Click here for Part 2 of the Yellow Level Review.

Are you ready to study the passive voice? It’s very important for you to understand all of the verb tenses in the active voice before you study the passive voice in the Green Level. The Blue, Red, and Yellow Level lessons are all in the active voice. We’ll start the Green Level tomorrow.


Now that you have finished all of the lessons in the Yellow Level, it might be helpful for you to complete a review of what you have learned. Click here for Part 1 of the Yellow Level Review.

The word of the day is "rid."

On the schedule for today are dictation exercises. Listen to and write what you hear. You can pause the audio recordings if that is necessary.

To follow up yesterday’s lesson, I’ve posted three new pages for the Yellow Level that show you how the verbs "have," "do," and "be" are conjugated. You must understand these three verbs well before you move on to the Green Level.

Here’s a new video that explains the difference between an adjective and an adverb:


Did you receive today’s email? If not, you can sign up for your free membership on the membership page.

Here are the answers for today:

learn – 1. learned; 2. have learned; 3. will learn; 4. had learned; 5. was learning

go – 1. go; 2. has gone; 3. will go; 4. had gone; 5. was going


I hope today’s lesson helps you to understand the differences among the verb tenses used in English. There are four main groups that I want you to learn about: simple, continuous, perfect, and the perfect continuous. It’s necessary for you, a student of English, to understand these verb tenses before you begin to study the passive voice in the Green Level. We start the Green Level in April.

The word of the day is "force."


Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-six is on the eight parts of speech.

The word of the day is "figure."

The lesson for today is on the future perfect tense. This is a new lesson for the Yellow Level, so if you see any mistakes, just let me know. Thanks!

There will be a few other new lessons for the Yellow Level. Keep checking the schedule on the home page for updates.

The word of the day is "in."

Intensifiers in English are adverbs that increase the meaning of a word. If you say, for example, that it’s extremely hot outside, the word "extremely" affects the degree of the word "hot." These words are very popular in English. To learn more about intensifiers, click here.

The word of the day is "end."

The lesson for today is on adverbs in the superlative form.

The word of the day is "guess."

In Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-two you’ll learn about using the comparative form for adverbs. In most cases, simply add "more" to the adverb:

  • She plays the piano beautifully.

  • She plays the piano more beautifully than I do.

  • You need to drive carefully.
  • You need to drive more carefully.
  • Brad has to work quickly.
  • Brad has to work more quickly.

However, "fast" and "hard" are two very common adverbs that don’t add "ly." When put into the comparative form, just use an "er" ending:

  • The dog runs fast.
  • The dog can run faster than you can.
  • I worked hard today.
  • I worked harder today than I did yesterday.

Click here for today’s lesson.

The word of the day is "deal."

Today’s lesson is on adverbs. Adverbs describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They’re usually identified by the "ly" ending but not always:

  • The students finished their tests very quickly.
  • We easily beat the other team.
  • That was a very good movie.
  • This is an extremely interesting book.
  • They go to the bookstore frequently.

Do you know where the adverbs are in the sentences above? If not, go to Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-one.

If you have any ideas for videos that you would like me to make, just send an email with your ideas. However, you should first make sure I haven’t already covered the subject by doing a search on my YouTube channel.

The word of the day is "joke." Do you notice how closely it sounds like yesterday’s word of the day, "choke"?


Here’s a new video that explains a few things about the indefinite form of the pronoun "you."


The lesson for today is on height and weight.

The word of the day is "choke."


The future continuous tense is a great verb tense for talking about future activity. You can’t use it with all verbs, but you can use it with many verbs that describe continuous activity–especially movement. Here are some examples:

  • I’ll be leaving for Boston in the morning.
  • They’ll be working from 8 until 5 tomorrow.
  • Mario will be coming later.
  • We’ll be driving to California instead of flying.
  • Dorothy won’t be staying with us. She’ll be staying at a hotel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


I get a lot of email from you, my students, who ask me how to improve in English. In response, here are some questions. What are your goals? What do you want to do? Do you want to become a better speaker of English? Do you want to be a better writer? Are you just interested in reading and listening? Are you interested in English grammar?

You also need to consider if you are doing everything right now that you possibly can to achieve your goals. If you want to improve your writing, do you write every day? If you want to improve your English grammar skills, how much grammar have you studied, and how good are you at grammar in your first language? Are you a good student? If you don’t work hard every day, how will you be able to understand and speak English well?

