We begin the Orange Level in June. This weekend would be a good time for you to finish the Purple Level if you haven’t finished it already.


It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States. At this time we remember the men and women who have died in combat or served in the military. Many people visit cemeteries and lay wreaths or flowers on graves.

military gravesite

There’s a new quiz in the Purple Level. This is for the verb "see."


The word of the day is the verb "be."

This is the last in the series of 20 essential verbs to learn in English, but this is the most important verb to understand well. Here are some video clips that will help you understand this verb:

"be" in different tenses
short answers — present tense



The word for the day is the verb "run."

Its most popular meaning you probably already know, but it has other common uses. Many people use "run" in place of "go."

  • I have to run to the store to get some milk.
  • We should run over to St. Paul and watch the parade.
  • I ran over to Tom’s house to pick up some things.

You can also use "run" when in a discussion, particularly among people in business who review information:

  • I have a few things I need to run by you. (get your opinion)
  • Let’s run over these sales figures to see how we’re doing. (look at)
  • We should run down this list of applicants for the job and make a choice. (review and look at)

This YouTube video will provide you with more examples of the verb "run."


The word for the day is the verb "play."

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The word for the day is the verb "cut."


When using a pair of scissors, the verb "cut" usually comes to mind first:

I cut some paper with these scissors.

She cut herself while using a pair of scissors.

However, "cut" also means to reduce something such as time or money:

His salary was cut when he reduced his hours at work.

You can cut your drive time in half by taking this highway.

Click here to see which idioms include "cut."

The word for the day is the verb "keep."

This word is similar to "save," "store," and "put." Here are some examples:

I always keep my cell phone in my left front pocket.

Where do you keep your rice?

Ice cream that was kept out of the freezer too long melted.

They keep their money in the bank.

"Keep" is also often used in place of the word "continue." Something won’t stop happening, and often when using the word "keep," this describes a problem. Following "keep" in these sentences is a gerund:

She keeps coming to work late.

Why do you keep making that terrible noise?

We can’t keep staying up late at night.

The water keeps dripping from the faucet. It won’t stop.

I keep reminding myself to work on the blog earlier in the morning.


There’s a new addition to the Purple Level reading section: The Ant and the Grasshopper. This is one of Aesop’s best known fables.

There are also two new quizzes available in the Purple Level: go and get. If these quizzes are too difficult or too easy, please let me know. Thanks!


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Thanks to Marianela, Bichnhung, Fesseha, Miguel, Ernestina, Jose, Galina, Massimo, Lydia, and Svet for their support. They helped make English language instruction available to people around the world who don’t have the money to pay for school.

I only ask for donations once or twice a year. If you’d like to help the website out, click here. Any contribution is welcome.


The word for the day is "tell."

We use "tell" for indirect speech. It’s also used when describing a command (the imperative form). Here’s an example:

"Go to the store and get me some eggs," said my mother.

My mother told me to go to the store and get her some eggs.

Do you notice the use of an object pronoun after the verb "tell?" That’s important. Compare these two sentences:

My boss said that I could go on break.

My boss told me that I could go on break.

After the verb "say," there is no object pronoun, but there is one after the verb "tell."

The verb "tell" is also used with words such as "truth," "lie," "time," and "how."

  • She always tells the truth.
  • The little boy told his mother a lie.
  • Can you tell me what time it is?
  • Please tell me how to do this.

Can you complete the sentences below? Use "say" or "tell." All of these sentences are in the past tense.

  1. The teacher _________ us to take out our books.
  2. My mother _________ that she needed some eggs.
  3. President Obama __________ some funny stories at the event.
  4. It was Henry who _________ us about the stolen car.
  5. Ali __________ that English is difficult for him

Here’s a quiz for some more practice.

(1. told; 2. said; 3. told; 4. told; 5. said)


The word for the day is "say."

The video below shows how to use "say" when describing the words of another person. This video is included in the Orange Level, which we will study, next month in June, but it’s good to look at now. Sorry, the video is a little dark:

The word for the day is "want."

