The LAEO Blog – Learn English here daily.

May 31,2008


There’s a new quiz in the Blue Level for possessive adjectives and possesssive pronouns. Click here.

May 30, 2008

A new email lesson will go out on Monday. I’m trying to think of topics to include. Because so much attention has been paid to modal verbs lately, that almost certainly will be part of it.

Yesterday I posted a new YouTube video for the past continuous tense. Someone asked what the difference was between the past continuous tense and the past perfect continuous. Here’s what each looks like using "work" as the main verb:

  • The past continuous: He was working
  • The past perfect continuous: He had been working

He was working for a big company last year.

He had been working for a big company before he quit and started his own business.

There’s not much of a difference between the two. The past continuous tense shows some non-stop activity that happens over a period of time. The past perfect continuous shows some non-stop acitivity that is completed before another activity. They’re so similar, you could easily substitute one for the other, but the past perfect continuous is more precise. Go here for more examples.

May 29, 2008

There’s a new video on YouTube for using modal verbs with the continuous form. Click here to see it.

May 28, 2008

The verb "get" is so interesting. We use it with many different prepositions, and it can have many different meanings. Some examples:

  • get into = develop an interest.  He got into music at an early age.
  • get at = try to say.  What are you getting at?
  • get with = change one’s behavior.  I just can’t get with it today. I’m too tired.
  • get back = 1. return; 2. go for revenge. The man on the bicycle got back at the rude driver by scraping some keys along the side of his SUV.

How do you get to work or school? (get to = travel). I get to school by bike. Here’s a picture of it. It’s the best and cheapest way to travel.

my bike

May 27, 2008

Modal verbs can be used with continuous tenses:

I will be going to the store later today. (go)

I should be eating more vegetables. (eat)

I may be working this weekend. (work)

Here’s the formula: modal verb + be + _______ing. (the main verb is in the simple form)

May 26, 2008

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. We honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives because their country asked them to, whether the reasons for doing so were good or not good. Most Americans disagree with continuing the war in Iraq, but whatever the outcome, we have to take care of those who have survived it and respect and honor those who have died. The same is true for all the other wars in which the U.S. was involved.

May 24, 2008

Lately, we’ve spent a lot of time with modal verbs. Today I’m going to demonstrate how to use perfect modals. Look at the sentence below:

I could have eaten the whole pizza. (main verb: eat)

The above situation didn’t happen. Perhaps I ate some of it, but I didn’t eat all of it. Perfect modals are used to describe situations that did or didn’t happen in the past. Here’s another example:

I shouldn’t have gone on that trip. It was a disaster. (main verb: go)

This situation did, in fact, happen. I went on a trip and it was terrible.

The formula looks like this:  modal verb + have + past participle

modal verb
past participle












She could have been a doctor, but she decided to become a lawyer instead. (main verb: have)

It would have been nice to see you yesterday, but I was too busy. (main verb: be)

They shouldn’t have eaten all that candy. Now they are sick. (main verb: eat)

May 23, 2008

This is a YouTube video for the idiomatic modal, "have to," which is just about the same thing as using "must."


May 22, 2008

Gas prices are going through the roof! I passed by a gas station by the Mall of America yesterday and it was going for $3.81 per gallon. Well, the trend seems to be in the direction of even higher gas prices–just in time for the Memorial Day weekend when a lot of Americans take trips.

May 21, 2008

There’s a new video on YouTube. This shows how to use a modal verb with "(be) able to." Here are some examples:

I will be able to speak and understand English better after using this website. (main verb = speak)

I might be able to see you later today, but I might not. (main verb = see)

We should be able to afford a new car. (main verb = should)

The main verb is in the simple form. Also, after the main verb, use "be able to." You can click here to see the video.

May 20, 2008

A new email lesson went out this morning. I hope you were able to learn something from it. Remember, that if I notice that someone isn’t opening email at least once or twice every ten emails, there’s the possibility he or she will be dropped from my list. It costs a lot of money to maintain an email list, so dropping nonactive students is sometimes necessary.

Here’s a new video to follow up on the modal verb video. It’s part one of a three-part series. Click here.

May 19, 2008

Here are the answers for the quiz I posted a couple of days ago. This is kind of an experiment I want to try in order to learn how to use this blog for providing instruction.


You can find the quiz here. Go to the Yellow Level and read about modal verbs if you’re not sure what to do. If this exercise is helpful, email me and let me know.

May 18, 2008

We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks in my 10:00 intermediate-level class on the subject of money–making it, saving it, and using it wisely.

May 17, 2008

Here’s a new quiz on modal verbs. Click here. If you have forgotten how to use modals, this lesson on modal verbs might help you. Watch the video first and then scroll through the lesson.

May 16, 2008

In the United States, we say that a person is in his or her "golden years" after retirement. This is supposed to be a time to relax and do the things that you really want to do; however, past the age of 65, it might not be possible to do some physical activities that were easily done at an earlier age. This is why it’s so important to take care of yourself when you are young. My intermediate level class will discuss old age and retirement today.

Here are some ways to describe someone who is getting older. You have to be careful what you say, especially if you are right in front of that person because he or she might be offended if you say the wrong thing.

He’s a senior citizen. / She’s getting older. / He’s an older gentleman. / She’s elderly.

Here are some things you should not say:

She’s past her prime. / He’s old. / She’s really old. / He’s a dinosaur.

Many older people do not like the word "old." You can use "elderly" as an adjective instead, but sometimes that word also causes a person to take offense. So be careful in what you say.

May 15, 2008

There’s a new video on infinitives. Click here to take a look.

