Winter Break Practice

(image from Wikimedia Commons)

(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Dear Students,

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.

Enjoy the post, and have a great vacation!


Jaimie Newsome, Wake Tech ESL Blog Team

Level Listening Speaking Reading Writing
1 & 2  Where are you from?

What are you doing?

 Common Words  Reading  Writing by Hand

(watch the video)

3 & 4  The Word “Ain’t”  Phonics Stories  The Kiss That Missed  Writing Advice
5 & 6  A Taxi Drive  Stress and Intonation  Long Distance Call  Speaking or Writing?
ERV  President Obama’s Addresses

NPR Story Corps

 Perfect Pronunciation  Many Stories  Writing


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.

I DID do it!!! (Emphatic Past Tense)

(image by Lorax)

Funnel cake image by Lorax

Usually, when someone asks you a question in the past tense, you respond in the regular past tense:

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”

Did you eat anything interesting?”
“Yes, I did! I ate some funnel cake.”

Did you do anything else exciting?”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t ride anything, I didn’t watch the fireworks, and I didn’t see any chickens.”



The above conversation uses regular, simple past tense. You can read more about it at the posts here or here.

Sometimes, English language learners are confused about how to use the past tense.

When making NEGATIVE past tense sentences, it’s correct to use the past tense word “didn’t” plus the base tense verb. For example, I didn’t go, I didn’t eat, I didn’t dance are all OK.

I didn’t went, I didn’t ate, I didn’t danced are NOT correct.

In the regular POSITIVE past tense, “I did go, I did eat, I did dance” are usually not OK.

You say, “I went, I ate, I danced.”

eat ate didn’t eat
go went didn’t go
dance danced didn’t dance



But let’s re-imagine our conversation. This time, notice what changes in the speakers’ attitudes. Past tense is in red.

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”
Did you really go? I thought you didn’t want to go.”
“I did want to go! I love the fair.”
“Yes! I had fun.”
“OK. I bet you didn’t eat anything interesting.”
“I did eat something interesting! I ate a funnel cake.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“I did, too!”

Do you see how the conversation changes? This time, the two people are almost fighting. The person who went to the fair is getting angry because he thinks the other guy doesn’t believe him.

You can use the emphatic tense when you want to emphasize something. When you talk, you put more stress on the words. Remember, it’s not for normal conversations. It’s only when you really need to be clear about something.

For more practice, you can click here, or, remember these emphatic remarks:

  • I did do my homework!

  • did like the present you gave me!

  • did call you yesterday!

Good luck!

“I like dancing” or “I like to dance”?

Which is good English:

  1. I like dancing
  2. I like to dance
  3. I like to dancing
  4. I like dance

If you think #1 and #2 are correct, you are right! “I like dancing” and “I like to dance” are both OK! “I like to dancing” and “I like dance” are NOT OK. 


When you use “like”, you have two options for the next verb. Option 1 is an infinitive. Infinitives are to + base verb. To go, to swim, to eat, to dance, to drive, to talk, to listen, to cry . . . all are infinitives! 

Option 2 is a gerund. A gerund ends in -ing. Going, swimming, eating, dancing, driving, talking, listening, crying . . . all are gerunds! 

You can’t mix infinitives and gerunds. So, “to dancing” and “dance” are not correct. 

Look at these words. Which are gerunds? Which are infinitives? 

1. snowing    2. camping    3. to cook    4. to play   5. reading    6. to swing    7. opening    8. to think

Sometimes you use a gerund. Sometimes you use an infinitive. Sometimes you can use both. There are no real rules. You just need to remember. Here are some examples:

A. After you use these words, you can use an infinitive OR a gerund. They are both OK: 


1. We continue to study grammar. We continue studying grammar.

2. No one hates to learn English. No one hates learning English.

3. Some people like to study at night. Some people like studying at night.

4. Do you prefer to learn vocabulary first? Do you prefer learning vocabulary first?

5. We started to read at 3:00. We started reading at 3:00.

B. After these words, you can ONLY use an infinitive


1. I decided to go to the gym after work.

2. I intended to go to the gym after work, but I didn’t go.

3. I needed to go to the supermarket.

4. I’m planning to go to the gym after work tomorrow.

5. I refuse to go to the gym in the morning.

6. I want to lose weight.

C. After these words, you can ONLY use a gerund


1. Since the divorce, my parents have avoided meeting.

2. Do you enjoy swimming or playing soccer?

3. I miss seeing my friends from college every day.

4. Most children dislike eating vegetables.

5. Let’s finish talking after class.

6. What movie do you suggest watching this evening?

D. Practice. Choose the correct verb.

1. Do you avoid (working, to work) on Friday night?

2. Who decided (ordering, to order) pizza?

3. Does she prefer (using, to use) a pen or a pencil?

4. What does he suggest (doing, to do) to resolve the problem?

5. Did we decide (eating, to eat) at 6:30?

6. No one wants (hearing, to hear) that music right now.

7. Lorena started (practicing, to practice) the piano at age 8.

8. Jenny didn’t miss (seeing, to see) the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

9. Did the students refuse (coming, to come) to class?

10. What time did you finish (working, to work) today?

(adapted from Ventures 3,, p. 69)

