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Archive for the 'English Phrases' Category

Different Ways to Say Goodbye in English

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It’s important to learn how to say goodbye in English because this is a crucial conversational skill to have as a new learner. In any language, saying goodbye at the end of a conversation or when leaving a group is polite. It lets the other party know that you respect them, and it makes your leave less abrupt.

In this article, we’ll go over a number of ways to say goodbye in English. We cover the most common words and phrases for a variety of situations, so you’ll never have to leave awkwardly again! 

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. The Two Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in English
  2. Goodbye Expressions in English for Any Situation
  3. Goodbye in English Slang & Pop Culture
  4. Final Thoughts

1. The Two Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in English

In the United States, there are two goodbye words you’re going to hear often. These are:

GoodbyeThis one is more formal, but it’s still casual enough to use with friends and family.
ByeThis means the exact same thing as “goodbye,” but is shorter and a little bit less formal. 

If you only learn a couple ways to say goodbye in English today, it should be these. 

2. Goodbye Expressions in English for Any Situation

Most Common Goodbyes

Now, let’s move on to more specific English phrases for goodbye. In the following sections, I’ll give you words and phrases to say goodbye based on the situation or context. I’ll also provide examples for each one, so you can see how to use them.

A- Formal

Here are some formal ways to say goodbye in English. These are fairly versatile, and you can use them in most situations that call for formal language.

“Thank you for your time.”

You can use this phrase in formal situations, after someone has offered you their time or helped you with something. This is also common after meetings or appointments. Keep in mind that you can use this phrase in both spoken and written communication. 

Example:

You:
“Excuse me, how can I set up a bank account here?”

Bank Clerk:
“I can help you with that over here.”

[After your account is set up…]

You:
“Thank you for your time.”


“I enjoyed our talk.”

This is something someone would say after talking with a client, patient, or anyone else in a more formal environment. 

Example:

A therapist is finishing a session with a patient.

Therapist:
“I enjoyed our talk. See you again this time next week.”

Patient:
“Thank you. See you then.”

“It was a pleasure speaking with you.”

This is something a client may tell a customer, especially in more formal or regulated environments, such as a bank or other financial institution. 

Example:

A financial adviser has just finished talking with a client.

Financial Adviser:
“It was a pleasure speaking with you.”

Client:
“Thank you, you too. See you next month.”

“I look forward to our next meeting.”

People often use this phrase when they plan on seeing the other person (or people) again in a formal environment. 

Example:

A man has just had a consultation with an interior decorator to do some work on his house.

Man:
“I like your qualifications. Can you start next week?”

Decorator:
“Of course, thank you. I look forward to our next meeting.”

“Thank you for scheduling your appointment. We’ll see you then.”

This is a common way of saying goodbye in formal situations, especially when a customer or client is leaving.

Example:

You have just scheduled a dentist appointment.

Desk Clerk:
“Thank you for scheduling your appointment. We’ll see you then.”

You:
“Thank you. See you then.”

B- Making Arrangements for Another Meeting

College Student Waving Goodbye to Her Friends

We’ve covered how to say goodbye in formal situations, but what about when things are more laid-back? Here are some English goodbye phrases you can use to plan another meeting with a friend.

“See you later.”

This is a very common phrase to use when you’re about to part ways with a friend (or group of friends). It means that you plan on seeing them again, but you’re not sure exactly when. 

Example:

You and a group of friends just got done watching a movie at the theater. You’re about to leave for home.

You:
“I need to go home now. See you later.”

A Friend:
“Bye. See you later.”

“Catch you later.”

This phrase has the exact same meaning as “see you later,” but is significantly more casual. 

Example:

You see one of your friends at the grocery store, and start talking to them. After a few minutes, you need to end the conversation.

You:
“Thanks for the talk. Catch you later.”

Friend:
“You too.”

“See you around.”

This one is very similar to the two phrases above. 

Example:

You’re about to go home after chatting with someone at your book club. 

You:
“Well, see you around.”

Other Person:
“Thanks, you too.”

“See you tomorrow.”

When you say “See you tomorrow,” it means that you actually plan on seeing them tomorrow, usually because you set a date with that person. 

Example:

You see a friend at the library, and start talking with them. You decide to make plans together.

You:
“Are you free tomorrow?”

Friend:
“Sure. Do you want to get coffee?”

You:
“That sounds good.”

Friend:
“Great. See you tomorrow.”

“See you at eight.”

In this phrase, you can replace “eight” with any other time. This is used in situations similar to the one above.

Example:

You want to confirm what time you and your friend will get coffee tomorrow.

You:
“What time should we meet for coffee?”

Friend:
“How about ten?”

You:
“Sure. See you at ten.”

“See you in a couple weeks.”

This is something you would say to someone if you plan on meeting with them in a couple of weeks. You can replace “a couple weeks” with any other extended time period.

Example:

Your mother just called to let you know she’ll be coming for a visit next month. 

Your Mother:
“I’ll be coming down there next month to see you.”

You:
No Mom, please don’t.” “I look forward to it. See you next month!”

Additional Note

Most of the phrases in this section can also be used as a question. For example, if you want to confirm when you’ll be seeing someone next, you can say the relevant phrase as a question.

Example:

You’re making plans to see an old friend.

You:
“Maybe we can go see the hockey game together.”

Friend:
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

You:
“Great! See you next weekend?

Friend:
“Yep, at nine o’clock sharp.”

C. Seeing Someone Off

Couple Parting Ways at the Airport

It can be painful to say goodbye to someone you care about, especially when you know they’ll be gone a long time, or are going somewhere far away. Here are some special goodbye phrases you can use for situations like this.

“Take care.”

Use this phrase to let someone know you want them to take care of themselves while they’re gone.

Example:

Your best friend is about to leave on a plane for another country during her vacation. 

You:
“Have fun and take care.”

Friend:
“Thank you, I will.”

“Drive safe.”

Use this phrase to let someone know you want them to drive safely, especially if you know they’ll be driving a long distance or in dangerous driving conditions.

Example:

Your boyfriend or girlfriend is going to drive several hours in bad weather for an important meeting. 

You:
“It’s supposed to snow a lot today. Drive safe.”

BF/GF:
“I promise I’ll drive safely. I love you.”

“Safe travels.”

This one is a more generic goodbye phrase for when someone will be traveling. It means you want them to be safe during their travels.

Example:

Your aunt tells you that she’ll be traveling outside the country for a few weeks. 

You:
“That sounds like fun. Safe travels.”

Aunt:
“Thank you.”

“Have a safe trip home.”

You can say this to someone when they’re about to leave for home.

Example:

Your friend is about to head home after spending the day together with you.

You:
“Have a safe trip home.”

Friend:
“Thank you, I will.”

“I’ll miss you.”

You can say this to someone you really care about before they leave. 

Example:

Your grandparents are about to leave after a visit.

You:
“I enjoyed seeing you. I’ll miss you.”

Grandparent:
“We’ll miss you too.”

“Don’t be gone too long.”

If you’re really going to miss someone after they leave, you can say this to them. It shows the other person that you’ll miss them and look forward to the next time you can see them again.

Example:

Your spouse is going away on a long business trip.

You:
“I’ll miss you. Don’t be gone too long.”

Spouse:
“I’ll miss you too. See you next week.”

“Call me when you get there.”

Say this to someone to let them know you care about their safety while traveling. It means that you expect a phone call (or text message) from them when they arrive, so you know they’re safe. This is especially common for a parent or grandparent to tell their child or grandchild.

Example:

You’re about to drive several hours back home after visiting your father. 

You:
“Thank you for our visit. I should leave soon.”

Father:
“Thank you. Call me when you get there.”

“I love you.”

Many times, saying goodbye to someone we care about involves saying “I love you,” especially if it will be a while before you see them again.

Example:

You and your mother are about to part ways after a long visit.

You:
“I enjoyed our visit. I love you.”

Mother:
“I love you too. Bye.”

“Farewell.”

This goodbye phrase may be a little bit outdated, but some people still say this. It’s basically a way of letting the other person know you want them to be safe while they’re away.

Example:

A large family reunion is coming to an end, and your relatives are beginning to leave.

You:
“Safe travels. Farewell.”

A Relative:
“Thank you. Goodbye.”

D. Leaving a Group or Party in a Hurry

It can be very awkward to leave a group of people without saying anything. If you need to quickly say goodbye in English conversations involving a lot of people, there are a few phrases you can use to let people know you’ll be leaving soon.

“I gotta run / fly / jet.”

This is a very informal way of letting people know you’re about to leave, and is fine for any kind of casual gathering. The words “run,” “fly,” and “jet” are pretty much interchangeable, as they all mean that you need to leave quickly. 

Example:

You’re at a potluck lunch with some friends, and suddenly realize you need to leave.

You:
“I gotta run!”

Friend:
“Oh, okay. See you later.”

“I’ll need to get going soon.”

This is a slightly more formal and polite way of saying that you need to leave. It’s not really saying “goodbye,” but it’s a way of letting others know you’ll have to go. 

Example:

You’re at a friend’s birthday party, but you aren’t able to stay for very long.

You:
“I’m so sorry, but I’ll need to get going soon.”

Friend:
“No, it’s okay. Thanks for coming.”

“I can’t stay much longer.”

This phrase is almost the same as the one above. 

Example:

You’re spending time with a couple of friends, but you have something else you need to do soon.

You:
“Sorry, but I can’t stay much longer.”

Friend:
“Ah, that’s okay. See you around.”

“There’s someplace I need to be.”

You can use this phrase to let others know you need to leave in order to be somewhere else, especially if it’s another responsibility you have. ‘

Example:

You’re at a dinner party with some friends, but you get a phone call about an emergency back at home.

You:
“Sorry, but there’s someplace I need to be.”

Friend:
“It’s okay. Good luck.”

“Sorry to leave so soon, but I have to ___.”

With this goodbye phrase, you can actually let others know the reason you need to leave. In some cases, this can make your leaving seem less rude or abrupt. 

Example:

You’re out socializing with some of your coworkers, but you have to leave early to pick up your kids from school.

You:
“Sorry to leave so soon, but I have to pick up my kids from school.”

Coworker:
“No worries. See you tomorrow.”

“I’m off.”

This is another slightly informal way of letting others know you need to leave. It’s almost the same as “I gotta run.” 

Example:

You’re about to leave for a get-together with friends, so you let your spouse know when you leave.

You:
“I’m off.”

Spouse:
“Okay. Have fun.”

E. Wishing Someone Well

Two Couples Talking with Each Other at House

When you’re about to part ways with someone, it’s considered very polite to wish them well, especially if you know the person. Here are some common ways people in the United States do this.

“Have a nice day.”

This is probably the most common way to wish someone well before saying goodbye. It’s just a simple wish for the other person to have a good day from that point on.

Example:

You’re leaving the doctor’s office after a checkup.

Receptionist:
“Thank you for coming in. Have a nice day.”

You:
“Thank you, you too.”

“Have a great rest of your ___.”

This phrase is almost the same as the one above. Here, you can fill in the blank with any amount of time.

Example:

You see your boss at the grocery store, and you start talking with him/her. After a few minutes, you need to leave.

You:
“I gotta run. Have a great rest of your afternoon.”

Boss:
“Thank you. You too.”

“Take it easy.”

This one might sound strange, but it’s just a way to wish the other person a good day. More specifically, it means that you want them to enjoy themself and stay safe.

Example:

You see one of your friends while you’re on a walk around the neighborhood, talk with them, and then end the conversation.

You:
“Bye. Take it easy.”

Friend:
“Thanks, you too.”

“Have a good one.”

In this phrase, “one” refers to a day. It’s exactly the same as telling someone to “Have a good day,” but it’s a little bit more casual.

Example:

You’re telling a friend goodbye after a short conversation.

You:
“Bye. Have a good one.”

Friend:
“Thanks, you too.”

“Well…”

The word “well” is very versatile in English, and in this case, it acts as a transition word. People use it often as a way of leading into a goodbye. Sometimes, the other person will understand the hint and say goodbye themselves.

Example:

You ran into one of your former teachers at the park, and are ending a conversation with him/her.

You:
“Well…”

Teacher:
“I should probably be going. Nice talking with you.”

“Well, I’d best get to it.”

This is a good way of politely ending a conversation, especially if you have something you need to do and the other person won’t stop talking.

Example:

You and your neighbor have been talking for almost an hour, and you really need to finish the yard work before it gets dark.

You:
“Well, I’d best get to it.”

“I won’t keep you any longer.”

If you’re lucky, this is what your neighbor will say to you afterward. It’s basically a roundabout way of saying goodbye.

Example:

You:
“Well, I’d best get to it.”

Neighbor:
“Okay, I won’t keep you any longer. Bye.”

F. Asking Someone to Keep in Touch

Group of Women Hugging Goodbye After a Party

When you ask someone to “keep in touch,” you’re letting them know that you want to hear from, or spend time with, them again. Here are a few common parting phrases you can use to do this.

“Keep in touch.”

This is the most straightforward way to let someone know you want to talk again. 

Example:

You’re about to part ways with a new friend after spending the day together. 

You:
“Thanks for hanging out today. Keep in touch.”

Friend:
“Of course. Bye.”

“Call me later.” 

You can say this to someone if you want them to call you later.

Example:

You’re about to part ways with a friend, but want to talk with them more later that day.

You:
“I had fun today. Call me later!”

Friend:
“Okay, will do. Bye.”

“I’ll call you later.”

This is what you can say when the roles are reversed, or just if you want to call the person later.

Example:

You’re about to part ways with a friend, but want to talk with them more later that day.

Friend:
“I had fun today. Call me later!”

You:
“Okay, I’ll call you later. Bye.”

“When can I call you?”

Either you or your friend can ask this, depending on the situation.

Example:

Friend:
“I had fun today. Call me later!”

You:
“Okay, when can I call you?”

Friend:
“Hmm…anytime after seven.”

“When can I expect your call?”

Again, you can use this one when the roles are reversed.

Example:

You:
“I had fun today. Call me later!”

Friend:
“Okay, will do.”

You:
“When can I expect your call?”

Friend:
“Probably sometime after seven.”

“Talk to you later.”

This is very similar to “See you later,” but it actually has more to do with talking to the person.

Example:

You see your neighbor while you’re jogging, and stop to talk with them. After a couple minutes, you end the conversation.

You:
“Well, I’ll talk to you later.”

Neighbor:
“Okay. Goodbye.”

“Don’t be a stranger.”

When you tell someone “Don’t be a stranger,” it’s a way of letting them know you want to see and talk with them often.

Example:

You see your cousin for the first time in a couple of years, but need to end the conversation early.

You:
“Nice talking with you. Don’t be a stranger!”

Cousin:
“See you around.”

G. Letting Someone Know You Enjoyed Seeing Them

Two Friends Walking in the Snow Together

Imagine you’ve just spent the day with your best friend, whom you hadn’t seen in years. You’ll want to tell him or her how much you enjoyed seeing them and spending time together.

“It was nice seeing you / talking with you.”

This is a very common way to say goodbye in English, and you can use it in both formal and informal situations. 

Example:

You’re about to end a conversation with an old high school classmate you hadn’t seen in years.

You:
“It was nice talking with you.”

Classmate:
“Thanks, you too. Have a good day.”

“Always nice talking with you.”

This is almost the same as the phrase above, but this one is normally used with people you see from time to time.

Example:

You see your friend’s mom while doing errands, talk for a while, and then end the conversation.

You:
“Well, have a good day. Always nice talking with you.”

Friend’s Mom:
“Thank you. Be safe.”

“I’m so glad we had a chance to catch up.”

This is something you might say to a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, especially if you were able to learn new details about each other’s lives while talking.

Example:

You and your friend have been talking about her new job, your new house, and more, but you need to end the conversation soon.

You:
“I’m so glad we had a chance to catch up.”

Friend:
“Me too. See you again tomorrow?”

“We’ll have to do this more often.”

This is something you might say to a friend you really enjoy spending time with, but haven’t been seeing as much lately.

Example:

You and a friend just had lunch together, and are about to part ways.

You:
“Thanks for lunch. We’ll have to do this more often.”

Friend:
“I agree!”

“I hope we can do this again sometime soon.”

This one is very similar to the one above. 

Example:

You:
“Thanks for lunch. I hope we can do this again sometime soon.”

Friend:
“Me too!”

H. Goodbye Phrases for Texting or Talking on the Phone

Man Flipping through Channels while Talking on the Phone

Today, so much of our communication is done over the phone. Here are a few ways you can say goodbye to someone via text or while talking on the phone.

Texting 

PhraseSituationExample
BRB (Be Right Back)Use this when you need to stop texting for a little while, but plan on texting more in a few minutes.You:
“BRB. Dinner.”

Friend:
“Ok.”
G2g or Gtg (Got To Go)Use this when you need to stop texting for a longer while, and probably won’t be able to talk anytime soon.You:
“G2g. Very busy.”

Friend:
“Ok.”
TTYL (Talk To You Later)Use this when you need to stop texting, but want to text again sometime in the near future.You:
“G2g.”

Friend:
“TTYL.”
ByeUse this when ending a text conversation.You:
“Bye.”

Friend:
“Ok, bye.”


Talking on the Phone

PhraseSituationExample
“Thanks again. Bye.”You can use this to end a phone conversation where someone helped you or answered a question for you.You:
“Can you help me close my account?”

Person on Phone:
“Sure…”



You:
“Thanks again. Bye.”
“Well, I should be going now. Nice talking to you.”You can use this after talking with a friend or relative on the phone.You:
“Well, I should be going now. Nice talking to you.”

Relative:
“Thank you. Nice talking to you too.”
“I’ll see you/talk to you then. Bye.”You can use this phrase after making an appointment with someone over the phone.You:
“Okay, eight o’clock. I’ll see you then. Bye.”

Other Person:
“Okay. Bye.”


3. Goodbye in English Slang & Pop Culture

An Alligator against White Background

English has some creative ways of saying goodbye. Keep in mind that the phrases and words here are very informal, and should only be used with close friends or family. 

“Smell you later.”

This is a play on words associated with the phrase “See you later,” and it means the exact same thing. There’s a lot of debate about where the phrase actually came from, but this is the best source I could find

Example:

You’re saying goodbye to a close friend and plan on seeing them later.

You:
“Bye. Smell you later.”

Friend:
“Okay. Bye.”

“See you later, alligator.”

This phrase has nothing to do with an actual alligator. This fun English slang for goodbye is another play on words, because “gator” rhymes with “later.” In response, many people will reply with “In a while, crocodile.” 

