As we come to the end of June, we also come to the end of the Blue Level. If you have finished all of the lessons, go to the Blue Level Review. Of course, you may try the review if you haven’t finished all the lessons, but it might be easier for you to do the lessons and then the review. This is kind of like a test.

This video matches the lessons for yesterday and today:

Click here for a new quiz: have to

This quiz matches the lessons for today and tomorrow.


This week you’ll finish the Blue Level and move on to the Red Level; however, before you do that, you should try the dictation and reading exercises for the Blue Level. There’s also a Blue Level review which is kind of like a test. Links to these pages can be found on the weekly schedule.


Yesterday while out riding my bike, I came across a man who was walking a very large group of dogs. He trains and walks dogs for a living. Isn’t that interesting? Listen to our conversation:

It’s good for you to occasionally listen to your teacher having a regular conversation with people. You notice my English is a little different when I’m talking to an American. Do you understand everything? If not, stop the video, look at the subtitles (or write them down), and then play the video again.

Thanks to Curtis from citizenkanine for stopping and talking with me!

The lesson for today is on the modal verb "can."

The lesson for today is on addition and subtraction. I included this in the Blue Level because I think it’s necessary to know how to talk about basic math. You add and subtract numbers every day, don’t you?

There’s a new quiz for the Blue Level that will help you with the past tense. A few students emailed me asking for more practice so, here it is.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s email lately. I read everything that goes into my inbox, but you can imagine how much email there is! The main thing I try to do here is focus on content and producing lessons so that students can study English independently. Thanks to everyone who participates on this site by going to the chat rooms, sending me suggestions and emailing photos. Your participation makes the website more interesting. I also appreciate it when students tell me about any mistakes or problems with the website. Thank-you!


The lesson for today is on count and noncount nouns. Knowing the difference between these two categories is extremely important because it affects which words you choose when speaking English.


Today’s lessons are on Time, Day, and Date and Months

During a class I taught this morning, students learned about a couple of idioms that are useful when talking about food, and I thought you might find them to be useful as well:

go well with / go well together

Good food and drink combinations are often described with these three words: go well with or go well together. For example….

  • Pizza goes well with a Coke. / Pizza and Coke go well together.
  • Cake goes well with milk. / Cake and milk go well together.
  • Fish goes well with white wine. / Fish and white wine go well together.
  • Steak goes well with potatoes. / Steak and potatoes go well together.
  • The beans went well with the rice. / The beans and the rice went well together. (past tense)

If the combination is bad, you can say this….

  • Cake doesn’t go well with Coke. / Cake and Coke don’t go well together.
  • Beer doesn’t go well with ice cream. / Beer and ice cream don’t go well together.


The lesson for today is in two parts. The first part is on the verb "be" in the past tense:

 The second part of the lesson shows you how to use "there" with the past tense of the verb "be." This is a simple but important thing to understand when you want to describe an event in the past.


Now is a good time for you to watch a video that shows the differences among "there," "they’re," and "their":

 There are a few new pages that I’ve added to the website since yesterday:

Click here to see and listen to examples for the preposition "amid."

Click here to for an exercise in determining which part of speech a word belongs to.

How well did you do with the last couple of lessons? Here’s a quiz you can take on possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns.


Today and tomorrow you’ll learn about possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns. It’s good to learn about both at the same time because they look so similar.

 write by hand in your notebook:

possessive adjectivespossessive pronouns
  • I have a bike. My bike is green. The green bike is mine.
  • You have a bike. Your bike is yellow. The yellow bike is yours.
  • Mine is green. Yours is yellow.

Just remember that the possessive adjective has to go before a noun. The possessive pronoun functions as a noun and it can be the subject or the object in a sentence.

Click here to go to Lesson Fourteen for today’s lesson on possessive adjectives.


For beginning level students, the past tense requires a lot of practice. Here’s a new video on the past tense:

The lesson for today is Blue Level Lesson Thirteen: information questions.  

Today’s lesson is a basic introduction to the past tense in English. When you study the past tense, it’s helpful to contrast it with the present tense. This is what the verb "be" looks like in the present tense and the past tense:

Present Tense Past Tense
I am
We are
I was
We were
You are
You are
You were
You were
He is
He was
She is
They are
She was
They were
It is
It was

Remember to write  write by hand  these charts in your notebook.

