes mad and drowns herself.'
BAD: I've always been mad for tennis.
GOOD: I've always been mad about tennis.
be mad/crazy about sth (NOT for ) = (informal) like something very much: 'Why are so many people crazy about computer games?'
BAD: People are not as careful as they must be and drop their litter in the streets.
GOOD: People are not as careful as they should be and drop their litter in the streets.
Use must (or have to ) when, for example, there is a law or rule and you are not free to choose or decide for yourself: 'Candidates must answer all the questions in Part A and two questions in Part B.'
Use should (or ought to ) when, for example, someone advises you to do something but you are free to choose or decide for yourself: 'At the end of the examination, you should check your answers.'
BAD: The pupils mustn't go to the meeting if they don't want to.
GOOD: The pupils needn't go to the meeting it they don't want to.
Use must not/never when you mean that it is essential that someone does not do something: 'The door to the X-ray room must never be opened when the red light is on.'
When you mean that it is not necessary for someone to do something, use needn't or don't need/have to : 'You needn't pay now. You can wait until the furniture has been delivered.'
BAD: You must be pleased to hear that I've already got the tickets.
GOOD: You'll be pleased to hear that I've already got the tickets.
When you inform someone of something, use will be + pleased/interested + to hear/know/learn (NOT must ): 'You will be pleased to know that your old friend Peter has been promoted to Associate Professor.'
BAD: If you can't find her, she must hide somewhere.
GOOD: If you can't find her, she must be hiding somewhere.
When you do not actually know where someone is or what they are doing, but certain facts allow you to guess, use must be or must be doing : 'If she isn't in her office, she must be in the canteen.' 'If she's in the canteen, she must be having her lunch.'
BAD: More houses are built yearly.
GOOD: More houses are built every year.
BAD: Thousands of people die from cancer yearly.
GOOD: Thousands of people die from cancer every year.
Yearly usually means that something is done or takes place once a year: 'The interest is paid yearly or, if you prefer, every six months.' 'The front of the house was getting its yearly coat of white paint.'
Yearly is also used to connect a total number or amount with a period of one year: 'We were manufacturing and selling about 20,000 tonnes yearly.' 'The yearly catch rose to a peak of 52,000 tonnes.'
When you simply want to say that something happens 'all the time', use every year or each year (NOT yearly ): 'The country's tourist industry is growing every year.'
BAD: I'd like to apologize for not having written you before.
GOOD: I'd like to apologize for not having written to you before.
In British English you write to a person or place (WITH to ): 'Wingate wrote to his father, asking for more money.'
In American English to is optional: 'I'll write (to) you and give you all the latest news.'
BAD: Dear ... I write to you to ask for your advice.
GOOD: Dear ... I am writing to you to ask for your advice.
For actions which are happening at the time when they are mentioned, use the present progressive tense (NOT the present simple): 'I'm writing to tell you that I'll be coming to London next Thursday.'
BAD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years old.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years of age.
When stating someone's age, use just a number on its own OR a number + years old/years of age (NOT years ): 'I'm almost eighteen.' 'My sister is fifteen years old.'
BAD: Robert was a little boy of ten years.
GOOD: Robert was a little boy of ten.
a boy/girl/son etc + of + number (WITHOUT years ): 'a child of six', 'a man of fifty'
See AGE 2 (↑age), 6, 7
See OLD 1 (↑old), 2
See RECENT (↑recent)
BAD: I'm at the age of 22.
GOOD: I'm 22 (years old).
be + NUMBER (+ years old ): 'David is almost twelve (years old).'
BAD: His age is about fifty-five years old.
GOOD: He's about fifty-five (years old).
Do not use age and years old together. The usual way of mentioning someone's age is simply be + NUMBER: 'She'll be sixteen next August.'
BAD: Soon you'll be of my age.
GOOD: Soon you'll be my age.
BAD: Although we are at the same age, we have different interests.
GOOD: Although we are the same age, we have different interests.
be my/your etc age : 'When I was your age, I was already going out to work.'
be the same age (as sb) : 'Most of my friends are the same age as me.'