This phrase is thought to have originated from a 1950s song titled See You Later Alligator.

Example:

You:
“See you later, alligator.”

Friend:
“In a while, crocodile.”

“TTFN” (“Ta-ta for now.”)

TTFN stands for “ta-ta for now.” This one is less common, originally used in the UK during WWII. Anyone who knows Disney should get it, though, as the Winnie the Pooh character Tigger says goodbye to his friends this way. (“TTFN! Ta-ta for now!”)

Example:

You’re saying goodbye to your Disney-loving friend.

You:
“TTFN!”

Friend:
“Ta-ta for now!”

“Cheerio.”

“Cheerio” is a word that was first used in England to say goodbye. Sometimes, people in the U.S. like saying this as well.

Example:

You:
“I should go now. Cheerio!”

Friend:
“See you later.”

“Adios.”

Adios is the Spanish word for “goodbye,” but it’s pretty common to use this in the United States when saying bye to friends. 

Example:

You:
“I should go now. Adios.”

Friend:
“Okay, bye.”

“Ciao.”

Ciao is the French word for “goodbye,” but like adios and cheerio, it’s sometimes used in the United States when saying bye to friends.

Example:

You:
“I should go now. Ciao.”

Friend:
“Okay, see you later.”

4. Final Thoughts

In this article, we showed you some English words to say goodbye, popular goodbye phrases for any situation, and more. We hope you feel more confident now to start excusing yourself from conversations or wishing your friend a good day. 

This is just the beginning of what EnglishClass101.com has to offer. To learn more words and phrases in English for day-to-day conversations, check out the following pages:

Remember: Keep practicing, and use English often. With enough practice and determination, you’re sure to get the hang of English conversations and eventually master the language! 

EnglishClass101 will be here with you every step of the way. Happy learning! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you say goodbye in your own language. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Is English Hard to Learn?

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English is currently the third most-spoken language in the world, after Chinese and Spanish. It’s also spoken in many countries around the world, making it super-useful to know, even if only at a conversational level. Learning English can also make it easier for you to learn other languages later, if you want to! 

But many people hesitate to begin learning English. This may be because English is often said to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. But is this true? 

In this article, we’ll answer the question “Is English hard to learn?” We’ll also show you why you might want to learn English anyway, and how to get started. (If you’re reading this article, we bet you’ve already gotten a great start!)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning English Table of Contents
  1. Is it Hard to Learn English?
  2. The Hardest (and Easiest) Parts of Learning English
  3. Where Should You Start?
  4. Advice for New English Learners
  5. Why EnglishClass101.com is the Best Way to Learn English

1. Is it Hard to Learn English?

It depends on who you ask. English is a Germanic language, so people who speak another Germanic language will find English easier than those who don’t. 

When you begin learning English, you may find it helpful to try memorizing the most important spelling and grammar rules early on, as this will make the rest of the process somewhat simpler for you. To give you a head start, try reading these articles on EnglishClass101.com: 

Now, why is English so difficult to learn? Let’s take a look at the hardest and easiest aspects of learning English.

2. The Hardest (and Easiest) Parts of Learning English

Here are a few things that make English a hard language to learn for foreigners. 

Why English is Hard to Learn
Tons of rules and exceptionsUnfortunately, English has a lot of rules, and an exception for every one. Here are just two examples:
  • The “’I’ before ‘E’” spelling rule only works sometimes.

  • Irregular verbs don’t conjugate like other verbs (and we have a lot of irregular verbs).
Contradictions and inconsistencies
  • “Hamburger” does not come from pigs.
  • “Pineapple” does not have pine or apple in it.
  • The word “hike” can refer to a long walk, an increase in something, and is a term used in football.
  • There are plenty of homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings). For example: “would” vs. “wood” and “meat” vs. “meet.”
Word order and sentence structureEnglish has a relatively flexible word order and sentence structure, but trying to explain how it works is super-difficult. 

Word Order:
English word order refers to what order you place words in a phrase. For example, if you have two adjectives describing one noun, which adjective comes first? To native English-speakers, saying “scary big spider” sounds very off. Instead, we say “big scary spider,” just because it sounds “better.” 

Another factor that sometimes dictates the order of adjectives in a sentence is what type of adjectives you’re using. Typically, when multiple adjectives are used to describe something, they go in this order: 

What you think about the object -> Size or Scale -> Age -> Shape -> Color -> Location -> Material. 

For example: 
Harry enjoyed the nice (what he thinks about it), hot (scale), cup of Brazilian (location) coffee.

Sentence Structure:
Sentence structure determines the order of the major components of an entire sentence. English is an SVO language, meaning that in a sentence, the subject comes first, followed by the verb, followed by an object

For example: Sarah (S) kissed (V) Tom (O).
Word emphasisWhile English is not a tonal language, there are many times when the emphasis we place on a word (or in a sentence) makes a huge difference in meaning.

Can you tell the difference between these sentences based on which word is bolded?
  • I want to talk to her. 
  • I want to talk to her.
  • I want to talk to her.
  • I want to talk to her.
In the first sentence, “I” is emphasized. This means that the speaker wants to speak with her. It also implies that the speaker doesn’t want anyone else to speak with her. There may be a jealous or commanding tone here.

In the second sentence, “want” is emphasized. This may indicate that the speaker was told not to speak with her, and is expressing that they want to. There may be a begging or whiny tone here.

In the third sentence, “talk” is emphasized. This is how the speaker shows that they only want to talk, especially if others think the speaker has bad intentions.

In the fourth sentence, “her” is emphasized. This indicates that the speaker only wants to talk to her. Imagine there are several people in the room the speaker could talk to, but they’re only interested in talking with her—no one else.
Many varieties of EnglishThe United States, the UK, Australia, and other countries with a large proportion of English-speakers have their own differences in vocabulary, phrases, grammar, spelling, and pronunciation! 
IdiomsLike many languages, English has lots of idioms. Learning what they mean and how to use them can be difficult for new learners.
  • “Off the beaten path.”
  • “The road less traveled.”
  • “All of a sudden.”
  • “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
  • “Making a mountain out of a molehill.”
Girl Tired and Frustrated with English Homework
Why English is Easy to Learn
Small alphabetThe English language only has twenty-six letters in its alphabet (uppercase and lowercase), compared to thousands of characters in other languages (like Chinese). 
Greek and Latin rootsMany English words have Greek or Latin roots, which makes it easier for speakers of similar languages to learn it. (E.g. German, Dutch, French.) In addition, due to increased globalization, English has come to include some words from many other languages as well. 
FlexibleEarlier, we mentioned a few ways that English’s flexibility is confusing. However, these flexibilities can be helpful for learners in some cases. (No one will blame you for saying “scary big spider,” because it’s technically okay to say it this way.)
Many learning resources availableBecause so many people are trying to learn English, there are plenty of learning resources out there. Better yet, some of these resources are easily accessible wherever you are, such as EnglishClass101’s online lessons and podcasts.
Very accessibleEnglish is a prominent language in many countries, and a large bulk of media today is in English. So there are tons of TV shows, movies, songs, podcasts, and more, that you can listen to in English.
Confident Man Sitting at Desk

3. Where Should You Start?

We’ve already covered what makes English so hard to learn (and which things about it aren’t so bad). But did you know that regardless of how difficult it is, you can learn it a lot easier by beginning your studies the right way? Here are some tips:

1. Figure out your goals. Why do you want to learn English? What goals will you achieve along the way to really master the language? I recommend making some SMART goals to help you figure this out. It will make your language-learning process a lot more straightforward.

2. Learn as much as you can about the English language. You may find it helpful to begin by studying about English. Where is it spoken? What are its origins? What languages are similar to English? Doing some background research can make English seem less daunting and give you a huge head start! 

3. Start using media in your language-learning early on. If you start with thick textbooks right away and don’t supplement them with something lighter, you’re probably going to quit. Make your learning fun from time to time using media (TV, music, etc.), and you’ll actually retain more information.

4. Explore EnglishClass101.com. More on this later. 😉

4. Advice for New English Learners 

How can you be successful when you first begin learning English? Here are some tips!

  • Be patient. It’s important to be patient, both with yourself and with the language-learning process. It takes time, mistakes will be made, and there’s no way around this. But it’s worth the struggle!
  • Start with the basics. Don’t overwhelm yourself when first starting out. Focus on the key vocabulary, phrases, and grammar points to begin with, and don’t worry too much about the harder stuff. 
  • Focus on specific areas. Once you start learning the basics, you’ll notice areas you’re weaker in. Maybe you’re great at English spelling, but struggle with pronunciation. Or maybe you can read English, but can’t understand it when it’s spoken to you. Find where you struggle, and focus on improving those areas.
  • Find a community. You’re not alone in your English-learning journey. Once you begin learning, you’ll become part of a huge number of people doing the same thing. People who are making the same mistakes, achieving the same victories, and getting equally as frustrated as you are. Find a group of English-learners to join, and experience for yourself how much it can help. Our Facebook and YouTube pages are a great place to start!
Group of People Standing in a Circle
  • Spend time with native English speakers. By spending time with native speakers, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the language in a natural, real-world context. 
  • Speak more often. Many of our Facebook followers say that they regret not speaking more English from the start. It’s important to remember that mistakes are okay, and that speaking the language sooner rather than later will help you learn faster.
  • Define your purpose. Why are you thinking about learning English? What are your goals, both short-term and long-term? Knowing the answers to these questions is going to be an important part of your language-learning journey, and will help you keep going when things get hard.
  • Don’t take long breaks from learning. To effectively learn a language, it’s important to be consistent. If you stop learning for several months or years at a time, you’re going to lose a lot of the things you learned.
  • Start sooner. The longer you wait to begin learning English, the further behind you’ll be, and the more difficult it will be for you to start. If you start (or continue) learning today, imagine where you’ll be in a few years!
  • Confidence is important. Some of our followers on Facebook say that they struggle (or have struggled) with self-confidence in their language-learning. They wish they had been more confident from the start, and rightfully so. While learning a new language can be scary, it’s important to be confident in your abilities to improve and succeed. 

5. Why EnglishClass101.com is the Best Way to Learn English

EnglishClass101 Image

If you’re ready to start learning English, EnglishClass101.com is the best way to start—and finish—your language-learning journey. Why?

To start, all of our lessons and other learning material are practical and culturally relevant. You’ll learn vocabulary, phrases, and cultural information that you can actually put to use in the real world, starting from day one. 

We provide a variety of lessons for learners at every level. So whether this is your first time getting serious about learning English, or you’ve already been learning for a while, we have something for you. 

With EnglishClass101, you aren’t going to get dull textbooks or confusing lectures. Instead, we provide our students with lessons in many different formats. Videos, audio recordings, fun quizzes, vocabulary lists, and blog posts like this one! 

We always aim to make your learning experience both fun and informative

You can find a sense of community on our social media pages, commenting on our lessons and blog, or upgrading to our Premium PLUS plan to use MyTeacher. And we’re always ready to help when you need it. Whether you need encouragement, are experiencing technical issues, or just really don’t understand a lesson, there’s always someone you can reach out to! 

If you’re convinced, and ready to improve your English skills, sign up today and create your free lifetime account. We’ll be glad to have you join our family. 

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The Most Common Mistakes in English for New Learners

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What are the most common mistakes in English? How can you avoid them or improve your overall English language skills?

In this article, you’ll learn what mistakes you, as an English learner, need to watch out for. Whether you’re getting ready to take an important English exam, or you just had an embarrassing “oops” moment when chatting with your friends, knowing and understanding the most common types of mistakes in English is a must if you want to improve your skills. 

While this won’t necessarily ensure that you avoid these mistakes, it will help you be more effective at monitoring your own progress—both successes and failures. 

Do you make these mistakes in English? Keep reading to find out!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation: Common Mistakes in Spoken English
  2. Common English Vocabulary Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Most Common English Grammar Mistakes
  5. Other Mistakes
  6. The Biggest Mistake
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Pronunciation: Common Mistakes in Spoken English

First up on our list of English mistakes: pronunciation. Many new English-learners struggle to master this aspect of the language, so I thought I would go over this one first.

1 – Always pronouncing words as they’re spelled

Many learners become confused with English spelling vs. English pronunciation. There are numerous words in English that are spelled very differently from how they’re actually pronounced, which can be very frustrating.

The most common error here usually has to do with “silent” letters. These are letters that appear in a word when written, but aren’t pronounced when spoken. Here are two examples:

MistakeExplanation
KnifePronouncing the k, as in “k-nife.”The letter “k” in this word is silent, meaning it’s not pronounced. The word “knife” really sounds like “nife” when spoken,  but needs to be spelled with the “k.”
GnatPronouncing the g, as in “g-nat.”The letter “g” in this word is silent,  meaning it’s not pronounced. The word “gnat” really sounds like “nat” when spoken, but needs to be spelled with the “g.”

To avoid making this common English mistake, you’ll need to memorize how to spell these words! There’s really no shortcut here.

Other commonly made mistakes in spoken English include incorrect pronunciation of certain paired letters. Here’s a great example: 

MistakeExplanation
ElephantPronouncing the “p” and “h” separately, by their traditional sounds.While it makes perfect sense to do this, no one is going to understand you. 

In English, whenever the letters “p” and “h” are put together like this, it’s pronounced as one sound, which is the “f” sound. 

So “elephant” really sounds like “elefant” when spoken.

When it comes to mistakes like this, the best way to avoid them is to study up on these compound sounds and memorize how they work. It’s difficult even for native English speakers, but once you have it, you have it! 

2 – Not including the last syllable in words

When speaking, it can be difficult to pronounce certain words in their entirety, and many new English learners tend to drop the final syllable of words. But it’s very important to include this final syllable! In English, the final syllable often holds essential information about the word (or even the entire sentence), especially when you’re talking about something that happened in the past or present, or when mentioning a plural noun.

For example, we use the ending -s or -es to indicate that a noun is plural—if you drop this sound, people may end up missing some important information about what you’re saying. 

Important Final SyllableMistakeExplanation
-s or -esSaying “biscuit” instead of “biscuitsThe -s or -es at the end of a noun indicates that it’s plural.

If you’re ordering biscuits and don’t make the “-s” sound at the end, the waitress may think you only want one biscuit! 
-d or -edSaying “help” instead of “helpedThe -d or -ed at the end of a verb indicates that it happened in the past.

If you say that you “help” someone, the person you’re speaking with may think you’re currently doing so, even if it really happened in the past.
-ingSaying “garden” instead of “gardeningThe -ing at the end of a verb indicates the gerund form of that verb. Including or omitting this ending can totally change the meaning of a sentence! 

This isn’t a lesson about word endings, but hopefully you can see why it’s important for you to always pronounce the entire word. 

3 – Mispronouncing the “th” sound

Many English learners struggle with the “th” sound in words. This is because there are two ways you can pronounce this sound: harsh or soft.

For example, in the words “that” and “there,” the “-th” sound is harsh. On the other hand, in the word “through,” it sounds softer. 

The best way to avoid this mistake is to memorize which “th” words have which pronunciation. It will also be helpful for you to do a lot of listening! Watch English TV shows, listen to English music with lyrics, and pay close attention to pronunciation when speaking with English-speaking friends. You’ll get the hang of it in no time! 


2. Common English Vocabulary Mistakes

Woman Holding Red Apple and Green Apple

Some of the most common mistakes made in English have to do with vocabulary. 

English is one of those languages with a huge vocabulary and many words that sound and look very similar to each other. This is often a struggle for native English speakers, and sometimes a nightmare for those learning it as a second language.

In this section, I’ll outline a few of the most commonly confused words with their meanings. Like most things in the English language, you’ll just have to memorize these.

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
ItsPossessive personal pronoun.“That’s a cute dog. What is its name?”
It’sContraction of “it is.”It’s very gloomy today.”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
HereReferring to a place close to the speaker.“What are you doing here?”
HearTo sense a sound; to listen.“Wait! I hear something.”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
VeryTo a great extent.“Thank you. You’re very kind.”
VaryTo be different from another thing.“The results may vary.”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
AffectTo unintentionally produce a change in something.“The breakup didn’t really affect me.”
EffectAs a verb: To intentionally produce a change in something.

As a noun: 

1. A change or quality that results from a certain action (or another cause).

2. Special lighting, sounds, or other attributes, such as in a movie.
VERB: “You will effect these changes on Monday”

NOUN: 

1. “What are the effects of eating too much sugar?”

2. “The effects in The Great Magician were incredible.”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
WhoReferring to a person performing an action (subject).Who are you, and what do you want?”
WhomReferring to a person that an action was performed upon (object).“To whom are you engaged?”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
BoredAs an adjective: to not be entertained.

As a verb: to cause someone to become bored.
ADJ: “I’ve never been so bored in my life!”

VERB: “The teacher bored me with that lecture.”
BoringAs an adjective: not fun or entertaining.

As a verb: in the process of causing someone to become bored.
ADJ: “This is a boring game.”

VERB: “You’re boring me with your technical talk.”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
FunAmusing or entertaining.“You’re a fun person to be around.”
FunnyHaving a sense of humor.“Roger is really funny, isn’t he?”

DefinitionExample in a Sentence
ThereReferring to a place far from the speaker.“Is that your notebook over there?”
TheirPersonal possessive pronoun, used to refer to something belonging to more than one person.“I don’t know what their problem is.”
They’reContraction of “they are.”They’re out getting breakfast together.”

3. Word Order Mistakes

One of the most common English mistakes for non-native speakers is using incorrect word order. 

English is an SVO (Subject + Verb + Object) language, so English learners whose native language has a different sentence structure tend to make mistakes here. 

Here’s a list of the most common mistakes in English that relate to word order, and how to fix them.

1 – Putting the Subject Before the Verb in Questions

This is an easy mistake to make, and confuses many English learners! After all, English is an SVO language, so shouldn’t the subject always come before the verb? 

Well, this is true in most cases. But in questions, the verb usually comes before the subject. Here are some examples:

IncorrectCorrect
“Where I can get food?”“Where can I get food?”
“What I should do?”“What should I do?”

2 – Putting Adjectives Before Nouns 

This is a very common error for English-learners whose native language puts the adjective after the noun. In English, though, it’s very important to put the adjective before the noun. Here are some examples:

IncorrectCorrect
“Is the dog brown yours?”“Is the brown dog yours?”
“She watched the sunset beautiful.”“She watched the beautiful sunset.”

