Who is this book for?
Oxford Practice Grammar is for students of English
at a middle or 'intermediate' level. This means
students who are no longer beginners but who are
not yet expert in English. The book is suitable for
those studying for the Cambridge First Certificate
in English. It can be used by students attending
classes or by someone working alone.
What does the book consist of?
The book consists of 153 units, each on a
grammatical topic. The units cover the main areas
of English grammar. Special attention is given to
those points which are often a problem for learners:
the meaning of the different verb forms, the use of
the passive, conditionals, prepositions and so on.
Many units contrast two or more different
structures such as the present perfect and past
simple (Units 14-15). There are also a number of
review units. The emphasis through the whole
book is on the meaning and use of the forms in
situations. Most units start with a dialogue, or
sometimes a text, which shows how the forms are
used in a realistic context.
There are also 25 tests. These come after each
group of units and cover the area of grammar dealt
with in those units.
Each unit consists of an explanation of the
grammar point followed by a number of exercises.
Almost all units cover two pages. The explanations
are on the left-hand page, and the exercises are on
the right-hand page. There are a few four-page
units, with two pages of explanation and two pages
The examples used to illustrate the
explanations are mostly in everyday conversational
English, except when the structure is more typical
of a formal or written style (e.g. Unit 75B).
There are also appendices on a number of
other topics, including word formation, American
English and irregular verbs.
What's new about this edition?
There have been many changes in both the content
and design of the book.
The number of units has been increased from
120 to 153. There are more two-page units and
fewer four-page units.
The 25 tests are a new feature. There is also a
Starting test to help students find out what
they need to study.
There are many more dialogues and
illustrations on the explanation pages. Many of
the examples and situations are new.
• There are many new exercises and more
different types of exercise.
The number of appendices has been increased
from two to six.
This new edition features a group of characters
whose lives are the basis for many of the
situations in both the explanations and the
exercises. (But you can still do the units in any
How should the book be used?
There are various ways of using the book. If you
know that you have problems with particular
points of grammar, then you can start with the
relevant units. The contents list and index will help
you find what you want. Or you can do the Starting
test (see page viii) and then use the results to decide
which parts of the book to concentrate on. Or you
can start at the beginning of the book and work
through to the end, although the grammar topics
are not ordered according to their level of difficulty.
When you study a unit, start with the
explanation page and then go on to the exercises.
Often you can study a part of the explanation and
then do one of the exercises. The letter after each
exercise title, e.g. (A), tells you which part of the
explanation the exercise relates to. If you have made
mistakes in your answers to the exercises, look back
at the explanation.
Key to symbols
What about the tests?
There are 25 tests at intervals through the book. You can do a test after you have
worked through a group of units. At the beginning of each test you are told which
units are being tested.
The tests do two things. Firstly, they enable you to find out how well you have
mastered the grammar. (If you get things wrong, you can go back to the relevant
unit or part of a unit.) Secondly, the tests give you practice in handling exam-type
questions. Many of the test questions are similar to those used in the Cambridge
First Certificate Use of English Paper.
What's the best way to learn grammar?
It is usually more effective to look at examples of English rather than to read
statements about it. The explanations of grammar in this book are descriptions of
how English works; they are a guide to help you understand, not 'rules' to be
memorized. The important thing is the language itself. If you are learning about the
present perfect continuous, for example, it is helpful to memorize a sentence like
We've been waiting here for twenty minutes and to imagine a situation at a bus stop
like the one in Unit 16A. The explanation - that the action happens over a period of
time lasting up to the present - is designed to help towards an understanding of the
grammar point. It is not intended that you should write it down or memorize it.
Active learning will help you more than passive reading, so it is important
to do the exercises and to check your answers.
Another way of actively learning grammar is to write down sentences you see
or hear which contain examples of the grammar you are studying. You may come
across such sentences in English books or newspapers, on television or on the
Internet. You may meet English speakers. For example, someone may ask you How
long have you been living here? Later you could note down this sentence as a useful
example of the present perfect continuous. It is also a good idea to collect examples
with a personal relevance like I've been learning English for three years.
The symbol / (oblique stroke) between two words means that either word is
possible. I may/might go means that / may go and I might go are both possible. In
exercise questions this symbol is also used to separate words or phrases which need
to be used in the answer.
Brackets ( ) around a word or phrase mean that it can be left out. There's (some)
milk in the fridge means that there are two possible sentences: There's some milk in
the fridge and There's milk in the fridge.
The symbol ~ means that there is a change of speaker. In the example How are you?
~ I'm fine, thanks, the two sentences are spoken by different people.
The symbol > means that you can go to another place in the book for more
information. > 7 means that you can find out more in Unit 7.
The symbol ► in an exercise means an example.