Learn American English Online Blog
Tonight, children all over the United States will go out dressed in costumes and ask for candy. When they knock on a person’s door, they’ll say "trick or treat," and the person inside the home will give them something sweet to eat. It’s a fun holiday for children–and adults.
The word of the day is "afraid."
October 30, 2012
In the Red Level dictation section of the website, you can practice your listening and writing skills. Simply listen to each recording, write down in your notebook the sentences that you hear, and then check your work to see how close you came in writing down exactly what I said.
Following yesterday’s big storm on the east coast, today’s word of the day is "rescue."
October 29, 2012
The east coast of the United States and inland areas west of there are going to be affected by a hurricane, heavy rain, and snow over the next couple of days, so today’s word of the day is "storm." Weather forecasters are predicting this could be one of the biggest storms that the east coast has seen in the last 100 years. Many people are being told to evacuate areas where flooding might occur. This is a very serious storm. If you live in this area and are told to evacuate, you should leave immediately.
October 28, 2012
By Wednesday of this week, you should be able to take the two tests that I created for the Red Level. In preparation for that, complete the Red Level Review, the Red Level reading exercises, and the Red Level dictation exercises.
The word of the day is "prepare."
October 27, 2012
If you have finished all of the lessons in the Red Level, you can move on to the Red Level Review. If you haven’t finished all of the lessons, now is a good time to do that. Next week I’ll assign some reading and dictation exercises and then we’ll have a test before starting the Yellow Level on November 1.
The word of the day is "bank."
Attention: I’m going to start to reverse blog entries so that they appear chronologically as you scroll down instead of up. Isn’t this better for archived entries?
October 26, 2012
Here’s a really simple thing you can do to sound like an American. Use the verb "go" and then the simple form of a verb. I’m not sure how often this is done in British English–if at all, but in American English people do it all the time:
Of course, the sentences above are possible without the insertion of the word "go" :
With which verbs or sentences does "go" sound okay? It’s not all of them. You probably wouldn’t say, for instance, "I go talk to my friends at lunch," although you might hear someone say that . The point of this lesson is that in everyday English, a lot of Americans use the verb "go" before another verb–even though this is not necessary.
Go to Red Level Lesson Twenty-six.
How many of you understand this lesson? If you don’t understand, please send me an email. In the subject field write "I don’t understand."
October 25, 2012
There are a lot of adjectives that you have to learn in English. Remember that adjectives describe nouns. They provide information, opinions, details, etc. about things or people. In today’s lesson, there’s a list of common adjectives and adjectives that are opposite to them. Read and listen to the list and then complete this exercise.
We’re almost finished with the Red Level. Are you keeping track of your progress with this checklist? We will start the Yellow Level in one week on Thursday, November 1.
October 24, 2012
Today’s lesson shows you how to use "(be) used to" as a verb phrase. If a person is used to something, that means he or she does an activity regularly, whether the activity is enjoyable or not.
Does he like his job? Maybe or maybe not. The important thing here is that it’s something that is part of his life and his routine.
Unlike yesterday’s lesson that explained how "used to" describes past activities, you can put "(be) used to" into various verb tenses–past, present, and future. Notice that "(be) used to" can be followed by a gerund, a noun, or a pronoun:
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Here’s a new video explaining how the pronouns all, most, some, and none can be used as subjects in a sentence:
October 23, 2012
You can describe events of the past with the words "used to," especially when a situation has completely changed and there’s a big difference between the past and the present. Here are some examples:
Notice that after "used to," the main verb is in the simple form. It’s also important to pay attention to the pronunciation of these words.
The word of the day is "shape."
October 22, 2012
Today’s lesson is on multiplication and division. While you already know how to do this kind of math, I’ve included this lesson and a video because of the vocabulary used. If you have kids enrolled in an American school, this might help you.
The word of the day is "collide."
I’m planning a trip to Europe in the summer of 2013. It’s a business trip, but I’m also bringing my family along. We plan on visiting France and Germany. If anyone knows of ways in which an English teacher can find employment as a teacher in France or Germany in the summer, please let me know. I’ll only be available for a week in either country–preferably France. The rest of the time will be spent traveling through central Europe.
October 21, 2012
In the next couple of days, you’ll study lessons that are related to money and numbers. This is a challenge for new students, but intermediate and advanced level students also need help talking about these things.
The word of the day is "accept."
There’s a new reading exercise for the Yellow Level: Spencer has been riding a skateboard for many years.