A Big Brown Dog Lying Down

3 – Incorrect Placement of Other Modifiers

English gets a little more tricky when it comes to the placement of modifiers in sentences. While English is pretty flexible for the most part, there are some situations where modifiers need to be placed a certain way to make sense. Here are just a couple of examples:

IncorrectCorrectExplanation
“I eat always oatmeal for breakfast.”“I always eat oatmeal for breakfast.”In these two examples, because the modifiers describe the extent of something, they need to come before the verb.
“Josie likes kind of tofu.”“Josie kind of likes tofu.”
“Do you tomorrow have a meeting?”“Do you have a meeting tomorrow?”Here, an adverb of time is used. Usually, adverbs of time come after the verb or phrase being talked about.

    → Don’t worry if this is very confusing to you! It’s even confusing for native English speakers. If you feel like you need more help on this topic, you can read my articles on English Word Order and English Sentence Patterns, or ask us a question in the comments. 

4. Most Common English Grammar Mistakes

The only thing less fun than word order? English grammar

There are a few common mistakes in English grammar that can really slow learners down, so I’ll cover some of them here for you. Note that most English grammar mistakes involve verbs, so you may want to pay special attention to this part of speech while studying.  

1 – Using Incorrect Verb Tenses

This may be the most common English grammar mistake that learners make, and even native speakers don’t always get verb tenses right. I’m not going to go into very much detail here, but will briefly cover the basics with a few examples:

IncorrectCorrectExplanation
“I sleep well last night.”“I slept well last night.”“Last night” implies that the past tense must be used.

“Sleep” is present tense, while “slept” is past tense, and therefore correct.
“She went to the mall tomorrow.”“She will go to the mall tomorrow.”“Tomorrow” implies that the future tense must be used.

“Went” is the past tense of “to go,” while “will go” is the future tense, and therefore correct.
“He cooked dinner right now.”“He’s cooking dinner right now.”“Right now” implies that the present tense must be used.

“Cooked” is the past tense of “cook,” while “cooking” is the present tense, and therefore correct.

Man Cooking Vegetables

2 – Using the Infinitive Form of Verbs Incorrectly

Closely linked to the mistake above, many English learners struggle with knowing how and when to use the infinitive form of verbs (“to [verb]”). Here are some examples:

IncorrectCorrect
“Would you like drink a glass of wine?”“Would you like to drink a glass of wine?”
“Please to go to the store with me.”“Please go to the store with me.”
“Do you want play chess after dinner?”“Do you want to play chess after dinner?”
“What would you to like for dessert?”“What would you like for dessert?”

3 – Incorrect Subject-Verb Agreement

In English, like in many other languages, it’s important for verbs to agree with the subject. However, unlike in other languages, the only things that need to agree are the number and tense, because English has no grammatical gender. 

It’s very easy to make mistakes in terms of subject-verb agreement, but once you start seeing how it works, you’ll get the hang of it quickly! 

Number

IncorrectCorrectAdditional Notes
“The cat run away.”“The cat runs away.”“The cat” and “Willow” are both singular nouns, so the verb needs to reflect that. 

Verbs in the singular form take the letter “-s” at the end.
Willow love anime.”Willow loves anime.”
They enjoys kayaking.”They enjoy kayaking.”“They” is a plural noun, so the verb needs to reflect that. 

Verbs in the plural form do not take an “-s” at the end.
I hopes for a bright future.”I hope for a bright future.”“I” is a singular noun, but it breaks the above-mentioned rules a little. 

When “I” is used as the subject, the verb does not take an “-s” at the end.

People Kayaking in Lake Near Mountains

Tense

IncorrectCorrectAdditional Notes
“Henry take the book from her.”“Henry took the book from her.”In this case, the verb “take” needs to be conjugated into the past tense, as it’s implied from the sentence that the action happened in the past.
“I buy a notebook tomorrow.”“I will buy a notebook tomorrow.”Here, the verb “buy” needs to be conjugated in the future tense, as it’s implied from the sentence that the action is going to happen in the future.
“Oh no! The oven is explode!”“Oh no! The oven is exploding!”This sentence suggests that the action is taking place right now, so the verb needs to take the present form.


4 – Although ___, but ___.

Another common grammar mistake English learners make is using the sentence structure “Although ___, but ___.” This is incorrect because the word “although” implies the same meaning as the word “but,” so using them together like this is redundant, similar to using a double negative sentence

IncorrectCorrect
Although she was tired, but she went jogging.”Although she was tired, she went jogging.”
OR
“She was tired, but she went jogging.”
Although the dog was dirty, but he still loved it.”Although the dog was dirty, he still loved it.”
OR
“The dog was dirty, but he still loved it.”
Although the rain came, but they continued their journey.”Although the rain came, they continued their journey.”
OR
“The rain came, but they continued their journey.”

5. Other Mistakes

There are a few other mistakes that new English learners commonly make. These mistakes don’t fall neatly into specific categories, but they’re still worth mentioning! 

1- Formal vs. Casual

English tends to be pretty flexible when it comes to formal vs. casual speech and writing. Unlike some other languages, there aren’t many different words for varying levels of respect or formality—which might be why it’s so easy to use the wrong level of formality in different situations.

To help you out, here’s a quick breakdown of things to keep in mind:

Example SettingsWords/Phrases
Formal
  • Business environments
  • Meeting a friend’s parents or family members
  • Writing school essays
  • Writing business documents
In situations like these, you should do the following:
    ❖ Use Mr./Mrs./Miss when addressing someone
    ❖ Always use “please” and “thank you”
    ❖ Avoid using slang words or phrases
    ❖ Use complete sentences with proper grammar
Casual
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Writing personal pieces, fiction, or business-related writing that’s meant to be more casual
In situations like these, it’s okay to:
    ❖ Talk to people on a first-name or nickname basis
    ❖ Omit “please” and “thank you” if they’re not really necessary
    ❖ Use slang words and phrases (as long as they’re appropriate for the people you’re with)
    ❖ Speak or write in fragments

Whenever you’re in doubt, though, it’s best to use more formal language. If the other party wants you to start speaking more casually with them, they’ll let you know! 

2- Apostrophes 

An Apostrophe in the Contraction We're

Apostrophes (‘) even confuse native English speakers! They have a wide variety of uses, and until you’ve been using the language for a while, the rules of usage can seem very ambiguous. 

Essentially, there are two situations when you should use apostrophes:

  • To show possession (adding an ‘s)
  • To create contractions

Becoming familiar with these rules can help you avoid common English writing mistakes! 

Possession

ExampleExplanation
“Mickey’s hamster”The hamster that belongs to Mickey
“The horse’s mane”The mane that belongs to the horse
“Jesus’ disciples”The disciples that belong to Jesus

Note here that only an apostrophe is added to “Jesus” instead of an ‘s. This is because it’s a proper noun that ends with the letter “s.”

There are some people who will add the entire ‘s to the word, but it’s more common to add only the apostrophe.

For more information on this topic, you can visit this page.

Contractions

ExampleExplanation
Ill go.”Contraction of “I will”
Hes a monster.”Contraction of “he is”
Were already late!”Contraction of “we are”
“Elizabeth shouldn’t’ve done that!”Contraction of “should not have”

Note that when using contractions, the apostrophe usually takes the place of one of the letters. However, in the last example, you’ll notice two things:

1. There are two apostrophes

2. One of the apostrophes replaces two letters

The reason this contraction has two apostrophes is because it consists of three words combined instead of only two.

The second apostrophe replaces two letters simply because this is how contractions work with the word “have.” When used as part of a contraction, only the last two letters are used. This is another rule you’ll just have to memorize and practice.

3- I.E. or E.G.

Here’s another one that trips up even native English speakers—probably because it’s not actually English, it’s Latin. The abbreviation “i.e.” stands for the Latin phrase id est, which means “in other words.” On the other hand, “e.g.” stands for the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means “for example.”

You use “i.e.” when you’re going to explain something another way, using different words. You use “e.g.” when you’re going to give an example of something you mentioned, usually to help the reader (or listener) better understand what you’re saying.

Here are some examples:

I.E.E.G.
“I’m really stuck on the book I’m writing (i.e. I’m almost ready to give up).”“Lewis is so irresponsible (e.g. he never washes the dishes or vacuums).”
“Penny hasn’t spoken to Joe in months (i.e. they’re relationship is over).”“Cats have so many fascinating qualities (e.g. they’re very independent).”
“Quinten didn’t show up for the final (i.e. he won’t graduate this year).”“Do you have any special skills? (E.g. drawing, writing, or singing)”

6. The Biggest Mistake

Man with Tape Covering His Mouth

Whew! We covered a long list of potential English mistakes. But there’s still one more mistake we have to talk about: being afraid of making mistakes.

No one enjoys the embarrassment, frustration, or hopelessness that accompanies a mistake. But mistakes are part of being human, and they can actually be a good thing if you let them! If nothing else, the negative feelings that come with failure will inspire you and drive you to avoid those feelings in the future.

That said, it’s mistakes that help us learn. Someone who never makes mistakes (i.e. they never leave their comfort zone) never learns either, and that person can never grow beyond themselves. 

If you want to overcome mistakes, you have to face them. If you want to master English (or anything, really), you have to be willing to make a few mistakes along the way. When you acknowledge mistakes as the extremely effective learning tools they are, it no longer seems like the end of the world when you make one! 

7. Final Thoughts

Silhouette of Someone Jumping from One Cliff to Another

Having read this article, you should have a much better idea of the most common mistakes made in English and how to avoid them. On your path to mastering English, it may feel like there’s countless rules and nuances holding you back, but don’t let hopelessness get the best of you! Keep studying, keep practicing, and keep believing in your ability to get better.

EnglishClass101.com has tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level. Whether you want to focus on your speaking, listening, reading, or writing skills, we have your back. Sign up today for your free lifetime account, and learn English like never before. 

Before you go, let us know in the comments which of these mistakes you have the hardest time with. Did this article help you with them at all? We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Happy English learning!

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The Most Common English Questions and How to Answer Them

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Asking questions is one of the most effective ways for getting to know someone on a personal level. People tend to be curious about things, and as social creatures, this often applies to the people around us. Knowing the top ten English questions and how to answer them will help you get to know the people around you, and help them know you better in exchange!

In this article, I’ll introduce you to the most essential English questions and answers for beginners and intermediate learners. For each question, there will be:

  • A breakdown of the most popular form of the question.
  • A list of alternative ways to ask the question (if any).
  • A table of possible answers to common English questions, with examples and additional notes if needed.

Let’s dive in! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Question Words in English
  2. What’s your name?
  3. Where are you from?
  4. What do you do?
  5. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  6. How long have you been studying English?
  7. How are you?
  8. What time is it?
  9. What are you doing?
  10. What’s wrong?
  11. What’s the weather like?
  12. Final Thoughts

1. Question Words in English

Before I discuss questions and answers in English conversations, I’ll briefly cover an important topic: question words in English. 

In English, there are six main words that we tend to use when asking questions. These are:

  • What: Used when asking for information about something.
  • Where: Used when asking about location.
  • When: Used when asking about time.
  • Who: Used when asking about a person or people.
  • Why: Used when asking about motive or intention.
  • How: Used when asking about the means by which something happened.

We almost always put these words at the very beginning of a question.

You’ll notice that all of these words begin with a “W” except for the last one. When children are learning English, these question words are often referred to as “Five W’s and an H” to help them remember. There are additional question words, but these six are used most often, especially in journalism.

As you read this article, you’ll also see that “what” is the most commonly used question word. This is because it’s extremely versatile, and can be used to ask a variety of question types. 

2. What’s your name?

First Encounter

When you first meet someone, usually the first question they ask is “What is your name?” Before we learn how to answer, let’s break down the question:

Question Word“To Be” VerbSecond-Person Possessive PronounWhat You’re Called
Whatisyourname?

As you can see, the question begins with a “question word.” This is the word a person uses to show that they want some kind of information, and they usually go at the beginning of a question. 

The question word is followed by a “to be” verb, in this case, the word “is.” This indicates that the person is inquiring about the status or definition of something.

Next is the word “your,” which is the possessive form of the second-person pronoun “you.” They’re asking about the name that belongs to you, and no one else.

Finally is the word “name,” which is the piece of information the person is after. When you put the question together, they’re basically asking what you are called, or what name belongs to you. 

Alternative Questions

Here are two other ways of asking the same question:

  • “What’s your name?” 
  • “What can I call you?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

There are four basic sentence patterns you can use to answer this question. In each one, simply fill in the blank with your name. 

PatternAnswerAdditional Note
My name is ___.My name is Tom.
My name is Alisha.
More formal
You can call me ___.You can call me Tom.
You can call me Alisha.
More formal
I’m ___.I’m Tom.
I’m Alisha.
Less formal
___.Tom.
Alisha.
Less formal

3. Where are you from?

Learning where someone is from can be very exciting, and many people in the United States love to learn about other places. The next question you’re likely to hear is “Where are you from?”

Question Word“To Be” VerbSecond-Person PronounPreposition Referring to Origin
Whereareyoufrom?

This question structure is very similar to the one above. It begins with a question word for location, followed by a “to be” verb and second-person pronoun. The last word, “from,” indicates that the speaker wants to know your original location, or where you lived before. 

Possible Patterns & Answers

The simplest way to answer this question is with the pattern “I’m from ___.” You just need to put the name of your home country in the blank. If you want, you can also include the name of the state, city, or town you’re from, like in the last example.

PatternAnswer
I’m from ___.I’m from Norway.
I’m from the U.S.A.
I’m from Germany.
I’m from Lublin, Poland.


4. What do you do?

An Accountant Looking Over an Invoice

In the United States, people love talking about their jobs and hearing what other people do for a living. While you’re getting to know someone, you’re going to hear the question “What do you do?”

Question WordPerform Action OfSecond-Person PronounPerform Action Of
Whatdoyoudo?

This question begins with the question word “what,” followed by the word “do,” which means to perform an action. Next is the second-person pronoun “you,” also followed by the word “do.”

Alternative Questions

Here are two more ways of asking the same question:

  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “Where do you work?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I am a(n) ___.I am a teacher.
I am a programmer.
I am a writer.
I am an accountant.
Fill in the blank with your job.
I work as a(n) ___.I work as a teacher.
I work as a programmer.
I work as a writer
I work as an accountant.
Fill in the blank with your job.
I work at ___.I work at the elementary school.
I work at Google.
I work at home.
I work at a large company.
Fill in the blank with your place of work.


5. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Brother and Sister Play Fighting in the Kitchen

Once a new acquaintance starts getting to know you better, they’ll probably want to know if you have any siblings. A common way to ask this question is: “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Perform Action OfSecond-Person PronounTo OwnIndefinite PronounMale SiblingsWord Referring To Another PossibilityFemale Siblings
Doyouhaveanybrothersorsisters?

This question has a few more words than the other ones we’ve looked at, and doesn’t begin with a “real” question word. The word “do,” when used at the beginning of a question, is sometimes called a “dummy” question word—it’s a word that can indicate a question despite not technically serving that purpose in English grammar.

When you put the above question together, it shows that the other person is asking if you have siblings. The indefinite pronoun “any” leaves the question slightly open-ended, so you can answer more specifically about how many siblings you have, what gender they are, and even whether they’re older or younger than you.

There are three basic patterns you can use to answer.

Alternative Questions

Here are two other questions in English that basically ask the same thing:

  • “Do you have any siblings?”
  • “Are you an only child?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I have (a) ___.I have a sister.
I have a brother.
I have a younger sister.
I have an older brother.
I have three sisters.
I have one older sister.
You can also indicate whether your sibling (or siblings) is older or younger than you by using the appropriate adjective.
I have ___ and ___.I have two brothers and one sister.
I have three sisters and one brother.
Use if you have siblings of different genders. 
No, I don’t. I’m an only child.Use if you don’t have any siblings.


6. How long have you been studying English?

Introducing Yourself

Your conversation partner is very impressed so far with your English speaking and communication skills. They ask “How long have you been studying English?”

Question WordAn Amount Of TimeSecond-Person PronounGerund Form Of The Word “Study”The English Language
HowlonghaveyoubeenstudyingEnglish?

This is another long question, but it does a better job of following the usual question format. Before we move on to possible answers, please note the words “have” and “been.” Even though there’s a word separating them, it’s important to see how these two words work together. 

When someone says the phrase “have been,” it indicates that something has been going on for a certain amount of time. So, in this question, they want to know the amount of time that you have been studying the English language.

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I’ve been studying for ___.I’ve been studying for one month.
I’ve been studying for two years.
Most formal.
For ___.For five years.
For three weeks.
Less formal.
___.Nine months.
A few years.
Least formal.


7. How are you?

Two Women Chatting Over Coffee

Congratulations! You’ve officially made a new friend, and you’re getting coffee together a week later. The moment you see each other again, they ask “How are you?”

Question Word“To Be” VerbSecond-Person Pronoun
How areyou?

This is one of the most basic English questions that family, friends, and even colleagues ask each other all the time. As you can see above, it’s simply a question word followed by the “to be” verb “are,” and then the second-person pronoun “you.” Basically, they’re asking about your status—how you’re feeling or how your week has been. 

Alternative Questions

You may also hear the question asked this way:

  • “How are you doing?”
  • “How have you been?” 

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I’m doing ___.I’m doing fine.
I’m doing pretty good.
While the word “doing” is used in this answer, it doesn’t refer to a specific action. It instead refers to how you’re feeling or how life is going for you.
I’m ___.I’m okay.
I’m great.
This is basically the same as the above pattern, but shorter.
I’ve been ___.I’ve been well.
I’ve been alright.
Using this pattern indicates that you’re answering about how you’ve been feeling over a longer period of time. 
For example, if you haven’t seen someone in a few months, and they ask you this, you’ll tell them how you’ve been over the last few months.


8. What time is it?

Man Running Late to Work

Another very frequent question you’re likely to hear is “What time is it?”

Question WordThe Current Time (Hours/Minutes)“To Be” VerbPronoun Referring to the Word “Time”
Whattimeisit?

In this question, you can see that the question word “what” is placed at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the information being requested (“time”). Next is the “to be” verb “is” and the pronoun “it,” which in this case refers to the earlier-used word “time.” The person is simply asking you for the current time, usually in hours and minutes.

Alternative Questions

You may also hear the question asked this way:

  • “Do you have the time?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
It’s ___ o’clock.It’s twelve o’clock.
It’s three o’clock.
Most formal.
It’s ___.It’s two-thirty.
It’s nine-fifteen.
Less formal.
___.Ten.
Four forty-five.
Least formal.


