English Exams: Expressing your opinion

English Exams: Expressing your opinion

English Exams: Expressing your opinion with it. In all of your English exams, you will be asked to give your opinion. You do NOT want to repeat ‘I think’. Actually, most of my students are forbidden to use the phrase ‘I think’ in my classroom just to get them used to ‘thinking’ in a different way.

Expressing opinion with it

Now there are plenty of ways to express your opinion without using ‘I think’. Today we will look at how to do this using it as the subject.

1. It + verb + that

  • This is one of the easier ways of using it and one that you are probably already familiar with.
  • You can use it with verbs such as appears, seems, turns out
    • 1. It seems that we bought the wrong tool.
    • 2. It turns out that he’s going to be late again.
    • 3. It appears that people do not want to admit the truth.

2. It + verb + person + that

  • Some verbs are transitive and need to be followed by a person
  • verbs include amaze, anger, annoy, bother, appear to, concern, confuse, delight, digust, distress, embarrass, exites, frightens, frustrate, hit, humiliate, hurt, irk, irritate, occur to, perplex, please, puzzle, scare, seem to, shock, strike, stun, surprise, terrify, thrill, trouble, unsettle, upset, vex, worry
    • 1. It amazes me that he is still running for president.
    • 2. It concerns me that our governments don’t do more to combat climate change.
    • 3. It occurs to me that I have never really thought about this question.
    • 4. It seems to me that each individual is responisible for doing their part.
  • Note that we can say it seems that or it seems to me that.

3. It + verb + person + infinitive with to

  • In some cases, we can use an infinitve + to instead of ‘that + clause’
  • We can use this with verbs such as amaze, anger, annoys, bother, disgusts, distresses, embarrass, exites, frightens, frustrate, hurt, irk, irritate, perplexe, please, suprise, stuns, terrify, thrill, trouble, unsettle, vex, upset, worry
    • 1. It amazes me to see that so many young people came out to vote.
    • 2. It terrifies me to think of him alone by himself
    • 3. It really upsets me to hear about the effects of climate change.

4. It + verb (e.g. feel, look, seem, sound) + like/as if/as though

  • Another word you should try to avois overusing on an exam (and in life!) is ‘like’
  • We can use ‘like’, ‘as if’ or ‘as though’ with verbs such as feel, look, seem, sound
    • It feels as though society pressures us to make decisions
    • It looks as if this is the case, but it’s not.
    • It seems as though you are right.
    • It sounds like a good idea.

Speaking Tips

Now that you have seen English Exams: Expressing your opinion, take a look at our other Exam tips:
CAE tips: ways to disagree
Speaking tips: ways to speculate

Cursos inglés

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English Grammar: Reflexive Pronouns

English Grammar: Reflexive Pronouns

English Grammar: Reflexive Pronouns

English Grammar: Reflexive pronouns can be tricky. Here we will try to explain simply how and when to use them.

What are the Reflexive Pronouns?

1st person 2nd person 3rd person
singular myself yourself herself/himself/itself
plural ourselves yourselves themselves

When do we use Reflexive Pronouns?

  • Use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object is the same.
Reflexive pronoun example1
Reflexive pronoun example2

When NOT to use Reflexive Pronouns

  • When the subject and the object is not the same
It’s not our fault. (the subject is IT, the object is FAULT They blame themselves. (the subject is THEY, the object is THEMSELVES)
It’s our fault (the subject is IT, the object is FAULT)He should blame himself. (The subject is HE, the object is HIMSELF
  • Normally we do NOT use Reflexive Pronouns after verbs: wash/shower/shave/dress
After practice she always showers. NOT: After practice she always shower’s herself
Hurry up and get dressed!NOT: Hurry up and get dressed yourself.
  • We do NOT use Reflexive Pronouns after verbs such as feel/relax/concentrate/meet
Try to concentrate on what you are doing. NOT: Try to concentrate yourself on what you are doing.
What time should we meet?NOT: What time should we meet ourselves?


