Free Nugget Ebook: Basic English


by Rosalinda Flores - Martinez


1. Listen and Interact

Listening requires awareness. Don't forget the patience. Remember you are listening because you want to learn. Learning is getting correct information useful in everyday course of events. Warning: Be careful to know the difference between correct information and gossip.

I. Listening Tips

1. Focus on the topic. Be interested. Concentrate on the speakers thoughts and learn to get the main idea of the topic. Try to figure out how it is developed.

2. Give the speaker a chance to share. Be enthusiastic. It is not how the speaker looks, but what he says.

3. Don't be emotional. Don't fall in love and dream, don't get angry and hate during the listening process. Be on guard for important details. Listen long enough so you will understand the speaker's points. Ask questions after everything has been delivered.

4. Be interested on the topic and give the speaker a chance to prove his topics.

5. Always get the main ideas and supporting details.

6. Take down notes. Take down important details, but not all the speaker says. Let your mind work on this habit of good listening.

Now sit down, shut up and listen very carefully. In confrontations, shifting from a sending to a listening posture can work wonders, especially if you show warmth and empathy. Just hearing other people out dissipates some of their emotional energy and increase their willingness to listen later. Be alert to the other person's non-verbal cues like posture, eye movements and gestures, as well as following his spoken words. It is also important to be sensitive to what the other person is unwilling or afraid to tell you as well as to what he does say.


During seminars, lectures and meetings, after presenting the topic - you are ready to interact. Here you may share your own examples, give opinions or ask some questions. Keep a sense of humor. An appropriate sense of humor can help you keep the situation in perspective, or melt the ice when things are too cool to communicate. Making a point in a non-threatening manner serves as a general tonic for you and those around you.

Skillful application of these techniques will enable you to keep cool and communicate in a vast majority of situations. To use these techniques well requires a conscious effort. Mutual satisfaction is the key for ways to maintain a comfortable learning atmosphere and finding win-win solutions.


There are a number of ways to facilitate a discussion and a proper time for it. This is usually after the presentation or when the speaker posts a question to the listeners.

1. Acknowledge the speaker's message with "I understand" or non-intrusive responses.

2. Paraphrase the feelings or ideas the other person has stated. "You were scolded because...?"

3. When you hear something you think may be important, use door-openers like, "Please tell us more about that."

When you have questions, seek clarification. "I'm not sure I understand," "Can you explain that to me?"

Or ask the speaker to elaborate, "Can you give me an example?"

Keep your brains posted.

Rosalinda Flores - Martinez, first published on Ezine 2010


2 - Reading Skill: A Critical Mind

Francis Bacon quotes, "Reading maketh a man full." So the blind using the Braille method can read. Even Heller Keller who was deaf, dumb and blind spoke to the world. There is nothing impossible in reading. It opens doors.

Reading is an imperative skill. With the latest technology and communication channels like, "The Google Reader and Yahoo Updates," among others, reading skill prompts the global world. Progress requires global literacy where people can understand each other.

Reading, as a presumed skill gives information and entertainment. All subjects and transactions are reading-based. We cannot just say, "I am idle today," or "Reading doesn't interest me," or "I can't understand and I have no time," these are tempting excuses of people who couldn't leave comfort zones. The skill only requires practice, like any other skill. It is normal to 'not understand' some texts or topics when you read, but what matters is try to read: once, twice, or even again and again. That habit will help you become a good reader.

From an award-winning recommended film titled "The Reader," which stars Kate Winslet (Rose in Titanic), the movie shows how important reading is to humans. Of course, the power of articulate language and to understand it, separate "homo sapiens" from animals. In the film, Kate Winslet rather dies in prison, than to be accused of being illiterate. "The Reader" imparts a pathetic feeling that magnifies the disadvantages of not being able to read and shows, as well, the progress of educated people who can read.

Basically, there are two useful reading skills: previewing and skimming.

To preview a text will give you the nature of selection, even before you start reading the first sentence. Previewing is looking at the pictures (visuals), captions, titles, subtitles, graphs, and tables, among others. Skimming is finding the main point of the selection. This involves quickly reading beginning sentences of the paragraphs, as these are often the topic sentences. Here, the mind can scan texts at random and select ideas that make up its development.

These reading skills will help when you are reading newspapers and magazines in between rest periods, browsing the internet for updates and hot information, viewing at the bookstores or the library in haste. However, a closed or detailed reading is required in the academe or research projects.

During active reading, one can take down notes or react to the texts. It will be helpful to check the meaning of unfamiliar words and use a dictionary.

3 - We Read To Learn

One morning I woke up looking for the small pocket book I was reading the other night. Yes, I've been sleeping with books all my life. It's not necessary that I understand them all, but they do secure me, my thoughts and my emotions.

For some students or those who would take examinations, they get into that joke of getting a high score if they sleep with their books. They say it's like having memorized pages in the book. However, this comes to be a myth because they have to honestly know the idea or texts by heart, if there will an exam.

Back then, I was into collecting thoughts and tips in miniatures and bulks of sheets. In fact, even today, my bag carries all sorts of papers, sheets, table napkins, calling cards with reminders in ripped texts. I know I couldn't get rich with this habit. And sometimes, it's embarrassing when tucked into my pencil case-wallet, sheets fly with bills when lifted.

I can't stop reading! Reading is such a personal matter. It is me and the author. Sometimes, it is with the other readers and experts. Often, it is with a mentor. In many ways, I show gratitude for authors and writers I have only read and studied in books and other forms of literature. They're part of my life and growth. I make them my own, in some way, during the reading process, and perhaps, beyond forgetting for the rest of my life.

