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June 30, 2009

Here’s a new video for reading large numbers:

 

June 29, 2009

This week we will finish the Blue Level and move on to the Red Level. The Red Level will help you understand how to use the verb "do" in the present tense and the past tense. Once you understand how to use "do," "does," and "did," your English will improve a lot.

June 26, 2009

Here’s a new video for numbers 1 – 100. I made this because a student asked for it. If you are having trouble with something, email me and I’ll put it on a list of videos to be made in the future.

Here is the lesson of the day.

How do you feel about the death of Michael Jackson? I listened to the Jackson 5 (the singing group Michael Jackson and his brothers formed) when I was a boy in the 1970s, so it’s kind of strange that he’s dead so soon. However, he lived the life of a California celebrity, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that he has passed away.

Farah Fawcett died yesterday, too. She was also enormously popular in the 1970s as a TV actress and pinup girl. (A "pinup girl" is a beautiful woman whose picture is put on a large poster.) She died of cancer.

June 25, 2009

Today’s lesson on count and noncount nouns is important because without understanding the difference, you will make mistakes in subject-verb agreement. Look at these questions below:

How many chairs are in the room? (chair = count noun)

How much furniture is in the room? (furniture = noncount noun)

Both questions are very similar but the choice of a noun makes a difference in the use of a singular or plural verb. Click here to learn more about count and noncount nouns.

 

June 24, 2009

Today’s blog entry is from the email I sent out this morning. If you’re not getting emailed lessons, sign up on the homepage.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

A good thing to learn early in English is the concept of "subject and verb agreement." The subject and the verb must match. They must sound as though they go together. Native speakers learn this naturally; students learn this with years of practice; however, after you learn it, English becomes easier to listen to and speak.

Which of these sentences is correct?

a) The apples was bad.
b) The man were at home.
c) She like her new house.
d) It rains a lot in the summer.

Did you say "d"? That’s correct! Let’s look at the other choices: In "a," the subject is plural and the verb is singular. They don’t agree (match). In "b," the subject is singular and the verb is plural. They don’t agree. In "c," the subject is singular and the verb is plural (yes, without an "s" the verb is plural–remember? If not go back to Lesson Seven in the Blue Level). In answer "d," the subject is singular and the verb is singular. They agree.

If you make a mistake in subject-verb agreement, it’s very easy to hear, and your English will sound bad. That’s one reason why I made all those videos that show the difference between the singular and the plural. This video shows the verb "be" in the past tense. Yes, some of the videos are a little boring, but it’s necessary to learn these things early; otherwise, you will always speak English that sounds incorrect.

Sometimes, there’s no difference between the singular and the plural forms of the verb, such as with the past tense:
She worked at that restaurant. I worked there, too. They also worked there.
I ate breakfast. She ate breakfast. They also ate breakfast.

The simple past tense won’t cause you much trouble. We will start to study the past tense in greater depth when we study the Red Level next month in July.

So, are you following the lessons on the schedule on the homepage? Do one lesson a day during the week, Monday through Friday. By making a visit to the website a part of your regular schedule, you should see some improvement in your English grammar.

 

June 23, 2009

Here’s a new video for telling time:

 

Today’s lesson is on asking for the time and then telling the time.

June 22, 2009

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the U.S., so I went camping with my family. It rained almost the entire time, but it was still fun.

Today you study the past tense using the verb "be." Click here.

June 20, 2009

Next week we will almost be finished with the Blue Level. How are you doing so far?

Here’s a new quiz for the past tense. The lesson for Monday is here.

June 19, 2009

Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns look similar but they are used differently. Take a look at this chart:

Subject
Possessive Adjective
Possessive Pronoun
I
my _____
mine
you
your _____
yours
he
his _____
his
she
her _____
hers
it
its _____
its
we
our _____
ours
you
your _____
yours
they
their _____
theirs

Possessive adjectives are used with nouns:

I have my keys. You have your phone. That is her house. They have their books.