October 20, 2012
Today’s lesson is on reflexive pronouns. These are pronouns that refer back to the subject in a sentence.
The word of the day is "bump."
October 19, 2012
Your lesson for today is on possessive pronouns. These are pronouns that can function as a subject or an object in a sentence. Don’t confuse possessive pronouns with possessive adjectives.
For some students, a little review on pronouns might be necessary. This video shows you the differences among different categories of pronouns. This will help you if you are confused.
The word of the day is "purchase."
October 18, 2012
A gerund is an "ing" word that functions like a noun in a sentence or a question. This is not the same as a verb in a continuous tense. Understanding gerunds is important so that you don’t mistake them as verbs.
The first sentence uses a gerund. "Learning" is the subject of that sentence. The verb that matches the subject, "is," is singular. The second sentence is in the present continuous tense. The verb "be" is "am" because the subject is "I," and the main verb is "learn." With an "ing" ending, it becomes "learning."
Click here to learn more about gerunds.
If you have completed the lessons for today and yesterday, see how well you do on this quiz.
The word of the day is "binder." A couple of students asked me what this word meant following Tuesday night’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney remarked that he had "binders full of women" sent to him when he needed applicants for government positions. This was perceived as an amusing remark, and now the meme "binders full of women" has swept through the internet.
Here’s a quiz for those who follow the Word of the Day.
October 17, 2012
Infinitives often–but not always–are identified by the word "to" and then a verb in the simple form. However, it’s not really a verb. What part of speech is an infinitive? It depends on the sentence. Infinitives often take on the role of a noun:
In these sentences, the infinitive functions as an an object after a verb. What does she want? She wants to go. What do I need? I need to have some coffee. In that sentence, "coffee" is the object of the infinitive. What do we like to learn? We like to learn English. The word "English" is the object of the infinitive, to learn.
We can easily rewrite these sentences without an infinitive:
Do you see the difference? The infinitive provides information about activity: to go, to have, to learn.
It’s important to know that some English books use the words "infinitive," "base" and "simple" when referring to verbs. Look at this familiar chart below:
The words "be," "go," and "live" are in the simple form. However, you will also find books that describe the simple form as the base form, or the infinitive form. Whatever term you choose to use, you must recognize how verbs change depending on their use.
Click here for Red Level Lesson Seventeen. Tomorrow’s lesson is on gerunds. Gerunds and infinitives sometimes function the same way in a sentence.
The word of the day is "desperate."
October 16, 2012
Today’s lesson is on time expressions. You’ll need to learn these words and phrases when talking about the present, past, and future.
The word of the day is "match."
October 15, 2012
Conjunctions are words that combine other words within a sentence, or conjunctions can be used to combine phrases and clauses.
In Red Level Lesson Fifteen, you’ll learn how to use the most basic conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, for, yet, and so. There are many other conjunctions that you’ll learn about when you reach the Violet Level.
The word of the day is "combine."
October 14, 2012
Adjectives are words that describe nouns. They provide information, opinions, color, sights, sounds, etc. Without adjectives we could not have descriptions or express ideas. Click here to learn about adjectives.
The word of the day is "quote."
October 13, 2012
The word "like" is featured in your lesson for the day. First, watch this video….
…and then go to this lesson in the Red Level.
The word of the day is "question."
There’s a new exercise for the Red Level: Exercise 2b.
October 12, 2012
Another way to make the future tense is to use this formula:
be + going to + main verb
Just as with the modal verb "will," the main verb after "going to" is in the simple form. Let’s use the sentences you looked at in yesterday’s blog post to demonstrate the differences between "be going to" and "will" when making the future tense:
Do you see the differences? It’s important for you to study this because Americans use "going to" in many sentences and questions.
When spoken quickly, "going to" sounds like "gonna." Listen to me read the sentences above once more.
The word of the day is "make."
October 11, 2012
Today’s lesson is on the future tense. Use the modal verb "will" to make this verb tense. The verb after "will" is in the simple form:
This is not too difficult. What do you think? Click here to go to Lesson Eleven in the Red Level to study the future tense.
The word of the day is "strong." Thanks to Samar for the suggestion.
October 10, 2012
In Red Level Lesson Ten the words "a lot of," "some," and "any" are explained. These are very common words in English. We use them to describe amounts. We also use them because they sound good with nouns:
The paired sentences above have the same meaning, but it’s natural to use "a lot of," "some," and "any" before nouns. If you aren’t doing that, you should try.
