2022 – The Year of the Grammar. Back to Basics

5th January 2021

Basic grammar is a continual problem with my online classes, that and the stubborn reluctance [contumacy for those who like to learn new words] to write down new words, or to learn from their mistakes.

Basic grammar is basically lacking.

Many older student will, I am sure, have traumatic memories of conjugating verbs endlessly, without ever applying them in real-life situations. Hence, I propose a synthesis; drilling of verb ending, and then applying them in simple sentences.

Enough preamble, let’s go to work !

Let's go to work.

The verb ‘to be’

Only teach constructions in upper level classes

I am // I’m

you are // you’re

he is // he’s

she is // she’s

it is // it’s

Mr John is // Mr John’s

we are // we’re

they are // they’re

Have students repeat until their grammar is perfect. Make games, see who can conjugate the verbs clearest and quickest.

Now … practice:

First let’s use an adjective:

happy / sad / lucky / hard-working / lazy

Let’s start with the adjective ‘happy’

I am happy // I’m happy

you are happy // you’re _______

he _____ \

she ______ \

it _______\

Mr John ______ \

we ____ \

they ______

Secondly, let’s use a continuous verb (verb + ing)

reading / playing / swimming / watching TV / eating

I am reading

you ___ _______

he __ _________

she __ _______

It __ _______

Mr John __ _____

we __ ______

they __ ________

The verb ‘to have’

I have

you have

he has

she has

it has

Ms Jane has

we have

they have

Now … practice:

Let’s use some common nouns

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sister (or twin sister) / piano / dog / iPad / new book

I have a ____

you ____ ______

he ___ _________

she ___ _______

Ms Jane ____ _______

we ____ ______

they ____ _______

OK, Snoopy, enough is enough … but we have just started. More blogs to follow.

Happy 2022, the Year of the Grammar

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

I Me Mine: Pronoun Declensions

3rd December 2021

Any excuse for a Beatles-related photo.

The English language, despite having a multitude of idioms, slang, vernacular, dialects, neologisms etc, can be easier to learn than other languages when it comes to the definite article. I am referring to the word ‘the’.

English nouns have no gender; the language doesn’t have the complex German structure of declension when the word ‘the’ changes depending if the noun is the subject, object or indirect object.

However, it’s not all plain sailing. English speakers employ declension when it comes to pronouns. Please allow me to illustrate:

A cuckoo clock, invented in Germany (not Switzerland, as is often believed).

I bought this clock from a friend so it now belongs to me. It is my clock, it is mine.

However, with the wrong declension:

Me bought this clock from a friend so it now belongs to mine. It is I clock, it is my.

Last night, a level 6 class (aged around 10) were having a lesson on conservation. The examples were all in the second person (your), and the students were having problems changing the pronoun. Hence, this blog:

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Let’s go to work

Let’s keep it simple. There are three cases:

the subject, the object and the possessive

I, Me, Mine

In our example I bought this clock from my friend, the first noun is ‘I’ (subject)

so it now belongs to me. (object)

It is my clock, it is mine. (possessive)

Now … let’s practice

I // me // my or mine

you // you // your or yours

he // him // his

she // her // her or hers

we // us // our or ours

they // them // their or theirs

EXAMPLE: What can you do to stay healthy ?

black-lady-weights - Carla Fields Fitness

I can exercise. Being healthy is important to me. These are my weights. They are mine.

How about changing the pronoun ? Tell me about this man:

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He is very funny. Many people like him. It is his dog. The dog is his.

Tell me about this lady

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— is very happy. I can not beat — in a game. — racket (bat) is very expensive. It is —-.

Let’s use ‘you’

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— can wash your hair. I will buy some cologne for — . It is —- cologne, it is —– .

Tell me about these people

—- are American. If you go to the USA, maybe you will meet —-. This is —– flag, it is ——.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

More idioms than you can shake a stick at !

27th October 2021

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Image from freepik.com

Idioms are used frequently in conversational English, not to mention formal and informal writing, and in song lyrics. Additionally I have heard British politicians, speaking in Received Pronunciation, employ an idiom in two in their remarks.

Generally students like having a few idioms under their belt, as it makes them feel that they are closer to everyday English, and can hold their own in a conversation.

Therefore, here is a one-stop shop for various idioms I’ve introduced over the years. Now, put your nose to the grindstone and get cracking.

Idioms

it’s raining cats and dogs

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

turn over a new leaf

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

tickled pink = very happy – I’m tickled pink

fit as a fiddle = very healthy

Keep an eye on = watch something carefully

under the table = to give money to someone unofficially

kick the bucket = to die (informal) Did you hear ? Old Tom kicked the bucket.

