What’s C2 level English grammar?

C2 English grammar you must know.

The C2 English level is the best and highest level of English and possibly higher than many native English speakers. If you are still wondering what C2 grammar is, then you will be happy to see the following long list of categorized grammar points linked with explained examples.  This is the English grammar you should know at the C2 level because C2 students have proven they can use it in thousands of tests.  It is rare grammar generally, but if you want to be an expert, it’s a good idea to practice these structures and the vocabulary naturally listed with them.

How are adjectives used at the C2 level?

C2 adjectives‘ is not just a list of vocabulary that C2 students can use.  The adjectives are used in combination with infinitives, comparative clauses, noun phrases etc. to allow a greater amount of detail.

C2 adjectives with infinitives

At the C2 level, English users can express modality and give emphasis using infinitives after adjectives in complex ways such as with negation and comparative clauses:

C2 comparing with adjectives

Comparative clauses can be modified to various degrees, and the scale of comparison can be limited with complex C2 English grammar.

C2 adjectives + nouns

Negation can be followed by superlative structures before nouns.

Vocabulary usually used in other parts of speech can also become adjectives before nouns to give emphasis.

Single adjectives or lists of adjectives can premodify or postmodify nouns in focussing devices:

How does the C2 level use adverbs?

When it comes to C2 adverbs, we are not talking about adverbs that only C2 students can use.  We are talking about the rarer positions they can be put into, and the fine meanings they carry there too.

C2 adverbs in the middle position.

C2 grammar has an increasing range of adverbs after auxiliary verbs and before the main verb, sometimes including modal adverbs such as ‘indeed’ and ‘surely.’ There also can be rare adverbs of indefinite frequency, split infinitives and adverbs that distance the writer from what they say.

C2 adverbs + inversion

At the C2 level, users can invert present and past perfect (have|has|had) and the modal (must) auxiliary verbs with the subject after fronted adverbs as focusing devices, and then use conjunctions to introduce clauses in the same sentences.  This also often includes negation.

C2 adverb phrases

Adverbs can be both pre-modified by other adverbs and followed with complements.  And used in shorter less formal comments.

How to use clauses at the C2 level

C2 non-finite clauses

Contrast can be expressed with subordinating conjunctions introducing past-participle clauses:

  • Though separated by thousands of kilometres, India and Germany have had an influence on each other.

Background explanations can take the form of non-finite perfect passive subordinate clauses or complements of prepositions:

Complex subordinators with non-finite clauses can be used to make comparisons.

  • She studied the bracelet as if trying to estimate its fair market value.
  • There are different sizes as if to suggest a kind of perspective.

C2 conditional clauses

Infinitive clauses can also be used with conditional structures.  In formal contexts, the hypothetical subjunctive ‘were’ can be used with or without inversion replacing ‘if’.  This is also the case with ‘for + noun phrase’.  These are similar to the ‘second conditional sentences ESL students might be familiar with. Auxiliary verbs such as ‘should’ and ‘had’ can also be inverted to replace ‘if’ in the subordinate clause. Notice that every main clause contains the modal verb ‘would’.

  •  If it were to happen, everything would be history.
  • Were you to handle this problem, there would be no doubt you’re the man we want.
  • None of us would be here if it weren’t for you.
  • Were it not for the asteroid, humans would not be the dominant species. 
  • Had I known that it would be that simple, I would have done it years ago.
  •  I would be pleased should you attend.

The ‘first conditional’ or ‘future conditional’ sentences appear at lower levels, but they are rare using ‘shall’ instead of ‘will’.  It is more British than American too.

Other complex subordinating conjunctions can also be used to introduce conditional clauses:

  • So long as they keep to themselves, it makes no difference to me.
  • The building is left to the city on the condition that it will never be demolished.
  • I’m here to protect your information in the event that someone tries to steal it.

Alternative conditions can be expressed with the ‘whether or not structure.  In the following example, it means ‘it doesn’t matter which possibility is true because something negative will happen anyway.’

C2 ‘focus’ with relative & cleft clauses

Here are C2 level English examples of the unusual arrangement of the elements of a sentence for focus.  ‘Many’ can be inverted.  The pronoun ‘one’ + relative clause in the subject position and the typical ‘it cleft clause’ are often used to emphasise the subject.  ‘Question words’ as the subjects of cleft clauses is also possible.

C2 exclamative & imperative clauses

‘How’ as an intensifier can also be fronted. Negation with imperatives and the pronoun ‘you’ can make instructions stronger or give warnings.  Imperative ‘let’ with third-person pronouns can be used to transfer responsibility.

other C2 conjunctions

More specific explanations in a subordinating clause can be added with complex conjunctions.

  • It’s strange in that it is a team and individual sport.

Surprising information or contrast can be added to the second phrase or clause.

  • It’s simple yet effective.
  • The book is useless and yet you come all the way back to Berlin to get it.

C2 determiners

C2 possession

More than one possessive ‘s can be used in a noun phrase.

The possessive ‘s can be used without a following noun by the C2 English level.

  • It was Luke‘s and his father‘s before him.

The possessive apostrophe without s can be used for zero plural singular nouns ending in s.

  • We don’t know this species closest relative.

Demonstrative ‘this’ can be used in noun phrases with possessive pronouns to highlight something.

C2 demonstratives

Demonstrative ‘this’ can also be used for immediacy in a narrative.

Demonstrative ‘that’ and ‘those’ can be used for emotional distance or disapproval.

C2 focus

C2 quantity

The quantity determiner ‘many’ before an indefinite article can be used for emphasis or focus.

Quantity pronouns can also be used in the subject position for focus.

  • Much has been said about the election.
  • A lot depends on your answer.

C2 fixed expressions

The possessive pronoun ‘myself’ can be used in a fixed discourse marking phrase to give a personal opinion or for focus.

At the C2 level, more than one fixed expression can be fronted for focus.

C2 co-ordinating negative clauses

In addition to all the other focus points mentioned in other categories, ‘nor’ and ‘neither’ with inversion can also be used by the C2 level for focus.

  • It’s none of my business, nor is it any of yours.
  • I will never give them that and neither should you.

C2 future

C2 future simple

‘Shall’ can be used for predictions or in formal contexts.  ‘Shall’ or ‘will’ can be used for long-term intentions.

C2 grammar includes future perfect simple questions and future perfect continuous assumptions about the present.

C2 students can invert ‘will’ after an ‘only when’ + present simple clause.

  • Only when you really care, will they leave their fears behind.

Similarly, conditional ‘should’ can be inverted in a clause + a ‘would’ clause to express possible future outcomes in formal or polite contexts.

Finally, scheduled events in the future from a past point can be expressed with a past form of ‘BE’ + ‘due to’.

  • My contract was due to expire two weeks later.
  • The band were due to play four shows across the UK this September.











Let’s look at english grammar c2 with verbs.

If you would like to see more advanced grammar at the lower C1 level, click here for our full list.

Finally, although all the links above go to many more detailed pages about grammar and vocabulary, other examples can be found at the English Grammar Profile.