If you are interested in learning more about Halloween, click here.

Here’s a new pronunciation video for the verbs that end in "v" in the past tense:


Here’s a new page for the Purple Level. It’s the Purple Level Review. I recommend that you write your answers in your notebook. You can then check your work by going to the answers page.

The last lesson for the Purple Level is on the verb "have." As with the verb "do," you can use "have" as a helping verb or as a main verb. This causes some confusion for students. Look at the sentences below:


  • Jerry has a lawnmower.
  • He’s had the same lawnmower for the last five years.
  • Have you ever had to use a lawnmower to cut the grass?

The first sentence is in the present tense and uses the verb "have" to indicate possession. The second sentence is in the present perfect tense and describes the length of time that he has owned the lawnmower. The third sentence uses "have to" in the present perfect tense and the main verb is "use." If you are confused by the sentences above, you should probably visit the linked pages for more help.

After the verb "be," the second most important verb to understand well when studying English is the verb "do." It’s essential to learn how to use "do" as both a helping verb and a main verb:

What do you do all day?

In the question above the helping verb is "do." The main verb is also "do." You can answer the question by saying…

I go to work.  /  I drive a truck.  /  I hang out with my friends.

But you can also say….

I do a lot of different things.

In this sentence, the verb "do" is the main verb. Used this way, "do" can mean many different things.

Click here to learn more about the verb "do." You might also want to go back to this Red Level lesson.

Today’s lesson is on the word "send." This is a fairly simple word to use, but I’ve found that many of my students need practice using it in the passive voice:

  • The package was sent yesterday. (I sent it.)
  • His brother is going to be sent to Afghanistan. (The U.S. government is going to send him.)
  • The information is usually sent through email. (A company sends the information.)


Your lesson for today is on the word "let." This is an important verb to learn because we use it when making invitations or asking people to do things (requests):

  • Let’s go see a movie tonight. (invitation)
  • Let’s turn to page 36. (a request from a teacher to students)
  • Let me use that. (request)


Purple Level Lesson Twenty-one can help you with the verb "seem." This word is similar to "be," but we use "seem" when describing impressions or opinions. How do you see the world? How does it seem to you? Following the verb "seem" you will often use an adjective:

  • My supervisor seems angry today. (But is he? That’s my impression.)
  • This seems like a nice place. (But is it? That’s the idea of the person speaking. It could be a terrible place and the person speaking has no clue.)
  • She seemed like an honest person. (And she was. The idea about the person was correct.)

This is a new video that I made after my trip to Chicago last weekend. It’s intended for beginning or intermediate level students.

cloud gate

Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean)

The lesson for today is on the verb "be." I always tell my students that this is the most important verb to master in English.

After a long weekend in Chicago, I’m ready to get back to my regular activities here on the website. I took a lot of pictures and video for the website, so you’ll see them showing up here and there during the next few weeks. Here’s a picture of Marina City, a very well-known Chicago landmark:

Marina City in Chicago

Marina City

Here’s a new exercise for Think in English.

There are many different ways to use the word "play." Click here to learn more.

Your lesson for today is on the word "cut." There are also many idioms that include this word.

Today I’m blogging from Chicago. I have a lot of friends in the city because I used to live here. Later this morning, I’ll do a little sightseeing (look around and take pictures) and I’ll go out to eat. There are many good restaurants here. Yesterday I had Thai food. Yumm!

It looks like I mixed up the lesson for today with yesterday’s lesson. That’s okay. Click here to learn about the word "tell" and be sure to watch this video afterwards. It explains some of the differences between "say" and "tell."

Here’s a new survey. It helps to know where students go when they visit this website, so if you could indicate which section helps you the most, that would be great. Thanks!

The lesson for today is on the word "keep." There’s a video for this word on YouTube. After the lesson and the video, try this quiz.

Learn how to use the verb "say" in Purple Level Lesson Fourteen. If you haven’t started to take the quizzes for the Purple Level, you can start with Quiz #1.

This video should help you if you’re having trouble making the past tense for verbs that end in an "f."

The lesson for today is on the verb "want."

This video will help you make the past tense for regular verbs that end in a "z" sound:

Following the lead of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the word of the day is "borrow." Yesterday it was "owe." I have a lot of sympathy for the people who are out protesting. The growing disparity between rich and poor is disturbing, and this recent recession makes the gap more evident. So this week, the theme for Word of the Day will be related to economic matters that have come bubbling up from the 99%ers.

Allow me this rant….

While this movement might seem directionless to some in the media, there are certainly enough problems to complain about. Isn’t that why the crowds are so large? There are genuine concerns and complaints when it comes to the inequalities wrought by economic and political systems that favor managers and oligarchs over the rights of the people who do the real work and whose voices aren’t being heard. I find it ironic that those bewildered media elites who report the news don’t understand the reasons underlying this dissent. And I hasten to add, that this is a worldwide phenomenon that affects all people, regardless of their country’s prevailing economic system.

When someone in the top tier of management or government makes a mistake, the entire organziation can suffer from it, but oddly enough, the decision-makers–the people who screwed up–rarely seem to bear the consequences of their misdeeds. Why is that? Workers who were promised pensions and retirement benefits twenty or thirty years ago suddenly discover these promises have been rescinded due to no fault of their own. Promises made by those who are in the 1% have been broken; the protests reflect the anger resulting from those broken promises.

Corporations (not all of them!) look at the bottom line and what’s at stake for their shareholders while the workers for those corporations are expended for short-term gains. People lose their jobs because of changes in technology or the availability of cheap labor elsewhere. And the decision makers, whoever they may be, continue to create the same old unimaginative infrastructure–the roads, bridges, city centers, mass transit–which dehumanizes the people who have to use it.

