The blogs are going on vacation for the summer. **** I’ve refreshed an earlier post with great ideas for your summer homework. Click on the blue links to learn and practice until we return with new lessons in the fall!
Confusing Word Choices
image by WTCC instructor ecparent
In these blogs, we teach you the differences between two (or more) confusing words or phrases. Click each one to learn more.
*** Refreshing an earlier post that has some ideas for homework to do over the summer. There is one activity per week. In July, explore the blog — look at these links or these sites to practice your English online!
Today, our topic is contractions. You see contractions every day. Do you understand them?
What is a contraction?
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 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.
Can you believe it? The semester is almost over! This post will be the last blog post until January 2016. In this post, you will find links to previous posts. Click on the links in the box and practice and review what you learned in class.
This post is also the last post I will write. I started writing for the blog in January 2013. I have written a lot of posts in the past almost-3 years! It was very fun to write for the blog and to receive feedback and comments from all of you students. Thank you! A new writer for the English Language blog will start in January 2016. That person will have a lot of good, new ideas to help you all learn more English.
There are 8 parts of speech in English: 1) verbs, 2) nouns, 3) adjectives, 4) adverbs, 5) prepositions, 6) conjunctions, 7) pronouns, and 8) interjections. You can see all parts of speech if you click here. We will look at one each week. Last week we looked at verbs. Today we will study nouns.
What is a noun?
A noun is the name of any person, place, or thing/idea. We use a CAPITAL LETTER with proper nouns (names, cities, countries, months, day, etc.). We don’t use a capital letter with common nouns (unless they come at the beginning of a sentence).
Here are some examples:
Proper nouns: Paris, Mexico, Thursday, Ohio, North Carolina, September, Brian, Jessica, etc.
Common nouns: telephone, tree, chair, fence, dress
PRACTICE. Look at this list. Which are proper nouns? Which are common?
(ANSWERS: 2, 3, 4, and 9 are proper nouns. The rest are common nouns.)
Most nouns you can touch. But Ideas are also nouns. You can’t touch ideas. Love, hate, disagreement, peace, violence, understanding, etc. are all nouns. We don’t use capital letters with them.
Singular and Plural
Nouns can be singular (1) or plural (2 or more).
Usually, we put an “s” at the end of a noun. 1 shirt –> 2 shirts, 1 table –> 2 tables, etc. If the word already ends in “s”, we add “es.” 1 dress –> 2 dresses, 1 bus –> 2 buses. Also, if the word ends in “ch,” “sh, “x” or “z.” There are other exceptions and rules for spelling plurals here.
For -es practice, watch this video. The pronunciation is British English, but the spelling is the same.
Hello! Last week we talked about long vowels in English. Two weeks ago we talked about short vowels. Today we finish vowels. Let’s talk about SCHWA! Schwa looks like an upside-down “e” in phonetic transcription.
What is “schwa”? “Schwa” is the most common sound in English. How many sounds are there in total? 100? 500? No. Just 44. There are 44 sounds in English. And “schwa” is the most common sound.
“Schwa” sounds like “uh.” Every vowel — A, E, I, O, and U — can make the sound “uh.” It’s a relaxed sound. It is the sound on unstressed syllables.
Watch this video and practice with the teacher:
Stressed or Unstressed?
In some other languages, you say every syllable the same. In English, some syllables are stressed and some are not stressed. (What’s a syllable? A part of a word with only one vowel. “America” has 3 syllables: A / me / ri / ca.)
There are at least 8 different ways to put stress on words. This article has that information.
Schwa only happens in words with two or more syllables, except “a” and “the,” which can both sound like schwa. The unstressed syllable receives the schwa sound.
Pass me a banana.
Where is the book?
What is that book about?
How do you spell schwa?
The bad news is, you can write schwa with all of the vowels. It makes spelling difficult. Tenacious, replicate, percolate, etc. all have a schwa sound. Schwa is represented by ALL of the vowels!
Hat, hit, hot, hut . . . can you hear the difference? Many students have trouble pronouncing short vowel sounds in English. Today we’re going to look at them.
If you speak Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Serbian, or any other phonetic language, you are lucky! In phonetic languages, you pronounce a letter the same way you write it. For example, you always pronounce the “a” in casa (“house” in Spanish) the same, always. Casa, estante, argumento, plato . . . the sound of “a” never changes.
But English is different!
There are five vowels in English: A, E, I, O, U. You can pronounce each vowel 3 different ways: long, short, or schwa (“uh”). We will look at long vowels and schwa later. Today we will look at short vowels.
This video shows how you move your mouth when you pronounce short vowels in English.
If you want basic short vowel instruction, you can look at www.starfall.com. It is a website for children learning how to read English, but it has excellent pronunciation!
This video can be good practice for you. First, listen to the words. Then try to write them without looking at the words:
It is important that you know how to pronounce short words correctly, so that you can pronounce long words better.
These words have short vowels in them. Can you pronounce them?
Next week we will look at some long vowels. Please let me know if you have any questions!
The English alphabet has 26 letters: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
From these 26 letters, we get the 750,000 words in the English language.
You know that English spelling is difficult. English has roots in many languages, including Anglo-Saxon, French, German, and Latin. Because it is a hodgepodge of many different languages, sometimes its spelling doesn’t make sense.
There are a lot of silent letters in English. 18 of the 26 letters are, at one time or the other, silent. In the list below, you see words with a silent letter. You write it, but you don’t pronounce it.
A = dead
B = doubt
C = scene
D = handsome
E = come
F = off
G = sign
H = honest
I = weird
K = knife
L = salmon
M = mnemonics
N = column
O = too
P = raspberry
T = often
U = guess
W = answer
(list from “Errors in English” by Harry Shaw, B&N Publishers, 1962)
Are there silent letters in your language?
Besides having silent letters, many words in English have the same sound but different spelling. They are called homophones.
Here are some examples:
Hear, here: Come here so I can hear you.
Hole, whole: Hit the ball into the hole. He ate the whole pizza.
Loose, lose: I want to lose ten pounds so my pants will be looser.
Rein, rain: I left the horse’s rein in the rain and it got wet.
Right, write: Do you use your left hand or your right hand to write?
Their, they’re, there: Where areWilliam and Mary? They’re standing over there in front of their house.
Threw, through: Someone threw something through the windows and broke them.
To, too, two: The two lambs are too tired to walk.
Your, you’re: You’re doing your homework now, aren’t you?
The opposite of “left” is write right
The contraction for “they are” is there they’re their