22 March 2017


Welcome to the English Skills blog! 

This blog is designed for students in ENG140ENGL143, and ENGL146 at Athabasca University. 

It is also open to students in ENGL155ENGL177, and ENGL189 who wish to develop their English language skills.

The goal of this blog is to increase communication between students and instructors, and to provide students with an opportunity to communicate with each other and to practice the skills taught in these courses. If you post general questions about the assignments or the course, they will be addressed in the blog. If you have detailed questions you want answered, then it is probably better to e-mail your instructor directly.

Feel free to post comments and suggestions on how to improve this site!


A hearty welcome to all the new students joining these courses. We hope you enjoy your studies and have fun participating in this blog.

Assignments marked with asterisks (*.*) are mandatory for ENGL140 students (Assignment 9).

For information on how to participate, please visit the instructions page or contact the administrator.

IMPORTANT: This blog site is open to the public; do not post personal information that could identify you--first name and the initial of your last name are the only personal information you should post. Please watch this video from the Canadian Government explaining privacy issues and social networking. 

Also, be sure to let your tutors know the nickname you have chosen for this blog; otherwise, they will not be able to give you the marks/bonus marks that you have earned for your participation.

Next blog: Thursday, April 6, 2016


There were to much peoples at the mall so I was hurried up shopping, I was too hurried that the shirt’s I bought's not big enough and I'm having to return them.

1.  Word confusion:

We need to use “too” (not “to”) as an intensifier.

2. Modifier use:

“Much” is used to modify uncountable nouns. Since “people” is countable, you should use “many”.

3.  Plural form:

“People” is already plural (unless you are referring to something like a racial group), so it doesn’t need to be pluralized again.

4.  Passive or active voice:

Do not use the passive form (“was hurried”) unless you mean to suggest that something was causing the speaker to be hurried. In this situation, use the active voice.

4.  Modifier use:

To convey the extent of the modifier, use “so” (not “too”)

5. Apostrophe error:

“Shirts” is plural, not possessive, so there is no apostrophe. “Bought” is the past tense of “buy”, so it should never have an “s” or an apostrophe.

6. Subject-verb agreement:

Since ‘shirts’ is plural, you need the plural form of the verb (“are”).

7. Verb tense:

The present progressive (“am having”) would indicate that the action is happening now. It’s better to use the simple present tense (“have”) or the simple future (“will have”).

8. Punctuation:

When a coordinating conjunction such as ‘so’ separates two independent clauses, use a comma before it. When there is no coordinating conjunction, you need a period  or (if the ideas are very closely related) a semicolon.

Possible solution:

There were too many people in the mall, so I hurried with my shopping; I was in such a hurry that the shirts I bought are not big enough, and I will have to return them.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

The commentator said its the most unique program was skated at the competition and they are skating unbelievable therefore it hasn't been surprised that the audience have given them the standing ovation.

The solution will be posted in the next edition of the blog.


Solution to the previous puzzle:

o … honor (o/or/nor/horn/honor)
i … detail (i/id/lid/idle/ideal/detail)
i … elation (i/it/lit/lint/latin/latino/elation)

Other answers were possible.

New Puzzle:

Each of the following words contains a shorter word with the same meaning.

Example: "rapscallion" contains the word "rascal": RApSCALlion

See if you can find the words hidden below:

1. prosecute
2. scoundrel
3. falsities
4. stockings
5. pantaloons
6. brackets

*Note, the first person with the correct answer gets the bonus point.


There are three idioms that use the word tea:

Watch this video, and then write a sentence that uses one (or more) of these three idioms.

Try not to use the same idiom as the other participants.



Change the words in the sentence below as indicated.

Please change only the exact word in the sequence given. Each participant should build on the changes made by the previous participant.

For instance, if the original sentence is "Benson hurriedly told the bad news to his friends":

participant 1 could write "#1 Subject Noun: Michael hurriedly told the bad news to his friends";

participant 2 could then write "#2 Direct Object Noun: Michael hurriedly told the bad joke to his friends";

participant 3 could then write "#3 Indirect Object Noun: Michael hurriedly told the bad joke to his wife";


You are free to make as many changes as you wish. Just remember to number each change (and indicate the part of speech) so it is clear to everyone where we are on the list.

Participants who make all 7 changes will receive 2 bonus marks for their efforts.

When all 7 changes have been made, do not repeat
 the original sentence; return to the top of the list, but keep building on the changes made by the previous participant.

Here is the sentence:

The angry teacher often gave extra homework to her naughty pupils as punishment for disrupting her class.


1. subject noun

2. direct object noun          
3. indirect object noun                  
4. adjective(s)
5. adverb(s)    
6. verb name      
7. verb tense


The word stem com- or con- (meaning "together") occurs in many words. 

1. Add an affix to this stem to make another word.

2. Explain the meaning of the word and use it in a complete sentence.

Each participant should add a different word to the list.


Follow the instructions below to create three different sentences from the following clause:*

… I'm excited about the future …

Sentence 1. Add a phrase
Sentence 2. Add a dependent clause
Sentence 3. Add an independent clause

*Add your words to the beginning or end of the clause (but not both) and do not use a semi-colon to join your independent clause.


If the sentence is singular, change it to the plural; if it is plural, change it to the singular.

The first participant to make the correct changes will receive the bonus mark.

The little boy is going on an Easter Egg hunt with his older brother and sister, but if he wants to find more than just a few eggs, he needs to be quick because the other children have had a lot more practice.


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

Use the following two words in one sentence (note the parts of speech).

pandemonium (noun) and abdicate (verb).

To further improve your vocabulary, remember to check out the Word of the Day
The site also has word games and puzzles.


You can also test your skills while contributing to the World Food Programme here:


We can describe a general agreement as a concensus

First, write a sentence that uses this word.

Then rewrite the sentence, first using a synonym and then using an antonym for this word. 

Each participant should suggest a different synonym and antonym.

Example: easy.


This exercise is easy.
Synonym: simple. This exercise is simple.
Antonym: difficult. This exercise is difficult.


Write two sentences using the verb eat.

In the first sentence, use the word in the active voice; in the second sentence, use it in the passive voice.


Change the time in the following sentences by using a different verb tense and replacing any necessary time clues. Each student should choose a different verb tense.

My parents will arrive for a visit tomorrow. I am worried that they will feel crowded and uncomfortable in my small apartment and may wish that they had gone to a hotel instead.


Learning to combine ideas into more complex sentences is an important writing skill. There are many ways to do this. Try to combine the following three sentences. Do not use a semi-colon.

Sentence 1: Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister of Canada.
Sentence 2: He is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau..
Sentence 3: He is very popular.


Write a sentence using the vocabulary and grammar indicated. Do not use a semi-colon.

Write a sentence using a dependent clause in the past progressive tense and an independent clause in the simple present tense.