Useful Prepositional Phrases with AT

Common English phrases with the preposition AT

at a rate/speed
at all costs
at any rate
at fault
at first glance
at hand
at once
at random
at short notice
at the expense of
at this rate


Cyber crimes are rising at an alarming rate.

The lorry was going at a dangerous speed along the motorway.

Avoid taking the motorway at all costs – it’s jam-packed this morning.

I wasn’t able to go to the meeting but I hear I didn’t miss much at any rate (= anyway).

The minivan driver was clearly at fault. He was driving at a speed of 60mph while on his phone.

At first glance the exam seemed pretty easy.

“Do you have last month’s figures at hand?” (= near you) – “No, but I can go and get them.”

Why are you still watching TV? Get ready for bed at once! (= immediately)

Hang on, I can’t do two things at once! // I wish you would all stop talking at once! (= at the same time)

The magician told me to select a card at random from the deck.

I doubt the doctor will be able to see me at such short notice.

She became very successful but at the expense of many friendships.

At this rate I am never going to speak Italian. I need to study and practise a lot more.

LEARNING TIP! Try and make your own examples, especially when the phrase is new to you, and ask your English teacher or a proficient English speaker to check them for you.

AND if you can make the examples meaningful and relevant to your life it will help you even more.

Grammar Exercises

Verb Patterns (5): Verb + Object + Infinitive

Use the structure Verb + Object + Infinitive to complete the sentences so that the meaning is similar to the first sentence.

I hope the bank will lend me a thousand pounds.
I want the bank to lend me a thousand pounds. * 

We were surprised that Manchester United lost the match.
We didn’t expect Manchester United to lose the match. *

1.  We would be very happy if you came on holiday with us.
     We would love _____________________

2.   Kevin said that we could ride his horse.
      Kevin allowed _____________________

3.   I was surprised that the bill was so expensive.
      I didn’t expect _____________________

4.   She said that I should remember to lock the door.
      She reminded _____________________

5.   Jennifer hopes her boss will give her a payrise.
      Jennifer wants ______________________

6.   George said to them “Don’t worry”.
      George told _____________________

7.   Dad said I must not go on my boyfriend’s motorbike.
      Dad forbade _______________________

8.   Shirley gave him singing lessons.
      Shirley taught _____________________

9. We would be so happy if she wrote more books.
      We would love _____________________

10. They believe he will win the election.
      They are expecting ____________________

11.  Our teacher said that we should read more.
      Our teacher encouraged ___________________

12. She said that they could use her printer.
      She allowed ______________________


1. you to come on holiday with us.
2. us to ride his horse.
3. the bill to be so expensive
4. me to lock the door.
5. her boss to give her a payrise.
6. them not to worry.
7. me to go on my boyfriend’s motorbike.
8. Sally taught him to sing.
9. her to write more books.
10. him to win the election.
11. us to read more.
12. them to use her printer.

Verb Patterns (1): Gerund or Infinitive? 
Verb Patterns (2): Gerund or Infinitive? (Special cases: Forget / Remember / Stop / Need)
Verb Patterns (3): Gerund or Infinitive?
Verb Patterns (4): Gerund or Infinitive?


Do you know your basic verb structures well and your irregular verb conjugations? If not, here are some drills to help you.

Verb Training 1: Present Perfect Simple (Positive) B1 / B2

Verb Training 2: Different Tenses (Elementary/Pre-Intermediate)

Verb Training 3: Past Simple (Elementary/Pre-Intermediate)

Verb Training 4: Present Continuous

Verb Training 5: Past Simple Questions

Verb Training 6: Mixed Tenses

Verb Training 7: Advanced Irregular Verbs

Animals, Vocabulary Worksheets

PRECIOUS PANGOLINS – Nature Vocabulary Worksheet

A pangolin walks across flat stony ground

A) Before you start reading, match these words with their definitions.

1. quirkya) to search for food
2. scalesb) a group of babies born at the same time to the same mother
3. snoutc) to tear something
4. to seald) a little strange
5. broode) to close tightly
6. to ripf) to hunt illegally
7. to forageg) the long protruding nose of some animals, eg. pigs, bears and most dogs
8. to poachh) small thin plates covering fish and reptiles’ bodies


B) Fill the gaps with these words:

bark, bears, claws, deter, forest, horns, insatiable, native, offspring, phenomenally, role, swallow

Pangolins are shy and quirky-looking creatures. They are unique in that they are the only mammals with scales.

These scales are made of keratin, the same substance found in hair, fingernails, and a) __________. Thanks to their appearance, behaviour, and diet, pangolins are sometimes known as scaly anteaters. 

Yet, despite their appearance, pangolins are actually more closely related to carnivores such as dogs and b) __________. It’s strange when you consider that pangolins don’t have teeth!

There are eight different kinds of pangolin, including the black-bellied pangolin and the Sunda pangolin. Four species are c) __________ to Asia and four to Africa.

Depending on their species, they are found in a wide variety of habitats from tropical d) __________ to savannah or desert. Most live on the ground but some are tree-dwelling.

These solitary, and generally nocturnal creatures have a long slender snout and a e) __________ long tongue. Fully stretched, it’s about forty centimetres long! The tongue is narrow and sticky, perfect for slurping up insects from tunnels and hard-to-reach places. 

Their strong f) __________ allow them to rip into ant and termite mounds or to tear g) __________ off trees.

Since they don’t have teeth, pangolins h) __________ insects whole. They ingest stones and they also have spines inside their stomach which help to break down their food.

Pangolins play a vital ecological i) __________ in that they help to keep down ant and termite populations. This is why they are known as guardians of the forest. It is estimated that, thanks to their j) __________ appetite, pangolins can polish off seven million insects a year!

To protect them while they are foraging, pangolins have strong muscles which help to seal shut their nostrils and ears so that the ants and termites can’t bite them.

When threatened pangolins behave like armadillos and hedgehogs – they roll up into a tight ball. Their hard scales act like a suit of armour, protecting their head and soft belly. This is in fact how pangolins got their name –  ‘pengguling’ in Malay means ‘something that rolls up’. 

This defensive ball can k) __________ predators as formidable as lions, but unfortunately, it’s this very posture that makes them so easily caught by humans who can just pick them up.

Pangolins don’t have big broods. African pangolins usually give birth to just one pup, whilst Asian pangolins only have one to three l) __________. When they are born the pangopups have soft scales which soon harden. The mothers will curl around their young to protect them while they are sleeping or if they sense danger.

Not so fun facts

Tragically, these gentle and fascinating creatures face immense threats to their survival such as poaching and habitat loss. 

They are regarded as the most trafficked mammal in the world, due to a high demand for their meat and scales. 

In some areas of Asia, pangolin meat is regarded as a delicacy and pangolin scales are used in traditional medicine, despite the fact that, as with rhino horn, there is no scientific evidence of health benefits. 

All eight species are listed as threatened with extinction, two are critically endangered.

Pangolin rolled into a tight ball. Stony ground.


Exercise A

1 d)
2 h)
3 g)
4 e)
5 b)
6 c)
7 a)
8 f)

Exercise B

a) horns
b) bears
c) native
d) forest
e) phenomenally
f) claws
g) bark
h) swallow
i) role
j) insatiable
k) deter
l) offspring

If you’d like a printable version of Precious Pangolins, see link at the top.

Find out more about pangolins and why we should care about their fate

A Pangolin’s Tale

National Geographic

More nature worksheets for self-study or the classroom:


Do you want to learn about nature while improving your listening skills?

Check out the list I compiled of my favourite podcast episodes on Animals, Nature and Conversation