May 14, 2008

For victims of the Myanmar cyclone and the earthquake in China, it’s probably a good time to remember that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies can provide help.

Here are the top 100 words in English according to the Project Gutenberg:

about · after · all · and · any · an · are · as · at · a · been · before · be · but · by · can · could · did · down · do · first · for · from · good · great · had · has · have · her · he · him · his · if · into · in · is · its · it · I · know · like · little · made · man · may · men · me · more · Mr · much · must · my · not · now · no · of · one · only · on · or · other · our · out · over · said · see · she · should · some · so · such · than · that · their · them · then · there · these · they · the · this · time · to · two · upon · up · us · very · was · were · we · what · when · which · who · will · with · would · your · you

So, if you don’t know them yet, you probably don’t understand a word of what I’m typing right now.

In class today we’re going to talk about adolescence and adulthood. The word "adolescent" isn’t as popular as "teenager" in describing someone between the ages of 13 and 19, but it’s often used by teachers of children in this age range. Adolescents learn how to become adults, but they aren’t adults yet. In the U.S., many teenagers behave as though their childhood is behind them and that they are, indeed, adults. This thinking results in all kinds of problems such as teen pregnancy, smoking of cigarettes, alcohol and drug abuse, and death from reckless behavior–namely bad driving.

The "hood" suffix is one you should learn. Consider these examples: childhood, adulthood, and parenthood. Putting "hood" after each of these words describes each period of time. Here are some examples in sentences:

He had a happy childhood. /  Adulthood is the longest period of your life if you live a long time.  /  Parenthood is a very satisfying experience for most people.

May 13, 2008

The word "grow" is really important when describing human development. As a baby, you grow inside your mother’s womb. After you are born, you grow up and go from child to adult. And then everyone comments on how much you have grown. When you reach maturity, you are called a "grownup." From there you grow old. In my regular classes at the Mall of America, we are addressing these various stages of life all this week.

May 13, 2008

Today the attention is put on having a baby and what babies do. This is really a big topic, so I’m going to create a page in the vocabulary section of the website. You can get to it if you click here.

Having a baby is the biggest responsibility there is. You have to feed it, change its diapers, put it to sleep, rock it when it’s crying…..Yes, we say "it" when talking about a baby. But if you know the gender of the baby, it sounds better to say "he" or "she."

There are about five babies born per second in the world. We all have to do a better job of insuring that there will be a good future for those babies.

May 11, 2008

This week we’re going to study vocabulary related to the stages of life: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Tomorrow we’ll start with birth. I’ll also send out an email lesson to all my subscriibers. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can go to the home page and sign up there. It’s all free.

May 9, 2008

I’m still working through the email that everyone sent to me this week. It looks like I’m about a day behind. Good responses!

May 8, 2008

In one of my classes yesterday we learned about how some words go well together in English. One good example of that is "highly likely." These two words are good to know because each one is unusual but useful. "HIghly" means "very." "Likely" means "possible." Here’s an example:

It’s highly likely that Barack Obama will become the Democratic nominee for President of the U.S.

While it’s possible that it could still be Hillary Clinton, it’s more likely to be Obama. Here are some more examples of these two words: It’s highly likely that we’ll get some rain this afternoon. She’s highly likely to be late to the meeting because she’s stuck in traffic. I’m highly likely to work in my garden this weekend.

May 6, 2008

So far I’ve been able to respond to all but one person who emailed me with a response to yesterday’s question. (in that one case, the email address appears not to be working.) The question asked of students had to do with the differences between marriage customs in the U.S. and marriage customs in the country that the students come from. Responses really varied, but I’d like to post one so you get a sense of what students wrote. This is from Shahenda ( I don’t know what country he or she is from), and my corrections are included.

In my country, in order to marry a girl you have to ask her family first. Of course, you do this after believing that she will agree to the marriage, but if the family refuses, you won’t be able to marry that girl.

Also, in my country, the man is the one who is responsible for buying the apartment.

We also have a tradition called SHABKA. It involves jewelry. The bride chooses it and the man pays for it.

Weekly emails seem to be working well for everyone. I’ll try to come up with a theme or focus on some element of grammar for each email that I send.

May 5, 2008

There are two new lessons in the Orange Level: using so and too and either and neither.

May 4, 2008

Do you use articles properly? I put a new quiz for articles on the Blue Level. All students could benefit from brushing up on the use of "a," an," "the," and also those instances when no article is necessary. The quiz is here. You might want to look at the lesson on articles here before you take the quiz.

May 2, 2008

This week one of my classes has been studying long-term relationships based on love. We studied vocabulary words and idioms based on this theme, and today my students will do some writing on this topic. Those of you outside of my regular classroom may also participate in writing assignments. Here’s a question for you: What is an important quality you look for in someone that you want to spend your life with? In other words, what’s really important to you in choosing a life partner (a husband or a wife, a girlfriend or a boyfriend)? You could choose to describe physical qualities, but I suspect most will write about inner qualities such as honesty, a sense of humor, the ability to cooperate–that sort of thing. You can WRITE TO YOUR TEACHER and I’ll write back to you. Title the email "assignment."

I might make this a regular activity for Fridays. Notice that this isn’t a public forum, like a message board. I might change that in the future, but for now let’s try it this way. Remember, whenever my response time is slow, it’s because I’m working with a large volume of email.

Do you know the difference between "any" and "some." There’s a new quiz in the red level that you can use to practice.

May 1, 2008

Happy May Day to those who celebrate it. In the United States, it isn’t recognized as a worker’s holiday as it is in other countries. Labor Day in September is the closest thing we have to May Day.

Click here to go back in time to April of 2008