The basic unit of English grammar is the clause:

[An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother]

[and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.]

Clauses are made up of phrases:

[An unlucky student] + [almost lost] + [a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when] + [he] + [left] + [it] + [in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown] + [inherited] + [the 1698 Stradivarius violin] + [from his mother]

[and] [had just had it valued] + [by a London dealer] + [at £180,000.]

We can join two or more clauses together to make sentences.

An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000 when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.

William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.





''I will say that she(Laura) has been rude one time to me''

Does ''I'' report what he/she is going to say to Laura?
Why do we not alter tenses? Is it because it's in the future(going to be said) or is still true? For example, in the past we usually alter tenses in subordinate clauses because it's the past.

Thank you.

Hello JamiMakav,

The rules for reported speech are quite simple and really do not differ from the normal use of verb forms. You can read about them on this page.

In your specific example there is no tense shift because you are not reporting words that have been said. You are simply making a statement about your intention in the future and describing your actions. There is no direct speech which is being reported here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


... (Paul and Flynn's conversation)

(Paul to Flynn 6 PM) ''So what are you going to say to Sarah?''

(Flynn to Paul) ''I will say that John went home at 8 PM'' or ''I will say that John will have gone home by 8 PM''

Is the only difference between Flynn's answers that the first is focusing on the past action, for example,
''I didn't know Sarah smoked'' (this focuses on the past habit and the context adds that Sarah still smokes), and the other is suggesting that ''John leaving'' is still true and will happen because it is only 6 PM? Is the first sentence even possible in this context?

Thank you very much.

Hello JamlMakav,

I'm afraid to explain the various possibilities here we need to know what is happening inside the speaker's heads. We need to know, for example, if they know John will leave for sure or are guessing. Inventing a vague context and then discussing different things that could be said in that context may be useful to you but I'm afraid we can't provide these kinds of explanations for you in the comments sections of these pages. This is a discussion you need to have with your teacher - a conversation, not a written answer. We are happy to provide help where we can but this goes beyond the form of the comments section, I'm afraid.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teacher, I was wondering if you could help me puzzle out a question apropos of usage of "can't have somebody doing something", particularly in the following sentences I'm going to show you. The first one is:" I can't have you saying such rude words to him." The another one is: " I can't have you speaking like that about him." Do the two sentences correct?

If the answer is yes, then would it be okay for us to write something like I can't have you treating me like this or I can't have you talking like a snob here? I'd be grateful if you could help me figure it out. Thanks.

Best Regards.

Hello johnart,

Yes, all of the sentences you ask about are correct. 

Good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Instructors, my problem is in articles. for example I am not certain on whether to put or not to put the in a sentence. Though I now some rules on where to use a, an and the but I am still getting problem when comes to use the or not to use it.

Hello MAMAD,

Many people find that learning to use articles in English takes quite a lot of practice. Our Determiners and quantifiers section has a few pages dedicated to this, and I'd also recommend you check out our Articles 1 and 2 pages. But perhaps the best practice is to pay careful attention and you read and listen to English, trying to understand how the articles are used. If you have any specific questions, you are welcome to ask us. It's always helpful if you explain to us why you think an article is or is not used so we can see how you understand it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teachers/Instructors of the British Council, first of all, I would love to thank for allowing me to join here. Though I carefully use the English language, I still doubt some of my sentence constructions. I believe that British Council is an authority when it comes to that. My inquiry is, what does it mean when you say : "I would like to ask for an apology." ?

thanks and more power to the Organization

Hello jen,

We're glad to have you here!

You would ask for an apology when you think someone should apologise to you, normally for having done something wrong to you. If you follow the link, you'll see a definition and examples of the word 'apology' in the Cambridge Dictionary, which I think will help you understand this sentence.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team