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Die ‘Three Ps’ in Advanced Use of English Part 2

The ‘Three Ps’ of Advanced Use of English Part 2


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In part 2 of the Advanced Use of English exam, you’re given a text with eight missing words. You’ll need to draw on your knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary, as well as contextual information from the text, to help you fill in the gaps correctly. You can only write one word, although there might sometimes be more than one possible answer.

As part of your preparation, you’re going to want to review all your grammar notes. Yes, that’s a huge task, but we’re here to help you by drawing your attention to the ‘three Ps’, three types of words which come up time and again in this part of the exam. Can you guess what they are?

That’s right – they’re phrasal verbs, prepositions and pronouns!

Have you been able to get away from it all recently?

1. Phrasal verbs

Even Advanced candidates struggle with phrasal verbs, but the fact is that they often feature in this exam task. Let’s have a look at an example. It’s from a text about the popularity of karaoke.

‘Don’t bother _______ up at a karaoke night if you aren’t prepared to sing: you’ve got to put in the effort and prove that you are one of the ‘in-crowd’. Break a leg!’

As always in part 2, we need to look at what comes before and after the missing word. ‘Don’t bother’ gives us our first clue, as it’s usually followed by a gerund. If we look at what comes after the gap, the preposition ‘up’ suggests that we’re looking for a phrasal verb. The rest of the sentence seems to suggest that we need a phrasal verb that means to ‘attend’ or to ‘go to’. Any ideas?

The answer here could be either ‘turning’ or ‘showing’. Do you know these other phrasal verbs with ‘turn’?

  • It takes about three weeks for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly (= become).
  • After she lost her job, Paola had no choice but to turn to her parents for financial help (= go to someone to get help)
  • Half an hour into the journey, I realised I’d left my wallet at home and had to turn back (= go back where you started from)

Can you think of any other phrasal verbs with ‘turn’ or ‘show’? There are quite a few. Why don’t you practise by putting your suggestions (plus an example sentence) in the comment section below?

Take away: Keep a notebook just for recording new phrasal verbs you come across. As well as the meaning, write down an example sentence so you know how to use each verb in context. You can organise your notebook by verb or by particle. However you choose to organise it, record every phrasal verb you encounter during your exam-prep and review it again and again in the lead up to your exam.

2. Prepositions

Would you ever jump out of a plane?

Prepositions are probably the part of speech that we see most frequently in part 2. Sometimes these form part of phrasal verbs. And other times these are dependent prepositions. So, what does that mean? A dependent preposition is a preposition that we always use with a particular verb, noun or adjective. For example:

  • Your insurance company should compensate you for your lost luggage (verb + dependent preposition)
  • Public awareness of climate change has increased dramatically recently (noun + dependent preposition)
  • He is very sure of himself. He’s definitely not lacking in confidence! (adjective + dependent preposition)

Let’s have a go at filling in the gap in this text about the difficulties of finding permanent work as a nurse.

‘..the majority [of recently graduated nurses] – 86 per cent – were not confident of finding a permanent position, with more than nine out of ten blaming recruitment freezes and job cuts _______ their difficulties.’

The missing word is a dependent preposition. Can you tell which word it’s linked to? That’s right, the missing preposition is connected to the verb ‘blame’.

So what’s the preposition? The correct answer is ‘for’, but it’s a tricky one because we have two different constructions with the verb ‘to blame’:

  • Blame someone/something for something – e.g. blame job cuts for their difficulties
  • Blame something on someone – e.g. blame their difficulties on job cuts

Ok, it’s time to test yourself – can you complete these three sentences with the right preposition? (Answers at the end of the post)

  1. The three people who completed the race in the fastest times were presented _____ medals.
  2. The car is much faster than the previous model, but I hope that isn’t at the expense ______ safety.
  3. Checking your phone just before bed is a bad habit. It definitely isn’t conducive _____ a good night’s sleep.

Take away: Whether you’re preparing for the Advanced exam with a teacher or on your own, whenever you learn a new word, check if it has any dependent prepositions. There’s no point learning new vocab in isolation, especially when it comes to Use of English. Use a good online dictionary to check out any dependent prepositions and note down an example of each in your notebook.


3. Pronouns

Did you and your siblings used to fight with each other?

Do you know the difference between a reflexive pronoun and a reciprocal pronoun? Well, you’d better have a thorough understanding of all the different types of pronouns if you’re going to do well on part 2. They crop up all the time on this part of the exam. If you’re stuck on a particular gap, consider whether a pronoun might be the answer.

Everyone knows the subject and object pronouns, but can you match these examples to the right category of pronoun? (Answers at the end of this post).

  1. Those
  2. Each other
  3. Hers
  4. Whom
  5. What
  6. Herself
  7. Nobody 
  • a. Interrogative
  • b. Possessive
  • c. Indefinite
  • d. Demonstrative
  • e. Relative
  • f.  Reflexive
  • g. Reciprocal

Ok, let’s take a look at a part 2 style sentence:

‘The name Oberon got _______ literary start in the first half of the 13th century from the fairy dwarf Oberon.’

Can you fill in the gap? Remember that the pronoun we need refers back to the name Oberon, and not a particular person. Yes, that’s right: the answer is ‘its’.

Now it’s your turn. Can you fill in these three gaps? (Answers at the end of the post)

  1. After six months of dating, they realised they weren’t suited to one _______ and split up.
  2. He lives in a vast two-hundred-year-old property, _______ gardens are some of the most beautiful in the area.
  3. He’s always having a go at me. He criticises me _______ I do.


Take away: Getting marks for the correct use of pronouns in part 2 is arguably easier than getting phrasal verbs and prepositions right. While there’s more than 10,000 phrasal verbs in the English language, there’s a limited number of pronouns. Use a good grammar book to make sure you know your indefinite pronouns from your interrogative pronouns!

And now, it’s over to you.

How many phrasal verbs can you think of with ‘turn’ and ‘show‘? Put your suggestions in the comment section along with an example sentence.

The first and/or most interesting comments will get feedback on their writing 🙂

Preposition answers: 1.with, 2.of, 3.to

Pronoun matching answers: 1.d, 2.g, 3.b, 4.e, 5.a, 6.f, 7.c

Pronoun gap-fill answers: 1.another, 2.whose, 3.whatever

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