Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas!!!

Hee Haa Haa!! Click here and smile!

'used to' and 'would'

So confusing!!! Let's look at this a little more carefully.

Past habit – used to/would/past simple
When we talk about things that happened in the past but don’t happen anymore we can do it in different ways.

Used to
• We used to live in New York when I was a kid.
• There didn’t use to be a petrol station there. When was it built?
We can use ‘used to’ to talk about past states ….
• I used to go swimming every Thursday when I was at school.
• I used to smoke but I gave up a few years ago.
… or we can use ‘used to’ to talk about repeated past actions

Remember that ‘used to’ is only for past states/actions that don’t happen now – we can’t use it for things that still happen now. Also, ‘used to + infinitive’ should not be confused with ‘be/get used to + ‘ing’ form’ – this is covered in a separate section.

• Every Saturday I would go on a long bike ride.
• My teachers would always say “Sit down and shut up!”
We can use ‘would’ to talk about repeated past actions.

Often either ‘would’ or ‘used to’ is possible. Both of these sentences are possible.
• Every Saturday, I would go on a long bike ride.
• Every Saturday I used to go on a long bike ride.
However, only ‘used to’ is possible when we talk about past states.
• We used to live in New York when I was a kid.
• We would live in New York when I was a kid.
Past simple
• We went/used to go/would go to the same beach every summer.
We can use the past simple in the same way as ‘used to’ and ‘would’ to talk about repeated past actions.
• I had/used to have a dog called Charlie.
We can also use the past simple for past states.
• I went to Egypt in 1988.
However, if something happened only once we can’t use ‘used to’ or ‘would’ – we must use the past simple.

Some of the sentences below contain common verb form mistakes. Find the sentences with errors and correct them using either "Simple Past," "Used to" or "Would Always."
used to
A) I would always be unhealthy as a child.

1. When I was a child, I rode my bike everyday.

2. She would always be beautiful when she was young.

3. I used to go to the beach yesterday.

4. Margie loves horses because she used to have one as a child.

5. James would always have a very important test last week.

6. Jerry always used to cook dinner for himself, but now his wife prepares dinner.

7. Jamie would always have a dog when she was a child, but now she has a cat.

8. Laura would always bake cookies for us when we were kids.

9. I used to graduate from Georgetown University in 1992.

10. He would constantly embarrass himself by asking stupid questions in class.

11. They would spend Easter with us every year until we moved.

12. They used to spend Easter with us every year until we moved.

13. They spent Easter with us every year until we moved.

14. I used to be fat, but I lost a lot of weight in high school.

15. I would always be fat, but I lost a lot of weight in high school.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Twas the night before Christmas....

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Report Writing for First

Report Writing for FCE

A report includes an
main body,
recommendation or
a conclusion
(based on the task given).

Before writing
You have to make your writing plan. Spend around 5 minutes to make your plan which consists of an introduction, main body and recommendation.If the assignment does not ask for a recommendation, a conclusion is necessary.

Choose a fact so that the person who reads it will get the information about report.

- Don’t begin and end your report with Dear Sir/Madam, like a letter.
- Do say how you collected the information

Main body
- Do use headings because this makes it easier for the reader to find the main information.
- Do include two or three points under each heading. Make sure all your points fit with the headings.
- Do use a range of specific vocabulary or set phrases (e.g. some thought this was a good idea… /other students said they preferred…)
- Don’t use lots of adjectives and dramatic language as you do in a story. A report gives factual information.
- Don’t include irrelevant details or description.

- Do use formal language
- Do express opinions impersonally. Don’t express recommendations or opinions until the conclusion.
- Check your tense forms, the spelling, singular/plurals
Useful language
You have to make sure that your language is formal.

- The aim of this report is to…
- This report is intended to…

Reporting results
- Most people seem to feel that...
- Several people said/told me/suggested/thought that…
- It can be noted that...

Presenting a list
- The gave/suggested the following reasons:
- They made the following points: 1… 2 …

Making recommendations/conclusion
- I would therefore recommend (that we expand the library/installing a new coffee machine)
- It would seem that (banning mobile phones) is the best idea.
- In conclusion (green technologies are becoming..)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Get vs. Be used to

Be used to

Be used to is used to show previous experience and familiarity with a certain situation. For example:
- I am used to living abroad. - I have previous experience living abroad, so it's not difficult for me.
- Jane isn't used to living abroad. - She doesn't have much experience living abroad, or if she does it is still difficult for her.
- Paul is used to learning languages. - Paul has learnt languages before, so he's good at it.
- Carol has never studied a foreign language, so she's not used to it. - Carol doesn't have previous experience learning a foreign language.

