Permission – allowed, permitted, supposed to

Instead of using basic modal verbs like can, could, must & should to express permission, why not take your English vocabulary up a level with some of these more advanced words?

Allowed to

 We use this in place of ‘can/could’ when expressing permission – but NOT possibility.

Structure: Subject + to be + allowed to + infinitive


We are (not) allowed to sit at this table.
Are we allowed to sit at this table?
We were(n’t) allowed to sit at that table.
We will (not) be allowed to sit at that table.

Permitted to

In a more official/formal situation, we can use permitted to. This is usually used with laws/rules to express permission and prohibition.

Structure: it + be (not) permitted to + infinitive


It is not permitted to bring liquids onto the aeroplane
It is permitted to photograph the paintings without flash


Structure: noun + be (not) + permitted


Barbecues are not permitted on the beach
Trucks are not permitted to drive through this area


Structure: gerund verb + be (not) + permitted


Bringing liquids onto the aeroplane is not permitted
Photographing the paintings with flash is permitted

Supposed to/Meant to

 Instead of using ‘should’, we can say either of these phrases in order to express either obligation or permission.

Structure: be (not) supposed to/meant to + infinitive


We’re not supposed to be out after 10pm!
She’s not meant to eat 24 hours before the surgery, but she’s hungry.
I’m supposed to start the meeting at 3pm, but I think we can start early.
No-one is meant to be in the office this weekend, why are you here?

Permission exercise

Rewrite these sentences to make them correct.

Relationship Idioms

Idioms are groups of words that don’t always make sense literally. By using the following ones, you will sound a lot more like a native speaker!
Learn our Relationship Idioms and try the quiz below.

Two peas in a pod

Do you have a best friend or someone you have everything in common with? Maybe you just like to spend all your time with them? If that’s the case, you’re probably like two peas in a pod! We can use this idiom to describe people who are very close, but also people who are very similar in terms of personality.

E.g. Me and my sister hang out all the time and we have the exact same sense of humour – we’re like two peas in a pod!

 Hit it off

If you’ve ever become friends with someone straight after meeting them, then you guys definitely hit it off! We use this phrase to express the instant connection you have with certain people after only knowing them for a short amount of time. It’s definitely not something that happens often, but when it does it’s a great feeling!

E.g. I met Sarah at work 3 years ago. We got put on a project together and hit it off right away. We’ve been best friends ever since!

To have a soft spot

We all have someone in our lives who we are particularly fond of, whether they’re a friend, family member, or even a stranger! If you have a soft spot for someone, it means you like them more than others – whether you have a reason for this or not.

E.g. I love all my family, but I have a real soft spot for my youngest sister. She’s just so cute!

 Get off on the wrong foot

Unfortunately this idiom is mostly negative. If you get off on the wrong foot with someone, you started the relationship in a bad way. This could potentially rectify itself, or it could be a reason you still don’t like that person.

E.g. I definitely got off on the wrong foot with David when we had that argument about politics, but after getting to know him I’ve realised he’s actually a great guy.

 Get on with

This is an idiom that’s worked its way into our everyday vernacular, and is used very commonly by English speakers in every type of situation. If you get on with someone, it simply means you like them and you have a decent relationship with them. Of course, this can also be used in the negative to suggest you don’t like someone. We can even extend this idiom to get on like a house on fire, which means you have an incredible relationship with them!

E.g. I don’t really get on with my boyfriend’s friends, we just don’t share the same interests. I get on like a house on fire with his sister though – she’s awesome!

Relationship Idioms Quiz

Complete the sentences with the correct idiom.

Present Perfect VS. Past Simple

We should use the past simple for events that happened in the past, and don’t have any connection to the present.

She went to the store yesterday.

I ate dinner at a restaurant last night.

We can use present perfect for past actions that DO have a connection with the present, or for actions that are still happening now.

He has known Bob for 10 years.

We have been to Paris twice.

We CAN’T use the present perfect with time words that show a finished action. Ex: yesterday, last week, last year. We MUST use the simple past.

She has been to the mountains yesterday. INCORRECT

She went to the mountains yesterday.

Try this exercise to test your skills and let us know what you think about the Present Perfect and the Past Simple tenses. Do you find them hard? Let us know what you think in the comments, and make sure to check out our other blog posts and English exercises!

Present Perfect VS Past Simple exercise

Choose the past simple or the present perfect tense.

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