BAD: In the age of 15, you are allowed to drive a car.
GOOD: At the age of 15, you are allowed to drive a car.
Phrases with age as their main word usually begin with at (NOT in ): 'Keeping fit is very important at your age.' 'Some girls get married at a very young age.' 'She is at the age when she wants to go to school.'
BAD: A child in the age of seven or eight needs a little push.
GOOD: A child of seven or eight needs a little push.
BAD: People in my age spend a lot of time in pubs.
GOOD: People of my age spend a lot of time in pubs.
noun + of + NUMBER: 'They have a little girl of three and a boy of five.'
noun + of + my/your etc age : 'He is very clever for a boy of his age.' 'A girl of her age needs someone to play with.'
Note the alternative with aged : 'A child aged seven or eight needs a little push.'
BAD: They have two children in the age of 8 and 12 years.
GOOD: They have two children aged 8 and 12.
GOOD: They have two children, 8 and 12 years of age.
When you mention two ages after a noun, use either of the following:
aged + NUMBER + and + NUMBER: 'two boys aged 12 and 14'
NUMBER + and + NUMBER + years of age : 'two boys, 12 and 14 years of age'.
BAD: These books are for children at the age of from 8 to 12 years.
GOOD: These books are for children aged 8 to 12.
GOOD: These books are for children between the ages of 8 and 12.
When you mention an age range after a noun, use either aged + NUMBER + to + NUMBER: 'suitable for children aged seven to eleven' or between the ages of + NUMBER + and + NUMBER: 'suitable for children between the ages of seven and eleven'.
See MIDDLE AGE (↑middle age)
BAD: A woman can do everything what a man can do.
GOOD: A woman can do everything (that) a man can do.
BAD: I'll do all what I can to help you.
GOOD: I'll do all (that) I can to help you.
What is not used as a relative pronoun. After all, everything, anything etc, use that or nothing: 'You can have anything (that) you like.' 'I have everything (that) I need for the time being.'
BAD: She told him that she didn't want to marry him, what in my opinion was very silly of her.
GOOD: She told him that she didn't want to marry him, which in my opinion was very silly of her.
What is not used as a relative pronoun. When you comment on a previous statement, use which : 'Lizzie ate the whole box of chocolates, which was very greedy.'
BAD: Please tell me what would you like for a wedding present.
GOOD: Please tell me what you would like for a wedding present.
When a wh- clause is part of a sentence (e.g. the subject or the object), the subject and verb in the wh- clause do not change places.
Compare: 'Why did she leave so soon?' 'Do you know why she left so soon?'
BAD: The ring has great sentimental worth.
GOOD: The ring has great sentimental value.
BAD: They do not appreciate the worth of life.
GOOD: They do not appreciate the value of life.
Worth is usually used as a preposition: 'A four-bedroomed house in the middle of town is probably worth about £200,000.'
The noun related to worth is value : 'The current value of property is very low compared with this time last year.'
Compare: 'That watch is worth fifty pounds.' 'That watch has a value of fifty pounds.'
BAD: The missing ring worths about two thousand pounds.
GOOD: The missing ring is worth about two thousand pounds.
BAD: A holiday doesn't worth all the effort it takes preparing for it.
GOOD: A holiday isn't worth all the effort it takes preparing for it.
be worth £20/very little/a fortune etc : 'These old computers aren't worth much nowadays.'
BAD: It's also worth to visit the north of England if you have time.
GOOD: It's also worth visiting the north of England if you have time.
BAD: The museum was certainly worth to see.
GOOD: The museum was certainly worth seeing.
it's worth doing sth; sth is worth doing (NOT to do ): 'It's worth remembering that these old cars can be very expensive to run.'
BAD: He hadn't taken any warm clothes with him so that he felt cold.
GOOD: He hadn't taken any warm clothes with him so he felt cold.
So that is used to express the purpose of an action: 'We took our umbrellas so that we wouldn't get wet.'
So is used to express the result of an action: 'I'd forgotten to take my umbrella so I got wet.'
BAD: Most of these drugs come from the so-called Golden Triangle.
