A2 · B1 · Grammar activity

Irregular verbs in past simple

going crazy

Feel like pulling your hair out with English irregular verbs? Well, for God’s sake don’t pull them out with irregular verbs it may be painful! (That was a translation from Spanish.  You should pull them out due to/because of irregular verbs). 

Maybe the best way to deal with them is to learn them by heart (I hate memorizing stuff!),  although there might be another way, I don’t know about.  I would even say that it is better to learn both, the past simple and the past participle together (yes, the ones in the third column at the end of your Student’s book). This may seem a pretty daunting activity, but if you set yourself to learning, for example five of them a week, in two months you will have learnt forty of  the most important ones, which isn’t too bad, is it? 

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B1 · B2 · Grammar activity · writing

Past perfect and past simple: A Horrible Day

Past perfect or past simple? This is an activity that will help you practise these tenses within a story about Jane, a girl that was looking forward to going to a party, but discovered that being absent-minded wasn’t a good thing ….unless you change the end of the story.

The first part of the activity is to fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in brackets. After checking the activity, students can write their own version of the end of the story. (max 50 words).

Once we have all the stories, we’re going to vote the one we like most! 🙂

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A2 · B1 · Grammar activity

Tense revision: How Did You Meet Your Best Friend?

After having bent my mum’s ear for about an hour moaning because I had fallen out with a close friend , she turned around and wisely said, ‘People enter your life, for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime.’ Which quite is true, isn’t it?

But even if we do quarrel with a mate or simply lose contact, we also manage to keep some of our friendships alive; despite the different paths life leads us through in an ever-changing world. Sometimes we even manage to organise a get-together, and make up for the lost time remembering the past and talking about future plans and dreams.

If you happen to be one of those lucky people, surely you’ll feel identified with the activity that I have prepared for the purpose of practising the past simple and the past continuous.

These are real-life accounts from buzzfeed.com where I have removed the names and made some adaptations for the purpose of the level.  Maybe, you’d like to enter the aforementioned website, and tell your own story. I’m sure it’ll be a great one. 🙂

Open cloze nº1

open cloze nº2

Open cloze nº 3

A1 · A2 · B1 · B2 · Listening · phonetics

/id/ /d/ or /t/ in regular past verbs?

Thinking_chimp

One of the typical problems learners of English frequently come across is how to pronounce the endings in regular past English verbs. When I mean regular I mean all the ones that end in -ed/d like ‘walk>walked’, ‘study>studied’. There are actually some simple rules that  will help students get this right almost all the times.

Rule number one: careful not to pronounce the final -ed

It is very unusual to pronounce an ‘e’ before a ‘d’ in a past simple tense unless the consonant before the final -ed ends in either a ‘t’ or a ‘d’ (we’ll see this in a minute). So the past sound of final -ed in a verb like ‘designed’ would sound like  /dɪ ‘zaind/ and not  /dɪ ‘zained/.

Rule number two: pronouncing the final -ed and making it sound like an /id/

Verbs that end in a ‘d’ or ‘t’ do sound the final -e. Why? Because if you don’t sound it, you won’t be able to distinguish the difference between a present and a past tense. See this for yourself by saying the following  verbs without pronouncing the ‘e’.

  • start > started */sta:t/
  • depart> departed */depa:t/
  • exceed> exceeded */ek’si:d/

Was it easy? Could you hear the difference between the present and  past? Actually, these verbs  should sound /sta:tid, dipa:tid, ek’si:did/.

You may have noticed that what actually comes out of your mouth isn’t exactly an -ed sound. Instead of this, you get an /id/. Well, this is basically because when people pronounce the final /d/, it is in the upper part of their mouths which is almost the same place as where the /i/ is pronounced. If you really want to make your final -ed sound like an -ed and not an -id, you’d have to sort of stop in the middle of the word, lower your tongue and focus really hard on it, which looks and sounds quite strange (and if you don’t believe me, try doing this in the mirror and see what you look like. Ha, ha, ha!!!).

Rule number three. Getting your ‘ts’ right

Pronouncing a /t/ instead of a /d/ isn’t a matter of choice. Rather it is due to the final sound in the word.  If the final sound in the verb happens to be an unvoiced consonant like a ‘k’ or a ‘p’ or a ‘sh’, for instance, you’re are going to get that very English /t/ sound whether you like it or not. If you happen to get a ‘d’ sound instead, it probably means that you’re pronouncing the -e  which isn’t correct.

So, with verbs like ‘walk’, work, flap, burp,  should sound /wɔ: kt, wɜ:kt, flæpt, bɜ:pt/ when saying them in the simple past.

Lets do some listening activities to grasp the ideas we’ve just explained.

  • Not making the -e sound in all verbs that do not have a ‘t’ or ‘d’ ending. And, not making that -ed sound like a ‘t’ because the last sound is voiced (meaning that the vocal chords are vibrating).

glue> glued –  listen> listened – cry>cried – hug>hugged – curve>curved

  • When we MUST pronounce the -e in past tenses. TIP: when the last consonant is either ‘t’ or ‘d’. Listen to these verbs in the present tense and try to guess how they would sound in the past simple.

start – waste – flirt – imitate – affect – import 

  • Last one! Now the ‘t’ sound. This happens when the last sound of the verb is silent (no vibration of vocal chords). We have quite a few and we can’t always trust writing as some of you will already know that English sounds don’t always correspond to the written form of a word.

Try to figure out what these words would sound like in the past simple before you listen to the audio.

finish – flash – cup – laugh – wash – watch – ice – hack – work – walk