This, That, These, and Those

This week, we are going to learn about 4 words:

  1. this
  2. that
  3. these
  4. those

We will begin with an easy lesson, and then we will continue to some more difficult lessons. You can choose your lessons.

Lesson for Levels 1-3

Look at the chart, and read the explanations for each word.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

THIS – Use for 1 thing close to you.
**Example** I am touching a book, or I can touch it because it is near me. It is only one book. I say, “This book is good.”

THAT – Use for 1 thing far away.
**Example** A book is far away. I cannot touch the book because it is far from me. I point with my finger and say, “That book is good.”

THESE – Use for 2+ things close to you.
**Example** I am touching 4 books, or I can touch them because they are near me. There are many books. I say, “These books are good.”

THOSE – Use for 2+ things far away.
**Example** Four books are on the book shelf. I am not near the book shelf. I cannot touch the books because they are far from me. I say, “Those books are good.”

Your Turn

Write a short sentence with each noun. If the noun is singular (near), add “this.” If the noun is singular (far), add “that.” If the noun is plural (near), add “these.” If the noun is plural (far), add “those.”

Example 1: table (near) – This table is tall.
Example 2: tables (far) – Those tables are old.

  1. cup (near)
  2. dog (far)
  3. sofa (near)
  4. babies (near)
  5. buildings (far)
  6. jacket (far)
  7. toys (far)
  8. bags (near)
  9. shirt (near)
  10. pants (far)

Lessons for Levels 3-6

First, make sure you understand the easy lesson. Now I will add some more information.

Lesson #1
Some things are near or far in space. For example, I can touch something because it is close to me, or I cannot touch something because it is far away.

Things can also be near or far in time. For example, I am listening to music. The music is playing now. “Now” is close to me in time, so I can say, “this music” or “this song.” When the song is finished, I will probably say, “that song” because it is not so close to me in time now. Here are some more examples:

  • I am watching a movie with my friend now. I say, “This movie is exciting!”
  • I watched a movie with my friend yesterday. We are talking about the movie now. I say, “That movie was exciting!”
  • I am at a party. I say, “This party is fun!”
  • I am planning to go to a party on Saturday. I say, “That party will be fun!”

Lesson #2
When we introduce people in English, we usually say “this” or “these.” We do not usually say “he,” “she,” or “they.” I know it’s strange because we usually use “he,” “she,” or “they” for people, but in the case of introductions, we use “this” or “these.” For example:

  • These are my parents, Don and Sheila Mosby.
  • This is my friend Kyle.
  • This is Ashley.
  • These are my sisters, Michelle, Angela, Shelley, Kathryn, Rebecca, Denise, and Lisa.

Lesson for Levels 5+

This is an advanced grammar lesson. First, make sure you understand the easier lessons. Now I will give you some more information.

Lesson #1
This, that, these, and those are called “demonstratives” in English because they demonstrate (show) which thing/things we are talking about. We can use these words as adjectives or pronouns.

  • When a demonstrative is an adjective, it has a noun after it. – this book, these people, those rooms, that song
  • When a demonstrative is a pronoun, it includes the noun, so it does not have a noun after it. – That is my coffee. This is your shirt. These are our plates. Those were my friends. – You don’t have to say, “This shirt is your shirt.” It is only necessary to say “shirt” one time.

Maybe you noticed that we use demonstrative pronouns when we introduce people.
– This is my friend Kyle.

You can also use a demonstrative adjective in an introduction if you add a noun.
– This man is my friend Kyle.

In general, Americans speak very efficiently. We say things as clearly as we can with short sentences and words. If your sentence is clear with a demonstrative pronoun, it is not necessary to use a noun with a demonstrative.

Lesson #2
When you use a demonstrative adjective, you never need these words:

  • a/an
  • the
  • my/your/his/her/our/their/its

Your Turn

You can practice using “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those” on this website. Click an exercise to take a quiz. Have fun! I hope THIS lesson helps you!

Past Simple Song Lesson – The Fools Who Dream

Today we are going to learn some grammar with a song from the movie La La Land. Maybe you have seen the movie, or maybe you have heard about it. The main actress in the movie, Emma Stone, won an Oscar (Academy Award) for her performance. It is a beautiful movie with great music. In this scene, Emma Stone’s character, Mia, is telling a story about her aunt. Mia’s aunt was an actress, and Mia also wants to be an actress.

Here are some words that might be new for you. If you have questions about them, please ask your teacher.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Mia is telling a story about the past, so many of the verbs in this song are in the past tense. Here are the verbs, their past simple forms, and their meanings.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

One more thing before I give you the song:

You will hear the phrase “here’s to” many times. We use this phrase when we are celebrating. Imagine that someone is holding up a glass of champagne at a wedding. The person is celebrating the couple who got married, and they say, “Here’s to the happy couple!” It is a phrase for celebration.

