Basic writing tips

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Writing |

English Grammar Online 4U is an excellent writing resource that provides a lot of very useful tips without getting too complicated.  Their General Information on Writing English Texts is a very good place to start improving your writing.

Read More

Practicing phrasal verbs

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Vocabulary |

It may not always be necessary to use phrasal verbs, but they are a big part of using English naturally and fluently.  So how do you practice them?  First we need to figure out what exactly is difficult to remember about them and then find a way to isolate that and drill it in a way that we can remember.  Read my blog post about remembering phrasal verbs if you haven’t already.  Once you have examples that you want to practice, Anki is the perfect tool for the job. Anki flashcards Anki is a free, open-source software project which is designed for repetitive practice.  Remember when you were first learning the language and you made vocabulary flashcards where one side said “green” and the other said “vert/grün/verde”?  Anki is a program which will let you make these cards on your computer and practice them on your smartphone (the Android version is free but unfortunately the iPhone version is not–you will need a data connection to practice on your iPhone for free).  The software comes in many languages and has excellent online help if you have trouble.  But what should we put on these flashcards? In my previous post, we used the example of “put up with.”  Take your personalised example and put the version without the particles on the front of the card: I can’t put _____ _____ my neighbour’s noise any longer; it’s driving me mad.  On the back of the card, put the complete sentence.  I can’t put up with my neighbour’s noise any longer; it’s driving me mad. Make examples for all of the phrasal verbs you want to learn and keep the flash cards on your phone.  You’ll be able to easily practice any time you have 5-10 spare...

Read More

Understanding phrasal verbs

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Vocabulary |

One of the best resources for this (besides a good monolingual dictionary) is Using English.com.  Using English has an excellent phrasal verb dictionary (also an idioms dictionary) as well as a forum where you can ask for extra information or just check that you are using them correctly. Try and notice patterns with certain particles (the prepositions or adverbs that make up the phrasal verb) and how they change the meaning of the base verb on its own.  For example, in the verbs to give something back, take it back, or pay it back, “back” indicates a return to the source.  You’re not just giving something to somebody, you are specifically giving it to the person who gave it to you originally.  Phrasal Verbs in Use has several excellent units about particles and this can be a useful way to try and guess at...

Read More

Answer all of your grammar questions

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar |

Sometimes an exercise book just isn’t enough and you really want to know the details.  This is when you need a grammar reference.  Practical English Usage and Cambridge Grammar of English are two of the...

Read More

Grammar exercise books

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar |

Raymond Murphy’s Grammar in Use Intermediate is one of the most comprehensive books around of grammar rules and exercises.  Every student should have this.  There is also Advanced Grammar in Use, and while it is very complete I think it is appropriate for an extremely high level (Cambridge Proficiency Exam).  A good exercise book in between these two is Cambridge Grammar for CAE and...

Read More