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Understanding Suffixes : English Grammar

Suffixes are a letter or group of letters added at the end of a word which makes a new word.

Learning how suffixes are used in English, can help you to improve your understanding and comprehension of the English language.  There are two types of suffixes used in English.

Inflectional Suffixes 

Endings are added to a word for grammatical purposes, but they never change the word class.


Derivational Suffixes 

Endings change the meaning and create a ‘new word’ and the word class changes.  Nouns can turn into verbs, verbs into adjectives and adjectives into nouns… it gets kind of crazy!  In the chart below you will find some basic examples, but there are many more out there.

Derivational suffixes English Grammar


This is a good video explaining the different types and showing examples.  Youtube is an excellent way to sharpen your grammar skills while practicing your listening.

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Something to try… when you are reading something in English (on paper) go through the text and look for all of the suffixes and circle/highlight them.  You will be amazed at how many you will find.  Use one color for the inflectional ones that you find and another color for the derivational suffixes.


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5 Common Mistakes with Prepositions

Prepositions (for example: on, at, in, to, for, and since) are one OF the most difficult things TO learn IN English.

Many people naturally want TO use the same preposition that they use IN their own language, but this results IN many mistakes! Here are 5 common mistakes that people make when using prepositions IN English.

  1. Listen TO (not ‘listen’): Many people forget to use the preposition ‘to’ with the verb ‘listen’. They say, “I like to listen music”, but the correct way to say this is, “I like to listen TO music”. Always remember to use the preposition ‘TO’ with the word ‘listen’!
  2. Downtown (not ‘in downtown’): The word ‘downtown’ is a word that tells us a location. I have often heard students say, “I am going to meet my friend IN downtown”, but this is not correct. Do not use the preposition ‘IN’ with ‘downtown’!
  3. Go TO, Been TO (not Go in, Been in):  We use the preposition ‘TO’ when we talk about places we visit. Do not use the preposition ‘IN’! So, for example, if you say, “I have been IN Paris”, this is NOT CORRECT. You must say, “I have been TO Paris”. Do not say, “I want to go IN theatre” (unless you want to go INSIDE the theatre and not stand outside), say “I want to go TO the theatre”.
  4. Discuss (not discuss about): Do not use the preposition ‘about’ with the verb ‘discuss’. It is not correct to say, “I want to discuss about this grammar point.” You must say, “I want to discuss this grammar point”.
  5. Go Home (not go at my home or go to my home):  A preposition is not necessary when you want to talk about returning to your house. It is incorrect to say, “I am going TO home after class.” You must say, “I am going home after class.” This is because we use the preposition ‘TO’ to talk about places that we visit, and when you go home, you are not visiting your house, you live there! You can use the preposition ‘TO” with the noun ‘house’ and ask a friend, “Have you ever been TO my house?” but home is home, no preposition!

There are of course many more prepositions to learn in English. Subscribe to my Blog (see sidebar or below) for more help in the future, or find out about learning English with me online or on an amazing Intensive Immersion Experience Course!

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5 tools to help build your Daily English Routine

5 Tools to help Build your Daily English Routine

Many students ask for a Daily English Routine to help them to improve their English skills

Every student is different.  Learning a language is different for each one of us and your daily English routine should be suited to meet your individual needs.

Are you ready to create your own daily English routine?   Spend some time surfing the internet to find the sites that you like.  If you are really going to follow this routine, you need to like what you are looking at and doing.  Here are some sites that are interactive and encourage active learning (reading and listening alone is not going to help move forward at a fast pace).

1) Memrise 


Memrise is an online learning tool with courses created by its community. Its courses are mainly used to teach languages, but are also used for other academic and nonacademic subjects.

*Memrise or another flashcard program should definitely be part of your  daily English routine.

2) Listen and Write – Language Dictation


Improve your listening skills and hear about the news as part of your daily English routine.

3) Using English Grammar Quizzes


Test yourself with 516 free English language quizzes covering grammar, usage and vocabulary for beginner, intermediate and advanced level English students. Simply answer all of the questions in the quiz and press submit to see your score and other statistics.

