Learn American English Online Blog
September 30, 2011
If you have completed all of the lessons in the Green Level, you can go to the Green Level Review to test your knowledge of the passive voice.
If you haven’t tried the Green Level Dictation exercises, this would be a good time to do them.
With the start of a new month, we’ll begin the Purple Level tomorrow.
September 29, 2011
Today’s lesson explains how to use "get" and then the past participle. This is yet another way of forming a sentence that is passive, but the placement of the word "get" is a little different in this case:
I got my car fixed.
My car got fixed.
Do you recognize the difference between these two sentences? If not, go to the lesson.
September 28, 2011
Use "be" and "called" when describing the name for a thing or for a person. This is good to know if you want to know the name of something in English:
Click here to learn more about using "be" + "called."
September 27, 2011
Today’s lesson will show you how to describe the composition or the production of something. Just use the verb "be" and the past participle for the verb "make," which is "made." Look at the sentence below:
This bread is made of flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
Who made the bread? The information provided only describes what it is made of, not who made it or what made it. We could rewrite the sentence like this:
I made the bread with flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
Now you know who made it. I did. However, there are many instances when we only want to describe composition or production. Look at these additional sentences:
Here’s a new video that shows how to make questions in the present tense and the past tense:
September 26, 2011
The lesson for today shows you how "be" and "used" are put together to describe human activity in the passive voice. The verb "use" is often heard in the passive voice. In fact, if you read this blog every day, you will notice that I use it when describing language skills or the parts of speech:
I think today’s lesson is very important for you to understand.
September 25, 2011
This is our last week of studying the passive voice. The lessons for this week will be much easier than the ones that you saw last week:
September 24, 2011
I’m working on a new section for the website where students can practice making questions. Click here to see what it looks like. Do you think this is helpful?
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The lesson for today is fairly simple. Go here to see how the verb "be" changes when applied to a variety of verbs in different tenses in the passive voice. Now that you are more familiar with the passive voice and all of the tenses, I hope you understand what you see. If not, you’ll have to repeat the lessons in levels Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green. But that’s okay. Most students who visit this website follow the daily lessons here for one to two years before they really feel comfortable with English grammar.
Learning English isn’t easy! I’m always shocked to see other websites that claim you can learn English fast. Some people can, but if you’re like me, learning something as complex as English takes years.
September 23, 2011
The lesson for today shows the differences between verbs in the continous form and verbs in the passive voice. Take a close look and see if you can detect how they are different.
September 22, 2011
So now we’re almost finished with all of the lessons on the passive voice. This is a very difficult part of the website. How well do you know the passive voice when you see it. Click here to find out.
Here’s a new video for past tense verbs that end in the "p" sound:
September 21, 2011
Green Level Lesson Seventeen shows you how to use the verb "make" when forcing one person to do something for another person. Someone is in a position of authority and exerts power or influence:
In this example, the teacher is in a position of authority. If the teacher tells the students to stay after school, they must do it. Here are a few more examples:
September 20, 2011
Click here for today’s lesson on using "get" and "have."
September 19, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the use of gerunds in the passive voice. Remember that a gerund acts like a noun:
Being operated on by a doctor is a little nerve-racking.
Do you see where the gerund is? When a gerund is passive to looks like this:
being + the past participle
If this is really confusing, you should also look at the lesson that explains gerunds in the Red Level.
September 18, 2011
This is a new video that explains what "ed" sounds like when it comes after a "k" sound in a verb:
September 17, 2011
Infinitives in the passive voice are very common in English. They often appear after verbs like "want," "need," "hope," "plan," and "be."
The subject in the above sentence is "pants." The main verb is "need." Following the main verb is an infinitive in the passive voice. This is not too difficult to learn, but you must remember that an infinitive is not the same thing as a verb. Here are a few more examples:
September 16, 2011
The lesson for today is on the past perfect, passive voice.
September 15, 2011
When a verb is in the present perfect, passive voice it looks like this:
has or have + been + the past participle
The students have been told not to take their books home.
Who told them not to take their books home? Probably the teacher, but notice that the person who told them this is not mentioned in the sentence. Here are a few more examples:
The room has been cleaned.
Who cleaned the room? We don’t know, but someone did the work sometime in the past.
My car hasn’t been fixed yet.
Who is supposed to fix the car? From the information given in this sentence, we don’t know. All we know is that the work isn’t done and the car still needs a repair.
Learn more about the present perfect tense in the passive voice by clicking here.
Or go directly to this YouTube video I made a few years ago.
September 14, 2011
If you understood yesterday’s lesson, then today’s lesson on the past continuous tense in the passive voice shouldn’t be too hard. It’s a continuous tense so you know you need to use an "ing" word somewhere (in this case it’s "being"), and it’s in the past, so you have the choice of "was" or "were." It’s in the passive voice, so you need a past participle. The formula looks like this:
was or were + being + the past participle
The horses were being trained to pull a carriage.
The oil in the car wasn’t being changed regularly.
The students were being taught to use a computer.
The machine wasn’t being used properly.
September 13, 2011
When the present continuous tense is in the passive voice, it looks like this:
(be) + being + the past participle
The verb "be" changes depending on the subject. Then, you always use "being" because it’s continuous, and then the past participle:
A house is being built across the street.
This means that it’s happening right now. Click here to learn more.
September 12, 2011
The lessons that you study this week are among the most difficult of the entire website. Today’s lesson is on using modal verbs in the past tense and in the passive voice. Look at the sentence below:
The subject is "homework." It should have been finished an hour ago. Who should have finished it? We don’t know. All we know is that it wasn’t finished. Use modal verbs in the past tense to describe an event that did or didn’t happen in the past. Here’s another example:
This sentence describes something that happened in the past: Ted came to work late many times. As a consequence he was fired (This sentence is in the past conditional which you’ll learn about in the Orange Level.).