There are several ways to read, but only one way to learn reading. That one way is reading practice. Other ways are brainstorming ideas, writing-down notes, and using the texts as you make them your own, among others.

Moreover, reading must be an active process. Ideas gained from the reading materials have to work into your mind and be integrated with your experiences and others you might have learned from writers or experts.

Some students get supplemental reading materials if they find difficulty reading books and texts. What I share to my students (especially to non-native English speakers), is to read the texts several times. I tell them that it is common not to understand everything in one reading, so they have to read them over again, and again, and again. For those who easily get bored, I'd say "You get an idea and express them with the text, in your own understanding." I know everyone is not actually into slow reading, but more on comprehension and communication, as the essential nature of reading, is to learn.

4 - Reading Time

There are some things we can't easily discard. I remember when a couple of my writing papers and books got wet and torn when water from the toilet flooded the living room. Of course, I was caught in sobs. It was a horrible time.

Anyway, here are lists of books you just can't throw away:

1. Elements of Style - "Omit needless words," William Strunk Jr. and EB White.

2. Diary of Anne Frank - A diary of a young girl who lived most of her life around Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. In her diary, Anne Frank tells about her life and her experiences while hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

3. Mother Teresa "My Life for the Poor" - Edited by Jose Luis Balado and Janet Playfoot. Mother Teresa tells her own story and her early years in Albania and India.

4. The Greatest Secret in the World by Ogmandino - Og Mandino is a most widely read inspirational and self-help author.

"Let me become all you planned for me when my seed was planted and selected by you to sprout in the vineyard of the world.

Help this humble saleman...

Guid me God," Og Mandino

5. "Noli Me Tangere" - Dr. Jose Rizal is the Filipino hero who wrote "Noli Me Tangere." In the original English translation, the book is titled "The Social Cancer."

The book is a charter of nationalism.

6. The Holy Bible - A book of sacred writings; The Holy Bible is composed of a set of books namely the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament ( 27 books). The book of Christian religion.

The Koran is the Bible of the Muslims.

The Holy Bible is one of the best books in history that includes holy manuscripts of poetry, epistles, parables, and essays. The Holy Spirit is the best guide in reading the sacred book.

The book is believed to give inspiration and empowerment.

7. Henry David Thoreau is an American author and naturalist; "The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges," Walden.

8. Rainer Maria Rilke's “Letters To A Young Poet,” Translated by Stephen Mitchell

"Live for a while in these books, learn from them what you feel is worth living, but most of all love them," Rilke.

9. Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb - Lamb is the prose poet of the city. He was born in London.

"Things were born, when none but the still night,

And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes." Charles Lamb

10. A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway - Published in 1964; The Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Hemingway writes in short, declarative sentences and is known for his tough terse prose.

5 - More About Reading

Reading is an essential skill in the study of English and Languages that requires practice. Like all human activities, it refers to a wide range of performance, from the workaday to the masterly.

The art of reading consists in getting from the printed word as nearly as possible a sensation equivalent to the real thing. Fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes show images to children as they learn the words and read.

Students gain ideas of what can be done by applying one's mind and by using other's ideas. He forms a standard for his own reading based on what total comprehension might be. Next, he begins to discover the need for interpreting the ways of testing a preference for one's interpretation over another and the desirability of checking texts in an uncertain world. He begins to see that in the realm of mind as represented by great men, there is no such thing as separate and from what he reads he can relate to various thoughts and actions.

Great Philosophers and scientists in some sense sought to unite all they knew into a mental vision of the universe.

English teachers of Basic Grammar help the students improve their reading skills. This is necessary in communication. Reading can be done closely or by skimming/previewing. There are different methods.

According to Professor William James:

"Just as our extensor muscles act most firmly when a simultaneous contraction of the flexors guides and steadies them, so the mind of him whose fields of consciousness are complex, and who, with the reasons for the action, sees the reasons against it, and yet instead of being, palsied, acts in the way that takes the whole field into consideration - so, I say is such a mind ideal sort of mind that we should seek to reproduce in our pupils." This was his special message to teachers.

Good reading habits can be taught to students and shared to professionals. In this 21st century, reading helps everyone use modern and high-tech gadgets, including latest internet tools. And while global literacy sustains everyone with free and unlimited materials; why not make use of them wisely?

As a saying goes "Use all the brains you have and all you can borrow." Moreover, reading will aid this "sharing thing" and contribute to world progress.


6 - Communicate Effectively

Have you ever told another person, "You make me angry" or "You make me sad?" If your answer is yes, then in those situations you have shifted a responsibility for your feelings on your behavior to another. In effect, you have given another person more control over you than you have exercised over yourself. But this one is exciting, so you have to know how to disconnect the wires anytime you choose. The next time, you will be in charge, and you have taken a first step toward keeping your interactions at a level where you can communicate effectively and solve problems rationally.

When someone accuses you and your staff in an organization or community, you will experience what is called stress response: increased blood pressure, increase muscle blood flow, increased pumping of blood by the heart and secretions of adrenalin. You will instinctively want to stand your ground and fight, or turn and flee, either physically or psychologically. If you have the flight response, you may deny responsibility, suppress your feeling, or become indecisive.

There are some coping techniques which will help you keep your cool in this situation so that you can communicate. The first is to monitor your own internal signals so that you are aware of your own stress response. Next, move quickly to determine the source of stress. In this case, the stressors are both social and organizational.