4) ESL Video Quizzes for Students


Educational resources for English as a Second Language Students to improve their listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary skills.

 5) English Central 


The EnglishCentral platform combines the web’s best English videos,  IntelliSpeech℠ assessment technology, an adaptive vocabulary learning system and live tutors, delivered seamlessly over web and mobile.

NOW that you have looked at all of these, decide on a plan.  Do you have 30 minutes a day?  Spend 10 minutes each on 3 of these sites.  Mix it up, make a Daily English Routine Schedule that works for you….

Daily English Routine Schedule

suited (adj) right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*
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Laughing and Learning : An intro to Puns

Should I write to, two, or too? Well, that depends on whether the word you want is a preposition, a number, or a synonym of also.

How do I pronounce the word tear? It rhymes with ear if you are talking about crying and air if you are talking about ripping.

What did he mean when he said fine? Depending on the context, he could mean that everything is good or that someone had to pay some money.

Did someone just say tense or tents? It’s tense if they want to say they aren’t relaxed and tents if they just got back from a camping trip.

As you can see, English isn’t always easy to learn. It contains many homophones (words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently and have different meanings), homographs (words that are spelled the same but have a different pronunciation and meaning), and homonyms (words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings). While this makes learning more difficult, it also gives us the opportunity to have some fun with the language.

How does it do that? With puns! Put simply, a pun is a joke that plays with words and their meanings to be funny. And English is full of them. There are other types of puns, but the simplest ones involve homophones, homographs, and homonyms. So let’s focus on these first.

Here’s a quick example:
Why did the spider go to the computer?
To check his website.

Since you are reading this online, I think you know what a website is. However, web and site have their own definitions. A web is something that a spider makes to catch insects. And site is another word for location. So is the spider checking his homepage or the location of his web? The double meaning and confusion is what makes it funny.


Let’s take a closer look at some homonyms and then go over some puns that use them. These words have the same spelling and pronunciation, but multiple meanings:

saw – the past tense of see
saw – a tool used for cutting
The blind man picked up a hammer and saw.
Did he begin to see after picking up the magical hammer? Or did he pick up two tools?

sentence – in grammar, a set of words that express a complete idea
sentence – the punishment given to a criminal for breaking the law
A prisoner’s favorite punctuation mark is the period. It marks the end of his sentence.
Does the period mean that he will be released from prison, or does he just like periods in grammar?

interest – caring about something
interest – the extra money you have to pay back when you borrow money
I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
Was he a bad banker and lost money for the bank? Or does he just not find the job interesting anymore?


And here are a few homophones. The two words are pronounced the same and can be used in the following puns:

profit – the money that a person or company earns
prophet – a person who delivers messages from God
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Atheists don’t believe in God, so they also don’t believe in prophets. But atheism also doesn’t earn any money, so there aren’t any profits.

whine – to cry
wine – an alcoholic beverage made from grapes
What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing, but it let out a little whine.
Was the grape crying? Or did crushing it produce a delicious beverage for us to enjoy?

steak – a piece of meat
stake – a wooden post with a point on one end
You kill vegetarian vampires with a steak to the heart.
Vegetarians don’t like to eat meat, and one way to kill a vampire is to nail a wooden stake into his heart.


So now that you know a little bit about puns, how can you use them to improve your English? Here are a few ways:

Read some more puns (along with explanations) here:

Or, you can increase your vocabulary by reading through these lists of homophones and homographs. To test your new knowledge, write a single sentence that includes both meanings of the. For example:
Fall (to drop to the ground) / Fall (Autumn) – The leaves will fall off the trees in the fall.
Homophone List – https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/homophones-list.htm
Homograph List –

Once you’ve got a bit more experience reading and understanding puns, try to write your own! Take a word with multiple meanings and see if you can construct a situation where both meanings make sense. Normally we try to make our sentences as clear as possible, but when writing jokes, the humor comes from the ambiguity.


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Daily Grammar

Like fruits and vegetables, grammar is part of a healthy balanced life.  Well, maybe not for everyone, but if you are learning a language, daily grammar activities should be part of your routine.