  • Do not mix up each other or one another with Reflexive Pronouns. They have different meanings.
Reflexive Pronouns example 3
Reflexive Pronouns Example 4

Other use for Reflexive Pronouns

  • We can also use Reflexive Pronouns in order to emphasize who did something.
    • He made the chair himself! (I am surprised that he was able to do that)
    • This is the first time we made dinner ourselves! (I am emphasizing that no one else helped us.)


  1. He presented _________ to the everyone at the party.
  2. They bought _________ everything they needed for school.
  3. He looked at _________ in the mirror.
  4. She got dressed __________ for work.
  5. We took care of _________ when we were younger.
  6. The cat finds water __________ outside.
  7. He shaves _________ every morning before going to work.
  8. I am always calling _________ because I can’t find my phone anywhere.
  9. All of you should really help __________ to the food.
  10. You should concentrate __________ on the exam.


Answers: 1. himself, 2. themselves, 3. himself, 4. —-, 5. ourselves, 6. itself, 7. —-, 8. myself, 9. yourselves, 10. —-

English Grammar Practice

Now that you have learned English Grammar: Reflexive Pronouns, have a look at our other posts that focus on Grammar and Exam Preparation:
CAE exam Speaking Part 3: Disagree
Vocab Rehab: Used to, be used to, get used to

CAE tips: Speaking Part 2, Disagree

CAE tips: Speaking Part 3 – Disagree

CAE tips: Speaking Part 2, Disagree

Today we are reviewing CAE tips: Speaking Part 3, Disagree. In Part 3 of the CAE Speaking exam, you and your partner will share the time to talk about a certain topic. You are expected to share your opinion but also the interaction between the two of you is important. This means you will need to show that you agree and/or disagree with your partner. Click here to see our post on how to agree.


Now, remember you can always be extra polite and use phrases like, ‘I agree with you up to a point, but..’ or ‘That’s true, but’. However sometimes you may really disagree with the person and this is where the following phrases come in handy.

I’m not so sure about that.

  • This is still a bit on the polite side, but definitely shows you don’t agree.
  • Remember to follow this sentence with an explanation.
    • I’m no sure about that. I believe lots of people prefer to ride a bike to work than take their car but they don’t have the opportunity to do so.
    • I really think that most people today want to find a job that makes them happy, and not just one makes them money. So, I’m no so sure about what you said.

I beg to differ.

  • Personally, I like this expression. But your tone of voice here is very important. If you say it in a higher pitch, then it sounds quite polite. If you say in a more serious tone, it will come across a bit demanding.
  • Either way, always follow it up with an explanation.
    • I beg to differ. I feel that global warning is much more serious than the media makes it out to be.
    • I beg to differ. In my mind, there are far more advantages than disadvantages to technology.

That’s not necessarily true.

  • This is a polite way to suggest that the other person may have said something erroneously.
  • Follow it up by saying what you think is the truth.
    • That’s not necessarily true. I just recently read that more and more people are changing jobs than ever before.
    • Although it may feel like the temperatures are colder in the winter, that’s not necessarily true. The overall temperatures are rising.

I’m afraid I can’t agree with you.

  • The second half of this statement is direct, but it is softened by the first part ‘I’m afraid’.
  • I’m afraid (temo que) is a way to start out any phrase which you are going to disagree and is very useful in this way.
    • I’m afraid I can’t agree with you. It seems like young people today just aren’t interested in getting their driver’s license.
    • I’m afraid that just isn’t true. Most students, me included, use the internet for studying and looking up information.

I think otherwise.

  • This is quite direct, so be careful with your tone. Sometimes, you may strongly disagree and that’s ok.
  • However, if you want to soften this up, try using ‘I’m afraid…’ or ‘I’m sorry, but…’ before this statement.
  • Follow it up with why you think otherwise.
    • I’m sorry, but I think otherwise as half the population is female and that means that we have a large say in what is happening.
    • I think otherwise. Guns should never be allowed around children.

I’m sorry but I take a different view.

