Entries Tagged as 'ESL Quick Lessons'

People = plural

Just a reminder:

The word people is a plural noun.  It’s an irregular plural.  Remember to use correct subject verb agreement if people is your subject.


  • Why are some people easier to work with than others?
  • People at the party were looking for the food and drinks.

The singular of people is person.  With the verb “to be”, subject/verb agreement looks like this:

  • People are…
  • People were…
  • A person is…
  • A person was…

There is, are, was, or were – Subject Verb Agreement

In this quick 1-minute video, you can learn whether to use there is or are in the present tense and there was or were in the past tense.  I hope this helps!

Forming the Past Simple – a quick reminder

When you form the past simple, typically you add an -ed to regular verbs.  However, it might be worth it to spend time reviewing irregular verbs because many common verbs are irregular (eat, sleep, drink, be, see, hear, etc.).

When you use the auxiliary to form the negative in the past, or to ask a question in the past, use “do” in the past:  did.  With the auxiliary (did) in a question or negative, go back to the base form of the main verb.  Because you’re using “do” in the past, you don’t need the main verb in the past.

Here are some examples:

  • incorrect:  didn’t found (did + find in the past)
  • correct: didn’t find
  • incorrect:  didn’t called (did + call in the past)
  • correct:  didn’t call

5 Activities to Learn New Nouns

There are several ways to learn new vocabulary, but today I’ll discuss 5 ways to learn more nouns.

  1. Group nouns into categories:  list nouns at the beach, nouns at the department store, or nouns in the car. Compete with your friends or classmates to list as many nouns in each category.  Challenge yourselves by making spelling count for higher points.
  2. If you know some basic nouns, start challenging yourself to learn new words that surround the basic word.  You know the word computer, so you probably also know keyboard, monitor, mouse, and mouse pad.  What about control panel, pixel, resolution, scroll button, tab, memory, hard drive, port, keystroke, or character?  Really look closely at things and see if you can name everything about them.
  3. Play a guessing game where you try to describe a noun without using the name of the noun itself.  For example, if you’re thinking of the word “table”, describe it’s characteristics.  It has legs, a top, and matching chairs.  If you’re trying to describe  a coat, you can say it has long sleeves, buttons or a zipper, pockets, and a lining.
  4. You can get a lot of exposure to nouns by examining your food, going grocery shopping, or preparing  a meal.  Read labels on your food to learn about vitamins, calories, ingredients, and preparation ideas.  When you need someone to pass you the ladle, the spatula, or a serving spoon, you need to know the name of it to get the right one!
  5. Find a hobby.  You don’t actually have to do the hobby to learn nouns from it.  Pretend like you’re going to become a fly fisher, scrapbooker or a chocolatier.  Do research.  Find out what supplies you will need.  You might come across some words that apply to a world that extends beyond the scope of the hobby.


Commenters’ Corrections Answers to 1-14-11

Here was the comment from Friday 1-14-11:

there use to be a better one what happen to it

  1. Punctuation should appear at the end of both clauses.  A period (.) should appear after one, and a question mark (?) should appear after it.
  2. Once new sentences are created, make sure you have capitalized the first word in each sentence.  The T in there and the W in what should be capitalized.
  3. When “use” + “to” is intended for a past ongoing action that no longer happens, “use” should appear in the past:  used to.
  4. Since there used to be one, and now it’s gone, something happened (in the past) to it.  The commenter is asking what happened, so happen should be in the past simple.
  5. Finally, a better what?  The person uses the word one, but doesn’t specify what one represents.  Basically, you’re looking at a pronoun without an antecedent.  Make sure your pronouns have nouns they can easily refer to.

A corrected version might look like this: 

There used to be a better one.  What happened to it?

Commenters’ Corrections 1-14-11

Welcome to Commenters’ Corrections, where you have the chance to analyze and correct the grammar You Tube comment.  The answer will be available on Monday 1-17-11:

there use to be a better one what happen to it

Study Break: Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

With a lot of songs, words are shortened, lengthened, or invented, and misused grammar is often forgiven in order to fit a phrase into the rhythm of the song.  Can you identify any of these nonce words or grammar liberties in Jason Mraz’ song “I’m Yours”?

Commenters’ Corrections 1-7-11

Here’s the comment from 1-7-11:

she is so pretty, i love this song, she will launch her new album soon, i saw it their pocodot, profile, great site, better than facebook

If this person were in my class I would recommend that they

  • begin a sentence with a capital letter
  • capitalize the pronoun “I”, the name Pocodot, and the name Facebook
  • change this run-on sentence to 3 sentences with three separate topics (loving her, launching the album, and opinions about the website).
  • make sure that every clause contained a subject and a verb.  Instead of “great site”, I would suggest, “it is a great site”.

A corrected version might look like this:

She is so pretty, and I love this song.  She will launch her new album soon, which I saw on their Pocodot profile.  Pocodot is a great site;  it’s better than Facebook.

The semicolon is optional.  I just felt like being fancy.

Commenters’ Corrections from 1-5-11

On 1/5/11, I posted 4 comments with grammar errors for you to analyze.  Here are the corrections:

  1. MY EARS ARE BURNING AND MY EYES TO. = Using all caps indicates a loud, yelling tone.  I recommend avoiding all caps at all costs.  The word “to” at the end should be “too” which means the same as “also”.  Correct:  My ears are burning and my eyes, too.
  2. Thumb’s up = This isn’t necessarily incorrect, but using the apostrophe means the ‘s represents a contraction of the verb is.  This person is actually saying “Thumb is up.” If only one thumb is up, you need an article or quantifier (My thumb’s up – or – One thumb’s up).  Not to mention, the phrase “Thumbs up” refers to sticking up two thumbs, meaning you like something a lot.  If you put up only one thumb, it’s only good, but not great.  Also, in some cultures putting any thumbs up is considered offensive, so use this gesture with caution.
  3. Anyone noticed Drake in the video? = A common past simple tense error has occurred.  The person put the main verb in the past tense when forming a question instead of using the auxiliary did.  Correct:  Did anyone notice Drake in the video?
  4. fal = Spelling fail correctly would get this person’s point across better.  Correct:  Fail. (Stylistically, I think adding the period puts more emphasis on the statement, although unfortunately in comments, punctuation is often collateral damage in the standard usage massacre we see online everyday).

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Commenters’ Corrections.  More to come on Friday!

Commenters’ Corrections

Sometimes it’s spelling.  It might also be punctuation.  It might be style; it might be verb tense.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I thought it would be fun, since I’m on You Tube anyway, to pull out a few comments here and there for you to analyze for their errors.  The errors will be posted on Fridays.  The answers will be posted on Mondays.

Here are a few to get started…

  2. Thumb’s up
  3. Anyone noticed Drake in the video?
  4. fal