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June 30, 2008
Click here to see a new video for "(be) supposed to." This is passive and it’s a little idiomatic. It expresses obligation and responsibility. What are you supposed to do today? What were you supposed to do yesterday? Pay attention to how the verb "be" changes. You can use this in the present tense and the past tense, but that’s about it.
June 28, 2008
Last week in one of the English classes I teach at the Mall of America, we started to talk about all the different words that can be used to describe drinking. The one most commonly used, of course is "drink." However, there are some others you might like to know about:
sip = a small amount of liquid. She slowly sipped her tea.
gulp = a big amount. He gulped down a large Coke.
chug = a big amount. Let’s chug our beers and go to a different bar. ("chug" is often used for beer)
nurse = a small amount, also usually used with beer. I have to drive later, so I’m nursing my beer.
June 27, 2008
The passive voice can also use "get" instead of "be." This video explains:
June 27, 2008
We’re continuing with the passive voice. Today I’ll show you how to make the past tense passive:
Subject + (be) + the past participle
The car was fixed yesterday.
The accident victims were taken to the hospital.
Use "was" or "were" depending on the subject. Let’s practice by changing a few sentences into the passive voice. These are all in the past tense:
A hunter killed two wild turkeys.
Someone hit my car in the parking lot.
Skilled surgeons performed the operation.
Click here for a YouTube video explanation.
June 26, 2008
This is how to make the present continuous tense in the passive voice:
Subject + (be) + being + the past participle
The car is being fixed today.
It’s important to consider how the verb "be" changes following the subject. Of course, there are three possibilities: am, is, and are. Then, you use "being," but it’s also possible to use the verb "get."
The car is getting fixed today.
The main verb in this case is "fix." It’s a regular verb: fix / fixed / fixed. The main verb is in the form of the past participle. This video may help you if you are confused:
June 25, 2008
The passive voice in the present tense often confuses students. Sometimes they think they’re looking at the past tense if the past participle looks like a past tense verb. The important thing is to look at the verb "be." If you take the verb "pay" for instance. (pay / paid / paid) The past tense and the past participle are the same, but when you say "I’m paid twice a month," you’re using the present tense: I am. Here’s a video that might help you.
June 24, 2008
A new email lesson went out this morning. Be sure to write to your teacher according to the instructions. If you are not a member, please go back to the home page and sign up. Click here to go back to the home page. Remember, this is a free website.
June 23, 2008
Here’s a new YouTube video explaining the passive voice. I’ll make more of these for the passive voice because it really requires a lot of practice.
June 22, 2008
This week we’re going to study the passive voice and important vocabulary related to geography.
The passive voice requires two things: the verb "be" and the past participle. It’s possible to use "get" instead of "be," but not always.
Knowing past participles for verbs is essential in the passive voice. For regular verbs, it’s easy. Just add "ed" to the end of the word. The apple pie was baked in the oven. "Bake" is a regular verb: bake / baked / baked. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, must be memorized. If you don’t know them, go here.
Also, pay attention to the verb "be." It indicates the tense. A new store is being built across the street. What tense is that? The present continuous–"is being." Isn’t it strange to use "be" twice? But remember the rules for making the present continuous: S + (be) + _____ing. Then you add the past participle.
June 21, 2008
Here’s a new dictation exercise. Number a piece of paper 1-10. Listen to each question and answer (they match), and then write down what you hear. The answers are at the end of the video.
If you have a request for content on the website, just email me and I’ll see if I can get it done.
June 20, 2008
Barack Obama is in a very strong position to become the next U.S. President. What are your thoughts about that? You can post your opinions on my other blog:
June 19, 2008
How much time do you spend reading English every day? I always tell my students that they should try to spend at least an hour a day reading a book, a newspaper, or a magazine in English. There are a lot of places online, too, but it’s good to get away from the computer, go outside, and just read something that interests you. It can be any subject–gardening, music, history, religion, astronomy–and you should try to write down words that you don’t know in a notebook that you use for collecting new vocabulary. I did this when I studied German and it helped me develop new vocabulary.
June 18, 2008
In the email I sent out to students yesterday, the featured word of the week was "mess." I like to feature smaller words instead of bigger words because they are commonly used when Americans speak and write in English and because they can change easily with the addition of a preposition. Here are some examples: mess up, mess around, mess with, mess around with.
