Today is the last day for the Violet Level. The lesson for today is on the word "whenever."

As you probably know already, each month a different section of the website is featured, so starting tomorrow, April 1, we’ll learn about prepositions.

Here’s a new reading exercise. This is the one and only reading assignment for the Violet Level.


The last five lessons in the Violet Level were finished just in the last week. Today’s lesson on the word "nevertheless" was added upon request from a student who wanted to know how to use it in a sentence.

This is from today’s email:

The Word of the Day: outlast

This is a very useful verb that we use to describe a person or a thing that can last longer than something else. We use if for time and duration. Here are some examples:

  • Tony can outlast anyone when playing soccer.
  • She was 102 when she died. She outlasted two of her children who died in their 70s.
  • These running shoes are great. They outlasted my previous pair considerably.
  • I can’t outlast you in playing chess.
  • Apple computers easily outlast most windows-based machines.

I find it interesting that you can use the word "out" as kind of a prefix for many other verbs: outdo, outrun, and outlive are just a few that come to mind.

Can you make sentences with the words you see above?


Today’s lesson is on the word "besides." Don’t confuse it with the preposition, "beside." We use "besides" when describing an afterthought. You have an idea, and then you add additional information about that idea:

  • We can’t get this couch because it’s too expensive. Besides, it would be too big for the living room.
  • Besides being late for her interview, she also showed up wearing a sweatshirt. Needles to say, she didn’t get the job.
  • Riding a bike to work every day is good for your health. Besides that, it costs much less than driving a car.

The word "meanwhile" is a type of conjunction that indicates there are two things happening simultaneously. Look at this example:

man in a box This man has agreed to live inside a glass box at the Mall of America for one month. He’s doing this to raise awareness of healthy lifestyles.

Meanwhile, shoppers observe his daily activity. man in a box 2

You can find more examples for the word "meanwhile" on this page.


Thanks to all the students who have contributed to the website recently. It really helps to have people send in suggestions or notice errors that I’ve made in creating material for the website.

Thanks also to students who have sent in photos of themselves. The Photos section helps to create a sense of community for the website that is similar to that of a classroom. If you want to be included, please tell me your name, the name of the country that you come from, and then just email the picture.


The lesson for today is on the word "instead." Use "instead" when you describe an alternative or a substitution.


Today’s lesson on "as soon as" will help you describe the conditions for a situation that happens in the future, the present, or the past:

  • The mechanic will fix the car as soon as the parts arrive.
  • We’ll call you as soon as your shipment arrives
  • Many teenagers get their driver’s license as soon as they turn 16.
  • As soon as the ground thaws, we can start planting our lettuce.
  • Ashley called her mother as soon as she heard the bad news.
  • As soon as he found a job, he and his girlfriend began to plan their wedding.

snow landing

  • If you shovel the snow off of your driveway as soon as it lands, the snow won’t turn to ice.


The word "as" is very similar to "while." It’s not the same word that’s used to make comparisons (His car isn’t as fast as her car.). Here are some examples of how it’s used:

  • The phone rang just as I was leaving the house.
  • She listened as her child read the book.
  • As you drive down this highway, you will see a lot of farms by the side of the road.

To read more examples for this interesting word, click here.

Use "as long as" to describe a condition that must exist in order for something else to happen:

  • Her mother says she can go play outside as long as her homework is finished.
  • He won’t have any trouble finding a job as long as he stays in the health care field.
  • As long as you’re careful, you may borrow my car.
  • She’ll keep working for as long as she can.
  • This website will remain free for as long as possible.

An important word for you to learn is "while." We use it to show that something is happening at the same time as something else.


Look at this sentence:

It’s dangerous to use a cell phone while you are driving.

There are two actions mentioned: using a cell phone and driving. It’s dangerous to do both of those things at the same time. Here are some more sentences:

Greg had a part-time job while he attended college.

While Halimo was making dinner, her children were playing outside.

Let’s play cards while we wait for the train to arrive.

I took this picture while I was walking in the park:



There are a few different uses for the word "since." In today’s lesson, it’s similar to the word "when." You can use "since" with a clause, a phrase, or a single word. It indicates when something began:


  • He hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday.
  • Since learning that her blood pressure is high, Mary has been trying to diet and exercise.
  • They haven’t had any problems with their supervisors since the meeting was held.
  • I haven’t taken my conference bike out for a ride since late last year:

conference bike

my conference bike


In case you missed it, we’re trying out a new type of chat room: The Red Level Chat. This is different from the Meebo chat room that has become so popular in the Blue Level. See if you like it. If not, I’ll try something else.


