Browsing Category

Grammar

Grammar

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

August 1, 2017

Prepositions can be difficult for English language learners. One way to practice them is to learn them in stages: for example, learn English prepositions of location, then learn prepositions of time. Read on to learn about the prepositions of time AT, IN, and ON.

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

AT

We use the preposition AT to talk about a precise time.

  • I’ll see you at noon.
  • Let’s meet at 4 pm.
  • The show starts at 10:30.
  • CISL classes begin at 9 am.
  • At sunset, we always take a photo.
  • I went to bed at sunrise after a long night of traveling.

The preposition AT can also be used with many expressions.

  • at night
  • at the same time
  • at the moment
  • at present

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

ON

We use the preposition ON to talk about specific days and dates.

  • I will see you on Sunday for brunch.
  • On Fridays, CISL has a graduation ceremony for students.
  • My daughter was born on October 8.
  • On January 1 the law will change.
  • On New Year’s Eve, we celebrate with champagne.
  • I’m going to eat a lot of cake on my birthday!

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

IN

We use the preposition IN to talk about things that happen during a period of time, such as months, years, or centuries.

  • I am always happier in the summertime.
  • In the 80s my parents wore some crazy clothes!
  • In the past, we communicated less. Now, with technology, communicating is easy.
  • In the future, do you think we will have flying cars?
  • In September, we go back to school.
  • I’m going to eat a lot of cake on my birthday!

Prepositions of Time (AT, IN, ON) in English

IN vs. ON

Just as the preposition AT is used with specific expressions, IN and ON are also used with expressions. IN is used for general times and ON is used for the times of specific days.

  • in the morning vs. on Sunday morning
  • in the mornings vs. on Sunday mornings
  • in the afternoon vs. on Sunday afternoon
  • in the afternoons vs. on Sunday afternoons

For more on prepositions, check out our articles about Prepositions of Location and Prepositions of Time

 

California Life CISL San Francisco Featured Grammar San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Activities Student Life

English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN) + SF’s Best Beaches

July 1, 2017

Prepositions are some of the most difficult aspects of English for many language learners: especially English prepositions of location such as AT, ON, and IN. (These are also called prepositions of place.) Learn how to use them properly to avoid confusion! Since CISL offers English courses in San Diego and San Francisco, we can’t think of a better way to practice English prepositions of location than to use examples of these prepositions in relation to something every Californian loves: the beach!

English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

She is AT the beach, ON the sand, and IN the sun. Lucky girl!

English uses AT, ON, and IN for prepositions of location.

AT

The preposition AT can be used for a location, to show a destination, and to show a direction that something moved.

For location:

  • I’m at the store. Do you need anything?
  • I will call you when I’m at home.
  • Meet me at the coffee shop in Little Italy.

For a destination:

  • We will arrive at the final stop soon.
  • I thought the drive would be long, but before I knew it, we were at home!

For a direction:

  • Why are you looking at me?
  • In dodgeball, you have to throw the ball at the other players to try to hit them. (Notice how this is different than throwing a ball TO someone. When you throw a ball TO someone, they try to catch it. When you throw a ball AT someone, you are trying to hit them!)

ON

The preposition ON is used when we speak about the surface of a space. Imagine that something is on top of an area, not inside.

  • I was tanning on the beach when I saw dolphins!
  • I spilled coffee on my shirt.
  • They put some plants on the walkway of the house.
  • I was jumping on the bed and I fell.
English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

Do you get IN the water when you are AT the beach? Or do you stay ON the sand?

IN

The preposition IN is used when we speak about the area of a space. Imagine that something is inside of a space or area.

  • I am in my room.
  • She is still sleeping in her bed.
  • She won’t be in the office this week. She is sick.
English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

IN the wave or ON the wave? Both, actually!!!

Practice: IN or ON?

The prepositions IN and ON are often confused. Try this lesson to see if you understand the difference. Remember: when choosing the preposition, ask yourself if it is inside of a space or on top of a space.

  1. CISL is located __________ San Francisco and San Diego.
  2. The San Francisco location is __________ the top floor of a building.
  3. The school is also located __________ Market Street.
  4. Some students live __________ a hotel __________ San Francisco.
  5. The school is __________ Market Street; Market Street is __________ the Financial District.
  6. The other campus is __________ San Diego.
  7. The school is __________ a modern building.
  8. The building is __________ Broadway.