The verb "want" is used to describe desire. It’s different from the verb "need." Lessons for "want" and "need" are side by side so that you can see the differences.

"Want" is usually used in the present tense:

  • A: What do you want to do today?
  • B: I want to go to the beach.
  • A What does she want to do?
  • B: She wants to see a movie.
  • A: What do they want?
  • B: They want more information about classes
  • A: What do you want to do in the future?
  • B: I want to work as a chef. ("want" expresses future goals)

It’s also possible to put the verb "want" in the past tense:

  • A: What did you want me to do? I forgot.
  • B: I wanted you to take this to the post office.
  • A: What did he want? (Someone on the phone)
  • B: He wanted Sandra’s phone number, so I gave it to him.
  • A: What did the gas company want?
  • B: They just wanted to check our meter.


The word for the day is "need."

This is not a difficult word to use or pronounce. "Need" expresses what is necessary:

These questions and sentences are in the present tense:

  • A: What do you need to do today?
  • B: I need to get some groceries at the store.
  • A What does he need to do?
  • B: He needs to finish his homework.
  • A: What do they need?
  • B: The students need more information from their teacher.

These sentences are in the past tense:

  • A: What did you need to do last week?
  • B: We needed to find a new place to live.
  • A: What did she need from the doctor?
  • B: She needed a new prescription for medicine.
  • A: What did the kids need to do?
  • B: They needed to clean up their mess.

The word for the day is "come."

Don’t confuse the verb "come" with "go." Use "come" when you are at a location and you are talking about that location:

You are at home and talking to your son:

When are you coming home?

You live in New York and you are talking to a friend:

You should come visit me here in New York.

You are at work and talking to a coworker:

What time did you come in to work this morning?

The verb "come" is very idiomatic. Click here to see how it’s used as an idiom. It’s also often put together with other verbs, just as the verb "go" sometimes is: come play, come visit, come see, come eat, come work, come drive, come help, are just a few examples. When you use the word "come" with these other verbs, you are inviting someone to do something:

Please come eat with us. There’s an empty seat.

Why don’t you come work at my company?

Come drive the new Chevy Volt.

Come help me with this.


Here’s another fable from Aesop: "The Wind and the Sun"


I’m starting a new reading section for the Purple Level. The first page is an Aesop’s Fable: "The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey"

Be sure to click on the audio button to listen to the story as you read.


The word for the day is "make."

This word is often preferred over the word "cook" for food:

I’m making breakfast. (present continuous tense)

He made a sandwich for himself. (past tense)

She’s going to make lasagna for dinner. (future tense)

It’s also used for money:

How much money did you make last week? (past tense)

He makes good money at his job. (present tense)

That company made a huge profit in 2009. (past tense)

Plus there are many idioms that use this verb:

What do you make of this situation? (What is your opinon?)

I can’t make out her handwriting. (I can’t read it. It’s too messy.)

How did you make out at the track? (How much money did you win at the horse races?)

Here are some more idioms that use "make."

This video shows how to use "make" as a causative verb.


The word for the day is "know."

We often use the word "know" to express knowledge and skill:

  • A: What do you know how to do?
  • B: I know how to _________. (use the simple form of the verb here)
  • A: What does she know how to do?
  • B: She knows how to use a computer.
  • A: What do you know about plumbing?
  • B: Not much.
  • A: Did you know that the capital of Illinois is Springfield?
  • B: No, I didn’t know that.


Today’s lesson is on the word "look," but it’s also going to be about the subject of time.

If you have problems talking about time, this should help. Listen to the questions and then read the answers that follow. The verbs I’ve chosen for this lesson come from the Purple Level:

Questions and Answers in Talking about Time:

get time
A: Do you get any time at work to eat lunch?
B: Yes, I get an hour.

put in time
A: How much time do you put in at work? (How many hours do you work?)
B: I put in eight hours a day.

use time
A: How do you use your time at work? (What do you do at work?)
B: I’m often in meetings, on the phone, or on the road.

take time
A: Do you take time to do your work carefully? (Are you careful?)
B: Yes, I’m very careful in what I do.

give time
A: How much time do you give yourself to get things done?
B: I give myself as much time as I need–a day or two.

make time
A: Are you able to make time for your family?
B: Yes, I spend time with them on the weekends.

come on time
A: Do you come to work on time?
B: Yes, always.

need time
A: How much time do you need to get things done?
B: I need at least a day or two.

want time
A: Do you want more time to finish your work?
B: No, I’m finished.

tell time
A: Do you know how to tell time in English?
A: Can you tell me what time it is?
B: It’s ___ o’clock.

keep time
A: What do you use to keep time?
B: I use the stopwatch on my cell phone.

be on time
A: Am I on time?
B: No, you’re late.


Managing Time:

How do you manage your time?
How do you spend your time?
How do you use your time?
How do you make use of your time?
How do you divide your time?


Using Time Wisely or Unwisely:

He wastes his time. (bad)
He doesn’t waste his time. (good)

He spends time wisely. (good)
He’s careful with his time. (good)
He doesn’t spend his time wisely. (bad)

She makes good use of her time. (good)
She doesn’t make good use of her time. (bad)


Talking about the Expiration of Time:

We’re out of time. (present tense)
Time’s up.

We’re running out of time. (present continuous tense)
Time’s running out.

We ran out of time. (past tense)

We’re going to run out of time. (future tense)
We’ll run out of time.

Time is money. (often used at work or in business)
It’s about time. (Finally!)
It’s time. (We have to go.)
Have a nice time. (Have fun!)
This is eating up all my time. (something is taking a lot of time)
You’re on company time. (You’re at work)
What you do on your own time is your business. (Time spent away from work is your time)

The word for the day is "see." The common use for the verb "see" is for the function of the eyes: "I see it’s raining outside," or "Do you want to see a movie today?," but you should also learn a few other ways to use "see."

We use "see" when meeting other people:

  • I have to see a doctor today.
  • He’s going to see his friends this weekend.
  • We should see them at the party.

We use "see" when in a romantic relationship:

  • How long has he been seeing her?
  • Donna and Greg saw each other for two years before they got married.
  • They stopped seeing each other last year.

We use "see" to express understanding:

  • A: Do you see what I mean?
  • B: Oh, yes. I see.

"See" is also used when trying to make a decision:

  • A: Is it okay if we get a new dog?
  • B: Let’s see. (This means "maybe.")

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

Don’t forget to sign up for tomorrow night’s webinar. You can chat with your teacher live online. Sign up here.


The word for the day is "give." The meaning for this word is generally the opposite of "get," but it can have other meanings when adding nouns, pronouns, and prepositions:

give a hand: applaud, clap.

Let’s give them a hand for a job well done.

give someone a hand: help

Can you give me a hand with this? It’s really heavy.

give birth to: have a baby; originate an idea

Sara gave birth to twins.

give credit: identify the person who did a good job on something

I give you a lot of credit for your success this quarter.

give me a break: 1. don’t make me work so hard; 2. that idea is ridiculous. (this expression has different meanings.)

  • 1. You have to give me a break. I’ve worked six hours straight.
  • 2. What?! The boss needs this finished by tomorrow? Give me a break!

Here are some other idiomatic uses for "give."

It’s common to hear "give" and "me" together. When Americans speak very quickly, sometimes it sounds like "gimme," as in "Gimme that," but I don’t recommend that you say it the same way.


Happy Mother’s Day! In the United States, this is the day when people give flowers and gifts to their mothers, grandmothers, and wives. Many people go out for breakfast or brunch, and phone lines across the country are very busy.


Here’s a new video for the verb "use." Notice the word order in most of the sentences go like this: Subject + verb + object + infinitive.


The word for the day is "take." It’s similar to "get" and "bring"–sometimes.

You can get some money out of that account.

You can take some money out of that account.

I brought an umbrella with me to work today.

I took an umbrella with me to work today.