BAD: During the so-called denitrification process, bacteria convert fixed nitrogen into molecular nitrogen.
GOOD: During what is known as the denitrification process, bacteria convert fixed nitrogen into molecular nitrogen.
Use so-called when you want to suggest that the name that has been given to something is incorrect or not suitable: 'I went to see the playwright's so-called masterpiece and was very disappointed by it.'
To introduce the name by which something is generally known, use be known as, be referred to as or be called : 'The distance that light travels in a year is called a light year.' 'Zaire was formerly known as the Congo.'
BAD: Since it's his birthday on Monday, so he's having a party.
GOOD: Since it's his birthday on Monday, he's having a party.
GOOD: It's his birthday on Monday, so he's having a party.
BAD: If you're a naughty boy, so the big crocodile will come and eat you.
GOOD: If you're a naughty boy, the big crocodile will come and eat you.
See also BUT (↑but)
See THAT 3 (↑that)
BAD: During the summer all the hotels are so busy.
GOOD: During the summer all the hotels are very busy.
Use so + adjective (1) to mean 'to such a high degree or great extent':
'I was so tired that I fell asleep on the train.' 'I didn't expect the hotels to be so busy.'
(2) to express strong personal emotion: 'It was very kind of you to help me. I'm so grateful.'
Otherwise, use very/extremely + adjective: 'She was very tired and found it difficult to stay awake.'
BAD: My English is so poor so my wife has to translate everything.
GOOD: My English is so poor that my wife has to translate everything.
so + adjective/adverb + that clause: 'She was so clever that all the universities wanted her.' 'The pianist played so badly that the audience walked out.'
Compare: 'My English is very poor so my wife has to translate everything.'
BAD: We were not prepared for so cold weather.
GOOD: We were not prepared for such cold weather.
BAD: I was annoyed with myself for being so fool.
GOOD: I was annoyed with myself for being such a fool.
A phrase that ends with a noun ('weather', 'fool') usually begins with such (NOT so ): 'We hadn't expected such a warm welcome.' 'You're lucky to have such delightful children.'
Compare: 'Why is it always so cold in here?' 'The food was so bad that nobody could eat it.'
BAD: He looked very funny that I couldn't help laughing.
GOOD: He looked so funny that I couldn't help laughing.
so + adjective/adverb + that clause: 'The music was so loud that I started to get a headache.'
BAD: I enjoyed very much my stay in the USA.
GOOD: I enjoyed my stay in the USA very much.
BAD: I would like very much to visit some of the places that I have been reading about.
GOOD: I would very much like to visit some of the places that I have been reading about.
Do not put very much between a verb (e.g 'enjoyed') and its object (e.g. 'my stay in the USA'). When the object is short, very much goes at the end of the sentence or in front of the verb. When the object is long, very much usually goes in front of the verb: 'I very much hope that you and your family have a safe journey.'
BAD: It costs very much.
GOOD: It costs a lot (of money).
BAD: New doors cost very much because wood is so expensive.
GOOD: New doors cost a lot (of money) because wood is so expensive.
With some verbs (e.g. cost, pay, charge, eat ) it is possible to use very much in questions and negative sentences: 'Did it cost very much?' 'It didn't cost very much.'
However, in affirmative sentences very much is usually replaced by a lot : 'It will cost quite a lot to have the job done properly.'
BAD: Meno Park in Central Tokyo is very huge.
GOOD: Meno Park in Central Tokyo is (absolutely) huge.
BAD: The traffic jams are very terrible.
GOOD: The traffic jams are (absolutely) terrible.
BAD: I'm very convinced that he is telling the truth.
GOOD: I'm (absolutely) convinced that he is telling the truth.
Do not use very or extremely with adjectives which already have a strong meaning, e.g. boiling (= very hot), convinced (= very sure), exhausted (= very tired), huge (= very big), terrible (= very bad). If you want to increase the strength of these words, use absolutely or (depending on the particular adjective) completely, totally, utterly or quite : 'By the time I got home I was completely exhausted.'
With adjectives which do not have a strong meaning, use very or extremely (NOT absolutely, completely etc ): 'By the time I got back home I was very tired.'
