A poem with a past (past simple, that is!)

Here is a funny poem by Richard Lederer about the past simple tense in English. How irregular! 🙂

Mr. Lederer is an author, speaker, and teacher, as well as a bit of a comedian. His books include A Tribute to Teachers and Anguished English. You can read more about him by clicking here: About Richard Lederer

Pick out the past simple verbs which are correct and the ones which are incorrect. Send it to us in a comment and we’ll tell you if you’re right!


The verbs in English are a fright.
How can we learn to read and write?
Today we speak, but first we spoke;
Some faucets leak, but never loke.
Today we write, but first we wrote;
We bite our tongues, but never bote.

Each day I teach, for years I taught,
And preachers preach, but never praught.
This tale I tell; this tale I told;
I smell the flowers, but never smold.

If knights still slay, as once they slew,
Then do we play, as once we plew?

If I still do as once I did,
Then do cows moo, as they once mid?



Apostrophes (‘) can be confusing even for native speakers of English, but they aren’t difficult to master if you can remember a few apostrophe rules. Apostrophes in English serve two basic functions; they show possession, and they indicate that letters have been removed from the original words in the process of forming a contraction. They are not necessary for forming plural nouns or possessive adjectives (my, your, his, her, their, our, its). In the following story, you will see examples of apostrophes being used for both purposes. Pay close attention to where they are and what they’re doing as you read.
Robert and Lisa Jones have two beautiful children. Amy is nine and Ross is seven. The Joneses’ house has two floors. The children’s rooms are upstairs, and the parents’ bedroom is downstairs. Lisa’s room is always clean while Ross’s room is always messy. The Joneses’ lives are very busy this week. Ross’s sports teams all have games, Amy’s ballet class has a recital, and Robert’s car is in the shop, so the Joneses are trying to get everything done with only Lisa’s car. So far today, they’ve been to school, practice, rehearsal, the grocery store and the veterinarian’s office, and they aren’t finished yet. They’ll be busy until late tonight, and tomorrow, they’ll do it all again.


Now listen to a podcast and/or read a transcript on apostrophes here.


Passive Voice: Find Eight Mistakes

When I was worked as an engineer in Cali, Colombia, my company awarded a multi-million dollar contract to build a new school. The project was closely supervising by the city officials, and tight deadlines set. Therefore, we had to work quickly and efficiently. I was assigning as a project manager and giving tasks that required me to be on site. The construction was be complicated by constant rains.  However, we managed to complete the school by the next academic year, and the company chosen as one of the best engineering and construction companies in the country.

from K.S. Folse’s workbook

Find eight mistakes and leave a comment. Correct answers will be posted next week.

Change Your Clocks One Hour Back this Sunday!

Spring forward, Fall back.

For Advanced Students: Spelling and grammar

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither is politically desirable.
from http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/b2.html