Although the use of the article in English seems a priori an easy subject to teach, the truth is that some students struggle with the use and omission of it.
What can you find in this post?
- Animated video with some rules on the use and omission of the articles “the, a/an”
- Some links to exercises from around the web to consolidate knowledge.
- An engaging quiz with feedback notes featuring some difficult cases related to the use and omission of articles.
Grammar. Watch the presentation. Pause it as often as necessary to understand and assimilate the rules.
Exercises: Links to interactive exercises from around the web to consolidate knowledge.
Oh my! We are enjoying the last week of summer and I don’t want to think about what’s ahead of us. I quite like autumn provided it doesn’t rain a lot, but I absolutely hate winter. Light for me is essential and where I live, surrounded by beautiful misty green mountains, we don’t get to see much light in winter. That’s the downside.
Anyway, I got the idea for this post just before my brain exploded after endless hours of correcting errors from essays.
Have a look at these two sentences. Take your time.
Which is correct? The first? The second? Or maybe both?
1. I paid the tickets with my credit card
2. I paid for the tickets with my credit card
At the end of this blog post, you’ll find a little quiz to test your knowledge, but now here’s the explanation:
The verb “to pay” can be both transitive and intransitive.
- You” pay FOR something” when saying exactly what you’ll receive in return for the money/payment. Therefore, sentence 2 above is correct. (I paid the tickets with my credit card)
- I paid for the tickets with my credit card
- My son pays for his internet connection with his pocket money.
- How much would you pay for that jacket?
- You “pay something” when you don’t mention what is being purchased.
- I paid 50€ to get a good seat
- Everybody in Spain must pay taxes
- I need to work if I want to pay the bills/the rent
- You “pay someone”.
- I paid him 50€
- He has always paid his employees
- Can you pay the plumber for fixing the tap?
And now that we are on the subject 🙂 perhaps you’re williing to go the extra mile and learn a few expressions with this common verb. Here we go. Just 6.
- To pay in advance= to pay for something before it is received or delivered
I paid in advance for the first night in the hotel
- To pay an arm and a leg/ to pay through the nose for something = you pay too much
Most Americans pay an arm and a leg to provide their families with a health plan
- To pay the price= to suffer the consequences for doing something or risking something
Those who did not get off early paid the price and couldn’t get there on time
- To pay as you go = to pay costs as they occur; to pay for goods as they are bought (rather than charging them)
Get a pay as you go mobile
- To pay (someone) peanuts= to pay someone the absolute minumum amount necessary.
Talking about money, we hear that in sweatshops workers are paid peanuts.
- To pay attention to (someone/something)= to give attention to someone/something As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
And here’s the quiz, as promised.
Officially it’s still spring, but here in the north of Spain it seems the summer has arrived. So, while some people are already kind of brown and wearing colourful garments, I am still hidden under layers of dark clothes looking like a stuffed sausage and crazy busy 🙂 checking exams.
Talking about the weather seems to be a favourite topic of conversation,but not only for British people. Every foreigner I’ve met, no matter the nationality, eventually talks about the weather.
Do you talk about the weather? Isn’t it true that when talking to people you have just met to simply start a conversation and avoid the I-don’t-know-what-to-say embarrassing moment, we talk about the weather?
So, how do you ask about the weather? Choose the correct answer
- What’s the weather like?
- How’s the weather?
The correct answer is c.
There is not much difference between these two questions when talking about the weather. Either of these is used in every day English. Some people might argue that “What’s the weather like in Spain?” asks for a more detailed description of the usual weather in Spain, whereas “How’s the weather in Spain?” would be more casual and would get “Good/Bad/Rainy” as an answer .
The truth is that asking these two questions will almost always get you the same answer.
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I must be doing something wrong. On second thought, perhaps my students are doing something wrong.
Do you know when your mum tells you off over and over again for not tidying your room and you just nod your head, promise it will never happen again and then, for some unknown reason, you seem unable to keep your promise? My students do it all the time. It’s called being nice. They are very nice, but being nice won’t help them pass exams.
