What is C1 level English grammar?

Advanced C1 English GrammarThe C1 level has the second most advanced grammar on the CEFR scale.  C1 students have proven to be able to produce these grammar patterns in thousands of tests.  You can show C1 level proficiency by using and understanding the meanings of these grammar topics too.  The list of grammar points is explained in categories with examples that are linked to more explanations and corpus frequency information about the vocabulary that is most commonly found with the grammar.

How are adjectives used at C1?

C1 negative hedging

C1 English grammar can be identified by using a negative clause with modal adjectives to make the following assertions less direct too.

C1 degrees of comparison

Before a noun, superlative adjectives can be post-modified to be stronger.

Adverbials can also pre-modify comparative adjectives to a small degree.

C1 past participle as an adjective

Noun phrases can be postmodified by past participles in English C1 grammar.

  • I’ve got the skills required
  • The funds raised will support future research.

C1 adjectives with adverbs

At the C1 level, adjectives can be pre-modified by adverbs for emphasis, degree, intensity, modality and hedging.

How else do C1 learners use adverbs?

C1 adverbs & modality

At C1, a wide range of adverbs can be found in the initial and middle position, and often with longer ‘future’ grammar structures such as future perfect simple and ‘BE + going to’.  This can include stance, certainty or other modal adverbs, and hedging with negation.

initial position

  • Apparently, he’s a poet.
  • NaturallyI was charmed by what you wrote about me.
  • Clearly, he was a man who spoke forcefully to the people.

middle position

Instead of referring to the future, the modal auxiliary verb ‘will’ + an adverb can be used to express what is typical or habitual.

  • Killers will often leave evidence behind at the scene.

Emphasis can be given to something unexpected using ‘may well.’

C1 modifying adverb phrases

C1 English grammar can be easily spotted with superlative adverb phrases + ellipted modal verb clauses.

A wide range of adverbs can premodify adverbs.

Adverbs can also be post-modified with ‘enough’ to intensify.

Finally, C1 English learners can post-modify adverbs with prepositional phrases to highlight information.

How to use clauses at C1 English level

C1 imperative clauses

Imperatives can be used to point or focus the reader on different parts of a C1 English text.

  • Note the contrast between these quotes.
  • Notice the section in the centre.  
  • See the schedule attached below.

Imperatives + pronouns can be used to allow, give permission or instruct someone to give permission or disallow something.

C1 conditional clauses

Imperatives can also introduce a condition, with ‘and’ introducing the consequence in C1 sentences.

Imperatives are also common in the main clause after ellipted conditional clauses with the indefinite pronoun ‘anything’ post-modified with a relative clause to make generous offers.

  • Anything that you want from the fridge, take it.
  • Anything your friend needs, just tell us.

‘if’ clauses

C1 English learners can also use ellipted ‘if”+ past participle clauses.

  • If needed, I will speak for you.
  • I will change the government if elected.

At the C1 English level, a wider range of modal verbs can be used in the hypothetical past conditional structure.

‘Should’ can replace the present simple in both formal/polite situations and be used to talk about future possible outcomes.

Similarly, in formal contexts, auxiliary verbs such as ‘should’ and subjunctive ‘were’ can be ellipted and inverted in the conditional clause.

C1 non-finite clauses

C1 English grammar is easily identified with a range of non-finite subordinate clauses, before main clauses for focus.

  • Born and raised in Baltimore, he studied local businesses.
  • Located in the heart of the city, the studio gives many musicians a place to meet and practise. 

Non-finite passive clauses can be used to give background explanations.

  • Being born in Sumatra, I believe in the power of rainforests.
  • She died while being chased.

Negative non-finite clauses can be used to give more information.

  • Not wanting to waste her money, she went to the gym every day.
  • Not knowing the answer, he changed the topic.

How can I combine clauses with conjunctions at C1?

Clauses can be coordinated with complex conjunctions at the C1 English level.  The ‘not only.. but also‘ structure can contain inversion of the auxiliary verbs, often for focus.

  • Either there’s something wrong with people, or there’s something wrong with the system.
  • Not only did the virus make everyone sick, but it also spread more easily.
  • Not only do they make little money, but they also spend it on the wrong things.
  • Supposedly, the book is useless, and yet you travel very far to get it.

