Today we begin the Yellow Level. To keep track of your progress on lessons, quizzes, and exercises click here for the Yellow Level checklist in a PDF (portable document format).

Your lesson for today focuses on the past tense. An understanding of the past tense is very important before you begin to learn about perfect tenses in the Yellow Level.

The word of the day is "relief."


In Yellow Level Lesson Two, I want you to take a look at the verb "have." Remember that this verb can be used as a main verb and as a helping verb for the present perfect tense. Today’s lesson shows you how to use the verb "have" in the present tense and the past tense.

A student emailed this morning with a request for the word "scarce." Here it is.


One of the most commonly used verb tenses in English is the present perfect tense, but it’s difficult to use if you aren’t familiar with the present tense and the past tense. That’s why I urge students to return to the Blue Level or the Red Level if they haven’t mastered those two tenses.

The present perfect tense is made with the helping verbs "have" or "has" and then the main verb is in form of the past participle. Click here to learn more about the present perfect tense in Yellow Level Lesson Three.

The word of the day is "hardly."


To make the present perfect tense negative, add "not" to the helping verb, "have."

  • They haven’t eaten breakfast yet.
  • Todd hasn’t found a job yet.
  • We haven’t seen any rain in the last few weeks.
  • I have not decided on which cell phone to buy.

You can also use the word "never" to make the verb negative:

  • The city of New York has never experienced the sort of flooding that occurred following Hurricane Sandy.
  • Peter and his wife, Terry, have never needed to work for someone else because they have their own business.
  • Cindy has never been happy about her job.

Click here to learn more about making the present perfect tense negative in Yellow Level Lesson Four.

The word of the day is "dine."


Today’s lesson shows you how to make questions using the present perfect tense.

The word of the day is "rock."

I’d like to know if anyone is having problems listening to audio recordings on my website–particularly people who use mobile devices. Can you find the audio, or is not there at all? Email me if you are having problems and tell me if you are using a desktop computer or a mobile device. Thanks!


It’s Election Day* in the United States and the candidates for President are neck and neck. That means that the polls show the contest is very close right now. The way we know that the election is close is because Americans are called at home (or on cell phones) at random and asked how they are going to vote, or they are asked to give their opinions on a range of different topics related to the election. We will probably know the results of the election by this time tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee of that. It depends on how well each state runs its elections.

You lesson for today is on comparative adjectives. Intermediate and advanced level students can take a quiz to see how good they are at choosing pronouns following comparisons. Part B of this quiz reflects American speech, but grammarians might take issue with the answers.

The word of the day is "place." The reason there are two audio files is because some students have reported problems with audio. It depends on what you use to access the website.

* Election Day is a nationally recognized day, so the letters in both words are capitalized. It is always the first Tuesday in November on an even year–unless the first Tuesday is the first day of the month. If that’s the case, then the election goes to the second Tuesday, which would be the eighth. This is just trivia, but the rules for elections are clearly stated in the U.S. Constitution.


Today’s lesson shows you how adjectives change when they are in the superlative form. If you missed yesterday’s lesson, it’s a good idea to look at the differences between comparatives and superlatives. After completing both lessons, you will be ready for a quiz.

Here’s a new video that shows how to use the adjective "good" in the comparative form:


The word of the day is "triumph."

If you missed the election results, President Obama won re-election. 😉


In Yellow Level Lesson Eight, you’ll learn about the past continuous tense. There’s also a quiz at the end of this lesson.

Your lesson for today shows you some of the differences between the past tense and the past continuous tense:

For more of the lesson, click here. After you finish the lesson, click here for a quiz.

The word of the day is "bring."

Did you receive today’s email? If not, you can sign up here. The email that your teacher sends out informs you of updates to the website, announces new material, and reminds you to stay on top of your lessons.


Today and for the next few days, we’ll study modal verbs. Modal verbs are important to learn about because they provide the main verb with different shades of meaning. Modal verbs indicate possibility and necessity.

  • She will go to Paris next year. (This is a plan.)
  • She should go to Paris. (This is not a plan, but it’s a good idea.)
  • She must go to Paris. (Something important requires her attention.)
  • She may go to Paris next month. (This is a possibility, or someone has given her permission to go there.)

The word of the day is "bring."

Idiomatic modal verbs are those verb phrases that take unusual forms and substitute for regular modal verbs:

  • Alberto and Cindy aren’t able to find new jobs.
  • Alberto and Cindy can’t find new jobs.

