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How To


- Directions


- Showing understanding


- Making positive and negative comments


- Making recommendations


- Describing a process


- Giving instructions
A 1950s cookery programme

How to describe a process

When you have to give a series of instructions to make or produce something there are some common, useful and simple language features you can use to sound fluent and natural. In this programme we use the example of how to cook the perfect omelette to demonstrate this.

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Don't forget to practise what you've learned with the activity.

The imperative
One common feature when describing a process, such as the instructions for how to make a particular dish, is the use of the imperative.

The imperative form is made by using the bare infinitive of the verb (the infinitive without 'to'). Here are some examples from the programme. The imperatives are in bold. Note that in these examples there are no grammatical subjects

  • "Use a minium of four eggs per omelette ...."
  • "Heat the oil, not too much heat, just heat it ... "
  • "Put just one tablespoon of water, not milk, in with the egg ..."
  • "Mix the eggs up, just lightly beat them with a fork ... "
  • "Pour that into the hot pan ... "
It is possible to use subjects when describing a process like this. The subject most commonly used is 'you'. For example:
  • You use a minimum of four eggs ...
  • You heat the oil ...
  • You put one tablespoon of water ....

Linking words
When giving a series of instructions it's more natural in speech and writing to join the different instructions together with linking words.

There are many different linking words that can be used to describe a sequence of instructions that are part of a process. Two very simple, but commonly used ones are and and then. Here are some examples from the omelette instructions.
  • ... lightly beat the eggs then pour them into the pan ...
  • ... Turn the heat down and then use your fork ...
  • ... And then just put a knife underneath and flip the omelette over ...



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