Grammar Activities

Jan Frodesen (UCSB) and her linguistic students suggest many of the grammar activities below.  Former students of UCI’s Program in Academic English have rated and described them. If you would like to offer your opinion of the below sites, please complete our survey.

Gerunds and Infinitives

  1. Gerunds and Infinitives - Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: I like how everything is so clear on this website and it also provides quizzes for students to check their understandings of what being taught on this web page. In addition, I also like how everything is divided into three parts. This will not overly overwhelm the students with information given at one time. This website provides explanations and vocabulary lists for gerunds and infinitives, an extensive list of verbs and BE + adjective + preposition forms that take gerunds. Several practices follow but are not interactive. This "in-depth English tutorial" has more than 30 quizzes on gerunds and infinitives (including the "final exam.” Each quiz has sentences with a variety of verbs for choosing the correct complement.
  2. Gerund and Infinitive Complements Quiz - --Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: I like the quiz, but it might be a bit too simple for university students. However, it is still a good practice for many people. One thing I also don’t really like about the quiz is that it doesn’t clearly explain that infinitives and gerunds are used after certain verbs that must be memorized. Before taking the quiz, students should learn about infinitives and gerunds. This website asks students to select the correct complement (gerund or infinitive) that completes each sentence. Note: Read the above information regarding gerunds and infinitives prior to taking the quiz.

Grammar and Usage

  1. Common Errors in English - Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: This website is really useful because it not only helps ESL students but also native speakers, it discusses common mistakes that many people make on their daily basis without noticing. It also provides some useful information pertaining to why people make these mistakes and provides the correct answers to these mistakes.  This website has a large list of confusing pairs/groups of words (e.g., accept/except, allusion/illusion) with brief definitions.

Grammar and Vocabulary

  1. Corpus of Contemporary English (COCA) - Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: This website is potentially highly useful for students who understand how to use it. Students need to type a word in the word box on the left side of the screen highlighted in green all section of the two boxes on the left side of the screen and then click “enter.” that will show them all the ways words are used in the corpus. Offering a large corpus of English data, this site allows you to look at interactions between vocabulary and grammar in different types of language such as newspapers, magazines, speech. You will need to register after using it. This is a site maintained at Brigham Young U.
  2. Compleat Lexical Tutor - Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: I like how it has the “N-Gram” program, which it allows students to upload their papers However, this website also has some flaws as well because it is quite confusing. Some of the headings look unfamiliar and this might confuse the students. Overall, this website is a great source with many free practices to enhance grammatical understanding. This website has resources to help you see how vocabulary and grammar structures are actually used in written and spoken discourse. There is a link on the home page to the Concordancer.
  3. Collocations with Verbs - Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: This website provides a useful quiz for students to learn how take, break, and have can be used, but it a bit confusing in the beginning. When I first look at it, the first thing I do is click on the box under the words, but I should know do that after I have guessed what the answer is. The only flaw to this website is its unclear instruction. This website offers collocations quizzes. Which verb do you use with which expressions? Select the appropriate verb, then click the down arrow to see if you are correct.
  4. Fixed Expressions and Vocabulary - Useful?  Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: This is an excellent website.  Simply cut and paste a word, words, paragraph or essay into the box, and Wordsift will analyze all the words you use and give you lots of useful suggestions for editing and revising.

Grammar and Writing

  1. Guide to Grammar and Writing -  Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comments: This website seems extraordinary helpful.  It provides useful information that can used to improve students’ grammar.  I like how it provides quizzes, which students can use to test their newly acquired knowledge.  The most important tool from this website appears to be the “Essay and Research Paper Level” because it provides useful tips of how to create essays.  Writing is most challenging to English learners and this website will be a great tool to help them overcome their difficulties. The “Ask Grammar” section is also another great place to learn basic grammar that English learners often make. This website addresses topics related to issues of grammar and writing. There is an "Ask Grammar" section of frequently asked questions and responses.
  2. Purdue Owl Lab - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This website provides great grammar exercises that have clear examples how to use grammar correctly.  To me the greatest part of this website is the sentence structure exercises.  English learners often make mistakes constructing the right sentences and often have fragment in their writings.  This website teaches students how to create appropriate writing structures and how to avoid fragments and subject-verb agreement mistakes. This is the website for the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (known as OWL). It helps students with all aspects of composition/academic writing; It is primarily for undergraduate students.

