Yesterday someone hacked into my website, but I discovered the problem quickly and fixed it. I’m sorry, if you couldn’t connect. My main concern is for students to maintain their faith in the website. It will always be available to you. If there is ever a problem, check back later.

Students can move forward to the Purple Level starting tomorrow. Click here for the checklist in order to track your progress.

In the month of May we will work on pronunciation. The pronunciation exercises are suitable for all students, beginning to advanced.

The word of the day is "fact."

I’m going to start collecting photos of students for the month of May. If you want to be included, please email an attachment of your photo. Include your first name and the name of the country that you are from.

Students who are finishing the American Speech section of the website today should try Prepositions Quizzes 1  /  2  /  3 . Don’t get too discouraged if you have trouble with these quizzes. Remember it takes years of practice in listening and speaking to master prepositions.

Students who studied in the Green Level during the month of April can practice what they have learned on the Green Level dictation page. Write what you hear in your notebook.

The word of the day is "bend."  

Students working in the American Speech section of the website will study prepositions for the first few days of this week. Prepositions and the phrases that are made with them are very difficult to learn because they are dependent on the nouns, verbs, and adjectives surrounding them. Look at the examples that I’ve provided and take the quizzes after you have a chance to review the prepositions that are listed.

Students who were working in the Green Level during April will make a transition into the Purple Level. This level is also suitable for beginning students.

The word of the day is "guide."

Green Level students have a test today: Click here.

The level following Green is Purple. This will be our main focus for the month of May. You can download the checklist for the Purple Level here.

I’ve looked high and low for a new chat room, and I kind of like the one that now appears in the Blue Level Chat. See what you think.

Students who are studying in the Green Level this month should prepare for a test tomorrow with this review.

As for the chat room, I’m still searching for something that everyone will like. I think I have found something, but the installation is a little beyond my level of experience, so it might take a few more days for it to be up and running. In the meantime, use PalTalk. Is it so bad?

The word of the day is "rent."

Green Level students learn how to use "get" and the past participle when something happens to someone. This is very commonly applied when forming a verb that’s passive or a sentence that’s causative.

The word of the day is "typical."

For my Chinese students who are baffled by American speech, OMG Meiyu is a great channel to check out on YouTube. In this video the young lady featured explains how to use the word "boogie."

 

It’s late April, but in Minnesota sometimes you still wake up to six inches of new snow at this time of year:

snow in the yard

Everything looks beautiful when there’s a fresh coat of snow. The word of the day is "coat."

Students working in the Green Level study the use of "be called" today. We use these two words together when describing the names that we give to things and people.

In Green Level Lesson Twenty-two you’ll practice using "be made" to describe the production of things.

The word of the day is "rut."

I’m still looking for a new chat room to replace the one I took down in the Blue Level chat. Hang tight! I’ll have something new very soon.

This month we’ve been studying expressions, idioms, and phrasal verbs. Here’s an explanation for "take off" from my friend, Andrew:

 

If you like this video, you might like the lessons found here.

In Green Level Lesson Twenty-one you’ll learn how to use "be used" when describing when or why someone uses something:

  • This website is used by people who want to learn English.

Of course, you recognize that this is the passive voice, but I want to bring special attention to "be used" because it’s very common. Here are a few more examples in the form of questions:

  • What is this used for?
  • Who was this used by?
  • When was this last used?
  • How long has this been used?
  • Why aren’t they being used?

Click here to learn more.

Intermediate and advanced level students study proverbs this week. Proverbs are well-known statements that express some sort of wisdom that we all share. It’s good to learn proverbs and remember them. You never know when a proverb will come in handy.

The word of the day is "disturb." Thanks to my friends in the Blue Level chat room for the idea.

We’re experimenting with new chat room software in the Blue Level chat room. The other chat was plagued by evildoers, so I got rid of it. No complaints, please.

Green Level students review different verb tenses for the verb "be" today. The reason for this is to emphasize the importance of understanding how the verb "be" changes in various tenses. Your understanding of this will help you when you choose to use the passive voice in English.

The word of the day is "remark."

If you’ve been following the Green Level lessons this month, you know that the focus for April has been on the passive voice. In today’s lesson, however, I want you to compare verbs in continuous forms with verbs that are passive. The reason for this is because they look similar and some students mistake one for the other.

The word of the day is "keen."

The word of the day is "goof." This popular word is used when someone makes a mistake or when people are joking around.

Green Level Lesson Eighteen provides a quick practice session in identifying the passive voice. At the end of it, you can take a quiz.

Slang words to review today begin with the letters O  /  P  /  Q  /  R.

There’s a new Think in English exercise for a parking receipt.

 

When someone forces another person to do something, perhaps unwillingly, you can use the word "make." The formula looks like this:

Subject + make + object + simple form of the verb

  • She made her son clean his room.
  • The police officer is making that man pull over to the side of the road.
  • The teacher made the student stay after school.
  • I make my students write the things they have learned in a notebook.

