Learn American English Online Blog
July 31, 2011
Here’s a new video on doubling comparative adjectives and adverbs:
July 30, 2011
If you have finished all of the lessons in the Red Level, go to the Red Level Review. I recommend that you write your answers by hand in your notebook. You have today and tomorrow to finish this.
On Monday, we start the Yellow Level.
July 29, 2011
The lesson for today is on "be used to." This is not the same thing as what you learned yesterday when the lesson was about using "used to" to describe a past event. The big difference is in the verb "be." When you see this kind of a verb phrase…
be + used to
….it means that you do the activity regularly. You can also apply this to past activities. You may or may not like that activity, but you do it–it’s part of your life, or it was a part of your life.
He is used to speaking English.
This means that he does it regularly. He might like speaking English, but he might not like it. It doesn’t matter. He does it. It’s a part of his life. Notice also the use of the gerund after the word "to." The gerund is the activity that the person is used to doing. (You learned about gerunds in Red Level Lesson Eighteen, remember? If you forgot, now is a good time to go back and take a look at it.)
July 28, 2011�
When you want to describe a situation that is no longer true or is long past, try using "used to." You can use this with just about any verb but not all of them because it might defy logic in some cases.
To learn more about "used to," go to Red Level Lesson Twenty-three.
Tomorrow you’ll learn about "be used to" which is quite different from today’s lesson.
July 27, 2011
The lesson for today is on multiplication and division. I realize that you know how to do simple math, but I made the videos on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division because so many of my students didn’t know how to talk about basic math in English.
This video below was made as a request from a student. It shows how to use the verb "be" and then an infinitive. This is not an easy thing to do:
July 26, 2011
Red Level Lesson Twenty-one is about reading numbers. There’s also an extension to this lesson which will help you with money.
On this page, you’ll find basic vocabulary for describing American money.
July 25, 2011
In Red Level Lesson Twenty, you can learn how to use reflexive pronouns. A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject in a sentence. These are important to learn because some students will decide to us an object pronoun instead of the reflexive pronoun:
The second sentence is not correct. While this may seem like an obvious error, many people fail to use reflexive pronouns when they are needed. Here are some more examples of reflexive pronouns:
Intensive pronouns look exactly like reflexive pronouns and also refer one’s attention back to the subject of the sentence, but these types of pronouns intensify (stress the importance) of the subject:
As you can see in the last two examples, the intensive pronoun can be placed immediately after the subject or at the end of the sentence.
July 24, 2011
This week you’ll learn how to use reflexive pronouns, talk about money, and you’ll learn the differences between "used to" and "be used to."
I’m especially interested in hearing from students who live in the United States and are having some difficulty using the money here or talking about money. If you have any questions regarding this subject, send them to me. I might not be able to answer your questions directly, but I look at questions from students when creating new lessons.
July 23, 2011
The lesson for today is on possessive pronouns.
July 22, 2011�
Today’s lesson on gerunds is very important. Of course, all of the lessons on the website are important for you to learn, but Red Level Lesson Eighteen is especially important because gerunds are often confused with continuous tenses. Look at the sentences below:
The first sentence is in the present continuous tense. Do you see the verb "be" (is) in front of the main verb (get)? That’s one indication that the verb "get" is continuous. The second sentence uses a gerund. The word "getting" serves as the subject and the main verb is "is."
One interesting thing about gerunds is that they can often be replaced by an infinitive:
An infinitive or a gerund often follows the main verb in a sentence; however, some verbs are followed by infinitives while others are followed by gerunds:
Many students make mistakes with infinitives and gerunds used after verbs. How do you know which one to use? It takes a lot of practice, listening, and reading to learn this. The reading exercises for the Red Level might help you with this, but I also recommend that you read newspaper articles or stories online in English every day. This sort of activity will help you learn the differences between gerunds and infinitives.
July 21, 2011
The heat wave continues…
When it’s hot outside, you usually hear statements like these:
The lesson for today is on infinitives in Red Level Lesson Seventeen. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the differences between infinitives and gerunds.
July 20, 2011
Is it hot enough for you? This is one of those strange questions you hear people ask here in the United States when the weather gets hot. How do you answer it? Just say, "Yeah, it’s really hot." And then the conversation will continue on for the next five minutes about how hot it is.
The heat index was 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) in the Twin Cities yesterday. That’s really hot! The heat index is the air temperature and the humidity taken together to figure out what your body actually feels when it is outside. Today will be about the same. We’re having a heat wave here in the midwest.
humidity = the water or moisture in the air
heat wave = a period of time when it is hot
The lesson for today is on expressions of time.
July 19, 2011
Today’s lesson is on conjunctions: and, but or, nor, for, yet, and so.
Almost everyone who is my age remembers watching this cartoon about conjunctions on Saturday morning TV:
July 18, 2011
The lesson for today is on adjectives. An adjective describes a noun or a pronoun. In addition to the video about adjectives included in the lesson, there are additional videos about adjectives on this page.
July 17, 2011
I posted this video to Facebook yesterday. It shows your teacher taking a few swings at a golf ball:
Before trying to hit a golf ball, it’s a good idea to take some practice swings. I took two practice swings, but the third swing was a real attempt to hit the ball. I missed. I tried again and hit the ball successfully.