9. What are you doing?

a Couple Playing Video Games Together

Whether you’re having a casual conversation over text message or a coworker wants to know what task you’re performing, the question What are you doing? is going to come up a lot. 

Question WordTo Be VerbSecond-Person PronounTo Be Performing An Action
Whatareyoudoing?

The question word “what” begins the question, followed by the to-be verb “are.” Next comes the second-person pronoun “you” and the word “doing,” which refers to an action being performed. The person wants to know what action you’re performing. 

Alternative Questions

You may also hear the question asked this way:

  • “What are you up to?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I’m ___.I’m thinking.
I’m writing.
I’m watching TV.
I’m working out.
Simply fill in the blank with the gerund form of the action you’re doing. 
Nothing much.Use this if you’re not really doing anything important, or if you don’t feel like sharing what you’re doing.

This is a common answer between friends or in other casual conversations.


10. What’s wrong?

Woman Asking Her Crying Friend What’s Wrong

Have you made a close friend in the U.S.? If so, they may ask you the question “What’s wrong?” if you seem sad or hurt about something, or if something doesn’t seem right. 

Contraction of “What” and “Is”Upsetting You / Not Right
What’swrong?

Because this question is most commonly used between close friends or family members, the contraction “what’s” is almost always used. This is the contraction of the question word “what” and the “to be” verb “is.” Next is the word “wrong,” which refers to something that’s not correct, or something that’s upsetting you. 

Alternative Questions

You may also hear the question asked like this:

  • “Is something wrong?”
  • “What’s the matter?”
  • “Are you okay?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
I’m ___.I’m tired.
I’m sad.
I’m sick.
I’m stressed.
Simply fill in the blank with an adjective that describes how you feel.
Nothing.You can use any of these three phrases if you don’t feel like talking about what’s wrong, or if there really is nothing wrong.
Nothing’s wrong.
I don’t want to talk about it.


11. What’s the weather like?

Huge Lightning Strike on Dark Night

You’ll most likely hear the question “What’s the weather like?” during a conversation with someone you don’t know very well, especially if you’re trying to get to know each other. 

Contraction of What and IsDefinite ArticleReferring to Weather Conditions or ClimateA Word Used for Comparison or Description
What’stheweatherlike?

Like we saw in the previous question, this question begins with the contraction “what’s,” meaning “what is.” Next is the definite article “the,” followed by the word “weather,” which refers to things like temperature and climate. At the end of the sentence is the word “like,” which in this case is a word that’s used for making comparisons or adding a description to something. The person wants to know how you would describe the weather. 

Alternative Questions

Here are two other ways you may hear this question asked:

  • “How’s the weather?”
  • “What’s the weather like in ___ [the place you’re from]?”

Possible Patterns & Answers

PatternAnswerAdditional Notes
It’s ___.It’s sunny.
It’s rainy.
It’s cloudy.
Used for one adjective. 
It’s ___ and ___.It’s hot and humid.
It’s cold and dry.
Used for two adjectives.
It’s ___ in ___.It’s warm in Florida.
It’s hot in Indonesia.
It’s cold in Russia.
Use this pattern if someone asks you what the weather is like where you’re from. 
The first blank is the weather adjective and the second blank is where you’re from.


12. Final Thoughts

In this article, we covered a mix of common English questions and answers. Some of them are important for new language-learners to master, and others are essential for anyone planning a vacation (or move) to the United States. 

But this is just the tip of the iceberg—there are many more question and answer patterns you should know as you continue learning the language. For detailed lessons on even more essential questions for English-learners, we recommend that you go through our 25 Questions Lesson Series

One of the best ways you can prepare to use these questions and answers is to start practicing today! Whether you want to write all of them down on a piece of paper to take with you places, or practice only one a week as much as you can, any amount of real-life usage is going to help you get the hang of it. 

Before you go, why not leave us a comment with answers to some of these questions? We always love hearing from you, and look forward to learning more about you. 

Happy English learning! 🙂

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The Best Ready-to-Use English Sentence Patterns Just for You

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It’s difficult to begin communicating effectively in a new language. There are so many new words, grammar rules to remember, and little nuances that you learn only through years of practice and growth. And, especially for those of us who are painfully shy or afraid of failure, trying out these new words and phrases is asking for a panic attack! 

So where to start?

If you’re ready to start speaking English today and jumpstart your exposure to everyday language, you’re in the right place. 

EnglishClass101.com has prepared a list of eleven English sentence patterns for beginners to get started with. These basic phrases will enable you to express the most important and practical concepts with ease. And you can practice using them every day! 

The best part is that once you have these patterns memorized, you can create hundreds of original, detailed sentences to use with anyone! 

I recommend that you read my article on English Word Order and Sentence Structure before continuing. Some of the sentence pattern examples in this article are more complex, and having a good idea of how word order works first will help you to get the most value from this article! 

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. A is B.
  2. A is [Adjective].
  3. I am ___.
  4. I want (to) ___.
  5. I need (to) ___. / I have to ___.
  6. I like (to) ___.
  7. Please ___.
  8. May I ___? / Can I ___?
  9. What is ___?
  10. When (is) ___? / What time (is) ___?
  11. Where is ___?
  12. Final Thoughts

1. A is B.

When you want to link two nouns, use the “A is B” sentence pattern. A is the first noun and B is the noun you’re linking it to. You’re basically saying that the first noun (A) is also the second noun (B).

Simple Examples

She is my friend.”
He is my teacher.”
My grandma is a bookkeeper.”

More Complex Examples

Peanut butter is my favorite food.”
That scented candle is a gift from my best friend.”
Sentence Patterns

2. A is [Adjective].

The “A is Adjective” sentence pattern is very similar to the one above. But instead of linking A to another noun, you’re linking it to an adjective that describes it. 

Here are some simple examples:

Simple Examples

He is hardworking.”
She is intelligent.”
The apartment is small.”

More Complex Examples

Sharon’s dog is really annoying.”
The dinner I’m going to make next week will be delicious.”
Pot of Goulash

Note the use of “will be” in the last example. “Will be” is the future tense of “is” and is used to imply that something will happen in the future.

→ Learn more about verb conjugation in our dedicated article! 

→ Need to brush up on your adjectives? EnglishClass101.com has a special vocab list to help you out! 

3. I am ___.

This is a versatile sentence pattern you can use to talk about yourself, and one of best sentences in English for a beginner. You can give your name this way, talk about your occupation, let someone know how you’re feeling, or inform someone about what you’re currently doing:

  • I am [name].
  • I am (a/an) [occupation].
  • I am [adjective].
  • I am [gerund form of verb].

Simple Examples

“I am [Lily].” – Name
“I am [a writer].” – Occupation
“I am [hungry].” – Adjective
Woman Deep in Thought

More Complex Examples

I am [thinking about the future]. – Verb
I am [excited] for the upcoming holiday season. – Adjective

→ Check out EnglishClass101’s dedicated vocabulary lists for Jobs/Work, Top 20 Words for Positive Emotions, Top 21 Words for Negative Emotions, and the 50 Most Common Verbs

4. I want (to) ___.

Use the “I want (to) ___” sentence pattern to let someone know what you want:

Simple Examples

“I want this.”
“I want pie.”
“I want to sleep.”

Note that the word “to” is used after the word “want” when the desire expressed is an action. 

Woman Sleeping

More Complex Examples

“I want to ask you a question.”
“Henry wants to visit his grandparents next month.”

5. I need (to) ___. / I have to ___.

These are some of the most commonly used English sentences used in daily life, and they can be used almost interchangeably. The only exception is “I need ___” if the word “to” is dropped. In this case, the phrase can’t be used to express an action- or verb-related need. (There are also small differences in their technical meanings, but most people won’t care which one you use in conversation.)

Use these sentence structures to let someone know what you need or have to do.

Simple Examples

“I need a vacation.”
“I need to eat.”
“I need to sleep.”

Just like in the previous sentence pattern, note that the word “to” is used after the word “need” or “have” when the need is an action.

More Complex Examples

“I have to use the bathroom.”
“I have to leave very soon.”

6. I like (to) ___.

Use these basic English sentences to describe what you enjoy doing

Simple Examples

“I like reading.”
“I like petting cats.”
“I like to drink coffee.”
Sentence Components

More Complex Examples

“I like spending time with you every day.”
“I like going on long road trips with my loved ones.”

Here’s some more vocabulary to help you talk about what you like to do! 

7. Please ___.

The “Please ___” sentence pattern is the simplest and most effective way to ask someone to do something in a polite and respectful way. Simply say “Please” followed by your request

Simple Examples

“Please listen to me.”
“Please help me out.”
“Please follow directions.”

More Complex Examples

“Please pick up dinner on your way home from work.”
“Please show me where the nearest gas station is.”

8. May I ___? / Can I ___?

Use these simple sentences to ask for permission to do something. They can usually be used interchangeably, though there are technical differences. “May I ___?” is usually considered more proper and polite when requesting permission, while “Can I ___?” has more to do with one’s ability to do something.

Simple Example

“May I come in?”
“May I go now?”
“Can I ask you a question?”

More Complex Examples

“May I ask what you’re doing here so late?”
“Can I join you guys at the movie theater tomorrow?”
People Watching a Movie at the Theater

9. What is ___?

This is a great sentence pattern for getting more information about something or someone. Simply say “What is” followed by the thing you want more information about.

Simple Examples

“What is this?”
“What is your name?”
“What is tomorrow?”

More Complex Examples

“What is the name of that song we were listening to?”
“What is your favorite ___?”

In the last example, fill in the blank with the topic you’re curious about. 

→ If you’re asking about their favorite food, favorite animal, or favorite color, prepare for their answer by studying our relevant vocab lists!

10. When (is) ___? / What time (is) ___?

You can use the sentence pattern “When (is) ___?” when you’re asking about a specific time or date. You can use “What time (is) ___?” if you just need to know the time. 

Here are some examples of how to ask for the time or date.

Simple Examples

“What time is it?”
“When is your birthday?”
“When should I arrive?”

More Complex Examples

“When is the meeting at work next week?”
“What time is the baby shower at your house tomorrow?”

→ Learn how to talk about dates and use numbers with EnglishClass101! 

11. Where is ___?

Use the “Where is ___?” sentence pattern to ask someone where something is. This is an essential phrase to remember if you plan on traveling somewhere you’ve never been to before! 

Simple Examples

“Where is the restroom?”
“Where is the elevator?”
“Where is the store?”
Salad Bar at a Restaurant

More Complex Examples

“Where is that really good restaurant located?”
“Where is the library you wanted me to visit?”

→ For more helpful words and phrases, check out our Position / Direction vocabulary list or our blog post about giving and asking for directions in English.

12. Final Thoughts

With these common English phrases and sentence patterns, you can communicate effectively about almost anything. It may take a little while to memorize each one and get used to how they work, but once you get there, it will be very much worth it

If you need to, feel free to bookmark this page to look at later, or print it out and put it somewhere you’ll see every day. And of course, practice using these sentence patterns in various situations as often as you can. Remember that mistakes are part of the learning process and can actually help you grow more as a language-learner than perfection (or lack of trying!) can.

Did you know any of these sentence patterns already? Which ones are new to you? If there’s anything you’re unsure about or need help with, leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

If you’re serious about mastering English, be sure to create your free lifetime account today on EnglishClass101.com. We make it fun, effective, and as painless as possible! 

Happy English learning! 

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Your Ultimate Guide to English Verb Conjugations

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Conjugation enables you to speak and write English properly, in a way that other English-speakers will easily understand. It’s an essential aspect of the language, and learning how to properly conjugate verbs will fine-tune your English skills. 

While you can technically use English without conjugation, it won’t sound very professional and will make communication more difficult. 

In this article, you’ll learn all the basics of English verb conjugation so that you can make the most of every conversation!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English Table of Contents
  1. What is Conjugation?
  2. Conjugation Examples
  3. Conjugating Irregular Verbs
  4. English Verb Conjugation Quiz
  5. Some Parting Words…

1. What is Conjugation?

Top Verbs

Learning English conjugations can be difficult, but there’s a bit of good news for you: Verbs are the only part of speech that you conjugate!

Conjugation is how a verb changes to properly fit in a sentence. Each verb has an infinitive form, which is the most basic form of that verb (to think, to cry, to explain). But these infinitive verbs don’t work in all sentences, so they must be changed according to the following factors:

  • Person (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
  • Number (singular, plural)
  • Tense (simple past, simple present, simple future)
  • Aspect (simple, progressive, perfect)

In English, this is usually done by adding the most appropriate suffix: -ed (past participle) or -ing (present participle, also called a gerund). 

Further, there are various subcategories of verb conjugations based on their tense and aspect. These subcategories are:

  • Indicative: Indicative conjugation is done to imply a statement of a true thing that happened, is happening, or will happen. 
  • Subjunctive: Subjunctive conjugation is done to imply what one wishes had happened, or how a result might differ if that thing had happened.
  • Conditional: Conditional conjugation is done to imply that something would happen or would have happened, in different circumstances.
  • Imperative: Imperative conjugation is done to imply a command. Only the first person plural, second person singular, and second person plural forms use the imperative.

And because English verb conjugation is unnecessarily difficult and complex, these subcategories are further divided into the nominal form and the progressive/continuous form. The progressive/continuous form is easy to spot because the verb conjugations end in -ing.

Before you move on to the examples below, you may find it helpful to brush up on your English verb knowledge. Be sure to read the article I wrote on the topic, where I also explain the most basic conjugation.

2. Conjugation Examples

More Essential Verbs

That was a lot to take in, so here I’ll include some examples using common English verbs. There’s a lot of information in the following English conjugation tables, so just take it easy and don’t expect to master these right away! 

1- To walk

  • Infinitive: To walk
  • Participle: Walked
  • Gerund: Walking
Family Out Walking in Field

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
You [s]WalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
He / SheWalksWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
WeWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
You [p]WalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
TheyWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
You [s]WalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
He / SheWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
WeWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
You [p]WalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
TheyWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould walkWould have walked
You [s]Would walkWould have walked
He / SheWould walkWould have walked
WeWould walkWould have walked
You [p]Would walkWould have walked
TheyWould walkWould have walked
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Walk
He / She
WeLet’s walk
You [p]Walk
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm walkingWas walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
You [s]Are walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
He / SheAre walkingWas walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
WeAre walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
You [p]Are walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
TheyAre walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be walkingWould have been walking
You [s]Would be walkingWould have been walking
He / SheWould be walkingWould have been walking
WeWould be walkingWould have been walking
You [p]Would be walkingWould have been walking
TheyWould be walkingWould have been walking

2- To listen

  • Infinitive: To listen
  • Participle: Listened
  • Gerund: Listening
Man Holding Hand to Ear

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
You [s]ListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
He / SheListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
WeListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
You [p]ListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
TheyListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
You [s]ListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
He / SheListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
WeListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
You [p]ListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
TheyListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould listenWould have listened
You [s]Would listenWould have listened
He / SheWould listenWould have listened
WeWould listenWould have listened
You [p]Would listenWould have listened
You [p]Would listenWould have listened
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Listen
He / She
WeLet’s listen
You [p]Listen
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm listeningWas listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
You [s]Are listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
He / SheIs listeningWas listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
WeAre listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
You [p]Are listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
TheyAre listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be listeningWould have been listening
You [s]Would be listeningWould have been listening
He / SheWould be listeningWould have been listening
WeWould be listeningWould have been listening
You [p]Would be listeningWould have been listening
TheyWould be listeningWould have been listening

3- To move

  • Infinitive: To move
  • Participle: Moved
  • Gerund: Moving
Man Moving a Box

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
You [s]MoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
He / SheMovesMovedWill moveHas movedHad movedWill have moved
WeMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
You [p]MoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
TheyMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
You [s]MoveHave movedMovedHad moved
He / SheMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
WeMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
You [p]MoveHave movedMovedHad moved
TheyMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould moveWould have moved
You [s]Would moveWould have moved
He / SheWould moveWould have moved
WeWould moveWould have moved
You [p]Would moveWould have moved
TheyWould moveWould have moved
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Move
He / She
WeLet’s move
You [p]Move
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm movingWas movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
You [s]Are movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
He / SheIs movingWas movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
WeAre movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
You [p]Are movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
TheyAre movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be movingWould have been moving
You [s]Would be movingWould have been moving
He / SheWould be movingWould have been moving
WeWould be movingWould have been moving
You [p]Would be movingWould have been moving
TheyWould be movingWould have been moving

3. Conjugating Irregular Verbs

Woman

In English, irregular verbs have conjugations that don’t follow the rules. Here are a few of the most common examples of irregular verbs with their conjugations. For this section, we’re not going to worry too much about the more complex conjugations that you saw above. I’ll keep this section simple by only including the verb tenses/aspects that are irregular.  

Let’s start with the English conjugations of “to be.”

1- To Be

  • Infinitive: To be
  • Participle: Been
  • Gerund: Being
IndicativeSubjunctive
PresentPastImperfect
IAmWasWere
You [s]AreWereWere
He / SheIsWasWere
WeAreWereWere
You [p]AreWereWere
TheyAreWereWere

2- To Have

  • Infinitive: To have
  • Participle: Had
  • Gerund: Having
IndicativeSubjunctive
PresentPastImperfect
IHaveHadHad
You [s]HaveHadHad
He / SheHasHadHad
WeHaveHadHad
You [p]HaveHadHad
TheyHaveHadHad

3- To Feel

  • Infinitive: To feel
  • Participle: Felt
  • Gerund: Feeling
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IFeltFelt
You [s]FeltFelt
He / SheFeltFelt
WeFeltFelt
You [p]FeltFelt
TheyFeltFelt

4- To Eat

  • Infinitive: To eat
  • Participle: Eaten
  • Gerund: Eating
Woman Eating Chocolate Bar
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IAteAte
You [s]AteAte
He / SheAteAte
WeAteAte
You [p]AteAte
TheyAteAte

5- To Bite

  • Infinitive: To bite
  • Participle: Bitten
  • Gerund: Biting
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IBitBit
You [s]BitBit
He / SheBitBit
WeBitBit
You [p]BitBit
TheyBitBit

6- To Sleep

  • Infinitive: To sleep
  • Participle: Slept
  • Gerund: Sleeping
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
ISleptSlept
You [s]SleptSlept
He / SheSleptSlept
WeSleptSlept
You [p]SleptSlept
TheySleptSlept

7- To Tell

  • Infinitive: To tell
  • Participle: Told
  • Gerund: Telling
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IToldTold
You [s]ToldTold
He / SheToldTold
WeToldTold
You [p]ToldTold
TheyToldTold

As you can see, the majority of these irregular verbs tend to repeat, making them easier to memorize. Further, most of them only conjugate irregularly in the past tense. 