Both sentences have the same meaning, but the use of "be able to" seems to emphasize some limitation. And although "can" is one word and "be able to" is three words, Americans often use "be able to" instead of "can" for many situations. Other verb phrases that are popular are "be going to" and "have to." Click here to learn more.

The word of the day is "precious."


Some modal verbs are used to describe things that happened in the past. The verbs that you have to choose from are shown below:

modal verbhavepast participle
could, may, might, should, would
+ have
+ _________

Sentences that use perfect modal verbs describe something that did or did not happen in the past. This is useful when expressing a regret about the past:

  • She didn’t finish her homework. She should have finished it before class.
  • We missed our flight. We could have made it if we had left for the airport earlier.
  • You needed some help with your English. The teacher would have helped you, but you didn’t ask for help.
  • Joan isn’t awake yet. She might not have heard her alarm clock go off. (I’m not sure.)

Go to Yellow Level Lesson Twelve to learn more about using modal verbs for past activities.

The word of the day is "cheat."


Your lesson for today is on the present perfect continuous tense. This is similar to the present perfect tense except you can only use it with activities that are continuous over a period of time.

  • How long have you been working at your current job?
  • I have been working at my current job for the last 20 years.

The verb "work" is often used in the present perfect continuous tense because it’s something that a person can do continuously over time. Other verbs that are often used in this tense include live, go, drive, play, learn, study, teach–among many others.

The word of the day is "except."

There’s a new section for the website called "The Listening Lab." The idea here is to develop your listening skills and identify small sounds or words that students have a hard time detecting. Let me know if this is helpful for you. If so, I’ll continue to add to it, going from exercises that are very basic to those that are difficult.


The word of the day is "pass." There are many different ways to use this word! "Pass" can be a verb or a noun. I recommend you learn how to use it because it’s frequently heard in everyday speech.

Your lesson for today is on the past perfect tense. This is one of the most difficult verb tenses to learn, but if you want to be very precise when using English, it’s necessary to understand. Click here to learn about the past perfect tense.


Sorry, I mixed up yesterday’s lesson with today’s lesson. Some of you caught the error. Today you study the past perfect tense, and yesterday you should have studied perfect modal verbs in continuous tenses. That’s what you should have been doing. 😉

There’s a new Listening Lab exercise for prepositions.

The word of the day is "throw." This is similar to yesterday’s word, "pass."


How do you describe what another person said? Today’s lesson on direct and indirect speech will show you how. When you study the lesson, be sure to pay attention to the sequence of tenses. This is useful to know because you are supposed to change the verb tense when quoting another person. Look at the sentences below. These are the actual words that someone used. Quotation marks indicate direct speech:

  • "My keys are lost." (A man said this.)
  • "She needs to take a test ." (The teacher said this.)
  • "I’ll be there at noon." (I said this.)

Pay attention to how the verbs change. Pronouns have to change as well sometimes:

  • A man said that his keys were lost.
  • The teacher said that she needed to take a test.
  • I said that I would be there at noon.

Without a good knowledge of all the verb tenses, this can a difficult thing to learn. That’s one reason why I recommend that students repeat this seven-month course. Indirect speech takes a lot of practice, but you can do it if you understand verb tenses well. Americans use indirect speech every day but many don’t pay attention to whether they’re doing it properly.


The word of the day is "kid." I hope you are following the Word of the Day page. A new word is added every morning. Bookmarking this page and going to it every day should help you improve your vocabulary.

Your lesson for today is on the difference between the past perfect continuous tense and the present perfect continuous tense.

There are some new listening exercises for the Listening Lab. Exercise #8 is on prepositions that appear at the end of a sentence or a question, and Exercise #9 will help you listen for possessive pronouns.


Yellow Level Lesson Eighteen is about prepositional phrases. Prepositions and prepositional phrases provide information about location, time, and relationships among things and people. On this website, there’s an entire section devoted to prepositions. The bad news is that it takes a long time to learn how to choose the correct preposition for a particular situation or how to use a preposition with a particular verb; the good news is that you can start learning about these things today. Click here for today’s lesson, and click here for a list of commonly used prepositions.

This week the Word of the Day section will focus on vocabulary related to food and the Thanksgiving holiday, which is this Thursday. Thanksgiving in the United States is always on the fourth Thursday in November. It’s a holiday that commemorates the arrival of immigrants to the United States and how they were assisted by the native people who lived here before them. It’s important on this day to remember that we are a nation of immigrants and immigration is a great source of labor, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the United States.

