The Blue Level ends with two tests:

Test #1

Test #2

You can check your answers by clicking here.

If you do well on the tests, or if you believe you have a good knowledge of basic English grammar, move on to the Red Level. You can always return to the Blue Level if you think you missed something. In fact, I encourage students to repeat any one of the seven levels of instruction on the website.

Tomorrow, most students will move on to Red Level Lesson One. Are you ready to move forward?

Students working in the Blue Level will find a review of this level by clicking here. If you completed all of the lessons, exercises, and quizzes for the Blue Level, the review will help prepare you for the two Blue Level tests.

There’s a new video for the modal verb "can." You can find it here on my YouTube channel, and I’ll post it here on the blog:

 

The word of the day is "if."

 

The word "need" can be used as a verb or as a noun. We use this word when talking about things that are really important or necessary.

  • Everyone needs food, water, and shelter.
  • People need and deserve respect from other people.
  • Children need a good education.
  • We all need a good health care system that is affordable. (affordable = something that is not too expensive)
  • What are some things that you need?
  • What do you need?

The word "need" can also be used as a noun:

  • What are your needs?
  • Everyone has needs.
  • Some people have special needs. (We often use "special needs for people who are handicapped.)
  • Are your needs being met?
  • We should try to help people who are in need.

You can learn more about the word "need" in Blue Level Lesson Twenty-eight.

Here are some other things that you might find useful today:

the word of the day: admit

Blue Level reading assignment #28

Listening Lab Exercise #10 – asking questions

the pronoun everyone

Instead of using "want" when expressing desire, you can use "would like."

  • What would you like to do today?
  • Would you like to go see a movie?
  • I would like to order a pizza, please.
  • We would like to visit Brazil someday.

Learn more about using "would like" in Blue Level Lesson Twenty-five.

In Blue Level Lesson Twenty-five, you’ll learn why and how the verb "want" is used in the present tense. In most cases, this verb is used when there is a desire for something:

  • What do you want?
  • What do you want to get?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why do you want to learn English?

The word of the day is "uphold."

Use "have to" before a main verb when expressing some sort of obligation. "Have to" is very similar to the modal verb "must."

  • Bill has to go to the dentist. He has a toothache.
  • Vanessa and Rachel have to find some new furniture.
  • What do you have to do today?

Go to Blue Level Lesson Twenty-four to learn more about using "have to." This lesson also has a second part.

There are two new videos for possessive pronouns.

Here’s the first one:

 

Here’s the second one:

 

Today’s lesson is on the modal verb "can." Use this helping verb to indicate ability or possibility.

  • I can play the guitar.
  • You can speak English.
  • Edgar can drive to work.
  • Sheila can meet us at the coffee shop.
  • Riding a bike can help improve your health.
  • The students can make more progress if they try harder.

To make "can" negative," add "not."

can + not = cannot / can’t

  • He cannot be here today. / He can’t be here today.
  • This cannot happen. / This can’t happen.
  • You cannot be late again. / You can’t be late again.

If you are following the reading assignments in the Blue Level, today’s reading assignment is here: Diana works as a nurse.

Just a reminder: Beginning level and intermediate level students should be visiting the Listening Lab regularly.

Today’s word of the day is "time."

How are you doing on your lessons so far? After we finish the Blue Level at the end of January, we’ll move forward to the Red Level in February.

In Blue Level Lesson Twenty-one, students practice reading numbers. This is a basic but necessary skill for beginning level learners of English.

The word of the day is "sorry."

It’s necessary to pay attention to whether a noun falls under the categories of count noun or noncount noun. These categories determine which verb or adjective to use with a noun. For example…

  • The lettuce is on sale.
  • The apples are rotten.

In the first sentence, you must use the singular form of the verb "be" (is) because the word "lettuce" is a noncount noun and noncount nouns are always singular.

In the second sentence, you must use the plural form of the verb "be" (are) because the word "apples" is a count noun which happens to be plural in this case. Count nouns may be singular or plural.

Here’s another example:

  • How much lettuce do we need?
  • How many apples do we need?

Use the adjective "much" with noncount nouns, and use the adjective "many" with plural count nouns. You can learn more about count and noncount nouns in Blue Level Lesson Nineteen.

There’s a new Word of the Day quiz for the month of January. You can take it by clicking on the link above.

Today’s lesson is on the months of the year. I realize this is a very simple thing to study, but you really must know the names of the months and how to pronounce them properly in English.

The reading assignment for today is Blue Level reading #18: Our neighbor just had a baby.

