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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 of exercises. 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 order.) 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.