Passive Voice

Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known who or what is performing the action.

In some sentences, passive voice can be perfectly acceptable. You might use it in the following cases:

The person who is doing the action is unknown:

e.g  My wallet was stolen on the bus

The actor is irrelevant:

e.g A new power plant will be built in the North. [We are not interested in who is building it.]

You want to be vague about who is to blame for a problem:

e.g Mistakes were made.

You are talking about a general truth:

e.g Rules should be obeyed.

If you want to practice the passive you may want to go to the following links:


TOEIC: either…or, neither…nor, both… and

Part 5 of the TOEIC test may test the use of the  following conjunctions:

either = one or the other 

e.g Would you like to finish now or later?

Either! (I don’t mind.)
Neither = not one and not the other

e.g Would you like banana cake or chocolate cake?
Neither! I don’t like sweets.

Either … or

‘Either … or’ is used in sentences in a positive sense meaning. Subject verb agreement (singular or plural) depends on the subject closest to the verb.


Either John or the girls need to be here early. (second subject plural)
Either Ann or Peter is going to visit next weekend. (second subject singular)

Neither … nor

‘Neither … nor’ is used in sentences in a negative meaning. Subject verb agreement (singular or plural) depends on the subject closest to the verb.


Neither John  nor Mary knows about this.. (second subject singular)
Neither Peter nor my other relatives know about this.  (second subject plural)

If you want to practice these further you may want to go to the following links:






TOEIC: Subject verb agreement

Part 5 of the TOEIC test tests students’ ability to select the answer choice in which the number of the verb agrees with the number of subject. Proper sentences must have subject-verb agreement. This means that a singular subject must be followed by a singular verb and a plural subject must be followed by a plural verb.

It is not always easy to see the subject in a sentence and to know if it is singular or plural.

If you would like to read more about the subject of a sentence and when it is plural or singular, you may want to go to the following link:

If you feel confident that you can see the subject in a sentence, then you can try the exercises in the following links:

First, Second, and Third Conditional

Learning the form of the conditionals is fairly easy and it can be learned through practice. It is important for students though to understand their meaning and how they are used in the language. Here are some notes to help you understand their meaning and use.

First Conditional

This conditional is used to refer to situations now or in the future. The situations are real, the conditions are possible and results probable. They are based on facts in the real world. Sometimes we use them for warnings like this:           e.g          If you don’t leave, I’ll call security.

Second Conditional

This conditional is used to refer to situations now or in the future. The situations are imaginary, the conditions are impossible and results improbable. They are often used to:

  • offer advice: e.g If I were you, I would call and find out.
  • make negotiations: e.g If you came in a worked on Saturday, you could take an extra      day off next week
  • talk about moral dilemmas: e.g What would you do if you found a wallet in the street?

Third Conditional

This conditional is used to refer to ‘impossible’ conditions in the past. These conditions are  impossible because things have happened the way they have happened and we cannot change them. This conditional is often used to:

  • express regret: e.g  If I had studied harder at school, I would have got bettergrades.(I didn’t study).

If I had had time, I would have gone to see him last week. But I was so busy that I didn’t manage to go last week.

You can go to the following links to study the form.You may want to do some of the exercises to get used to the form but think about the meaning too.

TOEIC: Word formation

Some of the items that are  tested in part 5 of the TOEIC test require knowledge of word formation and suffixes because a candidate has to select a noun, a verb , an adjective or an adverb to fill in a gap in a sentence.

Suffixes : Suffixes are bound morphemes that occur after a stem and often change the word class.

You can form nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs by using suffixes in English.

The best way to learn them is through exposure but students should have an awareness of what suffixes are and how they work in order to be able to notice them in texts. Here are some basic suffixes as a starting point.

Suffixes forming nouns :

From nouns : e.g.

King- kingdom


Neighbor –neighborhood

 From verbs: e.g.

appear appearance



prove  proof


employ employment etc .

Suffixes forming verbs :There are three main suffixes deriving verbs from nouns: –          ise, –en and- ify


advise, organise, specialise, prioritise, apologise  etc.widen ,lengthen, deepen ,shorten ,tighten, strengthen, etc.clarify ,specify ,identify etc

Suffixes forming adjectives :

From nouns :e.g




Danger- dangerous    etc

          From verbs :e.g.

Believe- believable

Tire-tireless       etc

If you want to practice these you may want to try the following links:

Extensive reading out of class

Reading for pleasure in a foreign language is very important because it helps increase reading fluency and comprehension. It is important for students to have a choice. Students should choose what they want to read based on their interests. Reading short stories is an activity that students often enjoy because they can choose the genre and the length of the story they read.

Have a look at the link below. You may find a story you like.

If you find that a story you have chosen is too difficult to read or you don’t enjoy it, change it for another one.

If you read something that you like you can write about it here and recommend it to other students.