Breathing slowly and deeply has a calming effect. Let them know you recognize their emotions. Manage your own stress response and stay calm. The second is to give recognition to the other person's feelings.

Next, go into a listen mode and really hear him own. Once you have diffused the anger and listened to the reasons for this feeling, you are in a position to move from the emotional level to the rational by shifting into a problem solving mode.

You'll be more effective if you communicate concerns. When you repeatedly overlook instances of poor or mediocre performance, or even on-performance, the negative feelings build up and you eventually reach the breaking point and explode. If you don't communicate rationally or effectively, the other person taken by surprise resents the treatment received and wonders what the main point is.

Feedback is received best when other person senses that you want to be of help and to be of any value in bringing about a change in behavior. Most of the feedback must be specific, not general.


7 - Brainstorming Techniques - Generating Ideas For Your Next Article

How ideas are processed fascinates and gives birth to more ideas. Thoughts come freely, but unless you write them down they'll fly like birds that'll soon leave you.

Brainstorming to generate ideas is a method you can combine with the other methods, like clustering, listing, and free writing, among others. Notice when a lesson or argument begin to emerge; when you want to illustrate or improve something; when you want to explore more.

"The Road Not Taken" (poem below) by Robert Frost is a poem that tells about a person's choices in life. Further it says that one cannot be travelling on two roads at the same time, that a choice must be made.

"Two roads diverge in a wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference."

A. How to Brainstorm

Take the poem above as a starter. Think of a situation in your life, where you had to make the best solutions and decide. You can't choose all the roads or can't even choose two in most situations, but only one. Know the consequences each solution will bring you. Know the reward or the principle you must uphold in keeping, doing and letting go of that idea.

Explore the idea thoroughly. You can use and combine this with the other methods and make a research.

Try the following.

1. Why will I study / work?

2. There is no water tonight. What will we do?

3. Who will be a better boyfriend/girlfriend?

4. Throw the cat.

5. Demolish squatter's houses then relocate.

6. How to Spend Wisely

7. To eat or not to eat.

8. Why travel?

9. Marry or Not Marry?

10. Compare the drug dealer and the corrupt politician.

As an example, get topic number 9. Brainstorm on To Marry or Not Marry.

1. Marry for preservation of species.

2. Do not marry, but pursue priesthood.

3. Learn how to kiss.

4. Divorce problem

5. Financial stability and emotional stability

6. The Holy Family

7. Family tree

8. Work and domestic issues

9. Adultery

10. Unity

In the heat of a brainstorming session with a group, ideas flow freely and can't stop. Those ideas have to be written down. The solitary writer can take off as thoughts spark. Don't procrastinate. Don't edit. Write with all your might! A page a day, keeps the writer's block away. Use this technique to generate more ideas for your next article.

8 - More Journals

There was a time when "Journal Writing" was a subject to be taken. In some institutions, journal writing is therapy. In universities, it is part of the English curriculum. In writing classes, it is a special project.


Journal writing is a pre-writing activity to generate ideas.

Its history like any other science dates back from the creation of the world - The Bible.

In the present time, journal writing becomes popular because of technology. Free and paid blogs, websites, and spaces online like Facebook and Twitter are becoming electronic journals. The more traditional terms of this journals and digital art are diaries, reflections, or short sentences plotting schedules.

Thoughts are recorded everyday or as often as possible. So this notebook / entry becomes a habit and writing practice.


We have many ways how to write journals, but often, academic journals are associated with writing classes because they help the students become better thinkers and writers.

An academic journal is a mix of the diary and the class notebook. They are also called learning logs because it records the writers perception of the business of learning, reactions to readings and ideas for papers.

The diary is a record of everyday events whereas the class notebook is the record from the day's lessons and lectures. The academic journal is the cross of ideas between the diary and the class notebook.


The Process (You can try this for practice)

1. Free write a journal about "The Environment"

Write for 5 minutes.

Write for 3 minutes.

Write for1 minute.

2.Timed journal writing (for 10 minutes)

Select another title/theme.

3. Select a writer or a blog publisher who is known for having written a journal. Write a report for the purpose they served.

4. Compile your journal entries for one month and bind into a booklet.


Check out these examples.

At Seventy: A Journal by May Sarton

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys

The Journals of John Cheever by John Cheever

Some people though, would not log journals. Others are not just used to it. Some say privacy could be intruded. But take this question: Why would you hide? One has to be brave enough for something lived. Remember every person has the capacity to change for the better everyday. Journal writing is living life profoundly and practicing writing skills; it makes you know yourself better.

9 - Why Write Journals

Time and time again history comes and goes, the past seen today, and the future contrived. Even the ancient times communicated to us through writings on cave walls, magical ceremonies on scrolls, and the evolution of languages.

Why write? Famous writers give varied answers. Students say is it a requirement. And still professionals say "It is needed in my job."

The habit of journal writing forms thinking minds in each one of us. It digs deeper ideas and cultivates a more confident personality. When words are written, we exert more effort than speaking. This brings the mind to be more alert and interactive in the everyday affairs of life.

