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Sentence Transformation Questions – PET Writing Exam – Video Lesson

by Gina Mares on 19 January, 2019 , Comments Off on Sentence Transformation Questions – PET Writing Exam – Video Lesson

In this lesson, you can learn how to answer sentence transformation questions in the Cambridge PET writing exam.

You can see what to expect in the sentence transformations part of the writing test and how to improve your score.

The PET writing exam has three parts. In the first part, there are five questions with sentence transformations. In sentence transformation questions, you’re given two sentences, like this:

  • It took me a long time to read that book.
  • I spent a long time ________ that book.

You have to complete the second sentence with one, two or three words, so that it has the same meaning as the first sentence. These questions test your grammar and vocabulary knowledge. In this question, do you know the answer? Here, the answer is ‘reading’. You need to know that after the verb ‘spend’, you use a verb plus -ing.

  • I spent a long time reading that book.

In this lesson, you will learn about the 10 most common topics for PET sentence transformation questions. You’ll see sample answers for each question, and how to answer these questions in your PET writing exam.

1. Direct Speech and Reported Speech

Sentence Transformation Questions - PET Writing Exam - speaking

Look at a sample question.

  • I told my dad, “I will be home at 11 o’clock”.
  • I told my dad I ________ home at 11 o’clock.

I’ll give you a hint: to report what someone said, remember to always use the verb one step further in the past. The answer should be ‘would be’, this is ‘will’ one step in the past.

  • I told my dad I would be home at 11 o’clock.

When you transform reported questions into direct questions, don’t forget the auxiliary verb!

  • Kim asked me what I wanted to eat.
  • Kim asked, “What ________ to eat?”

What is the auxiliary verb for a present simple question? Use the auxiliary verb ‘do’ for a present simple question, then ‘you want’ to complete the question, like this:

  • Kim asked, “What do you want to eat?”

Now you try!

  • Paul asked me when I had started playing the guitar.
  • Paul asked, “When ________ playing the guitar?”

Is it difficult? Here’s some help: the reported speech is in the past perfect. There are two verb forms which can change into the past perfect in reported speech, but only one is possible here. Do you know the answer? Pause the video if you need more time to think.

  • Paul asked, “When did you start playing the guitar?”

Both the past simple and the present perfect can change to the past perfect in reported speech. However, here, you use the verb ‘start’. ‘Start’ refers to a finished action in the past, so the original question must be past simple.

2. The Present Perfect

Present perfect verb form graph

In the PET writing exam, you might need to use some typical present perfect forms, like ‘Have you ever…?’ or ‘I’ve just…’. Let’s look at how you can use everything you know! Look at our first practice question:

  • I have never been to the circus.
  • This is the ________ that I’ve been to the circus.

If you have never been somewhere before, then this is… The answer is: ‘the first time’. Did you get it?

  • This is the first time that I’ve been to the circus.

The present perfect is often used to talk about things which started in the past and are still true now. Here’s an example:

  • Leo joined the football team 5 years ago.
  • Leo ________ a member of the football team for 5 years.

So, here you need to use the present perfect, because you’re talking about the last 5 years. But, you need to use a different verb. Do you know what to do here?

  • Leo has been a member of the football team for 5 years.

Now, here’s one for you to practice with:

  • My sisters haven’t seen each other for a while.
  • It ________ a while since my sisters have seen each other.

Did you get it? Here’s the answer:

  • It has been a while since my sisters saw each other.

You’re doing well! Let’s move on to the next topic.

3. ‘If’ and ‘Unless’

Conditionals with ‘if’ or ‘unless’ often appear in PET sentence transformation questions. Here’s an example:

  • If you don’t study hard, you won’t pass the exams.
  • You won’t pass the exams ________ you study hard.

Did you see that the order of the sentence has changed? Don’t get confused! The question is: what’s another word for ‘if not’?

  • You won’t pass the exams unless you study hard.

Let’s try one more:

  • You should definitely start your own business.
  • If I were you, I ________ my own business.

This is a very common second conditional phrase: ‘If I were you’ is always followed by ‘I would’.

  • If I were you, I would start my own business.

This is a great one to remember!

4. Passive vs. Active

In the PET writing test, you’ll often be asked to change an active sentence to passive or the other way around. Let’s look at some examples together.

  • A free coffee is included in the entry fee.
  • The entry fee ________ a free coffee.

The first sentence is in the passive; how could you make it active?

  • The entry fee includes a free coffee.

Don’t forget that ‘entry fee’ is a third person subject, so add –s at the end of the present simple verb. Next, let’s look at an example of changing an active to a passive sentence.

  • Mark’s friends gave him a cake for his birthday.
  • Mark ________ given a cake for his birthday.

First, think about what verb you need to add to make a passive sentence. Then, check which verb tense the active sentence is in. Ready? Pause the video if you need more thinking time. Otherwise, let’s see the answer.

  • Mark was given a cake for his birthday.

Did you get it right? Don’t worry if you get something wrong, but make a note of any grammar points you make mistakes with, so you can review them before your exam.

5. Modal Verbs

It’s very probable that you’ll see a sentence transformation question about modal verbs. Look at an example:

  • You must visit that exhibition, it’s great!
  • You ________ visit that exhibition, it’s great!

Here, the verb ‘must’ is used to give strong advice. What’s another way to do that?

  • You have to visit that exhibition, it’s great!

You can use ‘must’ or ‘have to’ to give strong advice. The meaning is the same. Here’s another question.

  • When the waves are high, you’re advised not to go swimming in the ocean.
  • When the waves are high, you ________ go swimming in the ocean.

