Learn American English Online Blog
March 31, 2012
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.
March 30, 2012
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."
March 29, 2012
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:
March 28, 2012
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
March 27, 2012
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."
March 26, 2012
Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-six is on the eight parts of speech.
The word of the day is "figure."
March 25, 2012
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."
March 24, 2012
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."
March 23, 2012
The lesson for today is on adverbs in the superlative form.
The word of the day is "guess."
March 22, 2012
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:
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:
Click here for today’s lesson.
The word of the day is "deal."
March 21, 2012
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:
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"?
March 20, 2012
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."
March 19, 2012
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:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
March 18, 2012
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. LearnAmericanEnglishOnline.com 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."
March 17, 2012
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."
March 16, 2012
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."
March 15, 2012
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:
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:
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…
…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.
March 14, 2012
When perfect modal verbs are put into the continuous form, the result looks something like this:
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:
This verb tense is often used with the past perfect tense which we’ll learn about in tomorrow’s lesson.
March 13, 2012
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.
March 12, 2012
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
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:
The consequence of this change is….
March 11, 2012
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
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.
March 10, 2012
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:
March 9, 2012
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:
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:
Click here to learn more about the differences between the past tense and the past continuous tense.
March 8, 2012
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.
March 7, 2012
Today’s lesson is on superlative adjectives.
The word of the day is "find."
March 6, 2012
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."
March 5, 2012
In Yellow Level Lesson Five, you will learn how to make questions in the present perfect tense. The formula looks like this:
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?
March 4, 2012
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."
March 3, 2012
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:
Let’s look at the first use for the present perfect:
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:
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:
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!
March 2, 2012
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.
In both of these sentences, the main verb is "have." Both sentences are in the present tense.
In both of these sentences, the main verb is also "have." Both of these sentences are in the past tense.
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."
March 1, 2012
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!