A spanner in the works = a serious problem

In the right ball park (US) = not correct but close

On the right track (UK) not correct but close

Confident african businessman 991151 Stock Photo at Vecteezy
veckteezy.com

Learning the ropes = learning what the job involves

Snowed under = very busy

number-cruncher = a slang term for an accountant

cooking the books = writing false information in accountants – a serious crime

Let’s call it a day = We can finish work now

Can you run that by me again ? = Please repeat.

Food Idioms Bulletin Board Kit by Apples to Zippers | TpT

tea / cherries / nutshell / cucumber / carrot

Growing up is hard, life isn’t always a bowl of _________ . 

He walked in, as cool as a _________ , and told the boss he wanted a pay rise.

We’re going to try using a _________ and stick approach 

I’m not a fan of karaoke, it’s not my cup of _________ at all. 

To put it in a _________ , philosophy is very difficult.

Fostering Student Learning through the Use of Debates
Image from facultyfocus.com

Speaking Practice can be accessed on this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/06/cat-got-your-tongue-time-to-talk-idioms/

what have you been getting up to ? // raining cats and dogs

chockablock // hold your horses // under the weather // chop chop // vicious circle

// can you follow me ? // a screw loose // not my cup of tea // kick the bucket

cut and dry // turn over a new leaf // pull your socks up //

as much use as a chocolate teapot // let’s call it a day

You may not know some of the above, so just ask your teacher, or do an online search

Extra idioms lessons may be found on these pages:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/01/idioms-a-piece-of-cake/

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/02/idioms-part-2-are-you-pulling-my-leg/

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/04/idioms-part-3-all-above-board-nothing-under-the-table/

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Past simple and past continuous

28th October 2020 E Up 5 U 2, L 2

Warm Up: A kinetic run ‘n’ write exercise. I will say a simple sentence in the present tense; students have to write the past tense. Class can be split into two or three, depending on size, each with a different colour marker.

You act in a play / I ride an elephant / She win a competition / He read a big book / We learn English /

In English, we often talk about what we were doing at some time in the past.

For example:

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Last night I was in a café drinking coffee.

We show past tense by

1 a word or words that show the past e.g. Last night, yesterday, this morning

2 the past tense form of the verb e.g. I am = I was / he is = he was

Then we use a continuous verb to say what someone was doing i.e. verb+ing (playing, reading, working)

Young man playing guitar sitting on bed at home. by BONNINSTUDIO - Guitarist,  Home - Stocksy United

Last night he was in his room playing guitar.

Bowdon Preparatory School | Independent School for Girls, Altrincham

Yesterday she was at school writing in her book.

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Last week they were at a party singing songs.

How did the children feel ? They felt …

Now we can use past simple and past continuous:

When I came to class, the student was sleeping.

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When I called my sister, she was studying insects.

Looking at the stars images on Favim.com

When I found my friends, they were looking at the stars.

Now … Your turn

When I found my friends, they were …

You Pick Strawberries - Carandale Fruit Farm
Identify Trees With Our Tree ID app - Woodland Trust - Woodland Trust
Indentifying Trees
Finding Tracks in the Snow! — Birches School

To make your English more interesting, we can change the word order:

When I found my friends, they were collecting leaves

They were collecting leaves when I found my friends

NOTICE: no comma in the second sentence

Change the word order:

When I found my friends, they were identifying trees

When I found my friends, they were picking strawberries

When I found my friends, they were finding animal tracks

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images and are used for educational purposes. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Past Tense: Various exercises

21st October 2020

An omnibus of past tense exercises

Most common verbs infinite / past / past participle

Exercises

Pronunciation guide

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because practice makes perfect

15 most common verbs:

infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)

1to bewas werebeen
2to havehadhad
3to dodiddone
4to saysaidsaid
5to gowentgone
6to getgotgot/gotten
7to makemademade
8to knowknewknown
9to thinkthoughtthought
10to taketooktaken
11to seesawseen
12to comecamecome
13to wantwantedwanted
14to useusedused
15to findfoundfound

Regular verbs: just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.

NOTE: ‘to be’ is different:

I am hungry / You are hungry / She is hungry / We are hungry

Now, practice: In groups of three or four, ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Let’s start simply:

What did you do today ? 

Each student takes turns describing their day. Use these photos to help you.

Related image
Related image
Image result for go to school
Image result for easy rider bike
Related image

Extra practice:

buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework

Present tense ——– Past tense

act —— acted

go —- went

learn —— learned OR learnt

play — played

read —– read (pronounced ‘red)

ride —— rode

sleep —– slept

watch —- watched (pronounced ‘watch -t‘)

win —- won

What is the past tense ?