Now, read the words to the song.

My aunt used to live in Paris. I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad, and I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot. She smiled…

Leapt without looking
And tumbled into the Seine.
The water was freezing.
She spent a month sneezing,
But said she would do it again.

Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that ache.
Here’s to the mess we make.

She captured a feeling,
A sky with no ceiling,
The sunset inside a frame.

She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker.
I’ll always remember the flame.

Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that ache.
Here’s to the mess we make.

She told me,
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see.
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us!”

So bring on the rebels,
The ripples from pebbles,
The painters, and poets, and plays.

And here’s to the fools who dream,
Crazy as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that break.
Here’s to the mess we make.

I trace it all back to then –
Her and the snow and the Seine.
Smiling through it,
She said she’d do it again.

Listen to the song, and read the words again.

Your Turn

Talk about the song with your classmates. Answer these questions in a small group. Remember, when the song talks about “dreaming,” it is not about sleep. In this case, dreams are the things that you want in life. Some people have simple dreams, and some people have BIG dreams. Some people want to live a simple, happy life, and some people want to change the world. These are the kinds of dreams we’re talking about.

  1. Do you have big dreams for your life? What are they?
  2. In some cultures, people are not encouraged to dream about their futures. What do you think about this? Do people in your culture dream about the future? Why/Why not?
  3. Do you think dreaming is foolish? Why/Why not?
  4. Think about a dream you have. Why do you have it? When did this dream start in your mind? Trace the dream back to its beginning.
  5. Do you think we need a little craziness in life? Why/Why not?
  6. Think of a person who inspires you. Tell us about him/her.
  7. What do you think about this song?
  8. Have you seen the movie? If so, did you like it? If not, would you like to see it? Why/Why not?

 

Other, Another, and Others

Many students are confused by these words:

  • other
  • another
  • others
  • the other
  • the others

Do you know the difference? I will try to explain them simply. All of these words show that something is different or separate from something else.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Other

“Other” is an adjective. Adjectives describe nouns. We use “other” before plural and non-count nouns.

  • other people
  • other countries
  • other rice

I will put these phrases into sentences. You will see that I am separating things in each sentence.

  • Some people love cats, but other people love dogs. – I am separating people based on the animals that they love.
  • There are 3 students in my class from China, but there are 15 students from other countries. – I am separating countries and people who are from different countries.
  • If you don’t like this kind of rice, I have other rice that I can cook. – Maybe I have brown rice, basmati rice, and wild rice. I am separating different kinds of rice.

Another

“Another” is also an adjective. We use it before singular nouns. It means “one more” or “one different.”

  • another cookie
  • another person
  • another country

Now, I will put these phrases into sentences. You can see that I am talking about one more or one different thing/person.

  • I ate 4 cookies, but I want another cookie. – I want one additional cookie.
  • There are 10 people in this room, and another person is arriving now. – One more person is arriving. Soon we will have 11 people in the room.
  • I’m from France, but my friend is from another country. – My friend is from a different country, not my country.

Others

This word is a little more difficult. “Others” is a pronoun. Pronouns – like “he,” “she,” and “it” – take the place of nouns. We can use pronouns very simply:

  • Jim is tall. He is tall.

Or we can use them in the place of very long, complicated nouns:

  • The students who have been playing soccer all day look tired. They look tired.

We use “others” in the place of “other + a plural noun.”

  • Some people love cats, but others love dogs. – In this sentence, “others” means “other people.”

We can only use “others” when the noun is very clear. We usually use it because we don’t want to repeat the noun. When we use “others,” we are speaking generally. We are not talking about a specific group.

Another (as a pronoun)

It is also possible to use “another” as a pronoun. Again, we use it when the noun is clear (because we already used it), and we don’t want to use it again. It still means “one more thing” or “one different thing.”

  • I ate 4 cookies, but I want another. – I don’t want to repeat “cookie,” and it is clear that we are talking about cookies, so I don’t need to repeat it.
  • There are 10 people in this room, and another is arriving now. – It is clear that I am talking about people, so I don’t need to say “person.” You can understand that I mean “another person.”

The other

In general, we use “the” when:

  1. we are talking about something specific
    AND
  2. both the speaker and the listener understand which specific thing we are talking about.

We can use “the other” with any kind of noun (singular, plural, or non-count).

  • the other cookie
  • the other people
  • the other furniture

Now, I will put these phrases into sentences for you.