Understanding how the verb "be" changes in the present tense and the past tense is essential!

Now here’s the verb "start" in the present tense and the past tense. This is a regular verb:

Present Tense Past Tense
I start
We start
I started
We started
You start
You start
You started
You started
He starts
He started
She starts
They start
She started
They started
It starts
It started

Notice that in the present tense the verb adds an "s" when the subject is in the third person, singular (he, she, or it) and in the past tense it adds an "ed" for any subject. Regular verbs are generally easier to use than….

Irregular verbs:

Present Tense Past Tense
I go
We go
I went
We went
You go
You go
You went
You went
He goes
He went
She goes
They go
She went
They went
It goes
It went

As you can see, the past tense verb looks a lot different from the present tense verb. However, with some irregular verbs, the differences between the verb in the present tense and the past tense might be hard to detect. In this YouTube video, you can listen to me read a list of irregular verbs. You’ll hear the simple form of the verb first and the past tense form.

Perhaps the most confusing thing about the present tense and the past tense is making questions and negatives. You will practice this in the Red Level, but let’s take a quick look now:

Present Tense

  • I go to work every morning.
  • I don’t go to work on the weekends.
  • She goes to the store during the week.
  • She doesn’t go to the store on Sunday.
  • When do you go to the store?

I like to use the verb "go" when showing how the present tense and the past tense are formed because so many students make mistakes with this verb. Here is what it looks like in the past tense:

Past Tense

  • I went to work yesterday.
  • I didn’t go to work last weekend.
  • She went to the store during the week.
  • She didn’t go to the store on Sunday.
  • When did you go to the store?

The main verb is always in the simple form when you make a question or a negative, but the helping verb changes. Look very carefully at the differences above.

No matter how much English you have learned, you’ll always need to practice prepositions, so today’s lesson should be helpful for both beginning and advanced students.

There’s also an entire section of the website devoted to prepositions. Try a few quizzes on that page and see how well you do.

In the video lessons section, you’ll find videos that explain how some prepositions are used.


The lesson for today is on articles:

After you watch the video, take this quiz.


How well did you do last week with your lessons? If you followed the schedule (on the home page), you studied the present tense and the present continuous tense, which many students seem to confuse. Let’s practice these two tenses in the exercise below. Fill in the blank with the correct missing verb:

write Write your answers in your notebook:  notebook

  1. He ____________________________________ to work every day. (go – present tense)
  2. My teacher __________________________________ a new car. (have — present tense, negative)
  3. Our neighbors _________________________________ a party. (have — present continuous tense)
  4. I ________________________________ coffee every morning. (make — present tense)
  5. _____________ someone ______________ you with your English? (help — present continuous tense)
  6. ______________ that store _________________________ milk? (sell — present tense)
  7. Her cell phone ________________________________ very well. (work — present continuous tense, negative)
  8. _______________ you __________________ a pepperoni pizza? (want — present tense)
  9. We _____________________ our bikes to school every morning. (ride — present tense, negative)
  10. ________________ you __________________ English online? (learn — present continuous tense)

(Scroll down arrow down to the bottom of this page for the answers.)

Lesson Nine in the Blue Level will help you learn how to use the verb "have" in the present tense. Look at the sentences below:

  • I have an old car.
  • I don’t have a new car.
  • Do you have a car?
  • Does she have a car?
  • She has a new car.
  • She doesn’t have an old car.

Do you see how the verb "have" changes after the subject "she"? Also, when you make a question or the negative in the present tense, use helping verbs "do" or "does" and then the word "have" in the simple form.

The verb "have" is extremely important to learn about because it’s also a helping verb when making perfect tenses.

Yesterday I made a new page for people who need to practice listening to and answering questions for the U.S. Citizenship test.


Today you should complete Part 2 of Lesson Eight. In this lesson, you’ll see examples of the present continuous tense in the form of questions. There’s also a quiz you can take.


