The Subjunctive in English – exercises

In our last grammar class we learned about the Subjunctive Tense in English.

(See the last post “The subjunctive tense in English” if you haven’t seen it yet!)

For homework we had to complete some exercises using this tense.

Here are the exercises, and you will find the answers below so you can check your work:

Change the verbs in parentheses into the subjunctive form when necessary.

1. My sister is requesting that I ______________________ her clothes anymore.  (borrow, not)

2.  Mr. Jacobs plans to ask that she _____________________ late tonight.  (work)

3.  Our teacher advises _____________________ extra homework. (do)

4. Drinking and Driving is something that is _______________________.  (recommend, not)

5. The president proposed that American citizens ____________________ a tax break next year.  (get)

6.  Does your mother recommend ____________________ in the morning or after dinner?  (study)

7.  The substitute teacher said that the students ____________________ their projects. (finish)

8.  The father advised that his children ___________________ their snacks quickly. (eat)

9.  The girl’s parents urged her _________________ friends as quickly as possible.  (make)

10.  The CEO recommended the employees ___________________ the proposal right away.  (write)


1. My sister is requesting that I not borrow her clothes anymore.

2.  Mr. Jacobs plans to ask that she work late tonight.

3.  Our teacher advises doing extra homework.

4. Drinking and Driving is something that is not recommended.

5. The president proposed that American citizens get a tax break next year.

6.  Does your mother recommend studying in the morning or after dinner?

7.  The substitute teacher said that the students didn’t finish their projects.

8.  The father advised that his children eat their snacks quickly.

9.  The girl’s parents urged her to make friends as quickly as possible.

10.  The CEO recommended the employees write the proposal right away.


The Subjunctive in English

The Subjunctive???  What is it?  Let’s take a look!

First of all, the form:

We use the simple form of the verb, or the “base verb.”  This is the infinitive with out “to.”  The simple form of “to eat” for example would be “eat.”

The subjunctive is only noticeable in certain forms and tenses.

The subjunctive is used after certain words or phrases, often for giving a suggestion or emphasising urgency or importance.


  1. I suggest that you do your homework.
  2. I ask that you pay attention.
  3. John recommended that she join the group.

(attention!  “She joins” is the usual present tense, but for the subjunctive we say “she join”)

Common Verbs of Suggestion:

  • advise
  • ask
  • demand
  • insist
  • prefer
  • propose
  • recommend
  • request
  • suggest
  • urge

These verbs are followed by the subjunctive.


  1. I advise that you take the course.
  2. I prefer that she speak to me directly.
  3. The teacher insisted that we be ready for the exam tomorrow.
  4. My boss demanded that I not work over time.

For negatives, just put “not” before the base verb.  Normally in the present simple I would say “I don’t work overtime.” but with the subjunctive: My boss demanded that I not work overtime.

Some of these verbs can also be followed by the gerund (verb with “ing”)


I suggest trying the chocolate cake!  It is just delicious!

When we use the gerund do not put the person you are giving the advice to –  We don’t say “I suggest you trying the chocolate cake.”  but “I suggest you try…”

Common Adjectives of Importance

  • important
  • necessary
  • imperative
  • essential
  • vital
  • urgent

The subjunctive can be used with these adjectives to express importance or urgency.


  1. It is essential that the team remain calm in case of emergency.
  2. It is important that he call me immediately.
  3. It is imperative that they not make a scene.
  4. It is vital that the visitors keep out of the restricted area.

Want to give it a try?  In the comments, give us some advice for someone who is going on a job interview.

Example: “It is important that you arrive on time”

Try to think of as many as possible, and don’t forget to use the subjunctive!!

Culture, Recipes

Thanksgiving Dinner

This year I celebrated Thanksgiving a few days late.  It’s on the 4th Thursday in November in the US, but in France it’s just a normal day, so we moved Thanksgiving to Sunday instead.

So today I wanted to share with you some recipes for the different dishes we ate.

Click the photos to find the recipes!

Of course the main dish was a big, delicious turkey!


Inside the turkey we put a stuffing.  There are loads of different stuffing recipes with all different ingredients.  Every family has their own tradition.  Here is the stuffing we made this year, with leeks, celery, granny smith apples and chestnuts.  It was delicious!


For the side dishes, (like the stuffing) they vary from family to family.  This year we made sweet potato casserole, with a cruncy brown sugar and pecan topping.  It was a hit!  I definitely recommend trying this one if you haven’t tasted sweet potatoes before!


