Home » Business English

Category Archives: Business English

Forming Negative and Interrogative Phrases

Forming Negative and Interrogative Phrases

There are two ways (two big categories) of forming negative or interrogative sentences:

  1. First category: we use the auxiliary do in $99.9\%$ of verbs cases, in any other form possible: don’t / doesn’t / did / didn’t.


    $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She likes chocolate.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She doesn’t like chocolate.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Does she like chocolate?

  2. Second category: we use have or be or modal verbs in the remaining percentage, $0.1\%$, or you might call it the exception case.

  3. Examples:

    $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She has eaten chocolate.
    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She hasn’t eaten chocolate.
    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Has she eaten chocolate?

    $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She is angry.
    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She isn’t angry.
    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Is she angry?

    $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She will eat chocolate.
    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She will not (won’t) eat chocolate.
    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Will she eat chocolate?


To better understand this topic, you need to work per elimination, meaning that you need to learn the exception cases, so that every time one of those exceptions occur in a sentences of yours, you know how to handle it, otherwise you should use do.

Case Percentage Use Explanation
Exceptions (verbs) 0.001% be
– as main verb
– as auxiliary

have as auxiliary

Modal verbs:
– will / would
– can / could
– shall / should
– may / might
– must
use the same
– main verb
– auxiliary and
– modal verbs
to form negation and interrogation
All verbs 99.99% do use exclusively do
to form negation and question



  1. be as main verb:

  2. $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She is at home.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She isn’t at home.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Is she at home?

    Observation: When we use be as the main verb, we reuse it to form both negation and question.

  3. be as auxiliary:

  4. $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She is eating bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She isn’t eating bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Is she eating bread at home?

    Observation: When we use be as auxiliary, we reuse it to form both negation and question.

  5. have as auxiliary:

  6. $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She has eaten bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She hasn’t eaten bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Has she eaten bread at home?

    Observation: When we use have as auxiliary, we reuse it to form both negation and question.

  7. Modal verbs:

  8. $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She will eat bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She will not (won’t) eat bread at home.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Will she eat bread at home?

    Observation: When we use a modal verb, we reuse it to form both negation and question.

    Modal verbs are:
    $\qquad$ $ will \longrightarrow would $
    $\qquad$ $ can \longrightarrow could $
    $\qquad$ $ shall \longrightarrow should $
    $\qquad$ $ may \longrightarrow might $
    $\qquad$ $ must $

All verbs

The majority of verbs in English form their negation and interrogation with the auxiliary do.


  • $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ She goes home.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ She doesn’t go home.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Does she go home?

  • $\qquad$ Affirmative $\qquad\:\:\:\:\:\:\:$ They work hard.

    $\qquad$ Negative: $\qquad\qquad$ They don’t work hard.

    $\qquad$ Interrogative: $\qquad\:$ Do they work hard?

N.B.: This is often the case if the sentence concerned does not include:

  • neither the verb be as the main verb

  • nor the verb be as an auxiliary verb

  • nor the verb have as an auxiliary verb

  • even less a modal verb.


Conditionals - Other Exercises

Zero Conditionals

First Conditionals

Second Conditionals

Third Conditionals

All Conditional Sentences

Mixed Conditional Sentences / Exceptions

Zero Conditionals

  • The zero conditional describes situations that are always true.

  • ‘ If ‘ can be replaced by when or whenever without changing the meaning of a given sentence.

  • Form
    The zero conditional is made up of two present simple verbs:
    • the ‘if’ clause in the present simple
    • the main clause in the present simple.

  • If you park your car on double yellow lines, you pay a fine.
    (Whenever you park illegally, you pay a fine.)

  • If water reaches 100 degrees, it boils.
    (It is always true, there can’t be a different result sometimes).

  • You get water if you mix hydrogen and oxygen.
    (It’s always true!)

  • If they go to school, they get up at seven.
    (Whenever they go to school they get up at the same time.)

  • My friends always help me if I ask them.
    (My friends help me whenever I ask them.)

Other Forms
Apart from the basic forms (the present simple in the main clause and the if clause),
we can use other verb forms in the zero conditional sentences:

  • If you want to be healthy, you must exercise.
    (a modal verb in the main clause)

  • If you are tired all day long, sleep more!
    (an imperative in the main clause)

‘ If ‘ is the most frequent expression in the if clauses, but other expressions are also possible. even if, provided (that), unless, on condition (that)

  • Iron melts on condition that it is heated..

  • He never says hello unless you say hello to him first.

  • Meat goes off provided that we don’t keep it in a fridge.