  • Once again tone makes a big difference here. Saying things in a higher pitch will always sound more friendly and in a low voice you will sound more combative.
  • And as always, follow it up with an explanation.
    • I’m sorry but I take a different view. From my perspective as an older woman, I feel like kids are just not taught to be respectful to the elderly.
    • As a foreigner, I know first hand how difficult it is to fit in, so I’m sorry, but I take a different view on this.

Now that you’ve learned the ways to disagree with CAE tips: Speaking Part 3 – Disagree, take a look at our other CAE tips posts:
CAE Tips: Speaking part 3 – Agreeing
CAE Tips: Speaking Part 2- Speculation
CAE Tips: Speaking Part 2 – Comparing

Cursos de inglés

En la Escuela de Idiomas de la Cámara de Comercio de Álava, tenemos cursos para todos los niveles. Hay cursos de preparación para el CAE (C1) durante todos los trimestres de octubre a junio e intensivos en cada trimestre. En verano también hay cursos intensivos de CAE. What are you waiting for?

CAE Speaking tips: Speculation

CAE Speaking tips: Speculation

CAE Speaking tips: Speculation

CAE Speaking tips: Speculation is a large part of the speaking part 2 of the CAE exam. Remember that in part two you need to compare and contrast and often use speculation to say what or why someone is doing in the photos. To see more about how to compare and contrast click here.

On part 2 of the Speaking task it is quite possible that they will ask you something like: ‘Why do people chose to participate in these activities’ or ‘How do they feel about it?’ For both of these questions, you should use speculation since you do not know exactly why people chose these activities or how they are truly feeling. The following examples are ways to show speculation.

It seems like…

  • Always use a noun and verb following this phrase.
    • It seems like they might be trying to get someone’s attention.
    • Maybe there was some kind of misunderstanding since it seems like he is embarrassed.

It could be that…

  • this is show hypothesis
    • It could be that they are waiting for someone to arrive and that is why they are looking off into the distance.
    • Since she looks a bit older, it could be that she finds it very difficult to work a computer since she is older.

They might have…

  • Again this can be used to hypothesize
  • it is very similar than they could have…
    • They might have just received some bad news and that’s why they look so down.
    • They might have gotten lost and that’s why they are having an argument.


  • this is used in the same way as maybe
    • Perhaps they are talking about how the child feels about school.
    • She looks quite excited, so perhaps she just won a contest or something similar.

It seems to me that…

  • this phrase is used to hypothesize but also shows a bit of an opinion.
    • It seems to me that they are enjoying themselves whereas in the second photo they might have been forced to participate.
    • Although they look like they could be family, it seems to me that they don’t feel comfortable together.


  • This used in a similar way as perhaps. It is the simple translation of tal vez.
    • Maybe they are talking about their plans for the summer or about vacation.
    • She seems to be really upset so maybe they are breaking up.

Common mistakes

Remember that in CAE Speaking tips: Speculation is really important for this part of the exam. Spanish students often misuse modal verbs or overuse ‘it’s possible that…’. For example:

It should be thatIt could be that.
Possibly, he is upset because he lost something. He is possibly upset because he lost something.

Now that you have seen CAE Speaking tips: Speculation, have a look at our other CAE tips:
CAE Speaking tips: agreeing
CAE Speaking tips: comparing

Cursos intensivos de CAE

En la Escuela de Idiomas de la Cámara de Comercio de Álava, tenemos cursos anuales y cursos intensivos de preparación para el FIRST, CAE, CPE y Oxford Test of English.

CAE Tips Speaking Part 2

In CAE Tips Speaking Part 2, we talk about how to go about answering part 2 of the Speaking test. This is a complex part of the test since you need to do several things at one time and you only have a minute to do it. Today we are looking at comparing and contrasting and you have 6 ways to effectively do it. Choose the ones you feel comfortable using and start practicing around the house! Start comparing the table and the chair, the window and the wall, the bed and the dresser, your sister and your friend, etc.

Compare: Both pictures show…

  • 1. Both pictures show people who are enjoying diverse activities.
  • 2. Both pictures seem to be taken in the countryside

Contrasting: Whereas X, Y…

  • 1. Whereas the people are laughing in picture 1, they are seem to be quite sad in picture 2.
  • 2. Whereas in picture 1 they are in a big city, in picture 2 they seem to be in a small village.

Contrasting: In X…, whereas in Y…

  • 1. In the first picture it seems as though they are sharing a family meal, whereas in the second photo they appear to be having an intimate meal.
  • 2. In the first photo they are enjoying a day at the park, whereas in the second one they are relaxing at home.

While X…, Y…

  • 1. While we see a man who seems lonely and maybe worried in the first picture, we can see a man who is surrounded by family or friends in the second picture.
  • 2. While the people in the second photo are probably participating in a race because they have trained and worked hard to get there, the children in the first photo seem to be playing games organized for that day only.

Contrasting: Conversely, picture 2…

  • 1. The people in Picture one seem to b very worried about the situation. Conversely, in picture 2, they seem quite relaxed and actually enjoying their time together.
  • 2. In the first photo, they appear to be in some traditional and cultural event. Conversely, in the second photo they are in some kind of circus.

Contrasting: Unlike X, Y

  • Unlike the first photo, the second photo was probably taken professionally as it shows a couple getting married.
  • Unlike the people in the first photo, those in the second seem to be enjoying the job that they are doing.

So, remember, you can never prepare everything you are going to say for a speaking test, since you really don’t know what they are going to ask you, but you can be prepared to use certain tools to show that you have a C1 level. Using these easy ways to compare and contrast will definitely be taken into consideration when you are being evaluated.

Now that you have read CAE Tips Speaking Part 2, have a look at CAE Tips Speaking: Agreeing, which shows great tips to use in Part 3 of the CAE exam.

CAE Speaking Tips : Agreeing

When you are taking the CAE – C1 exam or the CPE C2 exam, you will want to remember these CAE Speaking Tips: Agreeing. It’s true that you cannot memorize things for the exam and you shouldn’t! BUT… start getting comfortable with these expressions. Stop saying ‘I agree’ to everything. As native speakers, we usually use different expressions to show that we agree and we say them quite exaggeratively too, because let’s face it – we like to exaggerate.

How to agree as a native speaker

We are not a syllable based language as Spanish is, so not every word gets treated the same when it comes to pronunciation. To show emphasis in the words below, I will put them in CAPITAL letters. These are the words that we say louder and slower than we do the other words.

Stressing the intensifier

  • In English we almost ALWAYS stress our intensifiers. This strengthens our comments.
  • Remember, to sound like a native, you can’t just say the words, you need to say them with the right intonation, speed, stress, etc. or else it doesn’t sound right.
    • That’s SO true
    • You’re SO right
    • I TOTALLY agree
    • You’re ABSOLUTELY right

Intonation tips for agreeing

  • Another important point is the intonation. If I change my intonation than the phrase can take on a whole new meaning. This is true in Spanish as well, you just might not even pay attention to it.

I never THOUGHT of it that way

  • By stressing thought and going up in my intonation at thought of it that way, I show that it was a good idea.
  • Another point – we usually link the three words Thought of it to make one word – thoughtofit.

I never thought of it THAT way

  • If I stress the word THAT in this phrase, what I am expressing is that I never thought it and probably won’t ever think of it that way. What a silly way to think about something.
  • You are not showing agreeing but disagreement and not in a friendly way.

I couldn’t agree more

  • I COULDN’T agree more is the standard way of pronouncing this phrase, stressing couldn’t.
  • Although it sounds negative, it is definitely positive.

Great minds think alike

  • This a common and funny expression to use which says you and the person you are talking too are clever and have ‘great minds’. So, make sure you smile when you say this to get the right effect and show that you are making a small joke.
  • The words are all stressed – GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE although the intonation goes up toward the end.

Cursos de preparación C1 – CAE y C2 – CPE

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