Of course, many people want to be fluent in English and speak as well as a native of the United States or England. But are you able to practice speaking every day? This is a big challenge for people who live outside of the United States. If you live in the United States, you’re lucky. You can practice speaking almost everywhere you go. However, people who live in countries where English isn’t spoken very frequently or at all have a major obstacle to overcome.

That’s where the internet comes in. Now it’s possible for you to go online, meet people from around the world and practice your English. I recommend that you continue to find places on the internet to practice communicating with other people. Chat rooms are helpful. Unfortunately, they are limited to text. Video chat rooms are good, but the conversations there often turn away from academics to subjects that are not helpful for a serious student who wants to practice speaking good English.

I wish I could speak with all of you, but you know that’s not possible. Every day I get email from students who want my cell phone number or who want to talk to me on Skype. I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. My main interest is in creating content for the internet for people who want to study American English independently at their own pace. I try to read and respond to your email, but now that this website has grown so large, my inbox is overflowing with inquiries and questions from students. I promise I’ll try to work out a solution to this. Perhaps I can start hiring people. I definitely try to read all of the email even if I don’t respond to it all.

I hope you continue to visit the website every day. Complete the lessons, watch the videos, do the exercises and quizzes, and practice listening and writing in the dictation and reading sections of the website. Soon you might notice that your English has improved. is fun to work on, but it’s even more fun to know that the work is making a difference in someone’s life.

The lesson for today is on prepositional phrases.

The word of the day is "dress."

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. People of Irish and Scottish descent in the United States celebrate their heritage. Of course, this is a big day in Ireland, too.

The lesson of the day shows you the difference between the present perfect continuous tense and the past perfect continuous tense.

The word of the day is "decide."

Today’s lesson is on direct and indirect quotations. When someone says something, how do you describe what that person said? Click here to go to the lesson, and here’s a video that you can watch:

The word of the day is "empty."

The past perfect tense is one of the most difficult tenses for students to learn and apply. The main reason for choosing it is because there are two past actions and the verb that uses the past perfect tense is the action that happens first in the past:

  • After they had prepared the soil, they planted their seeds.

There are two verbs in the above sentence, "prepare" and "plant." Which action happens first? They had prepared the soil. But don’t let the word order fool you because you could write the same sentence like this:

  • They planted their seeds after they had prepared the soil.

The action contained within the past perfect occurs before the other action represented by the verb "plant."

If you don’t use the past perfect and write the sentence like this…

  • They planted their seeds after they had prepared the soil.

…it’s okay. In fact many people don’t use the past perfect tense properly. But it is a good tense to learn if you want your English to be more precise or more accurate.

Is this confusing? Go to this Yellow Level lesson. After you have read through the lesson and watched the video, take the quiz at the bottom of the page.

When perfect modal verbs are put into the continuous form, the result looks something like this:

  • He should have been preparing for his test yesterday, but instead he went to the beach.

Click here for today’s lesson and then come back here.

When you want to describe a situation that did or did not happen in the past–and you want to use a modal verb–the formula looks like this:

modal verbhave + beenmain verb + ing
could, should, might, may, must, or would
have been
  • The ground was wet when I left for school. It must have been raining last night. (You could also say, "It must have rained.")
  • MIke could have been living in Paris if he had accepted that position.
  • Those boys shouldn’t have been playing so close to that train. One of them got hurt.
  • You would have been working today if you hadn’t called in sick. (But you called in sick and today you aren’t at work.)

This verb tense is often used with the past perfect tense which we’ll learn about in tomorrow’s lesson.

Today’s lesson on the present perfect continuous tense offers you an alternative to the present perfect tense (Do you remember when we studied that last week?) This is helpful for students who can’t remember all the past participles, and it’s a very practical tense to use; however, you can only use it with those verbs that are typically put into the continuous form. This is what the formula looks like:

has or have + been +   main verb + ing

Your choice of "has" or "have" depends on the subject. The sentences in blue have a singular subject; the sentences in brown have a plural subject.

  • I have been studying English for a very long time.
  • You have been studying English for a few years.
  • He has been working at that job since 2009.
  • She has been living in New York for eight years.
  • It has been raining all day.
  • We have been thinking about getting a new car.
  • You have been learning some interesting new things.
  • They have been going to that website to learn English.

