GRAMMAR

used to/ get used to/ be used to

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1 Used to

We use used to/ didn’t use to + base form to talk about past habits or repeated actions or situations that have changed.

  • Attention!!!!! used to DOES NOT exist in the simple present (I use to study at night XXXXX). For present habits, we use usually + simple present (I usually study at night)
  • For action verbs, we can replace used to with the word would.

Example:

When I was a child I used to play video games every day = When I was a child I would play video games every day.

If you are still confused, you can find an easy explanation in your first language 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 🇨🇳 🇷🇺 🇺🇦 🇹🇷 🇯🇵👇

2 Get used to

We use get used to + gerund to talk about a new situation that is becoming familiar or less strange.

Example: I’m getting used to studying after work. It’s not easy because after work I’m very tired.

If you are still confused, you can find an easy explanation in your first language 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 🇨🇳 🇷🇺 🇺🇦 🇹🇷 🇯🇵👇

3 Be used to

We use be used to + gerund to talk about a situation that is NOT new because it is familiar or less strange.

Example: I’m used to studying after work. I’ve been doing it for almost one year.

If you are still confused, you can find an easy explanation in your first language 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 🇨🇳 🇷🇺 🇺🇦 🇹🇷 🇯🇵👇

Grammar Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐

Put the words in the correct order.

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐

Choose the correct answer.

 Speaking Practice

✍️ Writing Practice

Pick a card. Write a comment (reply) below 👇 with your opinion.

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GRAMMAR

How to express wishes

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This mini lesson includes a review of verb wish.

Verb wish is used to express our desire for something different from how it is now. Wish expresses a desire that is impossible or almost impossible to happen.

In this mini lesson you'll learn how to express desires in English

Difference between I would like and I wish

 Grammar Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐

Wishes about present situations

Put the words in the correct order

Wishes about past situations

Student A:

  1. Choose one box
  2. Read the sentence out loud

Student B:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Listen to your partner
  3. Make a wish (I wish + past perfect)

Student C:

Write the sentence on a piece of paper

Switch roles <>

 Speaking Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐

QUIZ

GRAMMAR

The Position of Adverbs

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Adverbs are words that describe an action (e.g. She speaks slowly) or modify adjectives (e.g. This car is incredibly expensive) or other adverbs (e.g. He works very hard). They can be one word (e.g. often) or a phrase (every now and then).

Common types of adverbs:

  1. Adverbs of manner describe how somebody does something.
  • They usually go after the verb or verb phrase
  • With passive verbs they usually go in mid-position
  • Examples: beautifully, slowly, happily, thoroughly, fast, quickly, cheaply, etc.

2. Adverbs of frequency tell us how often an action is performed.

  • They go before the main verb but after verb be
  • If there are two auxiliary verbs, the adverb goes after the first one
  • Some adverbs can be put at the beginning of the phrase or sentence for emphasis (sometimes, usually, and normally)
  • Examples: always, never, usually, sometimes, usually, normally, etc.

3. Adverbs of time and place tell us when and where an action is performed

  • Time adverbs usually go at the end of a sentence or clause
  • Place adverbs usually go before time adverbs
  • Examples: in the morning, at night, at the airport, in half an hour, here, there, etc.

4. Adverbs of degree describe how much something is done, or modify the adjective

  • Some adverbs of degree are used with adjectives and adverbs and they go before them (e.g. extremely, incredibly, very, a little, a little bit, etc.)
  • Some adverbs are often used with verbs and go before the verb or the verb phrase (e.g. a lot and much)

5. Comment adverbs give the speaker’s opinion about a particular topic.

  • They usually go at the beginning of a sentence or clause
  • Examples: luckily, basically, clearly, obviously, apparently, eventually, etc.

More examples:

Watch the following videos to find more examples and exercises

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Grammar Practice

Level of difficulty: 

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐

 Speaking Practice

Level of difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐

  • Choose a type adverb of frequency
  • Flip the tile
  • Discuss the question with your classmates

GRAMMAR

Articles (part 2)

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In a previous post we discussed the basic differences between the indefinite articles (a/an) and the definite article (the).

As you can see in the Introduction to articles some of the patterns for the usage of articles in English are easy to remember. However, the use of articles in English is very complex.

Using articles in English can be very challenging for speakers of other languages because:

  • In some languages speakers use articles before almost every noun
  • In some languages speakers never use articles before nouns.

In this post you can find more specific rules and exceptions of article usage in English.

Using articles in English
Using articles in English

Practice Time

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WRITING

Advantages and Disadvantages Essay

for B1 Preliminary Cambridge Test/ IELTS

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An essay is a written piece where you can present an idea, propose an argument, express your emotions or initiate a debate.

