Category Archives: Level A1

Talking about Christmas and new year

Talking about Christmas and new year

Talking about Christmas and new year

A short post today to help with conversations you may have over the next 10 days when talking about Christmas and new year. Look out for the words in BLUE – tap or click them to see a definition!

Tip 1: Using ‘Happy’ and ‘Merry’

Talking about Christmas and new yearIn English, we only use ‘Merry’ when talking about Christmas – everything else uses ‘Happy’. Happy new year, happy birthday, happy anniversary etc., but ‘Merry Christmas’.

Tip 2: The Christmas period v Christmas day

Often when talking about Christmas, you need to be clear whether you are referring to Christmas day (December 25th) or the Christmas season. For example ‘What are you doing this Christmas?’ can mean just for a day or for the period around Christmas as well. For many working people, any time from about the 23rd of December to the beginning of the new year can be referred to as ‘Christmas’ as it relates to the period they are not at work. For example: ‘Will you be going away this Christmas?’ – ‘Yes, I’m going to visit some relatives on the 24th and stay with them for a few days, then I’m going to see a friend for a about 4 days’. [simple_tooltip content=’This is often used to refer to something that is correct, but not actually always done. For example… Technically, you should unplug your television at night, but most people do not do so.’] Technically, [/simple_tooltip]the Christmas period extends from December 25th to January 6th.

Tip 3: New year traditions

Many countries have their own traditions for new year (and of course some cultures celebrate new year on a different date entirely), but in most English speaking countries, the new year is focused mostly on December 31st – new years eve. It is common for people to stay up until midnight to welcome in the new year. It is common for their to be fireworks, and many English speaking people will sing an old song called ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (see next section).

Tip 4: Auld Lang Syne

This is an old folk song commonly believed to have been written by a Scottish poet named Robert Burns. In fact, Burns [simple_tooltip content=’to COMPILE (verb) – to put something together from a other sources’]compiled[/simple_tooltip] the poem from a number of different sources and set it the music of an old folk song. With the lines ‘Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon’, many people sing this song for friends or family unable to attend or no longer with us.

 

use_of_articles

Using articles in English – exercises

Using articles in English – exercises

Have you read the information pages on articles? Click here to read it before you try the articles exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates.

Complete the articles exercises below to test your knowledge.

Articles exercises practice (Level A1)

Complete the articles exercises by choosing the correct option (a), (b), (c) or (d) to complete each of the sentences with ‘a‘, ‘an‘, ‘the‘ or no article ‘Ø‘.

Using articles in English - exercises1. I am going shopping to buy ____ new jacket.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

2. That is ____ man I was telling you about.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

3. I read ____ brilliant book last week!

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

4. I went to ____ great Italian restaurant last night.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

5. ____ town I grew up in is in the middle of England.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

6. Winston Churchill was ____ famous English Prime Minister.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

7. Could you lend me ____ jacket please? It’s so cold.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is A.

 

8. ____ moon looks beautiful tonight; it’s so bright!

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.

 

9. I’ll pick you up in ____ hour.

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is B.

 

10. I have two dogs. ____ smaller one is three years old

(a) a    (b) an   (c)  the   (d)  no article ‘Ø’

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is C.
prepositions_of_place_2

Prepositions of place exercises (A1)

Prepositions of place exercises (A1)

Have you read the information pages on prepositions of place? Click here to read it before you try these prepositions of place exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates!

Complete the prepositions of place exercises below to test your knowledge.

prepositions of place exercisesPrepositions of place exercises practice

Complete the sentences with ‘at‘, ‘on‘, or  ‘in‘.

1. I am from London but I live ___________ Manchester.

click here to see the answer
IN

 

2. The TV guide is  _________ page 3 of this newspaper.

click here to see the answer
ON

 

4. Please pick up all those clothes you have left _________ the floor.

click here to see the answer
ON

 

5. My dog always waits __________ the door for me to come home.

click here to see the answer
Correct answer is AT.

 

6. I talked to the person next to me __________ the train.

click here to see the answer
ON

 

7. We sat down ________ the armchairs in the hotel reception.

click here to see the answer
IN (sit on a chair, but IN an armchair)

 

8. Look _________ the cupboard – there should be plenty of glasses there.

click here to see the answer
IN
prepositions_of_time

Prepositions of time exercises (A1)

Prepositions of time exercises (A1)

Have you read the information pages on prepositions of time? Click here to read it before you try the prepositions of time exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates.