How to write journals? Well, it is easy as ABC. Anyone can write a journal. Anyone is free to write a journal. It's a sentence or a paragraph everyday. Anything that is thought about like breakfast, lunch, or dinner could be written. It is writing about people, events, and places. It is writing about the self and those around. Of course: writing is free. The more effort and time given to write ideas will help develop one's writing progress substantially. Try automatic writing at times (anything goes), mapping (ideas form like maps), or clustering ideas (method introduced by Garbriel Rico). One may write very personal things, like writing a diary, a letter, or note. One may also write from a topic or theme of interest. These topics would come from lectures, seminars, classrooms, office meetings, movie reviews, and self reflections.

So try! Word. Sentence. Paragraph. When your paragraphs are ready, check and look for words that would fit your journal to make people want to read it more. Have you tried in it in your website, blog, and notebook? Start now and see that practice makes perfect. Write!

10 - Writing Tip: Be Consistent With Tenses

Be reminded that the first verb in the sentence will be the verb marker throughout the whole story or essay. Grammar rule says that you have to be consistent with the verb tense you are using.

The verb tense establishes the times when the story/narrative happened or is happening. Once, I have read from a small book about authors, the important events of their lives, and the tense used was in the "present form."

I asked Dr. Marjorie Evasco (my poetry professor) "Why do they use the present form in the book?" (when the event happened in the past); “It is because they have to be consistent with the governing tense,” she told me.

For example: Emily Dickinson is born on... instead of, Emily Dickinson was born on...

She is the daughter of...instead of; she was the daughter of...

The present tense provides that the experience is happening at the moment.

It is the writer's choice what tense to use, but then it has to be consistent and must conform to the "Standard English Grammar." I got enlightened.

Also, writing professor, Tony Perez told the class during a writing exercise to recount a personal experience in the past. Personal experiences / stories are usually told in past or present tense. Yet the most natural way is putting it: Once upon a time (like the fairy tale stories).

For example: Once upon a time there lived a boy named David. David watched over his sheep until dawn.

Be careful with your verb tense. They have to be consistent. If a shift is needed, do it subtly that it wouldn't intervene the smooth flow of thoughts in the story or essay. As needed, shifting between paragraphs happens.

Try this sample exercise: The Holy Family

In the past form: Mother Mary was the mother of Jesus. She was the wife of Joseph. She obeyed the angel's message. She took care of the family.

In the present form: Mother Mary is the mother of Jesus. She is the wife if Joseph. She obeys the angel's message. She takes care of the family.

Take note of the verbs. In the first paragraph, verbs are in the past. In the second example, verbs are in the present form. Don't forget the governing tense and use it carefully.

11 - How To Make Writing Seem Easy

If you can appreciate things and most of God's creation, writing will be easy for you. If you can face challenges easily and reflect that steadfastness comes with every defeat, writing will be easy for you. If you can dream and love and hope, words will flow freely from your heart; you can write.

Writing is hard. Yes, difficult, especially, if you would harrow the words from your heart and press on and off the photographs in your mind. When you do this - you will go back to the past and use them as materials for writing. You must creatively observe the present. You must believe in the wonder of tomorrow.

No writer ever lived without knowing how to toil every single day. Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor (The Sacred Wood, T.S. Eliot).

Charles Lamb says that we should rise with the lark, and that we should lie down with the lamb (Essays of Elia).

On the other hand, writing is made easy through constant practice. Like spoken language, writing improves in hard labor.

Here are some tips:

1. Keep a daily journal. In your notebook write/make some notes about important daily activities. Block schedules and explain duties to be done. This is like keeping a diary. Also, you may write about work, reflections, letters, friends, family, lessons, God, and various topics. This will look like an academic notebook.

So: diary plus information equals the academic journal.

2. Maintain blogs online. This will help you express yourself and ideas. Sharing with a social network will help you and others communicate freely and collaborate for better communities.

3. Learn to appreciate life and the beauty in everyone. See how one works for a living and how he/she loves work. The beauty of work is common to all. It is an appreciation of God's gifts.

4. Make reading a habit. What would you write, if you never read and get information? Know how to select useful and entertaining materials.

5. Write sentences everyday.

6. Learn new words everyday. Refer to the dictionary. When we were younger we all learned how to spell, now we're older, we can continue the good habit of learning new words (one or two). Learning never stops.

7. Write emails and make your friends and family happy. Share with them.

8. Review basic grammar rules. Any good book in English will do.

12 - A Compilation: Basic ESL Lessons

It is necessary to give the right lessons at the right moment to the right students. Like all other aspects in life, teaching is feeling your students and knowing what lessons you will give them. Generally, a syllabus and special topics are provided by the school, but then the teacher must be wiser to know what his/her students need.

ESL lessons must check the student's capacity to remember basic grammar rules, hence, a review is always necessary. Often, foreign students know basic English grammar rules. In fact, they get high scores in objective tests like using the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). What most students are weak at, is using the right words and making a good sentence.

Knowing English words and grammar rules are important. Knowing how to use them in sentences will make them better in conversation. One aim of ESL is to communicate properly and understand each other, like give, receive and make dialogues. That is freedom of expression.

I tell my students to practice unceasingly. As they learn, they have to use and apply the knowledge in daily conversation.

Check this out:

A. Words and their opposites

ingenious stupid

nourish starve

commence finish

hazy clear

slender thick

expand make smaller

misfortune good luck

harsh smooth

migrate stay home

pedestrian driver

B. Examples of newspaper headlines

Send Food to Relieve Famine in Africa

City Council in Unanimous Vote to Lower Taxes

Henry Ford Honored as Pioneer in Auto Industry

Millions Migrate to Warmth of the Southwest

Producer to Revive Musical Comedy Hit of the 1950's

"Be Wary of Get Rich Quick Schemes," Warns Banker

Referees Fail to Control Unruly Game

Dieter Praised for Slender Figure

Training Film Shows How to Avoid Being Reckless Driver

C. More Transitions

For contrast:








On the contrary



To indicate examples or intensification

For example



To illustrate

After all

For instance

In fact


Of course

To indicate cause and effect

As a result








D. On Dates

Today is September 3, 2010.


