Learn American English Online Blog
March 31, 2011
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.
March 30, 2011
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:
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?
March 29, 2011
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:
March 28, 2011
The word "meanwhile" is a type of conjunction that indicates there are two things happening simultaneously. Look at this example:
Meanwhile, shoppers observe his daily activity.
You can find more examples for the word "meanwhile" on this page.
March 27, 2011
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.
March 26, 2011
The lesson for today is on the word "instead." Use "instead" when you describe an alternative or a substitution.
March 25, 2011
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:
March 24, 2011
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:
To read more examples for this interesting word, click here.
March 23, 2011
Use "as long as" to describe a condition that must exist in order for something else to happen:
March 22, 2011
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:
March 21, 2011
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:
my conference bike
March 20, 2011
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.
March 19, 2011
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:
You can go to Lesson Seventeen in the Violet Level for more examples.
March 18, 2011
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."
March 17, 2011
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:
leftover chicken = the rest of the chicken
You can click here to go to the lesson for today. It’s on the word "furthermore."
March 16, 2011
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.
March 15, 2011
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:
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.
March 14, 2011
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 .
March 12, 2011
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:
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.
March 11, 2011
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:
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:
A comma could go before "although" if you consider the information following it to be nonessential:
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:
March 10, 2011
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.
March 9, 2011
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:
"So…that" explains to what degree or how much something is true. Notice that these words are separated:
The use of "that" is optional when using "so…."that."
Click here for more examples in this Violet Level lesson.
March 8, 2011
"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.
Click here for more examples of "not only."
March 7, 2011
The word "both" is used when there are two people, two things, or two qualities that are similar:
You can learn more about the word "both" in this Violet Level lesson.
March 6, 2011
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:
Click here to learn more about how to use "due to."
March 5, 2011
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?
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:
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.
March 4, 2011
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:
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.
March 3, 2011
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." )
March 2, 2011
* let alone: or
March 1, 2011
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.