Category Archives: Level A1

use_of_articles

Using articles in English

Using articles in English (a, an, and the)

Using articles in English can be very difficult as there are a lot of rules to remember. In this lesson, we will look at when to use ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’.

Read the sentences:

  • She has a dog.
  • She doesn’t have a cat.
  • The dog is 4 years old.

Articles

1. The indefinite article – A or AN

Examples of use of indefinite articles: Do you have a pen?  I need an umbrella.

2. The definite article – THE

Examples of use of definite articles: The boy lives at home. Here is the book I borrowed.

 

Below are the common rules for when to use articles.


Articles – rule #1

We use ‘a’ or ‘an’ when there are many of something and you are talking generally about a single one.

Examples:

Do you have a pen I can borrow? (it doesn’t matter which pen)

I would like an apple (it doesn’t matter which apple)


Articles – rule #2

We use ‘the’ when there is only one of the thing we are talking. It could be that it is unique, or it could that there is only one that you could logically be talking about.

Examples:

The sun rises in the east. (it is unique – there is only one sun)

Have you fed the dog? (the people speaking only have one dog and they both know which dog they are talking about)

Who’s the girl over there? (we identify the girl so now the speaker and listening know which one)


Articles – rule #3

We use ‘a’ in front of words that begin a vowel sound, and ‘an’ in front of words with a consonant sound (this is very important – it is NOT spelling, just the sound of the word).

Vowels: a, e, i, o, u

Consonants: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

Examples:

  • a potato
  • a carrot
  • an egg
  • an apple
  • an hour (the word hour sounds like ‘our’, so has a vowel sound to start)
  • a university (the word university sounds like ‘you-niversity’ so has a consonant sound to start).

Articles – rule #4

We use ‘a’ or ‘an’ the first time we talk about something; we use ‘the’ for the second, third, fourth etc time we talk about it.

Examples:

She has a dog and a cat. The dog is friendly but I don’t like the cat.


 

Click here to try the ‘Using articles in English’ exercises.

countable_uncountable

Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable and uncountable nouns

countable_and_uncountable_nounsThe English language has different rules about countable and uncountable nouns than some other languages. Basic rules about countable and uncountable nouns are –

  • A countable noun can be counted (e.g. one apple, two apples).
  • An uncountable noun cannot be counted (e.g. sugar – it’s hard to ‘count’ the number of small sugar grains).

Abstract nouns (things you cannot can’t feel, touch, see, hear, or taste) are usually uncountable too. For example: knowledge, leisure.

Here are some examples of countable and uncountable nouns.

There are more examples of uncountable and uncountable nouns in the picture too.

Countable nouns:

car, table, pencil, computer

Uncountable nouns:

water, bread, milk, information, education

When you learn new words in English, it is important to know whether the nouns you are learning are countable or uncountable nouns because the words and the grammar you use in sentences are different.

Remember that the rules in English might be different to the rules about countable and uncountable nouns in your own language!

Countable and uncountable nouns – ‘a‘ or ‘an‘ and making plurals

1. Use a or an before a single countable noun.

Single countable noun examples:

  • a car
  • an apple

2. Don’t use a or an before an uncountable noun

Uncountable noun examples:

  • water (not a water),
  • information (not an information)

3. Add +s or +es after more than one countable noun (plural countable nouns).

Plural countable noun examples:

  • two cars
  • five potatoes

Remember though that some nouns are irregular – you don’t add ‘s’ or ‘es’ when you make them plural and you just need to learn them! e.g. child / children, man / men, tooth / teeth etc.

4. Don’t add +s or +es after an uncountable noun (they have no plural)

Uncountable noun examples:

  • milk (not milks)
  • leisure (not leisures)

Countable and uncountable nouns – ‘some’ and ‘no’

1. Use some when talking about more than one countable noun and with uncountable nouns in positive sentences.

For example:

  • There are some cars parked on the street. (there is more than one car on the street)
  • There is some milk in the fridge. (there is milk in the fridge)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘milk’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There are some cars. (NOT There is some cars or There are some car)

There is some milk. (NOT There are some milk or There is some milks)

2. The opposite of ‘some‘ is ‘none‘. You can use ‘no‘ in a ‘positive’ sentence structure to say that something is not present.

