Non-continuous Verbs

Non-continuous verbs are verbs that we do not normally use with continuous tenses. These “stative” verbs are about state, not action, and they cannot express the continuous or progressive aspect. Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

  • feeling: hate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
  • senses: appear, feel, hear, see, seem, smell, sound, taste
  • communication: agree, deny, disagree, mean, promise, satisfy, surprise
  • thinking: believe, imagine, know, mean, realize, recognize, remember, understand
  • other states: be, belong, concern, depend, involve, matter, need, owe, own, possess

Look at these example sentences, right and wrong:

I want a coffee. not I am wanting a coffee.
I don’t believe you are right. not I am not believing you are right.
Does this pen belong to you? not Is this pen belonging to you?
It seemed wrong. not It was seeming wrong.
I don’t hear anything. not I am not hearing anything.

Notice that we often use can + see/hear:

  • I can see someone in the distance. not I am seeing someone in the distance.
  • I can’t hear you very well. not I am not hearing you very well.

This and more wonderful grammar tips can be found on English Club


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‘a little’ and ‘little’ & ‘a few’ and ‘few’

We use ‘a/an’ with several quantifiers:
• a little
• a few
• a lot (of)

We also use ‘no article’ with several:
• little
• few
• lots (of)

In many situations, we can choose to use ‘a little’ or ‘little’ (when using an
uncountable noun) or ‘a few’ or ‘few’ (when using a plural countable noun). They
have slightly different meanings. (‘A lot’ and ‘lots’ aren’t like this. ‘A lot’ means the
same as ‘lots’).

When we say ‘a little’ or ‘a few’ we mean a small amount, but it’s enough:
• John: Let’s go out tonight.
• Lucy: Okay. I have a little money, enough for the cinema at least.

On the other hand, ‘little’ or ‘few’ usually give us a different impression. These also
mean a small amount, but this time the amount is almost nothing. If the noun is
something that we want (like money or friends) then using ‘little’ or ‘few’ means that
we don’t have enough:
• John: Let’s go out tonight.
• Lucy: Sorry, I have little money. I really can’t afford to go out.

Of course, if we use ‘few’ or ‘little’ with a noun that we don’t want, then the sentence
can have a positive meaning. It’s good to have nearly no problems, for example:
• There have been few problems with the new system, thankfully!
• Luckily, there is little crime in my town.
• I’m so pleased that I have few arguments with my family.
• It’s great that there’s been very little bad weather this month.

Get the book “A and The Explained” > http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/a-and-the-explained.html


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English Verb Tenses

Do you know about the verb tenses? What’s the difference between the present perfect and the past simple? Are you sure? How about the past perfect? 
Many students have problems with verb tenses. But they aren’t really very difficult, I promise. Here you’ll find really clear examples and explanations, so you can easily review all the English tenses – firstly how to make them (the ‘form’), secondly, how to use them (the ‘use’)
Click to learn more about the tenses below:
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What are Pronouns?

Pronouns are words which replace a noun: I, me, she, we, they, who, that, yours, his, her,etc.
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Pronouns should only be used if the name of the person (or group of people), place (or places), or thing (or things) has been previously mentioned in the paragraph. If it’s not clear which thing the pronoun is modifying, the reader can get quite confused.
Uses of Pronouns
We use pronouns so we don’t have to repeat the noun; it makes it sound a little better when we’re talking about one subject for several sentences.
  • When Michael first started Michael’s new job, Michael was a little apprehensive. After all, Michael had just finished Michael’s post-secondary education, and Michael suddenly felt Michael hadn’t learned anything about the real world.
  • When Michael first started his new job, he was a little apprehensive. After all, he had just finished his post-secondary education, and he suddenly felt he hadn’t learned anything about the real world.
You can see how the use of pronouns makes the paragraph sound less repetitive. Notice, though, that Michael’s name has to be mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph; otherwise, we wouldn’t know which man was being discussed.
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Pronouns can be subjects or objects, or show possession.
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Pronouns can also be used to name something unknown or unspecified: someone, something, anyone, anything, etc.
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Someone is up to something here; I just know it.
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Good / Well

Good” and “well” are often misused. “Good” is an adjective (and a noun in some cases); “well” is used as an adverb unless used as an adjective meaning “healthy“. If we need a word to describe noun or pronoun we use “good“. If we need a word to describe verb (or sometimes adjective or other adverb) we use “well“. For example:Kate is a good piano player. (correct)
Kate is a well piano player. (incorrect!)Kate plays the piano well. (correct)
Kate plays the piano good. (incorrect!)

Brian speaks good English, but he doesn’t speak Spanish very well. (correct)
Brian speaks well English, but he doesn’t speak Spanish very good. (incorrect)

My brother did well on the English test. (correct)
My brother did good on the English test. (incorrect!)

Do you think I’m doing well at school? (correct)
Do you think I’m doing good at school? (incorrect!)