  • I ate the other cookie. – In this situation, there was one more cookie. I know that there was only one cookie because “cookie” is a singular noun. The speaker and the listener both understand which cookie we are talking about because we were sitting together. We both saw the plate with one remaining cookie.
  • These people arrived 5 minutes ago, but I don’t know when the other people arrived. – In this situation, there are two groups of people. One group of people arrived 5 minutes ago. The second group of people arrived at some other time. We are talking about a specific group of people, not all people in general.
  • We will take some of our furniture with us when we move, but we will sell the other furniture. – We have a lot of furniture. We want to keep some of it, but we want to sell some more. In my mind, I have separated my furniture into two specific groups. The first group will move with me. The second group will be sold.

It is also possible to use “the other” as a pronoun (not include the noun when it is clear which noun we are talking about). However, we can only use is as a pronoun for singular nouns. Here are some examples:

  • You ate one cookie, and I ate the other. – There were two cookies. You had one, and I had one. I don’t need to repeat “cookie” because it is clear.
  • That student is from France, and the other is from South Korea. – There are two students. One student is from France, and one student is from South Korea. I don’t need to repeat “student.”
  • You clean this bathroom, and I will clean the other. – We have two bathrooms, and we will each clean one. I don’t need to repeat “bathroom.”

You can also write all of these sentences with “the other one.”

  • You ate one cookie, and I ate the other one.
  • That student is from France, and the other one is from South Korea.
  • You clean this bathroom, and I will clean the other one.

The others

Finally, we have “the others.” You can probably guess the meaning. We use “the others” as a pronoun to talk about a specific group.

  • These people arrived 5 minutes ago, but I don’t know when the others arrived. – In this situation, there are two groups of people. One group arrived 5 minutes ago. The other people arrived at a different time. It is clear that I am talking about people in this sentence, so I don’t need to repeat the word “people.” However, I must use “the others” (plural) because “people” is plural.

Your Turn

Now, it’s time to practice! Click here to take a quiz. Ask your teacher if you have questions about the answers.

How Americans Speak – Three Rules for Word Stress

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about shortened words, sentence stress, and sentence rhythm. This week, we’re going to look at some pronunciation rules for putting stress on the correct syllable in a word. This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Using incorrect stress causes confusion.
  2. It is important to put the stressed syllable of a content word on the beat when you are speaking in English rhythm.

Let me explain #2 a little more. You know that we stress content words in speaking – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negatives, question words, and interjections. In the sentences below, every word is a content word, so each word gets a beat.

Ana works hard.
Ana works VEry hard.
Ana works exTREMEly hard.

Read the first sentence out loud and clap your hands when you say each word. Clap in a steady rhythm. The first sentence is easy because each word has only one syllable, so they all get equal stress. In the second and third sentences, there are words with two or three syllables. The stressed syllable is on the beat (when you clap). The extra syllables must go between the beats. Practice the second and third sentences. Clap in a steady rhythm, and try to put the extra syllables between claps.

Now let’s talk about stress in lots of different words. English pronunciation is a little crazy compared to other languages, but we have a few rules that can really help!

Stress on the Syllable Before Certain Endings

In words with the following endings, the stress usually goes on the syllable before the ending:

  • -ible/-able – flexible (FLEX-ible), dependable (de-PEN-dable)
  • -ious/-eous – suspicious (sus-PI-cious), courageous (cou-RA-geous)
  • -ity – ethnicity (eth-NI-city), audacity (au-DA-city)
  • -ive – expensive (ex-PEN-sive), active (AC-tive)
  • -graphy – geography (ge-OG-ra-phy), photography (pho-TOG-ra-phy)
  • -logy – psychology (psy-CHO-lo-gy),
  • -meter – speedometer (spee-DO-me-ter), thermometer (ther-MO-me-ter)
  • -ic/-ical – geographical (ge-o-GRA-phi-cal), hysterical (hys-TE-ri-cal), ironic (i-RO-nic), photographic (pho-to-GRA-phic)
  • -tion/-sion/-cian – vacation (va-CA-tion), revision (re-VI-sion), musician (mu-SI-cian)

Stress on the Last Syllable

When words have these endings, the endings are usually stressed:

  • -ee – refugee (re-fu-GEE), trainee (trai-NEE)
  • -eer – volunteer (vo-lun-TEER), mountaineer (moun-tai-NEER)
  • -ese – Japanese (Ja-pa-NESE), legalese (le-ga-LESE)
  • -ette – bachelorette (ba-che-lo-RETTE), casette (ca-SETTE)
  • -esque – picturesque (pic-tu-RESQUE), statuesque (sta-tu-ESQUE)
  • -oo – shampoo (sham-POO), tattoo (tat-TOO)

Stress Shift (Verb – Noun)

Some verbs and their related nouns look exactly alike, but their pronunciations are different. Usually, in two-syllable VERBS, the second syllable is stressed.