The downside is that these are only the beginning of irregular verbs. There are many more that you’ll have to memorize as you come across them. But you can do it! 

4. English Verb Conjugation Quiz

Woman Uncertain of Answer

Now, it’s time to test your knowledge. Don’t fret too much, though; this quiz will only focus on the simpler conjugations. 

1) Bob [talk] with Dana yesterday.

Choices:
A) Talk
B) Talks
C) Talking
D) Talked

2) Phil [to be] in love with Valerie.

Choices:
A) Are
B) Is
C) Am
D) Were

3) Lily is [finish] her assignment right now.

Choices:
A) Finished
B) Finish
C) Finishing
D) Finishes

4) Mary always [act] like she [know] everything.

Choices:
A) Acts/knows
B) Acted/knows
C) Acted/knew
D) Acting/knows

5) I [eat] oatmeal with peanut butter this morning.

Choices:
A) Eaten
B) Eat
C) Eats
D) Ate

The correct answers are: 

D – The word “yesterday” implies that the conversation happened the day before. Thus, the past tense conjugation is used.

B – Because Phil is a singular individual and currently in love, “is” is the most appropriate choice.

C – Lily is currently doing the action (indicated by the to be verb “is”), so the present form is used.

A – The word “always” implies that Mary currently does these things. Thus, the present form is used.

D – “Ate” is the past tense form of the word “eat,” and because the sentence doesn’t have a “to be” verb (to make it “I have eaten”), the correct conjugation must be “ate.”

5. Some Parting Words…

English verb conjugation is pretty terrible. But you’ve made it this far, and you’re going to make it even farther! 

Congratulations Card with Ribbon

If the English verb conjugation charts in this article seem daunting to you, don’t worry—they’re daunting for native English-speakers too. Before you try learning all of this information, you may find it easier to learn the infinitive, participle, and gerund forms of verbs first. These forms play into the more complex ones, and from there, it’s as easy as plugging-and-chugging your way through. 

For more information on this topic, be sure to check out more practical resources on EnglishClass101

Better yet, if you want to make a game out of learning conjugation, visit Verbix.com. Here, you can simply type in the infinitive form of any English verb, hit Enter, and see all of its different conjugations! Sometimes just playing around with new information can help you retain it better. 🙂

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you learned something new today! Do you feel more confident using English language conjugations? We hope that English conjugation is clearer to you now, and that you have a strong basis for future learning. Feel free to reach out with any questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Until next time, happy learning!

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Top 100+ Verbs in U.S. English: Ultimate Verb List & Guide

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What is a verb, and why is it important to focus on learning them? 

As for the most basic verb definition, verbs are commonly referred to as “action words,” because they’re words that name an action (though they sometimes refer to a state of being). Without verbs, people wouldn’t be able to talk about anything worthwhile or exciting. We use verbs all the time: While talking about our day, explaining directions or instructions, telling friends a story…and they’re used in both speech and writing.

So, what are the most common English verbs?

In this article, I’ll be going over the 100+ most common verbs in the English language. These are verbs that you can start using and practicing today, and that you’ll find yourself coming back to more times than you can count

Before we get started on English language verbs, though, you may find the following articles useful:

Without further ado, here’s our list of all the verbs you need to know! 🙂

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English Table of Contents
  1. Verb Usage: How to Use English Verbs
  2. Top 100+ Verbs List
  3. How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master the English Language

1. Verb Usage: How to Use English Verbs

Top Verbs

There are three main components of verb usage to keep in mind before moving on to our list: 

  • Conjugation
  • Agreement
  • Basic sentence patterns

I’ll go into the basics of each one below.

1- Conjugation

Verb conjugation is how a verb’s tense is changed. You conjugate a verb by adding one of the following suffixes to the root verb:

  • -s (or -es)

Adding the suffix -s to a verb changes it to the third person singular present form. For verbs that end with a sibilant sound and don’t have a silent “e,” use -es instead.

Win -> Wins

Box -> Boxes

Hike -> Hikes

This form means that a singular third party (he, she, or it) is currently doing something:

He wins again.

She boxes like a professional.

The dog hikes with its owner.

  • -ing

Adding the suffix -ing to a verb changes it to the present participle form, which is also known as a gerund. For most verbs, you can simply add the suffix without making other changes: Peek -> Peeking.

But there are a few exceptions: 

  • If the verb ends in a silent “e,” you omit it before adding the -ing

Waste -> Wast -> Wasting.

  • If the verb ends in an “ie,” you replace it with the letter “y” before adding the -ing

Tie -> Ty -> Tying.

  • As for double consonants, rules vary: 1) If one vowel is followed by one consonant at the end of the word, that consonant is doubled. 2) If the verb ends in a “c”, you need to add a “k” after it, and then add the -ing:

1) War -> Warr -> Warring.

2) Mimic -> Mimick -> Mimicking.

  • -ed 

Adding the suffix -ed to a verb changes it to the past tense form. This means that the action happened in the past and is no longer happening.

  • Keep in mind that if the verb already ends with an “e,” you only need to put the -d after it: 

Wave -> Waved.

  • If the verb instead ends with a consonant directly followed by a “y,” you need to change the “y” to an “ie” before adding the -d:

Apply -> Applie ->Applied.

  • As for double consonants, rules vary, but these are fairly typical rules: 1) If one vowel is followed by one consonant at the end of the word, the consonant is doubled. 2) If the verb ends in a “c,” you need to add a “k” after it, and then the -ed. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to these rules, and the rules in U.S. English are different than those in British English.

1) Tap -> Tapp -> Tapped

2) Mimic -> Mimick -> Mimicked

There are also irregular ways to change the form of certain verbs. As English irregular verbs are a complicated topic with many variations, I won’t go into detail about them here. But whenever an irregular verb appears on our list of verb examples, I’ll make a note of it for you. 

2- Subject-Verb Agreement

Now that you have a general idea of how to change the tense of verbs, let’s look at how they need to work in a sentence. Namely, the concept of subject-verb agreement.

According to the rule of subject-verb agreement, the subject and verb must agree in terms of number. This means that if a singular subject is performing an action, then the verb must also be singular. And if a plural subject is performing an action, then the verb must also be plural

Here are some examples:

VerbSingular SentencePlural Sentence
Sleep
Sleeping
Slept

*Note that the Past Tense of this verb isn’t “sleeped,” but slept. This is an irregular verb conjugation.
The man sleeps.
The man is sleeping.
The man slept.
The men sleep.
The men are sleeping.
The men slept.
Play
Playing
Played
The child plays.
The child is playing.
The child played.
The children play.
The children are playing.
The children played.
Arrive
Arriving
Arrived
The woman arrives.
The woman is arriving.
The woman arrived.
The women arrive.
The women are arriving.
The women arrived.

As you can see from the verb examples above, there are different ways of changing the verb to match the subject in number.

  • For the base verb: If the subject is singular, the verb is made singular by adding an -s. If the subject is plural, the verb doesn’t change as it already matches the number.
  • For the Present Participle: The -ing verb itself remains the same for both singular and plural subjects, but a “be” verb is put directly in front of it. The appropriate “be” verb for the singular subject is is, and the appropriate “be” verb for the plural subject is are.
  • For the Past Tense: Guess what? There’s no change at all here, as the -ed verb already matches both the singular and plural subject in number! 🙂

3- Basic Sentence Patterns + Examples

Every sentence in English requires a subject (S) and a verb (V). Most sentences follow the S + V pattern. Keep in mind that the verbs in this sentence pattern are intransitive, meaning that the actions don’t require an object to be a complete sentence.

I walk

He talked.

She listens.

For more complex sentences, there’s also the sentence structure S + V + O, where O is the object to which or at which the action is being done. The verbs in this sentence structure are typically (but not always) transitive, meaning that an object is required to make the sentence complete. 

I walked toward the bank.

He is talking to his teacher.

She looked at the ocean.

Further, a verb’s placement in a sentence can vary based on what type of sentence it is. 

For instance, in an imperative sentence (a sentence that gives a command), the verb will most likely be at the beginning of the sentence: Bring me that mug. 

There are also instances where the verb can be at the end of the sentence, though this isn’t very common: What to give?

2. Top 100+ Verbs List

More Essential Verbs

We’ve compiled the best English verbs for beginners to learn, and divided them into easy-to-understand categories for you. These are English verbs used in daily life that you’ll hear over and over again. You really need to know these! 

1- English Action Verbs List

Action verbs are the most common type of verb. These are verbs that describe a specific action, and there are two categories: Physical and Mental/Abstract. 

Physical action verbs are things that you do outwardly with your body. Verbs that are mental/abstract typically refer to feelings, thoughts, or other types of doing or being that aren’t expressed through a specific bodily action. 

Physical Verbs List

VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
1 Tell 

(Tells; Telling; Told)
To let someone know something, usually verbally.I want to tell you something.At some point, you may be asked the question “Can you tell?”

People ask this when they aren’t sure about something, and are checking to see if you’re sure about it. 

For example, a coworker asks your friend to do something. Your friend later turns to you and says “I didn’t hear what she said. Could you tell?”

You should know what they mean based on the context.


Note that the Past Tense form is “told,” NOT “telled.”
2 Ask

(Asks; Asking; Asked)
To inquire about something.I want to ask you a question.
3 Listen

(Listens; Listening; Listened)
3 Listen

(Listens; Listening; Listened)
To hear and understand what someone is saying.

To hear any noise.
4 Yell

(Yells; Yelling; Yelled)
To make a loud verbal noise, either with words or without.Don’t yell in the house.
5 Greet

(Greets; Greeting; Greeted)
To interact with someone upon meeting them.Joe didn’t know how to greet strangers.
6 Wave

(Waves; Waving; Waved)
To move your hand back and forth, either in greeting or to motion someone forward.Why didn’t you wave at me in the store?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “wave,” which refers to the ocean’s tides.
7 Move

(Moves; Moving; Moved)
To make any type of motion.

To relocate your place of residency.
Don’t move! 

Jill will move to Oregon in October.
8 Go

(Goes; Going; Gone; Went)
To leave your current place or position.Why do you have to go to work?

Note that there are two past tenses for this word: the irregular “gone,” and the modern past tense “went.”
9 Stay

(Stays; Staying; Stayed)
To remain where you are.I don’t want to stay in this apartment forever.
10 Wait

(Waits; Waiting; Waited)
To anticipate something that will happen, and stay around for it.

To serve someone.
I don’t think I can wait for my date any longer.

I can’t wait on you your whole life!
Don’t Keep Your Date Waiting
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
11 Give

(Gives; Giving; Gave)
To offer or provide something to someone else.Can you give me more time to finish the assignment?
Can you give me more time to finish the assignment?
12 Take

(Takes; Taking; Took)
To claim something as your own by reaching for it, or otherwise gaining it.Don’t you dare take the last cookie!

Take your time on the test.
In the second sentence, the word take is used a little bit differently. 

The phrase “take your time,” means not to hurry or go too fast when doing something. It’s sort of like “claiming” that time to use at your own pace.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “took,” NOT “taked.”
13 Put

(Puts; Putting; Put)
To place something in a certain spot.Put down your pencils.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is simply “put,” NOT “putted.”
14 Bring

(Brings; Bringing; Brought)
14 Bring

(Brings; Bringing; Brought)
Will you bring me my book please?

What can you bring to this project?
In the first sentence, Adam is asking someone to give him an item that is out of his reach.

In the second sentence, the interviewer is asking what quality the job candidate can give to the project.

Both words have the same meaning, but are used in different contexts.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is  “brought, ” NOT  “bringed.”
15 Get

(Gets; Getting; Got)
To retrieve or attain something.I hope you get the job.

Did you get that?
There may be times when someone asks you the question “Do you get it?”

This is usually a way of asking if you understand something, not if you actually attained an item.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “got,” NOT “getted,”
16 Make

(Makes; Making; Made)
To create or prepare something.Can you make dinner tonight?

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “made,” NOT maked.”
17 Look

(Looks; Looking; Looked)
To see something, or turn to see something.Look what I can do!
18 Watch

(Watches; Watching; Watched)
To observe something visually.What shows do you like to watch on TV?This is not to be confused with the noun “watch,” which refers to the time-telling device worn on the wrist.
19 Sit

(Sits; Sitting; Sat)
To take a seat with your back straight and feet on the ground.Sit up straight in your chair.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “sat,” NOT “sitted.”
20 Stand

(Stands; Standing; Stood)
To be on your feet, supporting yourself vertically.I need to stand up and walk around for a few minutes.This is not to be confused with the noun “stand,” which refers to a vertical object used for holding something.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “stood,” NOT “standed.”
21 Walk

(Walks; Walking; Walked)
To travel by foot at a slow pace.Will you walk with me?This is not to be confused with the noun “walk,” which refers to a walkway or path. 

You may also hear someone say that they’re “going on a walk,” which just means that they’re going to walk for exercise.
22 Run

(Runs; Running; Ran)
To travel by foot at a fast pace.I’m tired; I can’t run any longer.You may hear someone say that they’re “going on a run,” which just means that they’re going to run for exercise.

Note that the Past Tense for this verb is “ran,” NOT “runned.”
23 Lift

(Lifts; Lifting; Lifted)
To pick up something (usually heavy), especially from the ground.Can you help me lift this box?This is not to be confused with the noun “lift,” which refers to something (usually a machine) that lifts.
Man Lifting Weights
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesAdditional Notes
24 Play

(Plays; Playing;
To enjoy oneself through activities.How about we play a game?This is not to be confused with the noun “play,” which refers to a type of stage performance.
25 Stop

(Stops; Stopping; Stopped)
To end or cease an action or activity.Just stop bothering me already!
26 Rest

(Rests; Resting; Rested)
To take some time to stop an activity in order to regain energy.I’m so tired. I need to rest.You may hear someone say “Give it a rest!” This means that whatever you’re doing or saying is making them upset, and you should stop.
27 Sleep

(Sleeps; Sleeping; Slept)
To lose waking consciousness and slumber.You need to sleep before it gets too late.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “slept,” NOT “sleeped.”
28 Try

(Tries; Trying; Tried)
To attempt to do something.You won’t succeed if you don’t try.
29 Work

(Works; Working; Worked)
To do some type of labor or perform some task.I appreciate that you work so hard.This word is also used as a noun. For instance, someone may say “I’m going to work,” which means they’re going to their place of employment.
30 Study

(Studies; Studying; Studied)
To make an effort toward learning, understanding, or memorizing something.I really need to study for the test next week.There are two other common uses of the word “study” as a noun. 

1) When someone says that another person is a “quick study,” it means they learn quickly.

2) A study is also a type of room, usually containing books, writing utensils, and a desk.
31 Leave

(Leaves; Leaving; Left)
To go away or depart.I want to leave this town soon,.There are a couple of common phrases in English that use this word as a noun:

1) “Go on leave”

2) “Take leave”

Both refer to going on a vacation (or suspension) from a place of work or study.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “left,” NOT “leaved.”
32 Drive

(Drives; Driving; Drove; Driven)
To operate a vehicle or to bring something about.I don’t want to drive at all after the car crash.

You’re going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop.
The first sentence refers to operating a vehicle.

The second sentence uses the word “drive” in the sense that the person Bill’s talking to will bring about his craziness.


Note that this verb has two past tense variations: the irregular “drove,” (he drove) and the past participle “driven,” (he has driven).
33 Travel

(Travels; Traveling; Traveled)
To visit new places.I want to travel the world someday.
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
34 Arrive

(Arrives; Arriving; Arrived)
To show up somewhere.What time should he arrive for dinner?
35 Clean

(Cleans; Cleaning; Cleaned)
To tidy up or sanitize.I really don’t want to clean the house right now.
36 Eat

(Eats; Eating; Ate)
To consume food.I can’t wait to eat dinner tonight.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “ate,” NOT “eated.”
37 Drink

(Drinks; Drinking; Drank; Drunk)
To consume liquid.What would you like to drink?“Drink” is also used as a noun to name something that a person can drink.

For example, when used as a noun, the waitress could say: “What drink can I get you?”


Note that this verb has two past tenses: the irregular “drank,” (he drank the water) and the past participle “drunk,” (he has drunk the water).
38 Turn

(Turns; Turning; Turned)
To rotate or change direction; to change.Turn right at the stop sign.

How did my life turn into this?
In the first sentence,”turn” is used to indicate a change in direction.

In the second sentence, it’s used to mean a change from one thing to another.
39 Buy

(Buys; Buying; Bought)
To purchase something.What do you think I should buy mom for Christmas?

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “bought,” NOT “buyed.”
40 Laugh

(Laughs; Laughing; Laughed)
To make a joyful noise that indicates something funny happened.I love to hear you laugh.
41 Cry

(Cries; Crying; Cried)
To weep, usually associated with tears and sadness.Please don’t cry.
42 Smile

(Smiles; Smiling; Smiled)
To curve your mouth upwards, usually when you’re happy.Smile for the picture.
43 Frown

(Frowns; Frowning; Frowned)
To curve your mouth downward, usually when you’re sad.I don’t like to see you frown like that.P.S.: If someone tells you to “Turn your frown upside-down,” they want you to smile and be happy. 🙂
44 Hug

(Hugs; Hugging; Hugged)
To embrace someone by wrapping your arms around each other.I need a hug.
45 Kiss

(Kisses; Kissing; Kissed)
To embrace someone (usually a significant other or family member) by pressing your lips against them.Carla kissed her mother on the cheek before leaving.
Old Woman Kissing Old Man’s Cheek

2. Mental/Abstract Verbs List

VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
46 Think

(Thinks; Thinking; Thought)
To use one’s brain to formulate ideas.Let me think about this first.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “thought,” NOT “thinked.”
47 Know

(Knows; Knowing; Knew)
To understand something as fact and have knowledge of it.I want to know what you’re thinking.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “knew,” NOT “knowed.”
48 Understand

(Understands; Understanding; Understood)
To grasp the concept of something.I don’t understand what’s going on.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “understood,” NOT “understanded.”
49 Comprehend

(Comprehends; Comprehending; Comprehended)
To understand on a deep level.Why is this problem so difficult to comprehend?
50 Acknowledge

(Acknowledges; Acknowledging; Acknowledged)
To accept something as true or as fact; to recognize.I acknowledge the importance of this book.