For example:

  • There are no cars parked on the street. (there zero cars on the street)
  • There is no milk in the fridge. (milk is not in the fridge)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘milk’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There are no cars. (NOT There is no cars or There are no car)

There is some milk. (NOT There are no milk or There is no milks)

Countable and uncountable nouns rule – ‘any

Use any when talking about more than one countable noun and with uncountable nouns in negative sentences and in questions.

  • There aren’t any books about that topic at the library.
  • Are there any books about that topic at the library?
  • There isn’t any information about that topic at the library.
  • Is there any information about that topic at the library?

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘information’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There aren’t any books. (NOT There aren’t some books or There isn’t no books)

Are there any books? (NOT Is there some books? or Are there any book?)

There isn’t any information. (NOT There isn’t no information or There aren’t any information)

Is there any information? (NOT Is there some informations? or Are there any information?)

Countable and uncountable nouns rule – ‘many’ and ‘much’

Use many when talking about more than one countable noun in negative sentences and in questions.

Use much when talking about uncountable nouns in negative sentences and in questions.

Much and many follow the same rules as ‘any‘ but the meaning is different.

Can you see the difference? Look at the examples below.

1. Countable nouns – ‘any‘ and ‘many

  • There aren’t any books about that topic at the library. (there are zero books on the topic)
  • There aren’t many books about that topic at the library. (there are a small number of books on the topic)
  • Are there any books about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to know if the library has books on the topic)
  • Are there many books about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to to know the quantity of books on the topic at the library)

2. Countable nouns – ‘any‘ and ‘much

  • There isn’t any information about that topic at the library. (there is zero information on the topic)
  • There isn’t much information about that topic at the library. (there is a small amount of information on the topic)
  • Is there any information about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to know if the library has information on the topic)
  • Is there much information about that topic at the library? (the speaker wants to to know the quantity of information on the topic)

Also note the differences is grammar. Remember uncountable nouns have no plural form so in the example above ‘information’ takes the ‘is’ form of the verb ‘to be’.

There aren’t many books. (NOT There aren’t much books or There isn’t many books)

Are there many books? (NOT Is there many books? or Are there much books?)

There isn’t much information. (NOT There isn’t many information or There aren’t much information)

Is there much information? (NOT Is there many information? or Is there much informations?)

 

Countable and uncountable nouns –  a lot of (lots of), too many, too much

A lot of (lots of), too many and too much can be used with countable and uncountable nouns to talk about quantity (bigger amounts).

Here are some rules and information about when to use them and the differences in meaning.

1. Use a lot of (lots of) and too many when talking about plural countable nouns. Be careful as the meanings are different!

Compare these examples:

  • There were some people at the party. (There was more than one person at the party)
  • There were a lot of people at the party. (There were a large number of people at the party)
  • There were lots of people at the party. (There were a large number of people at the party)

Note: Too many describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • There were too many people at the party (negative – the speaker thinks the party was so crowded they didn’t enjoy it)

2. Use a lot of (lots of) and too much when talking about uncountable nouns. Be careful as the meanings are different!

Compare these examples:

  • The manager gave his staff some information to read before the meeting. (The staff had something to read)
  • The manager gave his staff a lot of information to read before the meeting. (The staff had a large amount of information to read)
  • The manager gave his staff lots of information to read before the meeting. (The staff had a large amount of information to read)

Note: Too much describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • The manager gave his staff too much information to read before the meeting. (negative – the speaker thinks the boss was treating his staff unfairly)

Countable and uncountable nouns (a) few, (a) little

Few, a few, little, and a little can be used with countable and uncountable nouns to talk about quantity (smaller amounts).

Here are some rules and information about when to use them and the differences in meaning.

1. Use few or a few when talking about plural countable nouns.

Examples:

  • There were a few people waiting in the queue. (There were a small number of people in the queue)
  • There were few people waiting in the queue. (There were a very small number of people)

Note: Few describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • He has a few friends (neutral)
  • He has few friends (negative – the speaker probably thinks the person doesn’t have enough friends)

2. Use little or a little when talking about uncountable nouns.

Examples:

I have a little money left. (I have a small amount of money)

I have little money left. (My money is almost all gone)

Examples:

Note: Little describes the quantity in a negative way.

  • He has a little understanding of the subject. (neutral)
  • He has little understanding of the subject. (negative – the speaker thinks the person doesn’t have enough knowledge about about the subject)

 

Click here to try the countable and uncountable noun exercises.

prepositions_of_time

Prepositions of time (A1)

Prepositions of time (A1)

prepositions_of_timePrepositions of time (like all prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly.

