We can use for to mean ‘because’. We only use this in very formal English.

  • The divers have to be careful for a sudden change in conditions could be dangerous.
  • Read the instructions carefully for you will only get one chance to enter the information.

We can use for to talk about a purpose or a reason.

  • What did you that for?
  • What is that for?
  • Thank you for your letter.
  • I don’t have enough money for the ticket.
  • I need treatment for my bad back.

For can mean that you are in favour/favor of something.

  • He is for the idea of cutting taxes.
  • I am for this change in the way we do things.
  • You need to stand up for what is right.

We can use for with expressions of time and distance.

  • I walked for miles.
  • I waited for a long time.
  • We will be away for the next week.

Sometimes we can omit the for completely in these expressions without changing the meaning.

  •  I walked miles.
  • I waited a long time.

With the present perfect, for refers to a length of time. Since refers to the starting point.

  • I have studied English for seven years.
  • I have studied English since I was 12.

Here are some useful expressions using for

  • I enclose a cheque/check for 100 euros
  • What’s another word for stupid?
  • I’ve known him for ages.
  • I am all for making this change.
  • Get ready.  -What for?   -Anne is coming.





‘Could’ can be used to talk about the past, the present or the future.

‘Could’ is a past form of ‘can’

  • When I was living in Boston, I could walk to work.
  • He phoned to say he couldn’t come.
  • I could see him clearly but I couldn’t hear him and then the videoconference line went dead.

‘Could’ is used to make polite requests. We can also use ‘can’ for these but ‘could’ is more polite.

  • Could you help me, please?
  • Could you lend me some money?
  • Could I have a lift?
  • Could I bother you for a moment?

If we use ‘could’ in reply to these requests, it suggests that we do not really want to do it. If you agree to the request, it is better to say ‘can’.

  • Of course I can.
  • I could help you if it’s really necessary but I’m really busy right now.
  • I could lend you some money but I’d need it back tomorrow without fail.
  • I could give you a lift as far as Birmingham.

‘Could’ is used to talk about theoretical possibility and is similar in meaning to ‘might’.

  • It could rain later. Take an umbrella.
  • He could be there by now.
  • Could he be any happier?
  • It could be Sarah’s.




We can use ‘could have’  to talk about something somebody was capable of doing but didn’t do.

  • I could have gone to Oxford University but I preferred Harvard.
  • She could have married him but she didn’t want to.
  • They could have bought a house here 20 years ago but chose not to.

Often, there is a sense of criticism.

  • You could have phoned me to let me know.
  • They could have helped me instead of just sitting there.
  •  I could have done more to help you. Sorry.

We can use ‘couldn’t have’ to talk about something we were not capable of doing.

  • I couldn’t have managed without you.
  • I couldn’t have got the job. He was always going to appoint his nephew.
  • I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. Thank you for a lovely day.

We can use ‘could have’ to speculate about what has happened. (We can also use ‘may have’ or ‘might have’ in these situations.)

  • She could have taken the earlier train.
  • Simon could have told her.
  • They could have overheard what we said.

We can also use ‘can have’ to speculate about what has happened but only in questions and negative sentences and with words such as ‘hardly’, ‘never’ and ‘only’.

  • Can she have forgotten about our meeting?
  • He can’t have seen us.
  • They can hardly have thought that I was not interested in the job.

We can also use ‘could have’ to speculate about something that didn’t happen.

  • You could have broken your neck, jumping out the window like that.
  • He could have hurt somebody, throwing a bottle out of the window like that.
  • I could have done well in my exam if I’d worked harder.

You can also use ‘could have’ to talk about possible present situations that have not happened.

  • I could have been earning a lot as an accountant but the work was just too boring.
  • He could have been Prime Minister now but he got involved in a big financial scandal.
  • They could have been the market leaders now if they had taken his advice.




We can use about to mean ‘concerning’

I have heard all about it.
There is nothing we can do about it.
The great thing about her is that she never gives up.

We can use about to mean ‘approximately’. We can also use around for this but about is less formal.

About six hundred people were present.
About half the people agreed.
Come round at about six.

We can use How about and What about to make suggestions.

What about asking Tom?
How about leaving that for the time being?
What about a break?

We can also use What about ( but not How about) for more genuine questions.

What about the workers? Have you thought about them?
What about the dog? What do we do with her?

We use about and on to talk about the subject of a discussion. We use on for more formal situations..

They talked about the bad economic situation.
He gave a lecture on the economy.

About can mean ‘here and there’.

She is always out and about.
He sits about doing nothing.
They go about interviewing the public.

Just about means ‘almost’.

I have just about finished.
I have had just about enough of him and his patronizing tone.
The money we get will just about pay for the new equipment.

Be about to means that something is on the point of happening.

I am about to change jobs.
He is about to give in his resignation.
Please listen carefully. i am about to say something important.

Here are some useful expressions using about

no doubt about

There is no doubt about his ability but he doesn’t work well with other people.

bring about change

We need to bring about change quickly or the company will go bankrupt.

everybody is talking about it

Everybody is talking about the argument they had.

be asked about

I am often asked about how I became so successful.

speak to them about

You need to speak to them about this and make sure they never do it again.

anything I can do about it?

Is there anything I can do about my financial situation?

concerned about

i’m concerned about Simon. He is acting very strangely.

speculate about

We can only speculate about what happened. We will never know for sure.

about to change

I am not happy with what has been happening. I must warn you that things are about to change around here.

know a lot about

Ask Sally. She knows a lot about that.

talking about

What are you two whispering about?

known about

Little is known about what happened.

hear about

I know you have just been to Hawaii. I want to hear all about it.

keep your wits about you

Be very careful. There are lots of thieves around. Keep your wits about you.