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July 16, 2011
The lesson for today is on the word "like." There are many different ways to use this word.
July 15, 2011
In Red Level Lesson Twelve, you learn how to use the "going to" future tense. It’s a good idea to study the future tense using "will" and the "going to" future tense at the same time. There are many noticeable differences between them:
Both of these sentences express a future event; however, the second sentence sounds a little more conversational and a little more relaxed. Sometimes the differences aren’t noticeable at all, but as you continue to practice your English, you will begin to notice the differences yourself.
Although there are more words used in making the "going to" future ("be" + "going to" compared to just "will"), most Americans seem to prefer it when describing future events. You might decide it’s easier to use "will," but you should learn to use both.
One last thing. When people speak quickly, "going to" sounds like "gonna." I don’t recommend that beginning students say "gonna," but people who have a few years of English under their belts might feel comfortable trying it. Listen to the difference:
Note: "Gonna" is not a real word, but you will hear it a lot in spoken English.
July 14, 2011
The lesson for today is on the modal verb "will."
In addition to today’s lesson, you might find this video to be helpful when using "will" and "be."
July 13, 2011
Today’s lesson is on "some," "a lot," and "any." We use these words with indefinite amounts (You don’t know how many there are). The word "some" is especially important because we use it with so many things:
Do you know how to make the above sentences negative? If not, go to today’s lesson.
July 12, 2011
Red Level Lesson Nine will help you learn the differences between "a few" and "a little." Once again, you need to have a knowledge of count and noncount nouns in order to be successful in learning about this.
July 11, 2011
Today’s lesson on "much" and "many" requires a knowledge of count and noncount nouns, so be sure to study them first if you don’t know what they are.
Look at these questions. Choose "much" or "many."
How well did you do? The answers are below. If you need more help deciding between "much" and "many," go to today’s lesson.
You’ll have to know what count and noncount nouns are for tomorrow’s lesson and the lesson on Wednesday.
(Answers: 1. much; 2. much; 3. many; 4. many; 5. much)
July 10, 2011
Over the last few days, I’ve had problems accessing the server for the website, which means that I wasn’t able to post anything here or add any new material anywhere else. I think the problem is fixed. We’ll see.
This is a new video. It shows different ways of how to say "yes," "no," and "maybe."
July 6, 2011
Look at the sentences below:
Give me some help, please.
Don’t go into that room.
These are commands. Notice that the subject (you) is not present. Commands start with the verb and direct a person to do or not to do something. Click here to learn more.
July 5, 2011
Lesson Three offers more instruction and practice in making verb negative in the present tense and the past tense. When you finish Lesson Three, make sure you take the quizzes for this level: Quiz 1 / Quiz 2
July 4, 2011
Lesson Two in the Red Level explains how to make the negative in the present tense and the past tense using the helping verb "do" and "not."
This is when it’s helpful to think about verbs in the simple form and the past tense form. See the chart below:
Do you see the difference between "go" in the simple form and how it changes to "went" in the past tense? When you make the negative, use the helping verbs "do" or "does" for the present tense and "did" for the past tense. Add "not" to these helping verbs in front of the simple form of the verb. The formula looks like this:
Present tense: S + do or does + not + the simple form of the verb
Both of these sentences are in the present tense. They both use the simple form of the verb "go." In front of the main verb is the helping verb "do" or "does," depending on the subject. Now when you make the past tense, you still use the simple form of the verb for the main verb, but the helping verb changes to "did." The formula looks like this:
Past tense: S + did + not + the simple form of the verb
To practice what I just showed you, make the following sentences negative using the verbs above. If you get stuck, go to Lesson Two in the Red Level and then come back here.
Do you want the answers? Did you write your answers in your notebook? Click on this link to check your work.
July 3, 2011
This is the Fourth of July weekend here in the United States. Many people are traveling or on vacation or having backyard barbeques. Tomorrow the festivities will include picnics, parades, and fireworks. If you live in the United States, try to find a Fourth of July parade to attend. It’s fun and open to everyone.
Click here for a new Think in English exercise. I’m still kind of experimenting with this new section of the website. So far the responses I’ve received from students have been positive.
July 2, 2011
The first lesson in the Red Level is on the verb "do." After the verb "be," the verb "do" is the most important verb to understand when learning English. That’s why it’s the word of the day.
People who have immigrated to the United States or are thinking about immigrating here might want to wach this HBO documentary showing on Monday, July 4. If you don’t catch it on TV, you’ll probably be able to find it on DVD in the future. You can watch a preview here.
July 1, 2011�
There’s a new feature for the website called "Think in English." This is just an experiment, so if it doesn’t work I’ll take it down. The way it works is this: I’ll post questions about a particular topic and give you a day to think of some answers. Then the next day I’ll post some possible answers. See how close your answers come to mine.
The word of the day was a suggestion from a student. Thanks for your input! Click here to learn about the word "by."
Today we will start the Red Level.
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If you want to follow this website for the next six months and improve your English, here’s the schedule:
Click here to go to June 2011. During that month, we studied idioms, expressions, proverbs, and slang.
* Answers for June 12 blog entry: 1. goes; 2. doesn’t have; 3. are having; 4. make; 5. Is….helping; 6. Does …. sell; 7. isn’t working; 8. Do….want; 9. don’t ride; 10. Are ….learning