This is because the rules are often quite difficult and there are lots of exceptions!

In this lesson, we are looking at the following prepositions of time:

  • at
  • in
  • on

Here are some example sentences using prepositions of time:

  • I’m going camping at the weekend.
  • They will be here in 5 minutes
  • School starts on the Monday.

Prepositions of time – ‘at

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘at‘.

Rule #1:

For a clock time (at 5 p.m., at quarter to 12)

Example: I finish work at 5.30 p.m.

Rule #2:

For a particular time (at lunch time, at sunset)

We will be having dinner on the deck at sunset. How romantic!

Rule #3:

For a collection of days (at the weekend [the weekend includes Saturday and Sunday], at Christmas [Christmas period includes Christmas day, Christmas Eve etc])

Most games are held at the weekend.

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘in‘.

Rule #1:

For months of the year (in February, in April)

They are getting married in March.

Rule #2:

For years (in 1990, in 2015)

I started working at the school in 2010.

Rule #3:

For part of a day (in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening) EXCEPTION: at night

I can concentrate better in the morning.

I love listening to the owls at night.

Rule #4:

For longer lengths of time: (in the summer, in the Middle Ages)

He always goes skiing in the winter.

Prepositions of time – ‘on’

Here are the rules for using the preposition ‘on‘.

Rule #1:

For days of the week (on Monday, on Tuesday etc)

I am seeing him on Wednesday.

Rule #2:

For dates (on the 4th of May, on the 26th February)

They got married on the 12th June.

Rule #3:

For specific single days (on my birthday, on New Years Eve, on Labour Day)

I am going to a party on New Years Eve.

Click here to try the prepositions of time exercises.

Prepositions_of_place

Prepositions of place (A1)

Prepositions of place (lesson A1)

Prepositions_of_placePrepositions of place (like all prepositions) can be one of the hardest parts of English to use correctly because the rules are often quite difficult and there are lots of exceptions.

In this lesson, we are looking at the following prepositions of place:

  • at
  • in
  • on

Here are some example sentences using prepositions of place:

  • There is a fly on the table!
  • She lives in France.
  • John is at school right now.

Here are a few rules that will help you use prepositions of place correctly:

Prepositions of place rule #1:

We generally use at to talk about a point or position.

For example:

at the window – She sat at the window, waiting for him to arrive.

at the door – There is someone at the door.

at the end – There is a shop at the end of the street.

at the beginning – We met him at the beginning of the night.

Prepositions of place rule #2:

We generally use in to talk about when something that has three sides or is enclosed.

For example:

in a box – There are some pens in that box over there.

in the house – She is in the house, go in!

in New Zealand – I live in New Zealand.

in a tent – We will be sleeping in a tent all weekend.

Prepositions of place rule #3:

We generally use on to talk about a surface or position on a line.

For example:

on the floor – The dog was asleep on the floor.

on the ceiling – There is a beautiful mural on the ceiling.

on the screen – He couldn’t see clearly because there was dust on his computer screen.

on the page – All the information you need is on page 42.

Example exceptions to prepositions of place rules

Here are some common phrases in English that use prepositions of place but that don’t really fit any rule:

We say on a bus but in a taxi

We say in the armchair but on the settee (sofa)

We say on the left but in the middle

Click here to try the prepositions of place exercises.

comparatives

Comparative adjectives

Comparative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives when we are comparing two different things. This lesson covers six rules to help you use the correct comparative adjectives.

comparative adjectivesExamples of comparative adjectives:

  • Dogs are smaller than horses.
  • Learning grammar is more difficult than vocabulary.
  • I have to get up earlier than my classmates because I live far from school.

Syllables and comparative adjectives

To understand the rules for using comparative adjectives, you will need to know the meaning of a syllable.

A syllable is a single sound. For example, ‘goodbye’ has two syllables – ‘good’ and ‘bye’.

Here are some more examples:

1 syllable words: hot, cold, dry
2 syllable words: happy, tired
3 syllable words: excited, exhausted

 

When making comparative adjectives, there are 6 rules you need to remember:

Comparative adjectives rule 1 of 6:

With adjectives with one syllable, simply add +er than

For example:

tall > taller than

fast > faster than

high > higher than


Comparative adjectives rule 2 of 6:

If the adjective ends in +y, remove the -y and add +ier than

For example:

happy > happier than

angry > angrier than

busy > busier than

Comparative adjectives rule 3 of 6:

Adjectives that already end in +e only have +r than added.

