Use of English Part 2 – Finding the missing words


What is it?

Part 2 gap fill

The Use of English Part 2 is where you need to put a single word into each gap.

In this post we’ll look at ways you can do this Part 2 gap fill exercise. 

The Part 2 exercise


For questions 9-15, read the text below and think of the word which best fits each gap. Use only one word in each gap. There is an example at the beginning (0).

Example 0  SINCE


In the 15th century, Europeans knew nothing of the chilli pepper, but they held black pepper in high regard and had used it in cooking (0) …….. Greek and Roman times.

What's tested here?

In this Part 2 gap fill exercise the exam tests what you know about grammar.  Also remember in some gaps more than one word may be possible. 

Let’s look at the some of the types of words you can expect.

  • Articles
  • Auxiliary verbs
  • Linking words
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Relative pronouns
  • Prepositions
  • Comparatives/superlatives words
  • Determiners
  • a/an/the
  • does/can/may/did/have
  • because/however/since
  • his/their/our
  • who/which/that
  • on/after/for/
  • more/than/most/less
  • each/every/some/no

This is not a complete list but it includes many of the usual types of words that are missing from the gaps.


What to do

It’s always a good idea to read the text quickly before you start looking for answers. This will give you an understanding of the text and a first look at some of the Part 2 gaps. More importantly it means that you are reading all of the sentences. 

It may also be possible to find some answers immediately when you first read the text.  

Next look at each sentence and the gap in it. 

What grammar word can complete it?

Let’s look at an example


Ships travelling east brought the black pepper from the Spice Islands in South East Asia but this (9) …….. a long time.

In this sentence we can also see a reference to time at the end of the sentence. This means we need to think about words that we can use with time. 

A preposition may be possible to create the expression for a long time but we clearly need a verb in the sentence.

We then need to choose a verb used to describe how long and the correct answer is the verb take but as the sentence is in past tense we need to use took as the correct answer.


Another Example

Let’s look at another example from the same Use of English exercise.  


In 1492, Christopher Columbus was asked to find a shorter route to the Spice Islands, going westwards (10) …….. than eastwards.

In this sentence we can use the comma to stop and review this gap. The word that should help us in this exercise is the word than

We know we can use this in comparative sentences and other structures. The general sense of the missing word in this part of the sentence is the idea of doing one thing but not doing another. 

The word rather than can give us this idea and this is the correct answer.

You can then continue to use this strategy to finish the rest of the exercise. 

There is information on other Use of English exercises from the First Exam Corner page including examples of negative prefixes for Part 3. 

Completing the exercise

Here’s the next gap from the Use of English exercise.  


and so he set (11) ……… from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean.

The word set in this part of the sentence tells us that we need a phrasal verb and one that means to travel. There are two options here and the words are out or off. We can also use a particular expression for this context, which is sailing and the expression is to set sail.

Columbus didn’t succeed (12) …….. finding the Spice Islands but he (13) …….. manage to discover the Americas.

In the first gap in the following sentence we need to look at the word before the gap, which is succeed. As we can see after the gap the verb is an -ING form, so in this case we need to choose a preposition which is in.

We can see in the second gap that the verb after it is not a past form even though the sentence is past form. The only way we can make this past is by putting in another verb. In this case we will use the auxiliary did which is used here to emphasize information.

There he (14) …….. across another pepper; the chilli, which had been used in cooking in South America for thousands of years.

In this sentence we need to think about what the general meaning of the sentence is. Here it means to discover. We can see that the word across is used after the gap so that must be a phrasal verb and the correct word in this case is came to create came across.

Soon (15) …….. Columbus’s discovery, large quantities of chillies were being shipped back to Spain from the Caribbean.

In the sentence we look at the word soon so we clearly need a word that refers to time. In this gap the only word we can use is after.

Later, people realised that chillies would actually grow in southern Europe and it wasn’t long before fresh chillies were (16) …….. sale in European markets.

In this final sentence the word sale would help us decide what the correct word is. We obviously need to a word that used with it and it is probably a preposition. There are two possible options with the word sale; we can talk about something being on sale or for sale.

For more exercises and information on the Cambridge First Exam go to our Cambridge First Corner

More Posts

Futures – The forms we use

Share In this post we’re going to talk about the future. There are lots of different ways to talk about the future in English so

Proficiency Exam Corner

Share Proficiency Exam Corner Share Proficiency Exam Corner Share More Posts Read More Using… Read More Using Topic Sentences Share   In the Cambridge Advanced

Would Rather & Would Prefer

Share Rather & Prefer  In this post we will look at the different grammar of would rather and would prefer and the way we use each

Verb & Adverb Suffixes

Share Verb & Adverb Suffix Types We use a prefix at the beginning of the word to change the meaning and a suffix at the

Using Topic Sentences

Share   In the Cambridge Advanced and Proficiency writing exams, the quality of answers depends on very good organisation of ideas and topics. In this