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June 1, 2020

Do you want a quick way to build on your English each day? In our new English blog, vocab and grammar are organized according to the Common European Framework (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), so you will know where you stand in your English-learning journey. We challenge you to find vocabulary words and grammar structures that you already know and then start practicing the ones you don’t!

Check out our other posts here.



Idiom of the day

(to be) under the weather: to feel slightly sick or unwell


Person 1: “How are you today?”

Person 2: “I’m a little under the weather. I think it’s because of all this cold rain we’ve been having.”






Slang of the day

(to be) left on read (pronounced “red”): When you can see that someone has read your message, but they haven’t replied for hours or even days. This usually leads to feelings of confusion or a sense of being ignored or unimportant to the other person.


“Mark left me on read. Why do you think he’s not answering me?”







Words of the day


CEFR A1 (Beginner)

cap•i•tal (n): the most important city in a country (or region); the center of the government is located here

In a Sentence: Many people think that Paris is the most beautiful capital city in the world.

Other beginner words:

access, banana, called, daughter, egg, (to) fall down, (to) get home, hand, identification, juice, kitchen, last name, (to) make sure, near here, office, parent, re-sealable, sandwich, (to) take a picture, usually, video-game, warm


CEFR A2 (Elementary)

cage (n or v): a small space in which to keep animals, closed with bars or wires; (v) to put an animal in a cage

In a Sentence: Some people do not like zoos because they think animals shouldn’t be kept in cages.

Other Elementary words:

a little, band-aid, café, (to) depend on, economics, fake, games, (to) happen, icon, (to) join, killer whale, large-volume, maintain, necessary, Oh dear!, pain, quick, rail, safely, tail, (to) undo, (to) vary, war


CEFR B1 (Intermediate)

cal•cu•late (v): to find out a number using math

In a Sentence: We calculated that our 1,000-mile road trip would cost us about $80 in fuel.

Other Intermediate words:

accompanied by, (to) be into, carbon dioxide (CO), dawn, economy class, failure, garden, handful, I suppose, just after, (to) keep on, ladle, major, natural gas, occasion, pan, quite a few, rat, savings, (to) take care, understatement, venture capitalism, warehouse, zoning


CEFR B2 (Upper-Intermediate)

ca•nal (n): a man-made waterway, built for the passage of boats or to bring water to crops

In a Sentence: The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

Other Intermediate words:

abject poverty, (to) bail out, capability, daring, (to) educate, facial, gas-guzzler, hand-in-hand, ignorance, jealous, (to) keep up with, laggard, mainstream, naturally, obstacle, pairing, questionable, range, salty, tactful, unconventional, value for money, warming, You can say that again.


CEFR C1 (Low-Advanced)

cap•ti•vat•ing (adj): charming or fascinating, especially because of beauty or intelligent thoughts

In a Sentence: Even if you don’t like his politics, you must admit that his speeches are captivating.

Other Advanced words:

abundant wildlife, back then, called upon, dead simple, ecological, facilities, gathered, half-measure, ideally, joint effort, keeping with, landmark, (to) make an offer, narrow escape, occasional, panorama, (to) quiz, (to) ramp up, sandy, (to) take literally, unburdened, vehicle, wake-up call, You’d be well advised to…


CEFR C2 (Advanced)

cam•paign (n): a planned series of actions intended to meet a specific goal

In a Sentence: Modern marketing campaigns often use social media influencers to promote products.

Other Advanced words:

academia, (to) backtrack, cancer, (to) dangle, effectiveness, familiarity, general agreement, handbag, imbalance, jump to conclusions, (to) keep quiet, (to) land on one’s feet, (to) make an impression, naval, on time, paramount, quotation, radio waves, same old story, tactical, unaware, validity, (to) wander, yep, zippo




CEFR A1 (Beginner)

Yes or No Questions in Present Simple

Last post, we talked about yes or no questions in present simple with DO, but when do we use BE?

Think of it this way: If you use BE in a sentence about yourself, then you use BE in a question about someone else. Remember, we use BE with adjectives/characteristics, moods/feelings, age, occupations, places, and definitions.

For example: I am happy it’s Friday. –> You are happy it’s Friday. Those are all the words we need, but something’s still not right. When you make questions with BE, you need to move some words around.

Switch the subject (“You”) and the verb (“are”): You are –> Are you

Now, put it all together: “Are you happy it’s Friday?”

Example 2: “I can’t talk on the phone right now. I am in school.” What if you want to know if your friend is in school at this moment?

I am in school right now. –> You are in school right now. –> Are you in school right now?



CEFR A2 (Elementary)

Past Simple of Irregular Verbs

Since we cannot show you ALL of the irregular verbs here, we recommend that you do an internet search (type: “irregular verb list” or “common irregular verbs”). Then, save the list so that you can study it over time. You will start to see the many ways that irregular verbs change in the past simple…

Some verbs never actually change form; it doesn’t matter if you’re using them in the present or the past. “Put” is “put” even in the past.

