English Lessons


Conjunctions of Time Part I

A conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or sentences. The easiest conjunctions to remember are "and" and "or." But there are conjunctions that do more than just connect—they give meaning to a sentence by expressing the time that something is happening: conjunctions of time.


You can easily tell if a conjunction of time is being used in a sentence because the sentence will tell you when something happens or for how long something is occurring. If you can make a "when" or "for how long" question from the sentence, and that question can be answered by the other half of the sentence, then you know that the sentence is using a conjunction of time.




When I flew in on the float plane, they were all there on the boat.

Caption 4, Alaska Revealed: Endless Wave

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Q: When were they all there on the boat? A: When I flew in on the float plane.




Be sure to put your mask on before helping them.

Caption 18, Air New Zealand: An Unexpected Briefing

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Q: When should I be sure to put my mask on? A: Before I help them.




They have to defend their breed from predators for up to four weeks after they're born.

Captions 49-50, Evolution: Deep Ocean

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Q: When do they have to defend their breed? A: After they are born.




We have to tread lightly while filming.

Caption 40, Nature & Wildlife: Search for the Ghost Bear

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Q: When do we have to tread lightly? A: While filming.




We paddle along and we pick up trash as we go

Caption 23, Alison's Adventures: Your Passport To the World (LONDON)

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Q: When do we pick up trash? A: As we go.


By the time


By the time I got to New York, I was living like a king

Captions 10-11, David Bowie: Lazarus

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Q: When were you living like a king? A: By the time I got to New York.


Note that some conjunctions of time are also phrases, not just a single word.


Until, till


The conjunctions of time "until" and "till" are interchangeable and you may use either word. Many people wrongly think that "till" is just shortened version of "until," but in fact "till" is the older word, in use since the 9th century. The variant "until" has been in use since the 12th century. These two words are unusual in that they express a length of time rather than a point in time, so we should ask the question using "for how long" instead of "when."


She sat until she broke the chair.

Caption 28, Story Hour: Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

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Q: For how long was she sitting? A: Until she broke the chair.


So he sat on a chair, till he died of despair,

Captions 20-21, Sigrid explains: The Limerick

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Q: For how long was he sitting? A: Till he died of despair.


Further Learning
Don't despair, and by all means stay healthy! Go to Yabla English and find other sentences (not questions) that contain the conjunctions of time "when," "before," "after," "while," "as," "by the time," "until" and "till." Write these sentences down and practice making questions and answers from the sentences like we did above. You can also read more about "until" and "till" on the Merriam-Webster website

Conditional Sentences in English

In English, we use conditional sentences for events or occurrences that are more or less certain under particular circumstances. Often, these employ the word "if" in the first clause, and then follow with a main clause. There are four basic types of conditional sentences that describe levels of possibility, from events that are very likely to missed opportunities in the past.  


Type 0 conditional sentences state facts or universal truths. The "if" clause and the main clause simply use the present simple tense.


If you are in the Skycouch row, there are special seat belt instructions in your seat pocket.

Caption 11, Air New Zealand - An Unexpected Briefing

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Type 1 conditional sentences refer to cause-and-effect links, and events that are quite certain or even definite if the condition stated in the "if" clause is fulfilled. The "if" clause is formed with "if" + simple present tense, and the main clause is uses the "will" future. 


So, if you observe these writing rules, your letter will be easy to read,​

Caption 12, Business English - Cover Letter

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If they are too late, they will miss their ride.

Caption 26, Nature & Wildlife - Wild Sharks

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Type 2 conditional sentences refer to events that are less possible or likely, often hypothetical. The "if" clause uses the simple past, which actually creates the subjunctive mood, while the main clause contains "would" + the infinitive (together sometimes referred to as conditional I tense).


If you gave me a chance, I would take it

Caption 14, Clean Bandit - Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)

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If had the vocal capacity, I would sing this from every mountain top.

Caption 37, Jamila Lyiscot's TED talk - 3 Ways to Speak English

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Type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about possibilities or events that never came to be. The "if" clause contains the past perfect, while the main clause includes "would have" + past participle (sometimes in combination referred to as the conditional II tense). 


Unfortunately, if we had signed the contract last week,

we would have been able to make some concessions.

Captions 24-25, Business English - Difficulties with Coworkers and Contracts

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It is worth mentioning that you may often see "mixed types" of the conditional, in which a missed opportunity in the past (expressed using the participle) is portrayed as still affecting the present. Take a look at the following sentence. It is clear that Chuck did not crash his motorcycle, yet the main clause is still being expressed as if it were part of a type two conditional sentence.


If Chuck had crashed it, we would be out.

Caption 65, Motorcycle Masters - Birmingham Alabama

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Further Learning
Whenever you see a sentences with "if" on Yabla English, try to identify which type of conditional sentence it might be related to. Make up 3 or 4 sentences related to your plans for the week or anything you didn't get to do over the weekend. For example, "If Anna had wanted to go to the cinema, I would have gone with her," or "If I can get the afternoon off tomorrow, I will go to the cinema."

Traveling by Air in English

Before you travel by air for vacation or perhaps to visit a friend, it might be wise to review some of the basic words related to air travel. Firstly, the place you leave from:


I'm off to the airport! -Have a nice trip.

Caption 88, Ask Jimmy Carter - Another interview with Sharon Stone

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Then the vehicle that you use to travel with: 


In an airplane, there's always a front exit and sometimes there's a rear exit.

Caption 58, The Alphabet - the Letter R

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Then the action you carry out on the airplane:


But most of us can't just fly off to faraway places. Well, no flying is necessary when you've got Yabla.

Captions 7-8, Yabla Languages - Introduction to Yabla

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The verb "to fly," can mean to travel by airplane, and though you may not need to fly to learn a foreign language, it helps sometimes getting to you destination!


As we prepare for take-off, please relax and enjoy the flight.

Caption 89, Delta's Holiday - In-Flight Safety Video

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"Take-off" is when the airplane leaves the ground and takes to the air. In English, you say you are "catching a flight" to mean you are going to travel on an airplane.


Please power off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

Caption 51, Air New Zealand - An Unexpected Briefing

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"Landing" is, of course, the opposite of "takeoff" (note too that "take-off" may be spelled with or without a hyphen). "Electronic devices" include cellular phones, tablets, and laptop computers. 


Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of travel words in English, and then go to  Yabla English to find other examples of travel words used in a real-world context.

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