I Had Already Seen the Movie: the Past Perfect Tense

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

In 1997, I was a high school student. “Titanic” was the popular movie that year. The first time I saw it, I went with my boyfriend Bobby. The next weekend, my friend Maria wanted to see it. So even though I had already seen it, I went with her. My friend Erin wanted to watch it, too, so we watched it the next day. Of course, my mom wanted to go, too (and since my dad hates romantic movies, she invited me). I had seen it three times, but I went again with her. A week later, Bobby and I broke up and my friend Phillip asked me to go. In total, I saw “Titanic” in the movie theater five times. That’s 15 hours of my high school life that I spent watching Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio in a sinking ship. It was totally worth it, though!


When we talk about actions that had already been completed in the past BEFORE another past action, we use the Past Perfect. There is a long, detailed explanation of all the instances when you can use the past perfect here.


You form the past perfect by using “had” + the past participle. “Had” is the same for all subjects (I, you, he, she, it, we, they). You can find a list of past participles here. Here is another list and a video.

And of course, you can use abbreviations:

  • I had = I’d
  • You had = You’d
  • He had = He’d, etc.

Here are some examples:

Affirmative Statement Negative Statement  Question
Jaime invited me to dinner, but because I had already eaten, I wasn’t hungry. My legs had never hurt as much as they did the day I ran a marathon. Had you met him online before you met him in person?
It had rained the night before, and everything was soaking wet. She had not been to Paris until last year. Had they written their essay on time to turn it in?

This video has examples from songs and more explanations!

For practice, please try the exercises here and here.

Parts of Speech: Pronouns

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

Subject Pronouns

Salem is from Bangladesh. He can cook. He can cook well. He is wearing a red t-shirt. He is standing. He is cooking.”

“Salem” is the subject of the sentence. Subject perform (do) the action. Subject pronouns replace (substitute) the subject.

This video shows the 7 subject pronouns we use in English:


Singular Plural
1st person           I 1st person         We
2nd person         You 2nd person       You (Y’all in North Carolina, not New York)
3rd person          He, She, It 3rd person        They

A Few Important Points:

  • Pronouns replace (substitute) nouns. You don’t need to repeat a name 100 times (“Salem is from Bangladesh. Salem can cook. Salem can cook well.”) You DO NEED to introduce the subject, and THEN replace his name with a pronoun.
  • It is NOT NECESSARY to say both the name and a pronoun: “Salem he is from Bangladesh” is redundant. Don’t be redundant.
  • Remember “it” is for an object (pen, car) or an animal with no name (dog, elephant, etc.).

PRACTICE. Replace the noun with a pronoun.

Example: Bob –> He

1. Sarah     2. I     3. John and I     4. The zebra     5. Samuel     6. The pencil     7. The books     8. Love


Do you remember the Barney song? “I love you.  . . you love me . . . “? Here, “you” and “me” are object pronouns. Object pronouns receive the action of a verb. 

This video has a list of object pronouns:

Singular Plural
1st person           Me 1st person         Us
2nd person         You 2nd person       You (Y’all in North Carolina, not New York)
3rd person          Him, Her, It 3rd person        Them

PRACTICE. Write the object pronoun:

1. the ball     2. the girl     3. the flowers     4. the tree    5. Jamar   6. Alicia    7. Julia and Isabel  8. you

Putting it all together:

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

The baseball player throws the ball.

WHO throws the ball (subject)?

The baseball player.

WHAT does he throw (object)?

The ball.

He throws the ball.

He throws it.



This video uses both subject and object pronouns. Have a listen!

Practice. Write the sentences again, changing the subjects and objects for pronouns.

  1. I love my boyfriend.
  2. The girl hugs her brother.
  3. Daniel kissed Mary.
  4. You buy a book.
  5. Jason picks up the notebooks.

You must love learning English!

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

These boys play soccer every week. They watch soccer on television. They play on community teams. They practice a lot. They must love playing soccer! 

(photo by WT instructor jLN)

(photo by WT instructor jLN)

Mark is from Canada. He sings all the time. He sings in the shower. He sings in his car. He sings at school. He goes to karaoke every week. He must love singing! 

Claire is from Canada. She goes camping with her friends. She goes hiking. She walks in the woods. She goes to the mountains. She must love being outdoors! 

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

He must love . . . 

The three examples above are examples of inferring. To infer is to deduce. The information is not explicit. But you come to a conclusion using the information you read.

Maybe you see a woman on the bus. She puts on a coat. She puts on gloves. She puts on a hat. You can infer that A) she must be cold, and B) she must be getting off the bus soon.


We use the word “must” when we make inferences. (It’s a difference “must” than “should.”)