In order to put a modal verb in the past tense, you have to use "have" and then the main verb is in the form of the past participle after the modal verb and "have." The formula looks like this:

modal verb + have + past participle

subjectmodal verbhavepast participle 



Go to Yellow Level Lesson Twelve for more examples and a quiz.

The Word of the Day is "nice."

The time changed to Daylight Savings Time in the United States yesterday. You can describe this change in a few different ways:

  • We moved our clocks ahead an hour.
  • We moved into Daylight Savings Time.
  • We lost an hour.

The consequence of this change is….

  • We have to get used to a new schedule.
  • We have to readjust our body clocks.
  • The sun seems to rise a little later in the morning.
  • The sun sets an hour later in the evening. (This is the effect that is most noticeable.)


Idiomatic modal verbs are important to learn, particularly for spoken English. These verb phrases can replace the regular modal auxiliary verbs, and they are often preferred over regular modals:

(be) going to = will

have to = must

(be) able to = can

had better = should

ought to = should

The lesson for today will help you with the first three on this list. Here’s a link to a video for "had better."

You can get a free Obama bumper sticker. Click here. Once the Republican nominee is selected, I’ll put his link on the blog, too–just to be fair.

Your lesson for today is on modal verbs. These are auxiliary verbs that can slightly or greatly change the meaning of the main verb. Let’s use the verb "eat" as an example:

  • I eat toast. (This is a simple fact.)
  • I can eat some toast. (I have an appetite or the ability to eat it.)
  • I can’t eat any toast. (I’m not hungry, or I’m sick.)
  • I’ll eat some toast. (In the future, this is what I will eat.)
  • I won’t eat toast. (I refuse to eat it.)
  • I should eat some toast. (This is a good idea.)
  • I shouldn’t eat any toast. (This is not a good idea.)
  • I must eat this toast. (It’s necessary for me to eat it.)
  • I must not eat this toast. (There’s a big problem here if I eat it.)
  • I have to eat this toast. (It’s necessary. It’s an obligation.)
  • I don’t have to eat this toast. (It’s not necessary for me.)
  • I might eat some toast. (I’m not sure if I will eat it or not.)
  • I may eat some toast. (Again, I’m not sure.)
  • I could eat some toast. (This is a possibility.)
  • I couldn’t eat any toast. (I was sick or there was a problem with it.)

Today we’ll continue to look at some of the differences between the past tense and the past continuous tense. Let’s start with the verb "work" in the past tense:

I worked yesterday.

To make the past continuous tense, use "was" or "were." Because the subject is "I," choose the helping verb "was." The main verb has an "ing" ending. The main verb in this case is "work."

I was working yesterday.

Now let’s compare these two tenses in the negative form:

I didn’t work on Sunday. (past tense)

I wasn’t working on Sunday. (past continuous tense)

Questions look like this:

  • A: Did you work last weekend? (past tense)
  • B: No, I didn’t. (past tense)
  • A: Were you working last weekend? (past continuous tense)
  • B: Answer: No, I wasn’t. (past continuous tense)

There are some small yet important differences in when or why you use the past continuous tense instead of the past tense. The main reason is because the action is nonstop, but there are other reasons. Often you’ll hear the two tenses used in the same sentence:

  • I cut myself as I was shaving.
  • She was making dinner when the phone rang.
  • Two students whispered to each other while the teacher was talking.

Click here to learn more about the differences between the past tense and the past continuous tense.

In Yellow Level Lesson Eight, we learn about the past continuous tense. This is similar to the past tense; however, the action is nonstop from beginning to end:

She was talking on the phone with her sister for hours.

We could write this sentence in the past tense and the meaning wouldn’t be much different:

She talked on the phone with her sister for hours.

Is one sentence better than the other? No, they both describe past activity, but the first sentence in the continuous form emphasizes the constant nature of the action.

This video explains how to make the past continuous tense:


This video explains the differences between the past continuous tense and the past tense.


Today’s lesson is on superlative adjectives.

The word of the day is "find."


Many parts of this website are focused on really simple words in English. That’s because they are so popular in spoken English. Here’s a new video for the verb "go."

This is the third video in a series of videos about using the verb "go." Have these videos helped you? Do you have any questions about using "go. I get a lot of good ideas for videos from students who send suggestions via email.

The lesson for today is on comparative adjectives.

The word of the day is "fire."

