10 Inspiring Quotes about the Importance of Learning

inspiring learning quotesA lot of wise and inspiring things have been said about the importance of learning. I’ve collected some of the ideas that have most appealed to me recently, which I hope will resonate with you, too. These quotes are a great way to encourage the right thinking about learning, whether it’s learning a language or any other form of education: Continue reading

What English tenses exercises would YOU like to see?

Since I published The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide, I have been working on an exercise book to accompany it, 101 English Tenses Exercises. Containing no less than 101 exercises to really drill all the rules of the tenses. I need your help, though – my original idea was to exercise each lesson in the book, following a similar structure. It’s the wrong approach, it’s too complicated and simply not fun!

So, if you have a spare few minutes, I’d like to ask for some feedback. What English grammar exercises would you like to see? What are your favourite types of English exercise? Which do you like least?

On my site, I usually post gap fill exercises – either with individual sentences (e.g. this future tenses exercise) or in the form of a reading text (e.g. The Christmas Mess). These would be the bulk of the exercises in the book. Are there other styles you’d prefer to see?

I’m dividing the exercises into grammar themes (e.g. Past Simple or Past Continuous?) and more general themes for mixed tense exercises, which can build specific vocabulary (for example Christmas vocabulary). What topics would you like to see most?

Please comment below or contact me here if you have any thoughts on my upcoming project. After all, above all else I am trying to write something that is both enjoyable and useful to you!

Negative Simple Questions – A Mixed Tenses Exercise

negative simple questions exerciseFollowing on from the quick exercises for negative simple statements, this exercise will test understanding of negative simple question forms. Negative simple questions are formed by placing do, did or will before the subject and not after the subject, or by forming a negative contraction, don’t, didn’t, won’t before the subject. If we’re asking a question of the person who made the statement, any first person statements should be changed to second person (i.e. I -> you, we -> they). The following exercise has 15 negative statements in mixed tenses that can be converted to negative questions. The answers are given below the exercise. Continue reading

10 Easily Confused Sets of Words and Phrases Explained

easily confused words and phrasesA few weeks ago I wrote an article about the differences between the words plain and plane; it’s one of many articles I have on this site exploring confusing, or easily misunderstood, words and phrases. With so much content on this site, I thought it was time I created a quick, simple list of such articles so you can quickly learn the differences. I’ve placed example sentences beneath each heading so you can get an idea of what you’ll learn.  Continue reading

Forming Negative Simple Tenses – Exercises

negative simple tenses exercisesNegative simple tenses are formed using either do, does, did, will or the verb to be and not, followed by the bare infinitive. Below is a group of exercises to test this understanding – using the information provides, form complete negative simple sentences. The answers are given at the bottom. Continue reading

What’s the difference between plain and plane?

difference between plain and planePlain and plane are easily confused in English – they are homophones, so you may write one when meaning the other. They have a number of distinct definitions where their meanings are completely different – but one meaning where their meanings are very similar, referring to flat empty space, where it can be hard to remember which word is correct. Continue reading

Exercise – Forming Simple Tense Questions

simple tense questions exerciseQuestions are formed in the simple tenses by using either do, does, did or will before a bare infinitive, or with the verb to be. The following exercise will help you practice converting simple statements into question form in the past, present and future. Use the example sentences to make questions – while these cover simple tense forms, the sentences are not necessarily easy. And remember, first person questions (I, we) should be converted to the second person (you, they)!

For example:

  • The red bird flew through the trees.
  • Did the red bird fly through the trees?

Continue reading

What does “would that it were” mean?

would that it were meaningThe new Coen Brother’s film Hail, Caesar! was recently advertised with a trailer focused on the strange English expression “Would that it were so simple.” (if you haven’t seen it, check it out here!). This is an interesting construction, generally seen as would that + past tense, which you might otherwise see as “Would that I knew”, “Would that there was another way” or many other possibilities. It is also not always joined with that, for example would he knew the answer, though this is far less common. It is not a strange tense, though, merely an idiomatic use of more archaic language. Continue reading

Why and How English speakers celebrate St Patrick’s Day

how celebrate st patrick's dayOn March 17th, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated internationally across the English speaking world. Originally an Irish feast day, it has spread to major cities across the world as people of all cultures take part in a celebration of all things Irish. Here’s a brief explanation of where St Patrick’s Day comes from and what is done to celebrate it. Continue reading

Exercise: Bare Infinitives in Mixed Tenses

mixed bare infinitives exerciseContinuing from a series of exercises that identify and aid understanding for the bare infinitive in different tenses (see the exercise for bare infinitive in the past for more), here’s a quick exercise spanning both the past and present. The answers are given below. Continue reading