If you are studying slang in the American Speech section of the website, one of the words you’ll come across is "later." Sometimes we use this word instead of the word "goodbye." Is it necessary to learn this? If you live in the United States, it’s a good idea to become familiar with slang. Other slang words and expression on the "L" page are "loser," "let it slide," and "looker." Learn more here.

The word of the day is "lousy."

There’s a new Word of the Day quiz for the month of April. Click here to take a look.

Causative verbs, such as "get," "have" and "make" create verb phrases that are similar to the passive voice. Learn about them by clicking here.

The word of the day is "blend."

I’m working on a new video for the words "ride" and "drive." If you have any photos of yourself riding or driving something, I’d love to make use of them in a YouTube video. Email photos to . Thanks!

Today’s lesson in the Green Level is on passive gerunds. After you complete the lesson, try this short quiz. It’s new. There’s also a new quiz for passive infinitives if you didn’t happen to see that yesterday. It’s helpful to study passive infinitives and passive gerunds at the same time because they share some similarities in terms of where they might appear in a sentence.

The deadline for filing taxes for 2012 is today. You have until midnight to turn in your forms and avoid penalties for filing late. It’s important for everyone who works in the United States to file taxes. Some of my students who are new to the U.S. and working here tell me they have never submitted tax forms. This could cause serious trouble for them later–even for those who are living in the U.S. without proper documentation. I recommend that everyone take this very seriously. Seek help with tax forms if you don’t know what to do. The library is a good place to go, but there are other free tax services available in many communities.

The word of the day is a repeat from last year: file

Students who are working in the American Speech section of the website will study slang this week. Slang is that part of a language which is created by the people who speak it. Sometimes slang words and expressions last for a very long time, but some slang disappears as quickly as it was created. It’s important for you to understand slang when you hear it; it’s much less important for you to be able to use it yourself when you communicate with other people. If you have children living in the United States, they’ll pick up on American slang very easily.

Green Level students study the use of infinitives in the passive voice. Remember that infinitives function like nouns in a sentence and they are formed by the use of "to" and the simple form of a verb. When used in the passive voice, the verb following "to" is "be" and then the past participle comes after that:

to be + the past participle

  • The workers demanded to be paid immediately.
  • She hopes to be given a scholarship when she goes to college.
  • To be understood, a person must speak clearly.

This is not easy to learn, but you must learn how to form the passive voice with infinitives because it’s a very common practice in English. Here’s a new quiz to go along with the lesson.

Tomorrow you’ll study how gerunds appear in the passive voice.

The word of the day is "gradual."

The past perfect tense is one of the most difficult verb tenses to learn, but it’s even more difficult when used in the passive voice. Click here for Green Level Lesson Thirteen.

Was the video posted here yesterday helpful? Many of you wrote to me to say that it was. I’m glad it helped. Studying the different parts of speech should improve your ability to choose the right word when speaking and writing in English.

The word of the day is "mourn."

Today Green Level students study the formation of the passive voice in the present perfect tense.

The word of the day is "nudge."

Here’s a new YouTube video for learning the difference between nouns and adjectives used when describing a person’s health:

 

If you received today’s email, be sure to try the exercise that matches this video.

Green Level Lesson Eleven shows how to form the passive voice in the past continuous tense. Compare what you learned yesterday to what you learn today.

First, consider how the past continuous tense is formed:

was or were + ____ing

The verb "be" (was or were) changes, depending on the subject, and then the word after it has an "ing" ending. When it’s passive, the "ing" word is always "being."

The main verb after was/were being is in the form of the past participle:

  • Tanya was being paid once a week until the company changed the salary schedule to once very two weeks.
  • That car was being driven without its light on until a police officer stopped it.
  • The children were being vaccinated for the flu because the flu season was expected to cause a lot of sickness.

Click here to learn more in Lesson Eleven.

Take this quiz to see how well you have learned to form the passive voice in continuous tenses.

The word of the day is "shoot."

Green Level Lesson Ten shows how to form the passive voice in the present continuous tense.

First, consider how the present continuous tense is formed:

am or is or are + ____ing

The verb "be" (am or is or are) changes, depending on the subject, and then the word after it has an "ing" ending. When it’s passive, the "ing" word is always "being."

The main verb after am/is/are being is in the form of the past participle:

  • Tanya is being paid once a week.
  • That car is being driven without its light on.
  • The children are being vaccinated for the flu.

Do you understand how the verb phrase is constructed? Go to Lesson Ten if you need to learn more. Tomorrow the lesson is on the passive voice in the past continuous tense. It’s important to study both of these lessons.

Requested by Tahir–who now lives in L.A. but is originally from Egypt–the word of the day is "unique."

Some modal verbs are used to describe activities that did or did not happen in the past. Words such as could, would, should, and might are added to have been, and then the main verb is in the form of a past participle:

  • The table should have been cleared. (It wasn’t.)
  • She shouldn’t have been hired. (She was.)
  • The crime could have been prevented by the police. (The police weren’t there, so something bad happened.)
  • He might have been killed. (No one knows for sure all of the details about this past situation.)

Click here to learn more about using modal verbs in the past tense and in the passive voice.

The word of the day is "hire."

When a modal verb is used with the passive voice, it looks like this:

modal verb + be + main verb

  • Breakfast will be served at 6:30.
  • The mail should be delivered before noon.
  • Tickets can be purchased in advance.

To learn more, go to Green Level Lesson Eight.

The word of the day is "raw."

There’s a new video that shows how words related to temperature and mood might change from one part of speech to another. I’ll probably make a few more videos like this one as students have said that it is helpful:

If you are working in the Green Level, the lesson for today is on the use of "(be) supposed to." Use this when someone else expects you to do something. It’s a very common verb phrase in English, and it’s passive. The main verb following "(be) supposed to" is in the simple form.

  • I’m supposed to help my neighbor move some heavy boxes today.
  • He expects me to help him. He asked for help and I said okay.
  • The packages are supposed to arrive by tomorrow.
  • We expect them to arrive by tomorrow.
  • Maria is supposed to be here by 9 a.m.
  • We expect her to be here by 9 am.

Students who are working in the American Speech section of the website this month will study idioms this week. Idioms are verb phrases and expressions that represent everyday speech. They take a long time to learn, but it’s worth the effort!

The word of the day is "dull."

Occasionally, I remind my students of how important it is that they write notes in a notebook as they study English on this website. It’s also necessary to write answers to the exercises, quizzes, and tests because there’s no way to enter answers online. Why is that? The reason for this is you are more likely to remember the things that you have learned if you use a pen or a pencil to write your answers down on paper. Clicking on answers online is not as helpful to you as going through the motion of writing.

write

The word of the day is "write."

If you are studying the passive voice this month in the Green Level, today’s lesson shows you how to use the verb "get" in place of the verb "be" when forming the passive voice.

Last week I went to Chicago to visit some friends and take some pictures and video for the website. Click here to see where I went.

If you’re working in the Green Level, today’s lesson is on forming the passive voice in the future tense.

The word of the day is "average."

Green Level Lesson Four shows how to form the passive voice in the past tense. It might help you to also review how the verb "be" changes in the past tense by going back to this Blue Level lesson.

If you are working in the American Speech section this month, today you’ll learn about expressions beginning with the letters O    P    Q   and   R .

The word of the day is "dread."

Green Level Lesson Three shows you how to change the main verb in a sentence so that it’s in the passive voice. For many students this is confusing because the main verb changes to the past participle, and when the verb is regular, the past tense form and the past participle look the same. Let’s take, for example, the verb "serve."

  • They serve breakfast at 7 a.m.

This sentence is in the present tense. The main verb, "serve," is in the active voice. The subject is "they" and the object is "breakfast." To change the verb in this sentence to the present passive voice, use this formula:

(be) + the past participle

simple past past participle
serve
served
served

It’s also necessary to put the object (breakfast) in the position of the the subject, so the new sentence looks like this:

  • Breakfast is served at 7 a.m.

Confused? My advice to you is to follow the lessons this month very carefully. Complete all of the quizzes, and if necessary, go back to the previous three levels whenever you need help understanding how verbs change. Click here for Quiz 1 for the Green Level.

The word of the day is "cough."

If you have moved forward to the Green Level, don’t forget to print out the checklist for that level. Keep the printed checklist by the side of your computer. This is a good way to keep track of your progress as you complete all of the lessons and take all of the quizzes.

Today’s lesson for Green Level students is "I was born…."

Students who are studying expressions should take a look at Pages F  /  G  /  H  /  I   /  J  .

The word of the day is "argue."

Today is April Fool’s Day. This is a good day for magic tricks:

I came upon this man while walking along Michigan Avenue in Chicago last week. As you might be able to tell, he has a British accent. It’s good for you to listen to the different ways in which people speak English. I, personally, like British accents.

By the way, I’ve been nominated for having the Best YouTube video ever. The list of nominees is pretty long, but you can listen to the nomination at 01:20:08 for present tense vs. present perfect tense. This is very exciting!

Students who were working in the Yellow Level last month move on to the Green Level. The focus for this level is on the passive voice. Almost all of the lessons during this month will help you understand how to form the passive voice. If you haven’t completed the first three levels (Blue, Red, and Yellow), these lessons might be difficult. Understanding the passive voice requires a basic understanding of English grammar, particularly the way the verb "be" changes.

You can print out the checklist for this month’s lessons here.

Students who completed the Violet Level last month can continue learning English on this website by visiting the American Speech section. This week, we will study popular expressions used in the United States.

The word of the day is "fool." Be careful today.

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