Well, it’s the last day of the year and another year begins tomorrow. The Violet Level is just about finished. How well did you do in improving your English? Did you finish all seven levels? If you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to accomplish after following this website and the blog for the last seven months, then you should receive….


Because I can’t verify that you actually studied all the lessons on this website or that you finished all the quizzes and exercises, you are left to your own conscience in deciding whether or not to print out the certificate and sign it. I trust you. Besides, if you didn’t learn anything here, or if you didn’t study any of the lessons, the certificate doesn’t have any value. The most important thing is that you worked really hard to improve your English. Now you are free to explore new challenges in your education.

But if you want to repeat the course, or if you are learning English for the first time, I’ll see you here on Monday for Lesson One in the Blue Level.

By the way, there’s a new beginning level test. Click here to go to Blue Level test #2. If you take tests 1 and 2 and discover that you have made a lot of mistakes, then you’ll know that if might be a good idea to continue studying here in January.

The lesson for today is on the subordinating conjunction, "wherever." You can use this when describing a particular place or any place:

  • You can put those bags down wherever there’s room.
  • Wherever Alison goes, she brings her stuffed bear.
  • Alison brings her stuffed bear wherever she goes.
  • You can park your car wherever.
  • In the United States, you can live wherever you want.
  • Wherever Jennifer Lopez goes, she’s recognized by her fans.

Violet Level Lesson Twenty-seven shows you several different sentences for the word "whenever." You can use "whenever" when describing time.

  • Whenever I’m in Chicago, I go to the Art Institute.

This means that any time I go to Chicago, or every time I go to Chicago, I go to the Art Institute.

  • You can start whenever you are ready.

This means that you can start something at any time, but specifically when you are ready.

It’s also possible to use "whenever" as a one-word response:

  • A: What time should I drop by your house to pick you up?
  • B: Whenever. It doesn’t matter.

The word of the day is "quit."


The lesson for today is on the conjunctive adverb, "nevertheless." This is a hard word to use. It’s similar to "but," "however," "even though" and a few other words, but one thing that makes it different is that you can place it in many different parts of a sentence. This new video explains:

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to a YouTube channel from a few years ago. Your teacher used to operate a conference bike (a seven-person bike) in downtown Minneapolis and give tours of the downtown areas. When I asked people if I could videotape them while they were on the bike, almost everyone said, "yes." Can you understand what the people on the bike are saying?


The lesson for today is on the word "besides." Don’t confuse this with the preposition, "beside."

The word of the day is "clog."

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I need your help with something. I’m working on creating a series of tests for the website and I’m using Google docs to create them. I just want you to try this out. This is kind of an experiment. You won’t see the results of the test yet. I’ll post them later. However, I will see how many people got right answers and how many people got wrong answers. If this works, I’ll post several different tests for you to try. This is what students keep asking me about.

Many people in the United States have the day off today, but if you work at a hotel, a restaurant, or at an airport, you’re probably working. December 26 is a very busy day for shopping malls because many people are returning things that they got for Christmas, or they’re using gift cards that they received as Christmas gifts. Also, because it’s a time of year when a lot of Americans travel, anyone who is connected to the travel industry probably has to work today and tomorrow.

The Violet Level lesson for today is on the conjunction, "meanwhile." Use "meanwhile" to describe concurrent activity–two things happening at the same time but in different locations.

  • China is developing high-speed train travel as an option to air travel between the big cities there; meanwhile, the United States continues to lag in the development of passenger railways.

The word of the day is "vacant."

It has been a busy week this week, hasn’t it? Everyone is out shopping and getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Things usually slow down around the website at this time of year, but I’ll still post the word of the day and do a little work on the website today and tomorrow.

Today’s lesson shows you how to use "as soon as." This is quite different from the other lessons that have included "as."

I’ll call you as soon as I arrive at the airport.

In the sentence above, "as soon as" is very similar to "when." Use it to describe that something will be done quickly when or after something else happens.

Here’s a new video for "as soon as."


Have you ever seen this?:  A.S.A.P.  Do you know what it means? It’s an abbreviation for as soon as possible.

You can learn more here.

The word of the day is "smell."


The word "as" can be used in many different ways, but did you know that you can use it as a subordinating conjunction to describe at what time something happens? Used this way, "as" is similar to "while."

  • It’s a good idea to write in your notebook as you are studying English.
  • It’s a good idea to write in your notebook while you are studying English.

There really isn’t any difference in meaning between the two sentences above. One uses "as" and the other uses "while." Both words indicate that tow actions are happening at the same time.

  • I like to listen to the radio as I’m driving.
  • As she was leaving the house, the phone rang.
  • Tommy’s mother sat at his side as the doctor gave him a shot in the arm.

Click here for more examples of how to use "as."

The word of the day is "plunge."

