Grammar Perfection

A recurring problem that I experience with students I teach is a reluctance to speak if their grammar isn’t perfect. I have also heard this same complaint from some of my students online.

Working together and not worrying about grammar. Have fun!

This problem of grammar perfection is much worse with higher level students. They understand more of the English grammar and how it all works together in a sentence, and they are scared to death to make a grammar mistake.

Listen to me! Speak more and don’t worry about your possible mistakes! Everyone makes grammar mistakes while speaking, even me.

Conversational English

Speaking conversational English is the goal of so many students, and they also want to be fluent in the language. But you simply cannot let the fear of making a little mistake get in the way of your speaking. Conversational English is all about communicating. If you understand my questions and I can understand your responses, then we are communicating. In English!

Working together, and talking, to look at the clues and solve the mystery

We Learn From Our Mistakes

Many students don’t wish to speak out loud in class because they are afraid of making a mistake. They don’t want to pronounce a word wrong. But I ask this question…if you don’t try, how will you ever be sure of how to make it better? How do you correct an error if you don’t let someone know how you might say it? I often tell my students that they may know the answer and need a slight adjustment of pronunciation or meaning. But I won’t know how or what they’re thinking if it just stays inside of their head. I have to hear it or see it to possibly help them correct it.

Most of the time, conversation is just basic communicating between people sharing the same language. Your knowledge of grammar doesn’t make you any more qualified to tell me what you just ate for dinner. Will you make a mistake? Maybe. But I will still understand what you are saying to me. And if you feel comfortable with me as your teacher, or your friend, then ask if you made a mistake. Asking for corrections makes your conversation partner feel more at ease to share possible improvements. You must have those converations, as many as possible. Get talking!

Focus on learning how to engage in basic conversation, and then increase the difficulty of the language and the topics to challenge yourself. Once you are more at ease with speaking aloud in English, then slowly pay attention to the grammar to possibly make it smoother and more grammatically correct. Start with the basics and then progress from there, slowly and steadily with plenty of practice.

Remember, written and spoken English are often very different. We will discuss the specifics needed in written English, and academic English, in another blog post very soon.

Let and Make

Let and Make Usage

Some students instinctively understand the differences between let and make quite easily, and others just need a little more time.

I’m going to explain the basic usage of let and make and then share some practice exercises with you.


Let is used most often when we are given permission to do something we want to do. For example: My mother lets me stay up late on the weekends.We want to do it and she says it is ok to stay up late. The negative form of this is: My mother doesn’t let me stay up late during the week. Even though I want to stay up late, she tells me no.


Make is used most often when there is something we really do not want to do, but somebody forces us to do it anyway. For example: My mother makes me clean my room every week. We really do not want to clean the room, but she insists we do it anyway. The negative form is: My mother doesn’t make me clean the whole house.We do not want to clean all of the house, and she says that we do not have to.

Rules for using let and make

Here are some practice sentences using let and make that will use one of the forms discussed here, including the negative form. (Answers at the end of the post.)

1.  My boss _______________ me arrive at work on time every day.

2.  My boss _______________ me take a coffee break each morning.

3.  My boss _______________ me leave early on Friday afternoon.

4.  My boss _______________ me stay late for overtime every night.

5.  Why does she _______________ me call her every night just to say goodnight?

6.  Why doesn’t the coach _______________ me play on the team? I have been practicing!

7.  My teacher _______________ me write a 1500 word essay every week.

8.  My teacher _______________ me play with my cell phone in class.

9.  My father _______________ me drive the car on the weekend.

10. My father _______________ me clean the car when I’m done using it.

Keep practicing and listening to how native speakers use the forms of let and make. Very soon you will automatically know which one to use because you will be able to hear if it sounds correct.

Answers 1-10