Learn American English Online Blog
December 31, 2012
The word of the day is "resolution." Have you made any resolutions for the new year? This year I’m going to try to lose a little weight–maybe 20 pounds–and try to be more organized.
You’ll notice that there are two sets of weekly schedules on the homepage now. One is for beginning level students and the other is for intermediate level students or for those students who have completed the first four levels.
There’s a new Think in English exercise. Click here to take a look at it.
Did you get the email I sent out to everyone today? If not, make sure you sign up on the homepage. Email keeps students on task and provides new information about changes to the website.
December 30, 2012
There’s a new listening lab exercise for verbs in the present perfect tense in which the helping verb is contracted. This is a good exercise because sometimes it’s very hard to hear the contraction.
The word of the day is "adjust."
December 29, 2012
You have a test today! Click here to take the Green Level test. If you don’t do very well on it, I recommend that you repeat the first four levels of this online program: the Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green levels.
Beginning next week, the instruction on this website will provide guidance for two tracks: beginning learners of English and intermediate learners of English. The first three levels–Blue, Red, and Yellow–are designed for students who are new to English or need to review basic grammar. The Green, Purple, Orange, and Violet levels are intended for intermediate learners, and the rest of the website can be used by anyone, including advanced students.
The word of the day is "cliff." If you’ve been hearing the use of this word lately, it’s because the United States is about to go over a fiscal cliff if Congress doesn’t agree on how to raise taxes and cut federal spending.
December 28, 2012
The word of the day is "effect."
There’s a new listening exercise for verbs in the present perfect tense.
December 27, 2012
I use dictation exercises with my students all the time. This helps them to develop their listening skills. The way it works is this: I say something and then they write down on a piece of paper exactly what I have said. Everyone likes this exercise because it helps students realize how important it is to learn how to listen for individual words in English. Click here for the Green Level dictation exercises.
By the way, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from students lately asking how much it costs to use the website. Remember, the website is always free! There’s no cost, and there are no passwords. We try to make this as pleasant an experience as possible and we don’t want anyone to feel obligated in anyway; however, to those visitors who want to make a donation, you can click here. Donations help to keep the website free for people around the world who can’t afford to pay for online language instruction.
The word of the day is "lift."
Here’s a new listening exercise that will help you listen to someone tell the time.
December 26, 2012
After having completed all of the lessons in the Green Level, you can practice what you have learned in the Green Level Reading Room. If you haven’t finished all of the Green Level lessons yet, now is a good time to do that. There’s a test on Saturday.
The word of the day is "crust."
A student emailed me and asked for a listening exercise that included numbers used in everyday English, so here it is.
December 25, 2012
December 23, 2012
Click here to learn how to use "be called" when describing the names that are given to things and people.
The word of the day is "raise."
December 22, 2012
When asking about the materials used to make something, we often use the passive voice:
Click here for today’s lesson.
The word of the day is "cold." Now that winter has begun, some of us have many more months of cold weather ahead. Here in Minnesota it’s about 20 degrees, which isn’t bad for late December, but we know it will get much colder than that soon. Do you like cold weather? I love it!
Trees in a nearby park covered with snow.
December 21, 2012
Today’s lesson provides examples for "be used." If you follow this blog, you see these words together quite often. Remember that the verb "be" changes depending on the tense and, in some cases, the subject of the sentence or question:
Click here to learn more.
The word of the day is "jolt."
December 20, 2012
Green Level Lesson Twenty shows how the verb "be" changes as it is used with various verb tenses in the passive voice. This is yet another way to review the use of the passive voice.
The word of the day is "knack."
There’s a new listening lab exercise for infinitives. Click here to take a listen.
December 19, 2012
Your lesson for today provides examples of sentences in various continuous tenses. The reason for this lesson is because verbs in some continuous tenses are sometimes mistaken by students as being passive, especially verbs that are in the present perfect continuous tense:
Do you know the difference between these two sentences?
The word of the day is "dairy."
December 18, 2012
The word of the day is "qualify."
December 17, 2012
The verb"make" is another causative verb that has a meaning quite different from its use as a main verb. If you make someone do something, you force that person to do some kind of action, sometimes against his or her willingness to do it. Look at these examples:
Click here to learn more about using "make."
The word of the day is "yet."
There’s a new word of the day quiz. Click here for Quiz #4.
December 16, 2012
The lesson for today is on causative verbs, "get" and "have." It’s interesting that these two verbs can be used in so many different ways. Today’s lesson shows you yet one more way they are useful and important to understand. Look at the sentences in the table below:
Note the word order in each sentence. Following the subject, use "get" or "have," then the object that is acted upon, and then the main verb is in the form of the past participle. In each of these sentences, someone else does the work. These sentences are examples of the causative form or causative voice.
We can rewrite these sentences in the passive voice:
Note that the use of "get" to form the passive voice does not always sound pleasing to the ears, so the last two examples don’t show its use.
The word of the day is "grief." It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire country has been traumatized by the events of last Friday morning.
December 15, 2012
My heart goes out to all the families affected by the senseless act of violence that occurred yesterday in Connecticut. All Americans are grieving the loss of innocent children and their teachers. Once again we have to bear the consequences of living in a country that places such a high value on gun ownership. The word of the day is "tragedy."