For example:

nice > nicer than

safe > safer than

late > later than


Comparative adjectives rule 4 of 6:

We add more…than to words with 3 syllables or more.

For example:

intelligent > more intelligent than

beautiful > more beautiful than

interesting > more interesting than

Comparative adjectives rule 5 of 6

Some 2 syllable adjectives have +er than and some have more…than. Some 2 syllable adjectives can also be used both ways. NOTE: 2 syllable adjectives that end in -y, -le, and -er often form the comparative by adding +er.

For example:

honest > more honest than

clever > more clever than OR cleverer than

modern > more modern than


Comparative adjectives rule 6 of 6:

Adjectives that end with a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant need the consonant doubled.

For example:

big > bigger than (not biger than)

hot > hotter than (not hoter than)

fat > fatter than (not fater than)

Now test your skills with the comparative adjectives exercises!
present_continuous

Present continuous (present progressive)

Present continuous

This is also known as the present progressive

present_continuousIn English grammar, the present continuous is used to talk about something that is happening now or around now. Here are some examples:

  • I am studying English grammar now.
  • They are visiting friends at the moment.
  • He is playing football.

The present continuous can also be used to talk about something you are not doing now.

  • I am not sleeping right now.
  • They are not working today. They have the day off.
  • She isn’t watching the TV, she’s playing a computer game.

The present continuous verb can change when you talk about other people.

Positive + Negative –
I am working am not / I’m not working.
You are working are not / aren’t working.
We are working are not / aren’t working.
He is working is not / isn’t working.
She is working is not / isn’t working.
It is working is not / isn’t working.
They are working are not / aren’t working.

The present continuous verb changes when you ask questions.

Am I working?
Are you working?
Are we working?
Is he working?
Is she working?
Is it working?
Are they working?

 

Some verbs cannot be used in the present continuous form.

For example:

I like Coca-Cola Correct

I am liking Coca-Cola Incorrect

Click here for more information about dynamic and stative verbs

 

Present continuous for future

We can also use the present continuous tense to talk about arrangements we make with other people that are planned and will happen in the future.

For example:

I am meeting David next week.

My company is moving to a new office next year.

They are flying to Thailand tomorrow.

……………..

Are you having dinner with Louise tomorrow?

Is your mother visiting you next week?

Are they coming to the party on Saturday?

Click here to try the present continuous exercises.

past_simple

Past simple tense

Past simple

past_simpleIn English grammar, the past simple is used to talk about finished events or actions in the past. Here are some example sentences including regular past simple verbs:

  • I worked last Monday.
  • They studied for an English test last week.
  • She smiled when she saw him.

 

The past simple can also be used to talk about something you did not do.

  • I didn’t work last weekend.
  • He didn’t do his homework.
  • You didn’t tell me!

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you talk about other people.

Positive + Negative –
I worked didn’t work.
You worked didn’t work.
We worked didn’t work.
He worked didn’t work.
She worked didn’t work.
It worked didn’t work.
They worked didn’t work.

The past simple verb doesn’t change when you ask questions.

Did I work?
Did you work?
Did we work?
Did he work?
Did she work?
Did it work?
Did they work?

 

To make the past simple tense form of regular verbs, we add +ed .

Present Past
I work I worked
He works He worked

However, pronunciation of regular past tense tense verbs can change.

For example, ‘He worked’ sounds like ‘He workt’

Base verb
Sounds like /t/
Sounds like /d/
sounds like /id/
Work Worked
Look Looked
Talk Talked
Like Liked
Watch Watched
Laugh Laughed
Wish Wished
Listen Listened
Open Opened
Learn Learned
Change Changed
Climb Climbed
Try Tried
Paint Painted
Want Wanted
End Ended
Decide Decided

Past simple irregular verbs

Irregular verbs don’t follow the rules above. You simply need to learn them.

For example. eat – eated – ate

  • He ate chicken for dinner last night.

Click here to see a list.

Some verbs can be used with a regular or an irregular form.

These include:

  • burn (burned OR burnt)
  • dream (dreamed OR dreamt)
  • learn (learned or learnt)
  • smell (smelled OR smelt)

 

 

at_the_bank

At the bank

At the bank

at_the_bankHere is some useful vocabulary that you can use when you are at the bank:

An account: this is where you would take your money from or put your money into at the bank.

