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Free English Lesson – Ten Mistakes You’re Making With Prepositions

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There are over 150 prepositions in English, so it’s no surprise that we sometimes confuse them, although only 70 of these prepositions are used on a daily basis in spoken / written English. Still, that’s a lot of prepositions! Prepositions are important as they show the relationship between people, objects, and places. This blog lesson will look at common preposition mistakes and is aimed at students learning English at Intermediate (B1+) level or above.

1. ‘in’ or ‘at’ (for places)

We hear and see many mistakes with these two. However, there’s a trick to remembering them. Notice how at is used for a point and in is used for inside places.

  • I’m at work in my office. (work is the point; the office is inside the building)
  • He’s waiting for you at the cinema. He’s in the lobby, waiting to buy some popcorn. (the cinema is the point; the lobby is inside the cinema)

Common uses of at include the station, the doctor’s, the shop, school, home, work, university. We often use in for countries and cities, such as Malta, England, Paris, New York.

2. ‘to’ (for travelling)

Look at these three sentences:

  • I’m going to France next week.
  • Bill has never been to
  • Tania came back / returned to Paris last night.

Notice the preposition to in all 3 sentences – Many people make the mistake of using in instead. Generally, we use the preposition to with verbs like ‘go’, ‘come’, ‘return’, ‘have / has / had been’ (perfect forms of ‘to be’) to talk about travelling and going to places. Keep in mind that with places like home and words like inside / outside, upstairs / downstairs we don’t use to:

  • Michael went outside for a cigarette. (not ‘Michael went to outside for a cigarette.’)
  • Tina came back home earlier than usual. (not ‘Tina came back to home earlier than usual.’)

3. Misusing ‘of’

A common mistake is ‘It depends of…’. The correct preposition here should be ‘It depends on …’. Try and think of other verbs that take on. Common verbs include focus, rely, work and based.

  • It depends on whether I’m tired or not.
  • Tonight, I’m going to focus on the vocabulary I learned in class.
  • Even though we’re older now, my brother and I still rely on each other.
  • The latest movie is based on the last book.

4. Prepositions for comparisons

When we compare people, objects or places, we can use functional word phrases such as ‘…be the same as…’, ‘…be different from…’ and ‘…be similar to…’. Notice the prepositions highlighted in bold.

  • This house is the same as the last one.
  • My T-shirt is different from
  • Maria’s phone is similar to

5. Talking about ability

When talking about ability, with adjectives like good, great, amazing, bad, terrible, useless, hopeless we generally use at, NOT in. These are some example sentences using these adjectives:

  • I am really good at speaking English. (not ‘I am really good in speaking English.’)
  • John is really bad at (not ‘John is really bad in sport.’)
  • They’re useless at playing football. (not ‘They’re useless in playing football.’)

6. Talking about fears

When talking about fears, with adjectives like afraid, scared, wary, terrified we generally use the preposition of, NOT from. Here are some example sentences using these adjectives:

  • Mia is really scared of (not ‘Mia is really scared from spiders.’)
  • I’m absolutely terrified of (not ‘I am absolutely terrified from snakes.’)

7. ‘for’ or ‘since’

When using the present perfect to talk about actions / states that started in the past and continue up to present time, you might need to use a time phrase to show how long the action lasted. A common mistake here is the incorrect use of for or since. Have a look at the following sentences:

  • I’ve been a teacher at Maltalingua for 3 years
  • I’ve been a teacher at Maltalingua since

The two sentences have the same meaning, but for describes the duration of time, while since shows the point in time when the action began. We use for with phrases like ten years, ages, a while, some time, and we use since with phrases like 2015, last month, the beginning of the year, I got married.

  • We’ve had this cat for
  • I haven’t studied basic mathematics for a while, this is going to be challenging!
  • I haven’t driven down this road for some time.
  • James has been working as a part-time shop assistant since last month.
  • I’ve lived in London since the beginning of the year.
  • We haven’t taken out these old photos since we got married, this will be fun!

