Contractions: When You Can and When You Can’t

Contractions are the same as their longer forms, just shorter!

Contractions are wonderful, and we use them when speaking English all the time.

We don’t often hear: “I am going to the store later, but I cannot take you with be because you will need time to do your homework.”

Even when we read it, it sounds like a robot!  You’re more likely to hear: “I’m going to the store latter, but I can’t take you because you’ll need time to do your homework.”

How do contractions work?  In one of three ways:

Don’t do it!
  1. Negative contractions

Negative contractions are for when we need to use the “no” version of something.  The “not” part of the sentence gets pushed together, usually with a helping verb, and we exchange the “o” for an apostrophe [‘].  Negative contractions are words like:

  • Can not = Can’t
  • Do/Did not = Don’t/Didn’t
  • Would not = Wouldn’t
  • Could not = Couldn’t
  • Will not = Won’t
  • Should not = Shouldn’t
  • Might not = Mightn’t

Even though you see a lot of modal verbs in this list, there is no “may not” contraction: just say “That may not work” and use both words.

We’re going shopping, and she’s getting a new dress!

2. Be-verb Contractions

You probably heard a be-verb contraction before you even knew what a contraction was!  These are very common, and we use them all the time.  They give us words like:

  • I am = I’m
  • You are = You’re
  • She/he is = She’s/He’s
  • We are = We’re
  • They are = They’re

Be-verb contractions are only used for present tense verbs.  There is no “I was = I’s” contraction.

I’d love to go on an adventure! I’ve never been on an adventure before!

3. Helping verb contractions

Helping verbs like “have” and “will” and modal verbs like “would”, “could”, or “should” can be contracted with their subjects.  Be careful though!  Sometimes they can look the same, so be sure to read the whole sentence before you decide which verb has been contracted!

  • I would = I’d
  • Also: I had = I’d
  • You have = You’ve
  • She will = She’ll

Remember that usually* you can only use one contraction per subject.  “I have not” does NOT become “I’ven’t“.

* The only exception to this is “would + have”, which can sometimes be contracted in speaking to “She’d’ve”, for example:

She would have gone home, but she was having too much fun! 
She’d’ve gone home, but she was having too much fun!

Remember, only use this double-contraction in speaking, and try to avoid it in writing!

***

Want to learn more about how contractions can help you feel more confident speaking English?  Contact LingoLoop today to speak with a tutor!

 

How Should I Order My Adjectives?

Look at the bottom of this article for the answer!

Sometimes we need more than one adjective to describe something. This is because objects can be similar to each other, but not exactly the same.

For example, imagine there are three cars:

  • All three cars are silver
  • One car is old, and two are new
  • One of the new cars is German, and the other is American

If I ask, “Which car is yours?” you would need more than one adjective to answer the question.

If you answered, “It’s the silver car,” I would be confused because there are three silver cars.

If you answered, “It’s the new silver car,” I would be confused because there are two new silver cars.

If you answered, “It’s the new silver German car,” I would not be confused because there is only one of those!

So, using more than one adjective can avoid confusion by creating a more specific answer.

When we use more than one adjective, we can remember how we order them with the acronym: N.O.S.A.S.C.O.M.P (it kind of sounds like “nose-as-comp”).

Number
Opinion
Size
Age
Shape
Color
Origin
Material
Purpose

So, for example, let’s take an easy noun, like “desk”. You might have:

Number – one
Opinion – ugly
Size – big
Age – old
Shape – round
Color – brown
Origin – American
Material – wooden
Purpose – classroom
………………..desk!

We almost never need more than three adjectives to describe something, but it’s good to know the order we should put them in if we do.

Most problems occur with the last three types of adjectives: Origin, Material, and Purpose.

Origin is where the noun comes from. Maybe you have a “Swiss watch” or a “Korean cell phone” or a “German car.”

Material is what the noun is made of. Maybe it’s a “metal chair” or a “porcelain dish” or a “plastic toy.”

Purpose is what we use the noun for. Sometimes, this adjective becomes so important we actually add it to the noun: this is where we get words like “teacup” (a cup used for tea) or “bathroom” (the room you go to for a bath). So you might have a “paint brush”, or a “coffee mug” or “snow boots.”

Origin, material, and purpose can be tricky because all of these things can be nouns on their own.

Try to remember: when one word describes another, the word that IS is the noun, and the word that DESCRIBES is the adjective. Do you have boots, or do you have snow? You have boots, but they are made for the snow. So, you have “snow boots.”

Ready to talk more about the order of adjectives? Try one fun 50-minute new Western digital English conversation class today!

As promised, the quiz answer is B because “beautiful” is an opinion, “new” is an age, and “silver” is a color. Check back for another quiz soon!

What’s a Gerund?

Learn English Online Gerunds

Although the term “gerund” may sound unfamiliar, we use them in English everyday.

A gerund is simply a verb that acts as a noun.

Gerunds are fairly easy to find because they always end in “ing

Here are a few examples –

 

Learning English is hard.

I enjoy running.

John likes singing in the choir.

Have you ever thought about flying an airplane?

In each of these examples, the words ending in “ing” are acting as nouns, not verbs.

 

Can you find the gerunds in these sentences? (Hint: some of the words that end in “ing” are verbs, not gerunds!)

I go swimming every summer.

Driving a car is difficult.

Thinking about reading makes me tired.

She is enjoying baking.

 

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Many Much

Learn English Online Much Many Coffee

The words “many” and “much” can be tricky for English language learners. They mean similar things, but we use them in different ways.

Basically: “Many” and “much” are adjectives. “Many” is for countable nouns, and “much” is for uncountable nouns.