BAD: Their services are very appreciated by the hospital management.
GOOD: Their services are greatly appreciated by the hospital management.
Very may be used with past participles that are like adjectives and refer to a state: 'very bored/worried/interested/pleased'.
Past participles with a strongly passive meaning are usually modified by greatly or (very) much : 'His work is much admired.' 'This courageous woman, who helped so many of us, will be greatly missed.'
See LOVE (↑love)
BAD: Although he was very in love with Marianne, he wanted to marry a rich heiress.
GOOD: Although he was very much in love with Marianne, he wanted to marry a rich heiress.
Very is not used before a phrase beginning with a preposition (e.g. 'in love with', 'in need of', 'at odds with'). However, in such cases it is often possible to use very much : 'These proposals are very much in keeping with the President's own ideas.'
Note the alternative: 'Although he was deeply in love ...'
BAD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it very much.
GOOD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it.
love sb (very much ): 'I love him very much.'
love sth (WITHOUT very much ): 'I love tennis.'
BAD: As mayor of this town, it gives me a great pleasure to welcome you.
GOOD: As mayor of this town, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you.
it gives sb great pleasure to do sth (WITHOUT a ): 'It gives me great pleasure to introduce today's guest speaker.'
Compare: 'It is a great pleasure for me to introduce ...'
BAD: A lot of people work for their pleasure, not because of financial obligations.
GOOD: A lot of people work for pleasure, not because of financial obligations.
do sth for pleasure (WITHOUT his/our/their etc ): 'She used to be in the national team but now she swims just for pleasure.'
BAD: It's the first time that I've had the pleasure to meet her.
GOOD: It's the first time that I've had the pleasure of meeting her.
be pleased to do sth BUT have the pleasure of doing sth : 'In Java I had the pleasure of attending a traditional wedding ceremony.'
BAD: I wish you have a wonderful holiday.
GOOD: I hope you have a wonderful holiday.
BAD: I wish you will enjoy your stay here.
GOOD: I hope you will enjoy your stay here.
Use wish that (+ past/past perfect tense) for things that cannot happen or will probably not happen: 'I wish I hadn't told them my address.' 'I wish you could stay here longer.' (= this will probably not happen)
Use hope that (+ present/present perfect tense) for things that may easily happen or may easily have happened: 'I hope you've had a successful trip.' 'We hope you all have a very merry Christmas.'
When wish is used for this meaning, the object is a noun phrase (NOT a that clause): 'I wish you a safe journey.' 'We'd like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.'
DUBIOUS: I wish to send you a wedding present.
GOOD: I'd like to send you a wedding present.
DUBIOUS: I wish to stay until the end of July but I can't.
GOOD: I'd like to stay until the end of July but I can't.
When you tell someone what you want (to do), or ask someone what they want (to do), use would like or (especially in informal styles) want : 'I'd like to buy a few postcards.' 'What would you like to do tonight?'
Wish is used with this meaning only in formal styles: 'We wish to apologize for the late arrival of this train.'
BAD: I wish that they will stop killing each other.
GOOD: I wish that they would stop killing each other.
BAD: He wishes he can drive a car; taxis are so expensive.
GOOD: He wishes he could drive a car; taxis are so expensive.
When you are thinking about the present or the future, use wish (that) + would /could/had etc. (NOT will/can/have etc.) 'I wish I knew his telephone number.' 'I wish I didn't have to go to school tomorrow.'
BAD: If I would live in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
GOOD: If I lived in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is untrue or unlikely, use the past tense ('lived') in the if clause (NOT would ): 'If I knew her address, I'd send her a postcard.' 'If I won a lot of money, I'd buy a new car.'
BAD: If you would have caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
GOOD: If you had caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
When you are talking about the past and you imagine something that is impossible, use the past perfect tense ('had caught') in the if clause (NOT would have ): 'If he hadn't got on the plane, he would still be alive.'
BAD: If you would have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
GOOD: If you should have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is possible but unlikely, use if ... should (NOT if ... would ): 'If anyone should need me, I'll be back in half an hour.'