Compare: Please put this fish in the freezer. (present simple)

I put that fish in the freezer 4 hours ago. (past simple)

Some verbs change from long vowel sounds to short vowel sounds: meet –> met, read –> read (pronounced “red”), creep –> crept.

Other verbs change to a long o vowel sound: speak –> spoke, wake –> woke, break –> broke, freeze –> froze.

There are quite a few more patterns of verb endings, but there is really no way to predict how a verb will change in the simple past. Find a verb list and make a plan to study a few verbs each day. Make flash cards to quiz yourself or practice with a friend.



CEFR B1 (Intermediate)

Forming Compounds with some-, any-, no-, and every-

All four of the above words can be used with: where (to talk about a place), thing, and one or body (to talk about people). Note that there is no difference between one and body in this case. So, you can make the words:

somewhere, something, someone, and somebody

anywhere, anything, anyone, and anybody

nowhere, nothing, (pronounced “nuh-thing” NOT “no” thing), no one (write this as 2 separate words), and nobody

everywhere, everything, everyone, and everybody

In our next post, we will show you what these compound words mean and when to use them!



CEFR B2 (Upper-Intermediate)

Passive: Present Continuous

Let’s start with a quick review of what the passive is! In active sentences, the subject (the person or thing at the beginning of the sentence) performs the action. In passive sentences, we flip the order so that the subject is receiving the action. We usually use passive voice when we don’t know (or don’t care) who is performing or who performed the action.

Example: The store was robbed last night.

In this example, the person speaking may not know who the robber was.

We can use this same logic for present continuous sentences. At a store, a staff member may ask you “Is someone helping you?” in active voice. However, it is also perfectly normal to hear “Are you being helped?” in passive voice because the focus doesn’t need to be on the employee who is or isn’t helping (Is someone helping you?). The focus can be on the customer instead (Are you being helped?).

The formula here is: subject + is/are + BEING + the past participle

Example 2: My house is being painted right now.

In this case, it is understood that there are painters, likely from a company, painting the house. It is not important to mention them because it is obvious. If it’s not so obvious, you might mention who the painter is by adding by + the person.

Example: My house is being painted by my cousin.

In general, if you need to clarify something you’ve said in the passive, you would want to switch back to the active voice in your response (or even answer with a short phrase). So, if we wanted to clarify who the painters are, we would use the active voice.

Example: Person 1: My house is being painted.

      Person 2: Who’s painting it?

      Person 1: (I hired) the same people that painted my neighbor’s house last year.


CEFR C1 (Low-Advanced)

Wish / If Only with Regret

There are a few ways contexts in which you can use “wish” and “if only,” but let’s focus on regret for now. If you have a regret, the thing that you regret either happened or didn’t happen in the past. To express this feeling of sorrow or disappointment, use the structure: If only / I wish + past perfect.

Let’s take a common situation like eating a little too much during a meal. Perhaps you are now experiencing an upset stomach. In this case, you might wish you hadn’t eaten so much: I wish I hadn’t eaten so many chicken wings.

Example 2: You are hanging out with friends and one of them pulls out a guitar. You all start singing and you start to have feelings of regret because you never learned how to play an instrument, especially when you were in school. You might say: If only I had joined band in middle school.


CEFR C2 (Advanced)

Modals in the Past (Modals + Perfect Infinitive)

Use MUST or COULD/MAY/MIGHT to talk about something that you think happened, or didn’t happen, in the past.

Use subject + MUST + HAVE + past participle to talk about something that you feel sure has happened, especially when evidence is present:

Bill must have gone out. His truck isn’t in front of his house.

Note: Use of the verb GO in this situation means that the action–the act of going–has already happened; thus, we needed to use the past form of the modal (“must have gone”). However, you could alternatively say “Bill must be out” in the present.

Use subject + COULD/MAY/MIGHT + HAVE + past participle to talk about something that possibly happened, but you’re not sure:

The company sent us an email warning us that our credit card numbers may have been stolen. I’m going to request a new credit card just in case.

Use subject + COULDN’T + HAVE + past participle to talk about something you think did not happen:

Olivia couldn’t have taken any cookies out of the jar. She can’t even reach the counter!



Why do Americans…?

It’s no secret that the Americans have a big meat-eating reputation. So, as meatpacking plants began shutting down due to Covid-19 outbreaks, fear of a meat shortage was sparked. So great was this fear of disruption to the American food supply chain that an executive order was issued to keep meatpacking facilities open as essential businesses. Click here to learn what’s behind Americans’ obsession with meat.






        Meme of the day                                                                                                       Joke of the day


Feeling guilty about your kids watching too much TV?     


                                         Just mute the TV and turn on the subtitles.

Boom. Now they’re reading. 






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