14 April 2016


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 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.

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Next blog: Thursday, May 5, 2016


Studying on my own pace is a lot of benefit for me due to I do not need to be worrying about no time for attend classes.

1. Preposition use: 

We often use the phrase "on pace" to describe something that is proceeding according to schedule; but when we describe how fast something is, we use the preposition "at". Likewise, we often speak of having "time for" something; but in this case we need "to" because we are using the infinitive.

2. Plural:

Since "a lot" refers to more than one thing, we need to use the plural ("benefits"). Otherwise, we could remove the modifier and simply use of the idiomatic phrase "of benefit".

3.  Verb choice:

We can keep the verb "is" if we use the phrase "of benefit". But if we want to go with the plural, we should say that studying "has" or "offers" a lot of benefits. Otherwise, we could use the adjective form, and say that it "is beneficial".

4.  Connective problem:

If you want to keep "due to", then you need to add a noun, for example, "the fact" ("...due to the fact that..."). Otherwise use something like "because" instead.

5.  Verb form:

After "need" use the infinitive ("to worry").

6.  Negatives:

Using two negatives this close together is awkward and confusing; omit “no” , and use “having”.

Possible solution:

Studying at my own pace has a lot of benefits for me because I do not need to worry about having time to attend classes.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

Michaels always been borrowing his red stylish sporty-looking newer car to his brother who’s lending it while his old battered rust-spotted white truck is in the garage for repairing.

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


Solution to the previous puzzle


New Puzzle:

Find the word pairs defined below.

Hint: 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. Outer layer                      -->     Oxidized metal
2. Defraud; violate rules      -->     energy in transit
3. Sensation of cold             -->     Local land elevation
4. Go upward                      -->     Jointed appendage; branch
5. Strong metal rope           -->      Having necessary skill
6. Confined; restrained        -->     Old; grew older
7. Stop; discontinue             -->     Freedom from hardship
8. Lacking dirt                     -->      Lacking fat

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


There are three idioms that use the word fish:

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, return to the top of the list and continue.

Here is the sentence:

The learned professor gave an interesting lecture to his class on ancient Rome .


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 -cogni- (meaning "know") 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:*

… April showers bring May flowers …

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.

My old high school friend often comes over for a visit on Saturdays and spends the day with me. He usually brings his dog, who likes to run around while we throw the ball or play frisbee in the yard.


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

recognize (verb) and incognito (adjective).

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 awareness or understanding of something as cognizance

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 forget.

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.

Ever since you started your new job, you have shown more confidence and enthusiasm; and I have noticed that you have made a lot of new friends.


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: The Immigrant Access Fund provides loans for internationally trained immigrants.
Sentence 2: Many immigrant professionals find it hard to pursue their careers in Canada because of accreditation difficulties.
Sentence 3: The loans help pay the costs associated with accreditation, training, or upgrading.


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

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