  • Roy is making breakfast right now. (present continuous tense)
  • Roy makes breakfast every morning. (present tense)

Do you see and understand the differences between the two sentences above? The first one is in the present continuous tense. The second is in the present tense. It’s important for you to learn the differences between these two tenses, especially when making making negatives and questions:

  • Is Roy making breakfast right now?
  • Does he make breakfast every morning?
  • Roy isn’t making breakfast now.
  • Roy doesn’t make breakfast every morning.

Lesson Eight in the Blue Level is about the present continuous tense. It’s in two parts. You can go to Part 2 today or tomorrow. Also, I recommend that you watch this video showing the differences between the present tense and the present continuous tense:

Lesson Seven in the Blue Level introduces you to the present tense for verbs other than the verb "be." All the other verbs form negatives and questions differently. Look at the sentence below:

  • Roy makes breakfast every morning.

This sentence is in the present tense. It describes an activity that happens every day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc.

To make a sentence negative, add "do" or "does" and "not" in front of the main verb. The main verb will be in the simple form.

  • Roy doesn’t make lunch for himself. He usually eats out. (singular — negative)
  • Roy’s coworkers don’t make lunch for themselves either. They go out with Roy. (plural — negative)

To make a question, add "do" or "does" in front of the subject followed by the main verb in the simple form:

  • Do you make breakfast in the morning? (singular)
  • Does anyone in your family make breakfast for you? (singular)
  • Do you and your coworkers go out for lunch? (plural)

I made a new video about word order yesterday. If your eyes begin to gloss over whenever the teacher starts to talk about the subject, the verb, or the object in English class, you should probably learn to pay attention. If you don’t learn these things now, your knowledge of grammar will suffer later. This is a very basic video. There are more to come.

Today’s lesson is on this, that, these, and those:


This is an important week for people who are starting on the Blue Level. For students who are intermediate to advanced, you might find these lessons to be useful for brushing up on your grammar.

  • Monday: Learn about the differences among this, that, these, and those.
  • Tuesday: Practice using "there." Some students confuse "there" with "it" or "they."
  • Wednesday: We will study the present tense. There’s a very big difference between using the verb "be" in the present tense and all the other verbs.
  • Thursday: We will learn about the present continuous tense. This is good to learn about after studying the present tense because many students mix up these two tenses.
  • Friday: This is day two of learning about how to use the present continuous tense. You need a lot of practice!
  • Saturday: The verb "have" is important as a main verb and as a helping verb.

What is a noun? It’s important to learn about nouns and pronouns when you first learn English. Click here for Lesson Four.

You can keep track of your progress on the website with this checklist. The link is for a PDF file which should print out very nicely compared to the web page version of it. Keep the checklist by your computer and mark the date when you complete each lesson.

Below is a video that will help you practice asking and answering questions in the present tense using the verb "be." We learned how to do this in Lesson Three:

To make a question with the verb "be," make sure the verb goes before the subject:

  • Am I in the right place?
  • Are you at your computer?
  • Is he at work today?
  • Is the TV on?
  • Are the children at the park?

Click here to go to Lesson Three in the Blue Level to learn more.

Lesson Two in the Blue Level shows you how to make the verb "be" negative. Just add the word "not." This is an easy thing to do; however, some people have trouble with contractions. There are two different ways to do this:

write by hand  Write: (S + "be") + not

I’m not
we’re not
you’re not
you’re not
he’s not
she’s not
they’re not
it’s not

S + ("be" + not)

I’m not
we aren’t
you aren’t
you aren’t
he isn’t
she isn’t
they aren’t
it isn’t

Intermediate and advanced students should learn something about the word "ain’t" because it’s very common in spoken English. When making the negative, some people use "ain’t," regardless of the subject. This YouTube video offers an explanation.



The first lesson in the Blue Level is perhaps the most important to learn of all the lessons on the website because it shows you how to use the verb "be." If you learn how to use this verb in all of its various forms, your English will get much better. Today you learn how to use it in the present tense:

For beginning students….

write by hand  Write this chart in your notebook:

I am
we are
you are
you are
he is
she is
they are
it is

These words are often contracted:


For more advanced students, remember that knowing how the verb "be" changes is essential when making the passive voice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you want to follow this website for the next seven 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 May 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