Account number: the number the bank gives you for your account

Interest: the extra money the bank will pay you if you have money in your account

Deposit: to put money into your account at the bank

Withdraw: to take money out of your account at the bank

Exchange: when you want to change money from one country into money from another country

Bank card: the card that you can use in shops to pay for items and also in machines to withdraw money

Bank teller: the person who works behind the counter at the bank

Bank manager: the person that runs the bank

ATM (also called ‘cash machine’): a machine where you can withdraw money from your account using your bank card

ID (also ‘identification’): a document or card with your name and other details printed on it. Your passport or driving licence is often used as ID.

PIN number: Your pin number is the number (normally 4 digits) that you use when you want to withdraw money from an ATM.

Currency: Anything used to buy or sell something is currency. For example, The United States dollar is a currency; the British pound is a currency.

At the bank – example conversation #1

Teller: Good morning. Can I help you?

Customer: Yes please – I would like to open an account here.

Teller. OK. Do you have any ID?

Customer: I have my driving licence – is that enough?

Teller: Well, we need two forms of ID and something with your home address.

Customer: OK, well I also have an electric bill with my name and address on it.

Teller: That’s fine – just give me a few minutes to open your new account.

At the bank – example conversation #2

Teller: Hello. Can I help you?

Customer: Yes please. I’d like to deposit this cheque into my account.

Teller: Certainly. Do you have your account number?

Customer: No, but I do have my bank card – is that enough?

Teller: Yes, that’s fine….OK, that’s all done!

Customer: Thanks!

present_simple

The present simple

The present simple

the_present_simpleIn English grammar, the present simple is used to talk about habits and routines. Here is an example of the present simple in a sentence:

I work on weekdays.

The present simple can also be used to talk about something you don’t do.

I don’t eat meat.

The present simple verb can change if you talk about other people.

Positive + Negative –
I work don’t work.
You work don’t work.
We work don’t work.
He works doesn’t work.
She works doesn’t work.
It works doesn’t work.
They work don’t work.

 


The present simple also changes if you ask questions about other people.

Do I work?
Do you work?
Do we work?
Does he work?
Does she work?
Does it work?
Do they work?

For he, she or it, the present simple changes:

I miss He misses verb ends in ‘s’ add +es
I fly He flies verbs ends in consonant + ‘y’ add +ies
I wash He washes verb ends in ‘sh’ add +es
I fix He fixes verb ends in ‘x’ add +es
I buzz It buzzes verb ends in ‘z’ add +es

 


Another change that happens with the present simple is with have.

I have a new car. I don’t have a new car. Do I have a new car?
You have a car. You don’t have a new car. Do you have a new car?
We have a car. We don’t have a new car. Do we have a new car?
He has a new car. He doesn’t have a new car. Does he have a new car?
She has a new car. She doesn’t have a new car. Does she have a new car?
It has new tyres. It doesn’t have new tyres. Does it have new tyres?
They have a new car. They don’t have new car. Do they have a new car?

Click here to try the present simple exercises.

introducing-yourself

Introducing yourself in English

Introducing yourself in English

Read the conversation below and practise introducing yourself in English.

introducing-yourself-in-English

John: Hello.
Sarah: Hi. How are you?
John: I’m fine thanks and you?
Sarah: I’m very well. My name is Sarah.
John: My name is John.
Sarah: I’m Sarah. Nice to meet you.
John: Nice to meet you too.

 

Introducing other people

Read the conversation below and practise introducing other people in English.

Sarah: John, this is my friend Helen.
John: Hello Helen. Pleasure to meet you. My name is John.
Helen: Hi John, my name’s Helen. Nice to meet you too.

 

Now practice introducing yourself – what are the missing words from this conversation?

Complete the gaps in the introducing yourself exercise below.

Susan: Hello. _____________ Susan.

David: Hello Susan. I’m David. _____________ meet you.

Susan: And you.

Click here to see the full conversation.

Susan: Hello. My name is Susan.

David: Hello Susan. I’m David. Pleased / Nice meet you.

Susan: And you.

 


Now practice introducing other people – what are the missing words from this conversation?

Complete the introductions below.

David: Helen, _____________ Susan.

Helen: Hello Susan. Lovely to meet you. _____________ Helen.

Susan: Pleasure to meet you, Helen.

Click here to see the full conversation.

David: Helen, this is Susan.

Helen: Hello Susan. Lovely to meet you. My name is Helen.

Susan: Pleasure to meet you, Helen.