Another dish that we always make for my family Thanksgiving dinner is a green bean casserole.  This is a very simple dish, but it’s a tradition that I grew up with, and Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without it.


So after we stuffed ourselves with all of these delicious dishes we moved on to the dessert!  We tried two typical desserts.  The first one is the pecan pie:


And the second was the pumpkin pie:


Next year I’m tempted to try this recipe for a pumpkin pecan pie, combining these two traditional desserts into one:


Let us know if you try out any of the recipes, and what you think about them!!


Thanksgiving Traditions

What is Thanksgiving?


I don’t think many people really know the history of Thanksgiving, or what this day is about.  We think vaguely about Pilgrims and Indians but mostly about eating ourselves into a turkey coma.  So what is the point of this day?  What are we doing?  What are we celebrating?

To me, Thanksgiving, like the name implies, is a time to give thanks.  To be thankful for our family and friends, to be thankful for our home, our job, everything we have and everything we can do.  We should take a second to realize how lucky we really are.  It’s a family day too.  A day when everyone is there together around the table sharing a good meal and a good laugh.

We grew up thinking this day was special, untouchable.  Today, sadly enough it’s becoming less about family and more about shopping.

Thanksgiving is on the 4th Thursday of November, and the Friday that follows is called Black Friday.  This is a day with huge sales, people camping out over night to be the first ones in the shops, people getting trampled (and sometimes even killed!) to buy a video game or a smart phone.  But now our sacred day, one of the only real days off in the US is starting to disappear.  Shops are starting their “Black Friday” deals on…. Thanksgiving day.  Shops that were all closed on this day in the past are starting to open their doors.  People who used to spend their Thanksgiving with their families are now either working or shopping.  Both of which are sad…

So today Thanksgiving is losing it’s meaning…  But wait!  Where does it come from anyway??

The “first Thanksgiving” in America was apparently celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Indians to celebrate a good harvest.  The Pilgrims arrived in The New World in harsh conditions; nearly half of them died during the first winter.  The second year, however, the Indians helped them and taught them how to grow and harvest plants.  To give thanks, the Pilgrims threw a 3-day feast to thank God for their harvest and to celebrate with their Indian friends.

On this website you can find a lot of information and interesting videos about Thanksgiving – history, traditions, food, etc..


Making Comparisons in English (the comparative)

There are some rules to help you make comparisons in English.

1.  If the adjective has one syllable, you can add “er” to the end.

Ex: She is taller than her brother.   (don’t forget to add than when comparing to another person or thing)

2. If the adjective is two syllables but ends in a “y” you should change the “y” to “i” and then add “er”

Ex:  He is happier today than he was last year.   (happy becomes happier in a comparison)

3.  But for adjectives with two syllables that don’t end in a “y” you should use “more” to make a comparison.

Ex:  This apartment is more modern than the last one we visited.

4. And for adjectives with more than two syllables you should use “more.”

Ex: Documentaires are more interesting than action movies.

5.  For long adjectives you can also use less to make comparisons.

Ex: This hotel is less expensive than the one in the town center.

6.  But for short adjectives it is strange to use less.  You have two options.  You can either:

a. use the opposite adjective  (Instead of saying she is “less tall”, you would say “She is shorter than her sister.”

instead of saying this building is less old you could say “This building is more modern.”

b.  use not as….as

This is a form we use very often.  Instead of saying “She is less tall than her brother” it is better to say “She is not as tall

as her brother.”

7.  When two things are similar or the same, you can use as…as to compare them.

Ex: She is as tall as her brother.  (They are the same height)

* Be careful not to use than when speaking about things that are the same.  We don’t say “She is as tall than her brother” but “She is as tall as her brother.”

8.  And of course there are some exceptions!!  The words good, bad and far have irregular forms in the comparative.

good — better                  bad — worse                 far — farther / further

Ex: She is a better student than her sister (and not She is a gooder student than her sister.)

9.  If you want to be more precise with your comparisons, you can use words like: a lot, a little, much, slightly, way, far, etc.

This movie is a lot more interesting than the last one we saw!

She is just a little shorter than her sister.

Travelling by plane is much faster than travelling by car.

This hotel is slightly more expensive than the other.

This sofa is way more comfortable than the first one we tried!

French cuisine is far better than American food.