Complete the prepositions of time exercises below to test your knowledge.

prepositions of time exercisesPrepositions of time exercises practice

Complete the sentences with ‘at‘, ‘on‘,  or ‘in‘.

1. I start work ___________ 9am.

click here to see the answer
AT

 

2. I’ll give you a call __________ lunchtime.

click here to see the answer
AT

 

3. I start my new job __________ Monday.

click here to see the answer
ON

 

5. We always have a family dinner ___________ Christmas.

click here to see the answer
AT

 

6. The weather is warm in New Zealand ___________ February.

click here to see the answer
IN

 

7. He never goes out ___________ night.

click here to see the answer
AT

 

8. I always exercise _________ the morning.

click here to see the answer
IN

 

10. It’s my birthday  _________ July 22nd.

click here to see the answer
ON

 

11. I was born _________ 1990.

click here to see the answer
IN

 

12. We are going out to dinner __________ my birthday.

click here to see the answer
ON
countable_uncountable

Countable and uncountable noun exercises

Countable and uncountable noun exercises

countable and uncountable noun exercisesHave you read the information page on countable and uncountable nouns? Click here to read it before you try the countable and uncountable noun exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates.

Complete the countable and uncountable noun exercises below to test your knowledge of countable and uncountable nouns.

Are the following nouns usually countable or uncountable?

1. Computer

click here to see the answer
countable

 

2. Milk

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

3. Telephone

click here to see the answer
countable

 

4. Bread

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

5. Rice

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

6. Cup

click here to see the answer
countable

 

7. Coffee

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

8. Friend

click here to see the answer
countable

 

9. Pasta

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

10. Flower

click here to see the answer
countable

 

11. Flour

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

12. Knowledge

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

13. Education

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

14. Money

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

15. Coin

click here to see the answer
countable

 

16. Ink

click here to see the answer
uncountable

 

17. Photograph

click here to see the answer
countable

 

18. Vehicle

click here to see the answer
countable

 

Choose the correct words to complete each of the sentences below.

19. Do you have _________________ (many / much) money with you? Could I borrow some please?

click here to see the answer
much

 

20. There isn’t ___________________ (some / any) bread left. I’ll get some when I go shopping.

click here to see the answer
any

 

21. I have ___________________ (some / any) coins in my purse if you need some change.

click here to see the answer
some

 

22. There were ___________________ (too many / too much) vehicles on the motorway today. I was stuck in a traffic jam for hours!

click here to see the answer
too many

 

23. ________________________ (a few / a little) of my friends are going to the party on Saturday. I’m so glad I’ll know some people there!

click here to see the answer
a few

 

24. There were ______________________ (too many / a lot of) people at the party – it was such a great atmosphere I had a brilliant time!

click here to see the answer
a lot of

 

25. I can’t help you I’m sorry. I have  ______________________ (few / little) knowledge of that subject.

click here to see the answer
little
present_continuous

Present continuous exercises

Present continuous exercises

present continuous exercisesHave you read the information page on the present continuous? Click here to read it before you try the present continuous exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates.

Complete the present continuous exercises below to test your knowledge of the present continuous.

A. Present continuous exercises – use the correct form of the present continous to complete the sentences and question below.

Example: Right now I ______________ (take) a grammar test. Right now I am taking a grammar test.

1. John ______________ (watch) television in the lounge.

click here to see the answer

is watching

2. It is a national holiday so I __________________ (not work) today.

click here to see the answer

am not working

3. What is that noise? Someone ______________ (sing) really badly!

click here to see the answer

is singing

4. I’ll call you back, I _____________ (eat) dinner at the moment.

click here to see the answer

am eating

5. _______ they still _____________ (sleep)? I can call again later.

click here to see the answer

Are they still sleeping

 

B. Present continuous exercises – use the correct form of the present continous OR present simple to complete the sentences and questions below.

Tip: When you complete these present continuous exercises remember to watch our for static verbs (they do not take the continuous form!)

