At the Grocery Store – Beginners

For ESL levels 1 and up

The grocery store is a large store. You can buy food at the grocery store. “Groceries” are food we buy in a store, not a restaurant. We buy groceries and prepare food at home. Sometimes, we call a grocery store a market or supermarket. We have many grocery stores:

  • Earth Fare
  • Food Lion
  • The Fresh Market
  • Harris Teeter
  • Kroger
  • Lowe’s Foods
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Whole Foods

You can also buy food at Wal-Mart or Target. They have a grocery section.

Watch this video.

In the video, you can hear these words. Here are the definitions.

  • produce – fresh fruits and vegetables
  • beef – meat from a cow (Beef packages might have these words: ground beef, steak, brisket, loin, rib, flank, or round.)
  • pork – meat from a pig (Pork packages might have these words: Boston butt, jowl, spareribs, loin, bacon, or ham.)
  • chicken – meat from a chicken (Chicken packages might include these words: wing, breast, leg, or thigh.)
  • dairy – eggs, milk, and foods made from milk (butter, yogurt, cheese)
  • bakery – a store (or area of a grocery store) where you can buy cakes and bread
  • cupcake – a small cake for one person
  • pastry – a sweet, baked food
  • bun – bread for a hamburger or a hot dog

Your Turn

Talk with your classmates.

  1. Tell 3 vegetables.
  2. Tell 3 fruits.
  3. Tell 3 kinds of bakery foods.
  4. Tell 3 kinds of meat.
  5. Tell 3 dairy foods.
  6. Where do you buy your food?
  7. Are American grocery stores big or small?
  8. Is food in the United States expensive or cheap?
  9. Is American food healthy?
  10. Do you like American food?

Telling the Date

For all ESL levels

Americans write and say dates differently from people in other countries. Do you know how to write and say dates correctly?

How to Write the Date

Americans always give the month first, the day second, and the year last. There are several different ways we can write it.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • March 27, 2016
  • March 27th, 2016
  • 03/27/2016 or 03-27-2016
  • 3/27/16 or 3-27-16

You can use a slash (/) or a hyphen (-) between the numbers. There is no difference. When you write the name of the month, you must use a comma (,) after the date.

Sometimes, you will see instructions for writing the date that look like this:


The M means month, the D means day, and the Y means year. If a website or form asks for a date like this, you should use two numbers for the month (01, 09, 11, etc.), two numbers for the date (07, 10, 29, etc.), and four numbers for the year (1982, 2016, etc.).

Sometimes the instructions look like this:


Do you see the difference? In this case, you only use the LAST two numbers of the year – 82 (not 1982) or 16 (not 2016).

When you write the date in _ _ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ format, it is VERY important that you write the MONTH first and the DAY second.

How to Say the Date

Americans usually do not write “st,” “nd,” “rd,” or “th” (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) on the date, but we ALWAYS say it. If you write, “3/27/2016,” you say, “March twenty-seventh, twenty-sixteen” (you can also say, “two thousand-sixteen”). Here is how we write and pronounce all the dates.

**We only add -st, -nd, -rd, and -th to the pronunciation of numbers in dates.**

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  1. first
  2. second
  3. third
  4. fourth
  5. fifth
  6. sixth
  7. seventh
  8. eighth
  9. ninth
  10. tenth
  11. eleventh
  12. twelfth
  13. thirteenth
  14. fourteenth
  15. fifteenth
  16. sixteenth
  17. seventeenth
  18. eighteenth
  19. nineteenth
  20. twentieth
  21. twenty-first
  22. twenty-second
  23. twenty-third
  24. twenty-fourth
  25. twenty-fifth
  26. twenty-sixth
  27. twenty-seventh
  28. twenty-eighth
  29. twenty-ninth
  30. thirtieth
  31. thirty-first

When we say years, we usually say the first two numbers together and the last two numbers together. If the year is 1982, we say the first two numbers – nineteen – and the last two numbers – eighty-two.