  • permit (per-MIT)
  • record (re-CORD)
  • present (pre-SENT)
  • increase (in-CREASE)
  • conflict (con-FLICT)
  • escort (es-CORT)
  • address (ad-DRESS)
  • object (ob-JECT)
  • upset (up-SET)

Two-syllable NOUNS, on the other hand, are usually stressed on the first syllable.

  • permit (PER-mit)
  • record (RE-cord)
  • present (PRE-sent)
  • increase (IN-crease)
  • conflict (CON-flict)
  • escort (ES-cort)
  • address (AD-dress)
  • object (OB-ject)
  • upset (UP-set)

There are many more rules for pronunciation and word stress, but these three will help you get started. For further explanation and more examples, here is a video that talks about these rules a bit more.

 

How Americans Speak – Sentence Rhythm

We have talked about shortened words. We have talked about sentence stress. This week, we are going to look at American speech rhythm. Every spoken language is like a song. Your language has a special sound, and it is different from the sound of English. The tones and rhythm of a language make its song, and learning these things in English is very important for communication.

Many students say that American people cannot understand them even though they are speaking English. Sometimes the problem is that you are saying English words, but you are still using the sound/song of your language. This confuses Americans. They think you are saying English words, but the sentences don’t sound like English.

The song of English is like a song for marching (walking like a soldier). It has strong, regular beats. We say content words on the strong beats, and we mumble (say quietly and not very clearly) the other words between the beats. If a content word has more than one syllable, we always stress one syllable more, and we put that syllable on the beat.

In this video, you can hear soldiers singing a marching song. They are clapping the beat, and you can hear them singing content words when they clap:

I want to (wanna) be an airborne ranger.
Live me a life of blood and danger.
Airborne ranger
Blood and danger

I want to (wanna) be a SCUBA diver.
Jump right in that muddy water.
Muddy water
SCUBA diver

1, 2, 3, 4
Run a little, run a little, run some more.

Here Is the Important Part

The beat stays strong and regular, and we say content words on the beat. Sometimes there is nothing between the beats. In a simple sentence where every word is a content word with one syllable, every word is spoken on the beat, and there is nothing in between.

Kim eats lunch.

Every word is a content word. Every word has one syllable. You can clap and say all of these words. Try it.

However, sometimes there are syllables between the beats.

Kim eats her lunch.

Kim is eating lunch.

Kim is eating her lunch.

Kim is eating her delicious lunch.

Try to say each sentence. Say the content words (or the stressed syllable of the content words) on the beat. Put the other words and syllables between the beats. Here is a slow beat for practice.

Ask your teacher for more practice! We will continue with our pronunciation lessons next week!

How Americans Speak – Sentence Stress

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

I have a 15- month-old baby. She is learning to speak, and she knows a lot of words, but she can’t speak in sentences yet. She says only the words she needs to communicate basic things. When she wants water, she says, “Water.” When she wants cheese, she says, “Cheese please.” When she is finished with something, she says, “All done!” In English, we call these kinds of words content words. Content words are necessary for communication.

Content words include:

  • main verbs – the verbs that show the action
  • nouns – people, places, things, ideas
  • adjectives – words that describe nouns
  • adverbs – words that describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs
  • negatives – no, not, never, nor, etc.
  • question words – who, what, where, when, why, how
  • interjections – Wow! No! Yay!

We also have function words – words that are necessary for grammar. Function words include:

  • articles – a/an/the
  • conjunctions – and, but, or, so, etc.
  • prepositions – of, to, from, in, etc.
  • pronouns – he, she, you, we, they, I, him, her, us, etc.
  • auxiliary verbs – have/has (in present perfect verbs), is/are/am (in present continuous verbs), modal verbs (would, could, should, can, might, must)

Function words are necessary for grammar to be correct, but without them, we can probably still understand the meaning of a sentence. Look at these words:

WANT BROTHER PLAY

Imagine you are at a soccer game with a friend. Your friend’s brother is on one of the teams, but he is not playing in the game right now. It is very loud at the game, and you can’t understand every word your friend says. You only hear, “want brother play.” What is he saying?

I WANT my BROTHER to PLAY.

You probably understood that because the content words made sense in this situation. Imagine the same words in a different situation. A 2-year-old child has a baby brother. The 2-year-old wants to play, but the baby is too little. He can’t play yet. The 2-year-old looks at his mother and says, “Want brother play!” This child is also saying, “I want my brother to play,” and we understand him because we know the situation, and it makes sense.

How is this related to MY pronunciation?