8. Talking about work

We can use a variety of prepositions with the verb work, like in, for, as, with. Look at this example sentence:

  • I’ve been working as a teacher for the last 3 years. I work for Maltalingua, in a school. I work with my colleagues and with students of course.

Notice how we use as to talk about my job, for to talk about the company, in to talk about the place / building and with to describe the people you come into contact with every day.

9. Talking about times of the day

Don’t forget that we use in for the morning, the afternoon and the evening but at for night. For example:

  • I wake up in the morning.
  • I eat lunch in the afternoon.
  • I watch TV in the evening.
  • I go to bed at

10. Talking about modes of transport

When going from place to place, we normally use by for most modes of transport. The exception is when you describe walking, because you go on foot.

  • I go to work by
  • We’re travelling by
  • He’s getting to Italy by
  • James went to visit his grandmother on

Extra tip!

Similar to the problem with by and on in Tip 10, keep in mind that we say by one’s self and on one’s own.

  • I’m here by
  • I’m here on my own.

Now that you have a better understanding of prepositions and their uses, if you have any comments, tips or tricks on how you learn and memorise prepositions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Make sure to check out our videos for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teachers.

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about substantive nouns here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

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Free English Lesson – Substantive Nouns and their Uses

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Today we look at how to use substantive nouns: The brave and the free, the young and the old, the Maltese and the Welsh. How do these words that are usually adjectives suddenly look and behave as if they were nouns? Read more to find out!

This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Upper-Intermediate level or above.

It’s not uncommon to have words in English with more than one function. A lot of words have a different word structure for the adjective, noun and verb forms (ex. creative, creativity and create) and a lot of words have the same word structure, which in different contexts can be both a noun and a verb form (ex. text, drink). However, with the words above (and others) the word can change its form by simply adding the definite article ‘the’.

the + brave = the brave

So, by adding ‘the’ to the word ‘brave’ you get ‘the brave’. This refers to a group of people. The adjective is now considered to be a substantive noun. Generally speaking, substantive nouns are used for two main purposes:

  1. To refer to groups of people in society
    • The poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer.
    • The land of the free and the home of the brave.
    • In many ways, the young have a lot to learn from the old.
  2. To refer to nationalities
    • The Maltese are famous for their hospitality.
    • Paper was invented by the Chinese.
    • When you go to Prague, make sure to try some of their beer. The Czechs are famous for it.

There are a few things that you should consider when using substantive nouns.

1. Any of these substantive nouns can be replaced by removing the article and writing people after.

the Chinese + the – people = Chinese people

  • In many ways, the young have a lot to learn from the old. = In many ways, young people have a lot to learn from old people.
  • The Maltese are famous for their hospitality. = Maltese people are famous for their hospitality.

2. We can’t use substantive nouns to talk about one person. Substantive nouns always used for a group of people. In fact, nationalities are often used to make generalisations about people from a certain country or to talk about stereotypes.

3. A lot of nationality words can be used in their plural form, particularly ones ending in -ian, -an, -n, as well as many ‘irregular’ nationalities (i.e. those that don’t end in -ish, -ese, -ian, -an, -n). Some examples include the Americans, the Argentinians, the Czechs, the Poles and the Turks.

4. Remember that substantive nouns are always followed by a plural verb.

Besides their main uses as described above, substantive nouns can be found as titles of books, film and musicals. Some popular examples include The Twits, by Roald Dahl, a famous British author; The Incredibles, a popular animation movie, The Long and the Short and the Tall, a play by Willis Hall and The Miserable, commonly known as Les Misérables, a popular musical.

Now that you have a better understanding of substantive nouns and their uses, if you have any comments, tips or tricks on how you learn and memorise substantive nouns, please feel free to leave a comment below. Make sure to check out our videos for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teachers.

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about irregular verbs here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

 

 

 

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Free English Lesson – Irregular verbs and their irregularities

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How many times have you been speaking in English and got stuck when you had to think of the past form of a verb? Regular or irregular? What’s the irregular past form? Are the past simple and past participle forms irregular too?

If these are the sort of questions that stop you from sleeping at night, then this is the lesson for you! This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Pre-Intermediate level or higher.