Many people don’t have time to eat the proper nutrients during the day, so they take vitamins and get their daily dose of  whatever they are missing.  (ex- I take a vitamin every morning to make sure I get my daily dose of Vitamin C.)  “I don’t have time for that”, a commonly heard excuse for not doing something.  Exercise, cooking properly, improving a skill such as a language…  I’d say we are all guilty of  procrastination at some point or another.

I tell my students that they need to exercise their brain daily and fit some English language activity in everyday.  Activity being the key word there.  Listening and reading are great, but those fall into the category of passive learning.  This is easier because you do not have ‘to act’.  Active learning is when you have to produce something, like an answer in a quiz or a spoken response to someone else.

Fitting grammar in every day does not mean that boring heavy text-books have to be a part of your daily life.  It can be a simple little quiz (Active learning FTW!) or a quick review of something you think you know pretty well already.  The key is to make it part of your routine.  Perhaps everyday while you are eating breakfast with your lap-top open (you know you do this!) you can open up a grammar quiz page and do one.

I’m going to start using #EngGrammar on twitter to tag grammar activities.  So make some time and get your daily dose of grammar! 

dose (noun) a quantity of a medicine or drug taken or recommended to be taken at a particular time
procrastination (noun) the action of delaying or postponing something
fit (something) in (phrasal verb) to give a place or time to
FTW (slang) “For The Win” An enthusiastic emphasis to the end of a comment, message or post
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*

Do Does Did

Complete the following sentences using the correct form of do.


Use does when the subject is a singular noun or a third person singular pronoun (e.g. he, she, it).

Use do when the subject is a plural noun or a plural pronoun. (e.g. they, we). The first person singular pronoun I also takes do.

Use did in the past tense. It is easy to decide whether a sentence is in the past tense. You just need to look for past time adverbs. For example, if you find words/phrases like yesterday or last year, it is safe to assume that the given sentence is in the past tense.

Read more at http://www.englishpractice.com/quiz/grammar-exercise-8/#PsyhIs1EA69d57jf.99


Keep going!  Do Does Did! Practice makes perfect, so here are some more!





Need more help?  Here is a very detailed explanation of ‘Do – Does – Did – Done’ from Woodward English

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Everything you need to know about ARTICLES —>

  • There are only three articles: the, a and an. They are very small words which cause very large problems if used incorrectly. If, for example, you wanted someone to hand you the book, but you accidentally said a book, the other person might take some time to go shopping for a book they thought you’d like. While one can never have too many books, work doesn’t get done if we go book shopping every time we need to look up a word in the dictionary. Use of an article can also change the meaning of the noun:

dinner = the evening meal
a dinner = an evening meal held for some kind of event
the dinner = a specific evening meal which was held for some kind of event

Read more from Grammarly > http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/grammar/articles/

  • The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. The learner has to decide noun-by-noun which one of the articles to use*. In fact, there are 4 choices to make, because sometimes no article is necessary. Native-speakers, of course, use the articles correctly without thinking in everyday spoken langauge. English learners, on the other hand, need to have some guidelines for making the right choice – particularly those learners whose own language does not have articles, such as Japanese or Korean. The guidelines that follow here should help ESL students to a basic understanding of English article use.

The most important first step in choosing the correct article is to categorize the noun as count or uncount in its context**

Read more from teh Frankfurt International School > http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/article.htm



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Another / Other / Others

Oftentimes, people get confused when using the words “other” and “another.”  How do we distinguish between the two?  Simple.  It’s a matter of singular and plural.  
A simple rule to help you remember the difference between another and other is:
another + singular noun
other + plural noun
others (a pronoun to replace other + plural noun)


  • I need another cup. (cup is singular so we use another)
  • I need other cups. (cup is plural so we use other)
  • I need others. (refers to other cups)

Another Other Others


Try the QUIZ

Thanks to Woodward English for putting this all together for us!

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Standard Contractions in English

contraction is a word or phrase that’s (or that has) been shortened by dropping one or more letters. In writing, an apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters.