In an advantages and disadvantages essay your task is to describe the positive and the negative sides of a specific topic. You must include examples and reasons to support your ideas. Sometimes you will also be asked to give your opinion. You can include your personal opinion in the introduction and conclusion of the essay.

The typical structure for an advantages and disadvantages essay is the following:

Paragraph 1: Introduction
  • Start your introduction with a sentence that paraphrases the question you were given
  • Add a sentence where you include the main ideas that you will talk about
  • Give your opinion (if required)
Paragraph 2: Advantages
  • Write a sentence where you summarize the main idea of the paragraph. In this paragraph you must mention the advantages.
  • Next write a sentence where you explain the advantages.
  • Finally you explain the consequence or result of advantages by giving an example.
Paragraph 3: Disadvantages

(This paragraph is similar to paragraph 2, but here you will talk about the disadvantages)

  • Write a sentence where you summarize the main idea of the paragraph. In this paragraph you must mention the disadvantages.
  • Explain the disadvantages.
  • Give examples of the disadvantages.
Paragraph 4: Conclusion
  • Summarize your ideas
  • Paraphrase your opinion (if required)
Example:

Advantages and disadvantages of traveling by plane

Nowadays, a lot of people prefer to travel by plane when they go to another country. However, air travel has both pros and drawbacks. Let’s examine some of these here.

One of the main advantages of traveling by plane is that it is much faster than any other form of transport. For example, you can fly from Toronto to New York in 2 hours, whereas by car, it would take more than 7 hours. Another advantage is that flying is more comfortable and less tiring because you can sleep on a long flight. You can also watch movies or read. Finally, it is safer. More people die in car accidents than in the air.

On the other hand, traveling by plane also has some disadvantages. To start with, it can be quite expensive, especially if you want to travel in the comfort of First Class or Business Class. What is more, flights are often delayed, and this means you may have to spend a long time waiting in the airport or miss connecting flights. In addition, you may arrive in New York while your suitcase has gone to Paris.

To sum up, the airplane is a great invention, but it does have some drawbacks. If it was cheaper, it would be better. Still, in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. If we didn’t have planes, it would be very difficult to travel to distant places.

Below there is a template that can help you write your advantages and disadvantages essays.
Template for an advantages and disadvantages essay

Useful language: Linking phrases

To list advantages/ disadvantages
  • the main advantage is…
  • the main disadvantage is …
  • another advantage is …
To add more point to the same topic
  • In addition, …
  • Furthermore, …
  • What is more …
To introduce an example:
  • For instance …
  • For example …
To make contrasting points
  • However, …
  • In spite (of the fact) …
  • Although …
  • On the other hand …
To give a reason
  • Because + clause …
  • Because of + noun …
To introduce the conclusion
  • In conclusion, …
  • To sum up, …
Watch the following video to learn more vocabulary to talk about advantages and disadvantages

GRAMMAR

Articles (Part 1)

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Articles are tiny words that go before nouns. There are 3 common articles in English: a, an and the.

A and an are indefinite articles. It means that we use them to talk about things in general = one of many.

The is a definite article. It means that we use it to talk about specific things = only one.

Basic rules:

  1. We use a/ an to mention a noun for the first time or say who or what somebody or something is.
  2. We use a/an when the reader/ listener has not seen the person, animal or thing we are talking about.
  3. We use the when it’s clear who or what somebody or something is.
  4. We use the to talk about things or places that are unique.
  5. Don’t use an article to speak in general with plural and uncountable nouns.
  6. We don’t use an article in some phrases like at home, at work, go home, go to work, go to bed, next …, last …, etc.

Watch the following video for more examples

FLUENCY

Useful Phrases for New Year’s Resolutions

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A New Year, new opportunities to improve your English! It’s time to start thinking about New Year resolutions.

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something in the future. In English there are different ways to talk about our resolutions depending on how determined we are to accomplish them.

There are different websites with useful information about how to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. However, here I’m going to talk about the grammar behind talking about our resolutions in English.

In the table below you can find some useful sentence starters that you can use to talk about your New Year’s resolutions.

Sentence starterMeaningExample
(+) I’m going to + base form
(-) I’m not going to + base form
It’s a plan or
intention for the future
I’m going to practice English every day.
I’m not going to eat junk food.
(+) I‘m planning to + base formThings that you are almost definitely going to do.
Things that you have already scheduled or made some preparations for.
I’m planning to take English classes during the summer.
I hope to + base form
I‘d like to + base form
Things you want to do but you it’s not a definite planI hope to travel more.
I’d like to lose weight.
I might + base form
I may + base form
I‘m thinking about + gerund
Things you are considering, but you’re not sure if you will do it or not.I might travel to Brazil.
I may apply to grad school.
I’m thinking about changing careers.

Practice time

  1. Choose 1 item per column.
  2. Write the names of each item in order. For example: hamburger, wine, mountain, Whatsapp.
  3. Repeat step 2 two more times.
  4. Swipe left to find out your resolution.
  5. Use the sentence starters in the chart below and the words in the New Year’s resolution generator to make your sentences.

Examples:

I’m going to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I’m not going to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I hope to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I‘m thinking about stopping taking selfies after zumba.

Share your resolutions with us.

WRITING

What to write in a Christmas Card

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Let’s write some Christmas cards!

Writing Christmas cards is a tradition in many many English speaking countries. The tradition of sending Christmas cards started in the mid 1800’s in the UK when a British artist created a greeting card for Sir Henry Cole to send forth to his family and friends. Sir Henry Cole thought that sending Christmas cards to his family and friends would be a nice way to convey happy sentiments while wishing them a joyful holiday.

Queen Victoria started sending seasonal greeting in the 1840’s.

The White House traditionally sends Christmas cards every year.

In spite diverse in culture and religion, Canadians also partake in the tradition. Christmas cards are sent to wish people peace and joy.

Writing a Christmas card can be a bit challenging, especially if you don’t know what to include in your card.

Here I have made a list of common Christmas messages that you can include in your Christmas cards:

Wishing you and your family health, happiness, peace and prosperity this Christmas and in the coming New Year.

Merry Christmas! May you get chance to take in the beauty and true meaning of the season.

Happy Holidays! I hope all of your Christmas wishes come true.

May your holidays be filled with love and rejoice. May you have a great time with your friends and family this Christmas! Sending my best wishes to you.

May your holidays be filled with happiness and good cheer!

It’s people like you that make Christmas a sacred, meaningful occasion. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! This coming year, may you be gifted with countless blessings.

Gifts come and go, what really matters are the people who light up our lives all year long. Thank you!

The past year has been anything but cheerful and bright. Wishing you love, light and a prosperous year ahead.

Wishing you nothing but the best this holiday season.

Practice time

Write a Christmas card

Christmas postcard
FLUENCY

Christmas idioms

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Christmas came earlier this year

Meaning: When someone gets an unexpected surprise.

Example: John got a promotion last week. Indeed, Christmas has come earlier for him this year.

Good things come in small packages

Meaning: Used to say that people or things do not have to be large to be good

Example:

A: I’m upset at my boyfriend. He only gave me this tiny box for my birthday.

B: Don’t get upset until you know what’s in it. Good things do come in small packages!

The more the merrier

Meaning: More people will make something more enjoyable. This set phrase is used to welcome one to join a group or activity

Example: Oh sure, you can come to the party with us—the more the merrier!

Christmas comes but once a year

Meaning: Since Christmas only comes once a year, people should be good to one another in the Christmas season

Example:

A: I’m going to volunteer at the orphanage center, do you want to join a hand?

B: Of course, Christmas comes but once a year.

All my Christmases have come at once

Meaning: Said when one is experiencing a an extraordinary amount of good fortune

Example: The day I got married, I heard I’d passed my exams and got a promotion, so it felt like all my Christmases had come at once.

Like turkeys voting for Christmas

Meaning: The most popular choice of food for the Christmas in several parts of the world is turkey. When people choose or accept a situation that is not in their interest or will be directly harmful to them.

Example: The employees agreed to go back to the office in the middle of the pandemic without any increase in their pay. It was like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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Practice time

  1. Roll the dice or spin the wheel
  2. Can you remember the idiom?
  3. Write a sentence using the idiom

GRAMMAR

been to vs. gone to

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Let’s talk about verb be and verb go

You already know that:

Base formsimple pastpast participle
bewas/ werebeen
gowentgone

Now, let’s say that you want to talk about your trips. If you want to talk about your trips and the places that you have visited in the past you can’t use verb go in the present perfect form.

simple present1. I usually go to Paris in the summer. ✔️
simple past2. I went to Paris last year. ✔️
present perfect3. I have gone to Paris many times. ❌
I have been to Paris many times ✔️

Why?

Because…

been tocompleted visits (round trip)
gone toone-way trip

In the video below I explain how to use been to and gone to correctly

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Practice time

Now it’s your turn.

Complete the following sentences with been or gone:

  1. My mom has ________ to the supermarket. She’ll be back in an hour.
  2. I’ve ________ to that place before. I know how to get there.
  3. You’re late. Where have you ________?
  4. Where has the teacher _________? She was here 5 minutes ago.
  5. She’s ________ to New York for a job interview.
  6. Has he ________ home? The party hasn’t finished yet.
  7. Have you ever _______ to Australia?
  8. The children have ________ to school.
  9. The fridge is full of fresh food. I’ve _______ to the supermarket?
  10. My dad has ________ to the dentist.