Here’s a short list of words with confusing singular/plural forms, useful for Use of English exam paper, tasks 2 and 3. It was prepared with Spanish students in mind, however, the speakers of other languages might have similar problems.

aerobic vs. aerobics

work vs. works

mean vs. means

condition vs. conditions

other vs. others

acoustic vs, acoustics

toast vs. toasts

new vs. news

dynamic vs. dynamics

athletic vs. athletics

compass vs. compasses

custom vs. customs

damage vs. damages

dynamic vs. dynamics







no comment

to go to the mountains

somebody is sad

somebody has left their jacket



It´s a good idea to write on a loose piece of paper in class and then copy everything nicely at home. If it works for you, divide your notebook into sections specified below. It also helps to have a binder or a file (files) for all the photocopies and your writing assignments.

The sections:

> Pronunciation (collect words difficult to pronounce)

> Vocabulary

– words with their translations (in two columns)

– words with their definitions

– word families (believe, belief, unbelievable)

– thematic groups (lungs, kindeys, liver)

collocations (you can also divide expressions according to their structure, for example those focusing on prepositions – together)

collections for the Use of English part of your exam  

> Grammar (tables, diagrams, collections eg. for inf/ing)

> Writing (structure and expressions for each kind of writing separately)

In case of CAE, the genres are: essay (obligatory), different kinds of letters, proposal, report, review.

> Speaking (especially for exam students)

In case of CAE, you need expressions for comparing, describing, speculating, exchanging ideas, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing, suggesting, evaluating, and reaching a decision through negotiation.