3 September 2010

4th of July 2010

In using figures to write dates

American usage = 9.3.2010

British usage = 3.9.2010

Do not spell out dates or other serial numbers. Write them in figures as may be appropriate.

Exception: Whey they occur in dialogue, most dates and numbers are spelled out

"I arrived home on December fifth."

13 - What’s In A Name

What's in a name? Your all. Each individual is baptized with a name, and registered with a name in his or her birth certificate. Likewise, your name shows in identifications and death certificate. You can't get away without a name because it represents who you are, whether it be your aliases or a pseudo.

Oftentimes, names goes with meaning and suggests a story with it - the life it decodes. Others use names they call power names. Some writers have their assumed names, as well. Names are precious to each being they represent. In the Bible, it says that God will always remember the chosen ones, and write their names that wouldn't be erased for all eternity.

In everyday language, names are classified under nouns. Usually, nouns stand as subjects of a sentence. Include this list in your vocabulary.

1. Nouns are names. Names are nouns. Nouns are names of persons, places, and things. They are qualities, ideas and activities. The nouns are usually the subjects in sentences. Subclasses of nouns: concrete, abstract, proper, common, collective, count, noncount

2. Concrete

Look around you. What can you see? What can you hold?

These are the examples of concrete nouns: chairs computer watch paper

3. Abstract Think of ideas and qualities. Abstract nouns also include many gerunds.

Courage, writing, respect are examples.

4. Proper nouns Proper nouns are specific names of persons (Riza, Wenzi, Marco), places (Philippines), and things (Mitsubishi pen). Proper nouns must be capitalized.

5. Common Common nouns are general names. Book is an example; it is both a common noun and a concrete noun. Common nouns are not capitalized. Laptop, pen

6. Collective Collective nouns form groups or units: choir, faculty family jury class committee

A collective noun taken as a singular unit will need a singular verb. A collective noun taken as individual members of a group will get a plural verb.

7. Noncount nouns

Noncount nouns are also referred to as mass nouns. Use less as a modifier of a noncount noun.

8. Count We use fewer as a modifier of a count noun. 1-10...

9. grammar a set of prescriptive rules often associated with writing. Writing is a learned activity. A cultural artifact, edited English; grammar rules

10. language power or articulate language, a system of words used in a particular discipline, the spoken or written human speech

What is your name? Does your name carry a special meaning with it? What would you want your power name to be? Remember how special you are!

14 - Why Use Pronouns

Why do you use substitute for names?

Here's a Sample:


Orange is my favorite color. Orange is the color of dusk. Orange is a mix of red and yellow.

1B. Substituting with "it."

Orange is my favorite color. It is the color of dusk. It is a mix of red and yellow.


Saint Joseph is the foster father of Jesus. Saint Joseph is the husband of Mary. Saint Joseph is our father, too.

2B. Substituting with "he."

Saint Joseph is the foster father of Jesus. He is the husband of Mary. He is our father, too.

Pronouns are noun (people, places, things, etc.) substitutes. They substitute names and other pronouns. Using the pronouns avoids monotonous repetition when you speak or write.


1. pronouns are noun substitutes

Tip: If you want to be sure of choosing the correct pronoun, memorize the three pronoun cases and the pronouns that fit into each case.

There are only three cases:

Subjective (subjects come from this case)

Objective (objects come from this case)

Possessive ( possessive pronouns come from this)

You would never say: "Koji will drive I to the party."

You would never say: "Koji will drive myself to the party."

You would say: "Koji will drive me to the party."

2. personal pronouns - Personal pronouns directly replaces persons, places, and things. Use this with caution.

subjective case - If the pronoun is doing the action or the subject

She is a teacher.

objective case - Objects of verbs and objects of prepositions

The teacher looked at us.

possessive case - Everyone's expectation came real.

3. interrogative pronouns asks questions (who, which, what...)

4. relative pronouns - group of words that relates to their antecedents

Examples: who, whom, which, that

5. indefinite - These pronouns do not refer to definite persons or things.

Examples: All each neither none anybody

6. demonstrative - pointing pronouns (this that these those)

7.reciprocal - Each other and one another are the only reciprocal pronouns.

They are "I'll scratch-your-back-if-you'll-scratch-mine" pronouns.

8. reflexive are selfish pronouns. The reflexive pronoun should be used in only one instance when it reflects on the subject of the sentence

Example: I just want to be myself.

9. intensive - Intensives are like the reflexive pronouns that end with "self" or selves. They are used to emphasize.

Examples: we ourselves you yourselves

10. antecedent - An antecedent is a word to which a pronoun refers. Pronouns should agree in number with the antecedent.

15 - The Gossip Words

People can't turn their backs on gossip. It is describing others and telling bad stories most of the time. But then, gossiping in its supposed to be "good sense" can talk good about people and tell about funny and happy times, that is " building up good images" like selling something, as in press releases and advertising. Then others will say, " It's wonderful!"

"She is beautiful."

"He is so kind."

Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns.

Check out this vocabulary.

1. adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns and pronouns. They tell about/describe ideas. Sometimes, they're referred to as "gossip words."