  • 1980 – nineteen eighty
  • 1776 – seventeen seventy-six
  • 1430 – fourteen thirty
  • 2016 – twenty sixteen

If there are zeros in the middle of the year (2002), the rules change a little. Here is how we say 2000 years:

  • 2000 – two thousand
  • 2001 – two thousand one
  • 2002 – two thousand two

Here is how we say other years:

  • 1903 – nineteen oh three
  • 1409 – fourteen oh nine
  • 1207 – twelve oh seven
  • 1804 – eighteen oh four

Your Turn

Write and say the answers to these questions (search the internet or ask your teacher if you don’t know):

  1. When were you born?
  2. When did the United States become an independent country?
  3. When did Princess Diana die?
  4. When was Barack Obama born?
  5. When is Thanksgiving this year?
  6. When will Americans elect the next president?
  7. When is the last day of your class?
  8. What is today’s date?
  9. What is an important date in your life (wedding, birth of a child, when you moved to the U.S., etc.)?
  10. When was the last time you took a vacation?

Contractions for Beginners

For all levels, 1 and up.

Today, our topic is contractions. You see contractions every day. Do you understand them?

What is a contraction?

  • It’s
  • I’m
  • You’re

These words are contractions. A contraction is two words together in one word with an apostrophe (‘). An apostrophe looks like a comma at the top of a word. Here is the pronunciation of apostrophe.

Why do we use an apostrophe?

When we put two words together, we remove (take out) some letters. We use an apostrophe in the place of those letters.

  • It is –> It’s – We remove the “i” from “is” and put an apostrophe in that place.
  • We are –> We’re – We remove the “a” from “are” and put an apostrophe there.
  • I am –> I’m – We remove the “a” from “am” and put an apostrophe in its place.
image by WTCC instructor

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

How do you pronounce contractions?

We only say the letters we can see. We do not pronounce the letters we removed. When I say, “He is,” I pronounce the “i” in the word “is” because I can see it. When I say, “He’s,” I do not pronounce the “i” because it is not there.

Practice saying these contractions. Ask your teacher to help you.

  • I’m
  • He’s
  • She’s
  • It’s
  • You’re
  • We’re
  • They’re

Without You – Beginning Listening/Grammar Practice

For ESL levels 2 and up.

This song is from a musical play called Rent. It is about a group of friends in New York City in the 1990s. A man and a woman sing this song together. All of the verbs in “Without You” are in the present simple tense. This chart shows how to make present simple verbs:

Present Simple Verb Chart

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Some students are confused about some of these subjects. I will explain a little.

  • We use “they” for all plural nouns (people or things).
    – brothers = they
    – telephones = they
    – teachers = they
    – cities = they
  • We use “it” for singular and noncount nouns (things only). We sometimes use “it” for animals (when we don’t know if the animal is male or female).
    – telephone = it
    – city = it
    – grass = it
    – coffee = it
    – dog = it
  • We use “he” and “she” for singular people. We sometimes use “he” and “she” for animals (when we know an animal is male or female, like a pet). We RARELY use “he” or “she” for things.
    – brother = he
    – sister = she
    – teacher = he (man) or she (woman)
    – dog = he (male) or she (female)

The subject of each verb is in italics. You must decide how to write the verb – with s or without s. Click here to print the song.

Without you,
The ground _________________ (thaw),
The rain _________________ (fall),
The grass _________________ (grow).

Without you,
The seeds _________________ (root),
The flowers _________________ (bloom),
The children _________________ (play).

The stars _________________ (gleam),
The poets _________________ (dream),
The eagles _________________ (fly)
Without you.

The earth _________________ (turn),
The sun _________________ (burn),
But I _________________ (die)
Without you.

Without you,
The breeze _________________ (warm),
The girl _________________ (smile),
The cloud _________________ (move).

Without you,
The tides _________________ (change),
The boys _________________ (run),
The oceans _________________ (crash).

The crowds _________________ (roar),
The days _________________ (soar),
The babies _________________ (cry)
Without you.

The moon _________________ (glow),
The river _________________ (flow),
But I _________________ (die)
Without you.

The world _________________ (revive),
Colors _________________ (renew),
But I _________________ (know) blue, only blue,
Lonely blue,
Within me, blue.

Without you.