The word of the day is "rant." A person who goes off on a rant is very angry about something and complains loudly about his or her situation.

I went to the movies last weekend and saw La La Land. I highly recommend it if you like music and dancing in a film, or if you like romantic comedies, or if you like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. They’re terrific in their respective roles of an aspiring actress and a jazz pianist who fall in love.

It’s interesting that the phrase "la la land" can be interpreted in a few different ways that fit the film. First, it can be viewed as a reference to Los Angeles, which is often abbreviated to L.A. Secondly, the words "la la" refer to singing or the sound a person make when singing. Lastly, a person who is in la la land is daydreaming. This is a type of slang and a good play on words.

Students new to the English language must learn how to talk about the time, days, and dates. Blue Level Lesson Seventeen provides some help in learning how to do that.

Do you like cats? The reading assignment for today is about cats: Leonardo and Rachel each have a cat.

The word of the day is "prepare."

The verb "be" takes two different forms in the past tense: was and were. Use "was" for a man, a woman, a thing, and for yourself (I), and use "were" for everything else. The table below shows an example of this:

singular plural
I was at school.
We were at school.
You were at school.
You were at school.
He was at school.
She was at school.
There were at school.
It was at school.
  • A: Where were you yesterday?
  • B: I was at school.
  • A: Where was Jim yesterday?
  • B: He was at school.
  • A: Where were your kids?
  • B: They were at school.

If you make a mistake with the verb "be" in the past tense, it’s very noticeable. If, for instance, you say, "They was at school," or "You was at school," it sounds awful.

You can learn more about this in Blue Level Lesson Sixteen. This lesson also includes an explanation for using the word "there" with "was" and "were."

Your reading assignment for today is Blue Level reading assignment #16: Brian went to the doctor.

I think it’s a good idea for beginning level students to start using the Purple Level for learning about basic verbs in English. These pages include audio, so you can read and listen at the same time.

It’s a holiday in the United States today. We’re celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a civil rights leader and a person who represented the struggle of African Americans and other oppressed people during the 1950s and 1960s.

The word of the day is "outrage."

 

Don’t confuse possessive adjectives with possessive pronouns. This is today’s Blue Level lesson.

Possessive pronouns may function in the same way that a noun does. It can be singular or plural, but you must be very careful when using possessive pronouns. They require that you keep in mind the thing or things that the pronoun is replacing. Here are some examples:

  • You have some oranges, and I have some oranges. Yours are sweet and juicy. Mine are flavorless and dry.

When using the words "yours" and "mind," I’m thinking about the oranges.

  • Joseph has on a pair of athletic shoes, and so does Martha. His are new, and hers are old.

The possessive pronouns, "his" and "hers," represent the athletic shoes.

Here’s one more example. This is kind of tricky, so pay close attention:

  • We have a house with a driveway, and our neighbors also have a driveway. Ours is made of concrete, and theirs is made of asphalt.

At first glance, the words "ours" and "theirs" might seem plural. They represent a plural noun and a plural pronoun, but they function as singular subjects: Ours is….Theirs is….

Is that confusing?

Here’s a new video for possessive adjectives. This replaces the one that I made about seven or eight years ago on this subject.

 

In Blue Level Lesson Fourteen, you can learn about possessive adjectives. These are adjectives that go in front of a noun to indicate possession.

  • This is my website.

The word "my" is a possessive adjective. It goes in front of the word "website." The word "my" indicates the owner of the website.

  • Your goal is to learn English.
  • You want to improve your English.

The word "your" is a possessive adjective. It goes in front of the words "goal" and "English," which are nouns.

  • John owns a house. It’s his house.
  • Sarah owns a car. It’s her car.
  • My neighbors own a boat. It’s their boat.

The words "his," "her," and "their" are possessive adjectives.

It’s very important to know the difference between possessive adjectives and pronouns. Tomorrow’s lesson will be on possessive pronouns.

Today’s reading assignment: Ming is talking on her cell phone.

Today’s word of the day is "north."

Blue Level Lesson Thirteen helps you choose the correct question word to use when asking questions for information.

I sent out a quiz today on the subject of question words. Did you receive it? If not, make sure you sign up to receive email from your teacher.

The word of the day is "math." This is not a difficult word to understand, but some of my students might want to listen and practice forming the unvoiced "th" sound at the end of that word.

According to Quantcast, a company that measures the size of a website’s audience, this website is now ranked #89 in Egypt. Wow! If anyone from Egypt is reading this blog, perhaps you can drop me a line and let me know what I’m doing right! Thanks!

