Learn American English Online Blog
January 31, 2011
This week we’ll leave the Purple Level behind and move on to the Orange Level. This level focuses on the formation of sentences, so it’s a little more difficult than the first five levels, but if you’ve been following the program here every day since we began in September, you should be okay. It will help you to understand good subject-verb agreement for this level, so you might have to occasionally review your grammar in the Blue, Red, Yellow, or Green Levels.
This program repeats in a never-ending loop, so if you missed anything in the past, don’t worry. I’ll come back to it again someday. We’ll go back to the Blue Level in the spring.
There’s a new page for dictation. It’s the Yellow Level Dictation page. I’ll be adding additional recordings to this page during this week.
There’s a new YouTube video on the word "enough." If this word gives you trouble, check it out.
January 30, 2011
This is what January looks like on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. For exercise I usually walk around the entire lake. It takes about 45 minutes.
I took this picture last Friday. Everything is frozen and gray. But I like this time of year. It’s very quiet.
January 29, 2011
Your last lesson for the Purple Level is on the verb "do." This is an important helping verb and main verb, and it’s one of those verbs that a lot of students make mistakes with. Look at the sentences below:
In each of these sentences the main verb is "do."
The verb "do" is also a helping verb for making questions and negatives. This is one of the reasons why people make mistakes. The sentences below are all negative:
This is what the questions might look like:
I recommend that you pay very close attention to how the verb "do" is used. It’s very popular in the United States as a main verb. It’s also used in a lot of slang and idioms.
Here’s a brand new quiz for the verb "do."
January 28, 2011
The verb for today is "send." This is a simple word, but it’s still very important to know.
This is a brand new quiz for the verb "send." Good luck!
January 27, 2011
The Purple Level lesson for today is Lesson Twenty-two on the verb "let."
Use the verb "let" when giving permission:
Use the verb "let" when offering an invitation or asking someone to participate in an activity. In this case, the verb is followed by "us" to form a contraction, "let’s."
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Loyal readers of this blog: You can be among the first students to try the Red Level Dictation Page. Additional exercises will be added to this page over the weekend. These exercises are a little harder than the dictation exercises found in the Blue Level.
January 26, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the verb "seem." This word is used to describe appearances and impressions from a person’s point of view. The verb "seem" is similar to the verb "be." While "be" expresses certainty, "seem" expresses something that is less certain:
I got a lot of positive feedback regarding the new dictation section of the website. You seem to be happy with it, so I’ll add additional dictation exercises for each of the other six levels.
January 25, 2011
If you received today’s email, you learned about the new dictation exercises. Let me know if these kinds of exercises are helpful for you.
January 24, 2011
The verb "run" is used to describe movement that is faster than walking, but we also use it for many other things:
You can learn more about this very interesting verb by clicking here.
This is a brand new quiz for the verb "run": Click here to give it a try.
January 23, 2011
This is a new video for the word "what" when it’s used to increase the meaning for an adjective or a noun:
Brrrrrr! It’s been a cold week here in Minnesota. Last Friday morning was about 25 degrees below zero. For people in countries that use Celsius to measure temperature, that’s about -31 degrees Celsius. When it gets this cold, you can throw boiled water up into the air and it will instantly evaporate. This is from a video I made a few years ago:
January 22, 2011
The verb of the day is "play." This is a good word to learn about on the weekend because it’s on Saturday and Sunday that many people play sports.
There are a few different uses for this verb. We use it with musical instruments, roles and positions in activities, and, of course, we use this word with sports. The one important thing I’ll bring to your attention today is the difference between the words "play" and "go" when describing sporting activities.
The word "play" is usually used with team sports:
The word "go" is usually used with recreational sports or sports that highlight individual effort:
However, "play" is also used with some individual sports in which there is one or more opponent:
Some sports use neither "play" nor "go," but not that many:
Would you like to take a quiz on the word "play." Click here to give it a try.
January 21, 2011
Today’s verb is fairly simple. Click here to go to the lesson for the verb "cut," or you can go directly to the quiz.
January 20, 2011
The verb you’re going to learn about today is "keep." You can use "keep" for many different things, but its main use is in describing storage (Putting something somewhere for a short or long time). The words "keep" and "put" are similar is this regard:
However, "keep" also means to continue:
There are other uses for this important word. To learn more, click here.
January 19, 2011
The lesson for today is on the verb "tell." We use this verb when giving directions, providing information, and noticing differences.
I told her to go to the store for some eggs.
He told me he moved here from Mexico.
I can’t tell the two brothers apart.
Here’s a brand new quiz for the word "tell." Remember, I recommend that students write out their answers by hand. It’s better for you to do it that way so that you can remember what you have learned. I haven’t posted the answers for this quiz yet because it’s so new, but I’ll provide them sometime later today — I promise!
Do you know what some of the differences are between "say" and "tell"? Take this quiz to see how much you know.
January 18, 2011
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January 17, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the verb "want." This is similar to "need," however, "want" is used to express desire:
Many Americans put "want" and "to" together to form "wanna." I don’t think this is a good idea for beginning level students, but if you’ve been speaking English for a few years, and want to try it, go ahead. You can only do this with "want" and "to." You can’t do it with "wants" and "to" or "wanted" and "to."
Don’t say, "Do you wanna to get a pizza?" Sometimes I hear my students use "wanna" and "to" together. That’s completely wrong.
Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Day in the United States. To learn more about this important American civil rights leader, click here.
January 16, 2011
Click here to read and listen to "Androcles and the Lion."
Here’s a new video for the word "too."
Click here to take a new quiz on the verb "know."