10.  And if you are comparing similar things that are not exactly the same you can use words like: almost, nearly, not quite

She is almost as tall as her sister.

She is not quite as tall as her sister.

She is nearly as tall as her sister.

(They are not the same height, but it is very close!)

Here are some exercises if you would like to practice the comparative:

Comparative Exercises

For a bit of a challenge, here is a listening exercise.  This teacher is comparing and contrasting information delivery between the 1950s and today.  Listen to what he says and try to keep your ear open for the comparative form.


Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

When you describe beautiful things in English, do you find yourself searching for words besides, well, beautiful?

Here are some different ways to describe beauty along with some examples so you can start using these new words in no time!

First of all, let’s look at beautiful.

1.  Beautiful

You can describe a beatiful view or beatiful landscapes with this word, but when speaking about people, be careful!  Although we can call a woman beautiful, we wouldn’t normally call a man “beautiful.”  If someone does describe a man as beautiful, it’s usually to express a more delicate kind of beauty.

Ex: The bride looked beautiful in her white dress.

2. Handsome

To speak about a man we can use the word handsome.  Like beautiful is not usually used to describe men, handsome is not usually used to describe women.   Handsome is not used to describe things or landscapes.

Ex: The groom was very handsome in his black suit.

3. Pretty

You’ve probably heard of the movie “Pretty Woman.”  Pretty is another word that can be used to describe women.  It’s not as strong as beautiful.  It is also less formal.  Like beautiful, we wouldn’t normally use “pretty” to describe a man, but we could use it to decribe things, clothes, etc..

Ex: Your dress is so pretty!  And your necklace too!  Lindsay is such a pretty girl!

4. Cute

We often use cute to describe babies / children, animals.  But you can also describe a man or woman as cute.  Cute is something that makes you smile and think, “Oh, how sweet!”

Ex:  Your little baby is so cute!  The puppy is cute and playful.

(we can also use “adorable” in a similar way)

5.  Good-looking

This is a way to describe physical attractiveness between people.

Ex: She is a very good-looking woman.  He is quite good-looking for his age.

6. Hot

Hot is another word used to describe physical attractiveness (usually used more by young people, in magazines, tabloids, etc.)  It’s not formal or very deep.

Ex:  That actress is hot!

7.  Breathtaking

Breathtaking is a good word to desribe wonderful landscapes.  If you have ever visited anything or place that made you stop and say “wow,” or just sit there in awe with your mouth open you could say that this place was breathtaking.

Ex:  The Grand Canyon was simply breathtaking!

But… looks aside, if you want to learn some more different adjectives to describe people, check out this youtube video:



What is a staycation you ask?

It’s when you take some days of work, but instead of travelling, you stay at home.

For some of you this may sound boring, but for me, I can definitely see some advantages!  This summer I took a trip to Croatia. We went there by car, which was a little long, and we were a group of 6 friends, which was a little much.  Each day we took an excursion, driving around and visiting different parts of the country, walking / hiking, swimming, boat riding, etc.  It was action packed to say the least.  We had a great time and I have some really good memories from this trip.

But what I remember more than the trip, unfortunately, was my running start that I took back at work!

I returned home late on Saturday evening after 16 or 17 hours in the car.  I was exhausted and a little sick to my stomach from the drive!

Monday we had to go back to work, so we would have liked to rest a bit on Sunday, but it was impossible!  We had to unpack, do the laundry, clean up around the apartment, and of course, prepare for Monday!

So I went back to work after my holidays not feeling rested at all, but feeling tired and ready for a break!

I think it could be a good solution to have it both ways (if possible).  That is, to go on vacation (to travel somewhere) but then, after the holidays, to enjoy a few more days off at home.  To have time to relax, to do nothing, to read, to catch up on any odds and ends around the house (I have some curtains I’ve been wanting to hang since July…..)

Maybe I’ll try it out next summer 😉

Now, to practice your listening, here is a video about “Staycations” on the rise in Singapore.


Passive Voice – exercises

Hello Everyone,

As you know, we have been working a lot on the passive voice and some people have asked that we put the answers to our homework on the blog so you can check your work.

So for the assignment, you had some paragraphs in the active form and it was necessary to change them to the passive form.  If you haven’t seen them yet, here are the paragraphs.  The answers will come after 😉


Change to the passive form

1.  Some people saw a UFO in the sky above London last night.  They reported it to the police.  The army sent a helicopter to look at it more closely.  The UFO shot the helicopter down and killed both men in it.  People have given photographs of the UFO to the police.  Experts are looking at them now.