In Yellow Level Lesson Five, you will learn how to make questions in the present perfect tense. The formula looks like this:

helping verbsubjectmain verb
has or have
I, he, they, you, etc.
past participle

Have you eaten breakfast yet?

In this question, the main verb is "eat." The past participle for this verb is "eaten." The subject is "you," so the helping verb that matches the subject is "have." The helping verb is "has" or "have," depending on the subject.

Has he eaten breakfast yet?

In this question, the helping verb is "has" because the subject is one person.

If you feel like you’re ready, you can take this quiz on forming questions in the present perfect tense; otherwise, go to today’s lesson before taking the quiz.

What’s the Word of the Day?

I’ve added a lot of new pictures to the Photos section if you want to take a look. The interesting thing to me about this part of the website is that the pictures are really representative of who comes here. Young, old, men, women, wealthy or not–all of these people from around the world are so interested in learning the American form of English. As a teacher, I feel very motivated by your enthusiasm to learn the language.

As I often point out to my students, American English comes from British English and you should study that as well. Even if the vocabulary seems a little difficult, take a look at one of William Shakespeare’s plays or read a novel written by a British author. Any of the books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series would be a good choice because the movies are so popular right now and many people who speak English are familiar with her books.

Today’s lesson is on the negative form of the present perfect tense. It helps to compare this with other verb tenses. The first set of sentences shows you how the verb "live" is made negative:

live – negative

Maria doesn’t live in Mexico anymore. (present tense)

Maria didn’t live in a city. She lived in the country. (past tense)

She moved to the United States.

She hasn’t lived there for very long. (present perfect tense)

be – negative

I am not at school today. (present tense)

I wasn’t at school yesterday. (past tense)

I haven’t been at school since last Thursday.

have – negative

Bob doesn’t have any coffee right now. (present tense)

Bob didn’t have any coffee earlier today. (past tense)

Bob hasn’t had any coffee yet. (present perfect tense)

Click here to learn more about making the present perfect tense negative.

The word of the day is "fix." All of the words for this month so far have begun with the letter "f."

Today we’ll learn about the present perfect tense. This is really important to learn about because it’s similar to both the present tense and the past tense. It can be used for three different reasons:

  1. A present situation started in the past.
  2. A past situation doesn’t clearly indicate the time of the action.
  3. Events are repeated in the past.

Let’s look at the first use for the present perfect:

  • 1. She has lived in the United States since 2007.

In this sentence you learn about the length of time. She moved here in 2007 and she is still here now. You could also say, "She has lived in the United States for five years."

In the second use for the present perfect tense, something happens in the past but the time of the event isn’t identified:

  • 2. We have completed our work.

When was the work completed? We don’t know. It was sometime in the past. If you want to say exactly when the work was completed, use the past tense: "We completed our work yesterday."

In the third use for the present perfect tense, an event is repeated:

  • 3. I’ve been to that museum 15 to 20 times.

Exactly when did I go? It isn’t clear. It could be at any time; however, I could add some additional information:

I’ve been to that museum 15 to 20 times within the last year.

This sentence provides a time frame, but it doesn’t provide dates or days when the visits occurred.

I strongly recommend that you pay close attention to the lessons for the next few days. The present perfect tense isn’t easy when you first learn it, but after you understand how to use it, your English will sound really great!

In Yellow Level Lesson Two, I want you to consider the verb "have" as a main verb. This is important because when you learn about the present perfect tense in the next lesson, you’ll use "have" as a helping verb.

  • She has a lot of work to do today.
  • He doesn’t have anything to eat.

In both of these sentences, the main verb is "have." Both sentences are in the present tense.

  • They had some coffee before class began.
  • I didn’t have a meeting today.

In both of these sentences, the main verb is also "have." Both of these sentences are in the past tense.

  • We have had a lot of homework to do lately.

In this sentence, the main verb is "have" and it’s in the present perfect tense. That’s the lesson for tomorrow.

The word of the day is "full."

Today we’ll begin the Yellow Level with the past tense. This lesson reviews making past tense questions with the helping verb, "did." Tomorrow’s lesson is a review of the main verb "have." Then on Saturday, we’ll begin to study the present perfect tense. The Yellow Level spends a lot of time on perfect tenses. If you have not finished the Blue Level and the Red Level lessons, you should do them now before we get too far into the Yellow Level; otherwise, you might be confused.

Click here to go to February 2012.

There’s still time to catch up to the rest of the class!