Americans pronounce content words louder and more clearly than function words. In the sentence, “I want my brother to play,” Americans will pronounce the content words (want/brother/play) very clearly, but the function words (I/my/to) will not be loud or clear.

In these sentences, the content words are in CAPITAL ITALIC letters. Try to read the sentences out loud. Say the content words loudly and clearly. Say the function words softly. You can cover your mouth when you say the function words if you want.

  1. I HAVE to GO to WORK.
  2. He TOLD me he would CALL.
  3. It’s NOT a GOOD IDEA.

Find the Content Words

Now let’s practice finding the content words. In these sentences, which words are content words? Which words are function words? Look at the lists above to help you decide.

  1. I told you not to do it.
  2. We’re going to the park.
  3. Raleigh is a great city.
  4. Hannah and her brother are playing outside.
  5. What would you like for dinner?

Here are the answers:

Sentence Content Words Function Words                                    
1 told, not, do I, you, to, it
2 going, park We’re, to, the
3 Raleigh, is, great, city a
4 Hannah, brother, playing, outside and, her, are
5 What, like, dinner would, you, for

Circle or highlight the content words. Read the sentences again, and put a strong emphasis on those words. Say the function words quietly and quickly.

Your Turn

Look in a book, magazine, or newspaper. Choose a few sentences to practice. Circle the content words. Then practice reading the sentences out loud. Pronounce the content words loudly and clearly. Pronounce the function words more quietly and less clearly. Ask your teacher if your pronunciation is correct.

How Americans Speak – Shortened Words

For ESL levels 4+

For the next couple of weeks, we are going to learn how Americans speak. Maybe you can read very well, but you cannot understand Americans when they speak. We speak quickly, and we do not pronounce all the sounds clearly. Sometimes we don’t pronounce things at all! This week, we are looking at how Americans make words and phrases shorter.

I am going to + verb

We use “going to” in 2 ways:

  1. going to + place – I am going to Target. I am going to New York.
  2. going to + verb – I am going to see him tomorrow. I am going to eat dinner.

When we use “going to” with a place, we don’t make it much shorter, but it is common for Americans to drop the final “g” on “going” (I’m goin’ to Target).

When we use “going to” with a verb, we can make it very short. You will hear all of these shortened forms of “I am going to”:

  • I’m going to (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’m goin’ to (only for speaking)
  • I’m gonna (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • I’m-n-a (only for speaking)
  • I’m-a (only for speaking)

Practice saying these sentences. Remember, the part in bold has the same meaning as “I am going to.”

  • I’m going to talk to her.
  • I’m goin’ to talk to her.
  • I’m gonna talk to her.
  • I’m-n-a talk to her.
  • I’m-a talk to her.

Now practice these:

  • I’m going to find it.
  • I’m goin’ to find it.
  • I’m gonna find it.
  • I’m-n-a find it.
  • I’m-a find it.

A general rule for English is that shorter sentences are more casual, and longer sentences are more formal. I can say, “I’m-a talk to her,” to my friends, but when I speak to my boss, I will use a longer pronunciation.

What do you

When speaking quickly, Americans will say, “Whadaya.” We do not pronounce the “t” at the end of “what,” and the vowels in “do” and “you” are very relaxed. This phrase is usually followed by a verb. We put a strong emphasis on that verb.

  • What do you do? => Whadaya DO?
  • What do you want? => Whadaya WANT?
  • What do you think? => Whadaya THINK?

(What/When/Who/How/Why/Where) did you

Americans push words together when they speak, and sometimes, we combine the ending sound from one word with the beginning sound from the next word. When one word ends in “d” and the next begins with “y” (like “did + you”), we say a “j” sound. “Did you” becomes “di-ju” or “di-ja.” There is no difference between “di-ju” and di-ja.” Some Americans say “di-ju” and some say “di-ja.” Some say both. They have the same meaning.

  • What did you say? => What di-ju say?
  • When did you go there? => When di-ja go there?
  • Who did you see? => Who di-ja see?
  • How did you get here? => How di-ju get here?
  • Why did you hit me? => Why di-ju hit me?
  • Where did you eat dinner? => Where di-ja eat dinner?

want to

You have probably learned this one already. In pronunciation, “want to” becomes “wanna.” You will see “wanna” in very informal writing, like Facebook or a text message, but it is not a real word. It is only a pronunciation. In speaking, it is also common for Americans to drop “Do you” at the beginning of a question with “want to.”

  • Do you want to see a movie on Friday? => Wanna see a movie on Friday?
    OR
  • Do you want to see a movie on Friday? => Do you wanna see a movie on Friday?

I do not know

“I don’t know” often changes to “I dunno” or “I-da-no” in pronunciation. You can use it alone in response to a question:

  • Who’s playing in the Super Bowl?
    – I dunno.