In English there are thousands of verbs you can use, but just over 350 of these are irregular. Even though it looks like a lot, it’s not that many in comparison to the thousands of verbs out there. The problem is that most of these irregular verbs are high frequency verbs (common verbs which we use every day). This article will give you all the tips you need on how to learn and memorise them. Don’t forget to check out the videos too!

  • All irregular verbs are equal, but some are more equal than others

Start with the most common verbs first. Above all, start with be (was / were, been); have (had, had); do (did, done) and go (went, gone). The first three are especially important since besides their function as main verbs, they’re also auxiliary verbs and therefore are used to build different forms in English. Other common verbs include make (made, made); eat (ate, eaten), get (got, UK: got / US: gotten), come (came, come) and give (gave, given). More common verbs are listed in the Irregular Verbs – Part 2 video above.

  • Check the verb form

When learning new verbs, always check if a verb is regular or irregular and if it’s irregular, learn its past simple and participle form. As Abbie mentioned in the Irregular Verbs – Part 1 video, put your irregular verbs into sentences or short stories so that you can memorise them.

Examples:
I eat apples every day.
I ate a burger for dinner last night.
I’ve never eaten sushi.

  • So many great memories..

If you’re serious about learning irregular verbs, you’re going to need to do some memory work. You should learn slowly and memorise irregular verbs. Eventually, they will become second nature to you and you won’t have to think about the different forms when you use them. As discussed in the Irregular Verbs – Part 2 video, this doesn’t need to be boring or hard work. Make it fun and memorable. Here are a few tips mentioned in the video:

  1. Test a partner who’s also studying English or ask them to test you
  2. Find online games and activities
  3. Make your own ‘flashcards’ with the infinitive verb on one side and the past simple / past participle on the other side, then test yourself or a friend
  4. Write irregular verb infinitives and past simple / participles on cards, cut them up and play matching games to improve your memory
  5. Test yourself constantly, practice makes perfect
  • Learn to say it right

Pronunciation can really help you. It might seem like there’s no order or logic behind irregular verbs. However, there are categories of verbs that go together. This is either for spelling or phonemic reasons, meaning their past simple and/or participle forms look or sound similar. In the Irregular Verbs – Part 2 video, three main categories are mentioned:

  1. Verbs that don’t change form
    • cut, let, put
  2. Verbs that have the same past simple form and past participle form
    • feel (felt), hear (heard) and bring (brought)
  3. Verbs that have a different past simple form and past participle form
    • break (broke, broken), write (wrote, written), drink (drank, drunk)

 

  • Change it all around

Take some of the most common irregular verbs and turn them into phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs are extremely common in English, you find them everywhere. A way to do this is by looking up an irregular verb in the dictionary and looking at which phrasal verbs can be formed from that verb by adding a preposition or prepositions, for example:

Examples:
The plane took off half an hour ago. (take off)
I decided to take up football as a hobby. (take up)
I took out the rubbish last night. (take out)

Now that you have a better understanding of irregular verbs and their irregular rules,  if you have any comments, tips or tricks on how you learn and memorise irregular verbs, make sure you leave a comment below. Make sure to check out our videos for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teachers.

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about passive forms here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

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Free English Lesson – Passive forms and when to use them

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What are the passive forms? Have you ever thought about why the passive forms are used in English? Why so many speakers are confused by them? Let’s chat about that.

This video is aimed at students studying English at level B1+ or higher.

Consider the following passive sentence:

“The 100m record in athletics was broken in 2009 by Usain Bolt.”

Why is the passive used in this sentence? Passive forms may be used for a number of reasons:

  1. The subject is not (as) important: Consider what is most important – the person or the fact that the record was broken? The record is definitely very important since it’s a significant event that only happens rarely. Therefore, the record takes importance and is used as the subject of the sentence.
  2. The subject is obvious: Imagine that you’re an athlete or a runner – you know who Usain Bolt is, and therefore you don’t need to mention who actually broke the record.
  3. The subject is unknown: We know that the record was broken, but we don’t know the name of the record-breaker.

In all three cases, you can show who / what did the action (the agent) by adding them to the end of the sentence (“…by Usain Bolt.”).