I act in a film. Last week I ______ in a film.

I go to London. Last year I _______________ to London.

I ride an elephant. Last month I ___________ an elephant.

I learn English.

Last Saturday, we ___________ English with Mr Paul.

Piano playing monkey | Playing piano, See monkeys, Gershwin

The monkey plays piano.

Last night, the monkey _________ piano.

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She reads a book. Last Sunday she _____ a book.

He sleeps all day. Yesterday he _______ all day.

Sleep may trigger rhythmic power washing in the brain | Science News

I watch the amazing Spiderman.

Last week I ______ the amazing Spiderman.

Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man is a great New York movie

Put these verbs into the past tense, then complete the sentences:

want ———

take ———

decide ———

see ——–

buy ——–

think ——–

learn ——–

I —— to stay in bed this morning

She —– great photos with her new iPhoneX

We have —— to go to Thailand for Tet 

Last night I —- a great film !

He —- food for Christmas from Harrods.

Tuesday ! I —— today was Wednesday

We —– about past simple in our lesson.

Pronunciation guide

In English, verb can be regular or irregular.

Regular verbs add -ed or -d in the past tense.

EXAMPLE:

I walk to work // I WALKED to work

I play guitar // I PLAYED guitar

She smiles on TV / She SMILED on TV

They dance in T-ara // They DANCED in T-ara

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-ed past tense verbs pronunciation

Words have 3 end sounds:

‘t’

‘d

‘id’

If the word ends with: 

ch / f / k / p / s / sh / thi – The sound is ‘t’ look = ‘lookt’

t /or / d/ – The sound is ‘id’ visit – ‘visitid’

Other sounds are ‘d’ bang = ‘bangd’

What is the correct pronunciation for these regular verbs ?

Look = Looked // laugh = laughed // end = 

beg = / visit = / kiss = 

brush = / breath = / love =

Read these sentences:

He cleared up the mess / He rolled up the newspaper / I have visited India

No Homework ! That sounded good / Teacher shouted, ‘No way !’

We all worked hard today / Tom talked so much / 

The students played many games and laughed.

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They have visited India
8-year-old girl stuns playing 'complicated' Led Zeppelin song on drums -  National | Globalnews.ca
She has banged the drum !

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Present Perfect exercises

6th September 2020

Resultado de imagen de present perfect tense verbs | Perfect tense, Present  perfect, Activities for teens

A compilation of exercises to practise using the present perfect form

Present perfect

Subject + have/ has + past participle [verb 3]

She has been to New York / They have visited London

NEGATIVE:

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I haven’t read The Great Gatsby

have not seen My Sassy Girl

QUESTION:

Have you read Romeo and Juliet?

[Have / has + subject + verb 3 … ?]

Change the verb into the correct form:

  1. I (read) your book several times. I have read your book several times
    2. She has (wear) that skirt many times. [worn /wear / wore]
    3. My family (visit) Brazil a few times.
    4. I (eat) already.
    5. Marta (finish) her homework.
    6. You (break) the glass again.
    7. They (pay) for everything.
    8. It (never snow) like that.
    9. I (meet) Anna once.
    10. We (see) him before.

Change simple past into present perfect 

Example – I started a band = I’ve started a band / I have started a band

1 I went to Ha Noi // 2 We explored a cave // 3 I ate cake // 4 We saw a famous building // 5 She buys many dresses and visited many friends

Correct the mistakes

I have go to Ha Noi

She have seen the London Eye

We have eat English food

Has you going to Thailand ?

He not has bought iPhone X

Extra activities on this link:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/04/adult-speaking-class-level-2-present-perfect-exercises/

Third conditional

A compilation of exercises and examples

18th July 2020

Third conditional We talk about something that happened to us in the past and how we would have changed it IF we had known some information.

A basic example: A visit a friend and it is her birthday, but I didn’t know.

If I had known it was her birthday, I would have bought her a present.

To illustrate: my friend Richard …

Related image

… is married to Ms Linh. Yesterday was their wedding anniversary … but he forgot. Ms Linh was …

Image result for angry asain lady

She was absolutely livid (extremely angry, disappointed and heartbroken)

If he had remembered it was his anniversary, he would have bought her a present, some flowers and taken her out to a romantic restaurant.

However, it is too late NOW ! He’s in the doghouse (in trouble).

Notice all the past tense verbs. Furthermore, would is commonly used in conditional sentences.