Or you can use it as the beginning of a sentence:

  • I dunno who’s playing in the Super Bowl.

have to/has to

Most Americans don’t use “must.” We say “have/has to” instead. In conversation, “have to” is pronounced “hafta,” and “has to” is pronounced “hasta.”

  • I have to go to work now. => I hafta go to work now.
  • She has to pick up her son. => She hasta pick up her son.

have got to/has got to

The meaning of “have/has got to” is the same as “have/has to” or “must.” In conversation, we make this phrase VERY short. Look at how it changes.

  • I have got to answer these emails. (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’ve got to answer these emails. (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’ve gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • I gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • Gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)

You will see “gonna,” “wanna,” and “gotta” in very informal writing, and you will hear them in conversation, but THEY ARE NOT REAL WORDS. Do not use them in writing for school or work.

should have/could have/would have/might have/must have

If you have not learned how to use perfect modals, you can ask your teacher. Basically, when we use a modal verb (should, could, would, might, must) with “have” and a past participle, we are putting the modal verb in the past. In pronunciation, Americans do not pronounce “have” very clearly. We just say “uh” or “a.”

  • should have => shoulda
  • could have => coulda
  • would have => woulda
  • might have => mighta
  • must have => musta

Practice saying these sentences. Use the shortened pronunciation:

  • I should have used sunscreen.
  • I could have met you at the park, but I didn’t know you were there.
  • I would have gone to the store, but I didn’t know what we needed.
  • I might have left the oven on.
  • She must have forgotten about the meeting.

Watch this video to hear many of these shortened phrases spoken by a native English speaker.

Prepositions of Time

Used with permission from Toni Verdú Carbó via a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Prepositions are difficult. Many students have problems with prepositions. Here are some rules for using prepositions of time.

Preposition Use Examples
in with months a in April; in December
a year in 1785; in 2011
seasons in winter; in the fall of 1972
the morning, the afternoon, the evening in the morning; in the afternoon; in the evening
a length of time into the future in an hour (= 1 hour in the future from now); in two weeks (= 2 weeks in the future from now)
at night, midnight, dawn at night; at dawn; at midnight
a specific time of day at 6 o’clock; at 8:30
a time of year near a holiday at Christmas; at Easter
time phrases that show a specific time or moment at the same time; at the moment
on days of the week on Monday; on Saturday
dates on the 13th of November; on November 13
holidays and special days on Halloween; on the Fourth of July; on my birthday
a part of the day when the date is given on the morning of September the 11th*
for a length or duration of time for three weeks; for an hour
since from a time in the past until now since 2005; since this morning; since I woke up yesterday
from … to
from… till/until
beginning and end times from Monday to Wednesday
from Monday till Wednesday
from Monday until Wednesday
during in the middle of something continuing during the week; during class

Practice

Now you can practice using these prepositions. Work alone or with your classmates to complete the sentences. More than one answer may be possible. Ask your teacher to check your answers.

  1. They are getting married __________ Sunday __________ 3 o’clock.
  2. __________ midnight, we were awakened by the sound of a dog barking.
  3. The party will be __________ Sunday __________ 4:00 __________ the afternoon.
  4. Spring begins __________ March 21, and summer begins __________ June 21.
  5. The last time I saw Pedro was __________ the summer of 2006.
  6. The festival took place __________ August.
  7. They came to this country __________ August 5, 2008.
  8. They came to this country __________ 2008.
  9. The ESL classes went  __________ May __________ August.
  10. He has not felt well __________ a long time, ever __________ his crash.
  11. They never go out __________ night __________ the week.
  12. We’ll be ready to leave __________ an hour.
  13. I will see you ___________ the afternoon.
  14. __________ the storm, all the lights were out __________ several hours.
  15. He has been away from home __________ January 12.
  16. The temperature is below zero. __________ a few hours, the pond should be frozen over.
  17. He had been away from home __________ two weeks.
  18. She will be here __________ a few hours.
  19. Hannah’s party is __________ the Saturday before her birthday.
  20. I’m sorry that my phone rang __________ class.

Talk with your classmates about these sentences. How does the meaning change with a different preposition?

  1. I will see you in the afternoon.
    I will see you before the afternoon.
  2. They came to this country before 2008.
    They came to this country after 2008.
    They came to this country in 2008.
  3. We have ESL classes from January to March.
    We have ESL classes in January and March.
  4. She will be here for a few hours.
    She will be here in a few hours.

Clothes for All Levels

This week, we will look at clothes. We will learn the names of clothes. Study the vocabulary for your level:

  • Easy – Level 1 and Level 2
  • Medium – Level 3 and Level 4
  • Difficult – Level 5 and Level 6

If you have questions about the words, you can ask your teacher.