In the United States, I’m especially concerned about people who do the dirtiest, most difficult jobs, yet they can’t get health care for themselves and their families. They’re forced into cobbling together full-time hours from two or three part-time jobs because the companies they work for ignore the real contributions the employees make to their success. Most recently, in addition to difficult working conditions or, worse, the indignity of unemployment, the 99%ers face the contempt of the those in the 1% who have obtained enormous wealth for themselves at the expense of everyone below them.

In a rat race, those who are truly rats are the ones who win. I’m all for capitalism, but democratic principles of fairness seem to be missing from it right now. (Okay, so that’s the end of my rant. Tomorrow it’s back to teaching and learning English.)

In Purple Level Lesson Twelve, you’ll learn how to use the verb "need."

The Word of the Day is "owe."

Here’s a new video. It shows how to pronounce verbs that end with an "s" sound in the past tense:

Today’s lesson should help you with the word "come." The main thing for you to know about this word is that it’s similar to "go," but use "come" when something goes towards you or your home–not away from you or your home. Consider the situation below:

I live here in Minneapolis
You live here in Canada.
  • Me: You should come visit me here in Minneapolis.
  • You: Okay, I’ll see you in November.

Last year….

minneapolisright arrowhouse
I live here in Minneapolis
My friend lives here in Canada.

I went to Canada to visit a friend of mine. He asked me to come for a visit.

Sometimes there’s not much of a difference between "come" and "go." To learn more, go to the lesson.


In Purple Level Lesson Ten you’ll learn about the verb "make." One of the most important things to keep in mind about "make" is that it’s often used in place of "cook."

Cindy cooked breakfast. / Cindy made breakfast.

You can use either verb, but "made," in this instance, is very popular.

There are also many idioms that make use of this word.

The next lesson in the Purple Level is for the word "know."

I’ve changed one of the Red Level chat room pages to a page devoted entirely to surveys. In this first survey about ice cream, it looks like chocolate is coming out ahead of vanilla.


In Purple Level Lesson Eight, you’ll find examples of sentences using the verb "look." There are also many idioms that use this word.

This morning in class students learned how to make the causative form with the verb "get." You learned this in the Green Level when we studied the passive voice, but I thought it would be a good idea to go over this again because it’s so common in English. Let’s consider this a review of something you may have already learned:

When someone else does work for you, you can make the sentence like this:

subject + get + an object + the past participle + by the person

I got my hair cut by a barber.  /  I got my hair cut.

It’s not necessary to say who did the work. That’s optional. The important thing about this kind of a sentence is that the main verb is not "get." The main verb would be the one that is in the form of the past participle. The verb "get," however, does indicate the time when the action happened.

  • She’ll get her license renewed today. (future tense)
  • Leonard got his teeth cleaned yesterday. (past tense)
  • You can get your prescription filled over there. (modal verb: can)
  • They get their gutters cleaned once a year. (present tense)
  • He gets his eyes checked every couple of years. (present tense)

This YouTube video will provide you with more information about the causative form.

The lesson for today is on the verb "see." You can use this verb when using your eyes to view the world, but it’s important to know that "see" is very popular when describing relationships or when visiting a person or a thing:

  • Mary has to see a doctor about her stomach.
  • Bill is going to see his girlfriend this afternoon.
  • Bill and Jennifer have been seeing each other for the last two years.
  • I’m going to see a movie tonight. (Use "see" for a movie when you go to a movie theater. Don’t use "see" when watching a movie at home.)
  • Do you see what I mean? (see = understand)

The verbs that we’ll study this week are see, look, know, make, come, and need.

This is a new video that will help you if you’re having trouble making the past tense with verbs than end in a "b."

In Purple Level Lesson Lesson Five, you’ll learn about how to use the verb "take."

I’ve noticed over the many years that I’ve taught English that many people around the world use the word "take" for eating and drinking. You certainly may continue to do that, but in the U.S., "eat," "drink," or "have" are more popular:

Instead of, "When do you take breakfast?" use "When do you have breakfast" or "When do you eat breakfast?" The verb "take," however, is commonly used for medicine:

  • She took three aspirin for a headache, and now she’s okay.
  • What do you take for a headache?
  • Some people need to take a lot of medicine for their illnesses.

Of course, there are many different applications for this word. There are also many different idioms that can be formed with "take."


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

I made this video a few days ago for the verb "put" and added it to Lesson Three in the Purple Level:

In Purple Level Lesson Two, you can study the word "get." If you look in a dictionary, you’ll see many, many different ways to use this word. I recommend that you become familiar with it.

There’s something new in the chat section of the website. It’s a shoutbox. You can leave text or audio messages for people on this page. Have fun!

Thanks to everyone who has sent in pictures for October for the Photos page. I’ll post them soon. Pictures on the website help build a sense of community for the website, and you can see where people are coming from when they visit.

Today we’ll start the Purple Level with Lesson One and the verb "go." Many of the lessons in the Purple Level are followed by idioms that match the word in the lesson.

There’s a new exercise in the What’s the Question section. You can practice making questions in the present perfect tense on this page.

I’m off to play some golf this morning. Do you like to play golf? It’s very relaxing.

In October we’ll study English in the Purple Level. I made this level believing that a person could choose a handful of verbs and say just about anything he or she wanted to say with the words in that group. I think I started out with ten verbs and have since expanded it to 25. I’ll probably add more, but I don’t want to include too many because that wasn’t the original intention in creating this level for the website.

You’ll notice that most of these verbs are irregular and fairly small. That’s the way it goes with English, especially the spoken word. If you’re learning English for the first time and want to improve your ability to speak, don’t waste your time on big words. Focus on the little ones. Those are the words that most of use.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

If you want to follow this website for the next three 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 September 2011. During that month, we studied the passive voice.