6. He isn’t here, he _____________ (visit) his sister in France.

click here to see the answer

is visiting

7. This is a lovely meal – it _____________ (taste) delicious.

click here to see the answer

tastes

8. These flowers _____________ (smell) wonderful!

click here to see the answer

smell

9. I _________________ (meet) my sister for lunch every Tuesday.

click here to see the answer

meet

10. ___________ you _____________ (meet) Susan later?

click here to see the answer

Are you meeting

11. He normally tells the truth but this time I _____________ (not believe) him.

click here to see the answer

don’t believe

12. I _____________________ (read) a book about New Zealand at the moment – it looks like such a beautiful country.

click here to see the answer

am reading

13. What are you doing? I __________________ (check) my emails.

click here to see the answer

am checking

14. I’m sorry, I ____________________ (not know) the answer to that question.

click here to see the answer

don’t know

15. __________ you ______________ (play) tennis very often?

click here to see the answer

Do you play

 

present_simple

Present simple exercises

Present simple exercises

present simple exercisesHave you read the information page on the present simple? Click here to read it before you try the present simple exercises.

Remember to register to get email updates.

Complete the present simple exercises below to test your knowledge of the present simple.

Example: I work on weekdays. He works on weekdays.

1. We listen to the teacher.     She _______________ the teacher.

click here to see the answer

listens

2. I watch television in the evenings.     He _______________ television in the evenings.

click here to see the answer

watches

3. They like playing computer games.     He _________________ playing computer games.

click here to see the answer

likes

4. They taste delicious.     It ____________ delicious.

click here to see the answer

tastes

5. We fix computers for our job.     She _______________ computers for her job.

click here to see the answer

fixes

6. I write to my brother every week.     My brother ________________ to me every week.

click here to see the answer

writes

7. I have a dog.     She ___________ a dog.

click here to see the answer

has

8. I don’t eat chocolate.     He _________________ chocolate.

click here to see the answer

doesn’t eat

9. They do not have bicycles.     She ________________ a bicycle.

click here to see the answer

does not have

10. They don’t like dogs.     He ___________________ dogs.

click here to see the answer

doesn’t like

11. We don’t eat meat.  I ___________________ meat.

click here to see the answer

don’t eat

12. She doesn’t have a computer.  You ___________________ a computer.

click here to see the answer

don‘t have

13. Do you work in the city?     ______ they _______ in the city?

click here to see the answer

Do they work

14. Do you like him?     _______ he ________ her?

click here to see the answer

Does he like

15. Does he go to your school?     ________ you _________ to his school?

click here to see the answer

Do you go

16. What time do you get up in the mornings?     What time _________ she __________ in the mornings?

click here to see the answer

Does she get up

17. Does he usually walk to work?     ________ they usually __________ to work?

click here to see the answer

Do they usually walk

18. Do you go to the gym on Friday evenings?     ________ he __________ to the gym on Friday evenings?

click here to see the answer

Does he go
practice_speaking_English

English speaking practice

English speaking practice – 4 ways you can practice your speaking

English_speaking_practiceGetting enough English speaking practice can be one of the biggest problems for learners of English who want to improve their speaking skills, especially if they live in a non-English speaking country.

However, there are some techniques that you can use to help you to get more English speaking practice.


English speaking practice tip 1. Imagine conversations

In your daily life, you have a lot of conversations that are similar each day such as “How are you?” and “Did you sleep well?” for example. Start practising by seeing if you could translate the last conversation you had before coming online today. You need to find out if you could have that same conversation again in English. If not, why not? Is it grammar? Is it vocabulary? When you have found the area you think needs improving, look around our site to find the learning material and exercises to help you.

English speaking practice tip 2. Call freephone numbers

Many countries have free calling telephone numbers – find companies that speak in English (language schools are good!) and ask as many questions as you can. If the person on the other end of the phone wants to speak in your language, tell them that you find speaking in English easier!

English speaking practice tip 3. Watch television and listen to the radio – FOR SHORT PERIODS OF TIME!

Watching television and listening to the radio can definitely improve your spoken English, but watching and listening closely for 5 minutes is much better than paying less attention for half an hour. If possible, record a program and listen to it repeatedly. Pay particular attention to the pronunciation and intonation of words and sentences, and repeat what they say aloud.

English speaking practice tip 4. Learn how to use the IPA (international phonetic alphabet)

Have a look here at some resources to help you learn better pronunciation (the link opens in a new window).

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.