Photo #1

Dress

photo used with permission from Amaris Photography – http://amarisphoto.com/

In this picture, we see:

  • a woman
  • a dress
  • shoes

Easy – The woman is wearing a dress. The dress is blue.
– She is wearing shoes. The shoes are red.
– She is wearing a blue dress. She is wearing red shoes.

Medium – This woman is wearing a blue, knee-length dress and red, high-heeled shoes.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a blue, knee-length dress with cap-sleeves. She’s also wearing red heels with t-straps.

Photo #2

Vicky's Dress

photo by WTCC instructor

In this picture we see:

  • a woman
  • a dress
  • pantyhose
  • shoes

Easy – The woman is wearing a dress. The dress has flowers on it.
– She is wearing shoes. The shoes are black.
– She is wearing pantyhose. The pantyhose are black.
– The woman is wearing black shoes, black pantyhose, and a dress with flowers on it.

Medium – This woman is wearing a long-sleeved, flowered dress, black pantyhose, and black dress shoes.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a long-sleeved, black, flowered dress, black hose, and pointy-toed, black dress shoes.

Photo #3

Lane's Summer Clothes

photo by WTCC instructor

In this picture, we see:

  • a woman
  • a tank top (or sleeveless shirt)
  • shorts

Easy – The woman is wearing a tank top. The tank top is blue.
– She is wearing shorts. The shorts are blue.
– She is wearing a blue tank top and blue shorts.

Medium – This woman is wearing a light blue tank top and long, dark blue shorts.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a light blue tank top with embroidery at the neckline and long, dark blue, denim shorts with cuffs.

Photo #4

Beth's Coat

photo by WTCC instructor

In this picture, we see:

  • a woman
  • a coat
  • a scarf

Easy – The woman is wearing a coat. The coat is black.
– She is wearing a scarf. The scarf is purple.
– She is wearing a black coat and a purple scarf.

Medium – This woman is wearing a hip-length, black coat and a large, purple scarf.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a hip-length, hooded pea coat and a large, purple scarf with tassels.

Photo #5

photo by WTCC instructor

In this picture, we see:

  • a woman
  • a t-shirt
  • sunglasses
  • earrings

Easy – The woman is wearing a t-shirt. The shirt is pink.
– She is wearing sunglasses. The sunglasses are dark.
– She is wearing earrings. The earrings are silver.
– She is wearing a pink t-shirt, dark sunglasses, and silver earrings.

Medium – This woman is wearing a light pink, short-sleeved t-shirt, dark sunglasses, and silver hoop earrings.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a light pink, short-sleeved t-shirt, dark sunglasses, and silver hoop earrings. The t-shirt is nice and would be appropriate for work in many places.

Photo #6

By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza (P120612PS-0463 (direct link)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In this picture, we see:

  • Barack Obama
  • a shirt
  • a tie
  • a jacket

Easy – Barack Obama is wearing a shirt. The shirt is white.
– He is wearing a jacket. The jacket is dark blue.
– He is wearing a tie. The tie is royal blue.
– President Obama is wearing a white shirt, a dark blue jacket, and a royal blue tie.

Medium – President Obama is wearing a white, button-down shirt, a dark blue jacket, and a royal blue tie with white spots.

Difficult – President Obama is wearing a white, button-down, collared shirt, a royal blue tie with white spots, a dark blue suit jacket with an American flag pin on the lapel, and a watch.

Photo #7

By May Lee [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In this picture, we see:

  • a man
  • a t-shirt
  • a jacket
  • jeans
  • boots

Easy – The man is wearing a t-shirt. The shirt is gray.
– He is wearing a jacket. The jacket is gray.
– He is wearing jeans. The jeans are blue.
– He is wearing boots. The boots are brown.
– This man is wearing a gray t-shirt, a gray jacket, blue jeans, and brown boots.

Medium – This man is wearing a gray graphic t-shirt, a dark gray jacket, blue jeans, and brown ankle boots.

Difficult – This man is wearing a gray t-shirt with a skull design, a gray denim jacket, cuffed blue jeans, and brown ankle boots.

Photo #8

photo by WTCC instructor

In this picture, we see:

  • a woman
  • a jacket
  • shorts
  • socks
  • shoes

Easy – The woman is wearing a jacket. The jacket is black.
– She is wearing shorts. The shorts are pink.
– She is wearing socks. The socks are tall.
– She is wearing shoes. The shoes are for running.
– This woman is wearing a black jacket, pink shorts, tall socks, and running shoes.

Medium – This woman is wearing a long-sleeved, black jacket, hot pink shorts, tall, striped socks, and purple running shoes.

