2 June 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.

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

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Next blog: Thursday, July 7, 2016


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.

1. Adjective word order:

Adjectives conventionally take the following order: opinion, dimension, age, shape, colour, origin, and material -- so we should say "exotic, imported, dark red, sports".

2. Passive voice:

Since we do not have an explicit subject, the verb should be in the passive voice ("was being driven").

4. Verb tense:

The activity occurred in the past and driving is an activity that extends through time, so the past progressive tense is probably best: "was being driven".

5. Word confusion:

"To" is a preposition. In this case, we want to use an intensifier: "too".

6. Word confusion:

Be careful not to confuse "of" and "off".

7. Verb tense:

"It'd skid" means "it had skid" (or "it would skid"). Since we want to say what happened at a particular moment in time ("when"), the simple past is probably best: "skidded".

8. Verb tense:

Again, since these events happened in the past, we should use the simple past tense: "was".

9. Word form/order:

“Serious” is an adjective. We want to describe the verb "injure", so we need an adverb: "seriously". Also, note that the adverb is usually placed in front of the verb (not after it): "seriously injured".

10. Punctuation:

Adjectives combined in a series should be separated by commas. Also note that "two young women" is an appositive, so it also needs to be separated with commas.

Possible solution:

The exotic, imported, dark red, sports car was being driven too fast when it skidded off the road, and the passengers, two young women, were seriously injured.


Correct the errors in the following sentence:

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.

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


Solution to the previous puzzle

Wall - All
Whole - Hole
Winter - Inter
Wallow - Allow
Women - Omen
Wring - Ring
Winning - Inning
What - Hat

New Puzzle:

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. Flat - Pump
2. Feather - Crate
3. Bet - Stop
4. Ear - Trip
5. Lopes - Shills

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


There are three idioms that use the word pig:

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:

The wise old woman gave sage advice to her grandchildren.


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 mal- (meaning "bad") 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:*

... Summer is nearly upon us ...

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.

Many people were enjoying the Midsummer Day celebrations in the park with their families and friends. None of them wanted to think about the fact that the days would now be getting shorter and that the warm summer weather would be followed by the cold of winter again!


Vocabulary building is important for both reading comprehension and writing. 

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

remiss (adjective) and impediment (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 a lack of concern about something as circumspect

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 blow.

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 Friday I went to a poetry reading at the local book store. The poet, who was in attendance, read excerpts from his most recent work, which had been published earlier in the year. Even though the poet was not well known, the event was well attended, and many people bought a copy of his book to take home 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. Do not use a semi-colon.

Sentence 1: Yuri did poorly on his  final exam last week.
Sentence 2: He stayed up very late studying before the exam.
Sentence 3: Research shows that getting a good night's sleep before an exam is important.


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

Write a sentence using an independent clause in the past tense with a modal verb and a dependent clause in the past tense.