Learn American English Online Blog
August 31, 2011
Today you should be finished with the Yellow Level. We will begin the Green Level tomorrow. The Green Level focuses on the passive voice. If you haven’t finished all of the lessons in the Blue, Red, and Yellow levels, you will be lost. I don’t recommend that you cram all of those lessons in on one night. That’s no good. If you have some basic understanding of English, studying the passive voice will help you realize just how good your knowledge of English grammar needs to be in order to avoid making mistakes. Remember, it’s always a good idea to go back to the previous lessons and study then in order whenever you feel like you are totally confused.
August 30, 2011
Today your assignment is to finish the second part of the Yellow Level Review. Make sure you write your answers in your notebook.
August 29, 2011
On the schedule for today is the first part of the Yellow Level Review. If you don’t understand what to do, links are provided in each section to help you make good choices when filling in the blanks. This might take a lot of time, but I believe that it’s necessary for you to review what you have learned in order to remember it well.
Have you been trying the pronunciation exercises? This is a work in progress, so I appreciate your feedback (ideas and suggestions)!
August 28, 2011
How are you doing with the Yellow Level? We’re almost finished with it, but you have just a few more days to finish all of the lessons in the Yellow Level before you attempt the review. Of course, you are welcome to go to the review at any time, but if you are studying English for the first time, I recommend that you complete the lessons first.
August 27, 2011
This is a new video that shows you how to use an adjective + "enough" and an infinitive when describing what a person can do. Contrast this video with the one that was posted a few days ago:
The lesson for today is on intensifiers. This is the last lesson before the Yellow Level Review. You have just a few more days to complete all of the lessons in the Yellow Level. Starting in September, we’ll study the passive voice in the Green Level.
August 26, 2011
The pronunciation section of the website is still a work in progress, but I’ve just about completed the main vowel sounds. Of course, I’ll be adding to this section with additional exercises and videos. Hope it helps!
The lesson for today is on superlative adverbs. Many Americans don’t put adverbs into the superlative form properly, so I place this at the bottom of things that you have to really work on.
August 25, 2011
Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-two will help you use adverbs in the comparative form. If you have trouble with this, go back to Yellow Level Lesson Six and look at how the comparative form is made with adjectives. Remember that adjectives and adverbs are different.
August 24, 2011
This is a new video that explains how to use the word "too" with an adjective and an infinitive. Remember that one of the uses for the word "too" is to describe a situation that is not good, or it’s just a little negative:
The lesson for today is on adverbs.
August 23, 2011
Today’s lesson on height and weight provides basic instruction in talking about a person’s physical appearance:
I’m five feet, eleven inches tall. (height)
I weigh 210 pounds. (weight)
This is what most people say when giving this information. There are some variations of this as you will see when you go to the lesson.
Many people are overweight. There are quite a few different adjectives you have to choose from when describing this condition, but be careful–you can easily hurt a person’s feelings. Women (as you know) are more sensitive to this than men.
You also meet a lot of people who are underweight. This is what you’ll hear people say about that condition:
August 22, 2011
Learning about the future continuous tense is part of your instruction for today.
I hope you are also going to the "Word of the Day" section and "Think in English." In addition to these regularly updated pages, there’s a new section for pronunciation. Listen to the audio and read the words at the same time. This might help you with your spelling as well.
August 21, 2011
This is a new video for the verb "make."
August 20, 2011
Prepositional phrases cause some problems for students, mainly because they include prepositions (*wink), but they’re also confusing because they can be placed within many different parts of a sentence. A prepositional phrase always begins with a preposition and ends with a noun. Can you find the prepositional phrases in these sentences?
If you had any trouble identifying the prepositional phrases in these sentences, you should go to Yellow Level Lesson Eighteen.
There’s a new "Think in English" exercise. I hope you find these exercises helpful.
(Answers: 1. to work / in the evening; 2. of rice; 3. of my feet; 4. Behind that old building; 5. without a coat.)
August 19, 2011
Today’s lesson shows you the difference between the present perfect continuous tense and the past perfect continuous tense.
August 18, 2011
Yellow Level Lesson Sixteen is an introduction to direct and indirect quotations. In this lesson, you learn how to describe what another person says.
August 17, 2011
The past perfect tense is a real challenge for many of my students. Sometimes it seems as though there’s very little difference between the past the tense and the past perfect tense.
This YouTube video explains the differences between the past tense and the past perfect tense:
August 16, 2011
If you have been working in the Yellow Level this month, and if you have finished all of the lessons and all of the quizzes that lead up to today’s lesson, you should be able to understand the sentence you see below:
She shouldn’t have been talking on her cell phone.
Do you see all the parts of the verb phrase? The formula looks like this:
modal verb + have + been + ________ing
The main verb is in the continuous form, but the action takes place in the past. Or, the action never happened (or isn’t happening now):
I would have been teaching today, but the school is on break.
So I’m not in the classroom right now. Instead, I’m on the computer typing this sentence.
August 15, 2011
Here’s a new video that shows you how to make and answer questions in the present perfect continuous tense:
August 14, 2011
This week you’ll learn about the present perfect continuous tense, the past perfect tense, and indirect quotations. These are difficult lessons!
August 13, 2011
Some modal verbs can be used with what looks like the present perfect tense. You can learn about these verbs in Yellow Level Lesson Twelve. The formula looks like this:
modal verb + have + the past participle
Understanding this is very useful because it allows you to talk about things in the past that did or did not happen. Look at the sentence below:
Did he do that? No, he didn’t. He should have done it, but he didn’t do it. There was a negative consequence because he didn’t go to sleep earlier.
Did she do that? Yes, she did. She shouldn’t have done it, but she did it. Something bad happened as a result. Of course, you can’t change the past, but you can talk about it and how some past activity should or should not have happened.
Watch this video:
This quiz will determine how well you understand perfect modals. If you don’t do very well on this quiz, make sure you take another look at today’s lesson
You’ll learn more about this kind of verb construction in the Orange Level when we study past conditional sentences in November.
August 12, 2011
If you do a search on "idiomatic modal verbs," my website will pop up right away. Not too many other teachers use this term to describe verb phrases used as modals, so I wonder if this is actually the correct term. I could be wrong. It happens sometimes. But whatever words we use to describe something, the most important thing is that you improve your English. The idiomatic modal verbs or verb phrases that you will learn about today are….
(be) going to
(be) able to
These verb phrases are very common in spoken English, often taking the place of other modal verbs. Look at the sentences below:
As you can see, it’s very easy to replace modal verbs with these idiomatic modal verbs. They are more complex and require a lot of practice, but if you want to become a better of speaker of English, I urge you to learn about them.
August 11, 2011
For students who are new to English, modal verbs are a little confusing at first. Modal verbs change the modality (quality, mood, possibility) of the main verb. While the main verb remains in the simple form, the modal verb used in front of the main verb can drastically change its meaning. Let’s consider how the verb "drive" changes in the sentences below:
To learn more about modal verbs, click here.
August 10, 2011
The lesson for today shows the differences between the past tense and the past continuous tense. Look at the sentences below:
The first sentence is in the simple past tense. The second sentence is in the past continuous tense. An on-going activity happens over a period of time when suddenly it’s interrupted by some other action.
For some situations, it’s much better to use the past continuous tense instead of the past tense. Consider these two sentences:
The first sentence is better than the second sentence because it asks about an activity before another past activity. In this situation, the past continuous tense sounds better.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter too much whether you use the past continuous tense or the past tense. For example, among these three sentences, there is very little difference in meaning:
(Sorry for not posting on August 9. I was traveling.)
August 8, 2011
Today’s lesson introduces superlative adjectives. These are words that have an "est" ending, or these words use "most" when describing one thing or person within a group. Here are some examples:
Do you see where the superlative adjective is in each of these sentences? This video will help:
August 7, 2011
The word of the day is "want." This video provides additional help with this verb:
If you have any trouble watching my videos on your computer, your phone, or your iPad, please let me know and I’ll see if I can find a solution.
This week you’ll study superlative adjectives, the past continuous tense, and modal verbs.
August 6, 2011
Today you’ll learn about comparative adjectives.
August 5, 2011
The formation of questions in the present perfect tense requires the helping verb "have" to go before the subject, followed by the main verb in the form of a past participle. I like to use the verb "live" when teaching this because this verb is often used when asking about a person’s life experiences:
When making a question for information, you will hear people use "how long" to ask about the length of time. You will also hear the use of "ever" when someone is asking a question related to a person’s life experience.
Click here to go to today’s lesson.
August 4, 2011
The lesson for today shows you how to make the present perfect tense negative. Go to that lesson now and then come back to the blog because I want to show you something.
Did you finish the lesson? That’s good. What I’m going to show you now will help you understand the differences among negative verbs in the present tense, the past tense, and the present perfect tense.
Let’s start with the verb be:
The verb "be" always gets special treatment because of the way you make questions and negatives with that verb in the present tense and the past tense.
Now let’s look at how the verb see changes:
Notice the helping verb "do" is used to make the negative for the present tense, the verb "did" is used for the past tense, and the verb "have" is used to make the negative in the present perfect tense. Do you understand these differences?
Tomorrow you’ll learn about making questions in the present perfect tense.
August 3, 2011
In Yellow Level Lesson Three, you’ll learn about the present perfect tense. This is one of the most commonly used verb tenses in English, but it’s a little difficult to learn because you have to know all the past participles for irregular verbs.
Look at the sentences below and compare them to the sentences from yesterday’s lesson:
In these sentences the helping verb is "have" or "has" (It depends on the subject.), and the main verb is "have." Confused? Look at the chart below:
The past tense form of the verb "have" is "had." The past participle for this verb is also "had" The helping verb is "have." (This is not the same thing as the simple form of the verb "have.")
Now let’s make the present perfect tense with the verb "go."
The link for today’s lesson will provide more information about the present perfect tense. I recommend you study it very carefully and watch the video.
So if this is your first introduction to the present perfect tense, I’m sorry if this is confusing. You should go back to the first two levels of the website if you have problems understanding the present prefect tense. We will continue to study the present perfect tense tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
August 2, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the verb "have" in the present tense and the past tense. It’s very important to understand how to use this verb properly as a main verb because it’s used as a helping verb in the present perfect tense, which you will start learning about tomorrow.
These sentences are in the present tense:
These sentences are in the past tense:
Notice how the negative is formed in the present tense and the past tense. Sometimes I hear my students use "haven’t or "hadn’t" when making the negative in these tense, but in American English, these words are used for the present perfect negative and past perfect negative. If you say…
I haven’t a headache. / She hasn’t a problem. / I hadn’t a headache.
…or anything like that, it sounds strange in American English. This is one of the differences between British and American English. The sentences aren’t incorrect, they just sound kind of strange to the ears of an American.
Tomorrow you’ll learn about the present perfect tense, but if you want to go to that lesson now, here’s the link.
August 1, 2011
The first two lessons in the Yellow Level review two important verbs in English: do and have. Today’s lesson shows you how to make questions in the past tense using the helping verb "do." Tomorrow’s lesson shows you how to use the verb "have" as a main verb in the present and past tense. It’s very important that you understand both of these lessons before you study all of the other lessons in the Yellow Level.
If you are confused, go back to the Blue Level and the Red Level and study all of the lessons for the present tense and the past tense.
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If you want to follow this website for the next five months and improve your English, here’s the schedule:
Click here to go to July 2011. During that month, we studied idioms, expressions, proverbs, and slang.