21 March 2014


Welcome to the blog for the English Skills courses at Athabasca University: English 140 (Grammar), English 143 (Writing for Academic Purposes), and English 146 (Reading for Academic Purposes). 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, to provide you with an opportunity to communicate with each other, and to practice the skills taught in these courses. Note that not all skills are appropriate to each course. 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.

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

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. 

Next blog: Friday, April 4, 2014.


Less people in Canada are planning travelling over this year because of the worse weather that happened in to many parts of the country recently and because it is expensive.

1. Word Form: 

“Less” is used with uncountable nouns. “People” is a countable noun, so you should use “fewer”.

2. Gerund/Infinitive: 

After the verb “plan” use the infinitive “to travel” rather than the gerund.

3. Redundant word: 

“over” should be omitted because “this year” means “over the course of the year”.

4. Adjective form: 

“worse” is the comparative adjective for “bad”. Since nothing is being compared, you should use “bad”.

5. Verb tense: 

The time frame is from a point in the past until now, so you should use the present perfect tense (“has happened”) than the simple past.

6. Redundant word: 

“To” isn't needed as a preposition here.

Suggested solution

Fewer people in Canada are planning to travel this year because of the bad weather that has happened in many parts of the country recently, and also because it is expensive.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

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.

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


Solution to the previous puzzle:  

  1. e … hamper (e/he/her/hare/harem/hamper)
  2. o … erosion (o/so/son/ones/snore/sooner/erosion)

Other answers were possible.

New Puzzle:

Since the last puzzle was so much fun, I thought we would try the same thing again! Remember, just add one letter at a time to make a new word:

Example:    a ... adios
Answer    a/as/sad/dais/adios

  1. o … honor
  2. i … detail
  3. i … elation

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


There are three idioms that use HORSE:

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.

Jason often told his friends about the funny people he encountered at work.

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.

Normally, I request that each participant make just one change at a time, following the order indicated below. But I don't remember the last time we actually made it to the end of the list, let alone started again from the top, so this time you are free to make as many changes as you wish. Just remember to number each change 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 -pathy (meaning feeling or disease) 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.*

... I have mixed feelings about April Fools’ 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.

If your friends want to play board games these next weekends, we can arrange some tournaments.


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

expedite (verb)  +  myriad (noun)

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 unstable or unpredictable as volatile

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


Write two sentences using the word consider.

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


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

When my parents arrived yesterday, I was worried that they might not approve of the way I live.


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 1The French were the first Europeans to settle in what is now Canada.
Sentence 2Many of the British who came to Canada went to the New England colonies first.
Sentence 3The American War of Independence prompted many Loyalists to leave the colonies and head for Canada as it was still under British control.


The following question is similar to the one in part 3 of the ENGL140 final exam. Write a sentence using the vocabulary and grammar indicated.

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


This is an exercise in advanced sentence combining. 

Sentence 1: The students eagerly exchanged information about how to work together on the presentation they were making.
Sentence 2: They posted their information and ideas to a wiki they had created specifically for that presentation.


1.    Use an gerund to combine the sentences.
2.    Use an infinitive to combine the sentences.