In this article we will discuss the following articles:

  • Idioms
  • Conditional Clauses


Idioms are phrases or groups of words that have meaning in a colloquial sense.

In addition to testing the grammar and meaning, Placement Tests also introduce Errors pertaining to idiomatic usage of words in the sentence correction questions. Such usage of words does not involve any specific rules. Thus, in order to identify and correct such errors, one needs to be familiar with the commonly tested idioms.


  • Not only does placement test grammar and meaning, but it also tests idiomatic usage of words and expressions.

In the sentence above, the idiomatic expression used is “not only…but also”. Thus, the sentence is correct.

  • Not only does placement test grammar and meaning, it tests idiomatic usage of words and expressions as well.

This sentence is incorrect.

Let us consider another example:

  • Ten years back, people could not have imagined how much effect internet has on the democratic revolutions.

In this sentence, “effect” is used correct. If the sentence used “affect” then it would be incorrect.

So, here we have the list of idioms which is often tested.










RIGHT (contrast): Although + Subject

We can use a sub clause with the conjunction although. The sub clause comes before or after the main clause.

Example: Although the great flood destroyed much of Madhya Pradesh, only six people died.


4) AND

RIGHT (includes): LHS = RHS

Example: My father speaks Telugu and Malayalam


5) AS

RIGHT (during, because, in the same way, in the role of, in the stage of being)


  • As I walked, I fainted. (During my walk, I fainted)
  • I fainted as I didn’t have my breakfast. (I fainted because I didn’t have my breakfast)
  • As we reap, so we get. (in the same way)
  • As the trainer of the company, she works hard. (in the role of)
  • As a child, none can punish. (in the stage of being)


6) AS —- AS

RIGHT (equal in quality and quantity)


  • Samsung phone is AS GREAT AS people say.
  • Samsung phone is NOT AS great AS people say.
  • They have AS MANY potatoes AS need to be cooked.
  • They have THREE TIMES AS MANY employees AS you.
  • They have AT LEAST AS MANY potatoes AS you.
  • They have 10 potatoes, ABOUT AS MANY AS we picked yesterday.
  • Her knowledge springs AS MUCH from experience AS from schooling.
  • Her knowledge springs NOT SO MUCH from experience AS from schooling.
  • She wins frequently, AS MUCH because he plays SO hard AS because he cheats.



RIGHT (reason)


  • BECAUSE the people WATCH, I feel embarrassed.
  • I feel embarrassed BECAUSE the people WATCH.
  • BECAUSE of the people, I feel embarrassed.
  • BY WATCHING, the people make me feel embarrassed.



Example: BECAUSE the people WATCH THAT I feel embarrassed



RIGHT (used correctly as a gerund or as a participle)

  • Gerund: Being searched by customs officers is unpleasant.
  • Participle: No one likes being led to look customs officers.



RIGHT (trust)


  • The police BELIEVED THAT the Mafia had committed the crime.
  • IT IS BELIEVED By the police THAT the  Mafia had committed the crime.
  • She BELIEVES the police TO BE right.



a) We often use the infinitive to be in this pattern. We can sometimes leave out to be, especially after declare, believe, consider and find.

Avoid the usage of ‘as’  after declare, believe, consider and find.


  • There is considered to be little chance of the plan succeeding.
  • I CONSIDER her a friend, I CONSIDER her intelligent.

b)Considering is a conjunction, preposition or adverb.


  • Considering the awful weather, our Open Day was a great success.
  • George is seventy, you know. He’s remarkably fit, considering



a) Conjunction + participle

Example: Although expecting the news, I was greatly shocked by it.

b) Noun Phrase + adverb

Example: The hostages’ release came unexpectedly.

c) Be forms + Expect + infinitive

Example: Next month’s figures are expected to show an improvement

d) Expect + that

Example:I expected that we would be late.

e) Passive + That + Will + Verb



12) In Order To

A Clauses of purpose


  • The company borrowed money (in order) to finance their advertising.
  •  (In order) to save time we’ll fax all the information.

Note: The negative is in order not to.


RIGHT: A report INDICATES THAT unique bacteria LIVE on our skin.



a) Instead of (= in place of) and rather than have a negative meaning.:


  • They should build houses instead of office blocks. (They should build houses, not office blocks)
  • I drink tea rather than coffee. ( I drink tea, not coffee)

b) Instead of + Gerund + Preposition

Example:Instead of landing at Heathrow, we had to go to Manchester.

c) We cannot use a finite clause or a to-infinitive after a preposition.

NOT instead of we landed and NOT instead of to land.




Example: I’d LIKE TO KNOW all the details.


b) Like takes a to-infinitive when it means that something is a good idea, rather than a pleasure.

Example: I like to keep all these papers in order.

Compare these two sentences.

  • I didn’t like to complain. (= I didn’t complain because it wasn’t a good idea.)
  • I didn’t like complaining. (= I complained, but I didn’t enjoy it.)


c) After like, love, prefer and hate we can use it when/if + clause. We usually leave out to after like but not after would like.


  • Take one of these brochures if you like.
  • Take one of these brochures if you’d like to.


d) Negate: We use the auxiliary verb do.

Example: I DON’T LIKE horror films. NOT I like not horror films.


e) Informal offers and invitations

Example: Have a chocolate. = Would you like a chocolate?


f) An order emphatic or even aggressive

Example: Don’t you talk to me like that.


g) Can ask an indirect question.

Example: I’d like to know what you’ve written.


h) In simple tenses we use the auxiliary verb do.

“You like train journeys” can be said as,

  • You do like train journeys.
  • Do you like train journeys?


i) Enquiries of someone’s well-being, enjoyment or progress.


