Student Stumper 50: “Last” vs. “Past”

QUESTION: What’s the difference between “last” and “past”?  Can I say “the last year” and “the past year”? Do they mean the same thing? ANSWER: We can use both of those phrases, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Anytime there are similarities, we must figure out where exactly there’s overlap. Structurally, the phrases…

Really, Truly Helpful: Understanding Gradable and Non-gradable Adjectives

A question from a learner challenged me to formulate an explanation I hadn’t given before. I was asked to explain gradable and non-gradable adjectives. Sometimes students surprise me with their knowledge of terminology. Truthfully, I’ve never taught a lesson online or offline on this specific topic. Why? I think  the concept of gradable and non-gradable…

Fun, Useful Ideas for Working with Adjectives

My next grammar video will target the order of adjectives. I find it’s one of those topics that can put me a loss for answers. Why do we put size before color? Why do we put shape after size? Well…because. It sounds like a lame answer, but that’s just what we do. Language users develop…

Sixth Sense: Practice with linking verbs and adjectives

In the effort to teach syntax with descriptive adjectives to my basic level student, I’ve come up with a way to encourage her discovery of the patterns. Natasha and I have talked about linking verbs before, and I hope that my Sixth Sense activity both reinforces and develops her understanding of the grammar. Please see…

Student Stumper 10: The placement of adjectives

QUESTION: Do adjectives always come before nouns in English? ANSWER: No. This question was shared with me by my Finnish colleague, a remarkable teacher with a firm grasp of grammar. She was challenged by her students to prove that adjectives in English always precede the noun they modify. Apparently, other sources led them to believe…