In the sentences below "get" is different from "take." This mistake you see in red is fairly common:

He takes the bus to school. (okay)

He gets the bus to school. (no)

He gets on the bus at the bus stop. (okay — use "get" + "on")


To learn about idioms that use the verb "take," click here.

The word for the day is "use." Do you know how to use the word "use"?

This is a hard word to explain. A video might help:


The word for the day is "put." This is used when moving objects from one place to another:

I put my keys in my pocket.

He put his car in the garage.

Put the bags on the counter.

The meaning of "put" changes with the addition of prepositions:

put up / put through / put in / put up with

  • I put up a tent in my backyard (set up)
  • We’re putting our kids through college. (paying the cost)
  • She’s going to put in extra hours at work this week. (work extra time)
  • They’re tired up putting up with their noisy neighbors. (tolerate)

You can go to this page to see more idioms that use the word "put."

One of the most useful verbs after "be," "do," and "have" is the verb "get." "Get" has many different meanings and it’s used in hundreds of idioms and slang. Here are just a handful of idioms that use a preposition after "get" and then the pronoun "it."

get on it / get into it / get with it / get over it / get to it

  • I’ll get on it right away. (I’ll do it. / I’ll finish the job.)
  • She gets into it. (She likes what she’s doing.)
  • You have to get with it. (You must concentrate)
  • He can’t get over it. (He can’t forget something, like a romance.)
  • Okay, let’s get to it. (Let’s start. / Let’s begin something)

"Get" also has unusual applications in a sentence. These videos provide examples:

get to
get + adjective / past participle

You can learn more about basic uses for "get" by clicking here.

You can learn more about idioms that use "get" by clicking here.

For the month of May, we will study 20 verbs that are extremely important to know for communicating in English: go, get, put, use, take, give, see, look, know, make, come, need, want, say, tell, keep, cut, play, run, and be.

Today’s lesson is on the verb "go."

past participle
present participle

We often use this verb to express movement to a location:

She’s going to work. / He went to a movie. / They’ve gone to Alaska. / Where did you go? / I went to get some milk.

It’s also a popular choice for information:

Your name goes here. / Your address goes on this line.

And we use it for giving directions:

Go left. / Go right. / Go straight ahead. / Go north. / Go west.

People use the verb "go" when giving directions online:

Go to Amazon.com to buy books. / Go to Expedia.com for tickets.

Go to learnamericanenglisholine.com to learn English.

They also use it to say that two people are romantically involved:

They’re going out together. / She went with him for a few months.

It’s even used for the use of a bathroom:

He has to go to the bathroom. / She’s going to the ladies’ room.

There are many idiomatic uses for this verb. Click here to see some idioms that use the verb "go."

If you haven’t seen it yet, click below to watch a video that show how to use the verb "go" and shopping.


I made this video because so many of my students have trouble using the word "go." They also have trouble using the word "go" and the word "shopping" together. Click the video below to see how sentences are made in the present tense, the past tense, and the future tense. (I should have included the present continuous tense as well, but I forgot to do that. Read the sentences after you watch the video.)


I go shopping every weekend. (present tense)

We went shopping yesterday. (past tense)

I’m going shopping right now. (present continuous tense)

I’ll go shopping tomorrow. (future)

I’m going to go shopping tomorrow. ("going to" future)

I must go shopping later this week. (modal verb: must)

I have to go shopping later this week. (idiomatic modal verb: have to)

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

There’s a new page for classroom verbs. Click here to learn about the verb "use."

Happy May Day! In the United States, this day usually goes unnoticed except in Minneapolis, where I live. There will be a big parade and celebration tomorrow which is put on every year by Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. The parade is an inspiration for those of us who want to preserve the natural environment and clean up the Earth so that future generations of people will have a nice place to live.

Here are some pictures of flowers from my backyard. The first one is of some flowering weeds. I don’t know what they are, but they’re beautiful. The second is a picture of flowers from a lilac bush. I have a lot of lilacs in my backyard. Their scent (smell) fills the air. The third picture is of an apple blossom. I have many apple trees, and hopefully this fall I’ll have a lot of apples.

flowering weeds
flowers on a lilac
apple blossom



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