The word of the day is "wrap."
Here’s a new video for the word "else."
October 9, 2012
Your lesson for today is on the use of "few" and "little." We use these adjective when describing small amounts; however, your choice of either one depends on whether a noun is a count or noncount noun.
The word "lemonade" is a noncount noun, so the choice is "little." The word "days" is a count noun. In this case, the word "few" is used. Do you understand the difference? If not, I recommend that you review count and noncount nouns.
In October, many people in the United States like to pick apples at an apple orchard. Click here to read about a family that visits an orchard.
October 8, 2012
Use "how much" and "how many" when asking about amounts. A good knowledge of count and noncount nouns will help you make the right choice.
The word "time" is a noncount noun, so it’s necessary to use "how much" when asking the question. The word "apples" is a count noun. In that question, you have to use "how many."
Click here for today’s lesson.
The word of the day is "top." This is a good word for you to study because it can be used in many different ways.
Thanks to everyone for your contributions to keep this website running. Your support ensures that access to the site is open and free.
October 7, 2012
In Lesson Seven, you’ll learn about the many different uses for the verb "do." Keep in mind that "do" is a helping verb, and it’s a main verb. That’s one reason why many people make mistakes with it. Even students who have studied English for a few years can easily make a mistake with this verb. Look at these examples:
Click here to go to Lesson Seven.
I want to thank anyone who has been sending me their voice recordings lately. I get a lot of good ideas for developing the website when I listen to what you have to say. You should know that I do listen to them, but it’s not possible to respond to everyone because the website receives 40 to 50 recordings every day. You benefit from making audio recordings because you can listen to yourself speak English, and you can also compare your pronunciation to mine. (Not that my pronunciation is that great, but it offers you some basis for comparison.)
The word of the day is "down."
October 6, 2012
Your lesson for the day is on object pronouns. Click here for the lesson.
The word of the day is "other." Many students ask me about this word and how it differs from "others" and "another." A video at the end of the page can help you with that.
Are you using the checklist to keep track of your progress on this level? Here’s another friendly reminder that the Red Level checklist is available by clicking here.
October 5, 2012
We continue to learn about the present tense in Red Level Lesson Five. Here you will learn how to make questions using the verb "do" in the present tense.
Questions and answers in the present tense:
October 4, 2012
Commands in English begin with the verb and the subject is "you," singular or plural. These types of sentences are always in the present tense:
In the first sentence, a teacher tells a group of students to open their books. The subject is "you" (the students) and the main verb is "open." The second sentence begins with the word "please," which is a polite way of asking someone to do something. The subject is "you" and the main verb is "take." In sentence three, the main verb is "stop," and in sentence four the main verb is "do." The subject is always "you."
Click here to learn more about the use of commands (also known as the imperative form).
October 3, 2012
Today’s lesson shows you how to use the helping verb "do" in the present tense or the past tense when making the negative. This repeats a few things that you have learned recently.
Let’s use the verb "study" to see how it changes in the present tense and the past tense.
do + not = don’t / does + not = doesn’t / did + not = didn’t
Notice that the only difference between the two negative verbs is the use of the helping verb. The main verb remains in the simple form. If you understand how to use helping verbs with the main verb, you will have a much easier time when using verbs.
The word of the day is "order."
October 2, 2012
To follow the lessons on this website, many students print out a checklist for each level. If you haven’t done this already, click here to print out the list of lessons, exercises, and quizzes for the Red Level. If you did this for the Blue Level, you know how helpful it is to keep this checklist by your computer as you complete the coursework.
In Red Level Lesson Two, special attention is given to the verb "do" as a helping verb when making verbs negative in the present tense.
The important thing to remember is that the helping verb is used with the simple form of the verb to make the negative. In the chart above, you can see the difference between the simple form of the verb and the past tense form. Also, you must understand that the simple form of the verb (also known as the infinitive or base form) is not the same as the simple present tense. Look the sentences below:
Notice that the verb "be" is made negative in the present tense by adding only the word "not." I am not, you are not, he is not, etc. Click here to learn more in today’s lesson.
October 1, 2012
We begin the Red Level today. In this level you continue to learn basic English grammar. I recommend that you take a look at the Red Level page to see what you will be learning this month. There you can also meet my new assistant for the Red Level lessons.
The first lesson for the Red Level is on the verb "do." This verb is important to understand for the following reasons:
The word of the day is "mess."
There’s a new Think in English exercise.
Click here to go to September 2012.
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