January 15, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the verb "need." The verb "need" is used for things that are necessary:
Notice that the verb "need" is followed by a noun or an infinitive:
Do not use "need" with gerunds:
January 14, 2011
Purple Level Lesson Eleven is on the verb "come."
The thing that my beginning level students often have trouble with is in understanding the difference between "come" and "go." The pictures below might help:
The woman asks the man to visit here in her office. She’s in her office as she speaks to the man, so she uses the word "come," not "go." But later she says….
She’s in her office and she’s talking about going to New York, so she uses the word "go" because she’s not in New York yet.
January 13, 2011
The lesson for today is on the word "make."
There are many idioms that use this word. Click here to learn about them.
Did you receive today’s email? If not, make sure you sign up on the homepage for lessons and updates to the website. It’s all free!
January 12, 2011
Lesson Eight in the Purple Level is on the verb "know." This is an irregular verb:
This word is most often used to express comprehension and understanding:
"Know" is also used to describe relationships among people:
Do you know the story about "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." This is a new addition to the Purple Level Reading Room.
January 11, 2011
Click here to see examples for the verb "look."
There are a few things that are interesting about this word. In addition to being used as a verb, you can also use it as a noun:
In the first example, "look" describes the expression on a person’s face. When you "give a look," sometimes it means that a person has made a negative impression. On the other hand, "She gave him a long look before turning away," could mean that she is attracted to the man. In the second example, "look" refers to a person’s appearance, and in the third example, to "give a look" at something is to review it for the first time.
The word "look" is also used to introduce a statement, usually a matter that needs serious attention
The word "look" is also a part of many idioms and expressions. Click here to see some examples.
January 10, 2011
The verb of the day is "see." You can use this word to describe sight:
But you can also use "see" to describe a visit:
The verb "see" often describes romantic relationships:
We also use "see" in the same way that we use the verb "understand."
See how much you know about using the verb "see" in various verb tenses by taking this quiz.
January 9, 2011
The verbs we’ll learn about this week are see, look, know, make, come, and need.
Here’s a new YouTube video explaining some of the similarities and differences between "really" and "very."
January 8, 2011
The lesson for today is on the verb "give." You can find some idiomatic uses for this verb by clicking here. If you’re confident in understanding how to use this word in various verb tenses, click here to test your knowledge.
Click here to read and listen to a new addition to the Purple Level Reading Room: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.
January 7, 2011
The verb "take" is interesting because it has so many different meanings when combined with prepositions to form idioms:
As you can see, there are many different ways to use "take." I should also mention that in the United States, we usually don’t use "take" when eating breakfast or drinking something. For example….
Did you take breakfast this morning?
Did you have breakfast this morning?
Which one would you say is better? They’re both okay, but the second one is more common in the U.S. I’ve noticed over the years that many people who speak Spanish will choose the word "take" over "have," "eat," or "drink," when describing consumption. I’ll let you decide what to say, but most people here wouldn’t use "take."
On the other hand, you can use "take" when describing how you like to drink something:
January 6, 2011
The verb of the day is "use." This is a hard one to talk about because I end up saying things like, "Do you know how to use the verb "use?" But as a teacher, I use this word all the time when talking to my students about the different parts of speech or the meanings and applications of language.
Most importantly, we use language. We speak it and we write it, but we use it because we want something or we need to communicate an idea. We can’t read minds, and body language just isn’t enough, so we use language.
January 5, 2011
As a way to demonstrate the usefulness of the verb "put," sometimes I ask my students not to use it and consider alternatives instead. You can substitute words such as "place," "enter," "lay," "set," "invest," etc., but there is no better word than "put" when describing the placement of an object in a location:
The verb "put" is also used idiomatically:
January 4, 2011
The verb "get" functions as both a main verb and as a substitute verb for "be" when forming the passive voice. It’s also used in many idiomatic verb phrases. If you look in a dictionary, you might see close to a hundred different meanings for this one word. For these reasons, it’s necessary to spend some time learning how to use "get."
It’s worth noting also that "get" is used a little differently in British English. While we use the past participle "gotten" here in the United States, British English uses "got" instead.
Here are just a few examples of how "get" is used:
January 3, 2011
The verb "go" is first on the list of Purple Level verbs for a good reason. It’s a very popular verb, but it’s also one that students frequently use incorrectly. This is usually because they don’t know enough about the different forms of the verb. Look at the chart below:
In each lesson for the Purple Level, you’ll notice that the verb is shown in the simple form (you can call it the "base form" or "the infinitive), the past tense, the past participle, and the present participle. If you have studied all the lessons in the first four levels of this website–Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green–then you know why these forms are necessary to study and remember.
Listen to the examples provided for each verb in the Purple Level and study the tenses and forms that each verb can take. There’s a lot of information on each page, so I don’t expect you to remember everything you learn there, but if you are having trouble with particular verbs in English, this level should help you.
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Click here to see a new YouTube video on combining words in English.
January 2, 2011
January begins with the Purple Level. When I put these lessons together, I did so with the intention of introducing a relatively small but useful collection of words that students should consider learning more about in order to improve their English. You’ll notice that most of the verbs on this list are small (three to four letters) and most of them are irregular. Some of the lessons have links to additional pages that show how these words are used in idiomatic verb phrases. (Click here for an example)
If you become familiar with these verbs, your English should improve.
January 1, 2011
Let’s all work together towards making the world a more peaceful place to live. Let’s also try to do our best to keep the planet clean. It’s really getting dirty!
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Did you miss the whole month of December? We learned about how to use the passive voice in…
Click here to go to December 2010 to see what students learned.