Possesive pronouns look like this in a sentence:

These keys are mine. That phone is yours. That house is hers. Those books are theirs.

See the difference? For more practice, click here.

 

June 18, 2009

Did you receive an email from me today? If not, make sure you sign up on the homepage. It’s free to receive emailed lessons and updates to the website.

June 17, 2009

Information questions are formed with words like these.

Notice that the word order is similar to the one used when making questions that result in a "yes" or "no" answer:

  • Did he leave for the airport? (yes-no answer)
  • When did he leave for the airport? (information answer)
  • Does she go to school? (yes-no answer)
  • Where does she go to school? (information answer)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To my friends in Iran — Best of luck to you in your demands for a fair election process. People in the United States are watching what happens with great interest.

June 16, 2009

The verb "be" is the only verb to have two choices for the past tense: was or were.

Singular
Plural
I was
We were
You were
You were
He was
They were
She was
It was

To make the negative, add "not": was not / were not.

The contractions look like this: wasn’t / weren’t.

She was at home yesterday. (affirmative)

She wasn’t at school. (negative)

We were so tired this morning. (affirmative)

We weren’t in bed until 11 p.m. last night. (negative)

For more practice with the past tense, click here.

June 15, 2009

Prepositions in English take a very long time to learn, so you should get started now. Click here. If you read a lot or if you have the opportunity to speak English daily, you will learn how to use prepositions, but it probably won’t happen fast. There are hundreds of different prepositions. I’ve begun a new section of the website to provide some help.

 

June 13, 2009

Here’s a link to a very interesting, short lecture on the use of English in the world today.

 

June 12, 2009

Articles (a, the) are difficult in many languages. It will take you many years to learn how to use them properly because there are so many rules, but you must learn them. Click here for some of the most basic rules regarding articles. I’ll make a video for this topic soon. In the meantime, here are some examples:

I bought a car. (This is first time I say the word "car")

The car is in my garage. (This is the second time I say the word "car.")

Cars are sometimes necessary for travel. (There’s no article. This is a category.)

The cars people drive in the U.S. are big. (I’m thinking of specific cars.)

We’re traveling by car. (No article. It’s a method of transportation.)

Car accidents cause a lot of death. ("Car" is an adjective in this sentence.)

 

June 11, 2009

The lesson for today is on the verb "have."

A: Hi John. What do you have there?

B: It’s my new guitar. Do you want to try it out?

A: Sure. Do you have a pick? ("a pick" is used for strumming a guitar)

B: Yeah, I have one right here.

A: (He strums the guitar.) Wow. It has a nice sound. I wish I had a new guitar.

B: Well, don’t you have at least five different guitars?

A: Yeah, but I can always use a new one. Uh oh. Look at the time. I have an appointment to go to. See you later.

Here’s a link for today’s lesson.

June 10, 2009

The present continuous tense is used for three reasons:

  1. Things you are doing now.
  2. Things that are happening in your life
  3. Things that are going to happen in the future.

Don’t confuse the present continuous tense with the present tense. This is a common mistake in English. Even intermediate and advanced learners of English do this.

The present continuous tense is made with the verb "be" (am, is, or are), the main verb, and "ing."

  1. She’s learning English right now. / You’re learning English right now. (now)
  2. I’m painting my house. / They’re moving to another state. (an ongoing event in your life)
  3. He’s meeting his brother at the airport later. / We’re going to a party this weekend. (future)

This video explains some of the differences between the present tense and the present continuous tense:

 

June 9, 2009

The present tense is used for daily activity. What do you do every day? What do you do every week? What do you do every month? Notice the difference between the first person (I) and the third person singular (he, she, it):

  • I go to school every day.
  • She goes to school every day.
  • I don’t travel very much. ( use "do" + "not" to make the negative)
  • She doesn’t travel very much. ( use "does" + not" to make the negative for one person or thing)
  • Do you like to play soccer? ( use "do" to make a question)
  • Does she play soccer? ( use "does" to make a question for one person or thing.

Click here for more practice.

