1 October 2017


Updates to this blog are currently on hold. 

Students interested in practicing their English language skills are encouraged to review previous postings in the archive tab.

18 May 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: suspended until further notice.


Please ask her where is she going over the week-end and is her boyfriend going to but don’t tell her that I ask for the informations.

1. Embedded question:

When a question clause (i.e., a clause introduced by a question word) is embedded within a longer clause, you should use the declarative sentence word order (i.e., the subject followed by the verb) unless you want to use direct speech, in which case you need to change the pronouns to match the original speech participants.

2. Preposition:

In this context, “over” seems a little too informal. It is better to use “for”.

3. Word form:

“Weekend” is one word. There is no hyphen.

4. Embedded question:

Here, too, we need to maintain the declarative sentence word order.

5. Conjunction required:

We need to add a conjunction to connect the implied clause (“Please ask her”) with the second question clause. “Whether” is preferable here, but “if” is also frequently used in this situation.

6. Word confusion:

We want to say “too” (meaning “also” or “as well”) rather than “to”.

7. Verb tense:

The questioning occurs in the past, so we probably want to put the verb in the past tense (“asked”). Alternatively, if we construe that question as something that continues in the speaker’s mind, we might use the present progressive (“am asking”), or the present perfect (“have asked”).

8. Word form:

Information is uncountable, so there is no plural form.

9. Internal punctuation:

There are several ways of doing this. The simplest is to use a comma after “too” to separate the two independent clauses.

Possible solution:

Please ask her where she is going for the weekend and whether her boyfriend is going too, but don’t tell her that I asked for the information.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

The exotic imported sports dark red car has been driving to fast when it'd skid of the road and the passenger too young women is injured serious.

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


Solution to the previous puzzle:


New Puzzle:

Find the words that fit the definitions below. The two words will be the same except for the extra letter at the beginning of the first word.

Example: Begin --> Sour
Answer:   Start   --> Tart

1. Barrier                     -->    Everything
2. Full amount              -->    An opening
3. Season                    -->     Bury
4. Roll around in mud    -->     Permit
5. Females                  -->    Prophetic sign
6. Twist forcibly            -->    Circular band
7. Being victorious          -->    Baseball game division
8. One of the five W's    -->    Head covering

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


There are three idioms that use the word bee:

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:

I often give interesting books as gifts to my friends.


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 tele- (meaning "far") 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:*

… Spring seems to have arrived late this year …

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.

After completing his chores, the youth went to the store to pick up a "small" snack. He bought a bag of chips, two chocolate bars, an ice cream sandwich, and a bottle of root beer to wash it all down!


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

incredulous (adjective) and exasperating (noun).

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 being uncertain about something as feeling complacency

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 forgive.

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.

I hadn't realize what a multitasker I was becoming. However, last night my wife pointed out that while we were watching a movie on TV, I was using my computer to learn about the cast and director, and then texting the details to my friend. 


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: There is a car parked in the driveway next to my house.
Sentence 2: It is a yellow Ferrari.
Sentence 3: I took a picture of it to show my friends.