Here’s a new video on doubling comparative adjectives and adverbs:

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.

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On Monday, we start the Yellow Level.

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.)

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.

  • She used to live in Guatemala. Now she lives in the United States.
  • I used to work for a large company. Now I work at a small restaurant.
  • Tom used to smoke, but he gave it up.
  • We used to buy a lot of pop, but now we avoid sugary drinks.
  • They used to come to class early, but now they’re always late.
  • You used to get sick a lot when you were a child.

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.

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:

 

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.

 

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:

  • I cut myself while slicing some bread.
  • I cut me while slicing some bread.

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:

  • Mary can take care of herself.
  • George bought himself a new jacket.
  • The bomb went off by itself.
  • We helped ourselves to more food at the picnic.
  • You should figure this out for yourselves.
  • The children taught themselves how to make breakfast.

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:

  • The President himself will be here today to look at the damage done by the tornado.
  • She herself will need to fix this problem.
  • She will need to fix this problem herself.
  • I myself don’t care for this kind of music.
  • I don’t care for this kind of music myself.

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.

 

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.

The lesson for today is on possessive pronouns.

 

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:

  • He’s getting a driver’s license.
  • Getting a driver’s license is necessary in most areas in the United States.

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:

  • She likes to swim. (to swim = infinitive)
  • She likes swimming. (swimming = gerund)
  • I hate to drive in the snow.
  • I hate driving in the snow.

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:

  • We enjoy fishing.
  • We enjoy to fish. (No! Use a gerund after the verb "enjoy.")
  • They want to learn English.
  • They want learning English. (No! Use an infinitive after the verb "want.")

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.

The heat wave continues…

When it’s hot outside, you usually hear statements like these:

  • It feels like a furnace out here.
  • It feels like an oven.
  • It feels like a sauna.
  • It’s muggy. (When there’s humidity.)
  • It’s steamy. (Also when there’s humidity.)
  • It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
  • It’s boiling outside.
  • It’s burning hot.
  • You can cook an egg out here.

The lesson for today is on infinitives in Red Level Lesson Seventeen. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the differences between infinitives and gerunds.

 

 

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.

 

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:

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.

 

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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The lesson for today is on the word "like." There are many different ways to use this word.

 

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:

  • I will make breakfast tomorrow.
  • I am going to make breakfast tomorrow.

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.

  • You will need an umbrella today.
  • You’re going to need an umbrella today.
  • He will get on the next flight to New York.
  • He’s going to get on the next flight to New York.
  • It will probably rain today.
  • It’s probably going to rain today.
  • They will use a lot of gas on their trip.
  • They’re going to use a lot of gas on their trip.

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:

  • It’s going to rain.
  • It’s gonna rain.
  • She’s going to go to school today.
  • She’s gonna go to school today.
  • This isn’t going to work.
  • This isn’t gonna work.
  • This is going to be fun.
  • This is gonna be fun.

Note: "Gonna" is not a real word, but you will hear it a lot in spoken English.

 

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."

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:

  • I need some bread from the store.
  • Do you want some help?
  • We have to do some shopping later today.
  • There’s some money in her purse.
  • Some students came and spoke to me yesterday.

Do you know how to make the above sentences negative? If not, go to today’s lesson.

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.

 

 

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."

  • 1. How ___________ time do you have to study English?
  • 2. How ___________ chicken did she buy at the store?
  • 3. How ____________ people were at the party?
  • 4. How __________ pizzas did you order?
  • 5. How __________ pizza do you want?

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)

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."

 

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.

 

 

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

 

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:

simple past
go
went
live
lived
eat
ate

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

  • They don’t go on vacation in the winter.
  • He doesn’t go to work on the weekends.

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

  • They didn’t go on vacation last winter
  • He didn’t go to work yesterday.

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.

Directions: Make these sentences negative.  write by hand in your notebook:

1. I go shopping on Saturday.

2. She goes to school every day.

3. They went to see a movie.

4. He lives in Detroit.

5. My sister lived there.

6. We ate breakfast earlier.

7. We eat breakfast every morning.

8. My son eats cereal.

Do you want the answers? Did you write your answers in your notebook? Click on this link to check your work.

 

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.

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.

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:

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  

 

 

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