Get used to

Get used to is used for the process of acquiring experience and ability. In the beginning we are less experienced, then we get used to something - we go through a process of gaining experience. For example:
- I wasn't used to living abroad, but I got used to it. - I didn't have experience living abroad, but I grew in experience until I was happy living abroad.
- I didn't like bananas, but I got used to them. - In the beginning I didn't like bananas, but after a while I learnt to like them.


In the structure be / get used to, to is a preposition, not part of the to-infinitive. For example:
- I'm used to cooking for myself. OK
- I'm used to cook for myself. Incorrect - "to cook" is a to-infinitive and can't be used here.
- I'm used to cooking for myself. OK

Used to - be/get used to

Used to is a completely different structure from be / get used to. Used to is for past habit, be used to means to get accustomed to something.

Try these exercises:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can could or able to? That's the question.

Can, could, be able to

We use can to say that something is possible or that somebody has the ability to do something. We use can + infinitive (can do / can see etc.):

• We can see the lake from our bedroom window.

• Can you speak any foreign languages?

• I can come and see you tomorrow if you like.

The negative is can't (= cannot):

• I'm afraid I can't come to the party on Friday.

(Be) able to... is possible instead of can, but can is more usual:

• Are you able to speak any foreign languages?

But can has only two forms, can (present) and could (past). So sometimes it is necessary to use (be) able to..

• I can't sleep. but I haven't been able to sleep recently, (can has no present perfect)

• Tom can come tomorrow, but Tom might be able to come tomorrow, (can has no infinitive)

Could and was able to...

Sometimes could is the past of can. We use could especially with:
See/ hear/ smell/ taste/ feel/ remember/ understand

• When we went into the house, we could smell burning.

• She spoke in a very low voice, but I could understand what she said.

We also use could to say that somebody had the general ability or permission to do something:
• My grandfather could speak five languages.

• We were completely free. We could do what we wanted. (= we were allowed to do...)

We use could for general ability. But if we are talking about what happened in a particular situation, we use was/were able to... or managed to... (Not could):

• The fire spread through the building quickly but everybody was able to escape. or everybody managed to escape, (but not 'could escape')

• They didn't want to come with us at first but we managed to persuade them. or ...we were able to persuade them, (but not 'could persuade')


• Jack was an excellent tennis player. He could beat anybody. (= he had the general ability to beat anybody) but

• Jack and Alf had a game of tennis yesterday. Alf played very well but in the end Jack managed to beat him. or ...was able to beat him. (= he managed to beat him in this particular game)

The negative couldn't (could not) is possible in all situations:
• My grandfather couldn't swim.

• We tried hard but we couldn't persuade them to come with us.

• Alf played well but he couldn't beat Jack.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Word Skills-all levels

For beginners to advanced learners,all of you will find something here. Try it out.
Oxford Word Skills

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Oregon Coast on the West Coast of the US

This 'blogger' (aka (also known as) Torrie) was born and raised on the beautiful Oregon coast, in a town by the name of Florence What a great place to grow up!
Click on the word Oregon or the word Florence to explore.

English Proverbs

There are so many proverbs and so little time to use them! Now is the chance to 'brush up' on a little folklore.

Idioms with colours

Some advanced comprehension for those of you with a 'colourful" thought process.


Prick your ears ladies and gentlemen. Let's do some listening practice.

Listen to Daphne and Bill discuss children’s education today and then select Daphne's arguments AGAINST parents' views on boarding schools...

TO BEGIN: click on the "listen" button

Listen again and again until you can correctly answer the test.
Begin here.

'First' Exam Practice

FCE listening Part 2

You will hear a radio report about a new type of air transport.
For questions 1-10, complete the sentences.
Write no more than three words and/or a number.

Listen again and again until you can correctly answer the test.

Begin Here

Thank you

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Improve Your Reading Skills in English B-1 B-2

This page contains links to some of the best and most interesting free reading activities and tests on the internet. They are arranged according to the levels: easy, intermediate and advanced. All of the links are based on interesting stories and are highly recommended for anyone wanting to improve their reading skills in preparation for English exams such as Cambridge PET, FCE and CAE!

Click on the Intermediate stories.

Begin here.