 

June 8, 2009

"There" is used for a couple of different reasons:

1. There = information, existence: There’s a sandwich on the table.

2. There = location: Who put the sandwich there? (there = on the table)

Today’s lesson will demonstrate the first example. This word is often used to begin a sentence. Here’s another example: There are many problems in the world today that need attention. To make a question in which the answer is "yes" or "no," "Is" goes first: Is there any coffee?

When students make mistakes with "there," they often use "it" or "they" instead: They are many students in the classroom (incorrect!) This should be, There are many students in the classroom. Or, It is a police car outside (incorrect!). This should be, There’s a police car outside.

You can go to this Blue Level lesson for more practice.

And here’s a new video I made just today:

 

June 7, 2009

A student online asked for help with the preposition "during," so I made a new page with examples of how it can be used. Click here. "During" is similar to "at the same time." We usually use it for a period of time: during the day, during the week, during the night, during the month, during the week, during the summer, during the meeting, during class, during the game, during my childhood, during my life, etc.

June 6, 2009

This is a new video for yesterday’s lesson:

 

June 5, 2009

this — that — these — those

Do you know the differences among these words? The fifth lesson in the Blue Level provides some good examples.

June 4, 2009

English teachers are good at putting their students to sleep in class. When they start talking about nouns, the eyes begin to glaze over and very soon everyone is asleep. But it’s important to know about nouns because the noun you choose might change the form of the verb that goes along with it. Consider this sentence in the present tense:

My dog is in the backyard.

Why did I choose to use the verb "is"? It’s because there is only one dog. The subject (and it’s a noun) is singular. The word "dog" is similar to "he, "she," or "it," and as you already know, those pronouns are singular. The verb "be" changes to "is" in the present tense.

My dogs are in the backyard.

Why did I choose to use the verb "are"? It’s because there are two dogs. The subject is plural. The word "dogs" is similar to "they," so the verb "be" changes to "are" in the present tense.

Beginning level students should go to Lesson Four in the Blue Level.

 

Intermediate and Advanced students:

Water is essential for life.

"Water" is a noncount noun. Noncount nouns are treated as if they are singular. However, as your English gets better and better, you might start to see strange things like, "The waters of this region are very clean." Sometimes noncount nouns are changed into count nouns. I know this is confusing, but don’t worry about it too much for now. Here are a couple more examples:

The oils from these plants are very valuable.

There are several different breads to choose from in that bakery.

 

June 3, 2009

Did you get today’s email? If not, make sure you sign up for email lessons and updates on the homepage.

This is where you will find daily instruction. Bookmark this part of the website and try to come to the blog every day. You will notice that this blog is regularly updated.

June 2, 2009

To make the verb "be" negative, add "not." It’s a good idea to know how to use the contractions also:

be + not

Beginning students should click on the lesson above. Remember to write the exercises and quiz answers by hand in a special notebook for this course. Writing will improve your memory.

Look at this mistake: "She is no here." I hear people say this if they haven’t taken a basic English class. It sounds really, really bad to make the negative this way. It is possible to use "no" to make the negative in front of a noun, like this, "There are no students in the classroom." That’s okay.

For intermediate and advanced students, here’s a video that shows how to use "ain’t." This is not good English, but you should learn about how it’s used because you often hear it in the U.S.

 

June 1, 2009

Class begins.

The verb "be" is the most important verb in English. If you understand how this verb changes in different verb tenses, your English will improve. Here are some examples in the present tense:

  • I’m hungry. (I’m = I am)
  • You’re a good student. (You’re = You are)
  • She’s very tired. (She’s = She is)
  • We’re online right now. (We’re = We are)
  • They’re at home. (They’re = They are)

Here a link to the first Blue Level lesson. I recommend that you write the exercises by hand in a notebook because it will help you remember things that are important. When you see this icon, you should write the exercise by hand. Writing is better than clicking.

Come back to the blog every day. Even if it is difficult to understand all the words that I’m using, you will benefit from reading it every day.

 

 

Click here to go to May 2009

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