That is not the whole story. Many and much also can be used as nouns, adverbs, and pronouns. But, in this post, we focus on how the way they are most commonly used.

 

So, what are “countable” and “uncountable” nouns?

Countable nouns are things that can be counted, like apples, cars, houses, and any other object.

Uncountable nouns are things that cannot be counted, like water and other liquids, abstract things like love and knowledge, and things that always come in bundled amounts like sugar and bread.

 

One tricky thing about uncountable nouns is that many have countable nouns that can be used to measure them. For example, tea is uncountable, but cups of tea are countable. Another example is work. Work is uncountable, but minutes of work or hours of work are countable. But, it’s still hard to find ways to count abstract things like fear and safety.

 

Now, back to much and many!

 

many – Anytime you want to describe a noun that can be counted, use “many.”

Examples:

“She had been to the restaurant many times.”  We can count the times that she has been to the restaurant.

“Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech has been heard by many people.” We can count people. It would take a very long time to count how many have heard his speech, but it is possible.

 

too many – This is also used with countable nouns, but in negative situations.

Examples:

“He did not want to go to the restaurant again. He had been there too many times.”

“She wanted to leave the beach because there were too many people there.”

 

much – Anytime you want to modify a noun that cannot be counted, use many.

Examples:

“It is great that California got so much rain this winter.”

Rain is water and water, like any other liquid, can not be counted. However, inches of rain, drops of rain and buckets of rain can be counted, so with those words, you would use “many.”

“You still have so much bread on your plate. I wish I had that much bread to eat.”

Bread is also something that cannot be counted. However, loaves of bread and slices of bread can be counted, so with those words, you would use “many.”

 

too much – This is also used with uncountable nouns, but in negative situations.

Examples:

“They did not feel well because they ate too much food.”

“It rained too much last night and now there is a leak in my roof.”

 

Now, you try! Write many examples in the comments section, but don’t spend too much time working on it!

Can you fix this story?

Learn English Online Park

Here is a short story about John and Tina. All of the mistakes are in red. Can you reply with all of the corrections?

John and his friend Tina is at the park. First, they walks on the path and look on all of the pretty tree. Next, they sit on the bench and listened the birds sing. Last, John and Tina watches the childs play of the swings.

 

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English Greetings

Learn English Online Greetings

As you know, native English speakers greet each other in other in many ways. Here is a list of some of the most common greetings. Try to use at least one new each today. Remember, the best way to improve is by using the language.

 

Hello

You can use this greeting in any situation, formal or informal, in any English speaking country. If you are not feeling brave and you don’t want to try one of the greetings listed below, just say “Hello.”

 

Hi

This greeting can also be used anywhere, but it is less formal than “Hello.”

 

Hey

This should only be used in an informal situation with friends. This greeting can sometimes sound rude. If you say it without any emotion, you are telling the person that you are not very excited to see them. But if you say it with enthusiasm and with a smile on your face, it can be a sweet way to greet an old friend. It is a tricky greeting!

 

How’s it going?  What’s going on?

These are also informal greetings. You can use these when seeing familiar friends, or you can use them when meeting people for the first time in an informal setting. If you are meeting people for the first time, it is common to include “Hi” or “Hey”  at the beginning. “Hi, how’s it going?” “Hey, what’s going on?”

 

What’s up?  ‘Sup?

These are to be used only in very informal situation with friends. “What’s up”, or “‘Sup” (shortened version of “what’s up” by dropping the “what”) can also be a way to start a conversation with someone whom you know wants to talk to you. “Jenny said you wanted to talk to me. What’s up?”

 

Nice to see you again/Nice to meet you

These are both great formal greetings for use in a professional setting (or, say, when meeting your boyfriend’s parents). “Nice to see you again” should be used when greeting someone whom you’ve met before, and “Nice to meet you” is for when you meet a person for the first time.

 

The best way to get comfortable with these greetings is to use them. If you are unsure, remember that any greeting will be good as long as you say it with a smile!

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The 5 Most Common Mistakes English Learners Make

Learn English Online Mistakes

You want to be fluent. You study all the time. You read articles. You watch videos. But you are still making these 5 mistakes. Why? Stop making these mistakes. Stop, I say!

Mistake #1 – Not speaking

Reading about grammar and vocabulary is important. You must know the rules to improve. But, you cannot stop there. You must use the language. You must speak. SPEAK!

Mistake #2 – Thinking in your native language

When you read this, are you translating it into your native language? MISTAKE! Thinking in English is the key to fluency. To do this, you must experience the language – reading, writing, listening and speaking – as often as possible.

Mistake #3 – Trying to be perfect

Native speakers makes mistakes, to! See, I just made two mistakes (That sentence should be “Native speakers make mistakes, too!”). Making a mistake is the only way you can find out what you need to improve. When you make a mistake in a LingoLoop class, your tutor will immediately teach you how to fix your mistake for good.

Mistake #4 – Speaking too fast

Once learners get comfortable with a new language, they often start talking too quickly. Then, your accent may start to get heavy and people may have difficulty understanding you. Now that you no longer have to think about grammar and vocabulary, you need to focus on speaking slowly and clearly.

Mistake #5 – Memorizing Vocabulary

Yes, you need to know vocabulary in order to speak a language. But, you need to learn the words “in context.” Making flashcards with the word on the front and the definition or translation on the back is a good start, but it is not enough. You should include a sentence that uses the word and shows what it means. This helps you to not only know what a word means, but how to correctly use it when speaking.

 

You will make these mistakes. But, like it says in mistake #3, if you know you are making them, you will improve.

 

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