2.  Someone broke into a local jewellery shop yesterday.  The owner had just locked up the shop when a robber with a gun threatened him.  The robber told him to unlock the shop and give him all the diamonds in the safe.  Then the robber tied him up.  The police have organised a search for the robber.  They hope they will find him in a few days.  Doctors are treating the owner of the shop for shock.

3.  My uncle painted this picture.  Someone has offered him a lot of money for it.  He will deliver the painting tomorrow.  When they give him the money, he will tell them the truth.  He painted it one night while he was sleepwalking.

4.  Our school is organising a contest. The teachers will choose the best project about the environment.  The students must include pictures and drawings in their projects.  The students will also have to do all the writing themselves.  The school will give the winner a set of encyclopaedias.



1.  A UFO was seen in the sky above London last night.  It was reported to the police.  A helicopter was sent by the army to look at it more closely.  The helicopter was shot down by the UFO and both men in it were killed.  Photographs of the UFO have been given to the police.  They are being looked at by experts now.

2.  A local jewellery shop was broken into yesterday.  The shop had just been locked up by the owner, when he was threatened by a robber with a gun.  He was told to unlock the shop and give the robber all the diamonds in the safe.  Then he was tied up.  A search for the robber has been organised by the police.  They hope he will be found in a few days.  The owner of the shop is being treated for shock.

3.  This picture was painted by my uncle.  He has been offered a lot of money for it.  It will be delivered tomorrow.  When my uncle is given the money, they will be told the truth.  It was painted one night while sleepwalking.

4.  A contest is being organised by our school.  The best project about the environment will be chosen by the teachers.  Pictures and drawings must be included in the student’s projects.  The writing will also have to be done by the students themselves.  The winner will be given a set of encyclopaedias.

** In some cases, there is more than one possibility.  If you have come up with a different solution, leave it in the comments, and a teacher will correct it for you!!!

See you soon!


The Passive Voice

In our Grammar Lesson, we have been working a lot on the Passive Voice.

Here are some materials for you to continue working on this grammar point at home!

In an active sentence, we begin with the subject, the person doing the action.

Then we follow by the verb and then the object (the person or thing the action is being performed on.)

For example:

Lisa broke the vase.

But in a passive sentence, we begin with the object.

The vase was broken (by Lisa).

In the passive voice it is not always necessary to say WHO did the action.  We often use this tense when we don’t know who did the action, when it is obvious who did the action, or it is not important who did the action.

For example:

She was arrested (by the police).

In this case, it is enough information to say:  She was arrested.  Why?  Because who arrests people?  The police.  So it is not necessary to say who did the action.

And another example:

She was robbed (by a theif).

When you are robbed, you don’t usually know who robbed you!  So we use the passive voice.

To see how to form the passive voice in the different tenses, check out this useful video:

After you have watched that video, here are some exercises for you to practice:


Top 10 tourist destinations of 2014

This week in our English club, our discussion topic is “Top 10 Tourist Destinations of 2014.”

According to the site Trip Advisor, the top destinations of this year are as follows:

1. Istanbul, Turkey

2. Rome, Italy

3. London, England

4. Beijing, China

5. Prague, Czech Republic

6. Marrakech, Morocco

7. Paris, France

8. Hanoi, Vietnam

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia

10. Shanghai, China

Out of this list I have visited London, Prague and Paris.

It’s hard to choose which one of these cities is my favorite, but I think I would have to say Prague.

I went there in August of 2013 and it was a wonderful trip.  The architecture is beautiful, the city is nice, clean, interesting, rich with culture…  The people were friendly and everyone spoke English very well.  The city is not too big, so we were able to walk around and visit everything by foot.  It’s a really great destination!

Paris is of course a wonderful city too, but for me, it’s a city that you have to grow to love.  The more you know the interesting places, the museums, the restaurants, the more you get to know and enjoy the city of Paris.  But my very first impression was that it was a bit dirty, and that the people in the shops and restaurants for example, were not very friendly or welcoming.

London is a very nice city also!  I had a good first impression.  It’s a lively city and there are always people outside exercising and running through the many parks.  The architecture is beautiful, and it’s a good place for shopping because it’s not too expensive compared to Paris.  The only downside is the food 😉  No other place can beat the French cuisine 😉

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a video to help you work on your English and prepare to discuss about this theme this week: