The LAEO Blog – Learn English Here Every Day

July 2009   


July 31, 2009

How did you do with the lessons in the Red Level? If you completed all the lessons, you can go on to the Yellow Level this Monday. If you haven’t finished all the lessons, you have until Monday, August 3 when we begin the next level.

If you’re just joining this website, welcome! Students who come here to learn English start on the Blue Level and then follow through the program in this order: Red Level, Yellow Level, Green Level, Purple Level, Orange Level, and Violet Level. Look to the left of this screen for the links. If you don’t follow this order, that’s okay, but if you really want to learn English grammar, the order in which lessons are completed is important.


(During the week of July 26, I took a trip to Washington D.C., so I wasn’t able to post to the blog at this time.)

July 25, 2009

One of my online students, Manuel, wrote in with a question about the word "by" and how it might be understood in the following sentences:

  1. I was passing by.
  2. Time goes by.
  3. I’m going by plane.

In sentence #1, the word "by" is used with "pass." If I "pass by" a person’s house or apartment, that means I’m very close or I’m in the neighborhood, and it’s a good opportunity to stop and say "hello."

In sentence #2, the word "by" is used with "go." Time moves while we often don’t notice it, but it’s always moving, and before you know it, it has "gone by." Time moves quickly.

In sentence #3, the word "by" is used with a method of transportation. You can use "by" with cars, buses, boats, etc. Here are some more examples:

I’m traveling by car. She’s going by bus. They’re going by boat down the river.

July 24, 2009

Gerunds look like verbs but they function like nouns. Look at the sentence below:

I spend a lot of time in the summer gardening.

The word "gardening" describes an activity. It’s not a verb in this example. By the way, here’s a picture of a garden in my front yard:


This year I’m growing tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, sunflowers, and beets.

(The verb "grow" in the above sentence is in the present continuous tense: "be" + grow + ing)

Growing tomatoes is easy to do in the right conditions.

("Growing" in the above sentence is a gerund.)

To learn more about gerunds, click here.

July 23, 2009

So if you received yesterday’s emailed lesson, and you didn’t understand it, then Lessons 17 and 18 in the Red Level are going to be very important.

In Lesson Seventeen you’ll learn how to use infinitives:

  • A: What do you want to do today?
  • B: I’d like to see a movie.
  • A: Do you want to go in the evening?
  • B: No, I’d rather go to the movie in the afternoon.

All the underlined words are infinitives.

July 22, 2009

Here are some possible ways to complete the sentences that were in today’s lesson:


1. I like to go camping in the summer.

2. When I was a child, I liked playing football with my friends.

3. Do you enjoy gardening?

4. Please don’t stop learning English.



1. I went to the store to get some cucumbers.

2. I go to school to improve my English.

3. We saved our money to buy a house.

4. They eat a lot of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy.


If you didn’t get today’s email, go to the home page to sign up.


July 21, 2009

Here’s a new YouTube video in which I show the difference between adjectives that end in "ed" and "ing."


Today’s lesson is on conjunctions. Click here to learn about and, but, or, nor, for, yet, and so.

July 20, 2009

How many different adjectives are there in the English language? Thousands. So where do you start? Lesson 14 explains what adjectives are and provides some basic examples, but you will have to work very hard on your own to learn the words in English that describe things. Most Americans use simple vocabulary; however, one indicator of a person’s skill in English lies in the proper use of adjectives and adverbs. Here are some examples of adjectives below:

She’s wearing a beautiful coat.

These eager students will finish the assignment quickly.

Good, healthy soil produced a bumper crop this year.

Adjectives can come before or after a noun. In the examples below, the adjectives come after the noun and after the verb "be."

The coat she’s wearing is beautiful.

The students are eager to finish the assignment.

This soil is good and healthy.


July 17, 2009

Lesson 13 is all about the verb "like." This gets special attention in the Red Level because it’s a simple, useful verb. However, some students make mistakes with it. Look at the sentences below:


A: Do you like this?

B: Yes, I do.


A: Do you like this?

B: Yes, I like it.

Not Correct:

A: Do you like this?

B: Yes, I like. (No!)

You need to put an object or an infinitive or a gerund after "like" if you use it as a verb.

She likes her new boyfriend. (object = boyfriend)

They like working for that company. (gerund = working)

We like to go to the beach on the weekend. (infinitive = to go)

In each of the above sentences, the main verb is "like." To learn more about how to use this word, click here.

July 16, 2009

This is a new video that explains different ways to describe the future:


July 15, 2009

The lesson for today and tomorrow is on the future tense. You can use either "will" or "(be) going to" plus the simple form of the verb. In most cases they are about the same, but there are some differences in meaning:

She’ll be at the party.

She’s going to be at the party.

The sentences above have the same meaning. If you use the second form, be sure to include the verb "be." In this case it’s "is" because the subject is singular (she). She’s going to be….

I will see the dentist next week.

I’m going to see the dentist next week.

They will meet us at the park.

They’re going to meet us at the park.


July 14, 2009

Did you get today’s email? If not, make sure you sign up and I’ll send you free email lessons.

July 13, 2009

Did you take the quiz for today’s lesson when I posted it on Saturday? If you had trouble coming up with the answers, then today’s lesson should help.

  • It took a few hours to fix my car. (a few = count noun. Use with plural count nouns.)
  • I need a little time to finish this work. (time = noncount noun. Use with noncount nouns.)

A few is generally considered to be three, four, possible five in number. A little is not countable, but it’s a small amount. They’re both used for small amounts. You can make the amounts seem even smaller by using "few" and "little." Taking off the article "a" makes a very big difference.

  • There are few people in the country who play guitar as well as he does.
  • She has very little money.

In both of these sentences, the nouns described ("people" and "money") are made very small with the use of few and little.

July 12, 2009

Tip of the day:

Learn English from as many different people as possible.

That includes people who are not teachers, and it definitely includes this website. I’m very happy to receive email telling me that this website is helpful, but you must go to other websites, right? Be sure to check the links section of the website for my recommendations. Almost all of them are free and each has something different to offer.

If you ever hear someone say he or she knows the absolutely best way for you to learn English and everyone else’s approach to teaching English is wrong, I strongly urge you to be aware of these false prophets. Only you know what is best for you.

July 11, 2009

Here’s a new quiz for "a little" and "a few." The lesson for these words will be featured on Monday, but if you want to see how well you know the difference, give it a try.

July 10, 2009

When do you use the word "many," and when do you use the word "much?" This causes a lot of confusion for students, but if you know the difference between count and noncount nouns, then the choice will be clear.

teacher with kids in Viet Nam

Question: How many students are there in this picture? ("student" is a count noun; use many)

Answer: There are ten students.

Question: How many teachers are there in this picture? ("teacher" is a count noun; use many and use the plural form of "be," even though there is only one teacher.)

Answer: There is one teacher. (Thanks to Loan from Viet Nam for this great picture! She’s on the left and these are her students. It looks like they are at an awards ceremony. What smart children!)


beach in brazil

Question: How much time do they have to go to the beach today? ("time" is a noncount noun.)

Answer: They have several hours.

Click here for today’s lesson.


July 9, 2009

We’ve been studying the verb "do" in the first seven lessons of the Red Level. In today’s lesson, you’ll learn how this verb is used as a main verb. The verb "do" has many different meanings. This video offers some explanation:


Click here to go to the lesson.


July 7, 2009

Make questions in the present tense using "be" or "do." Last month we practiced the verb "be." This month we’re practicing the verb "do."

  • Question: Do you drink coffee in the morning?
  • Answer: Yes, I do. (or….No, I don’t.)

This question is in the present tense. The subject is "you" so the choice of the verb is "do." Knowing if the subject is singular or plural is very important because you have a choice of "do" or "does" when making a question.

  • Question: Does the car need gas?
  • Answer: No, it doesn’t. (or….Yes, it does.)

When asking a question about a person or a thing (singular), use "does." Notice that the main verb is in the simple form and does not take an "s" at the end of it. "Does the car needs gas?" is incorrect.

Click here for more practice.

July 6, 2009

Commands are used when giving instructions or telling someone what to do or what not to do. You form a command by using the verb in the simple form at the beginning of a sentence:

Take a left at the corner.

Throw me your keys.

Be careful.

In each of these sentences, the verb is in the simple form ("take," "throw," "be") and the subject is "you." The word "you" is not used, but it is implied. If you put the subject in the sentence, sometimes it’s okay, but it’s usually not necessary:

You take a left at the corner. (Okay)

You throw me your keys. (No. Sounds strange)

You be careful. (Sounds okay)

To make a negative command, use the word "don’t" or "do not":

Don’t forget to bring your cell phone.

Don’t go outside without your shoes.

Don’t do that!

Don’t be so disagreeable.

For more practice with commands (also called the imperative form), click here to go to this Red Level lesson.


July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July! To learn more about this American holiday, click here.


July 3, 2009

One difference in forming the present tense and the past tense in English is found in the chart below:

helping verb
simple form
past tense

do (present) +

does (present) +

did (past) +







The helping verb is used with the simple form of the verb to make negatives and questions. If you understand this, your English will improve:

To make the negative: helping verb + not + the simple form

She does not eat meat. (present tense)

She did not eat the beef. (past tense)

They don’t see many movies. (present tense)

They didn’t see Titanic. (past tense)

Do you like this book? (present tense)

Did you like that book? (past tense)

Does he like his job? (present tense)

Did he like his job? (past tense)

Notice that only the simple form of the verb is used with the helping verb. Never combine the helping verb with the past tense form of a verb: She didn’t went to the store. He doesn’t ate his food.

July 2, 2009

To make the negative in the present tense (if the verb isn’t "be"), you use "do" or "does," depending on the subject, "not," and the main verb is in the simple form:

She likes her new apartment.

She doesn’t like her new apartment.

I have a some time to help you today.

I don’t have any time to help you today.

This Red Level lesson will help you practice making verbs negative in the present tense.


July 1, 2009

The Red Level starts today. Go to Lesson One.



Click here to go to June 2009