Improve Your Reading Skills in English Level A-1 A-2

This page contains links to some of the best and most interesting free reading activities and tests on the internet. All of the reading links are based on interesting stories and are for anyone wanting to improve their reading skills.
Start here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Grow Up? Not So Fast

Nowadays more and more young people are struggling with going out into the world and getting started. For those born in the earlier years it was a lot easier. Get married and start a family. I found this an interesting artice on the social changes happening in the western world.
Grow Up? Not So Fast

Monday, August 16, 2010

Writing for the Cambridge Exam

The written part of the Cambridge Certificate Exams is one of the most difficult. It's not like you have a 25% chance of guessing the answer when it comes to a letter or report! A few remembered "Dos and Don'ts" can go a long way in not making basic mistakes. My tips:

DOs and DON'Ts

Read the question carefully and underline the important parts.

Make a plan before you start writing.

Write clearly and concisely.

Write so that the examiner can read the answer.

Check that you have included all the content points in Part 1.

Check that you have included all the 'hand-written notes' in Part 2.

Add relevant ideas and information of your own in Part 2.

Remember which format to use.

Use opening and closing phrases in your letter, fax or e-mail.

Use headings and sub-headings in a report and proposal.

Choose the correct register or level of formality.

Keep to the word limit.

Use a range of business words and expressions.

Structure your writing with good linkers such
as 'firstly', 'also', 'however', 'moreover', 'nevertheless' as these provide

Write in paragraphs.

Check the question and your work again after you have finished writing.

Don't write in capital letters only.

Don't use white correction fluid but do cross out mistakes with a single line.

Don't forget to divide your time appropriately between the two questions. Remember
Part 1 is marked out of 10 and Part 2 out of 20.

Don't forget to put yourself under exam conditions at home - this means answering
the two questions in the time given (including your plans), no dictionaries and
careful checking at the end.

Don't panic if other people in the exam start writing straight away.

Don't add too much information to Part 1 answers.

Don't 'lift' too much language from the question paper.

Don't misspell key words which appear on the question paper.

Don't misinterpret or mix up information contained in the question.

Don't use repetitive words and structures.

Don't mix formal and informal language.

Don't waste time writing addresses for a letter, as they are not required.

Don't worry if you run slightly over the word limit.

Monday, April 12, 2010

German speakers-this is for you!

I recommend you check out this website again and again. there are great exercises here which will help you improve your English skills. CLICK here to get started.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Biweekly? Disorganized?

Prefix/Suffix Multiple Choice
Choose the best available answer for each of the following:
1) This newspaper is a BIWEEKLY.
a) the newspaper is published once a week b) the newspaper is published three times a week c) the newspaper is published twice a week

2) This medicine is a nasal DECONGESTANT.
a) the medicine helps to reduce nasal congestion b) the medicine causes nasal congestion c) the medicine makes your nose bigger

3) That shopping bag is REUSABLE.
a) throw the shopping bag away, we won’t need it again b) don’t throw away the shopping bag because we can use it again. c) if you throw the shopping bag we cannot use it again

4) I’m sorry I MISREAD the notice and therefore MISUNDERSTOOD the message.
a) Did not read the notice correctly and therefore did not understand correctly. b) Read the notice and understood the message correctly c) Did not read the notice and therefore did not understand the message.

5) We usually do not publish articles we don’t PREVIEW.
a) we usually read articles before publication b) we do not read articles after publication c) we read articles the day we publish them

6) REFORESTATION will help to RESTORE our environment.
a) planting trees again will REPLENISH our environment. b) cutting down trees will further help to worsen the environment. c) forests should be cut to improve the worsening environmental pollution

7) DEFORESTATION will cause environmental DEPLETION.
a) Means planting trees will help our environment from DEPLETION b) Means cutting down trees will cause further environmental DEPLETION c) Means too many forests will cause further environmental DEPLETION

8) Why is it called “OCTOBER” when it is not the eighth month of the year?
a) Because this is an exception with the OCTO prefix. b) There is no reason why. c) Because October used to be the eighth month of the Roman Calendar.

1. = c 2. = a 3. = b 4. = a 5. =a 6. =a 7. =b 8. =c

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Elementary reading for you

Hi new learners!
Read about elephants here.

CAE for you

Practice makes perfect, and here is a way to get just a little more practice in!
CAE exam

Happy Valentines Day

Today is St. Valentines Day, but just where did this romantic holiday originate? watch this video to find out -and- let yourself be loved today!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Frugal Family Guide

This is a story about only buying stuff you can afford-to be frugal- in today's world. Great examples of American slang and an informal language.

To read this story click here.