Daily Archives: July 7, 2009

Blog to Learn English

Technology changes; so does the way we learn. What began as lectures in the mundane classroom environment has now transformed into multiple interactions with learners from across the globe. The world has indeed become real small.

When blog was first created in the late 90’s, it was no more than a collection of bookmarks of interesting web pages. It later became a personal diary and an online journal. As time went on, educators discovered that blogs could be used to supplement the learning of English. It provides learners with a cutting edge tool to communicate with other language learners around the world in the comfort of their homes. Students are no more confined to the four walls of their classroom listening to the same teacher. They could now leave their physical classrooms and dwell into the virtual world to get in touch with other learners to enhance what they have learnt in class.

Studies by researchers have discovered that blogs are beneficial for the following reasons:

  1. It motivates students to keep learning.
  2. Students begin to enjoy writing in real situations.
  3. Class participation increases as blogging encourages shy students to take part in learning.
  4. Students become more independent learners rather than relying on their teachers’ input all the time.

…and much more. There are sceptics, as with all new stuff, but to the rest of us, blogging is the way forward. Let’s blog to learn then ūüėõ


Past Continuous

The past continuous or past progressive tense is used to express actions that happen in the past and continue in the past till now.

Past Continuous timeline

Past Continuous timeline

(a) Interrupted actions

Two actions happen in the past. The first action is interrupted by the second. The word when and while are used to show interruption. Take note that the second action requires a verb in the past tense form.

  1. The kids were playing when their teacher called them in. – [Now, the kids are in class.]
  2. It started to rain while we were walking in the park. – [Now, we are not walking anymore.]

(b) Parallel actions

Simultaneous actions that happened in the past.

  1. The baby was crying while his mother was cooking in the kitchen.
  2. The man was slouching on the couch, (was) eating his chips and (was) watching television when I came.

Take note that in Example #2, the verb “was is omitted from eating and watching. This is because both these verbs have the same function in the sentence, and they refer to the same man. Observe:

  • The man was slouching on the couch while the woman was eating her chips and (was) watching television when I came.

See the difference? ūüôā

Present Continuous

The present continuous tense is also known as the present progressive tense. Continuous actions always begin some time in the past and continues in the present and maybe in the future, too.

Present Continuous timeline

Present Continuous timeline

(a) Now, present, current on-going actions

  1. They are washing the car (now).
  2. I am driving (now), so I can’t talk over the phone.

(b) Longer continuous actions but not doing them at this moment

  1. I’m studying to be a doctor.¬†
  2. I’m reading another Harry Potter series.¬†
  3. He is learning to play the guitar.

In all the three examples above, the speaker could be talking to you in the park (for instance).  He is not studying, reading or learning at that time. Here, all three actions are part of a longer, continuous process.

(c) Future actions

Future actions can also be expressed in the present continuous:

  1. My sister is attending her graduation soon.
  2. Mom and dad are leaving for Malaysia in a month’s time.
  3. They are watching football with their friends tonight.

Simple Future

Future actions are expressed by using the future tense. There are two verbs commonly associated with this tense:

  • will
  • be going to

Is there a difference between the two? Yes, but the difference is not clearly defined.

Simple Future timeline

Simple Future timeline

(a) “will” is used to express promises or guarantees

  1. Don’t worry, I will be on time.
  2. You will receive a salary of $1,600 once you start work.

(b) “going to” is used to express plans

  1. They are going to have a picnic this weekend. – It’s just a plan; it might not happen.
  2. Our neighbour is going to paint her house next year.

(c) “will” and “going to” are used to make predictions

  1. I think it is going to rain in a while. or I think it will rain in a while.
  2. It is going to be a baby boy. or It will be a baby boy.

Simple Past

As the name implies, the simple past tense is used to express actions that happened in the past.

Simple Past timeline

Simple Past timeline

Past actions

  1. I was at the mall at 5:00PM. – [It’s 6:00PM now, and you’re somewhere else.]
  2. The children were so excited that they jumped when they saw the new bus.
  3. They were at the park when you called.

Words in red are verbs. However, unlike the simple present tense, the verb forms vary.

  • was, were: auxiliary or helping verbs; also known as verb “to be”
  • jumped, saw, called: action verbs

Most action verbs in the past tense form contain the “-ed” suffix. Verbs with “-ed” are called Regular Verbs. (e.g: jumped, called)

There are also many other verbs in the past tense form that do not have the “-ed” suffix. Instead their spellings change. These verbs are called Irregular Verbs. (e.g.: saw)

Simple Present

The simple present tense is also known as the present simple. It is used to show:

Simple Present timeline

Simple Present timeline

(a) Habitual actions
  1. I brush my teeth twice a day.
  2. We go to the movies on Saturdays.

(b) Universal truths or facts

  1. Water contains oxygen.
  2. Our planet revolves around the sun.

Words in red are verbs (action words). If the noun is singular, you need to add the letter “-s” or “-es”. However, “you” and “I” are followed by a singular verb, so do not add the letter “-s”.

Spelling Rules for Verbs (Simple Present) and Plural Nouns

Most verbs in the simple present tense,¬†and plural¬†nouns end in “-s“, but some end in “-es“. How would you determine which one to use? Here are some of the rules:


Plural form

-ch catches, watches
-sh washes, dishes
-s misses, kisses, buses
-x fixes, mixes
-y flies, tries
-ay, -uy, oy pays, buys, toys

There are other examples as you learn more words. The rules are the same though.