The answers are at the bottom of this page.

SF’s Best Beaches

San Diego gets all the credit for having beautiful beaches, but the truth is that all of California offers stunning coastline! Have you explored these five beaches that we consider to be SF’s best?

Ocean Beach

Surfers love Ocean Beach for its strong waves, and locals love it because it is a place where they have beach bonfires. Ocean Beach is also the perfect place to watch the sun set in SF!

wavy

A post shared by joe bennett (@tk.joe) on

How to get there:

Take the 5R bus to the La Playa and Fulton St. stop.

Baker Beach

Baker Beach provides visitors with a beautiful view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, the beach is also a nude beach, but locals know that it is so much more: because fewer people visit Baker Beach than Ocean Beach, it’s a much quieter and more peaceful place for relaxing. Many couples come to Baker Beach to take their engagement or wedding photos, which prove that it’s a romantic beach spot!

How to get there:

Take bus 7 to Lincoln Way and 21st Ave,; transfer to the 29 Baker Beach bus and get off at Lincoln Blvd. and Bowley Ave.

Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park is actually a protected beach and swimming area in the San Francisco Bay. The protective cove makes it a safe place to swim, and Alcatraz and Marin are beautiful backdrops to your day at the beach. The best part? Across the street from the beach is Ghirardelli Square, so visitors have a delicious option for post-swimming dining!

How to get there:

Take bus 47 to Fishermen’s Wharf. Get off at Van Ness and North Point St.

Answers:

  1. CISL is located IN San Francisco and San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego and San Francisco.)
  2. The San Francisco location is ON the top floor of a building. (The school is located on top of 
  3. The school is also located ON Market Street.)
  4. Some students live IN a hotel IN San Francisco. (The students live inside of the hotel; the hotel is located inside of the area of San Francisco.)
  5. The school is ON Market Street; Market Street is IN the Financial District. (The school is on the area of Market street and is located inside of the area of the Financial District.)
  6. The other campus is IN San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego.)
  7. The school is IN a modern building. (The school is inside of a building.)
  8. The building is ON Broadway. (The school is on the area of Broadway St.)
California Life Featured Grammar San Diego

Omitting “That” in Relative Clauses + 10 Fascinating Facts about SD

June 1, 2017

We all know that San Diego is famous for its stunning beaches and amazing weather, but the city is also impressive for many other things! Before studying English at CISL in San Diego, check out these 10 fascinating facts about SD. They give you a fun look at what makes America’s Finest City so great!

1o Fascinating Facts about SD

#1: San Diego produces more avocados than anywhere in the U.S.

Maybe this is why we put avocado on everything? Especially burritos! Make sure you have the city’s famous California Burrito while visiting: read about California’s burrito culture before chowing down!

Fascinating Facts about SD

Not all burritos were created equal: a San Diegan wouldn’t touch this burrito until they added guacamole to it!

#2: Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the first person to drive across the Coronado Bridge when it opened  in 1969.

Today, the bridge is a famous landmark and the entryway to beautiful Coronado . . . although you can also take the Coronado Ferry from the Embarcadero for a more fun way to arrive on Coronado Island!Fascinating Facts about SD

#3: San Diego has over 7,000 farms (more than any other city in the United States).

Maybe that is why our farmer’s markets are so great! CISL San Diego students who live in Little Italy are just one street away from the incredible Little Italy Farmer’s Market; students can also visit the Hillcrest Market on Sundays and the Ocean Beach Market on Wednesday evenings.Fascinating Facts about SD

#4: San Diego’s Embarcadero is home to the Star of India, the world’s oldest sailing ship.

The ship was built in 1863 and still is an active sailing ship! Visitors can check it out (and even ride on it)!

#5: It’s against the law to swim in any of the lakes in San Diego.

But they’re still worth a visit: the lakes are beautiful and you can still kayak, canoe, and fish. Check out our Guide to San Diego Lakes for more information.

Fascinating Facts about SD

Lake Cuyamaca

#6: The Hotel Del Coronado is the country’s largest wooden structure.

It also was home to the first electric-lit outdoor Christmas tree in 1904. These days, it’s located on the #1 Beach in the U.S. and the hotel is still a popular Christmas destination thanks to its outdoor (beachside!) ice skating rink.Fascinating Facts about SD

#7: San Diego was known as the Tuna Capital of the World from the early 1930s through the late 1970s.

