The LAEO Blog – Learn English Here Every Day

November 30, 2008  


This week we’ll begin the Yellow Level. I made a mistake and said earlier and on the home page it would be the Green Level. Whoops! The Yellow Level is focused on perfect tenses, modal verbs, and the comparative and superlative forms. It will take us two months to go through it, and as we did with the Red Level, we will go through the lessons twice. Why? If you want to learn something well, you review and repeat what you have learned. That’s why the first lesson in the Yellow Level is a review of the past tense.

November 29, 2008

Here’s a new video on the future conditional. The present and past conditional will follow soon.



November 28, 2008

Reflexive pronouns direct attention back to the subject:

She gave herself some credit for having done a good job.

The reflexive pronoun, "herself," matches the subject, "she."

Reflexive pronouns are also called "intensive pronouns" because they put emphasis upon the subject:

Barack Obama himself called me last night to say thank-you.

He called to say thank-you himself.

In the sentences above, the pronoun can go directly after the subject or at the end of the clause.

In this last example of how reflexive pronous are used, the subject does something without help or does something alone:

Doug finished the work all by himself.

What kinds of things do you know how to do by yourself?


November 27, 2008

My condolences to the people of India where the scourge of terrorism once again has struck at the innocent. In contrast to this horror, past random acts of God and nature have resulted in much larger numbers of those dead, as we have seen recently with tsunamis and earthquakes, but when human beings–in this case, terrorists–decide for themselves who will die, they have chosen to become the instrument of destruction, and in some way pretend to be God-like. That is truly horrifying and despicable.


Prime Minister Singh addresses the people of India.

November 26, 2008

Today’s featured lesson is on gerunds. Gerunds are words that look like verbs with their "ing" ending, but they function more like nouns. Here’s a simple example:

Riding a bike is a good way to help protect the environment.

The word "riding" is a gerund. The singular verb that matches it is "is." When gerunds are in the position of the subject, they are always singular.

Gerunds often appear after words describing time or in adverbial phrases:

Before going to sleep, I set my alarm.

When working on her computer, she likes to listen to the radio.

After winning five games in a row, the football team finally lost one last night.

As you can see, a gerund follows each expression of time. The first part of the sentence is a dependent clause, the second part following the comma is the independent clause.

For more practice with gerunds, click here.

November 25, 2008

I often have to remind my students that infinitives are very useful because they can help explain why someone does something. Look at this sentence:

I’m going to go to the store to get some milk.

Why am I going to go to the store? To get some milk.

I think the problem for many students is that they see the word "to" in so many different places, it causes some confusion. In the first part of that sentence, there’s the "going to" future in which the main verb is "go." Then there’s a prepositional phrase, "to the store." Finally, the infinitive explains my reason for going to the store. Look at the sentence again:

I’m going to go to the store to get some milk.

Clearly there are three different ways in which the word "to" gets used. Here are a few more examples of sentences that use infinitives in the same manner?

She has to drive to Iowa to see her mother.

They walked outside to get some fresh air.

The students stayed after class to ask their teacher some questions.

November 24, 2008

This is one of the first pages that I’ve developed so far for learning slang. I have many others, and perhaps they’ll be ready to post this week, but for now take a look at this one, and if you have any suggestions, feel free to email me with your ideas.

Get ready for Thanksgiving this week. To learn more about this American holiday, you can click here.

November 23, 2008

I’m working on a new slang section for the website. This will be ready soon. The next email that goes out this week will probably preview part of it, so get ready!

November 22, 2008

This is a video that expains how to make conditional sentences. This is not on YouTube, so if you want to download it to your computer, this is how you do it:

  1. Do a right click or control + click
  2. Click on save link as
  3. Create a file on your desktop and put it in there.


More videos will follow on YouTube which explain how to use the future, present, and past conditional in more detail. This is something I’ve worked with my regular classroom students in the last couple of weeks. It really requires a lot of concentration and practice in order to learn it properly, but if you learn it well, you will have good control over your use of English, and your English will sound very, very good.