Now that we’ve looked at why we use the passive, how is the passive formed? A lot of students get confused here because knowing and applying the passive means having a good idea of grammar tenses. In short, to form the passive we always need 2 things: a form of the verb ‘to be’ and a past participle (‘-ed’ for regular verbs, the third form for regular verbs).

Take a look at the active sentence below:

“Usain Bolt broke the 100m record in 2009.”

In this sentence, the main verb ‘to break’ is in the past simple form “…broke…”. To form the passive we use the past form of ‘to be’ (‘was/were’) and the past participle of ‘to break’ (‘broken’), giving us the sentence:

“The 100m record was broken in 2009.”

For other forms of the verb, use this as a general guideline. Notice how ‘broken’ (the past participle) remains the same regardless of the tense:

Present Simple: am/is/are + past participle – “Records are broken every year.”

Present Continuous: am/is/are being + past participle – “New shoes are being created to break the record.”

Present Perfect: has/have been + past participle – “The record hasn’t been broken since 2009.”

‘will’ future: will be + past participle – “The record will be broken sometime soon.”

‘going to’ future: am/is/are going to be + past participle – “The record is going to be broken soon.”

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How is learning English at Maltalingua and Diving the perfect combination?

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Situated just five minutes walk from some of the most highly recognised diving schools in Malta, lies the classrooms of Maltalingua. This, as well as the exceptional climate, allows students to turn studying the English language into an exciting holiday. By day, students have the opportunity to delve into the world of English language learning in a friendly and relaxed classroom setting. Whereas by night, exploring the many feasts which adorn the Maltese streets.

Maltalingua Language School

Early morning classes at Maltalingua allow students the time to study whilst providing them with the opportunity to explore the natural underwater wonders of Malta and its sister islands. You will have the chance to practise your English in a real-world setting. All three of the islands offer an abundance of reefs, wrecks, and caves suitable for all levels of diving.

Since the collapse of the iconic Azure window in 2017, adventurers have been travelling from all over the world to dive through the famed film set often associated with TV series such as Game of Thrones. Spread in a range of 16 to 100 feet in depth, the arch has fallen into an array of canyons and passageways which would appeal to those who want to explore the underwater world.

Across the island, you will find other stunning diving locations such as Għar lapsi. The vibrant blue waters of these shallow caves offer beginner divers a chance to explore at a pace convenient to them. Um al Faroud, a ship which was sunk in 1998, is situated on the shores of Għar Lapsi. The ship covers a large area which is home to a variety of fish and marine life.

diving in malta

If your preference is to upskill whilst on a language holiday, there are numerous schools offering internationally recognised diving qualifications at a competitive rate. The flexible classroom times at Maltalingua allow students to dictate their own schedule, with the possibility for intensive or private 1-1 lessons available from early morning until late afternoon. Private lessons can be tailored to suit the individuals’ needs and could incorporate the language of diving.

Whether your beginning to dive or you are a pro, combining language learning and diving in Malta really is the dream combination!

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Free English Lesson – Learn the colours!

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Welcome to another free English lesson from Maltalingua. Today you will be focusing on the colours.

This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Pre-Intermediate level or above.

Richard of York gave battle in vain.

What does this mean?

Richard – Red
Of – Orange
York – Yellow
Gave – Green
Battle – Blue
In – Indigo
Vain – Violet

In this video, we are joined by a guest star: Richard of York. We introduced the colours and coloured him in with a very stylish look. Learn the rhyme and remember your colours!

Primary

Secondary

Red

Orange

Yellow

Purple ( indigo/violet )

Blue

Green

If we mix the primary colours together, we get the secondary colours. For example:

  • If we mix red (primary) and yellow (primary) we get orange (secondary).
  • If we mix blue (primary) and yellow (primary) we get green (secondary).
  • If we mix blue (primary) and red (primary) we get purple (secondary).

As we all know pronunciation is very important in English. We can group colours that have similar pronunciation patterns so that they are easier to study, as you can see in our video.

IMPORTANT!

Remember that colours are adjectives.

Question: Where do we put an adjective?