2. comparative should be used when you compare only two persons, places, things, ideas, or events

3. superlative should be used when you are comparing three or more

4. pronominal adjectives can modify virtually any noun regardless of its positions in the sentences

Are sometimes called attributive.

This is a risky trade.

5.predicate adjective

This trade seems risky.

6. postnominal adjectives Adjectives in this position are called postnominal, for example, "Something risky is being planned."

7.object complement adjective

They consider this trade risky.

8.intensifying and downtoning adjectives

In phrases like "a total...a real idiot or utter fool," the pronominal adjectives do not carry much meaning of their own; instead they intensify the meaning of the noun.

On the other hand, the function of a downtoner is to soften the negative connotations.

9.limiters Limiters limit the attention to the noun phrase that follow and exclude other possibilities.

He ate only mangoes.

Only Dung wrote the letter.

10. gradable Adjectives that can be comparative and superlative forms of either type are said to be gradable. Gradability means that the quality expense by the adjective can be as a continuum

A rather nice coat

A very nice coat

Learn this:


The Adjective Order in a Noun Phrase

Size + age + color +( material characteristics) + noun

( Material origin )

An old brown leather briefcase

A tall young woman


There are many ESL activities for adjectives.

2.1. Describe people and compare them to cars. What color is the car, what are the compartments, etc? You can compare every specific detail of the car to the specific description of the person. This can stir sentiments among the class.

Example: Sally is intelligent. She is bright like a Mercedes Benz shining in the crowd.

2.2 You can ask each person/student to describe everyone using the first letter of his/her name.


Gracious Grace

Smart Steve

Rosy Rose

16 - Verbs To Go

Watch! Your sentences without a verb is just like life without a heart. Verbs establish a state of being. They give life to the sentence and express action. Generally, verbs are called action words.

This is how grammarians classify the verbs:

A. Into Subclasses

1. Regular They form their past and past perfect tenses with d or ed.

2. Irregular Those are all the other verbs and those that do not end in d or ed in the past and past perfect tenses.

3. Transitive Verbs that have objects, or words in the sentence that receive action from the verb, directly or indirectly.

4. Intransitive They have no objects. There is no receiver of action from the verb.

5. Linking verbs connect the subjects to a noun, pronoun, or adjective.

B. Into Six Verb Tenses

1. Present tense verbs indicate a condition (she is well), a routine (she studies everyday), and an opinion (learning means practice).

2. The past tense means that an action has occurred in the past. Past tense verbs mean that regular verbs will end in d or ed.

3. Future tense means an action will happen in the future. The future tense verbs are preceded by either will or shall.

4. Present perfect tense means that the verb is preceded by the present tense helping verbs has or have. The tense indicates an action that began in the past, an action that may have been completed in the past, or it may continue to the present.

Ana has been a faithful servant.

They have gone to church.

5. Past perfect tense indicates that an action has occurred prior to a certain time in the past. The past perfect verb is preceded by the past tense helping verb had.

He had washed the dishes when I arrived.

He had emailed before I could stop him.

6. Future perfect tense means something will be completed by a certain time in the future. The verb will be completed by will or shall and have or has.

Practice on: The Verb Pray/ Write

C. As a general rule singular subjects take singular verbs: SS = SV

And plural subjects take plural verbs: PS =PV

Take note of the other rules of subject and verb agreement in making sentences. The rules are easy, but even professionals need to check /edit their work or let someone read it for errors. Don't worry though, there is no perfect grammar. Prepare to re-write.

17 - Grammar- ESL Review

I can still remember my teacher in high school. Her name is Miss Jose. She studied in the US until she taught English in the Philippines. I remember her dark glasses and how very smart she looked. What my classmates and I am now is because she was once part of our happy education. Let’s review basic grammar.

1. Phonology

Phonology is the sounds or the system of sounds into a language.

2. Morphology is the shape of words and affixes. It is the branch of grammar that deals with forms of words and/or patterns or words.

3. Syntax

The syntax is the way words are combined into larger structures including sentences.

4. Semantics

Semantic means the development of meaning of words.

5. Pragmatics

Pragmatics is language in a social context. It is a division of semiotics which studies signs, symbols and their uses.

6. Discourse

A discourse is chunk of language larger than a sentence; It can be a long written or spoken discussion or conversation.

7. Pattern

A pattern is a model, a speech pattern, a sample design pattern, or an ideal example.

The Basic Sentence Patterns

Pattern 1.

Noun - Verb

People pray.

People is the subject. It is a noun.

Pray is the predicate. It is a verb.

Pattern 2.

Noun or Pronoun - Verb - Noun

Joseph repaired the roof.

Repaired is a (transitive) verb.

Roof is a noun. It is direct object. The direct object is the receiver of the action.

Pattern 3.

Noun - Verb - Noun (Indirect Object) - Noun (Direct Object)

My teacher assigned me poetry.

The same meaning can usually be expressed by a phrase that begins with to or for positioned after the direct object.

My teacher assigned poetry to me.

Pattern 4.

Noun - Linking Verb - Noun

4.1 Jenny is a teacher.

Jenny is a noun.

Is the linking verb.

A teacher is a noun. A predicate noun (subjective complement).

Pattern 5.

Noun - Linking Verb - Adjective

5.1 She looks beautiful.

She is the pronoun or noun.

Looks is the linking verb. It pertains to the senses.

Beautiful is the predicate adjective.

Pattern 6.