Difficult – This woman is wearing a long-sleeved, black jacket, hot pink shorts, striped knee-socks, and purple running shoes. The dog is wearing a collar with a leash.

Your Turn

What are you wearing? Describe your outfit (clothes that you are wearing together). Describe the outfits of your classmates.

Confusing Pairs – What’s the difference?

This week, we are going to look at pairs (2) or groups of words that students often confuse. For example, do you know the difference between “borrow” and “lend”? What about “dead” and “died”? Many students are confused by these pairs. Let’s look at them (and more!) to learn the differences.

Dead vs. Died

“Dead” is an adjective. We use it to describe a person who was alive before, but is not alive now. “Died” is a pas verb (present is “die”). We use it to describe what a person does. For example, my grandmother died many years ago. She is not alive now. She is dead.

We also use these words for electronics and appliances when they stop working. For example, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you last night. My phone died.” Here, we mean that the battery died, so the phone had no power. Here’s another example: “We need a new refrigerator. Ours is dead.” This means the refrigerator does not function any more. There is something wrong with it, and we cannot repair it.

Borrow vs. Lend

  • borrow (v) – to take for a short time
  • lend (v) – to give for a short time

I do not have a pencil. I need a pencil. You have a pencil. I want to take your pencil for a moment. I want to borrow your pencil. I ask, “Can I borrow your pencil?” I can also ask, “Would you lend me your pencil?”

Meet vs. See

When I go to a new place with new people, I meet new people. I say, “It’s nice to meet you.” I only say that the first time. When I see someone I already know, I say, “It’s nice to see you.”

(first meeting, at a party)
Ana: Hi, I’m Ana.
Kyle: It’s nice to meet you, Ana. I’m Kyle.
Ana: Nice to meet you, too.

(one week later, at the supermarket)
Kyle: Ana?
Ana: Oh hi, Kyle! It’s nice to see you again.
Kyle: Nice to see you, too.

Remind vs. Remember

Remember only requires one person. When an idea or thought comes into my mind again, I remember. For example, I think, “I need to wash the towels. I will get the towels from the bathroom and put them in the dirty laundry.” Then I go into the bathroom and think, “Why did I come into the bathroom?” Then the thought comes into my mind again. “Oh yes, I need to wash the towels. I will get the towels and put them in the dirty laundry.” When the thought comes into my mind the 2nd time, I remember why I came into the bathroom.

Remind might require two people. When someone helps me to have an idea or thought again, that person reminds me. For example, I think, “I need to wash the towels. I will get the towels from the bathroom and put them in the dirty laundry.” Then I go into the bathroom and think, “Why did I come into the bathroom?” I say to my husband, “Why did I come into the bathroom?” He says, “You are going to get the towels.” Then the thought comes into my mind again. “Oh yes, I need to wash the towels. I will get the towels and put them in the dirty laundry.” When my husband says, “You are going to get the towels,” he reminds me that I am going to wash them. He helps me to remember.

You can put an appointment in the calendar of your phone, and your phone will remind you about the appointment. Your phone helps you to remember.

See vs. Look vs. Watch

  • see (v) – to use your eyes / to take information into your brain with your eyes
  • look (v) – to put your eyes in a specific direction on purpose / to direct your eyes to something / to try to see something
  • watch (v) – to put your eyes on something that is moving / to direct your eyes to a moving object, show, game, etc.

If your eyes function normally, you can see. Light comes into your eyes, and your brain understands images. You do not do this on purpose. It is simply normal if your eyes work normally.

“Look” and “watch” are actions that you do on purpose. You move your eyes because you want to see something (you want your brain to take information in and understand the image). When you put your eyes on something, you look. When you put your eyes on something that is moving or changing for some time, you watch.

Here is an example. A father and his daughter are at a park. The father receives a text message while daughter goes down the slide.

daughter: Dad! I went down the slide! Did you see me?
dad: No, honey, I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching.
daughter: Watch me this time!
dad: Ok!
(Dad receives another text. He looks at his phone.)
daughter: Look, Dad! Watch me!
dad: I saw you that time. Great job!

“Look” and “watch” are like “paying attention” with the eyes. When you move your eyes in a specific direction, you are looking. When you pay attention for a period of time (long or short), you are watching.

Discuss vs. Argue

  • discuss (v) – to talk about
  • argue (v) – to fight with words

You can remember the difference because Argue and Angry both begin with A. Is it possible to discuss something angrily? Yes. We call that arguing.

Your Turn

Choose a pair/group of words you want to practice. Write some sentences or a conversation with them. Ask your teacher if you used the words correctly. You can also write your sentences in a comment, and I will tell you if you have used the words correctly.