The United States government really messed up its response to Hurrican Katrina. (didn’t do a good job)
A boy and a girl were caught messing around in the back seat of a car. (kissing)
If you mess with that dog, he’s going to bite you. (bother or cause trouble)
He likes to mess around with his friends after school. (hangout, do things together)
June 17, 2008
I’m having trouble with the other blog, so I can’t publish any new matertial there; however, a new email went out today and you may still send me feedback by emailing me back. This will create an enormous amount of email, so if there are problems in sending or receiving email, that’s the reason.
June 16, 2008
This week the students in my regular classes will study vocabulary related to vacationing and relaxing when not at work. Where do you like to go on vacation? Why? We’re also going to study verb phrases and conversation patterns in American English.
June 15, 2008
Today is Father’s Day in the U.S. On this day, fathers are honored and sometimes provided with small gifts from children and wives. The word "fatherhood" describes the condition of being a father. Today I’m going to spend the day with my children, but I’m also going to rest.
Here’s a link to a new blog I started on blogspot. Click here. The blogs will probably be about the same. The advantage to the new one is that students can post questions or comments.
June 14, 2008
"Would rather" and "had better" are very unusual verb phrases. Their contracted forms look the same, but they are quite different in meaning:
I’d rather go to the beach today than stay at home. (I would rather go….)
Negative: She’d rather not eat at McDonald’s.
In the sentences above, you are thinking about something you prefer to do over another activity. Here’s a link to a YouTube video for "would rather."
He’d better give me my money. (He had better give…)
Negative: You’d better not be late to work. Your boss will get mad.
In thess sentences, "had better" means "should." Something is really important or the situation is very serious. There might be a negative consequence if something doesn’t happen.
June 13, 2008
This new YouTube video might help you with your listening skills. It’s a dictation exercise. Listen to each question and answer and write what you hear. This is all in the past tense, and the answers appear at the end of the video.
June 12, 2008
Yesterday in one of my classes we had an interesting conversation about the word "bum." A bum is a person who is homeless or someone who doesn’t really want to work and relies on other people for money and shelter. It’s also used as a verb and as an adjective:
As an adjective: I’m really bummed that I didn’t get that job. (This mean I’m sad and disappointed)
As a verb: This weather is bumming me out. (The weather makes me sad. You must use "out" also.)
Some more examples:
We went to the Mall of America and bummed around. (We did nothing–just walked around)
That’s a bummer. (That’s bad news. I’m sorry to hear about what happend.)
Bummer! (same as above)
June 11, 2008
I made a new YouTube video for "had better." This always confuses students, especially in the contracted form. "Had better" is almost the same thing as "should."
I’d better go to the dentist. My tooth really hurts.
In this situation, it’s really important to go to the dentist because I’m in so much pain! To see how you might use "had better," click here.
June 10, 2008
"Get used to" is often used in English to say that you are learning to live with a new situation. Here’s a brief YouTube video explanation:
To practice "get used to," you can do a little writing:
1. Name something you got used to doing in the past to stay healthy:
2. Name something you have to get used to in order to maintain your body weight.
3. Name something you should get used to if you want to save your money:
4. Name something you haven’t gotten used to doing in the morning:
5. What is something you could easily get used to if you were rich?
6. What must you get used to in order to learn English well?
7. Name something you can’t get used to when studying English:
If you email me with answers to these questions, I can’t guarantee a detailed response, but for those of you who have written to me in the past, you know that I do my best to write something. The email list is really growing!
June 9, 2008
How do you get around? Do you take the bus? Do you drive? Do you take a train everyday? This week in my 10:00 intermediate level class we’re going to study vocabulary related to travel and commuting. I’ll also try to fit this topic into the email lesson that goes out tomorrow.
June 7, 2008
Here’s a new quiz for prepositions. It’s important to guess which preposition is correct. I’ll post the answers later.
June 6, 2008
There’s a new YouTube video for the past perfect tense. The past perfect is used to describe an action or the passage of time that took place before another past action. This can be a little difficult to use properly, so if you feel unsure, you can usually just stick with the simple past tense. Most Americans don’t know the difference.
June 4, 2008
June 3, 2008
Members of the website should have received yesterday’s email lesson. If you didn’t, make sure you go to the home page and sign up. Click here. After you sign up, there’s no need for a username or password. I don’t ask for passwords because then it’s easier for everyone who wants to go on the website to learn English.
June 2, 2008
June 1, 2008
There are two new videos for the present perfect tense. One is for statements and the other is for making questions