Without you,
The hand _________________ (grope),
The ear _________________ (hear),
The pulse _________________ (beat).

Without you,
The eyes _________________ (gaze),
The legs _________________ (walk),
The lungs _________________ (breathe).

The mind _________________ (churn),
The heart _________________ (yearn),
The tears _________________ (dry)
Without you.

Life _________________ (go) on,
But I _________________ (be) gone
‘Cause I _________________ (die)
Without you.

Without you
Without you
Without you

Now listen to the song.

What questions do you have?

  • Do you have questions about the vocabulary in the song?
  • Do you have questions about present simple verbs?
  • Do you have questions about subjects – I, you, we, they, he, she, it?

Ask your teacher or leave a comment!

Talk to me!

  • Did you like this song? Why or why not?
  • Do you want more music on the blog?
  • Do you want more grammar on the blog? What do you want to learn?

Leave a comment, and tell me how I can improve the English Language blog!


Who does the chores at your house?

Chores are work you do in your house.

For example, making the bed, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry are chores.

(Click on the blue for a picture.)

What about you?

(image via Wikipedia Commons)

(image via Wikipedia Commons)


Do you make the bed?

Do you like making the bed?





(image via Wikimedia Commons)

(image via Wikimedia Commons)



Do you rake the leaves?

Do you like raking the leaves?






(image by Matt Kingston)

(image by Matt Kingston)


Do you wash the dishes?

Do you like washing the dishes?





(image by BrokenSphere)

(image by BrokenSphere)



Do you do laundry (wash clothes)?

Do you like doing laundry?




There are many chores.

What chores do you like?   I like washing dishes.

What chores don’t you like?  I don’t like making the bed.

Listening Practice for Beginners!

(image by "Breakfast of Champions" by Alisdair McDiarmid)

(image by “Breakfast of Champions” by Alisdair McDiarmid)

What time do you wake up? Do you eat breakfast?

Here is a listening activity to practice morning routines.

Use this link:

You will need this vocabulary. Click on the word for a picture.

Listen to the woman talking. Write the words you hear.

Is your morning routine similar to hers?

Reading Pronunciation (Levels 1-3)

Van (image by 天然ガス)

Van (image by 天然ガス)

Is it difficult to read in English? Sometimes, we write and pronounce words differently. For example, you read, “I walked to school” like “I walkt to skool.” Sometimes the spelling and the pronunciation is not the same.

But there is good news! You can learn pronunciation rules that can help you pronounce words correctly. About 80% of English uses pronunciation rules. The other 20% are exceptions.

There is an order to learning the 44 sounds of English.


  • consonants (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z)
  • 5 short vowels (a, e, i, o, u)
  • words with short vowels (cat, leg, lip, mop, rug)
  • consonant blends (brush, grass, smart, etc.)
  • 5 long vowels (a, e, i, o, u)
  • words with long vowels (late, meet, like, smoke, flute)
  • exceptions to the rules

If you want to start with the letter sounds, click here. (This website is for children, but is the best one for hearing different sounds!)

Today we will look at short A.

Click on this link to hear a story. Practice reading the story. Repeat after the narrator. Does your “a” and his “a” sound the same?


Listen to the story again and write the word.

  1. Dan has a ____________.
  2. The _________ is for work.
  3. He has a _________ in his van.
  4. He looks at the _______ a lot.
  5. He _________ go west.
  6. He _________ go east.
  7. He _________ go north.
  8. He _________ go south.
  9. Dan is ___________ to have a ________ in his van for work.

For more stories, click here.

Next week, we will look at more difficult pronunciation and spelling. See you then!

Parts of Speech: Prepositions

(image by Christophe Dioux)

(image by Christophe Dioux)

Are you confused by prepositions in English?

Do you forget if you need to say, “at work” or “in work”, “on Sunday” or “in Sunday”?

You are not alone!

Many people have problems with prepositions in English. Prepositions are small words with a big meaning! There are more than 150 prepositions in English! Wikipedia lists 521! That’s a lot! This link gives you access to a free eBook from EnglishClub with a full list and examples of prepositions. It’s 56 pages long, so I don’t recommend that you print it, but you can use it as an online resource.