  • the teacher always shouts even if there’s no need.

Passive Voice (Active / Passive)

  1. The passive voice is formed with:
    • the auxiliary verb to be
    • and
    • the past participle to the main verb.

  2. Passive constructions can be used in most of the tenses.
    • the tense is marked/shown by the form of of the auxiliary to be
    • the main verb stays the same in all the tenses.
  3. P.S.: A few tenses (in Sage green in the table) aren’t normally used with the passive.

     Tense  Active voice  Passive voice
     Present simple  make  is/are made
     Present continuous/prog.  is/are making  is/are being made
     Present perfect  has/have made  has/have been made
     Present perfect continuous/prog.  has been making  has been being made
     Past simple  made  was made
     Past continuous/prog.  was making  was being made
     Past perfect  had made  had been made
     Past perfect continuous/prog.  had been making  has been being made
     Going-to-Future  is/are going to make  is/are going to be made
     Will-Future  will make  will be made
     Future continuous/prog.  will be making  will be being made
     Future perfect  will have made  will have been made
     Various modal verbs, e.g. can,
     might, have to, must
     The same goes for their compounds:
     (may, could, should, etc. …)
     can make
     might make
     has/have to make
     must make
     can be made
     might be made
     has/have to be made
     must be
  4. The passive is frequently used when the person carrying out the action is unknown, unimportant or already clear from the text.
    • Shoes were thrown at president Georges W. Bush.
    • Chinese is learned in some schools in Germany.
    • Shakespeare’s language is still used today.

  5. The person who does the action can be made clear with the preposition by.
    • The beautiful house was built by a talented engineer.
    • After the disaster, the city’s reconstruction plan was published by the seating mayor.
    In these two examples, using the passive instead of the active puts the focus more on objects (the beautiful house, the city’s reconstruction plan) than on the people who did it.

  6. You can use the preposition will to describe what is used to do the action.
    • The beautiful house must have been painted with watercolors.
    • This artwork must have been made with clay.

Practical exercise: Passive Voice (Active / Passive)

1. Active or passive:

2. Change the sentences from active to passive:

Be used to / Get used to

  1. Be used to
    Be used to refers to how familiar something is for someone. It can occur in different tense forms. If you are (not) used to doing something, it is (not) familiar to you.
    P.S.: The –ing form of the verb is used in this pattern (not the to-infinitive).
    • She’s used to getting up early every day. (familiar/accustomed to)
      (be used to + verb-ing)
    • I wasn’t used to driving such a big car. (not familiar/accustomed to)
      (be used to + verb-ing)
    • She’s used to long distance relationships. (familiar/accustomed to)
      (be used to + noun phrase/object)

  2. Get used to
    The form of get used to helps you talk about something that has become familiar to you. Something you’re adapted to.
    • After a few months, I got used to driving my new car. (adapted to)
      (get used to + verb-ing)
    • I’m finding this new job hard but I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon. (adapted to)
      (get used to + object)
    • She got used to her new work environment. (adapted to)
      (get used to + noun phrase)
P.S.: Be used to and get used to can both be followed by a noun phrase.
  • Dan’s used to hard time.
  • He got used to the new programming language.
Practical Exercise: Be used to / Get used to

Used to + verb / Would + verb

  1. Use to + verb:
    Used to refers to habits or states that happened or were true at a certain moment in the past but are no longer the case today.
    • My mom used to live in Bafang, but now she lives in Douala.
      (= My mom no longer lives in Bafang)

    • I used to go swimming in the afternoon after work.
      (= I no longer go swimming in the afternoon after work)

    P.S.: When asking questions or making negative statements, the d is dropped from used to.
    • Did you use to get vegetables delivered to your door?
    • Mom didn’t use to wear make-up.

  2. Would + verb:
    Would can also refer to habitual or regular actions in the past, similarly to used to.
    e.g.: Mom used to bake cakes. My daughter would go to her house and watch.

    However, with would, the past time frame must be clear. The past time frame is often established with used to or a time expression such as when I was younger, a little girl/boy … .
    e.g.: When I was a child, we’d (read: we would) often go to my grandparents’ house.

    P.S.: Would isn’t normally used for questions about the past
N.B.: Used to can be used with stative verbs, such as have (meaning ‘own’), know, want or like, but would can’t.

Pratical Exercise: Used to + verb / Would + verb

Countries and their Flags

Future Forms: decide the tenses of the sentences below. (one answer is CORRECT!)

Basic English vs Phrasal Verbs 2

Basic English vs Phrasal Verbs 1