After linking verbs such as betastesoundsmelllookseemappear we use the adjective “good” as we are describing the subject of the sentence, not the action of the verb:

The concert last night wasn’t very good.
If the food tastes good, children will eat it.
Your idea sounds good and if it works would be great.
It always smells good after the rain.
The house looks good outside.

After the linking verbs “be“, “feel“, “look” we can also use “well” as an adjective meaning “healthy“:

am well. / I feel well. / I’m feeling well. (refers to physical state, health)
am good. / I feel good. / I’m feeling good. (refers rather to emotional than physical state)
Jane didn’t look well last night. (well = refers to heath)
The new dress looks really good on you. (good = refers to appearance)

Note: In the USA (conversational English) you can hear a lot of people answer “I’m good.” in response to “How are you?” and it is very popular among young generation.

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There, They’re, and Their

There, They’re, and Their

There are some words that are just hard to remember how to spell, and if they sound the same as each other, it simply compounds the problem. I’m all for using images to help myself remember stuff, so let’s be kind and do the same for our kids! Here are a few of the tricks I used with my students when teaching these three words.

The Contraction “They’re”

Here’s a visual that you could show your students. Point out that the two guys on the left are drawing attention to the two short people on the right. The sentence under the stylized word shows the relationship between “we’re” and “they’re,” both derived from a word combined with what used to be “are.” I shared the story in another blog about how contractions came to be. Maybe a quick brush-up of that story will suffice to drive this concept deep into memory! Notice that in the sentence, the “’re” and the “are” are both light blue to tie the two together.


The Location Word “There”

Location words “here,” “where,” and “there” all have the word HERE in them. You can do a goofy sort of “who’s on first” using these words. Mom says “Come here and get your sandwich!” Child says, “Where?” Mom replies “There!” Note that in the picture, each here in the location words is light blue to tie them together in memory.



In order to help young children remember the -ere spelling, I would say that the location words all end with a sandwich. The e’s are the slices of bread and the r is the baloney in between the bread. You could teach this by drawing a simple crust around the e’s like this:



The Possessive Word “Their”

For some reason my students always had a really tough time remembering how to spell “their” and remembering when to use that word versus “there” or “they’re.” When teaching “their,” I used a little sentence and the following mini story and drew the action on a white board. Worked like acharm! Here’s how the story goes…There were two kids, who one day discovered that there were little evergreens growing up all over their backyard. When they asked their father about it, he explained to them that the pinecones that fell from the trees made new little trees. The thing is, they’d not noticed before because the mower always got to the little trees before they’d had a chance to grow big. This time, however, the mower was broken and the grass hadn’t been mowed for a while. So of course the kids didn’t want Dad to mow down the cute little trees! But after a bit of discussion, a compromise was reached: kids would choose the nicest tree they could find and plant it in a safe spot in the yard. Then Dad would mow the lawn. And that is what they did. The kids watched over their fir tree carefully and after a while it grew to be much taller than they were! How proud they were! When other kids came over to play, they made sure everyone knew the fir was theirs. I pointed out to my students that “their” and “fir” both end the same way. As a matter of fact, if you take the words “the” and “fir” and put them side by side, then erase the ‘f’ at the beginning of “fir” you will have the word “their”! Try it! I promise it will work!






Rarely will a person be able to explain such a thing!

Apparently, generally speaking, we invert subject and verb (or DO as auxiliary) when a (near-) negative begins the sentence:

Never/Rarely/Seldom have I seen such a sight.
do you see such beauty.

So that is why I have written ‘Rarely will a person…’ (Although in truth, to a native speaker, they won’t know this ‘rule’, it will just sound ‘right’)


Contact Rachel today > http://www.italki.com/teacher/1394345

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Do you know your colloquial pairs?

Many of my IELTS students make a point of studying their idioms and phrasal verbs, mostly as it’s a clear cut way to show fluency and develop a more natural and advanced way of speaking English. However, there is something else which can also help here. This is the use of colloquial pairs. You will surely all now about ‘pros and cons’  from learning how to speak about advantages and disadvantages, and this is indeed a colloquial pair, however what about others? 

What is a colloquial pair? Well these are pairs of words that have a special significance, such as idioms or slang. You must take care not to put them in the wrong order however, as while these pairs may be understood in a reversed order, they will sound incorrect to a native speaker.

  • prim and proper
  • to and fro
  • odds and ends
  • hard and fast
  • tooth and nail
  • pros and cons
  • by and large
  • down and out
  • length and breadth
  • safe and sound

So, can I give you some examples? Well, I’m very ‘prim and proper’ about my colloquial pairs so I must make sure I use them correctly! I believe that ‘by and large’ these are phrases which are essential to add to your vocabulary if you want to speak like a native, and there is nothing we can do to change that! I’m afraid these rules are set ‘hard and fast’ and we can’t make any exceptions. 