Answer: Before the noun.

Examples:

A red pen
A blue T-shirt
A yellow banana

Now that you have a better understanding of the colours of the rainbow, use these words to make your English language a little more colourful. Make sure to check out our video for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teachers Abbie and Brian.

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Free English Lesson – Describing the human body

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Welcome to another free English lesson from Maltalingua. Today you will be focusing on the human body.

Knowing the parts of the body is very important in any language. If you go to a gym, the instructor might ask you about your body and how to check parts of it. If you go to a doctor or a physician, he might ask you what problems you have with your body and which part of your body is in pain. Today we’re going to look at the English names for different parts of the body and how to remember them.

This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Pre-Intermediate level or above.

 

Many students have a problem with remembering most of the vocabulary that they’ve learned in the same lesson. How can you remember all of these words? Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • Remember body parts using the different parts of the body

Head: cheeks, chin, ear, eye, face, head, neck, nose
Shoulders to stomach: arm, chest, finger, hand, shoulder, stomach, wrist
Waist to feet: ankle, foot, hip, knee, leg, toe, waist
Just as we did in the video, use different colours to write and memorise these. Using flashcards can also be helpful!

 

  • Use pronunciation to help you remember words with the sound

/ e / chest, head, leg, neck
/ ɪ / chin, fingers, hips, wrist
/ əʊ / nose, shoulders, toes
/ iː / cheeks, knee

Don’t forget that words like wrist and knee have silent letters. Words like stomach are more difficult to pronounce so focus on them. Pay attention to vowel sounds, these can be helpful too!

 

  • Revise, revise, revise

Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just make these lists. Many times, we see students take their lists and put them into their bags, never to be seen again! Remember to take out these lists and revise them regularly. It only takes two minutes to go through a list again and say the words out loud, but repetition is vital when you are memorising vocabulary.

Now that you have a better understanding of the human body, make a list and show it to us in the comment section below! Make sure to check out our video for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teachers.

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about imperatives here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

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Free English Lesson – Imperatives and how to use them!

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Welcome to a free English lesson from Maltalingua. Today you will be focusing on the Imperatives.

A simple idea with so many different uses – You have probably used or heard imperatives before, in your language or in English. If you’ve been to an English school, like Maltalingua, your teacher probably used them many times: “Open your book”, “Go to page 6” and so on. We can use imperatives to give orders, but not only – find out more in this free English lesson on imperatives and how to use them!

This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Pre-Intermediate level or above.

Imperatives have a very simple form. All you need to do is to take any verb in English that you want to use as an imperative and remove ‘to’. For example, if you want someone to open their book or to listen to you:

  • To open —> “Open your book.”
  • To listen —> “Listen to me.”

If you want to form a negative imperative (something you don’t want someone to do) simply add ‘don’t’ before the verb. For example, if you want someone not to speak or not to shout:

  • To (not) speak —> “Don’t speak, I’m talking to you.”
  • To (not shout —> “Don’t shout, the baby’s asleep.”

We can use imperatives for many different things, not only for orders. We can use them to do the following:

  • To give directions: Turn left, Take the second right. / Cross the road.
  • To give advice/suggestions: Don’t watch that movie. / Take an umbrella with you, it’s raining!
  • To ask someone to do something: Come in, sit down. / Listen to this.
  • To wish someone something: Have a lovely day. / Enjoy your holiday.
  • To make offers: Make yourself at home. / Have some juice (or some cake).

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about -ed endings here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

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ILE Yourself – English at Your Fingertips

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NEW IN 2018: Online lessons for Maltalingua students

The classroom as we know it is changing. People are busier than ever and the digital world is bringing students and teachers together around the globe! Although learning English in an English speaking country is a great option to improve fast, not everyone has the time and the money to travel to another country!

Online lessons are a great option for professionals and students with busy lives or people who simply want the convenience of learning from home from Monday to Sunday. Let’s face it. Learning on Skype is very comfortable. There is no travel time, no rush hour stress and after the lesson, you can simply get on with your life! If this weren’t enough, the lesson times are flexible so the timetable can change every week. Students can even stop their lessons during busy periods, or simply to go on holiday.

