The LAEO Blog – Learn English Here Every Day

January 30, 2009


The last lesson in the Yellow Level is on height and weight. How tall are you? What do you weigh? Do you know how to answer these questions properly? If not, click here.

January 29, 2009

What will you be doing later today? What will you be doing this weekend? These are examples of the future continuous tense, a very popular verb tense usd to describe future activity. If you click here, you can find some examples of how to use it. There’s also a video explanation.

January 28, 2009

One of my favorite movies is Star Wars.

Inside that sentence is a prepositional phrase. The phrase begins with a preposition (in) and it ends with a noun (movies). Prepositional phrases provide additional information in a sentence. They indicate time, location, quality, number, etc. You need to know how to identify these phrases so that you don’t confuse them with the other parts of the sentence.

Where are the prepositional phrases in these sentences?

It gets really cold in Minnesota.

I need to go to the store.

Behind the grocery store, there are some large trucks.

She finished the race in a couple of hours.

At the beginning of each day, Johh runs three miles.

He works at an office in the financial district.

This lesson will help you learn more about prepositional phrases.


January 27, 2009

The present perfect continuous tense is very useful in describing your life. It shows past activity up to present activity. For example, I have been teaching English for over 20 years. I started in 1988 and I’m still doing it–nonstop.

You can learn more about the present perfect continuous tense here.


January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the Year of the Ox.

the year of the ox

Thanks to the student who sent me this picture. I can’t read Chinese, so I don’t know what it says.

Today’s lesson is on indirect speech.

January 25, 2009

This is the last week that we will spend in the Yellow Level. Starting in February, we will study the passive voice in the Green Level. This will take two months. The pasive voice is especially important for intermediate level learners of English to understand. If you master the passive voice, you will eliminate a lot of confusion that you might be feeling when you study and practice Eglish.

January 23, 2009

Many of the photos sent in for the Photos section of the website are from people who have moved to the United States recently. I find this to be very interesting because the majority of pictures sent in for the first group of photos pages were from peope who lived outside of the U.S. If you want to send in your picture, give me your first name and the name of the country that you are from. If you live in the U.S., I’ll note both countries. All of the people featured on the home page this week are now living in the U.S.  Welcome!

January 21, 2009

Now is a good time to look at the present perfect continuous tense because of tomorrow’s lesson.

I have been working as a teacher for 20 years.

She has been eating a lot of candy lately.

It’s been snowing all week.

They’ve been sleeping since 2:00.

In all of these examples, some action begins in the past and it continues up to the present nonstop. Choose has or have (depending on the subject), then been, and then the main verb is in the continuous form. This is a little easier to learn than the present perfect tense because you don’t have to remember all the irregular past participles for it. It’s also a good substitute for the present perfect, but not always.

To learn more, go to this lesson.


January 20, 2009

Today we get a new President and a new chance to show the world that the people of the United States will choose hope over fear to solve the problems that face us here and around the world. It’s the end of the Bush era. Good riddance to him and the Republicans who gave him a free pass in ruining the economy and ruining the reputation of the United States abroad. They did a heck of a job.

good riddance: this expresses happiness or relief that something or someone is gone.

Well, now we can move on.

Someone on YouTube asked me to explain how "used to" can be followed by a noun. His comment follows this video:


I’m used to traveling around." -> traveling is a Noun [Gerund]

"I’m traveling around." -> traveling is a Verb

It’s confusing for me to understand why "traveling" is not a verb after "used to".

Look carefully at these sentences:

I’m used to traveling.
I’m used to it.

I’m used to my new boss.
I’m used to her.

In both of these sentences, the object pronouns ("it" and "her") following "used to" replace a gerund or a noun. "Be used to" describes something you are accustomed to in the present, but it can also describe the past: She was used to going to the beach every day when she was younger.

When describing past action, a verb can also follow "used to":

He used to work at that store. ("work" is a verb)
She used to be a teacher. ("be" is a verb)

In the sentences above, "used to" describes something that happened in the past and is not true now.

To make the negative, it’s better to use never:

I never used to like olives. (but now I like them)

She didn’t use to need a wheelchair. (but now she needs one)

"didn’t use to" is okay, but I prefer "never used to."

January 19, 2009

Today is a holiday celebrating the life and work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He helped to make the United States a better place to live by protesting against the injustice and cruelty of white Americans against non-white Americans. He also preached against the evils of war and argued for an end to the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

For more information about Martin Luther King Jr., click here.


Janaury 16, 2009

Perfect modals are interesting because they describe situations that did or did not happen in the past.

I should have woken up earlier this morning. (…but I didn’t)

He shouldn’t have yelled at his boss. (…but he did)

They could have gone to Florida last year. (…but instead they stayed home)

She might have gone to the store. (…but I’m not sure. Where is she?)

It might not have rained. (…but I don’t know. I have to go outside and look)

We may have gotten our mail. (We have to check the mailbox)

For more practice, click here.

January 15, 2009

Idiomatic modal verb phrases are good substitutes for regular modal verbs:

(be) able to = can

(be) going to = will

have to = must

ought to = should

had better = should

Click here for today’s lesson on idiomatic modal verbs.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here are some pictures of rednecks that I pulled off of the internet. The word "redneck" was featured in an email that I sent out today. Rednecks generally live in the country (ouside of the city–thank God!), they’re not very well educated, and they vote heavily in favor of Republicans. (Obama did not get very many redneck votes. They love Sarah Palin). Why was George Bush voted into office twice? We have a lot of rednecks in the U.S who vote for Republicans. Well, here they are. I’m sorry if these images are offensive, but sometimes you have to look the truth straight in the eye.

Some typical images of rednecks:

drinkingmen with car womenprotester
They like big guns.They have big beer bellies.They like junky old American cars.Redneck woman are often overweight.They don’t know how to spell. (Morons!)

Why are they called rednecks? They spend a lot of time working outside and their necks get burned from the sun. Rednecks are very proud to be called "redneck," but if you aren’t white and you call them a redneck, they get very mad, so be careful who you go callin’ "redneck." (an example of redneck English)

January 14, 2009

Things seem to be going a little better today regarding the internet connections from my home. Yesterday the air temperatures dropped down to 17 degrees below zero. Wow! That’s cold. Sometimes cold weather slows things down, including the internet, but I’m not sure why.

Today’s lesson and the lessons following in the next couple of days will focus on modal verbs. Modal verbs change the "mood" of a verb. That means it changes your interpretation of the meaning of the verb. The best thing to do is to look at examples, starting here.

Here are the main modal verbs: can, could, will, would, may, might, must, should, and shall. (Americans don’t use "shall" too often). There are are some idiomatic modal verb phrases that are also important to learn: (be) going to, (be) able to, and have to.

January 13, 2009

Another email will be going out sometime this week, but lately I’ve been having problems with the internet here. It might be due to the cold weather.

January 9, 2009

A student from Russia emailed me recently and asked for advice about ordering a book for learning American English. There are so many good ones out there, but one that I go back to again and again is Essential Idioms by Robert Dixson. It’s available from

Idioms are important to learn because they are commonly used in everyday speech, and they don’t always appear in English textbooks.

Are you following the lessons that I’ve laid out on the homepage? Here’s the lesson for today.

January 8, 2009

Here in Minnesota we’ve finished our first week of January and now enter the second week of really cold temperatures. On average these are the coldest weeks of the year. As I type this on the computer, it’s two degrees below zero. Brrrr. But it often gets colder, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Most of the people who visit this website live in warm areas of the world, and some of you have never seen snow. Living in a place that has cold and snow for about five months out of the year isn’t that bad. I like it, up until March and April, and that’s when I start thinking about taking a trip somewhere warm.

The lesson today is on comparative adjectives.

January 7, 2009

Have you ever had a cold that was hard to get rid of? I’ve got one of those right now. (This question is in the present perfect. To learn how to make questions in this tense, click here.)

In the past two weeks, I’ve been sneezing and coughing, and I’ve felt kind of tired. These are symptoms of a winter cold. Usually I don’t get sick, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. To take care of myself, these are the things I do:

1. Drink lots of fruit juice and avoid milk. Drink green tea, also.

2. Stay warm and wear a lot of heavy clothing.

3. Take naps when possible.

4. If you need to take cold medication, Theraflu is just about the best stuff available over the counter. But don’t take it more than once or twice because it really dries out your nasal membrane too much.

5. Eat chicken soup.

January 6, 2009

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

I have not eaten breakfast yet (or you can use a contraction: haven’t)

She hasn’t seen her brother in three years.

They have never been to Washington, D.C. (you can also use "never")

For more practice, click here.

January 5, 2009

For the next three days, we will study the present perfect tense. This is very useful to learn for three reasons:

1. It describes situations that began in the past and are still true now:

I have been a teacher since 1988.

2. It describes some repeated action in the past:

She has seen that movie 10 times.

3. It describes some action in the past without identifying the exact time.

They have finished their homework.

January 3, 2009

My friend Michiyo from Japan recently took a trip to Australia where the weather is very warm at this time of year. Here she is posing with a Santa claus in shorts.

michiyo and santa

Australians speak a form of English that is similar to British English in vocabulary and grammar, but in other ways it resembles American English in the pronunication and in the use of slang. Aussies, as they are sometimes known, are very good at imitating American speech patterns.

Thanks for the picture, Michiyo!

January 2, 2009

I want you to understand how the verb "have" is used in the present tense and the past tense before you learn about the present perfect tense in Monday’s lesson on January 5 (Lesson 3, the Present Perfect).This is important because "have" is a main verb and it’s a helping verb. Look at the examples below:

I have a new computer. ("have" = main verb / present tense)

He has a big problem. ("have" = main verb / present tense)

He doesn’t have time . ("have" = main verb, negative / present tense)

We had fun yesterday. ("have" = main verb / past tense)

They didn’t have any bagels. ("have" = main verb, negative / past tense)

I have had Thai food. ("have" = main verb / present perfect tense)

You haven’t had Thai food. ("have" = main verb, negative / present perfect)


January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!



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