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 categorised 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 practise 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:
- You must make sure not to miss anything.
- It is not uncommon to see them.
- I’m not so naive as to think it doesn’t happen.
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.
- It’s not that much bigger.
- It should be no higher than a normal home.
- It’s not any thicker than a cable.
- The contents are so great a mystery that she did not mention them.
- New Year is as good a time as any to quit smoking.
C2 adjectives + nouns
Negation can be followed by superlative structures before nouns.
- He never expected I would be the slightest bit interested.
- We don’t have the faintest idea what to do with them.
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.
- They would eventually become the government.
- It would normally take a day.
- Companies must indeed change.
- Somebody must surely know.
- My wife is permanently living in Thailand.
- They are persistently asking the same question.
- He was always playing soccer.
- They were constantly being interrupted.
- You’re going to absolutely love it.
- This effect is apparently caused by the nervous system
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.
- Not only have they been coming from the east, but they’re coming from the northern side as well.
- Hardly had he arrived when she told him to take off his shoes.
- Not only must we be prepared, but we must also be ready for the challenges.
- Never must we forget them.
C2 adverb phrases
Adverbs can be both pre-modified by other adverbs and followed with complements. And used in shorter less formal comments.
- The programs focus almost exclusively on buildings.
- How quickly they forget!
- Do you like it? Definitely.
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:
- I feel like the luckiest person in the world, having been born at this time.
- A month after having been laid, the eggs hatch.
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.
- If we don’t share ideas, how shall we discuss these problems?
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.’
- Whether we like it or not, motivation comes and motivation goes.
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.
- Many are the times that I sat in pain.
- The one that comes in the box makes your face red.
- The ones that make you look older are engaging.
- It’s individuals who are to blame.
- Where they differ is in their levels.
- Why they didn’t shave is unknown.
- How you choose to leave this world is up to you.
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.
More than one possessive ‘s can be used in a noun phrase.
- Read the vehicle’s owner’s manual for important information.
The possessive ‘s can be used without a following noun by the C2 English level.
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.
Demonstrative ‘this’ can also be used for immediacy in a narrative.
- I read the story, and there was this guy who went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
- There’s this girl at school named Stacey…
Demonstrative ‘that’ and ‘those’ can be used for emotional distance or disapproval.
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.
C2 fixed expressions
The possessive pronoun ‘myself’ can be used in a fixed discourse marking phrase to give a personal opinion or for focus.
- As for myself, I have some ideas about where we went wrong.
At the C2 level, more than one fixed expression can be fronted for focus.
- All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a van appeared.
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 simple
‘Shall’ can be used for predictions or in formal contexts. ‘Shall’ or ‘will’ can be used for long-term intentions.
- We shall have no peace until she goes.
- We shall have no liability to you.
- I will never leave you.
- I will always love you.
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.