The good news is, it’s not necessary to memorize the entire list. But, you should study as many as you can. Today we’ll look at some of them and how to use them.

What’s a preposition? 

A preposition is a word that shows when, where, or how something was done.

  • I have class on Mondays.
  • The boy jumped into the lake.
  • Sarah opened the lock with a key.

How do I use prepositions? 

The word “preposition” means “pre- position.” Therefore, they go in front of another word, usually a noun.

Prepositions of Place


(photo by WT instructor JLN)

These prepositions show where things are.

In this picture, the bowls are beside (next to) the glasses. They are above the plates and the cups. The plates and cups are under the bowls and glasses. The plates are between the glasses and the cups. One bowl is inside another bowl. All of the dishes are inside the cabinet.

Prepositions of Time

These prepositions tell when you do something. In, On, and At are the three most common prepositions.


In general month, year, time of day, general time in January, in 2012, in the morning, in the future
On day, date on Christmas Day, on July 14th, on Saturday
At specific time, *night at 7:00 at night

Prepositions of Agent

These prepositions show how something is done.

  • The glass is filled with water.
  • The book was written by Cervantes.

For more lists and exhaustive explanations of prepositions, click here or here.

For some practice, try any of these exercises:


(More difficult)

(Even more difficult!)

Parts of Speech: VERBS

What is a verb? A verb is a word that shows action. Here are some verbs:

(photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

WALK                    (photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

COOK                   (photo by WT instructor JLN)







SLEEP (photo by WT instructor JLN)

SLEEP              (photo by WT instructor JLN)

DRIVE (photo by WT instructor JLN)

DRIVE               (photo by WT instructor JLN)













“Be” is also a verb (I am, you are, etc.)

Verbs change by time and person. By time, you can say, “I walk” (present), “I am walking” (present continuous), “I walked” (past), “I will walk” (future), “I would walk” (conditional) “I have walked” (present perfect), etc. etc. etc. For a full list of English tenses (time), click here or here.

Some languages change verbs, depending on each person. For example, “go” in French: “Je vais, tu vas, il va, nous allons, vous allez, ils vont.” Every verb is different by every person.


But in English, there are only two forms of changing the verb.

I, You, We, and They are the same. He, She, and It are the same.

For example: I, you, we, they –> go           He, she, it –> goes

In the present tense, you put an -s on 3rd person singular verbs. (You can read more posts about present tense here and here.)

(photo by Kathy Stafford)

(photo by Kathy Stafford)


  • I am from North Carolina.
  • I live in Raleigh now.
  • I love my sister.


  • My sister is from North Carolina, too.
  • She lives in Indiana now.
  • She loves me, too!




You can practice the present tense here. Enjoy!


English Signs: Beginner Version

Every country has signs on the roads and in cities. Some are the same as in the U.S. Some are different.

It is important to know the signs around you.

Here are the names of the signs:

  1. Poison
  2. Ambulance
  3. Hospital
  4. Handicapped
  5. School Crossing
  6. Railroad Crossing
  7. Pedestrian Crossing
  8. Yield
  9. Do Not Enter
  10. No Trespassing

These are the signs:

1. poisonPOISON (image by SilsorIf you drink or eat POISON, you could die. 

2. ambulanceAMBULANCE (image by Pixabay)

3. hospital HOSPITAL (image by Govt. of Ontario)

4. handicappedHANDICAPPED (image by USDOT)

5. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SCHOOL CROSSING (image by BrokenSphereCrossing = intersection

6. railroadrailroadRAILROAD CROSSING (images by Frye1989 and Ian Britton

Railroad = train

7. pedestrianPEDESTRIAN CROSSING (image by Mark Buckawicki

                                   Pedestrian = a person who walks

8. yieldYIELD (image by Frye1989)  Yield = wait 

9. do not enter DO NOT ENTER (image by Fry1989)

10. tresspassing NO TRESPASSING (image by Rutebega

No trespassing = Do NOT enter. Do not go in. The place is not your place. 

You can practice some (not all) of the signs at this link. It is a test for drivers.

You can read more about signs at this link.

Enjoy . . . and be safe!