If all of this is too confusing or too difficult, I recommend that you go back to the Yellow Level and study modal verbs.
September 11, 2011
One of the reasons why I started this website was because of what happened on 9-11. I imagined the possibility of living in a country so choked by terror that I’d never be able to leave my house. Biological and nuclear terror scenarios regularly played out on the evening news as experts in the terrorism field described in detail the possibilities for living in the carnage of post 9-11 America, and I was concerned that there might be long periods of time–weeks or months–when everyone would be forced to seek shelter at home. Obviously, I have a very fertile imagination. But I’m also a person who plans for the future, and I thought at that time that a website on the internet could provide some alternative to a regular classroom for my students to go to every day–in the worst case scenario. That was in 2003. There were a few other feeble attempts at building websites that preceded this one, but this is the version that I stuck with, fortunately.
I’ll continue to work on the website because It’s fun, but more than that, it feels good to help people who need the help. There are many places in the world that can’t build a school, but at the very least, they are able to set up a computer with internet access. In some small way, the website sends a message of peace and goodwill.
September 10, 2011
Click here for today’s lesson on modal verbs in the passive voice.
There’s a new Think in English exercise. Who is that in the chair?
I’m still looking around for new a chat room service because Meebo is discontinuing its chat rooms. The Yellow Level chat room uses new software. Let me know if it’s any good. Thanks!
Here’s a new video. It shows how to make the "nk" sound. This is in contrast to one posted a few days ago about the "ng" sound:
September 9, 2011
Today’s lesson will show you how to use be supposed to. We use this when describing someone’s responsibilities or when describing when a person has an expectation of another person:
Who expects her to finish the work? It could be her boss, or it could be the woman herself.
Other people expect me to be at the meeting. If I don’t go to the meeting, the other people who are there might get angry.
Did the plane arrive? No. Everyone expected it to arrive at 10:30, but it was late.
Click here to learn more about "be supposed to."
September 8, 2011
Did you know that you can replace the verb "be" with the verb "get" when making the passive voice? If you have any trouble using or understanding the verb "get," this lesson is essential.
This is a new video that shows how to make the "ng" sound:
September 7, 2011
Can you figure out how to form the future passive voice? Remember that to form the passive voice you need to use some form of the verb "be" and then the past participle for the main verb. If you pick the verb "deliver," for example, the past participle is "delivered." This looks like the past tense because it’s a regular verb–but it’s not. To make the future tense, you can use the helping verb "will," and then just add the verb "be."
will + be + delivered
Do you understand why the verb "be" is there? If so, that’s very good. In a sentence, this verb phrase can be used like this:
The pizza will be delivered in half an hour.
Who will deliver the pizza? Do you know? Does the sentence above give you any idea who will do the work? No. That’s one of the reasons why the passive voice is useful. You can describe some kind of activity without identifying or knowing how is doing the action.
Click here for more practice in making the future passive voice.
September 6, 2011
After three months for a summer break, schools in the United States are back in session. We always say that Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the summer–although summer doesn’t end until September 21 according to the calendar. Most teachers and students are full of optimism as they begin a new school year.
This is also the time of year when apples become ripe. I have five apple trees in my yard and they’re all heavy with ripening fruit. There’s a new Think in English exercise. Guess what the subject is.
The lesson for today is on the passive voice in the past tense. As you know the verb "be" indicates the tense, so when making the passive voice in this tense, choose "was" or "were" and then the past participle:
Do you see where the verb "be" is and the main verb? The main verb is in the form of the past participle:
September 5, 2011
Today is Labor Day in the United States. This is a holiday for workers.
How are you doing so far in the Green Level? This is one of the most difficult levels on the website; however, if you feel like you don’t understand what I’m trying to teach you in this level, hang in there. The passive voice is difficult to learn. Most native speakers don’t even realize they’re using it.
Lesson Three in the Green Level is the lesson for today. This is the present passive voice. Look at the sentences below:
Do these sentences look like they’re in the present tense or the past tense? They’re all in the present tense. The verb "be" indicates the verb tense. The main verb is in the form of the past participle. The words "fixed," "trained," "paid," and "made" might look like the past tense, but they are past participles. Beginning students often mistake the passive voice for the past tense because the past participle often looks like a past tense verb.
September 4, 2011
This is a new video that explains some of the differences between voiced and unvoiced consonants:
I’m not an expert at teaching pronunciation, but I hope this video and the new vowels and consonants section of the website help you improve your pronunciation, reading, and listening skills.
September 3, 2011
Lesson Two in the Green Level shows some very basic examples of how to use the passive voice in order to talk about your life. When you describe the day of your birth or the place of your birth, use the past tense form of "be" and the past participle, "born."
These are answers to questions that everyone should understand, especially if you decide to move to the United States.
Click here to look at the new consonant sounds section. If you have any problems with the audio tracks, please let me know.
September 2, 2011
This video explains the basic formation of the passive voice:
This is a new page for consonant sound "ch."
September 1, 2011
The Green Level begins today. During most of the month of September, we will study the passive voice. I recommend that you look over the list of lessons by clicking here. If you are unfamiliar with some of the verb tenses included in that list, it would be a good idea for you to go back and study them now in the Blue, Red, or Yellow levels.
The nice thing about studying the passive voice is that it helps you to remember some basic things about English. While it may also be confusing, it reinforces the need to understand basic grammar.
This Think in English video includes some subtitles in the passive voice. Can you identify the passive voice when you see it?
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If you want to follow this website for the next four months and improve your English, here’s the schedule:
Click here to go to August 2011. During that month, we studied modal verbs, adjectives, and how to make comparisons–among other things.