B1 Preliminary Grammar Auction

To start your B2 First learning journey and to take to it like a duck to water, what learners need is a strong language control of the B1 Preliminary grammar syllabus. This is something I am totally convinced of given my teaching experience and all the lessons I’ve learnt while preparing learners for high Cambridge examinations. It’s way easier for learners, and it takes them less time to be ready for the B2 First, as long as the B1 Preliminary grammar is well mastered. 

Which is the B1 Preliminary grammar syllabus?

Cambridge Assessment English B1 Preliminary handbook provides the English learning community with an Inventory of Grammar Areas. This list includes ALL the grammatical areas that English learners must know and be able to use in context. Let’s see which these grammar areas are.

B1 Preliminary Grammar

B1 Preliminary Grammar Areas

  • can (ability; requests; permission)
  • could (ability; possibility; polite requests)
  • would (polite requests)
  • will (offer)
  • shall (suggestion; offer)
  • should (advice)
  • may (possibility)
  • might (possibility)
  • have (got) to (obligation)
  • ought to (obligation)
  • must (obligation)
  • mustn’t (prohibition)
  • need (necessity)
  • needn’t (lack of necessity)
  • used to + infinitive (past habits)
  • Present simple: states, habits, systems and processes (and verbs not used in the continuous form)
  • Present continuous: future plans and activities, present actions
  • Present perfect simple: recent past with just, indefinite past with yet, already, never, ever; unfinished past with for and since
  • Past simple: past events
  • Past continuous: parallel past actions, continuous actions interrupted by the past simple tense
  • Past perfect simple: narrative
  • Reported speech
  • Future with going to
  • Future with present continuous and present simple
  • Future with will and shall: offers, promises, predictions etc.
  • Was/were going to
  • Affirmative, interrogative, negative
  • Imperatives
  • Infinitives (with and without to) after verbs and adjectives
  • Gerunds (-ing form) after verbs and prepositions
  • Gerunds as subjects and objects
  • Passive forms: present and past simple
  • Modal passive
  • Verb + object + infinitive
  • give/take/send/bring/show + direct/ indirect object
  • Causative have/get
  • So/nor with auxiliaries

Phrasal verbs/verbs with prepositions

  • Type 0: An iron bar expands if/when you heat it.
  • Type 1: If you do that again, I’ll leave.
  • Type 2: I would tell you the answer if I knew it. If I were you, I wouldn’t do that again.
  • Statements, questions and commands: say, ask, tell
  • Indirect and embedded questions: know, wonder
  • What, What (+ noun)
  • Where; When
  • Who; Whose; Which
  • How; How much; How many; How often; How long; etc.
  • Why
    (including the interrogative forms of all tenses and modals listed)
  • Singular and plural (regular and irregular forms)
  • Countable and uncountable nouns, with some and any
  • Abstract nouns
  • Compound nouns
  • Complex noun phrases
  • Genitive: ’s and s’
  • Double genitive: a friend of theirs
  • Personal (subject, object, possessive)
  • Reflexive and emphatic: myself, etc.
  • Impersonal: it, there
  • Demonstrative: this, that, these, those
  • Quantitative: one, something, everybody, etc.
  • Indefinite: some, any, something, one, etc.
  • Relative: who, which, that, whom, whose
  • a + countable nouns
  • the + countable/uncountable noun
  • Colour, size, shape, quality, nationality
  • Predicative and attributive
  • Cardinal and ordinal numbers
  • Possessive: my, your, his, her, etc.
  • Demonstrative: this, that, these, those
  • Quantitative: some, any, many, much, a few, a lot of, all, other, every, etc.
  • Comparative and superlative forms (regular and irregular): (not) as … as, not … enough to, too … to
  • Order of adjectives
  • Participles as adjectives
  • Compound adjectives
  • Regular and irregular forms
  • Manner: quickly, carefully, etc.
  • Frequency: often, never, twice a day, etc.
  • Definite time: now, last week, etc.
  • Indefinite time: already, just, yet, etc.
  • Degree: very, too, rather, etc.
  • Place: here, there, etc.
  • Direction: left, right, along, etc.
  • Sequence: first, next, etc.
  • Sentence adverbs: too, either, etc.
  • Pre-verbal, post-verbal and end-position adverbs
  • Comparative and superlative forms (regular and irregular)
  • Location: to, on, inside, next to, at (home), etc.
  • Time: at, on, in, during, etc.
  • Direction: to, into, out of, from, etc.
  • Instrument: by, with
  • Miscellaneous: like, as, due to, owing to, etc.
  • Prepositional phrases: at the beginning of, by means of, etc.
  • Prepositions preceding nouns and adjectives: by car, for sale, at last, etc.
  • Prepositions following nouns and adjectives: advice on, afraid of, etc. and
    verbs: laugh at, ask for, etc
  • and, but, or, either … or
  • when, while, until, before, after, as soon as
  • where
  • because, since, as, for
  • so that, (in order) to
  • so, so … that, such … that
  • if, unless
  • although, while, whereas