You can use “must” with adjectives: “must + be + adjective” –> She must be cold. He must be hungry. They must be tired.

When you use “must” with “love,” “like,” “hate,” or “enjoy,” you use a noun or a gerund (verb with  -ing):

He must love driving. She must love swimming. You must love playing soccer.

Read the following scenarios and write a sentence using “must” for each one.

1. Jan goes to English class four nights a week. She listens to music in English. She watches English-language movies and watches English-language television. She must _____________________.

2. Peter wakes up at 5:00 every day and goes to the gym. He lifts weights. He does push-ups and pull-ups. He works on machines. He must _____________________. 

3. Danielle goes to dance clubs every Friday night. She takes dance lessons every Wednesday evening. She watches dance shoes on television and goes to dance performances at the theater. She must __________________.

4. Judy ate a salad for lunch. She didn’t eat dinner. She must ______________________.

5. I went to sleep at 1:00 in the morning. I woke up at 6:00 in the morning. I didn’t drink any coffee. I must _____________________. 

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!


Once in Winter . . .

(Photo by Brian May, Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Brian May, Wikimedia Commons)

Last Wednesday, February 18, was Ash Wednesday. (Ash — plural, ashes — is the black stuff you get after you burn something.) It is an important holiday for Christian people around the world.

Many poems have been written about Ash Wednesday. T.S. Eliot wrote a famous poem about Ash Wednesday. It is a nice poem, but it is complicated and difficult even for native English speakers. Walter Brueggemann wrote another poem about Ash Wednesday. It is also nice, but a little difficult.

I like the poem below. It is short, and simple. The writer is anonymous —  we don’t know his or her name.


Ash Wednesday

Once in winter,
I stood,
White flakes brushing my face
With white fingers,
I waited with the others
We shivered on the steps–
Stuck out our tongues to catch snowflakes
So cold they would burn.

Soon the big doors would open
On smoke and candles
and a cold thumb would brush
My forehead with a cross of ashes
“Dust to Dust” he would mutter
While snowflakes melted in my hair. 


Imagine two pictures: 1) Someone waiting outside a church in the snow. 2) That person inside the church participating in the ceremony.

The first part of the poem is in past tense. Stood (stand), waited (wait), shivered (shiver), stuck out (stick out) are all past tense.

The second part of the poem is in conditional tense. (You can read more about it here.) Would burn, would open, would brush, and would mutter are conditional.

Last year, my students wrote their own poems. They were not about Ash Wednesday. They were about a time they were waiting to do something. Some students wrote about waiting for a party. Some students wrote about waiting for school to start. You can read their poems here.

Do you feel creative? You can write your own poem about waiting. You can follow the guidelines below. Please share them!

Once in _____________ (season)
I _______________ (action)
It was ___________ (weather)
Everything was _______ (color) and ______ (description)
I was ____________ (action)
Everyone around me was _________ (action)
I felt _________ (emotion)
I knew that ________ (result)
And _________ (conclusion).

All Kinds of Weather

We have a saying in North Carolina: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait.”

This means that the weather changes often here. Maybe on Monday the sun is shining and it is warm, but on Wednesday it snows!

Let’s look at some weather vocabulary. Notice their part of speech. Adjectives (adj.) don’t change form. Verbs (v.) can change for past, present, future, or other tenses. Nouns (n.) don’t change. You almost always use the form: It + be + verb/adjective to describe the weather.

Click on each title for a picture description:

1. Sunny (adj.) Sun (n.)

It is sunny. The sun is shining.

2. Rainy (adj.) Rain (v.)

It is rainy. It is raining. It rains a lot in February.

3. Snowy (adj.) Snow (v.)

It is snowy today. It is snowing right now. It doesn’t snow often in Raleigh.

4. Icy (adj.) Ice (v.)

It is icy outside. When it ices, sometimes we lose power.

5. Foggy (adj.) Fog (n., uncountable)

It is very foggy tonight. There is a lot of fog. (There is a lot of fogs. X)

6. Cloudy (adj.) Cloud (n., countable)

It is cloudy today. There are many clouds in the sky.

7. Windy (adj.) Wind (n., countable, but not to describe weather):

It is windy today. There is a lot of wind.

Do you read the weather reports? The weather report (or forecast) is a prediction of the weather. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong! Let’s look at the report for next week, Monday, February 16, 2015, from

Weather forecast (screenshot by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Weather forecast (screenshot by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Answer these questions:

1. How is the weather on Monday morning?

a) snowy

b) sunny

c) cloudy

d) foggy

2. What is the chance of snow on Monday during the day?

a) 50%

b) 60%

c) 80%

d) 90%

3. How many inches (1 inch = 2.5 cm) of snow do they expect for Monday night?

a) 1-2 inches

b) 2-3 inches

c) 3-5 inches

d) 7-8 inches

4. Will it snow on Sunday?

a) yes

b) no

c) maybe

d) I don’t know