November 21, 2008

If you can learn how to use conjunctions properly, you can be a better communicator in English. The most common conjunction, "and," doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. It’s good to know when to use it and when not to use it. Here are some examples:

Harold and Brooke are getting married. ("and" creates a compound subject)

She likes to sing and dance. ("and" creates a compound verb)

My computer is kind of slow, and it keeps on crashing. (compound sentence)

To learn more about how to use "and" and other conjunctions, click here.

November 20, 2008

One of my online students wrote to me today and suggested that I make a certficate available to students who go through the course. What a great idea! Of course, students would have to be on their honor and claim honestly that they went through all seven levels of the website.

November 19, 2008

"Like" is a verb that we use for many different purposes. Most of all, it expresses a preference, but it’s also used when asking for something (would like) and it’s used when making a comparison of similarity (turkey tastes like chicken). To learn more about how to use "like," click here.

November 18, 2008

Another way of making the future tense is to use "(be) going to." The verb "be" will change depending on the subject, then use "going to," and then the simple form of the verb after that. This is an extremely popular way of expressing the future, so learn this well. Most Americans blend "going" and "to" and say "gonna."

  • A: How are you going to go home?
  • B: I’m going to take the bus.
  • A: What time are you going to go to work?
  • B: I’m going to be there before 6:00.

While it might be possible to use "will" instead, that would sound kind of strange in the examples above. The "going to" future sounds very relaxed and natural.

November 17, 2008

The modal verb "will" is used to make the future tense. It’s often used with contractions. The sentences below show how to make contractions with pronouns.

Maria will go to work tomorrow. She’ll go to work tomorrow.

Bob will look at some new cars today. He’ll look at some new cars today.

The weather will be cold this evening. It’ll be cold this evening.

John and Sarah will be there. They’ll be there.

To make a question, put the verb "will" before the subject:

Will I need to wear a heavy coat today?

Will you go with me?

One other use for "will" that you must know about is that it’s used when someone volunteers to help. In this case, using the "going to" future (which we will look at tomorrow) isn’t a good choice.

Do you need help with that heavy box? I’ll help you.

We’ll bring some pop to the party.

I’ll get the phone.

She’ll answer the door.

November 16, 2008

This week we’ll be taking a close look at the future tense formed by "will," "going to" and the present continuous tense.

November 14, 2008

"Some" and "any" are used before nouns as indefinite amounts:

They needed some help. (affirmative)

They didn’t need any help. (negative)

It’s easy to forget that "any" is used with the negative. As for "some," remember that we often put that word in front of nouns when making a statement.

I saw interesting birds at the zoo. (not so good)

I saw some interesting birds at the zoo. (much better!)

When making questions, it doesn’t matter if you use "some" or "any," but I prefer "any."

Do you want some sugar with your coffee?

Do you want any sugar with your coffee?

Both of these sound good. If you want to practice more, go here. Here’s a quiz if you think you understand the difference between these two words.

November 13, 2008

I went to the store to buy a few onions and a little milk. What’s the difference bewtween using "a little" and using "a few?" "A few" is used with count nouns for amounts of three or four for small amounts, and "a little" is used with noncount nouns for a small amount. Here are some more examples:

When I walked into the classroom, there were only a few students.

(students is a count noun)

When she arrived at the dentists’ office, she had to provide a little information.

(information is a noncount noun)

For more practice, you can click here for a lesson.

November 12, 2008

Today’s lesson requires a good knowledge of count and noncount nouns. Be sure to look at the video that’s on the homepage before or during the lesson.

November 11, 2008

The verb "do" is a helping verb and a main verb. This causes a lot of confusion for students of English.

helping verb





As a main verb, "do" appears as do, did, done, or doing. In the box above you see only the simple form of the verb, "do," and the past tense, "did." To make a question or the negative, add the helping verb (do, does, or did) to the simple form "do." What did you do yesterday? What do you do every day? I don’t do anything on the weekend.

Using "do" as a main verb, it has special meanings–usually related to work: I do a lot of cleaning on the weekend. She did the dishes last night. They do their homework when they get home. In these sentences, "do" is not in the simple form. It’s the main verb.