Noun - Verb - Noun - Noun

6.1 Yuma named her cat Mimi.

Yuma is the noun

Named is the predicate

His cat is the direct object

Mimi is an objective complement

Pattern 7.

Noun - Verb - Noun - Adjective

7.1 The students thought their task difficult.

Students is a noun.

Thought is the verb

Task is the noun

The objective complement is difficult. It is an adjective.

Remember the noun phrase is the subject in the sentence. The subject can be a noun or pronoun.

The verb phrase is usually the predicate. It tells something about the subject.

8. Sentence

A sentence is a group of words expressing a complete thought. It contains a subject and a predicate; in Mathematics it is a group of symbols that completes a requirement/equation.

9. Semiotics

Semiotics is the study or science of signs and symbols; refer to Scholes.

10. Words are texts, spoken or written, communication, put into an explicit expression. Moreover it is a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, reference, vocabulary, lexicon, word web and/or Word of God, among others.

18 Review: The Fanboys

Have you heard about the Fanboys? Did you miss them in your English classes? Here are six easy rules to remember the comma and the semi-colon.

1. A coordinate conjunction is a linking word that connects words, phrases or clauses that are similar in grammatical structure.

The two words that are connected by the conjunction (for, and, nor, but, yet, so, or) are of equal status. (FANBOYS)

2. A clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb. The independent clause can stand alone as a sentence; it has a complete thought.

3. Rule of the comma -

When two independent clauses are joined by one of the FANBOYS, you place a comma before the FANBOY. The group of words preceding and following the FANBOY must be independent clauses. Each must express a complete thought.

Example: Norie went online early, for she knew there would be lots to read.

Rose writes poems, and Juvy renders speeches.

Do not use a comma before the FANBOY if the word group following the FANBOY is NOT an independent clause.

Example: Pope Benedict XVI celebrates masses and prays for all the nations.

Use a comma to separate items in a series.

Use a comma after a long introductory phrase.

4. A dependent clause is connected to the rest of the sentence by a subordinate conjunction. It cannot stand alone as a sentence, although it has a subject and a predicate. It is also called a subordinate clause.

5. A subordinate conjunction is the word that renders the clause dependent.

Examples: after, although, because, if, once, before, even if, since, that, when

After she won the lottery, she donated a portion to schools.

The relative pronouns who, that, which also introduce subordinate clauses. Take note that some subordinate conjunctions also function as prepositions.

6. The Semi-colon usage

A semi-colon is used between two independent clauses without any connecting word.

Martin sings at the music museum tomorrow; he studied music in Switzerland Art School.

Use a semi-colon between two independent clauses even when an adverbial conjunction is used (however, therefore, etc.).

Norie enjoys shopping; however, she has no time.

19 - Choosing the Right Words for Clarity

Life is full of words. We live with words because we need to communicate.

I remember when I was a kid when we had to find dictionary meanings for different subjects; it was a challenge! All the time, I was full of questions because I always asked the elders, "Please help me, what do you mean by this?" And they would say, "Please use the dictionary!" Hence, the history of my love for words. No one gave me the answers. I had to search the books.

Teachers always say, "Use the right words in making sentences. Choose the right words for clarity." I didn't forget the mantra of the English teachers in elementary and high school. With all the connotative, denotative and all sort of meanings, words flourished my imagination.

My play time was all those books around me. So when I became a mother, I played books with my kids; brainstorming sessions were part of the family activities.

When I became a teacher I bugged my students, even those who are professionals learning ESL:

" Learn 5-10 words a day.

Read one article or story a day.

Practice everyday.

Use the words in sentences for practice.

And don't be embarrassed to commit an error; always try."

Truly, everything is a learning process.

Check this list:

Cut out unnecessary words to eliminate wordiness. Be concise.

Use exact words and be able to recognize general and specific words. A general word refers to classes, while specific words refer to individual units.

Standard English uses words in different ways for different occasions. The words must be used depending on the sentence meaning, but should conform to grammar rules. Words in Standard English can be formal (conservative language/e.g. thesis), informal (deals with important and general readers/articles), or colloquial (spoken by educated people; usually, in casual conversations).

There are vulgar words (non-standard English), slang and/or idiomatic expressions (special and spontaneous language a group of people develops), and more.

Choose the right words and express yourself clearly!

20 - Commonly Misused Words in English

Words are necessary. Without them we can't communicate. Of course, pictures can help but we aren't too primitive to just draw. Our brains should meet with each other in a near exact language. This is the characteristic that separates us from animals: having the power of articulate language.

Today, even the rise of technology comes with the gift of language. Technology can process quickly (they use computer language); an achievement of the human race.

English has become our global language. Nations unite because they can communicate. Everyone is trying, even those countries who aren't used to the language. From this time, English couldn't be ignored.

There is a lot to learn and study about English. But then, one cannot grasp everything of a second language so soon, because not even the native language delivers all. Practice using the language. It is how people use them.

Take this example:

Paulo: Wow, your rosary is aluminous!

Rizzy: What?

Paulo: I mean it has light...

Rizzy: Gleaming?

Paulo: Yes.

Rizzy: It's luminous, NOT aluminous.

Paulo: Thanks.

Check out these commonly misused words in English:

1. affect and effect

Affect means to influence.

Effect means the influence or the outcome.

2. anxious and eager

Anxious means being worried.

Eager means being zealous or enthusiastic.

3. comprise

Comprise means to include. The whole "comprises the parts." "Of" is already in the meaning of the word.