Many of the fishermen were Italian, and their charming homes can still be seen in Little Italy, which is now one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the United States.

Fascinating Facts about SD

The murals in Little Italy celebrate the neighborhood’s Italian history. 

#8: San Diego was home to famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss.

His real name was Ted Geisel. Would you like to read more in English? Check out our Guide to Novels in English for some suggestions.

#9: The San Diego Zoo is a large part of the Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy.”

However, the scenes were actually filmed at the old Los Angeles Zoo, not at the San Diego Zoo. Check out our list of Movies Set in California for some more famous locations on the big screen!

#10: San Diego’s Museum of Man (in Balboa Park) houses one of the most important collections of Ancient Egyptian antiques in the country.

The museum has real mummies and seven painted wooden coffins! One of the coffins, the Ptolemaic child’s coffin, is one of only six in the world. Balboa Park is an excellent place to explore: read our Insider’s Guide to Balboa Park for some ideas.Fascinating Facts about SD

To read the full list of San Diego facts, visit Movoto.

Relative Clauses: Omitting “THAT”

Each of the above facts can be rephrased as a question in order to ask someone if they know a fact.

Did you know . . .

  • that San Diego produces more avocados than anywhere in the U.S.?
  • that Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the first person to drive across the Coronado Bridge when it opened  in 1969? 
  • that San Diego has over 7,000 farms?
  • that San Diego’s Embarcadero is home to the Star of India, the world’s oldest sailing ship? 
  • that it’s against the law to swim in any of the lakes in San Diego?
  • that he Hotel Del Coronado is the country’s largest wooden structure? 
  • that San Diego was known as the Tuna Capital of the World from the early 1930s through the late 1970s?
  • that San Diego was home to famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss?
  • that the San Diego Zoo is a large part of the Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy?”
  • that San Diego’s Museum of Man (in Balboa Park) houses one of the most important collections of Ancient Egyptian antiques in the country?

Each of these sentences has the word “that.” However, this word can also be omitted and each sentence will still be grammatically correct.

Did you know . . .

  • San Diego produces more avocados than anywhere in the U.S.?
  • Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the first person to drive across the Coronado Bridge when it opened  in 1969? 
  • San Diego has over 7,000 farms?
  • San Diego’s Embarcadero is home to the Star of India, the world’s oldest sailing ship? 
  • it’s against the law to swim in any of the lakes in San Diego?
  • the Hotel Del Coronado is the country’s largest wooden structure? 
  • San Diego was known as the Tuna Capital of the World from the early 1930s through the late 1970s?
  • San Diego was home to famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss?
  • the San Diego Zoo is a large part of the Will Ferrell movie “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy?”
  • San Diego’s Museum of Man (in Balboa Park) houses one of the most important collections of Ancient Egyptian antiques in the country?

Why is this? THAT in these sentences is not necessary. Let’s see why.

These sentences have two parts. The main clause and the relative clause.

  • Did you know + that + subject + verb 
  • Did you know + subject + verb 

The main clause (“did you know”) is the main part of the sentence. It has a subject (you) and a verb (know). All clauses have a subject and a verb.

These relative clauses begin with a relative pronoun (“that”) and include a subject and a verb. (Relative clauses can also start with other words, such as “who” or “which,” but we are only focuses on relative clauses with “that.”) The relative clause works in relation to the main clause. In this case, the relative clause is the thing we are asking if the other person knows.

Why can we remove the word THAT from these sentences? Because the relative clause already has a subject and a verb.

  • Did you know San Diego produces more avocados than anywhere in the U.S.?

(“San Diego” is the subject and “produces” is the object.)

There are times when we cannot omit the relative clause (“that”). This happens when the word “that” is the subject.

  • Did you know that man who said hello to you?
  • Do you want that piece of cake?
  • Does she need that set of keys?

As you can see, these questions are different: they are not asking a person if they know pieces of information or facts.

What did we learn? We learned (that) we can omit the word “that” from questions about facts or information. And, as you can see from the last sentence, we also learned (that) we can remove the word “that” when reporting about things we learned!

For more information on relative clauses, check out some of our article on Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses.