For more practice with "do," go to Lesson Seven in the Red Level.

November 10, 2008

A good knowledge of pronouns will make it easier for you to communicate in English. Today we’re looking at object pronouns. Object pronouns receive some sort of action:

I gave my pencil to him.

She called me.

He likes her.

For more practice with object pronouns, you can go here.

November 9 ,2008

A new email went out last night. I hope students are able to benefit from the emails, but you should also try to go to the website regularly and do the lessons that are listed at the bottom of the page. Learning English online isn’t easy, but with the guidance of a teacher, I hope to make it easier.

November 8, 2008

I’m going to start adding a new icon to webpages. It looks like this: writing by hand

When you see the picture of the hand, you should consider writing what you see. You don’t have to write, but I think it will help you to remember more if you do.

November 7, 2008

Making questions in the present tense is done in two ways. You can use the verb "be," (Are you a student? Is he at home? Where are my shoes?), or you can use the verb "do."

Yes / No Questions:

Do you want to learn more English?

What do you do?

Does he like his new computer?

In the examples above, "do" is a helping verb, and it’s used to form a question. Remember that "do" can also be used to make negatives. The video on the home page today explains this. For more practice in making present tense questions with "do," click here.

November 6, 2008

Today’s lesson is on commands (or you can call it the "imperative form."). Commands are used when telling someone what to do. You use the simple form of the verb at the beginning of the sentence:

Give me your pen, please.

Take this.

Have a nice day!

A verb in the simple form begins each of these sentences. The implied subject is "you," but don’t use it when making a command. For example, "You give me your pen," doesn’t sound like good English. To make the negative, put "do not" or "don’t" at the beginning of the command:

Don’t push that button!

Don’t be late!

Don’t do that!

November 5, 2008

 obama Congratulations to Barack Obama who will become the 44th President of the United States on January 20th! We’re lucky to have him as our next leader.

In Lesson Three in the Red Level, look at the difference between "do" and "did." They’re both helping verbs, but one is used for the present tense (do) and the other is used for the past tense (did). If you understand that, and you understand how to use the simple form of the verb, you will develop very good control over your use of English.


What do you eat for breakfast every day? (present tense: do + eat)

What did you eat for breakfast yesterday? (past tense: did + eat)

In both examples above, "eat" is in the simple form (eat/ate/eaten), and the helping verb determines the verb tense.

November 4, 2008

Well, today’s the day we find out who the next President will be. All indications from the polls show that Obama is going to win. If McCain wins, it will be an "upset" victory because he isn’t favored to win. Polls are taken by calling people at their homes and asking them who they will vote for. Sometimes polls are wrong, but because there are so many that show Obama in the lead, that will be probably be the result.

November 3, 2008

The verb "do" is kind of like the steering wheel of a car. It controls the direction of a sentence or a question. English teachers often refer to it as the helping verb or the auxiliary verb. When used with the main verb verb, "do" indicates whether a sentence is positive or negative, or if it’s a question. Lesson One in the Red Level looks at "do" in the present tense.

Here are some examples:

Do you eat breakfast every morning? (question)

helping verb: do / main verb: eat

No, I don’t eat breakfast every morning. (negative: do + not)

helping verb: do / main verb: eat

November 2, 2008

Now comes the hard part: review. We’re going to go through the Red Level again this month. Remember back in August when I laid out the schedule for studying English with my website? The Red Level is scheduled for the months of October and November. We will complete five lessons for the next four weeks. Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll start with Lesson One, so if you’re a new member to this website, this is a good time to catch up to everyone else.

Here’s the schedule that I sent out in August:

September — The Blue Level
October — The Red Level
November — The Red Level
December — The Yellow Level
January — The Yellow Level
February — The Green Level
March — The Green Level
April — The Purple Level
May — The Orange Level
June — The Orange Level
July — The Violet Level
August — The Violet Level

As you can see, it will take a person a full year to go through the material on this website. If you try to do it too quickly, you’ll have trouble remembering things. Just take your time and you will succeed in improving your English.

Here’s a new video. It will go into the Orange Level in Lesson 20




Click here to go to October 2008