  • What… like? asks about quality. Sometimes it has a very similar meaning to How…?
  • How was the film?/ What was the film like?
  • But What… like? does not refer to well-being.


j) Some other ways of avoiding repetition

Example:I saw the film, but I didn’t like it.


k) Putting an adverbial in front position can also help to get the important information in the right place.


  • For a week after this, life was like a restless dream.
  • There are action verbs (e.g. walk, make) and state verbs (e.g. own, like). State verbs are not normally continuous.


l) To express probability we can also use be likely to

Example: We’re likely to know the result soon./We’ll probably know the result soon.


m) Would like is less direct than want, which can sound abrupt.


  • I want a drink. (direct, perhaps impolite)
  • I’d like a drink. (less direct, more polite)

Compare like and would like.

  • I like to climb/I like climbing that mountain.

(I have climbed it a number of times, and enjoyed it.)

  • I’d like to climb that mountain.

(= I want to climb it.)


16) NOT—–BUT


  • She DID NOT EAT mangoes BUT ATE other kinds of fruit.
  • She DID NOT EAT mangoes BUT LIKED other kinds of fruit AND later BEGAN to like kiwis, too.
  • A tomato is NOT a vegetable BUT a fruit.
  • A tomato is NOT a vegetable BUT RATHER a fruit.



After so that we use a finite clause, often with the present simple or with will, would, can or could.


  • You should keep milk in a fridge so that it stays fresh.
  • I wrote it in my diary so that I wouldn’t forget.
  • Why don’t you take a day off so that you can recover properly?



Purpose: I took a day off so (that) I could recover properly.

Result: The car simply refused to start, so (that) I couldn’t get to work.

But generally we use so that for purpose and so for result.

We use so that rather than a to-infinitive when the two clauses have different subjects.


  • Moira left some salad so that James could eat it later.

We can sometimes use to avoid or to prevent rather than a negative clause with so that.


  • He kept his shirt on so that he wouldn’t get sunburnt.
  • He kept his shirt on to avoid getting sunburnt.



We can ask a question indirectly by putting it into a sub clause beginning with a question word or with if/whether


I was wondering if/whether you could give me a lift.

We can use a finite clause instead of a gerund clause.


  • I don’t know. I can’t remember turning it off.
  • I can’t remember if/whether I turned it off.


an indirect question about what the best action is. What to say means ‘what I should say’.

We can use whether but not if.


I was wondering whether to ring you. We’ll have to decide whether to go (or not).




She wouldn’t want a dog whether she had room for one or not.

Whether it’s summer or winter, our neighbour always wears a pullover.


Conditions express different degrees of reality. For example, a condition can be open or unreal.

  • Open: If you join the library, you can borrow books.
  • Unreal: If you’d arrived ten minutes later, we would have been closed.

a) An open condition expresses something which may be true or may become true. (You may join the library). An unreal condition expresses something which is not true or is imaginary. (You did not arrive later.)

We can use conditional sentences in a number of different ways: for example to request, advise, criticize, suggest, offer, warn or threaten.

Request: If you’re going into town, could you post this letter for me?

Advice: If you need more information, you should see your careers teacher.

Criticize: If you hadn’t forgotten your passport, we wouldn’t be in such a rush.

Suggest: We can go for a walk if you like.

Offer: If I win the prize, I’ll share it with you.

Warn: If you’re walking along the cliff top, don’t go too near the edge.

Threaten: If you don’t leave immediately, I’ll call the police.


b) There are some verb forms which often go together. These patterns are usually called Types 1, 2 and 3.

Type 1: If the company fails, we will lose our money. (Present-Future)

Type 2: If the company failed, we would lose our money.

Type 3: If the company had failed, we would have lost our money.


Pattern I

If + Subject + Verb (in the first form)–Subject + Will + Verb (in the first form)

If + you + allow -I +will + go.

If + it + rains -he +will + not come.

If + one + promises -one + must + keep it.

If + you + work hard -you + can + succeed.

These sentences express what is probable to happen in future under particular conditions. The first parts of the sentences beginning with ‘if’ are the conditions and the second parts are the intentions or the likely happenings in future. The first takes the simple present form and the second simple future.

They can be stated reversing the order:

I will go if you allow.

He will not come if it rains.

One must keep it if one promises.

You can succeed if you work hard.


Pattern II

If + Subject + Verb (in the second form) –

Subject + Would + Verb (in the first form)

If + I + knew – I + would + tell you

If + the office + had money – it + would + give away the salary.

If + I + were the President – I + would + honour the learned.

If + women + had power – they + would + rule better.

These sentences express some hypothetical probability or sup position or just an assumption. They mean

‘I don’t know so I can’t tell you’; ‘the office doesn’t have money so it cannot pay salary’; ‘I am not the President otherwise I would honour the learned’; ‘women don’t have power otherwise they would rule better’.

These sentences can also state the second part first.


Pattern III

If + Subject + Verb (had + the third form)

Subject + Would have + 3rd form of Verb

If + it + had rained – the farmers + would have + grown crops.

If + they + had worked – they + would have + succeeded.

If + we + had reached on time + would have + caught the train.

If + the doctor + had come on time – the patient + would not have + died

These sentences express something that could not hap pen in the past because of the lack of some required condition. It expresses some sort of

regret. It did not rain so farmers could not grow crops; they did not work hard so they could not succeed; we did not reach on time and so we could not catch the train; the doctor did not come on time and so the patient could not be saved.



You must have noticed that the verb in

  • Pattern I is the first form (the present) and the first form of future (will) in dictating some future intentions.
  • Pattern II is the second form (the past) and the second form of future (would) indicating hypothesis or supposition in present meaning.
  • Pattern III is had + third form (the past perfect) and would have + third form (future perfect) some conditional regret about the past.