5 July 2014


Welcome to the English Skills blog for English 140 (Grammar), English 143 (Writing for Academic Purposes), and English 146 (Reading for Academic Purposes) at Athabasca University. These courses may be taken separately or as part of the English Language Proficiency Program. The goal 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 e-mail your instructor.

Feel free to post comments and suggestions for 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.

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Next blog: There will be a summer hiatus before the next blog appears on Friday, August 8, 2014.


For instant; the way in which the correspondents course differ then classrooms , is that the equipments' costs are very expensive  for  students are ought to have computer, internet, and another modern up to date things.

1. Word confusion: 

The word we want here is "instance", which refers to an example or occurrence, not "instant" which is a very short period of time.

2. Article use: 

There is more than one way for courses to differ, so we shouldn't use the definite pronoun ("the"). It would better to use "a" or "one" instead.

2. Comparison: 

The items being compared need to be clear and comparable. In this case, we want to compare different kinds of courses, not a course and a classroom, so the wording needs to make this clear.

3. Word form: 

"Correspondents" is the plural form of the noun. What we need is the adjective, "correspondence". Note also that "correspondent's" or "correspondents'" would be correct from a grammatical point of view, but would mean something quite different.

4. Number: 

We could use either the singular ("course") or the plural ("courses"), but the items need to be comparable: "correspondence course/classroom course" or "correspondence courses/classroom courses".

5. Word confusion: 

Do not confuse "then", which refers to what happens next, with "than", which we use to make comparisons. But here, we need another word entirely: "from". One thing can be "different than" another, but it "differs from" another.

6. Word form: 

The word "equipment" modifies the noun "cost". We could use the adjective form ("equipment cost") or we could make it possessive ("the equipment's cost"). But we can't make it plural ("equipments"), so we cannot use the plural possessive ("the equipments' cost").

7. Verb use: 

You do not need the auxiliary ("are") with the modal ("ought"). You can say "ought to have", but simplicity is usually better, so consider using the word "need" instead.

8. Number error: 

There are several students, so there should be more than one “computer”.

9. Preposition: 

In this sentence "for" is being used as a conjunction (meaning "because"). But it sounds like a preposition ("expensive for students"), so it would be clearer if we used a different word ("because", "since", or "as").

10. Agreement error: 

The word "another" is singular (literally, "an" other). But we need the plural form: "other".

11. Punctuation: 

A semicolon is used between independent clauses when there is no coordinating conjunction. We should not use it after a phrase like "for instance". Use a comma instead. 

You should not use a comma to separate the subject from its verb, so you should omit the comma before "is". 

You should also hyphenate compound adjectives like "up-to-date".

12. Redundancy:

"Modern" means "up-to-date" so you don't need both words.

Possible solution

For instance, one way in which correspondence courses differ from classroom courses is that equipment costs are very expensive, as students need to have computers, internet, and other up-to-date things.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

Everyone of the runners who are in the race are here but we can't get started with the first ones until you line up on a starting line.

Solutions will be posted in the next edition of the blog.


Solution to the previous puzzle:  

  1. Fat - Plump
  2. Father - Create
  3. Best - Top
  4. Tear - Rip
  5. Slopes - Hill

New Puzzle:

Now that we understand how to do these. Let's try it again. Remember, move a single letter from one word to the other to make a pair of synonyms, or near synonyms. 

Example: Boast - Hip, 
Answer: Boat - Ship.

1. Rode - Can

2. Font - Farce
3. Tory - Stale
4. Dire - Cash
5. Self - Shill

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


There are three idioms that use PIE:

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 posters.



Change the words in the following sentence as indicated.

My younger brother happily lent his best friend his new bicycle.

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

For instance, Participant 1 writes #1 Subject Noun, and changes the subject noun; Participant 2 writes #2 Direct Object Noun, and changes the direct object noun, etc.

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.

When all 7 changes have been made, return to the top of the list and continue.


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 -soph- (meaning "wise") occurs in many words. 

Add an affix (either a prefix or a suffix) to this stem to make another word. 

Each participant should add a different word to the list.


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

... we saw the fireworks on Canada Day ...

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).


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

My sisters’ friends went to various city parks to participate in the Canada Day celebrations. At some parks there were speeches by dignitaries. At others, there were special children’s events, complete with games, clowns, and face painting. Wherever they went, there were happy, flag-waving crowds of proud Canadians.


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

autonomy (noun) and discredit (verb).

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


We can describe something that has been achieved as an attainment

Provide a synonym and an antonym for this word. Each participant should suggest a different word.


Write two sentences using the word celebrate.

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


On July 1st, Canada Day, I will go down town and watch the parade that will go from City Hall to River Park. I will follow the parade to the park and watch the Citizenship ceremony that will take place in the afternoon. My neighbours will be getting their citizenship at this ceremony, and I will be there to congratulate them and celebrate this achievement with them.


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.

Sentence 1Canada Day fell on a Tuesday this year.
Sentence 2The fireworks display was spectacular, but it started very late because of the long daylight hours.
Sentence 3: The July 1st holiday was a great way to start the new month.


Write a sentence using the vocabulary or grammar indicated.

Write a sentence using the word "drive" with a passive voice in the past perfect and  the word "goin the simple past tense.