There are actually two possibilities: ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘ought not to’. They both mean ‘it’s a bad idea to do something’.

  • When the waves are high, you shouldn’t go swimming in the ocean.

Or,

  • When the waves are high, you ought not to go swimming in the ocean.

Now it’s your turn to try!

  • Smoking isn’t allowed in hospitals.
  • You ________ smoke in hospitals.

This is a hard one! You need to think of a different way to say ‘not be allowed’. Here’s a clue: there are two possible answers. Ready? Let’s look.

  • You can’t smoke in hospitals.

Or:

  • You mustn’t smoke in hospitals.

What’s next?

6. Adjectives

Adjectives can appear in many different types of PET sentence transformation question. A common example is comparatives, like this question:

  • The Italian restaurant in this city is better than the Japanese one.
  • The Japanese restaurant in this city is not as ________ the Italian one.

Any ideas? Do you remember the structure ‘as …as’? It fits here!

  • The Japanese restaurant in this city is not as good as the Italian one.

The answer is ‘good as’. Here’s a different kind of question:

  • Sam’s jacket wasn’t thick enough for the cold weather in Moscow.
  • Sam’s scarf was too ________ for the cold weather in Moscow.

Here, we need an adjective with the opposite meaning. Do you know?

  • Sam’s scarf was too thin for the cold weather in Moscow.

Now, it’s your turn:

  • Amy prefers action films to romantic ones.
  • Amy likes action film ________ romantic ones.

Pause the video if you want extra time to think about it. Ready? What’s the meaning of ‘prefer’? It’s when you like something more than something else, so you can use that.

  • Amy likes action film more than romantic ones.

Or:

  • Amy likes action films better than romantic ones.

Again, there are two possible answers: ‘more than’ or ‘better than’.

7. Quantifiers

There will often be a few questions about the use of quantifiers such as ‘many’, ‘much’ and ‘most’. For example:

  • Most people take photos with their mobile phones, not with a camera.
  • Nearly ________ photos with their mobile phones, not with a camera.

What’s the meaning of ‘nearly’? ‘Nearly’ means ‘almost’. So ‘most people’ is the same as nearly… what?

  • Nearly everybody takes photos with their mobile phones, not with a camera.

Don’t forget to add the third person –s after the verb ‘take’! Here’s another one for you to try:

  • What’s the price of these sneakers?
  • How ________ these sneakers cost?

You normally ask ‘How much…?’. You also need an auxiliary verb to form the question.

  • How much do these sneakers cost?

Because ‘sneakers’ is plural, you have to use the verb ‘do’ for the question. Here’s a harder one:

  • The students only had a few questions.
  • The students didn’t have ________ questions.

Is ‘questions’ countable or uncountable? So, do you need ‘many’ or ‘much’? That’s right, it’s a countable plural noun, which makes the answer…

  • The students didn’t have many questions.

Or,

  • The students didn’t have a lot of questions.

Or,

  • The students didn’t have lots of questions.

Here’s a useful tip: if you’re not sure if the noun is countable or uncountable, use ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’, because they can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

8. Phrasal Verbs

Now it’s time to test your memory! There are many verbs in English that are used with specific prepositions. Changing the prepositions can change the meaning completely. Look at our first sample question:

  • I’d love to discover how she did it.
  • I’d love to ________ out how she did it.

Do you know a phrasal verb with ‘out’ that means ‘discover’? Let’s ‘find out’!

  • I’d love to find out how she did it.

Let’s do one more:

  • I’m so excited about my date on Saturday!
  • I’m really looking ________ my date on Saturday!

This one is tricky, as it’s a phrasal verb with two particles.

  • I’m really looking forward to my date on Saturday!

The phrasal verb is ‘to look forward to something’. Remember this one; it often appears in the exam!

9. Words with Opposite Meanings

Many PET writing questions test whether you know a word with the opposite meaning to another. For example:

  • The bank is quite near the bakery.
  • The bank is not very ________ the bakery.

Because the second sentence uses the negative verb, you know you need an opposite, but what should you write?

  • The bank is not very far from the bakery.

Don’t forget the preposition ‘from’! Look at another question, which is about opposite verbs.

  • I borrowed money from my brother to buy the new video game.
  • My brother ________ me money to buy the new video game.

The verb ‘borrow’ is for the person taking some money for a short time; do you know the opposite?

  • My brother lent me money to buy the new video game.

The verb is ‘lend’; it’s an irregular verb, so you also need to know the past tense: ‘lent’.

10. ‘There Is’ and ‘There Are’

Using ‘there is’ and ‘there are’ is probably one of the first things you learned in English. However, English learners often make mistakes with this grammar! It’s basic, but it’s still a good idea to practice and make sure you can use it correctly. Look at a question:

  • This part of the exam has five questions.
  • In this part of the exam, ________ five questions.

That’s easy, right? Because ‘questions’ is a plural noun, you have to use ‘there are.’

  • In this part of the exam, there are five questions.

Here’s your last question:

  • There was an earthquake on the island last week.
  • Last week, the island ________ an earthquake.

This is more difficult, because you need to decide which verb to use instead of ‘there was’. Do you know?

  • Last week, the island had an earthquake.

Now, you can identify and answer lots of types of sentence transformation questions in the Cambridge PET writing exam. Good luck with your exam preparation and let us know when you pass! Thanks for watching!

 

PET Sentence Transformations Quiz

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Gina MaresSentence Transformation Questions – PET Writing Exam – Video Lesson