This is a problem we need to acknowledge.
51 Accept

(Accepts; Accepting; Accepted)
To agree to/with,The teacher doesn’t accept this kind of behavior in the classroom.
52 Believe

(Believes; Believing; Believed)
To have faith or trust in a fact or concept.I don’t believe what you’re telling me.
53 Like

(Likes; Liking; Liked)
To have a fondness for or toward something.I like living in Washington.
54 Love

(Loves; Loving; Loved)
To care about someone or something; to have romantic or otherwise positive feelings toward someone or something.I love my family.Nowadays, people often use the words “like” and “love” interchangeably. But traditionally, “love” has a much stronger, more sincere connotation.
55 Admire

(Admires; Admiring; Admired)
To have positive feelings of respect or love for someone; to watch or look at someone/something with such feelings.I admire Mara for her courage.

Admire this painting with me.
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
56 Care

(Cares; Caring; Cared)
To sincerely take interest in the well-being of someone or something.She really cares about Lionel.
57 Hate

(Hates; Hating; Hated)
To greatly dislike something or someone, sometimes to the point of anger or disgust.Tom hates Linda.
58 Learn

(Learns; Learning; Learned)
To gain knowledge.I want to learn how to speak another language.
59 Respect

(Respects; Respecting; Respected)
To place due value upon another person (or thing).Can’t you respect your grandparents a little more?“Respect” is also used as a noun to embody the meaning of the verb.
60 Honor

(Honors; Honoring; Honored)
To respect; to uphold a certain moral standard or expectation.You need to honor your parents’ wishes.

Can I trust you to honor this rule?
You need to honor your parents’ wishes.

Can I trust you to honor this rule?
61 Calculate

(Calculates; Calculating; Calculated)
To think something through in order to come to a conclusion or solution.The accountant called back after calculating the numbers.
62 Wonder

(Wonders; Wondering; Wondered)
To think about something, especially by asking yourself about it or going through possibilities.I wonder if they’ll give me a discount on this dress.“Wonder” is also used as a noun in two ways:

1) To embody the meaning of the verb.

2) To refer to something that is very good or fascinating.
63 Expect

(Expects; Expecting; Expected)
To believe that something will happen.I expect that you’ll arrive on time.
64 Anticipate

(Anticipates; Anticipating; Anticipated)
To foresee something.I anticipate that the store will shut down soon.
65 Remember

(Remembers; Remembering; Remembered)
To have memory of something; to recall something.I wish I could remember our first date together.
Man Remembering Something
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
66 Confuse

(Confuses; Confusing; Confused)
To make someone unsure of something; to make a situation more difficult to understand.To make someone unsure of something; to make a situation more difficult to understand.
67 Want

(Wants; Wanting; Wanted)
To desire or long for something.I want to eat a donut for breakfast.
68 Allow

(Allows; Allowing; Allowed)
To give permission for something to happen; to have something happen under your watch.I’ll allow you to eat a donut this one time.
69 Relax

(Relaxes; Relaxing; Relaxed)
To rest without worry or stress.I want you to relax.
70 Regret

(Regrets; Regretting; Regretted)
To wish you had or had not done or said something.I regret not joining the golf team in high school.

2- Linking Verbs

Negative Verbs

Linking verbs are used specifically to link the subject (S) to a noun or adjective that renames the subject. For example, in the sentence “I feel tired,” the verb feel renames the subject “I” as “tired.” In other words, “I” = “tired.”

Linking VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
71 Look

(Looks; Looking; Looked)
To appear to be a certain way.Do I look okay in this outfit?
72 Appear

(Appears; Appearing; Appeared)
To become evident.I appear to be losing some weight.
73 Seem

(Seems; Seeming; Seemed)
To look or appear to be a certain way.Does Harold seem tense to you?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “seam,” which has the same pronunciation. The meanings are entirely different.
74 Feel

(Feels; Feeling; Felt)
Used to describe the experience of emotion, sensation, or a hunch.I feel hopeful today.

The table feels scratchy.

I feel like the essay is too long.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “felt,” NOT “feeled.”
75 Smell

(Smells; Smelling; Smelled)
Used to describe the experience of an aroma.Used to describe the experience of an aroma.
76 Taste

(Tastes; Tasting; Tasted)
Used to describe the experiencing of a taste.I hope it tastes good, too.
77 Sound

(Sounds; Sounding; Sounded)
Used to describe the experience of noise; used to describe someone’s thoughts on what they heard.It sounds like a carnival in here.

It sounds like Anya plans on leaving the company soon.
78 Act

(Acts; Acting; Acted)
Used to describe the state in which a person appears to be in.He acts like he owns the place.
79 Resemble

(Resembles; Resembling; Resembled)
To appear to be like another thing in some way.To appear to be like another thing in some way.
80 Remain

(Remains; Remaining; Remained)
To continue to be a certain way or in a certain state.Can things remain the way they are?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “remains,” which refers to something that’s left over.
81 Become

(Becomes; Becoming; Became)
To change state.A caterpillar becomes a butterfly.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “became,” NOT “becomed.”

3- Helping Verbs

Helping verbs in English can be a bit complicated, but luckily, there aren’t very many of them. There are two types of helping verbs:

  • Modal: Modal verbs imply that something is possible, impossible, certain, or probable. Oftentimes, modal verbs imply ability, permission, a request, or an offer of some sort.
  • Auxiliary: Auxiliary verbs add additional information to a sentence.

English Modal Verbs Table

Woman Telling Someone Maybe
Modal VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
82 CanThis implies the ability of someone/something to do an action.I can walk on my hands for thirty minutes.
83 MayThis implies permission to do something, or the possibility of something happening.May I go to the store with you?

I may buy ice cream later.
84 MustThis implies that something needs to happen, usually so that something else can happen.You must get at least a 70 to pass the test.
85 WillThis implies that something is going to happen, or that someone is going to do something.I will call you back later.
86 CouldThis implies the ability of something to perform an action (or be used for that action).Could that hairpin be used as a key?
87 WouldThis implies that an action would be performed if the possibility existed.I would help you if I could.
88 ShouldThis implies whether an action or event is necessary or a good idea.Should we really eat chocolate chips after dinner?
89 ShallThis means the same thing as “will.”I shall own this kingdom one day.Note that the word “shall” tends to sound a little bit pretentious in modern speech. In general, it’s better to use the word “will,” especially in casual conversation.
90 MightThis implies that there’s a possibility that something will happen.I might have to leave a few minutes early.

English Auxiliary Verbs Table

Auxiliary VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
91 Be

(Is; Being; Was)
To exist or have a certain quality.There’s no need to be rude about it.
92 Do

(Does; Doing; Did)
To perform an action.What is he doing?
93 Have

(Has; Having; Had)
For something to be necessary or inevitable; to possess something; to experience something.He has to make his mind up sometime.

I have a PS3.

I had a hard time last week.

4- Bonus: Verb Phrases

In English, there are many verb phrases that we use to specify a more specific action. A verb phrase is usually two words that describe a single action. Here are some of the most common ones that you’re likely to hear in daily life:

Verb PhraseMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
94 Wake upTo stop sleeping.It’s time to wake up.
95 Give upTo lose hope and stop trying.You’ve come so far; don’t give up yet.
96 Pick upTo take something in your hands; to retrieve something; to gain knowledge of something.Can you pick up your toys off the floor?

I forgot to pick up rice at the store last weekend.

I was able to pick up some job-searching advice on the retreat.
This may be the most complicated verb phrase in English, as it has three potential meanings. The more you practice English, the easier it will be to know which meaning is relevant based on the context.
97 Brighten upTo become happier or more joyful; to be the reason for someone else becoming happier.Kierra brightened up when she saw Ian.

Ian really knows how to brighten up a room.
98 Shy awayTo neglect to do something because of fear or embarrassment.I didn’t mean to shy away from that job opportunity.
99 Take awayTo take something from another person; to gain information or value from something.Do I have to take away your phone?

I took away some good information from the lecture.
100 Give awayTo give something you own to someone else; to reveal a secret.I want to give away some of my old clothes soon.

I won’t give away the ending of the book.
101 Throw awayTo put something in the trash; to figuratively do so to something good in one’s life.Don’t throw away the leftovers!

Why did you throw away that good relationship you had?
102 Waste awayTo diminish over time.I hate to see that old house just waste away.
103 Sleep inTo sleep until late in the morning (or later than one usually wakes up).I really can’t wait to sleep in on Saturday.
104 Head outTo leave, usually for a specific place.I’m going to head out now.
105 Drop offTo leave something (or someone) at a certain place or with a certain person.The school bus dropped off the girl at her bus stop.
School Bus Dropping Girl Off at Home

3. How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master the English Language

Okay, breathe out now. Unclench your fists. Leave the room to cry for a few minutes, if you need to. It’s over now. That’s all the detail I’ll be going into in this English verbs guide.

If you made it this far, I’m impressed. Verbs may just be the most difficult, spirit-crushing part of the English sentence, and you just read all about them. 

Don’t expect to be a master overnight; students in the United States start learning this stuff early on, up until the end of high school—and they still get some of this conjugation/tense stuff wrong. Really, irregular verbs are a nightmare. 

I recommend visiting this page often, or even printing it out to have a handy verb reference with you to study. And, as with anything you want to be truly good at, you need to practice using these verbs often! Some verbs may come easier than others, but with enough time and practice, you’ll be able to use everything in this verbs list like it’s nothing! 

Know that EnglishClass101.com wants to help you out on each step of your language-learning journey. We offer constant support, effective learning tools, and a fun approach to English-learning that we think you’ll love! (Well, as much as you can love learning an often-frustrating language.)

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about English verbs. Do you feel like you have a better idea of how they work, or is there something you’re still not understanding? Are there any important verbs we missed? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Pronouns in English: The Ultimate Pronoun List & Guide

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Cathy bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because Cathy couldn’t find Dreyer’s. 

Cathy’s name is used two times in this sentence, causing it to drone on. If I were to use a pronoun instead of her name the second time, it would sound much better:

Cathy bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because she couldn’t find Dreyer’s.

Three Scoops of Ice Cream

So, what is a pronoun? Here’s a pretty simple definition:

Pronouns allow you to mention the same noun in a sentence multiple times, without repeating the same word (which will begin to sound dull and redundant). 

There are several types of pronouns in English, which I’ll explain in this article with pronoun examples. These words will make your speech and writing seem more fluent and natural, so trust me when I say that taking the time to learn them well is a must! 

Before getting started with this English pronouns lesson, I suggest you take a look at this condensed Pronoun Vocabulary List, which includes cute images and pronunciation examples. 🙂 

It’s okay if you need to take a couple of breaks along the way. Take some deep breaths and know that you can do this. You’ll be glad you did.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Personal Pronouns
  2. Demonstrative Pronouns
  3. Interrogative Pronouns
  4. Indefinite Pronouns
  5. Relative Pronouns
  6. Reciprocal Pronouns
  7. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn More English!

1. Personal Pronouns 

Introducing Yourself

The most common type of pronoun is the personal pronoun. Underneath the umbrella of personal pronouns, there are:

  • Subject pronouns
  • Object pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Reflexive & intensive pronouns

Each of these personal pronouns serve a different function in a clause or sentence, which I’ll explain below.

1- Subject Pronouns 

A subject pronoun is the subject of a sentence. This is the pronoun that performs an action, and there are both singular and plural forms.

Note that each of the words in the following English personal pronouns list performs an action (which is italicized) in the examples. 

Clothing in a Mall
SingularPlural
I

Meaning: 
Refers to a singular person speaking.

Example Sentence: 
I spent time with my family yesterday.
We

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that includes you.

Example Sentence:
We went to Mt. St. Helens and the mall.
You

Meaning:
Refers to an individual you’re speaking to.

Example Sentence:
You are reading this article.
You

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people whom you’re speaking to.

Example Sentence:
“You really bought this for me?” Tom asked his friends.
He

Meaning:
Refers to a specified masculine individual.

Example Sentence:
He had to go to the bank last week.
They

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that doesn’t include you. This is a gender-neutral pronoun.

Example Sentence:
They had no idea what to do.
She

Meaning:
Refers to a specified feminine individual.

Example Sentence:
She hasn’t come home yet.
It

Meaning:
Refers to a single, gender-neutral subject, usually an object or animal.

Example Sentence:
It ran away.

You may have noticed that there are no plural forms for the pronouns “He,” “She,” or “It.” While these pronouns are masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral, respectively, they can all be grouped under the gender-neutral plural pronoun “They.”

Take for example the sentence: “They had no idea what to do.” 

We have no idea who (or what) they are, or what their gender is. This could be a group of men, a group of women, a group of both men and women, or even a group of animals. “They” can be used for a couple or a group of anything, regardless of type or gender.

It is worth noting that “they” also sees use as a gender-neutral singular pronoun — both to refer to nonspecific people (“The doctor said they didn’t know what to do”) and as a preferred pronoun for specific people. Using the pronoun “it” can sound dehumanizing, so many prefer to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring to people. Be careful, though — while its use is quite common in casual language, academics and style guides are still divided on whether the singular “they” is acceptable in formal language.

2- Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are those on the receiving end of a verb, and are typically used after the verb in a sentence or clause. 

Notice that two of these words are identical to those from the previous section: “You” and “it.” These words do not change form, whether they’re the subject or the object.

SingularPlural
Me

Meaning:
Refers to you as the speaker. It’s the object pronoun version of “I.”

Example Sentence:
My boyfriend bought chocolate for me.

Additional Notes:
Here, “me” is the object pronoun because the chocolate was bought for this person (this person isn’t the one buying it).
Us

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that includes you. This is the object pronoun version of “we.”

Example Sentence:
Valerie always seems to get us lost.

Additional Notes:
Here, “us” is the object pronoun because the group, including the speaker, is lost due to Valerie (they don’t get themselves lost).
You

Meaning:
Refers to an individual you’re talking to, when they receive or are affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
Your friends looked everywhere and couldn’t find you.

Additional Notes:
Here, “you” is the object pronoun because this person is being looked for (and not looking for someone).
You

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people whom you’re speaking to when they receive or are affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
We tried to wait for you all!

Additional Note:
In the above sentence, the pronoun “you” is followed by the word “all,” to show that it’s a plural “you.” But more often than not, the word “all” will be omitted, as it’ll be clear a group is being spoken to. 

Fun Fact:
In some areas of the United States, particularly the southwest, people say y’all (a contraction of “you all”) and all y’all (“all of you all”).
Him

Meaning:
Refers to a masculine individual. This is the object pronoun version of “he.”

Example Sentence:
Sylvia showed him the movie.

Additional Notes:
Here, “him” is the object pronoun because 1) the person is male, and 2) the person is being shown something (not showing someone something).
Them

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that doesn’t include you. This is a gender-neutral pronoun, and is the object pronoun version of “they.”

Example Sentence:
Sharla decided to go with them.

Additional Notes:
Here, “them” is the object pronoun because the group has someone going with them.
Her

Meaning:
Refers to a feminine individual. This is the object pronoun version of “she.”

Example Sentence:
Tom didn’t know what to buy her.

Additional Notes:
Here, “her” is the object pronoun because 1) the person is female, 2) and she is going to be receiving something (not the one who is going to buy something).
It

Meaning:
This refers to a gender-neutral objectindividual, when it receives or is affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
Nate saw the dog and petted it.

Additional Notes:
Here, “it” is the object pronoun because 1) the noun is gender-neutral, and 2) the dog is receiving the pet (and not petting something itself).
Dog Running Near Ocean

In each of the example sentences above, the underlined word is the object pronoun, and the italicized word is the verb or action being done to it. 

3- Possessive Pronouns

Next on our English pronouns list are possessive pronouns.

Possessive pronouns are used to show who owns something or who something belongs to. Possessive pronouns are also used as adjectives. This may sound confusing, but it really isn’t too hard!

As you look at the chart below, be sure to study the structure associated with possessive pronouns vs. possessive adjectives.

As a Pronoun

noun + be verb + possessive pronoun
As an Adjective

possessive pronoun + noun
Mine

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to you, the speaker.

Example Sentence:
Victory is mine.

Additional Note:
Be sure not to confuse this with the noun “mine” (referring to a place where something is dug up) or the verb “mine” (the act of digging). It’s entirely different in meaning.
My

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to you, the speaker.

Example Sentence:
That’s my umbrella.
Ours

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group that includes you.

Example Sentence:
This problem is ours.
Our

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group that includes you.

Example Sentence:
This is our house.
Yours

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to an individual you’re talking to.

Example Sentence:
That money is yours.
Your

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to an individual you’re talking to.

Example Sentence:
Is this your laptop?
His

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a male individual.

Example Sentence:
That book is his.
His

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a male individual.

Example Sentence:
That’s his dog.
Hers

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a female individual.

Example Sentence:
The toolbox is hers.
Her

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a female individual.

Example Sentence:
I don’t like her attitude.
Theirs

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group of people not including you.

Example Sentence:
They said that the car is theirs.
Their

Used when something belongs to a group of people not including you.

Example Sentence:
It was their idea!

4- Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns

Both reflexive and intensive pronouns end with the suffix -self (singular) or -selves (plural). However, they are used differently. 

Before going into detail about how to use them, here’s a chart showing the singular and plural forms of each reflexive and intensive pronouns. There are three things you should note: 

1) The forms for reflexive and intensive pronouns are identical when both singular and plural.

2) Only three pronouns have a plural form, which are “Your,” “Them,” and “Our.”

3) The pronoun “Our” can technically be used in singular form, though this is considered incorrect by some.

MyYourHimHerItThemOur
SingularMyselfYourselfHimselfHerselfItselfThemselfOurself
PluralXXXYourselvesXXXXXXXXXThemselvesOurselves

So, what’s the difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns? 

The biggest difference is that reflexive pronouns can’t be removed from the sentence and are necessary for the sentence to be correct. Intensive pronouns can be removed, and the sentence will still be correct. 

Here’s a chart to better explain this (note that I omitted the singular “Ourself” as this is generally incorrect):

MyselfYourself

Yourselves
HimselfHerselfItselfThemselvesOurselves
ReflexiveI’m all by myself.You should love yourself.



You should be ashamed of yourselves!
He cares about no one but himself.She treated herself to ice cream.The table moved all by itself!They can let themselves into the house.We hate ourselves for what we did.
IntensiveI corralled the horses all by myself.Did you make that yourself?

Are you, yourselves, going to the dance?
He wanted to escort her himself.She prepared everything herself.The only thing to fear is fear itself.Did they do that themselves?We paid for the bike ourselves.