 

Beginning students learn about the past tense today. This lesson shows how regular and irregular verbs change when they are used for actions that happened yesterday, last night, last year, or just an hour ago.

Here are some sentences in the past tense. The verbs in these sentences are regular, so they have an "ed" ending:

  • George worked last night.
  • Rachel moved to California.
  • We listened to the radio.

The verbs in this next set of sentences are irregular:

  • The boy cut his finger.
  • The children ran to the bus stop.
  • I went shopping last night and bought some butter.

When forming questions or negative verbs in the past tense, add the helping verb "did" to the simple form of the main verb:

  • He didn’t answer the question.
  • Did the man tell the truth?
  • I didn’t work last night.

The only time you don’t use the helping verb "did" for the past tense (questions and negatives) is when the main verb is "be."

  • I wasn’t at home last night.
  • The children weren’t on time for the bus.

Learn more about the past tense in Blue Level Lesson Twelve.

Today’s lesson is on prepositions. Prepositions are those small words that show relationships, distances, directions, and movement.

  • Isabel is going to the store. (The word "to" is a preposition.)
  • Bob travels with his laptop. (The word "with" is a preposition.)
  • The gifts are for the children. (The word "with" is a preposition.)

You can click here to see a list of prepositions and how they are used. Most of these pages include audio.

The word of the day is "jar."

Learning when and why to use articles in front of a noun takes years of practice. If your first language doesn’t have articles, learning about them can be hard. Blue Level Lesson Ten is an introduction to the use of articles.

One good way to learn about articles is through reading. Your reading assignment for today is about a dental appointment.

Do you go to the dentist on a regular basis? I go to a very good dentist. He works in an office located on the sixth floor of a mid rise building in Minneapolis. He works with a dental assistant. She has a lot of experience as an assistant.

How many articles do you count in that short paragraph? If you said "nine," you’re correct. Do you know why each one of those articles is used? If not, that’s okay It just requires practice.

Today’s lesson is Blue Level Lesson Nine. Use the verb "have" for ownership and possession.

  • I have a pencil in my pocket.
  • You have a notebook in your backpack.
  • Joe has a really nice car.
  • This city has a good school system.

Pay attention to the way "have" changes in the third person, singular. He has…She has….It has…

When the verb "have" is negative, or if there is a question, add the helping verbs "do" or "does" to the simple form of the verb "have."

singular plural
Do I have time? / I don’t have time. Do we have time? / We don’t have time.
Do you have time? / You don’t have time. Do you have time? / You don’t have time .
Does he have time? He doesn’t have time.
Does she have time? / She doesn’t have time. Do they have time? / They don’t have time.
Does it have time? / It doesn’t have time.

The word of the day is "important."

Learn how to form the present continuous tense in Blue Level Lesson Eight. We use this verb tense to describe activity that is happening now and in the future:

  • I’m working on my website. (now)
  • We’re opening up a new business in March. (future)
  • Joe is working on his house. (now)
  • Maria is going to the airport this evening. (future)

The word of the day is "happy." This represents basic English, but you can use this word in a number of different ways, so it’s a good idea to take a look at it.

This video provides you with examples for how you can talk about yourself:

 

One of the most important lessons on this website shows you how to form the present tense. I say this is one of the most important lessons because you really have to understand it well before you move on to other, more difficult lessons. Without a good understanding of the present tense, your English is going to sound wrong.

Verbs in the present tense change a little in the third-person singular by adding an "s."

  • I walk to school.
  • You walk to school.
  • She walks to school.

If you miss the "s" after "she," the sentence sounds bad. Really bad. She walk to school. Ugh. That sounds bad.

When making the negative and questions, you add an "s" sound to the helping verb.

  • I don’t walk to school.
  • You don’t walk to school.
  • She doesn’t walk to school.
  • Does she walk to school?

Once again, if you make a mistake here it sounds terrible: She don’t walk to school. / Don’t she walk to school. Terrible. Really terrible.

Click here to learn more about the present tense. This is Blue Level Lesson Seven.

Are you regularly using the word "there" when describing things and people? I have noticed many of my students forget to use "there," of they use "it" or "they" when "there" is a much better choice.

  • There is a game on TV.
  • There are several boxes on the table.
  • Is there any chance of snow today?
  • How many students are there in the classroom?

Learn more about how to use the word "there" in Blue Level Lesson Six.

There’s a quiz that follows the lesson.