How can determiners be used at the C1 English level?

‘Neither’ and ‘either’ can be used before determiners in plural noun phrases or before singular nouns.

  • Neither of those women is coming to the party. 
  • He’s not going to bring either of those things.
  • She’s the first of either gender to record on that label.
  • If neither party is married, it is not an affair.

Quantity determiners can be used to informally exaggerate statements not meant to be understood literally.

An impersonal possessive determiner can refer to people in general.

  • It’s hard to imagine the rest of one’s life alone.
  • Relationships that are toxic to one’s faith, need to be identified.

C1 discourse markers

A wide range of phrases can be used to refer to other parts of a text and for summarising.

  • As stated above, her objectives will be questioned.
  • The company can be contacted as shown belowTelephone: 1234 5689
  • They were together for a while. Hence, he booked a double room.

C1 focus

At the C1 English level, the clefting or fronting of clauses or fixed adverbial phrases can be used for emphasis.

C1 future

Future perfect can be used to assume something about the present or to be polite in a formal context.

C1 modality referring to the future

present forms

C1 English grammar includes present forms used to refer to the future.  The ‘BE set to’ structure can be used to make strong assertions about the future.  The ‘by the time’ phrase can be used to express more complex time relations.  Performative verbs of obligation and suggestion can be used before the present simple.

Expectations of what is potentially in progress in the future can be expressed at the C1 English level.

  • I’m going to share with you where this may be heading in the near future.
  • My parents might be getting a divorce soon.

The future simple negative with shall is an example of C1 grammar.

C1 modality

At C1, students can ellipt the modal verb from the second clause in a question, especially when hedging.

Criticism or disapproval can be expressed.

C1 grammar includes the ability to make past negative deductions.

Modal verb ‘can’ is also used in fixed expressions for emphasis or focus.

  • I can assure you that this is not the case.
  • As a current student, I can say that this is the best school to attend in the area.
  • I can’t say I didn’t enjoy some of it.
  • I have been very lucky to be on that show and I can tell you that it is very well run.
  • As you can imagine, this is a game that never ends well.
  • As you can see, there is a lot of movement.

An increasing range of adverbs can be found between modal verbs and the bare infinitive in C1 grammar.

  • I can clearly see you winking.
  • I would strongly discourage people from doing this at home.

‘Will’ can be used to express habitual or typical situations.

  • The suspect will often leave something behind.
  • You will not usually need to visit the hospital again until the morning of your operation.

Modal verbs are also used in passive reporting clauses in impersonal contexts.

Negative possibility in the past can be expressed. Consolations or justifications can also be expressed with a following ‘but’ clause.

  • If I had been more careful, I might not have lost it.
  • You may not have realized this, but I am one of your biggest fans.
  • At first, you might have to change how you pronounce words, but with practice, you will soon be speaking effortlessly.

A range of rarer question forms such as ‘might’, ‘used to’ and ‘dare’ are used at the C1 English level.

  • How might I be exposed to poison?
  • What problem did you use to have but now have solved?
  • Dare I admit that after she did it, I never really loved her again?

‘How dare’ can also be used to express disapproval or offence.

  • How dare you presume to speak for a team you are no longer a part of.
  • How dare you talk to me like that?

The following fixed expression is used to say that something is probably true.

Semi-modal ‘ought + to-infinitive‘ can be used to express likelihood or a desired state of affairs in the present and past at C1.  Emphasis can be added to any sense of the structure with the adverb ‘really’.

Other adverbs can be used to add emphasis.  Here they modify the following adjectives.

  • It became painfully obvious to everyone that the company was the only one that came to the auction.
  • That outcome remains highly unlikely.

Negation with modality at C1 includes expressing the lack of necessity in the past, a possible exception to a general perception, and hedging with an ‘adjective + that clause’.

Strong assertions about the future can be made with the C1 English grammar structure ‘BE set to-infinitive

  • Between now and 2050, the global population is set to move from today’s 7.6 billion to tomorrow’s 9.8 billion people.

To see the second half of the C1 English grammar list, please click here.  If the grammar above is too difficult, you can look at our B2 grammar list here.