So, you highlight the mistake, explain why it is a mistake, ask students if they have understood, they nod their head and say they do, you elicit some examples and give them exercises to consolidate and when you think you have seen the last of this mistake, here it is again, sticking its tongue out at you.
Below you’ll find a quiz with some of these very persistent mistakes students at intermediate level, and probably above, make.
This is how I suggest you do this quiz
- Do the quiz. Obviously 🙂
- Read the grammar and do the exercises when provided.
- For spelling mistakes: try to remember the words commonly misspelt featured in the quiz and write them down with the correct spelling.
- Grammar mistakes: Do you remember the mistakes? Can you remember why they were wrong? Write a sentence for each of the mistakes you can remember.
- Do the quiz again and correct your own sentences and the spelling of the words now.
- Were there any grammar or spelling mistakes you could not remember? Repeat numbers 3, 4 and 5.
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Quiz: Fixing Most Common Mistakes Seen in Intermediate Written Exams
Ready to start the quiz? Here we go! Which of these sentences is correct?
I am interested in participate in a seminar
I am interested in participating in a seminar
Which of these sentences is correct? Don’t forget to read the grammar and do the exercises
There are a lot of meals that they are easy to cook
There are a lot of meals that are easy to cook
There are a lot of meals they are easy to cook
Another very frequent mistake. Which is correct?
From my point of view is very difficult to be the boss.
From my point of view, it is very difficult to be the boss.
Let’s try spelling now! Which is correct?
Ready for the next grammar mistake? Which is correct?
I don’t mind sharing it with other family
I don’t mind sharing it with another family
Think hard! Which is correct? Choose and then read the grammar and do the exercises
I would like to know how much does it cost
I would like to know how much it costs
Let’s see vocabulary now. Which is correct?
My mother is a great cook
My mother is a great cooker
Concentrate! Which is correct?
I prefer stay in a hotel
I prefer to stay in a hotel
And now, what do you say?
I couldn’t find the information on your website
I couldn’t find the information in your website
Let’s go for spelling again. Which one is correct?
Which is correct?
What’s the plural of “life”
Let’s focus on articles now. Which is correct?
I strongly believe that the fast food is not healthy
I strongly believe that fast food is not healthy
Which is correct?
The dates of the seminar are not enough clear
The dates of the seminar are not clear enough
What do you say?
I am completely agree wih you
I completely agree with you
Think hard! What do you say?
Fast food is becoming very popular
Fast food it is becoming very popular
What’s the opposite of the adjective “polite”?
Which is correct?
Everybody loves you
Everybody love you
What’s the correct spelling?
Which is correct?
What do you say? At or in?
They arrived in London yesterday
They arrived at London yesterday
Which is correct in this context? Don’t forget to read the grammar and do the exercises.
In the end we decided to cancel the trip
At the end we decided to cancel the trip
Which preposition collocates with “depend”?
It depends on her
It depends from her
It depends of her
What do you say? Choose the correct answer and then read the grammar and do the exercises
The mountains were covered with snow
The mountains were covered by snow
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You might be interested in doing these other quizzes
Yes, I am doing this. I am publishing this post. And I am publishing this post even when I am well aware that it is going to stir up controversy.
How does she dare, I can almost hear you say, create a quiz about subject-verb agreement when she is not even a native speaker?
I might regret it, but the truth is that I sort of needed to clarify in my mind one of the most obscure points of grammar in the English language- namely that of subject-verb agreement-, because contrary to what one might think a singular subject in English does not always demand a singular verb, and what looks like a plural subject might not be so and take a singular verb instead. To top it all, when there is disagreement among grammarians, both singular and plural forms can be used.
To create this quiz, I have done a lot of research on the Internet and read what some noted grammarians have to say about this issue and I have found that they don’t always agree. For this reason, I have tried to avoid the most controversial subject-verb agreement issues.
Hope you find it useful!