Note that each of the example sentences using reflexive pronouns would make no sense if you took away the reflexive pronouns, whereas the intensive pronoun sentences would still completely make sense even without the intensive pronouns.

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns that replace the antecedent noun in a sentence. Further, a demonstrative pronoun is one that demonstrates a noun, similar to what a person does through pointing or motioning in body language, but with words. For example, you can imagine someone pointing to something while saying “those.” 

Woman Pointing to Something on Computer Screen
MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
This

[Singular]
“This” refers to something that’s nearby, or to the exact thing that one is experiencing.I can’t stand this traffic!“This” is used here because the word it references (traffic) is singular and is being experienced at that exact moment and place.
That

[Singular]
“That” usually refers to something farther away, like something you would point at.That strawberry looks funny.“That” is used here because the word it references (strawberry) is singular and is likely being pointed to or otherwise indicated.
These

[Plural]
“These” is the plural form of “this.”These bananas look good.“These” is used here because the word it references (bananas) is plural and is likely nearby (e.g. being held or directly looked at).
Those

[Plural]
“Those” is the plural form of “that.”Look at those bananas over there.“Those” is used here because the word it references (bananas) is plural and likely farther away, being pointed to or otherwise indicated.
Here“Here” is the equivalent of “this,” but relates only to location.Here is the money I owe you.“Here” is used in this sentence because the person likely has the money in-hand, and is, at that moment, giving it to the other person.
There“There” is the equivalent of “that,” but relates only to location.You can see the bank over there.“There” is used because the bank is probably in the distance, being pointed to or indicated.

3. Interrogative Pronouns

Basic Questions

Interrogative pronouns are used when asking a question, and are probably the easiest pronouns you’ll deal with for this reason. There are four basic interrogative pronouns: “What,” “Which,” “Who,” and “Where.” Note that “Who” can also change to “Whom” or “Whose” depending on the question being asked; I’ll go more into this later. 

For now, here’s an English pronouns chart that shows these interrogative pronouns in action! 

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
What“What” is typically used when asking for clarification on something.What did she say?“What” is used here because the speaker wants clarification on what the woman said.
Which“Which” is typically used when asking for someone to distinguish between two or more people/things.Which dress looks better on me?“Which” is used here because the speaker wants the listener to tell her, out of all the dresses, which one looks best on her.
Who / Whom / WhoseThe “Who” words are all used when asking specifically about a person.Who is that over there?

To whom should I address the letter?

Whose backpack is this?
Where“Where” is used when asking about direction or location.Where did I park the car?“Where” is used here because the speaker is asking about the location of their car.

Now, as promised, here’s information on the difference between who, whom, and whose.

Who is used when the person being asked about is the main subject.

Whom is used when the person being asked about is the one receiving (or who will receive) an action. In the example sentence, note the article “to” before the word whom. This indicates that something will happen to or be given to the person being asked about.

Whose is used when the question is about possession. Whose backpack, whose shirt, whose vehicle, etc. This is not to be confused with the conjunction “who’s,” which means “who is.”

4. Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used when there’s no need to be specific. For example, if you’re talking about a group of people in your office who all play golf, you could say “everyone in my office plays golf.” Or when you need to know what time it is and don’t really care who gives you the time, you could ask “Can anyone tell me the time?”

Golf Ball Near Hole

Here’s a breakdown of how these words are created.

-one-body-where-thing
EveryEveryoneEverybodyEverywhereEverything
SomeSomeoneSomebodySomewhereSomething
NoNo oneNobodyNowhereNothing
AnyAnyoneAnybodyAnywhereAnything

Note that the prefixes are always “every-,” “some-,” “no-,” or “any-,” depending on what you’re trying to say. 

And the suffixes are always “-one,” “-body,” “-where,” or “-thing.”

In the chart below, I’ve categorized the indefinite pronouns by their suffix. 

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
Everyone“Everyone” refers to each person in a specified group of people.Everyone ignored the new girl at school.Each person at the school ignored the new girl.
Someone“Someone” refers to one individual in a group of people, specified or unspecified.Someone stopped to help the old lady cross the street.An individual helped an old lady.
No one“No one” means that no individual in a group of people is included. Another translation could be “not a single person.”No one is perfect.There’s not a single person who’s perfect.
Anyone“Anyone” refers to an unspecified individual in a group of people.“Is anyone here?” she asked.She wants to know if there’s a person there; she doesn’t really care who.
Everybody“Everybody” has the same meaning as “everyone.”“Could everybody please be quiet?” Stan yelled.Stan wants each person around him to be quiet.
Somebody“Somebody” has the same meaning as “someone.”Somebody knocked on the door.An unknown individual knocked on the door.
Nobody“Nobody” has the same meaning as “no one.”“Nobody move!” he said.He doesn’t want a single person to move.
Anybody“Anybody” has the same meaning as “anyone.”Does anybody have some spare change?The speaker is asking if any person has change.
Everywhere“Everywhere” refers to each place or area, none excluded.“I looked for it everywhere, and can’t find it,” Sue said.Sue has *supposedly* looked in each possible place for what she’s looking for.
Somewhere“Somewhere” refers to an individual place.“I just need to go away somewhere,” he said.He needs to go away, to an unspecified place (meaning he doesn’t really know where or doesn’t want to say).
Nowhere“Nowhere” could also be “not a single place.”“Nowhere” could also be “not a single place.”Not a single place is quiet enough for the speaker.
Anywhere“Anywhere” refers to an unspecified place.I don’t want to go anywhere right now.The speaker doesn’t care where the place is, they just don’t want to go.
Everything“Everything” refers to each one of something, or all of something.Some days, everything seems to go wrong.Some days, each possible thing will go wrong.
Something“Something” refers to an individual thing.“There’s something odd about that man,” they whispered.They think that the man is odd for some unspecified reason.
Nothing“Nothing” could also be “not a single thing.”Nothing would make me happier right now than some food.Not a single thing will make the speaker as happy as food will.
Anything“Anything” refers to an unspecified thing.“Is there anything else I can get you?” the waiter asked.The waiter doesn’t care what’s needed, but if the person he’s speaking to needs something, he’ll get it.

5. Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns connect a relative clause to an independent clause. In other words, they relate the noun to the noun’s significance.

There are five relative pronouns: “Which,” “That,” “Who,” “Whom,” and “Whose.”

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
Which“Which” is used in nonrestrictive clauses, meaning that the noun it precedes is not limited to only that thing. Typically, it’s used to add information to that noun in terms of the rest of the clause.It was her love which set him free.Here, “which” is used because it’s explaining what her love did. It added information.
That“That” is used in restrictive clauses, meaning that the noun it indicates is specific and limited to only that thing.I see the dog that we wanted to adopt.Here, “that” is used because the person is talking about a specific dog they wanted to adopt. The speaker isn’t talking about any other dog, only this one.
Who“Who” is used when talking about a specific person as the subject of a sentence (the one who did or is doing something).That’s the woman who stole your inheritance!
Whom“Whom” is used when the person being talked about is the object of an action, or was affected by an action.Is that the man whom you dated?
Whose“Whose” is used when specifying the person who owns something.Isn’t she the one whose house caught on fire?

6. Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are used when two (or more) nouns are being replaced at once, usually when both are performing an action in terms of the other person. There are only two of these pronouns: “each other” and “one another.”

  • Each other 
    • Bob and Joe hit each other.
One Kid about to Punch Another Kid
  • One another
    • “Why can’t you get along with one another?” their mother asked.
    • Note that “you” here is used in its plural form, as the mother is talking to both of her children.

And that’s all there is to it! 

7. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn More English!

Improve Listening

Pronouns are one of the most difficult aspects of English for those seeking to learn the language—it’s even difficult for native English-speakers! 

Once you learn the English pronouns rules, their patterns, and the similarities between different English pronouns and their uses, they will become much easier. I promise! And don’t fret if you mess up sometimes. As long as you’re aware of your errors and keep striving to be better, you’re on the right track.

Now that you’ve reached the end, reward yourself with your favorite treat or activity. You’ve more than earned it! 😉

If you found this article helpful and want to keep up with our study and learning materials, create a free EnglishClass101.com account! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free English vocabulary lists on a variety of topics, and download our mobile apps that are designed to let you study anywhere on your own time! By upgrading to a Premium Plus account, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program, and learn English one-on-one with your own teacher and personalized plan. It’s our goal to make English-learning both fun and informative!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about English pronouns now. Did our pronoun list help you at all? It’s a lot to take in, so let us know if there’s anything you’re struggling with. We look forward to hearing from you! 

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Your Guide to Basic English Sentence Structures & Word Order

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Word order and sentence structure are essential for any language-learner. They can determine the meaning of a sentence, help you emphasize certain aspects of the sentence, and allow your speech and writing to sound more natural. 

In this article, I’ll guide you through the following two topics:

  • Correct sentence structure in English
  • English word order rules

I’ll also provide you with several English word order examples along the way, so you can see how it all works together. 

Once you understand the most basic English sentence structures, you’ll be a much more effective communicator. Before we continue, you may find it helpful to take a look at our English grammar page and familiarize yourself with some of the topics I’ll cover. 

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Overview of Word Order in English
  2. Basic Sentence Structure Rules
  3. Let’s Add Prepositional Phrases
  4. And Now Modifiers
  5. Sentence Transformations!
  6. Final Thoughts

1. Overview of Word Order in English

Woman Cuddling Cat

What is the order of an English sentence?

Overall, the sentence structures in English are very flexible. Which structure you use depends on context and personal preference, although Subject + Verb + Object (SVO) is the most common structure. For example:

I pet the cat.

It’s also possible to form very simple sentences with only the subject and verb as long as they form a complete thought (SV):

He ran.

That said, there are four types of sentence structures that are commonly used in English.

1- The Four Types of Sentence Structures

Before we go any further, you need to know the difference between dependent and independent clauses. 

1. Dependent vs. Independent

Dependent: 

A dependent clause is one that requires an independent clause to be a complete sentence. Dependent clauses do not contain enough information (a subject, verb, and complete idea) to be a sentence. An example would be the clause “Since Kaitlyn didn’t come.” 

This clause leaves the listener wanting more information. What was the result of Kaitlyn not coming? 

Independent:

An independent clause is one that can be used by itself and contains all the information it needs to be complete. An example would be the clause “I felt lonely.” 

Although we don’t have tons of information available to us, the above clause represents a complete idea. It has a subject (I), a verb (felt), and a word that adds necessary information to the verb (lonely).

Putting Them Together:

Sitting Alone in Cold Weather

Remember how I said that a dependent clause needs an independent clause to be complete? Check this out:

“Since Kaitlyn didn’t come, I felt lonely.”

Now we have an answer to what was previously a dependent clause. And now we have even added more information to the already-completed independent clause. It’s a win-win! 

2. What are Four Types of Sentence Structures?

There are four basic English sentence structure types (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex). We’ve outlined them below.

DefinitionExamples
SimpleRequires a subject and a verb

Consists of one independent clause.

Sometimes it has an object as well.
I worked.” OR “I worked on the book.”

He proposed. OR “He proposed to her.”

She smiled.” OR “She smiled at him.”
CompoundConsists of two (or more) independent clauses.

The independent clauses are usually connected by a linking word or phrase (as shown in these examples), a semicolon, or a colon.
I worked, and then I made dinner.”

He proposed, and she said yes.”

She smiled and (she) took his hand.”
ComplexConsists of one independent clause and one dependent clause.I worked, even though I was tired.

Though nervous, he proposed.

Because she smiled, he was happy.
Compound-ComplexConsists of two independent clauses and one dependent clause.I worked, even though I was tired, and then I made dinner.

Though nervous, he proposed, and she said yes.

Because she smiled, he was happy; then she took his hand.

This is just an overview. In the following sections, I’ll go into more detail about how these sentence transformations work, starting with the basics of word order in English.

2. Basic Sentence Structure Rules

Woman Writing on Couch

As mentioned earlier, in English, you only need two words to create a whole sentence: The subject (S) and the verb (V). This is the SV sentence structure.

Sarah writes.

You can add more information to this simple sentence by adding an object (O) to the end. This becomes the SVO sentence structure.

Sarah writes poetry.

The SV and SVO sentence structures are the most common structures in the United States. The only real exception is when people are giving a command or asking a question. In this case, they may be able to get away with using one word or an incomplete thought:

  • “Peter!” (S)
  • “Stop!” (V)
  • “The book!” (O)
  • “Why?” (Question)

In the cases above, the context will help you determine the meaning. 

In all other situations, it’s most proper to use the SV or SVO structure (unless you want to talk like Yoda with OSV).

3. Let’s Add Prepositional Phrases

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1- The Basics

What happens to a sentence when you add a prepositional phrase? What does that look like?

A prepositional phrase adds information to simple sentences. Often, it answers the questions of where, when, how, and why something happened. 

Here are four examples of prepositional phrases:

  • In the park (Where)

“Sarah writes poetry in the park.”

  • At night (When)

“Sarah writes poetry at night.”

  • By herself (How)

“Sarah writes poetry by herself.”

  • Because it’s fun (Why)

“Sarah writes poetry because it’s fun.”

2- Position in a Sentence

Moonlit Field

In the above examples, the prepositional phrases are at the end of the sentence. But, a prepositional phrase can also come at the beginning of a sentence, although this is less common. The order you choose depends on what you want to emphasize in your sentence.

For example, if you want to emphasize what time Sarah writes poetry, you could say: 

At night, Sarah writes poetry.

This indicates when Sarah chooses to write. It also suggests that when she writes is more important than the fact that she writes poetry in general.

3- What to do with Multiple Prepositions

What if you wanted to tell someone all the information above in one sentence? Well, here are a few different ways:

  • Sarah writes poetry in the park by herself at night because it’s fun.
  • In the park, Sarah writes poetry at night by herself because it’s fun.
  • At night, Sarah writes poetry in the park by herself because it’s fun.
  • “Sarah writes poetry by herself in the park at night because it’s fun.
  • At night, in the park by herself, Sarah writes poetry because it’s fun.

Note that, usually, the why prepositional phrase comes at the end of the sentence. It tends to sound better there, and people are still able to emphasize it when it’s at the end through tone of voice. 

As you can see, the word order in English sentences for prepositional phrases is flexible. In general, you can choose the order that makes the most sense to you. 

And don’t worry too much. In most cases, people don’t use sentences this long in conversations! Instead, you’re more likely to hear a simple: “Sarah writes poetry in the park at night.

4. And Now Modifiers

A modifier is a word that modifies (adds info or meaning to) another word, usually a noun or verb. Below is an English word order chart describing each type of modifier with examples.

DefinitionExamplesUsagePlacement
AdjectivesWords that describe a noun.Hot


Easy
1. “It was a hot day.” 


2. “The test was easy.”
1. Before the noun it describes.

2. After the noun it describes, with a “be” verb in between.
AdverbsWords that describe a verb.Quickly


Carefully



Hopefully



Currently
1. “Quickly, I ran.”


2. “She put the knife down carefully.”

3. “The cat followed hopefully after its owner.”

4. “I currently don’t own a cat.”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. After the verb it describes.


4. After the subject performing the verb.
DeterminersWords that indicate which of something you’re talking about.This


That


These


Those
1. “This is good.”


2. “He didn’t know that.”

3. “These cookies are delicious.”

4. “Aren’t those strange?”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. Before a noun.


4. After a verb and before an adjective.
NumeralsNumbers that describe how many.One


Two


Three
1. “One more, please.”

2. “Can I have two?”


3. “I want three donuts.”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. After a verb.
PossessorsWords that indicate who possesses something.His



Her
1. “That book is his.”


2. “Where’s her backpack?”
1. End of a sentence.

2. Before a noun, usually an object.
Relative ClausesA series of words that add information to a sentence.That I ordered



That he saw



Of the color



That she wore
1. “That I ordered a bicycle is strange.”


2. “Where’s the squirrel that he saw?”

3. “The flower was of the color red.”


4. “The dress that she wore was very pretty.”
1. Beginning of a sentence. [uncommon]

2. End of a sentence.


3. After a be verb and before an adjective.

4. After a noun, usually an object.

Confused about how a relative clause differs from a prepositional phrase? You can find more information on this page.

1- Using Multiple Modifiers

What happens if you need to use more than one modifier in a sentence? 

Key: Adjective, Adverb, Possessor, Relative Clause.

I quickly sat on the green grass and dropped my book beside me.

I dropped my book beside me and quickly sat on the green grass.

The two sentences above use all the same words, but the two clauses are in a different order. Yet, note that the order of the modifiers within those clauses remains the same, even though the order of what happens in the sentence differs. 

  • The adjective is before the noun it describes (green grass).
  • The adverb is before the verb it describes (quickly sat).
  • The possessor is before the object that’s owned (my book).
  • The relative clause explains where the book was dropped (beside me).

Note that for the adverb, one could also say “sat quickly,” and it would be correct.

5. Sentence Transformations! 

Okay. So how do you use this information to create longer, more specific sentences? 

Because the English language is flexible with its word order, there are no solid rules for how to do this. The word order of modifiers and prepositional phrases often depends on the context. 

Below are a couple of English word order exercises to show you how this works. 

Minestrone Soup

1) Let’s take a look at this simple S + V sentence, and go from there.

Carol ate.

2) Add an object to create an SVO sentence. This will let the reader know what Carol ate.

Carol ate soup.

3) Now, how much soup did Carol eat?

Carol ate three bowls of soup.

4) When did Carol eat the soup?

Carol ate three bowls of soup yesterday.

5) What kind of soup did Carol eat?

Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday.

Keep in mind that this is only one example of how you can transform a sentence. For example, you could also say, “Yesterday, Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup.” And it would mean the same thing.

Now let’s look at another example:

1) Wendy played.

2) Wendy played chess.

3) Wendy played two games of chess.

4) Wendy played two games of chess last night.

5) Wendy played two difficult games of chess last night

Here, we did exactly the same thing, except in the final step when we added the modifier “difficult.” Instead of saying “the chess” was difficult, we said that the games of chess were difficult, which sounds more natural in English. 

1- Bonus: Making it a Yes-or-No Question

You’ve learned about simple and complex sentences, but what about English word order in questions? 

There are two main ways that you can turn sentences into simple questions. 

Option 1

1) Add the appropriate verb to the very beginning of the sentence. 

2) Conjugate the verb accordingly.

3) Put a question mark at the very end of the sentence.

Here’s how this would look using our example sentences:

Did Carol eat three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday?

Did Wendy play two difficult games of chess last night?

You may be wondering why the verbs are in the present tense in the questions, instead of the past tense. Although the events took place in the past (yesterday and last night), when asking a question about past events, the verbs should be in the present tense. 

