Ask a teacher

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in Grammar, Learning Websites, Vocabulary, Writing |

You’ve checked your dictionary and your grammar books and you still don’t know the best way to say something.  Or maybe you know the “right” way to say something, but you want to know why it’s the “right” way.  You might have problems with an idiom, slang or phrasal verbs; or you just want someone to check some sentences you’ve written. Here are two great forums where English teachers and native speakers will answer your questions for free!  I post on these forums because I like to learn more about the language and I just like talking to people. UsingEnglish.com/forum  I post here as Mr_Ben EnglishForums.com  I post here as mrBen Please be patient with the teachers on these sites we all answer questions in our free time and some questions are more difficult than others.  A lot of us answer questions on both sites as well, so please only ask your question once.  But I look forward to hearing from you… see you on the...

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Natural English explained at UsingEnglish.com

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

Using English is particularly useful for its phrasal verb dictionary, idioms dictionary and ask a teacher forum.  They have quizzes about phrasal verbs and if you have any questions they have special forums for phrasal verbs and idioms.  If you’ve heard an expression in a film or read something in a book that you just can’t understand, ask the helpful people at Using English.  I post there sometimes,...

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Remembering phrasal verbs

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

Once you have looked up the meaning of a phrasal verb, you will usually remember it when you see it again.  For example, to put up with something means to tolerate it.  You might read this and look it up in the dictionary and the next time you see it, you’ll remember what it means from the context.  But the difficult part is remembering all of the parts when you want to use it. The best thing to do is to take an example sentence from Using English or a dictionary and write it in your notebook with the particles removed (put the particles on a separate page or somewhere you can hide them).  Here is the example sentence from Using English: I can’t put _____ _____ my neighbour’s noise any longer; it’s driving me mad.  The context is clear from the sentence so after practicing a few times the meaning will be clear.  Now, here comes the important part. Make it personal! Don’t just use the example sentence as it is–change it so that it is personally relevant to you.  What does your neighbour do that you can’t put up with?  Play loud music?  Have a dog that barks all the time?  Park their car in your place?  Cook smelly food?  Make a mess in your building?  Put that in the sentence.  Or make it about your roommate or a family member. When you make your examples personal, you give your brain something to connect this word to, rather than trying to search through hundreds of combinations of prepositions.  Our brains have an incredible ability to make these connections.  Do you ever smell certain foods that trigger memories?  Or the smell of the ocean or fresh grass in the summer?  You want to create a connection for your vocabulary too so instead of thinking “put… up for? away with? in to? out of?  on to?”  you can think of your neighbour, their barking dog, and say “I can’t put up with my neighbour’s barking dog any longer!  It’s driving me mad!” Where to start Take the phrasal verbs you find as you read, or in lists from your textbook and add them to your Anki deck as you find new ones (read my next post about Anki and practising phrasal verbs).  Remember to put them in context, make them personal and practice, practice,...

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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...

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