Although the list is a long one, not all of the above grammar structures are new to learners. They have been studied in the years prior to the last B1 Preliminary preparation period (A2 Flyers, A2 KEY). The only thing is that before, learners had to mainly identify and recognize these structures, and now, they must be able to use them in context.

These days, we’ve started our countdown revision lessons to the final exam. Together with my colleagues, we’ve decided to create a treasure chest of grammar revision activities, where each one would share those activities that have proved to be both unbeatably effective and fun. Among them, there is the AUCTION grammar game (also called THE GRAMMAR CASINO). I’m sure as a teacher you’ve heard of and even played this game with your students. So, this is where today’s article idea stems from.

The game goes like this:

If played in class, give students an initial sum of money (e.g. 100 Euro). The students bet their imaginary money on correct sentences. Either alone or in pairs, students must decide whether the sentence is grammatically right or wrong. If there’s someone who loses all their money, we can offer a loan, with interests, though. One of my amazing colleagues have even added the option of bidding 😉 The winner is obviously the one with the largest amount of money and no loans or all loans returned.

If you want to challenge your B1 Preliminary grammar proficiency and make sure your next journey, destination B2 First, comes easily to you, do the quiz below.

If you are a teacher, I’ve left the printable handout for the B1 Preliminary grammar auction for you to use in class. Use the accordion below to unveil the correct answer and confirm the students’ answer. 

B1 Preliminary grammar game

B1 Preliminary Grammar Auction Round ONE


A brilliantly coloured cat is sitting on a plush chair.

The brilliantly coloured cat is sitting on a plush chair

We use the article a before nouns that start with a consonant and to mean one. The is used for definite, specific nouns.


We use the superlative to describe one person or thing as having more of a quality than all other people or things in a group.


We use present simple with the adverb always, which means ‘on every occasion’, ‘forever’ or ‘very frequently’.


They are playing an exciting game of football right now.

We use present continuous to talk about events which are in progress at the moment of speaking.


He always impeccably arrives on time, without fail.

We most commonly use always in mid-position, between the subject and main verb, after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb, or after the main verb be.


I will meet you at 6 o’clock, as scheduled.

We use at to talk about points in time, ages and some periods of time.


She travelled to the enchanting city of Paris last summer and had a remarkable experience.

We use the past simple to talk about an event that happened and finished at a definite time in the past.


We are going on holiday, although I don’t know exactly when.

We use although to mean but.


We were watching a captivating film when the power suddenly went out.

We use the past continuous to talk about events and temporary states that were in progress around a certain time in the past.


They enjoy swimming in the ocean.

We use the –ing form, not the to-infinitive after verbs like admit, deny, finish, mind, avoid, dislike, give up, miss, (can’t) help, enjoy, imagine, practise, (can’t) stand, fancy, etc

B1 Preliminary Grammar Auction Round TWO


We will/are going to visit our beloved grandparents next weekend to enjoy time together.

We use will when the decision is immediate and be going to when we have already made a plan.

We are visiting our beloved grandparents next weekend to share joyful moments together.