California Life Featured Grammar San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Activities Student Life Suggested student activities

The Word ‘ALSO’ in English + Places You Should ALSO Visit While Studying in SF

May 1, 2017

Do you know how to correctly use the word “also” in English? It might be a small word (just four letters!) but it is used quite often. Today we are looking at how to use the word “also” in English; then we will look at this word in action by learning about some places you should “also” visit while studying English in San Francisco!

The Word ‘ALSO’ in English

We use the word “also” to add an agreement to a statement.

Examples:

  • Yesterday I went to Little Italy. I also went to Mission Beach.
  • I tried surfing and we also tried kite-boarding.
  • I took the TOEFL exam. I also took the IELTS exam. I know, I’m crazy!

Placing “also” in a sentence

The word “also” is placed in the sentence in relation to the sentence’s verb or verbs.

Use #1: With a “be” verb

The word “also” comes after the BE verb.

Examples:

  • My teacher is a Cambridge instructor. She is also an IELTS teacher.

Use #2: For all other verbs

For all other verbs, “also” is placed before the verb.

  • I tried fish tacos. I also tried a shrimp burrito.
  • My teacher taught us how to use phrasal verbs during the Cambridge Speaking Module. He also helped us learn how to naturally incorporate idioms into our speech.

Notice that these verbs are one-word verbs: in the examples above, we use “tried” and “helped,” which are in the past tense. What about verb tenses that are more complicated?

Use #3: For sentences with more complex verb tenses

For verb tenses that use two words, “also” goes between the two parts of the verb. Examples include the Present Continuous, Past Continuous, or Present Perfect. This also includes verbs that are used with modals.

  • You’ve been to the theater in SF? I’ve also been there!
  • I was also working out last night at the gym.
  • We could go check out Haight-Ashbury tonight. We could also explore the Mission District.
  • When you’re living in SF, you should definitely go to Dolores Park. You should also see the cool Comic Museum!

Places You Should ALSO Visit While Studying in SF

You’re probably going to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, and Alcatraz. Chances are, you’re going to check out Golden Gate Park, ride a cable car, and explore neighborhoods like Haight-Ashbury and the Mission District. But we also suggest that you leave the city on occasion: there is so much to do and see outside of SF! The following suggestions are for day trips or weekend trips for SF residents. Have you visited these really great cities and locations?

Sausalito

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and you arrive in Sausalito, a charming seaside town with beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. The city is famous for its houseboat community (almost 500 in total!) and is a lovely place to explore: check out the Marinship neighborhood’s waterfront and beach (you can rent canoes and kayaks!) and walk down Caledonia street for some excellent shopping. The city is filled with excellent restaurants and adorable cafes.

To most fun way to get to Sausalito is by ferry. Check out our post on Sausalito and the Golden Gate Ferry for more information.

Berkeley

The city is famous for many things: its prestigious university, its liberal community, and its hippie culture are just a few! Berkeley is considered the intellectual heart of California by many: you might feel smarter just walking along its streets! (We are joking . . . but we really do recommend walking down some of its streets, particularly famous Telegraph Avenue and Solano Avenue.)

Berkeley is easily accessed by public transportation: the BART station in Berkeley is located on Shattuck Avenue (very close to UC Berkeley).

Napa and Sonoma Valley

The most famous wine region in the United States is just a short trip from SF! Napa is the most popular of the two regions, but Sonoma also offers award-winning wines and beautiful scenery. Check out some of the tours you can book if you’d like to have a guide, or rent a bike for a closer view of the grapevines! The area also has charming towns to explore such as Yountville, Oakville, and Rutherford.

Before taking a trip to Napa, read our article on Wine Tasting Vocabulary.

Santa Cruz

The beach boardwalk, beautiful parks, and downtown are heavily influenced by California surfer and hippie cultures; these locations are some of the many reasons to visit Santa Cruz. Walk down the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and ride the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, check out the beaches and watch the surfers, and then go hiking in the beautiful mountains and see the gorgeous pine trees.

The Highway 17 Express bus will take you from San Jose to Santa Cruz in about an hour. Check out the Santa Clara Valley Transport Authority for more information.

Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay’s beaches, water sports, fishing, and hiking make it a popular destination for many Northern Californians. Explore one of California’s most charming seaside towns (and be sure to enjoy some of the Pacific Ocean’s fresh seafood)!