Today’s lesson shows you how to use "as long as." When these three words are used together, they are very similar to the word "if." Sentences that use "as long as" describe a condition:

  • Her parents will let her go to the party as long as she’s home before 10:00.
  • You can borrow ten dollars as long as you pay me back within the next few days.
  • As long as he keeps his grades up, he can go to the college that he wants to attend.

But remember that you can also use "as long as" when describing time. It this case, it’s similar to the word "until" or "almost."

  • The trip could take as long as ten hours, depending on the weather.
  • The teacher told her she could borrow the book for as long as she wanted it.
  • This construction project might last as long as two years.

To learn more about "as long as," click here.


You can learn about the subordinating conjunction, "while," in Violet Level Lesson Nineteen. This very important word is used to indicate that two things are happening at the same time:

  • While I was living in Chicago, I worked for the Chicago Tribune newspaper.
  • She learned of her mother’s death while she was getting ready to go to school.
  • It’s not a good idea to talk on a cell phone while you are driving.

The word of the day is "tap."

If you didn’t receive yesterday’s email, make sure you sign up for emailed lessons and updates on the home page.


Today’s lesson shows you how to use the word "since." Here’s a new video that goes with the lesson:


You’ll learn how to use "even if" in today’s lesson.

  • Blanca wants to move to New York, even if she doesn’t have a job before moving there.
  • Even if seems difficult, you must learn how to use a keyboard.
  • I’m going to lose weight next year even if it means giving up ice cream and soft drinks.

Regardless of the circumstances (or the present situation), a person is determined to do something. That’s when you use "even if."

The word of the day is "mumble."


Violet Level Lesson Sixteen shows you how to use the word "unless" in a sentence. This conjunction appears at the beginning of a dependent clause and describes a condition:

You can’t learn English well unless you study.

The condition in this case is that you must study in order to learn English well. If you don’t study English, you probably won’t learn how to speak or write in English properly. Here’s another example:

Unless it rains, we will paint the outside of our house tomorrow.

So, if it rains, we won’t paint the outside of our house. The condition that must exist is dry weather–no rain. This is a confusing word for many students and it requires a lot of practice. Click here to listen to and read more examples. There’s also a video on this page.

The word of the day is "thing."

Click here for a new Think in English exercise.


The word "furthermore" is a conjunctive adverb that you use between two clauses or two sentences. It’s similar to "in addition." Use "furthermore" when you want to add more information to something you say in support of an idea:

  • There’s increasing and indisputable evidence that human activity is leading directly to global climate change; furthermore, areas no longer covered by snow due to climate change are absorbing more heat instead of deflecting it, thereby accelerating the rise in global temperatures.

This word is generally used when the level of diction (word choice) is relatively high. There are more examples of sentences here.

After you have completed the lesson, you can try this quiz.

The lesson for today shows you how to use "in addition."

The word of the day is "trip."

Use "on the other hand" when describing two different ways of considering an issue (a situation):

  • It’s too bad we aren’t getting very much snow this month. My kids want to go skiing. On the other hand, I don’t have to shovel snow or worry about dangerous driving conditions.
  • Choosing a big dog over a little dog creates a little extra work for a homeowner; on the other hand, big dogs provide a sense of security that you don’t get with a little dog.
  • Shari’s mother is a really nice person; her father, on the other hand, is a total idiot.

Go to Violet Level Lesson Thirteen to see more examples of how to use "on the other hand."

The lesson for today shows you different ways to use the word "otherwise."


The word of the day is "hunt."

There’s a new reading exercise for the Red Level:

~  It’s fun to drive a go kart.  ~

If you looked at yesterday’s lesson and watched the video, then you may have learned something about how to use "even though." It’s similar to "although," but there are some differences. "Even though" creates a slightly stronger contrast when describing differences, but sometimes these two subordinating conjunctions are about the same

Even though the hours are long, Steve still likes his job.


Steve still likes his job even though the hours are long.

We could use "although" in place of "even though in these two sentences and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Click here to see today’s lesson on "even though."

The lesson for today is on the word "although." This video is included in the lesson:

The word of the day is "shrink."

NEW VIDEO: I made a video yesterday for the verb "do" when it’s used to say that something is okay.

Two people are talking:

  • A: Do you think this is okay?
  • B: Yeah, that will do.

Do you understand what "That will do" means? If not, you can watch the video on YouTube.

Today’s lesson is similar to what you learned yesterday, but instead of the words "so" and "that," you are going to learn how to use "such" and "that" together:

They had such a good time that they decided to extend their vacation.

When you use the word "such," somewhere after it there will be a noun. In the sentence above, the noun is "time." This kind of usage shows how much or to what degree something is true.

It’s such a popular place to eat that it’s hard to get a table.