The word of the day is "cream."


Today’s lesson on the future continuous tense includes a new video which explains how and when to use it:

The word of the day is "carve."


Your lesson for today will help you talk about height and weight. There are some small differences that you must pay attention to.

The word of the day is "roast." If you live in the United States, you might be roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving. Because most turkeys are sold frozen from the grocery store, it’s important to make sure you thaw it out (let it unfreeze) before you cook it. Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for two to three days. You can also buy a fresh turkey from some stores. That’s the best thing to do–especially if the turkey is organic.


Today’s lesson is an introduction to adverbs. Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

The word of the day is "serve."

Today is Thanksgiving. On this day, Americans give thanks for their good fortune in life and for their friends and family. We also reflect on where we have come from. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants. To learn more about Thanksgiving, click here.

The word of the day is "thank."

Your lesson for today is Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-Two. There you’ll learn about comparative adverbs.


The day after Thanksgiving is known as "Black Friday" in the United States. This is because retailers are able to make so much money on this one day of shopping that they finally show a profit for the year.The term "in the black" is an accounting term. It means that a company is profitable. "In the red" means that a company is losing money. As shoppers go out and buy Christmas gifts today, tomorrow, and all the way up until Christmas Eve, the money they spend should put store owners "in the black" before the end of the year.

The word of the day is "shop."

The lesson for today is on superlative adverbs.


Today’s lesson is on intensifiers. These are words that increase the degree of meaning for adjectives. Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-four provides examples of common intensifiers. This video explains how to pronounce and use the words "really" and "very." These two words are often used with adjectives.


The word of the day is "bargain." Because this is a big shopping weekend, it seemed to be a good choice. Retailers are trying to lure shoppers into their stores with incredible bargains. (I’m on the road right now traveling through the United States. The audio isn’t included on that page yet, but I’ll add it as soon as possible.)


In Yellow Level Lesson Twenty-five, you’ll learn about how and why to use the future perfect tense. This one is kind of tricky. The future perfect tense is used for situations that are completed in the future. While no one can predict the future, there are certain things that we can say with confidence will happen. For example…

  • Joe and Mary will have lived in the same house for thirty years by the year 2014.

Right now it’s 2012. If neither person dies or leaves the house within the next two years, the 30-year period will have been completed.

This is a very hard tense to use. Many native speakers have trouble with it. Click here to learn more about the future perfect tense.


Teachers use the Eight Parts of Speech to categorize words and how they function in a sentence. This is good for students of English to learn about because it’s very easy to confuse nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

  • I used my charge card to buy something.
  • There’s a charge on my credit card.
  • I should charge this to my credit card.

Do you know what part of speech the word "charge" belongs to in each of the sentences above? If you’re not sure, click here to take a look at today’s lesson.

The word of the day also happens to be "charge."


Today’s lesson is an opportunity for you to review verb tenses before we study the passive voice in the Green Level during the month of December. If you don’t understand everything we studied in the Blue, Red, and Yellow levels when we studied simple, continuous, and perfect tenses and modal verbs, you will be confused in the Green Level. Notice that there are links on today’s lesson page. If you see something that you need more help with, click on that link. Also, don’t forget to go to the page that shows how to make all of these different tenses negative.

The word of the day is "way."


The final lessons for this level are on irregular verbs, particularly the irregular verbs, "be," "do," and "have." You will have to know how each of these three verbs function as both a helping verb and a main verb in order to be successful in the upcoming Green Level.

Man: What should I do after I finish all of the lessons in the Yellow Level? Woman: You should go to the Yellow Level Review and then take a test.

The word of the day is "light."


The Yellow Level Review is in two parts. Click here for the first part. Click here for the second part. Pay attention to the direction when completing the review. If you aren’t sure how to answer, there are links that will lead you back to the lessons. Tomorrow there’s a test!

The word of the day is "narrow."


Are you ready for a test? Click here to take the test for the Yellow Level. If you don’t do well on it, you should repeat the first three levels of this website: the Blue Level, the Red Level, and the Yellow Level. Understanding the lessons in grammar and usage in these three levels is essential in order to be successful in the next part of this online program, the Green Level. Lessons in the Green Level begin tomorrow.

The word of the day is "wide."

Click here to go to October 2012.

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