The lesson today will help you describe situations that are true, a surprise, or hard to believe. Look closely to see how "even if" is used in these sentences:

  • She wants to volunteer as a teacher for women and girls in Afghanistan even if it is dangerous in certain areas.
  • Even if they solve the problems at the Fukushima nuclear reactors, the whole area will remain radioactive for a very long time.
  • We have to fix this plumbing problem even if it means that we have to stay up all night to do it.

You can go to Lesson Seventeen in the Violet Level for more examples.

Here’s a new video that shows how to use the word "no" between a verb and a noun. Some of my students make the mistake of using "not" in place of "no" in sentences that look like these:


The lesson for today is on the word "unless."

Yesterday morning a student asked me what the word "rest" meant as we were reading something together in class. I had forgotten that many students are not familiar with the meaning of "rest" apart from "to relax" or "to sleep." You can use "the rest" to describe the remaining amount of something or the remaining number in a group. Here are some examples:

  • Students in one section of the classroom practiced conversation skills while students in the rest of the class studied grammar.

  • Joe made an extra $500 last week at work. He spent $100 of it on groceries, $50 on clothes, and the rest he put in the bank.
  • We had a lot of fried chicken for dinner. We ate most of it, but the rest we put in the frig.


leftover chicken = the rest of the chicken

You can click here to go to the lesson for today. It’s on the word "furthermore."


The words "in addition" are similar to "and." They go at the beginning of a clause or a sentence. Listen to your teacher read examples for "in addition" here.


Today’s lesson will help you learn how to use "on the other hand." This is similar to "or." It goes between two sentences or two clauses:

  • It would be nice to have a new car. On the other hand, we will save a lot of money if we keep our old car.
  • Florida is a great place to live if you like warm and sunny weather; on the other hand, the humidity there is very high, especially in the summer.
  • On one hand, a job at this company would provide great experience; on the other hand, the job involves doing some very boring and tedious work.

Notice that the first sentence is preceded by "on one hand." This is often the case when "on the other hand" is used.

Click here to read and listen to some more examples.


Click here for today’s lesson on the word "otherwise."

If you’re a regular visitor to the chat rooms on the website, you might have noticed that there’s a new room for Blue Level Chat. I’m trying something different because with Meebo, there wasn’t enough control over bad behavior. There was also the problem of having the chat room hijacked by someone who put the chat room within his own website and that invited a lot of people in who were not interested in learning English. Let’s give this new chat room a try. If people really hate it, I might be able to find something else .


Today’s lesson is on "even though." This is very similar to "although" (see yesterday’s lesson below), but it’s a little stronger and, perhaps, a little easier to use:

  • She went to work today even though she’s sick.
  • He likes to smoke even though he knows it’s bad for his health.
  • Even though it’s difficult for a 60-year-old person to learn a new language, Ming continues to study English every day.

Click here to listen to me read more examples of "even though" in sentences.

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To our friends in Japan, we’re all hoping for the best during this awful catastrophe. There are still thousands of people missing following the earthquake and the tsunami. Hopefully, the international response will be quick enough to help as many people as possible.


Today and tomorrow you’ll learn how to use "although" and "even though." The lesson for today is on "although." Click on the link to listen to me use "although" in a sentence. There’s also a video on that page.

Look at this sentence:

  • Although Veronica likes her present job, she needs to find a new job that’s closer to her house.

Veronica likes her job, but she needs to find a new job. Why? She needs something that’s closer to her house. We use the word "although" to show the difference between facts or two situations. (audio stops here)

Continue reading on your own:

The word "although" is often put at the beginning of a sentence to create a dependent clause. At the end of the dependent clause, use a comma. After the comma, use the independent clause (or main clause.) You can also reverse the order of the clauses so that the sentence sounds like this:

  • Veronica needs to find a new job closer to her house although she likes her present job.

A comma could go before "although" if you consider the information following it to be nonessential:

  • Veronica needs to find a new job closer to her house, although she likes her present job.

Do you see the difference? Another consideration is if you think the contrasting information is slightly confusing without the comma. Then go ahead and use the comma before "although." I wouldn’t worry too much about this for right now because these are stylistic concerns that vary from one writer to the next. Many experts in English debate the use of commas.

Here are some more examples:

  • We’d like to get a new car although we can’t afford it.
  • Alex would like to ask Kristin to go out with him, although he won’t.
  • Although it’s 3000 miles away, they’re going to drive to California this summer instead of fly.
  • He’s still awake although it’s past his bedtime.


The video of the day shows some of the differences between "so" and "such." After you watch it, click on the link below the video:


Violet Level Lesson Nine will help you understand how to use "such" in a sentence.


Today’s lesson is on "so that" and "so….that." There are two different ways of using these words together.

"So that" explains why someone does something:

  • Marta is working two jobs so that her kids can go to college.
  • I usually go to to bed at 9:30 so that I can wake up early in the morning.
  • Ali always brings an extra sandwich to work so that other people will have something to eat.

"So…that" explains to what degree or how much something is true. Notice that these words are separated:

  • He was so hungry that he ate the entire pizza.
  • They have so much work to do that they can’t keep up with all of it.
  • Helen was so happy that she started to cry.

The use of "that" is optional when using "so…."that."

  • Helen was so happy she started to cry.
  • He was so hungry he ate the entire pizza.

Click here for more examples in this Violet Level lesson.

"Not only" is similar to "both." We use "not only" when describing something or someone as having more than one quality, and the sentence is in two parts. The information contained in the second part of the sentence is often more important, more interesting, or more surprising than the information in the first part.

  • This cereal is not only good for you, it’s delicious.
  • She’s not only intelligent, she’s also ambitious.
  • Not only was the test difficult, it was hard to read, too.

Click here for more examples of "not only."


The word "both" is used when there are two people, two things, or two qualities that are similar:

  • Both of his kids are taking physics this year.
  • They need both a computer and a printer.
  • Taking the bus to work is both easy and convenient.
  • A cell phone is used for both talking with other people and searching for things on the internet.

cell phone

You can learn more about the word "both" in this Violet Level lesson.


How well did you do with yesterday’s lesson? If you understand how to use "because of," then you should also learn how to use "due to" because they’re both about the same:

  • I couldn’t go to the meeting because of a conflict in my schedule.
  • I couldn’t go to the meeting due to a conflict in my schedule.
  • The flight was delayed because of bad weather.
  • The flight was delayed due to bad weather.
  • Because of financial mismanagement, the company went out of business.
  • Due to financial mismanagement, the company went out of business.

Click here to learn more about how to use "due to."


Your lesson for the day will show you the difference between using "because" and "because of." Most of my students know that the word "because" is used when they answer questions starting with the word "why," but they often make mistakes with phrases or clauses following it. Look at the sentences below:

Why did she move to California?

  • She moved to California because she likes the weather there.
  • She moved to California because of the nice weather.

After "because," make sure you use a subject and a verb (a clause). In the sentence above, the subject is "she" and the verb is "likes." After "because of," you may use a single word or a phrase, but don’t use a subject and a verb together. Let’s look at some more sentences side by side:

  • A lot of small businesses closed because the economy was bad.
  • A lot of small businesses closed because of the bad economy.
  • He takes medication because he had a heart attack.
  • He takes medication because of his heart attack.
  • Because the rent was so high, they found a different apartment.
  • Because of the high rent, they found a different apartment.

It might help you to review phrases and clauses in the Orange Level when you study "because" and "because of." That’s why I provided the link to it.


The word "consequently" is a conjunctive adverb that appears between two sentences. The first sentence describes something that happens; the second sentence describes the result or the consequence. Here are some examples:

  • Two days of rain quickly melted a heavy layer of snow in March; consequently, the rivers overflowed their banks and flooded many homes and business.

  • Vince failed to pay enough money to the I.R.S. in taxes last year; consequently, he was audited and needed to pay a fine.
  • Martha decided to stop taking her medicine; consequently, she died.

Notice that a semicolon ( ; ) appears before the word "consequently."

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Here’s a new quiz to match yesterday’s emailed lesson on the verb "last." Some students told me that they were still unsure about how to use "last" in questions and negatives, so this might help.


The lesson for today is on the word "therefore."

Did you get today’s email lesson for the word "last?" If not, sign up for free email lessons and updates. It’s all free!

(Note: I made a mistake in the answers to the exercise in the email. The answer to #1 is "does" — not "do." )


Today’s lesson is on the word "however." This is a conjunctive adverb that is used to show differences and contrasts. It often appears in the middle of two independent clauses:

  • Eating a healthy breakfast in the morning is important for your health; however, many people don’t wake up early enough to make breakfast, let alone* eat it.
  • It would be wise to invest in solar panels to heat our house; however, the cost of purchasing and installing them is too high right now.
  • Margaret wants to work for a different company; however, now is not a good time to find a new job because of the bad economy.

* let alone: or

Here’s a new video for the verb "last."


Did you receive today’s email? If not, make sure you sign up for email on the homepage.

Click here to go to February 2011 to see what students learned.