December 14, 2012
I’ve noticed over the years that I’ve been teaching English as a second language that many of my beginning and intermediate level students are stumped by passive infinitives. As you might recall from lessons in the Red Level, an infinitive can be used like a noun. It’s composed of the word "to" and then the simple form of a verb. Let’s use the verb "give" as an example:
Click here to learn more about passive infinitives.
The word of the day is "admire." It rhymes with "inspire," which was yesterday’s word of the day, and the "A" section needed more words.
December 13, 2012
Your lesson for today is on using the past perfect tense in the passive voice. If you have trouble with this, it might help to review the past perfect tense in the active voice and then go back to today’s lesson.
‘Tis the season to be inspired. The word of the day is "inspire."
December 12, 2012
Before you go to today’s lesson on using the present perfect tense in the passive voice, it might be a good idea to look first at Yellow Level Lesson Three when we studied the present perfect tense in the active voice. Then look at the differences in these sentences:
When the present perfect tense is put into the passive voice, it looks like this:
S + has or have + been + the past participle
Pay attention to the subject because that will determine whether or not you use "has" or "have." The verb "be" is in the form of a past participle because the tense is present perfect, but the main verb is also in the form of a past participle. To learn more, click here.
The word of the day is "date."
December 11, 2012
Your lesson for today is on verbs in the past continuous tense and in the passive voice. This is similar to yesterday’s lesson, but the verb "be" is either "was" or "were," depending on the subject:
S + was or were + being + the past participle
Click here to move on to Green Level Lesson Eleven.
The word of the day is "kind."
There’s a new exercise in the Listening Lab: Exercise 16.
December 10, 2012
When present continuous tense verbs are in the passive voice, the formula looks like this:
S + am, is, or are + being + the past participle
Some students find this to be difficult or confusing because it requires the speaker to use the verb "be" twice. The subject determines which form of "be" is used, then you have to use "being" because it’s continuous. The main verb is in the form of the past participle.
Let’s apply this to the verb "train," which is a regular verb. A person who is trained is given some kind of instruction or taught how to do something. It’s common to hear the verb "train" in the passive voice.
The table below shows what the verb "train" looks like in the passive voice in the present continuous tense:
To learn more, go to Green Level Lesson Ten.
The word of the day is "parent."
December 9, 2012
Today’s lesson shows you how to use modal verbs with main verbs to describe past situations in the passive voice. This might be a little confusing if you didn’t complete yesterday’s lesson.
There’s also a quiz at the end of the lesson.
December 8, 2012
Your lesson for today is on using modal verbs with the passive voice.
The word of the day is "ma’am." This is a good word to know if you live in the United States and work directly with customers in a hotel, a restaurant, a store, etc.
December 7, 2012
Today’s lesson is on the use of "be supposed to." This verb phrase is essentially passive, but I’m not sure if that’s the way most people think of it. We use "be supposed to" when there is some kind of expectation that comes from another person:
I’m supposed to meet Joe at 4:00.
In this case, Joe expects me to meet him at 4:00. The sentence could be written that way, but "be supposed to" is very frequently used to describe responsibilities and obligations. It sounds very natural and you should be using it if you aren’t already. Here are a few more examples:
December 6, 2012
As you study the passive voice this month, you will discover that it’s possible to use the verb "get" in place of the verb "be." This form of substitution doesn’t always work, but it’s important to understand because it’s so common. Look at the sentences below:
Learn more about using "get" in the passive voice by visiting Green Level Lesson Six.
The word of the day is "deny."
December 5, 2012
Green Level Lesson Five will help you with the future passive voice. To form it, the formula looks like this:
S + will + be + the past participle
To learn more about forming the future tense in the passive voice, click here.
The word of the day is "flat."
December 4, 2012
In today’s lesson, students learn about using the past tense in the passive voice. As I mentioned yesterday, the verb "be" indicates the verb tense:
Each of the sentences above uses the verb "be" in the past tense–was or were. The past participle is the main verb: built, sent, and given. If we rewrote these sentences in the passive voice, they would look like this:
Do you understand the differences between these two sets of sentences? Click here to learn more about forming the past tense in the passive voice.
The word of the day is "space."
December 3, 2012
In Green Level Lesson Three, you’ll learn about the passive voice in the present tense. As you study the passive voice this month, pay close attention to the verb "be." This is what indicates the verb tense. Look at the sentences below:
All of these sentences are in the present tense. Can you find the verb "be"? The words "is" and "are" are the verb "be" in the present tense. The mistake that many students often make is to look at the past participle (given, picked up, made) and decide that a sentence is in the past tense. This is because the past participle and the past tense look similar or are the same. Don’t make this mistake. Click here for today’s lesson.
The word of the day is "deep."
Thanks to students who have sent me their photos recently. I’ll post them soon. It’s not too late for anyone who wants to be included in the class of December 2012 . Just email your photo and include your first name and the name of the country that you come from. The photos section of the website helps students feel like they are part of a learning community. Look at all of the people who have come here over the years.
December 2, 2012
One very common use for the passive voice is when describing birth. Where were you born? When were you born? These are two questions that will always be asked of you, and you should now how to answer them. Click here to go to Green Level Lesson Two.
December 1, 2012
Today we begin the Green Level. The first lesson is on the passive voice. The next twenty or so lessons are also focused on the passive voice. This is extremely important to understand if you want to master English. Here’s a new video I made about the passive voice yesterday:
Click here to go to November 2012.
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