GRAMMAR – Confusing Words


WHILE is a CONJUNCTION that is used to refer to a background period of time in which another activity happened. It is very similar to during, but it is followed by a sentence (while + subject + verb…), so they are not interchangeable.

DURING is a PREPOSITION that is used before an activity to indicate that a parallel action is happening at the same time as that activity. DURING is followed by a noun, which often represents an activity (during + noun)

I will finish reading the book while I’m on my summer break. (while + subject + verb…)
I usually take notes while I’m in class.
Did you fall asleep while you were watching the movie?

To use during in the above sentences, we have to change the structure of the sentence.

I will finish reading the book during my summer break.(during + noun)
I usually take notes during class.
Did you fall asleep during the movie?

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We use hear for sounds that come to our ears, without us necessarily trying to hear them!
For example, ‘They heard a strange noise in the middle of the night.’
Listen is used to describe paying attention to sounds that are going on.
For example, ‘Last night, I listened to my new Post Malone CD.’

So, you can hear something without wanting to, but you can only listen to something intentionally. An imaginary conversation between a couple might go:
‘Did you hear what I just said?
‘No, sorry, darling, I wasn’t listening.’

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GRAMMAR – Expletives

Some clauses begin with the introductory words THERE or IT rather than with the subject of the sentence. These introductory words are sometimes called expletives. The expletive THERE shows that someone or something exists, usually at a particular time or place. These sentences generally follow the pattern there + verb to be + subject:

There are many skyscrapers in New York City.
There was a good movie on television last night.

The expletive IT is used in a number of different situations and patterns:

It is important to be punctual for appointments.
(with the verb to be + adjective + infinitive)

It was in 1959 that Alaska became a state.
(with the verb to be + adverbial + noun clause)

It takes a long time to learn a language.
(with the verb to take + time phrase + infinitive)

It was David who did most of the work.
(with the verb to be + noun + relative clause)

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Here are some common prepositional phrases, also known as Collocations with prepositions.

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VOCABULARY – Common Abbreviations

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase.

Here are some of the more common ones:

Mr. – Mister
Mrs. – Missus
Ms. – Miss [mizz]
jr. – Junior
Dr. – Doctor
Blvd. – Boulevard
Rd. – Road
Dr. – Drive
St. – Street
Ave. – Avenue
Ln. – Lane
mph – miles per hour
Corp. – Corporation
Inc. – Incorporated
Ltd. – Limited

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GRAMMAR – Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood usually uses the base form of the verb in the ‘that clause’, but the verb to be is a special case. The subjunctive is used after certain expressions that contain an order, a request, a hypothetical, or a wish.

It is recommended that she write a speech for the graduation.
It is necessary that the dean prepare a short speech for the ceremony.
We asked that he read the instructions carefully.
It is important that she agree to these terms in the contract.
Jane insisted that the student seek the help of a tutor.
We asked that it be done yesterday.
It might be desirable that you not publish the story.
I support the recommendation that they not be punished.

What about the Verb to Be in the Subjunctive Mood?
The subjunctive mood has one other use: to express wishes and hypothetical situations. Typically, this type of statement includes the word if.
If I were a cat, I would lie in the sun all day. (hypothetical because I’m not a cat)
If I were you, I’d be careful. (hypothetical because I’m not you)
If he were rich, he’d buy a football team. (hypothetical because he’s not rich)
Sally wishes she were taller. (a wish)

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GRAMMAR – Past forms of Irregular Verbs

The difference between a regular and an irregular verb is the formation of the simple past and past participle. Regular verbs are consistent—the simple past ends in ed as does the past participle.

BUT, the simple past and past participle of irregular verbs can end in a variety of ways, with no consistent pattern.

Here are some of the more common IRREGULAR VERBS.

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GRAMMAR – Collocations with MAKE & DO

Collocations are words that go together naturally in English.
Learning collocations is essential for making your English sound fluent and natural!

Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks.
Use MAKE for creating or producing something, and for actions you choose to do.

DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually refers to the result.

For example, if you make breakfast, the result is an omelet! If you make a suggestion, you have created a recommendation.
Make arrangements
Make an attempt
Make your bed
Make believe
Make a change
Make change
Make a choice
Make a comment
Make a commitment
Make a complaint
Make a decision
Make a demand
Make a difference
Make an effort
Make an exception
Make an excuse
Make an inquiry
Make a fool of yourself
Make a fortune
Make friends
Make a fuss
Make a mess

Do your nails
Do your best
Do good
Do harm
Do someone a favor
Do your chores
Do the right thing
Do things well / badly
Do something
Do your best
Do your hair
Do the dishes
Do an exercise
Do the laundry
Do the ironing
Do the shopping
Do your work
Do (your) homework
Do housework
Do your job
Do business
Do your hair

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GRAMMAR – Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency describe how often something occurs

100% – always – I always come to work on time.
~90% – usually – I usually wake up before 7 am.
~80% – normally – I normally have breakfast at home.
~80% – generally – I generally walk to work.
~70% – often – I often have lunch near my office.
~70% – frequently – I frequently meet friends for lunch.
~50% – sometimes – I sometimes take a break in the afternoon.
~30% – occasionally – I occasionally go for a beer after work.
~10% – seldom – I seldom stay out late.
~5% – rarely – I rarely drink whiskey.
~5% – hardly ever – I go out without my phone.
0% – never – I am never late to class.

Placement of adverbs of frequency
BEFORE the main verb (but NOT the verb BE).
I always study in the library when I have an exam.
I never arrive late for class.
AFTER the verb BE.
I am always tired after tennis.
She is never late for class.

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By is often used with forms of communication and transportation:
by car, by plane, by phone, by express mail (‘Note: If the noun is plural or is preceded by a determiner, the preposition in or on must be used: in cars, on a boat, on tbe telepbone, in a taxi.) By is also used with gerunds to show how an action happened:
How did you get an appointment with Dr. Blish? By calling his secretary.

With is used to indicate the idea of accompaniment or possession:
Melanie came to the party with her friend.
He wanted a house with a garage.

Without indicates the opposite relationship:
Melanie came to the party without her friend.
He bought a house without a garage.

With also indicates that an instrument was used to perform an action:
He opened the door with
a key.
Without indicates the opposite relationship:
He opened the door without a key.
By and for are also used in the following expressions:
by chance; by far; by hand.
for example; for free; for now

for is sometimes used to show purpose; it means “to get.”
She went to the store for toothpaste and shampoo

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