For a more detailed explanation of how to conjugate verbs, make sure to visit my article on English verb conjugation! 

Option 2

1) Simply put a question mark at the end of the original sentence.

Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday?

Wendy played two difficult games of chess last night?

This option is a little less formal than the first option. It’s typically used when you’re astonished or amazed at something. In the first example, you may emphasize “three bowls” because that’s a lot of soup

6. Final Thoughts

Girl Stressed about Studying

Because there are so many ways you can compose sentences in English, you may feel overwhelmed. Even though flexibility can be handy, it can take a long time to get used to English sentence structures. 

The word orders I outlined in this article are the most commonly used ones and are what you should focus on when you start learning English. Review the examples as many times, and as often, as you need to. The more you expose yourself to these sentence structures, the more familiar you’ll become with them. 

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to practice! You may want to start by writing or typing out simple sentences, and then expanding them step-by-step as I did above. And once you’re comfortable with the process, try using longer sentences in conversations with friends or family! 

For more English language content from EnglishClass101.com, check out the following pages:

  • Top 100 English Nouns
  • Top 100 English Adjectives
  • Top 100 English Verbs
  • Top 100 English Adverbs
  • Pronouns in English

Is there anything you’re still struggling with, or any topic we haven’t covered yet? Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

Happy learning!

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The Ultimate Guide to Telling Time in U.S. English

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Wherever you find yourself in the world, much of your life will be governed by time: What time you wake up, when you need to leave for work, how long your lunch break is, what time the museum opens, making sure you arrive on time for your date. In short, unless you plan on moving to this Norwegian town, you really do need to know how to tell time. 😉

Telling time and making appointments may be easy in your own language and country, but what about when you visit or relocate to the United States? The United States tends to do things differently than the rest of the world, probably just because we can…and in some ways, this applies to telling time.

The good news is that as long as you know your numbers and some basic time-related vocabulary, learning to tell the time in English shouldn’t be too difficult.
Learning to tell the time in English is an invaluable step in your language-learning journey, and something you’ll never regret taking the time to figure out.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in English Table of Contents
  1. How Do You Ask the Time in English?
  2. Talking About Hours
  3. Talking About Minutes
  4. Hours Divided into Minutes
  5. How to Describe Time in English with General Time References
  6. Time Adverbs
  7. Proverbs About Time in English
  8. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master English

1. How Do You Ask the Time in English?

Time

Before you learn about telling time, you should know how to ask for it. When first arriving in an English-speaking country, you’ll definitely be asking the time more than giving it! Here are some of the most common ways to ask someone what time it is.

  • Excuse me, what time is it?
  • Do you have the time, please?
  • Do you happen to have the time?
  • Can you please tell me what time it is?
  • Excuse me, please tell me the time.
  • What time should I arrive?
  • What time is the ___ [meeting, movie, etc.]?

Notice how the first five questions use polite phrases such as “excuse me,” and “please.” While it’s not always necessary to include these polite phrases (especially if you’re in a hurry and need the time right away!), people always appreciate you taking the time to be courteous. 🙂

Now that you’re familiar with asking about time in English, how do you say the time in English?

2. Talking About Hours

When telling time in American English, the majority of people go by the twelve-hour clock, though some are familiar with the twenty-four-hour clock (also called the Military Clock) as well. In this article, I’ll only be covering the twelve-hour format as this is the most widely used time format in the United States, and will help you learn how to tell time in English more than going over the 24-hour clock.

7 o’clock on Alarm Clock

1- Twelve-Hour Clock Time 

Before looking at the chart below, please note that in the United States, we sometimes add “o’clock” to the end of a time. This is considered a more formal and proper way of telling time, but more often than not, people drop the word “o’clock” and just say the number. In the chart, I wrote the example sentences both ways so that you can hear the difference yourself.

TimeUsage in a Sentence
1 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]The softball game starts at 1 o’clock.

OR

The softball game starts at 1.
2 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Let’s meet at 2 o’clock.

OR

Let’s meet at 2.
3 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]The cafe closes at 3 o’clock.

OR

The cafe closes at 3.
4 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Gerta left home at 4 o’clock.

OR

Gerta left home at 4.
5 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]It’s 5 o’clock.

OR

It’s 5.
6 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Dinner will be ready at 6 o’clock.

OR

Dinner will be ready at 6.
7 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]We should leave at 7 o’clock.

OR

We should leave at 7.
8 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]She ate breakfast at 8 o’clock.

OR

She ate breakfast at 8.
9 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]At 9 o’clock, the telephone rang.

OR

At 9, the telephone rang.
10 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]10 o’clock just came and went.

In this example, using only “10” would sound a bit odd, so adding “o’clock” is the best way to say this sentence.
11 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Rita was already hungry at 11 o’clock.

OR

Rita was already hungry at 11.
12 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Let’s get ice cream at 12 o’clock.

OR

Let’s get ice cream at 12.

A.m. vs. P.m.

Because we use the twelve-hour clock format, it’s important that we have a way to know which set of twelve hours we’re talking about. (Otherwise, we would all be heading to meetings and dates twelve hours late or early!)

In the U.S., we do this by using “a.m.” (short for the Latin phrase ante meridiem, referring to any time before midday / noon) and “p.m.” (short for the Latin phrase post meridiem, referring to any time after midday / noon). These initials are put directly after the time whenever clarification is needed (so that you go get ice cream at midday and not midnight, unless that’s your thing). Here are some examples:

  • 2 o’clock p.m. (afternoon)
  • 7 o’clock a.m. (morning)
  • 6 o’clock p.m. (evening)
  • 9 o’clock a.m. (morning)

Keep in mind that 12 o’clock a.m. is midnight, and 12 o’clock p.m. is midday—these are the most commonly confused times for those just learning this time format. 

This may sound confusing and unnecessarily difficult if you aren’t used to telling the time this way, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t so bad. 😉

3. Talking About Minutes

A Clock Showing Hours and Minutes

An hour is made up of sixty “minutes,” and in the U.S., we give the exact time by saying the hour and then the minutes. Minutes, here, refer to how many minutes after the hour it is. In writing, this is written with the number of the hour followed by a colon, and then the number of minutes after the colon: [Hour]: [Minutes After].

For example, this may look like:

  • 1:34 (thirty-four minutes after one o’clock)
    • It’s 1:34 a.m., what are you doing up?
  • 3:16 (sixteen minutes after three o’clock)
    • At 3:16 p.m., she finally left the hospital.
  • 8:59 (fifty-nine minutes after eight o’clock, or one minute before 9 o’clock)
    • It was 8:59 a.m. when she looked at the clock.

4. Hours Divided into Minutes

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There are three common terms that we use to divide the hours into minutes in a simpler fashion: “quarter,” “third,” and “half.” This makes it much easier to quickly give someone the approximate time.

1- Quarter

In regards to time, people use the word “quarter” to represent 15 minutes (which is 1/4 of an hour, just as a quarter in U.S. money is 1/4 of a dollar). We use the phrase “quarter past” to say “fifteen minutes after” and “quarter to” to say “fifteen minutes until [or before].”

Here are some examples of this, with the time each one represents in parentheses:

  • Quarter past 5 (5:15)
    • Be ready for dinner at a quarter past 5.
  • Quarter past 9 (9:15)
    • The bus arrived at a quarter past 9.
  • Quarter to 4 (3:45)
    • She left work at a quarter to 4.
  • Quarter to 7 (6:45)
    • It was a quarter to 7, and Steve still hadn’t shown up.

2- Third

“Third” is not a common term used for time in the United States, but in case you do hear it used, it refers to 20 minutes (because 20 is 1/3 of 60). So “a third past” refers to twenty minutes after the hour, and “a third to” refers to twenty minutes before the hour.

  • A third past 1 (1:20)
    • Be there a third past 1.
  • A third past 5 (5:20)
    • They finished dinner at a third past 5.
  • A third to 9 (8:40)
    • She left the house at a third to 9.
  • A third to 12 (11:40)
    • At a third to 12, she stopped for lunch.
large Club Sandwich

Honestly, you don’t need to worry too much about this one, as it’s rarely used and doesn’t sound as natural as “quarter” and “half” in conversation.

3- Half

“Half” is a very common phrase you’ll hear when people talk about time in English. “Half” refers to 30 minutes, as that’s half an hour (“half an hour” or “half-hour” are phrases you’ll also hear often, simply meaning 30 minutes). As with the word “quarter,” people use the phrases “half past” and “half an hour to” to describe 30 minutes after or until an hour, respectively.

  • Half past 3 (3:30)
    • Meet me at half past 3.
  • Half past 7 (7:30)
    • Bill woke up at half past 7.
  • Half an hour to 6 (5:30)
    • Quinton showed up half an hour to 6.
  • Half an hour to 10 (9:30)
    • Sue took her shower at half an hour to 10.

This is probably the easiest term to remember, as the time will always have a “thirty” in it. But be careful to always pay attention to the words “past” or “to.” Mixing these up can result in disaster!

5. How to Describe Time in English with General Time References

Knowing exact numeric times is important, but it’ll only get you so far. People in the United States often tell the time using general references, seeing as this is much faster and simpler when an exact time isn’t needed. Here’s a quick chart of the most commonly used references with their meanings and example sentences. 

Beautiful Morning
MeaningUsage in a Sentence
Early Morning“Early morning” refers to the very first hours of the day, and there is no specific time frame that this represents. However, “early morning” typically refers to anywhere from 3am to 9am, depending on who you ask.Susan eats breakfast in the early morning after she wakes up.
Sunrise / Dawn“Sunrise” and “Dawn” refer to the same time of day, which is whenever the sun happens to begin rising above the horizon. When “sunrise / dawn” occurs varies over the course of a year, occurring earlier in summer and later in winter.The birds started singing at sunrise.

Alex woke up right at dawn.
Noon / Midday“Noon” and “Midday” refer to the same time of day, which is 12:00pm, or the very middle of a twenty-four-hour day. This is often around the time people have their lunch.“Can we talk again at noon?” Tom asked her.

Lillian always ate lunch around midday.
Early Afternoon“Early afternoon” refers to approximately two to four hours after noon (from noon to about 2pm or as late as 4pm).Vance enjoys walking in the early afternoon.
Late Afternoon“Late afternoon” refers to approximately four to seven hours after noon (from about 4pm to 7pm).They enjoyed a nice barbeque meal in the late afternoon.
Evening“Evening” is just before sunset or nightfall. This usually refers to the time period from 7pm to 8pm, though this can vary over the course of a year, with evening being earlier in winter months and later in summer months.She stayed out late that evening with her friends.
Sunset / Dusk“Sunset” and “Dusk” refer to the same time of day, which is when the sun begins to set below the horizon. This is before nightfall, but no longer considered daytime.Wendy and Rick watched the beautiful sunset together.


At dusk the sky sometimes turns purple.
Night“Night” refers to after the sun has set, and it’s dark outside. Depending on who you ask, it usually refers to any time after 8pm until sunrise the next day.Kyle didn’t get any sleep yesterday night.
Midnight“Midnight” refers to 12:00am, or the very middle of the night.Ira woke up at midnight feeling very hungry.
Moon through Clouds at Midnight

6. Time Adverbs

Adverbs are not the most fun thing to study, but in telling time, they are essential. With the adverbs I cover in this section, you can learn to tell time in a more general, easy-going way, and in a way that everyone will understand. But instead of telling the time, these adverbs describe the time.

1- Adverbs that Talk About the Present

These time adverbs all talk about something that is happening in the present time.

Usage in a SentenceAdditional Information
Right now“Come over here, right now!” his mother said.
CurrentlyI’m currently drinking a cup of coffee.
At the momentAt the moment, Olive doesn’t know what to do.
MeanwhileMeanwhile, the tow truck took Al’s car away.Note that “meanwhile” is different from the other words. Instead of simply talking about the present, it describes when something happens in the present, in relation to another action.

For example, suppose Al went to a restaurant to eat but parked somewhere he shouldn’t have. 

The sentence would read: “Al enjoyed a burger at the restaurant. Meanwhile, the tow truck took Al’s car away.”
At the same timeThey both started laughing at the same time.“At the same time” means roughly the same thing as “meanwhile,” but it’s used a little bit differently. It normally refers to two actions or events that occur simultaneously.

2- Adverbs that Place the Time

These time adverbs work to answer the questions: “When?” or “How long?” in terms of the current time.

Man Giving Speech
MeaningUsage in a SentenceAdditional Notes
Before“Before” means previous to or prior to.“Before I get started, I have a question,” the motivational speaker said.This sentence indicates that the speaker will get started, but not until he’s asked a question.
After“After” means later or at the end of something else. It’s the opposite of “before.”After a long day, Sara spent the evening watching TV.This sentence suggests that a long day has passed, and once it was over, Sara watched TV.
Soon“Soon” means in the near future.Henry was leaving for college soon.This sentence suggests that Henry will leave for college not long from now. This could be hours or even a couple of months, as “soon” is a very vague and subjective term, and often depends on context.
Almost“Almost” is similar to “soon,” and means nearly.“It’s almost time!” he said excitedly.The man in this sentence is excited because something he is looking forward to is happening soon.
In a little while“In a little while” means that something will happen after a certain period of time, but it won’t be long.I’ll be going to the store in a little while.This is another vague term. In this sentence, the speaker is going to the store after an unspecified period of time has passed. In the case of something like going to the store, it probably refers to minutes or hours.
Not long after“Not long after” is similar to “in a little while,” but gives a more specific idea of what will happen (or has happened) at the time being talked about.Not long after watching a horror movie, Val thought she heard noises.In this sentence, the thing that happened is Val watching a horror movie. Soon after, she thought she heard noises.
Later“Later” is similar to “after,” but is a more general reference to a future time.“Do you want to go out for dinner later?” Joe asked.In this sentence, Joe hasn’t specified what time he wants to have dinner. But based on the context, it probably means a few hours from the current time, and a more specific time will be set up if the answer is yes.
For a long time“For a long time” can essentially mean different things, but refers to much time passing or having passed.“I haven’t been this depressed for a long time,” said Jane. 

OR

“You were at the store for a long time,” said Uriel.
The first sentence suggests that Jane used to be that depressed but much time has passed since then.


In the second sentence, Uriel is telling someone that they took a long time at the store.
Anytime“Anytime” is a word that’s  used when one isn’t picky or specific about a time. It means that any time is okay, or that something can happen at any time.“You can stop by anytime,” said Liz.In this sentence, Liz is okay with the person she’s talking to visiting her at any time.
As soon as possible“As soon as possible” (often abbreviated to “ASAP”) means that something should happen at the earliest possible convenience.“Come to the front office as soon as possible,” the announcement said.In this sentence, the announcement wants someone to come to the office quickly, whenever they’re first able to.
In the near future“In the near future” is a more formal, long-winded way of saying “soon.” It’s often used when talking about larger projects or events.The sign read: “We hope to have this park reopened in the near future.”In this sentence, the sign indicates the park will hopefully be open again soon.

7. Proverbs About Time in English

In the United States, there are several proverbs and sayings related to time. In this section, I’ll only go over the most common idioms related to time in English, but these should give you a pretty good foundation.

  • Time is money.
    • When someone says “time is money,” they’re referring to the fact that the more time you work, the more money you’ll make. Working hard means more money.
  • Time flies.
    • When someone says “time flies,” they mean that time tends to go by quickly. A variation of this phrase is “time flies when you’re having fun,” which means that time goes faster when you’re enjoying how you spend it.
  • Time is of the essence.
    • This phrase means that time is the most important thing in a situation. People often say this when they need something done quickly.
  • An inch of gold will not buy an inch of time. 
    • This phrase means that time is of greater value than gold or money. No matter how much money you have, you can never get back your time, so it’s important to use your time wisely and not be too focused on using it for work. A variation of this phrase is “time is more precious than gold.”
  • Time heals all wounds. 
    • This phrase means that when someone’s been hurt (either physically or emotionally), it will get better with time. A variation of this phrase is “time heals most wounds,” which suggests that some wounds never heal at all, or require more than time to heal.
Depressed Woman Looking Out Window
  • You can’t stop time.
    • When someone says that you can’t stop time, it means that time always continues and there’s no way of getting around it.
  • Ahead of one’s time. 
    • If someone is “ahead of their time,” it means that they’re a forward-thinking individual, and wise.
  • Behind the times. 
    • On the other hand, if someone is “behind the times,” it means that they’re still living in the past, or not adapted to life’s changes as time goes on. This is often used in a negative sense.
  • Time of your life.
    • If someone has the “time of their life,” it means they’re having a lot of fun or that a lot of good things are happening to them. This phrase suggests that it’s the best time of their life.
  • Live on borrowed time. 
    • The phrase “live on borrowed time” means that everyone “lives on borrowed time,” in that we should consider our time precious because it doesn’t really belong to us, but was rather given to us. (You wouldn’t spend borrowed money on silly things, or be reckless with a borrowed object, would you?)
  • At the eleventh hour. 
    • “At the eleventh hour,” refers to the latest time at which something can or will happen. A similar phrase is “at the last minute.”
  • Beat the clock. 
    • When someone “beats the clock” it means that they’ve done something just in time, before it was too late.
  • Around the clock. 
    • If someone does something “around the clock” it means that they never stop, and are always doing it.
  • 24/7.
    • “24/7” means about the same thing as “around the clock.” If someone does something 24/7, they’re always doing it. “24/7” is short for “twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”
  • It’s about time. 
    • Someone usually says “it’s about time” when they’ve been waiting for something to happen and it finally does. It’s usually said in a joking or impatient manner.

8. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master English

Basic Questions

So, reader, do you understand how to tell time in English better now? Is there anything about telling time you’re still struggling with or don’t understand? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be glad to help! 

This article covered a lot of information about telling time in U.S. English, and it’s expected that you’ll need to go over some of this information again to fully process it. You’re a trooper for making it this far, and I hope you feel a little more comfortable telling the time now! 

Keep in mind that when learning about telling time in English, practice is key. Practice as much as you can, and you won’t regret it. 

As you continue to learn to tell time, you may also find it handy to check out my article on dates in U.S. English—you’ll be using time and dates together quite often, after all! 

EnglishClass101.com has many more learning tools for you, including insightful blog posts on an array of topics and free English vocabulary lists for you to study. For a more personalized, one-on-one approach to learning English, you can also upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, so the fact that you’ve come this far shows your determination and ability. Know that you can master English, and EnglishClass101 will be with you at each step of your journey!

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