ILE English

So, what are the main differences between online lessons and a mainstream course? Well, you can’t really touch the teacher online, but hopefully, you wouldn’t be doing that in a normal classroom anyway! You see the teacher, hear the teacher, and get all the free material via Skype. You can open the lesson document and make notes on the word document directly, and all the new words and tips that your teacher gives you will be saved automatically in your chat.

During the 45 minute-lesson, the teacher will be focused on YOU! Although we also do group lessons, most of our students book private online lessons. This means that the student can request to study a specific topic. If you have to prepare a presentation or prepare for a job interview, your teacher can help you do so! We are not a physical school, therefore we don’t have to pay for extra expenses like normal schools do. This means that your lessons are cheaper!

What about my teachers? All the teachers are carefully selected and internationally qualified! Teachers are people just like you, so it’s also convenient for them to teach online! Some teachers work in physical schools and also do online lessons to complement their timetable! At ILE our mission is to make sure that both teachers and students are happy and working together to achieve the most important goal of all – helping you improve your English in the best possible way!

For the reasons above and because we know how important it is to practise the English language constantly in order to maintain a certain level of fluency, Maltalingua school decided to team up with ILE, an online English platform, in order to offer all Maltalingua students the opportunity to continue on their English learning journey, even after leaving the school in Malta.
So, if you want to step into the future, try ILE’s online lessons. Maltalingua’s introductory offer is only 95EURO for 5 general English lessons!

Come and meet our ILE teachers and some of your Maltalingua teachers who also teach online! What are you waiting for? Discover more here!

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Free English Lesson – Exploring the future continuous!

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Welcome to a free English lesson from Maltalingua. Today you will be focusing on the Future Continuous.

How often do you hear native speakers talking about the future and you aren’t quite sure what form they’re using, and why? In English, the future is a problematic area because as opposed to the past and the present, there is no future ‘tense’. However, there are several forms that are used to refer to the future. These forms have different functions and talk about the future with different levels of certainty.

This lesson is aimed at students learning English at Upper-Intermediate level or above.

One form that is often used amongst native speakers is the Future Continuous form. Have a look at how the future continuous form is used:

  1. “I can’t make it tonight… I’ll probably be studying all evening.”
  2. “So you won’t be coming to the party tomorrow, will you?”
  3. “The party will be starting at 9, in case you change your mind.”
  4. “Will I be seeing you this Saturday for lunch?”
  5. “I’ll be taking my exam in the morning.”

The form has 2 main uses. Firstly, like other continuous forms, it shows the progression of an action at a certain time/period in the future. In sentences 1 and 5 for example, the actions of studying/taking the exams will happen during or throughout the time period mentioned.

Secondly, the future continuous can simply refer to a planned action at a time in the future. In sentences 2 and 4 the speaker says this with the knowledge that a plan was made from beforehand i.e there were plans to go to the party and to meet for lunch.

Forming the future continuous form can’t be easier. As you can see above, you need the subject, the auxiliary verb ‘will be’ and a verb in the –ing form (1, 3, 5). For the negative, change ‘will’ to ‘won’t’ (2) and for the question simply to invert the subject and ‘will’ (4).

Furthermore, you might also have heard native speakers change the auxiliary ‘will’ to ‘going to’ or ‘should’, both of which have similar functions. For example:

  • I’m gonna be taking my exam in the morning on Saturday. (the spoken form of ‘going to’)
  • I should be studying all evening. (here, perhaps implying a form of obligation)

Finally, you can often switch the future continuous with other forms used in English for the future, for example:

  • I’m going to study all evening. (be going to for intentions)
  • The party starts at 9. (present simple for schedules)
  • I’m taking my exam on Saturday morning. (present continuous for fixed plans)

Now that you have a better understanding of the future continuous form, try using it to talk about your plans or things you’ll be doing tonight! Make sure to check out our video for a fuller explanation, given by our CELTA-qualified teacher.

Discover more of Maltalingua’s free English lessons. Explore more about -ed endings here.

Check out our other brilliant free English lessons here.

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