In this sentence, "such" refers to the word "place." Contrast this with what you learned yesterday about using "so."

This place is so popular that it’s hard to get a table.

The word "so" doesn’t require a noun. Use "so" with adjectives. In this case the adjective is "popular.

It’s a good idea to study Violet Level Lessons Eight and Nine together. This video might help you also.


Violet Level Lesson Eight explains how to use "so that." There are two main uses for these words.

"So that" is similar to "because."

  • John is working extra hours so that he can save money for college.
  • Isabel wants to improve her English skills so that she can get a better job.

But you can also use "so" and "that’ when describing degree, depth, and extent:

  • Leena was so upset about her daughter’s sudden illness that she forgot all about her appointments for that afternoon.
  • Our company was so profitable this year that it has decided to give everyone a $5000 bonus.

The word of the day is "mess."

There’s a new reading exercise for the Red Level: This is Luke and Sandra’s baby.

Today’s lesson is on "not only."

This video will help you with the lesson for today and yesterday:


You can use the word "both" when describing two things or two groups. This page has examples of sentences that use "both," and you can listen to your teacher read the sentences out loud.

The word of the day is "slip."

The lesson for the day is on "due to." This is similar to "because of." Both are used when making a phrase that explains a reason for something stated in the main part of the sentence. Neither can be used to form a clause. Look at the sentences below:

Her success is due to her hard work.

She is successful because of her hard work.

She is successful because she works hard.

The last sentence uses "because." Do you see how that sentence is different from the first two? If not, go back to yesterday’s lesson. Click here to go to today’s lesson.


This is another new reading exercise for the Blue Level. I’ll continue to add more reading exercises to the site because students have asked me to do it.

In Violet Level Lesson Four, you’ll learn how to use "because." The word "because" goes at the beginning of a dependent clause. It’s different from "because of," which is used as a preposition. "Because" is a subordinating conjunction.

Look at this sentence:

  • They want to buy a house because they have a large family.

The sentence begins with an independent clause: They want to buy a house. The dependent clause appears in the middle of the sentence. Do you see it? It begins with the word "because" and after that a subject (they) and a verb (have): because they have a large family. You can reverse the order of the two clauses:

  • Because they have a large family, they want to buy a house.

Let’s look at a few more sentences that use because:

  • She’s going to bed because she’s tired.
  • Because so many people came to the performance, there weren’t enough seats for everyone.
  • I have to go out and shovel my driveway because it snowed last night.

To learn more, go to Violet Level Lesson Four.

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There’s a new reading exercise in the Blue Level. You can find it here.

The word "consequently" is used as a conjunction between two independent clauses. If you know what the word "consequence" means, that will help you understand how to use it. A "consequence" is a result–good or bad. It some ways it’s similar to "therefore" but not always:

  • Several of the customers complained that the waiter was rude and careless in taking their orders; consequently, the manager spoke with the waiter and his performance on the job improved.

Click here to go to Lesson Three in the Violet Level to learn more about this word.

Here’s something a little easier if you find today’s lesson too difficult. This new video is about the words "full" and "empty."



The lesson for today is on the word "therefore." This is a type of conjunction that you can use to put two independent clauses together. It’s very similar to "as a result" or "that’s why." One thing causes another thing to happen:

x  arrow  y

  • Our company is expanding very quickly in North America; therefore, we’ve decided to open another office in Chicago.
  • The unemployment rate in the United States continues to decrease; therefore, the chances that President Obama will be reelected as President increase.
  • The small town lost too many of its young people to the big cities; therefore, the city leaders made an effort to attract new residents.

The word of the day is "do."

The first lesson in the Violet Level shows you how to use the word "however." This is a type of conjunction that you can use to bring two sentences or two clauses together to make one sentence. The word "however" is very similar to the conjunction "but."

  • We’d like to get some new books; however, there isn’t enough money in our budget to buy them this year.
  • Joe’s grades in school were very good this semester; however, he will need to get even higher grades to get into the school of his choice.
  • They want to go skiing this weekend; however, it doesn’t look like there will be enough snow on the ground.

Notice that a semicolon ( ; ) goes between the two independent clauses that form each sentence:  

independent clause  +  ;  +   however  +  independent clause

We begin the Violet Level today. I recommend that you look through the list and find words that are new to you. Write them down in your notebook, and at the end of December, see how many of these words are ones that you understand.

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This is the last month in this seven-month course. We began in June 2011 and we finish the course this month.

The 2011 Schedule for Lessons  
June arrow
Blue Level 
July arrow
Red Level  
August arrow
Yellow Level  
September arrow
Green Level 
October arrow
Purple Level 
November arrow
Orange Level 
December arrow
Violet Level  

In January we will return to the Blue Level.


Click here to go to November 2011. During that month, we studied sentences and the parts of a sentence.