Standard Contractions in English

aren’t are not
can’t cannot
couldn’t could not
didn’t did not
doesn’t does not
don’t do not
hadn’t had not
hasn’t has not
haven’t have not
he’d he had; he would
he’ll he will; he shall
he’s he is; he has
I’d I had; I would
I’ll I will; I shall
I’m I am
I’ve I have
isn’t is not
it’s it is; it has
let’s let us
mightn’t might not
mustn’t must not
shan’t shall not
she’d she had; she would
she’ll she will; she shall
she’s she is; she has
shouldn’t should not
that’s that is; that has
there’s there is; there has
they’d they had; they would
they’ll they will; they shall
they’re they are
they’ve they have
we’d we had; we would
we’re we are
we’ve we have
weren’t were not
what’ll what will; what shall
what’re what are
what’s what is; what has; what does
what’ve what have
where’s where is; where has
who’d who had; who would
who’ll who will; who shall
who’re who are
who’s who is; who has
who’ve who have
won’t will not
wouldn’t would not
you’d you had; you would
you’ll you will; you shall
you’re you are
you’ve you have


This list and many more valuable grammar articles can be found at http://grammar.about.com/ 

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Grammar Girl’s Top 10 Language Myths

Grammar Girl’s Top 10 Language Myths:

10. A run-on sentence is a really long sentence. Wrong! They can actually be quite short. In a run-on sentence, independent clauses are squished together without the help of punctuation or a conjunction. If you write “I am short he is tall,” as one sentence without a semicolon, colon, or dash between the two independent clauses, it’s a run-on sentence even though it only has six words. (See episode 49 for more details.)

9. You shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “however.” Wrong! It’s fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means “nevertheless.” (See episode 58 for more details.)

8. “Irregardless” is not a word. Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn’t use, but it is a word. “Floogetyflop” isn’t a word—I just made it up and you have no idea what it means.  “Irregardless,” on the other hand, is in almost every dictionary labeled as nonstandard. You shouldn’t use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. (See episode 94 for more details.)

7. There is only one way to write the possessive form of a word that ends in “s.” Wrong! It’s a style choice. For example, in the phrase “Kansas’s statute,” you can put just an apostrophe at the end of “Kansas” or you can put an apostrophe “s” at the end of “Kansas.” Both ways are acceptable. (See episode 35 for more details.)

6. Passive voice is always wrong. Wrong! Passive voice is when you don’t name the person who’s responsible for the action. An example is the sentence “Mistakes were made,” because it doesn’t say who made the mistakes. If you don’t know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice. (See episode 46 for more details.)

5. “I.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing. Wrong! “E.g.” means “for example,” and “i.e.” means roughly “in other words.” You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement. (See episode 53 for more details.)

4. You use “a” before words that start with consonants and “an” before words that start with vowels. Wrong! You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. So, you’d write that someone has an MBA instead of a MBA, because even though “MBA” starts with “m,” which is a consonant, it starts with the sound of the vowel “e”–MBA. (See episode 47 for more details.)

3. It’s incorrect to answer the question “How are you?” with the statement “I’m good.” Wrong! “Am” is a linking verb and linking verbs should be modified by adjectives such as “good.” Because “well” can also act as an adjective, it’s also fine to answer “I’m well,” but some grammarians believe “I’m well” should be used to talk about your health and not your general disposition. (See episode 51 for more details.)

2. You shouldn’t split infinitives. Wrong! Nearly all grammarians want to boldly tell you it’s OK to split infinitives. An infinitive is a two-word form of a verb. An example is “to tell.” In a split infinitive, another word separates the two parts of the verb. “To boldly tell” is a split infinitive because “boldly” separates “to” from “tell.” (See episode 9 for more details.)

1. You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. Wrong! You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition. That means “Where are you at?” is wrong because “Where are you?” means the same thing. But there are many sentences where the final preposition is part of a phrasal verb or is necessary to keep from making stuffy, stilted sentences: “I’m going to throw up,” “Let’s kiss and make up,” and “What are you waiting for” are just a few examples.  (See episode 69 for more details.)

You can find more information about each of these myths in the Grammar Girl archives.