Why not look the other pairs up online and see if you can use them?




Don’t recommend it, suggest it instead

I recently had a query from one of my students which went a bit like this…
I have understood all the corrections you’ve made, but I have a doubt with the verb “recommend”. I thought it could be used as I did in the writing “I recommend you to read this book” now I know that I have to say “I recommend that you read this book” but my doubt is: in which cases can it be used with the form “recommend+object+to+infinitive”?
Ah ha…  good question I thought.  This is a perfect example of why I recommend (!) that my students avoid using the verb ‘to recommend’, at least at certain levels of their understanding.  I suggest that they use ‘to suggest’ or even advise them to use ‘advise’ as alternatives.
The student had written…
“For all the aforementioned reasons I strongly recommend you to read this masterpiece, so if you have the chance, don’t hesitate to read it!”
I had subsequently corrected it to…
“For all the aforementioned reasons I strongly recommend that you read this masterpiece, so if you have the chance, don’t hesitate to read it!”
So when they queried this my response was that the error was not with `recommend`, it was actually with `to read`. Whilst it is sometimes suggested that ‘recommend’ can be followed by ‘to + infinitive’, it really shouldn’t.

We recommend you use our new software.
We recommend you to use our new software.

Whilst the following structures related to the verb 
recommend are often noted as grammatically correct….

(1) verb + object + to-infinitive –> I recommend you to use 

(2) verb + -ing form (without object) –> I recommend using

(3) verb + present subjunctive –> I recommend *(that) you use

(4) verb + should + bare infinitive –> I recommend (that) you should use

* that is optional in this case

… my opinion is  that “I recommend you to read” is bad English. We say “I advise you to…”. With “recommend” it just sounds wrong (to me).

I always think it is best for some levels of ESL students to actually use ‘advise’ or ‘suggest’ than ‘recommend’ in the their writing and so you avoid the problem! Yes I know that some teachers would say that you should ‘resolve’ the problem but I really cannot explain how ‘it just sounds wrong’. So best, for now, to work around it! (Until I find a better explanation!)

5 Common Grammar Mistakes

Error #1: Run-on Sentence or Comma Splice

A run-on sentence is a sentence that joins two independent clauses without punctuation or the appropriate conjunction. A comma splice is similar to a run-on sentence, but it uses a comma to join two clauses that have no appropriate conjunction.

Fixing a run-on sentence or a comma splice can be accomplished in one of five different ways:

  • Separate the clauses into two sentences.
  • Replace the comma with a semi-colon.
  • Replace the comma with a coordinating conjunction–and, but, for, yet, nor, so.
  • Replace the comma with a subordinating conjunction–after, although, before, unless, as, because, even though, if, since, until, when, while.
  • Replace the comma with a semi-colon and transitional word–however, moreover, on the other hand, nevertheless, instead, also, therefore, consequently, otherwise, as a result.

For example:

  • Incorrect: Rachel is very smart, she began reading when she was three years old.
  • Correct: Rachel is very smart. She began reading when she was three years old.
  • Correct: Rachel is very smart; she began reading when she was three years old.
  • Correct: Rachel is very smart, and she began reading when she was three years old.
  • Correct: Because Rachel is very smart, she began reading when she was three years old.
  • Correct: Rachel is very smart; as a result, she began reading when she was three years old.

Error #2: Pronoun Errors

Pronoun errors occur when pronouns do not agree in number with the nouns to which they refer. If the noun is singular, the pronoun must be singular. If the noun is plural, however, the pronoun must be plural as well. For example:

  • Incorrect: Everybody must bring their own lunch.
  • Correct: Everybody must bring his or her own lunch.

Many people believe that pronoun errors are the result of writers who are trying to avoid the implication of sexist language. Although this is an admirable goal, correct grammar is still important.

Error #3: Mistakes in Apostrophe Usage

Apostrophes are used to show possession. However, you do not use an apostrophe after a possessive pronoun such as my, mine, our, ours, his, hers, its, their, or theirs. For example:

  • Incorrect: My mothers cabin is next to his’ cabin.
  • Correct: My mother’s cabin is next to his cabin.

In the case of it’s, the apostrophe is used to indicate a contraction for it is. For example:

  • Incorrect: Its a cold day in October.
  • Correct: It’s a cold day in October.

Error #4: Lack of Subject/Verb Agreement

When speaking or writing in the present tense, a sentence must have subjects and verbs that agree in number. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural as well. For example:

  • Incorrect: The recipes is good for beginning chefs.
  • Correct: The recipes are good for beginning chefs.

Error #5: Misplaced Modifiers

To communicate your ideas clearly, you must place a modifier directly next to the word it is supposed to modify. The modifier should clearly refer to a specific word in the sentence. For example:

  • Incorrect: At eight years old, my father gave me a pony for Christmas.

Correct: When I was eight years old, my father gave me a pony for Christmas.