Thursday, 29 January 2009

Who We Are/About This Site

Academic English Writing Exercises.

The site......

...... contains a range of grammar based English writing exercises and is aimed exclusively at speakers of English as a second language. It will be added to continually with new pages and accompanying sound tracks.

The contents......

...... include:

  Identifying terms used in grammar explanations and finding out  
  their basic meanings (recommended before trying the others -   
  see "General Grammar Exercises - Essential Terms 1 and 2").

  Identifying common mistakes made by overseas students writing 
  in English along with how to correct and learn to avoid them.

   General grammar exercises such as those based on verb tenses,  
   positions of adverbs and so on.

    Specific grammar exercises such as how to use “enable + object

   + infinitive”, or comparisons using “like” or “as”, etc.

   Help with subjects such as sentence construction, reading     
   techniques and so on.

   Extracts from the author's photo album along with language  


    A joke, with related vocabulary and information, on every page.

  A separate advice section devised to help develop the skills  

                  needed to pass the IELTS exam.

The aim......

...... is to provide a series of activities which can be done in around thirty minutes to an hour each. Explanations are reduced to what is useful to know, and which should be easy to understand, at least once the grammar terms are familiar. They are intended to improve the writing (particularly at sentence level) of students at university or those hoping to go to universities or colleges where English will be needed. But if you’re simply curious ("looking for answers") and want to improve your knowledge of the language, go ahead and see if you find them helpful. 

You should find plenty of useful information from just reading the pages to give you an insight (“inside look”) into the way the language works. But if you want to go the extra mile (“make the extra effort”), then simply follow the instructions. Just remember - there’s no better practice for writing than writing!

The author......

......trains teachers in the area of English Language Teaching. He has also performed comedy and poetry on radio and T.V. 
Living in England, he likes to take holidays in.... well, where do you think this picture might have been taken? *1

Do you need some hints and clues (information to help you find the answer)? Then scroll down (move down the page)...........................


It's a very big country. It's quite far north. They generally speak English in the west, but in the east another European language is common. *2

*1 Grammar point: <- "might have been taken" -> this sentence uses a modal verb in the past form. The verb is written in the passive voice. If you haven't the faintest idea (that is, no idea at all) what I'm talking about, then you need to start by studying the pages on "essential terms"!

*2 Now take a guess at which country it might be......


....... The picture was taken in the Badlands of Alberta, Canada. The other Language spoken in Canada is French.

Do you get it? (Means, "do you understand the joke?")

hesitation - pause.
irritation - annoyance - being (slightly) angry.
chap - man, fellow, bloke, guy ("guy" is more American, so more "modern"?)
fury - great anger (anger - noun from the adjective angry)
moan - make unhappy noises, as if in pain?
tears - water appearing in the eyes when you start to cry.
* * *
Jimmy”, said the teacher. If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits how many rabbits have you got?”
“Five, Sir”, said Jimmy without hesitation.
“No Jimmy”, says the teacher with some irritation. “I give you two rabbits, OK?"
“Yes,” says Jimmy.
“And then I give you two more, OK?” says the chap, holding up two fingers on each hand to make it easier for the lad.
“Yes, Sir,” Jimmy replies. “I understand.”
“Now how many rabbits have you got?”
“Five, Sir”
“What!” explodes the teacher in a fury. “Five? For goodness’ sake, boy, look at my fingers! If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits you have four rabbits, not five!”
“I’m sorry, Sir,” moans the boy unhappily, with tears beginning to appear in his eyes, "but you see………… I’ve already got a rabbit at home.”*

Language note:
"I've already got a rabbit.....
"Here "a" means one in number.
It can also be used just to go together with a noun as in, "He's a doctor." Concrete nouns like this (things you can feel or touch) generally need an article, either the indefinite article ("a, an some, any") or the definite article ("the").
The articles are not needed for abstract nouns when used in a general sense - "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder*" - or plural nouns used in a general sense - "Students often don't have much money".
But the fact is that the rules are very complicated. For example, you use it for "the earth" and "the sun", but not for "Mars, Saturn", etc. You use it for mountain ranges such as "the Himalayas" but not for individual mountains such as "Mount Everest". If you meet an English speaker who says that, "Anyone who can speak English can teach English," just ask them to explain when to use the word "the". If they can't, then maybe they should consider another job.

*beholder - person who is looking. (an old fashioned word - now only really used in this common "saying")

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