If + Subject + had + past participle (verb 3) …… subject + would (or wouldn’t) have.

Now – your turn.

Make a story about my friend Tom, who came to Sai Gon on holiday:

My friend Tom, from London

Tom came to Sai Gon, and wanted to go to a nice bar. He heard about the Skybar in Bitexco. The bar is quite luxurious.

Panoramic views over the Sai Gon skyline.

Image result for friendly viet bar girls

Tom began to make friends, and invited them for cocktails. However, when the bill came …

And …

What do you think happened ?

Write a sentence, in the third conditional to explain Tom’s situation.

Project work

These people also came to Sai Gon. Write third conditional sentences to encapsulate their situation

Try to use some of these words or phrases:

typical / typically / obvious / obviously / insist / suggest / essential 

Why didn’t she (he, they) … have a good time ?

If (he/ she / they) had known it was so (expensive, noisy, boring …)

Emma, 19 Backpacker. Likes shopping, dancing, eating street food. She didn’t book ahead and was too tired and hot to walk around looking for a cheap hotel so she had to stay in a four-star hotel and spend nearly all of her money.

Japanese family. Like family activities, souvenirs and quiet nights. They stayed in the noisy backpacker area, with shouting and screaming and drunken karaoke all night.

Young men wanting a ‘Stag Night’ party, here to have a last hurrah ! They chose a quiet town in the Mekong Delta, but there was only one bar and it closed at 8.00 pm.

(a stag night is a wild party for a man before he gets married. There is normally a lot of drinking … and other activities)

Jewish students. They do not eat pork, or shell-fish. Want to see history and temples. Their guide keeps taking them to eat sea-food and pork restaurants because the guide only speaks Vietnamese and Chinese, and the students only speak Hebrew and English.

If these visitors came to your city or town, could you recommend places for them to visit ?

What are your suggestions?

Remember, Emma wants somewhere fun but cheap, the family want someone quiet but close to family attractions, the young men want lots of bars and clubs, while the Jewish students have strict dietary rules.

Now … some more exercises:

I was very hungry but too lazy to cook, so I went out to grab a bite to eat.

I thought I’d try the new restaurant. 

I, obviously, ordered pho, (traditional Vietnamese food).

However, after I had eaten 

I saw the chef !

If I had known the chef was so filthy, I wouldn’t have eaten there !

This is the 3rd conditional. 

Something that happened in the past BUT you can’t change it now.

If I had known the film was so bad, I never would have gone !

If he had bought his wife flowers, she wouldn’t have been angry at him

If they had studied English, they would have passed the test.

Finally …

… a true story that my history teacher told me back in London.

My teacher was a somewhat dishevelled gentleman in his mid-30s. Let’s call him Mr Bowditch:

Mr Bowditch, history teacher at an east London school

Mr Bowditch lived in a bedsit, which is basically renting one room in a large house and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with other tenants. His room was not particularly comfortable:

One night, Mr Bowditch was in his room and began to feel a little hungry. He wanted some chocolate so decided to go to the off-license and buy some sweets (an off-licence is a shop that sells basic food and sweets but also alcohol and cigarettes. It used to be open until 11.00pm when most shops would close around 6.00 pm). He decided to buy, among other items, some ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ a sort of jelly covered in chocolate:

OK, so far so good. However, Mr Bowditch lived in a rather bad part of London, it wasn’t always safe to walk alone at night. Unfortunately, on the way home, Mr Bowditch meet the following young men:

They called out to Mr Bowditch and stopped him walking. They demanded:

Mr Bowditch had none, as he had just spent his money on sweets (candy). They didn’t believe him and began to search him. He showed them:

That was all he had … a few pounds, about 100 000 VND. The men became very angry and aggressive. Suddenly, they heard a police car siren. The men tried to drag Mr Bowditch into the tunnel, away from the road but he is very tall and stopped them. As the police car got closer, the men ran away. Mr Bowditch has never eaten ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ again.

There are several instances of the third conditional in the above story.

If Mr Bowditch had bought sweets on his way home, he wouldn’t have gone out later and been mugged (mugged means being robbed, often with violence or the threat of violence).

If Mr Bowditch had gone to a different shop, he wouldn’t have meet the muggers.

If the police car hadn’t been passing, Mr Bowditch might have been seriously hurt.

If Mr Bowditch hadn’t been so tall, he would have been dragged into the tunnel and maybe beaten or worse.

The structure: the first clause starts with ‘If’ then using a comma before completing the sentence. The first verb can be positive or negative (in the examples, I use ‘had’ and ‘hadn’t’).

We use this to talk about things that DIDN’T happen.