Using Intensifiers and Downtoners in Spoken English

Intensifiers and downtoners are fun to cover because we use them in many different situations, so it’s fairly easy to create examples and practice tasks. But since I feel they’re used a lot more in conversation, I chose to limit my examples to spoken contexts in my latest YouTube lesson. Another decision I had to…

Absolutely Perfect: Understanding More about Gradable and Non-gradable Adjectives

I’ve been watching clips from Britain’s Got Talent, and I’m always amused to hear Simon Cowell’s comments. When he’s not impressed, he’s brutally frank. And when someone performs with truly admirable talent, he doesn’t hold back in his praise. Earning words like “absolutely perfect” from the likes of Mr. Cowell makes most performers cry for…

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…

Good, Better, and Best Practices for Teaching Comparatives and Superlatives

Teach comparatives before superlatives. This is a no-brainer: the order is logical.   Consider teaching the use of more and less before the use of the suffix -er. Let students master sentence structure before dealing with spelling rules. (X is more [adjective] than Y).  Work first with common adjectives, such as expensive, beautiful, difficult, and…

Student Stumper 3: THAT and SO

QUESTION: Is there any difference between that and so in the following sentences? The exam is not that difficult. / The exam is not so difficult. ANSWER: In both of these sentences that and so are being used as adverbs to express degree. They are synonymous with very. I’d argue it’s possible to use both…