The best way to get to Bodega Bay is by car (it’s less than 1 1/2 hours driving). For information on how to rent a car, read our post on Renting a Car as an English Student. With public transportation, the bus takes about 3 hours: take Bus 72 towards North (from the Perry Street stop) to the Santa Rosa Transit Mall (Second St. and B. St. stop). From the Santa Rosa Transit Mall, take Bus 95 towards Point Arena (Northbound) to the Highway 1 and Tides Inn stop at Bodega Bay.

 

Featured Grammar Listening Practice

Love as a (Non-action) Verb: Grammar through John Mayer Lyrics

February 1, 2017
Love-Non-Action-Verb
There is a popular song by John Mayer called “Love is a Verb.” In the song, Mayer says that love is a verb, and something that must be shown. We agree, love IS a verb: specifically, a Non-Action Verb!
Today we are looking at love as a Non-Action Verb (and how LOVE can also be used in the Active sense when speaking informally).

Love-Is-Non-Action-Verb

Non-Action Verbs

 Non-Action Verbs are also called “Stative” verbs. There are many in English, and they usually express emotions, states of being, desires, senses, opinion, or possession. These verbs are typically not used with the Present Progressive or other tenses that use -ING.
Here are some examples of these verbs.
Happy.Relax.Smile.Free

“I feel happy and free.”

Emotions

  • feel
  • like
  • love

Examples:

  • I feel like eating Thai food tonight. (Not “I am feeling like eating Thai food tonight.”)
  • I really like the band New Direction. (Not “I am really liking the band New Direction.”)
  • I love this song. (Not “I am loving this song.”)

States of being

  • be
  • exist

Examples:

  • I am a student. (Not “I am being a student.”)
  • Does the truth exist? (Not “Is the truth existing?”)

Desires

  • desire
  • need
  • wish
  • want

Examples:

  • The desire for wealth can be a motivator for many people. (Not “The desiring for wealth”)
  • I need some coffee! (Not “I am needing some coffee.)
  • I wish I could take a vacation. (Not “I am wishing I could take a vacation.”)
  • I want to go to the Bahamas. (Not “I am wanting to go to the Bahamas.”)
Listening Student Frustrated

What emotion is he feeling right now? And why can we use “feeling” in this sense? Some verbs can be both Active and Non-Active!

Senses

  • feel
  • hear
  • see
  • smell
  • taste
  • touch

Senses are interesting verbs. They can actually be used in the Active or Non-Active sense: see our article on Taste and Other Active/Non-Active Verbs for more information!

Student.Question.Class.Teacher.FAQ.Verb.love.Action

Opinion

  • agree
  • disagree
  • believe
  • think

Examples:

  • I totally agree with you. (Not “I am totally agreeing with you.”)
  • I disagree with what the man said. (Not “I am disagreeing with what the man said.”)
  • I believe you. (Not “I am believing you.”)
  • I think you’re right! (Not “I am thinking you’re right!”)

Road Trip Ocean Love Action Verb

Possession

  • have*
  • own
  • possess

Examples:

  • I have a car. (Not “I am having a car.”)
  • He owns a house on the beach. (Not “He is owning a house on the beach.”)
  • You possess a great happiness. (Not “You are possessing a great happiness.”)
It is important to note that there are times when these verbs can be used in the -ING form. See our article on Action vs. Non-Action Verbs for more details.
*Have can be used in the -ING form when it is a part of an expression. For example, “I’m having dinner with Tim tonight” or “Are you having a good time?” are perfectly acceptable because HAVING + A MEAL and HAVING + A GOOD TIME are common expressions. 
Love-non-action-verb-guitar-song

Love as a Non-Action Verb

Love is a Non-Action Verb, but it CAN be used in the Active sense when speaking informally. As we have all heard, McDonald’s famous slogan is “I’m lovin’ it!” This is technically grammatically incorrect, but it reflects an informal way of saying “I currently really like this.”
John Mayer’s song states that “Love is a verb.” Now you know exactly what type of verb it is! Take a look at Mayer’s lyrics and listen to the song using the video below.

“Love is a Verb” by John Mayer
Love is a verb
It ain’t a thing
It’s not something you own
It’s not something you scream
When you show me love
I don’t need your words
Yeah love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb
 
Love ain’t a crutch
It ain’t an excuse
No you can’t get through love
On just a pile of I-O-Us
Love ain’t a drug
Despite what you’ve heard
Yeah love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb
So you gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb
You gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb
Love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb