13 August 2015


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.

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.

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Next blog: Friday, September 4, 2015.


A visitor to southeast asia must to remember taking their anti-malaria medicine regular to be affective preventing them from sickness and it would spoil the trip.

1. Noun-pronoun agreement:

"A visitor" and "their/them" do not agree. The easiest solution is to make the noun plural ("visitors"); otherwise the pronouns should be singular ("his/him" or "her/her").

2. Capitalization:

"Southeast Asia" is a proper noun, so it needs to be capitalized.

3. Modal + verb:

After a modal such as "must", use the verb name, not the infinitive (i.e. "must remember").

4. Infinitive/gerund:

In this sentence, since it is not a matter of recalling something from the past, the correct form after "remember" is the infinitive (i.e. "remember to take").

5. Word form:

Since "regular" modifies the verb "take", it needs to be in the adverbial form ("regularly").

6. Word confusion:

The word we need here is "effective" not "affective".

7. Missing words:

The words "for it" are missing after "regularly", and the word "at" is missing before "preventing".

8. Parallel construction:

The conjunction "and" joins two phrases that are objects of "preventing", so they should be parallel. Here is one possibility: "preventing them from getting sick" and "spoiling their trip".

9. Word form:

We often use the phrase "anti-malaria medicine", but since "anti-malaria" is modifying a noun, it should be in the adjectival form ("anti-malarial").

Possible solution:

Visitors to Southeast Asia must remember to take their anti-malarial medicine regularly for it to be effective at preventing them from getting sick and spoiling their trip.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

The twin’s were unusual amused, first they entertain there school’s friends’ by telling jokes, than they had chased after the neighboring dog and it was ended when they had imitated their friend’s.

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


Solution to the previous puzzle:  

1. quit and it
2. quirk and irk
3. quark and ark
4. quail and ail
5. quill and ill
6. queasy and easy
7. quart and art
8. qualms and alms

New Puzzle:

Five words that contain OD as a letter-pair have had all of their other letters removed and placed into a pool. Put those letters back in their proper places. What are the words?

*OD**, ***OD, *OD***, **OD***, ****OD*

Pool: A, B, C, C, C, E, E, E, H, I, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, T, U, Y

Each asterisk represents one missing letter.

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


There are three idioms that use the word dog:

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 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.

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

Here is the sentence:

A kind young man returned the lost puppy to its grateful owner


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 -anthrop- (meaning "human") occurs in many words. 

Add an affix 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:*

... it has been a hot, dry summer ...

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

When our friends went to the mountains north of here, they swam in the cool water of hidden lakes, canoed down rivers, took photographs of some spectacular birds, hiked through forests, and slept in their tents at night.


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

irretrievably (adverb) and indisputable (adjective).

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 someone who feels bothered as being perturbed.

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


Write two sentences using the verb fight.

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.

Last weekend I travelled to the mountains where I camped by a stream. I fell asleep each night to the sound of rushing water and the wind that blew gently through the trees. Hiking was fantastic as the flowers were all in bloom.


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 1: Both July and August have been very dry this year.
Sentence 2: Many wildfires continue to burn.
Sentence 3: The air has been hazy from all the smoke.


Write a sentence using the vocabulary and grammar indicated.

Write a sentence that begins with the phrase "my friends" and includes the word "gathered" in the past perfect progressive tense and the word "celebrate" in the simple past tense.