We use the present continuous to refer to the future when we talk about plans and arrangements that have already been made.


We use be going to when we have already made a plan.


The train departs from the station every hour.

We use the present simple to talk about events that are part of a future plan or timetable.


She hasn’t achieved remarkable career success yet.

We use yet mostly in negative statements or questions in the present perfect. It comes in end position.


If you study diligently, you will achieve remarkable results.

We use if + present simple + will  (1st conditional) to indicate the speaker thinks the action is possible or likely.

If you studied diligently, you would achieve remarkable results.

We use if + past simple + would  (2nd conditional) to indicate the speaker refers to an imagined situation in the present.


We use if + past simple + would  (2nd conditional) to indicate the speaker refers to an imagined, unreal situation in the present.


We use the conjunction unless to mean ‘except if’.


Take an umbrella with you in case it rains heavily.

We use in case to talk about things we should do in order to be prepared for possible future situations. We don’t use in case to mean ‘if’.


We use the passive, be + verb past participle form, when we want to change the focus of a clause, or if the doer of the verb is not important or not known or if we do not want to say who the doer is. If we know who does the action, we add by to indicate the doer.


The project was successfully completed last week by the dedicated team.

The action happened in the past, so, the past passive form is was/were + past participle form of the main verb.

B1 Preliminary Grammar Auction Round THREE


He had his car professionally cleaned and polished last month.

We use have + object + past participle form when we talk about someone doing something for us which we ask or instruct them to do.


The person who won the competition is feeling ecstatic.

We use who in relative clauses to refer to people, and sometimes to pet animals. Since it acts as the subject, it is followed by the predicate.


This is the person who I saw yesterday.

In this example, who is the object of saw.


You must hand in the assignment before the deadline.

We use must + infinitive to refer to a strong obligation and necessity.


We change the present simple into past simple in reported/indirect speech.


He asked where the nearest coffee shop was.

We change the present simple into past simple in reported/indirect speech. Since there is no question form, the question wh-word is followed by a statement form (subject + verb).


By the time they arrived, the concert had already started.

We use past perfect, had + verb in the past participle form, to refer to an action that happened in the time up to a point in the past (time up to then) (also called past before past)


We use used to when we refer to things in the past which are no longer true.


May is the month when the weather is good.

We use when after nouns referring to time.


Hand out is a phrasal verb which means to give something to each person in a group or place.


We use whose to express possession.

B1 Preliminary Grammar Auction Round FOUR


This jacket is not as expensive as it was last week.

We use (not) as + adjective + as to compare two things to a lower or the same degree.


The phrasal verb get along with means to have a good relationship with somebody, to be friendly with someone.


She has just arrived at the hotel.

We use just with present perfect after has/have + the past participle form of the verb.


It’s amazing what can be done with this camera.

We use the modal verb can/should/must/etc + be + the past participle form of the main verb for a modal passive.


We had to wait an hour for the bus yesterday.

We use had to + infinitive to express past obligation.


We had to wait an hour for the bus yesterday.

We use the least + adjective. It is the opposite of the most + adjective / the + adjective+est.


If our team wins a match, we will be very happy.

We use if + present simple + will + infinitive for real possibility in the future.

If our team won a match, we would be very happy.

We use if + past simple, + would + infinitive for unreal/imaginary situations in the present.

If our team wins a match, we are very happy.

We use if + present simple, + present simple for things which are always or generally true.


We use to be good/great + at. It means to be skilled/talented.


I must talk to my friends about this surprise party.

We use to talk + to somebody. It means to speak to somebody.


He suggested going to the cinema.

Suggest is followed by verb-ing (gerund).

Check out Claire Lavery’s grammar auction game for the pre-intermediate, A2 (KEY) learners Grammar Auction

Find below the printable material for the B1 Preliminary grammar auction.

Depending on which grammar areas you have most struggled with, and lost your money ;), why not read up on these grammar rules and do some exercises to practise? If you do follow my advice, you will take to B2 First way more easily because you are a master of B1 Preliminary grammar!

B1 Preliminary grammar

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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