You can also try two different Red Level quizzes that are related to today’s lesson:

it or there  /   it or they

The word of the day is "fraud." We use this word to describe a person whose actions or words are not truthful. People are victims of fraud every day. In the United States, a person guilty of fraud may even go to jail! Do you know anyone who is a fraud? Do you know anyone involved in fraudulent activities?

The words this, these, that, and those are extremely important when talking about singular or plural things and people. This is Lesson Five in the Blue Level.

Use "this" for something that is close to you:

  • I’m using this computer to work on my website.
  • We’re going to New York this week.
  • This is an interesting discussion we’re having.

Use "that" for a thing that is far from you:

  • That house down the street is on fire!
  • Do you remember when we went to that museum?
  • That was fun.

Use "these" for plural things that are close to you:

  • These are nice shoes.
  • What are you doing these days?
  • These problems must be solved.

Use "those" for plural things that are far from you:

  • People in those countries need some assistance.
  • Where are those pants I wore yesterday?
  • Those buildings across the street are for sale.

The word of the day is "east."

 

Are you ever confused by the differences among nouns and pronouns? If so, Lesson Four should help.

A noun is a word that represents a person, a place, a thing, or an idea. The words woman, Wyoming, car, and responsibility are examples of nouns.

A pronoun can take the place of a noun. These are short words which you must learn when you begin to learn English. The words I, me, you, him, them, anyone, who, and yourself, are some examples of pronouns. There are five main categories for pronouns, which you will learn about in the Blue and Red Levels over the next two months.

write by hand

After you complete Lesson Four, you can print out this quiz on pronouns. Write your answers on the paper, or write the answers in your notebook. It’s important that you write in order to remember what you have learned.

Blue Level reading assignment #4 includes examples of nouns and pronouns. Can you identify the nouns and the pronouns as you read?

The Aqua Level is a good source on this website for learning about pronouns if you ever need additional help in this area.

The word of the day is "doze." A person who dozes, enters into a light sleep. Dozing is a period of time that exists somewhere between wakefulness and sleep.

  • Terry dozed off during the lecture.
  • A soft snoring noise could be heard from the woman dozing on the couch.
  • Kick me if I start to doze off.

In Blue Level Lesson Three, you learn how to form questions with the verb "be" in the present tense. This is an easy thing to do. Put the verb "be" in front of the subject. Note that the voice often rises at the end of the question:

  • Am I a teacher?
  • Are you a student?
  • Is she in the classroom?
  • Is it Tuesday?
  • Are we on time?
  • Are they late?

Here’s a link to Blue Level reading exercise #3: This is a little boy.

The word of the day is "cost."

 

In Blue Level Lesson Two, you will learn how to make the verb "be" negative. This is a simple thing to do. Just add the word "not." The sentences below show examples of this.

write by hand Remember to write in your notebook!

  • I am on time. / I am not late.
  • You are at home. / You are not at school.
  • He is at the park. / He is not at the beach.
  • It is Monday. / It is not Tuesday.
  • The cookies are in the oven. / They are not ready to eat.

Here’s what the verb "be" looks like in the form of a negative contraction:

  • I’m not late. (You can’t join "am" and "not.")
  • You aren’t at school.
  • He isn’t at the beach.
  • It isn’t Tuesday.
  • They aren’t ready to eat.

The word of the day is "batch." We use this word when describing groups of things.

Welcome to another year! I expect many new students to join us this month. My recommendation to new students is to begin with the Blue Level and complete lessons in order. Each lesson should match the date on the calendar.

You can download a list of lessons, quizzes, and exercises by clicking here. Keep this list by your computer to track your progress.

Today is January 1, so go to Blue Level Lesson One. This lesson is on the verb "be in the present tense.

The verb "be" is the most important verb to understand in English. Without understanding how it works as a main verb and as a helping verb, your English won’t sound right.

It’s important to remember that the verb "be" changes according to the subject with which it is used. Look at the chart below. The words am, are, and is are forms of the verb "be."

Singular Plural
I am a teacher.
We are online.
You are a student.
You are online.
He is at home.
She is at school.
They are at work.
It is a car.

After you complete the lesson, go to the first reading assignment for the Blue Level. Listen, read, and then practice your reading skills out loud. A recorder is available so that you can listen to the way your voice sounds. Practice reading this several times until your voice sounds like mine.

The word of the day is "another." This word is used when asking for one more thing or when describing something different.

Each course level on this website has a checklist. Print out and keep the checklist next to your computer, tablet, or phone and use it to track your progress as you move through the lessons:

PRINT:

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