The internet comprises voice-to- voice talk.

4. ensure and insure

Ensure is to make certain.

Insure is to protect against financial loss. (insurance)

5. fate and faith

Fate is destiny or fortune.

Faith is belief or trust.

6. fewer and less

Fewer is used with anything you can count ( fewer cars)

Less is used with anything you cannot count (less pride)

7. hung and hanged

Hung is the past tense of hang.

Hanged is a way of execution or punishment.

8. in behalf of and on behalf of

In behalf of means "in support of."

On behalf means to represent.

9. regardless

Regardless means "in spite of," or despite.

Irregardless should not be used.

10. they're, their, there

They're is the contraction of "they are."

Their means belonging to them ( or their property).

There means "in that place." It is demonstrative pronoun.

There introduces a sentence.

11. unique

Unique means one of a kind or unequalled. Most unique and very unique are wrong expressions.

12. your and you're

Your is a possessive pronoun, in second person.

You're is the contraction of you are.

21 - The Proper Use of The Article “THE” And Other Topics

I. The

Nouns are usually accompanied by modifiers. The most common noun modifiers in English are the determiners. Articles are determiners.

The primary function of "a' is to introduce a noun phrase. It is one of the ways speakers introduce "new information." Once a noun phrase is introduced with "a," a speaker can use the or an appropriate pronoun to refer to this entity.

I have a new book. It is the latest on the shelves.

In most cases, the cannot be used unless the person or object has already been introduced into the discussion. It refers back to something.

The article "the" is used when there is only one item in the immediate world of the speakers and they share knowledge of its existence. We say the moon, the sun...

In general singular nouns cannot occur without a determiner. Exceptions are singular nouns that refer to abstract institutions than physical structures

Ex. She's attending college.

Use "the" with plural names of countries, islands and mountains.

The Philippines

The --- Islands

Use "the" for rivers, seas, etc.

The Dead Sea

The Pacific Ocean

Use "the" when we say; the north, the south, the east, the west of....

The north of Vietnam

The south of Italy

B. A and An

Use "a" with nouns that begin with consonants

A business letter

A wish

A lesson

Except: those letters that are pronounced like vowel sounds

hour an (h)our herb an (h)erb

Use "an" with nouns that begin with vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

An article

An evening of laughter

II. The Prefix (syllables/prefix) or words at the beginning:

1. ortho (Greek) straight, right

Orthodox conforming to practice and religion

2. bene (Latin) well

Blessings, best wishes


3. auto (Greek) self

Autobiography a written account of oneself, opposite is biography - a written account of another person's life

4. crypt (Greek) hidden

Cryptic; occult

5. par (a) (Greek) a prefix placed in front of more words, resembling, not exactly

Paraphrase rewording; stating a text in one's own words

6. vice (Latin) in turn, in place of

Vice president; vicissitudes ups and downs of life, turns of fortune

7. phil (Greek) love

Philanthropist a lover of mankind

8.homo (Greek) like, same


9. pseudo (Greek) false masquerading; pseudonym = pen name

10. caco (Greek) bad

Cacophony means bad sound, harsh; opposite of euphony

Practice now!

22 - Ways to Develop Paragraphs

You can use and combine all the methods in the same piece. Or you can devise another method from the main patterns.

There are many ways to develop paragraph ideas. Check this out.

1. By example - This method interprets facts by specific experiences, patterns, and illustrations. This method comes easy because you can get/use your own experiences or someone else's credible enough to authenticate the situation. This is explaining about something concrete.

For example: Climate Changes

Countries around the world are going through erratic climate changes. For example, in Japan and some part of the US, summer comes hot as in other Asian countries. A police officer's picture is shown online news pouring splash of water on the street in Europe.

2. By analysis is giving details and how ideas relate to the whole topic.

This method by comparison and contrast is to compare the similarities and differences or enumerate the advantages or disadvantages; an effective way of this method is using analogy. An analogy is comparing an unfamiliar idea to one more familiar.

3. By definition is developing paragraphs by giving meaning and explanation

to words in the context. There are many techniques in this method as there are many words in the dictionary and thesaurus.

For Example: What is love?

"Love is never having to say you are sorry. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not keep a record of wrongs. Love is not selfish. Love never fails." (Corinthians)

4. Narration usually enumerates a process. This method tells a story. A story has a vivid beginning, middle and end. This can involve a chronological process.

For Example: How you tell a story to your friend...

How you survive an operation

How you write you essays or stories

5. Description Paragraph development by description can be subjective or objective.

Objective identification is describing the features of the object.

Subjective description is by thoughts and reactions

You can describe using the senses.

Figures of speech (simile, metaphors, personification, etc.) and other sense impressions help a lot in this method. Using the correct words is important and an effective way of making good sentences, and therefore paragraphs.

"The oaks, how subtle and marine, bearded..." Bearded Oaks by Robert Penn Warren

6. Persuasion Here you do selling. How do you sell products and advertise? This method is supported by reason (logical) and emotions (psychological).

As an example, study "The Gettysburg Address" by Abraham Lincoln.

Moreover, you can use and combine all the methods in the same piece. Or you can devise another method from the main patterns.

/Rosalinda Flores - Martinez.2nd draft:04092012. RoseVoc2.

Articles are also published on

posted on ishallwrite, 2012


Popular posts from this blog

Analysis/Commentary "Our Lady's Juggler (Anatole France)

Let me share the poem of Sir Eric Gamalinda

Short Stories in English with Filipino Translations