Grammar: General

  1. Grammar from ESL Gold - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This website is very useful because it not only provides some great examples of correct English and examples of incorrect English.  This is useful because as an English learner myself, I know that knowing the right grammar alone is not enough to prevent me from making mistakes, but also knowing what is wrong can help me completely avoid making mistakes. Therefore, providing both right and wrong examples is useful and this is what I find most useful from this website.  Another useful source from this website is the idiom page.  Idioms lead to many mistakes that English learners often make because we have to use it often in order to avoid idiom errors.  This website provides a list of idioms where English learners can memorize idioms and avoid using the wrong ones when speaking or writing. This website is part of a larger web site. It offers explanations, examples, exercises and quizzes for students of beginning through advanced levels.  Only the high intermediate and advanced links are appropriate for university students. 
  2. Azar Grammar Question and Answer - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:   This website is useful because it allows students to write questions they do not understand.  This is a great tool because different people have different questions regarding grammar, since grammar is just so complicate, thus it allows them to raise questions that they don’t know and experts to answer their questions is a greater way to help them. The Question and Answer website contains many grammar points. The site is organized by grammatical categories.
  3. Grammar Bytes - Useful? Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  Not only does this website provide useful exercise, it is also very creative.  This website is not plain like other grammar websites.  This website has humorous illustrations and creativity.  It provides a fun way to learn grammar. This website provides explanations and examples for a number of grammatical terms. It is good for teachers, prospective teachers, and advanced level students. It also has some quizzes and handouts that are limited and writing-oriented (e.g., fragments, subject-verb agreement). 

Modal Verbs

  1. Modal Verb Tutorial - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments: This website is very useful and clear.  The examples are explained such as how it explains“permission” to say “She cannot stay out after 10 PM” and the phrase “I can ride horse”means“ability”.  I find these little words next the sentences quite helpful because not only they help us how to compose the sentences correctly, but also levels of meaning of those sentences.  Quizzes are great too because there are some simple questions and some are quite challenging as well. This website contains fill-in-the blank style modal verb exercises.
  2. Participle (Participial) Adjectives - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  The website has color illustrations, but its instructions are a bit unclear and the examples are confusing.  I become confused when looking at the examples they provide because I do not really know what they are trying to explain.  For example, in the passive voice page: Placing emphasis on the receiver of an action 
    •       switching focus to receiver of action 
    •       direct objects vs. indirect objects 
    •       list of verbs that take indirect objects

    A speech was delivered to Congress by Barack Obama. Congress was delivered a speech by Barack Obama. This website contains good explanations concerning the use of participle adjectives. 
  3. Naked Grammar - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  I think the website is really fun because it allows students to build diagram that matches the sentences, this will definitely interest the students because it is a really creative way of learning grammar. However, I have trouble building the diagram.  I do not quite understand how to build a diagram that will be considered correct.  In addition, it requires students to create a new account in order to have full access to the website.  This will cause many students to hesitate to use it because not many people want to create accounts for using a website because it is too inconvenient. This website has an interactive component for learning the parts of speech (for native English speakers as well as English learners, too). Click on "Naked Grammar" on the home page. This site was intended for junior high learners but a fun way for anyone to review parts of speech. You will need to create an account on the site, then select the Beta version. 

Phrasal Verbs

  1. Phrasal Verb Dictionary - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  A very useful website with great information and I also like how it provides a foreign dictionary link, in which students can use that link when there are some particular words they do not understand.  In addition, the holiday vocabulary section is quite useful as well.  It can help students, especially international students ,learn about the words that are related to American holidays. At this website, phrasal verbs are organized alphabetically.  Students click on a letter. The website provides definitions and examples of verbs.
  2. Purdue OWL Lab - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  It is a quite useful website that can be used to help students improve their writing.  I like how it provides a list of grammar that is needed to paid attention to while writing because I am always make grammar mistakes that are listed on the page such as count noun/non count noun. It also has a link to MLA format, which is also very useful because almost all writing assignments need to have a works cited page.  This website is clear and well-structured. This website provides extensive lists of separable, inseparable and intransitive phrasal verbs along with definitions.

Preposition Activities

  1. Identifying Prepositional Phrases - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This website is useful because that it provides a passage and bold the prepositional phrases from the passage and the box of common prepositions.  However, that is all it provides and I believe this is not enough to help students understand what prepositional phrases are.   At least it should provide a brief explanation of what prepositions are and how should they be used. 
  2. Recognizing Prepositions: More advanced quiz--Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  The website is great because the quizzes are not too simple and there are different kinds of quizzes as well.  I think this website is better than the previous one because it does talk about what prepositions are and how they should be used and how many kinds of prepositions are there. This website asks students to identify prepositions in a passage from a Hemingway story. Students click on the prepositions, which creates a list to compare to the answers which will be given after students finish.
  3. Preposition Exercises - Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This website provides great explanations about prepositions and how they should be used.  However, the quizzes they have are not great because of the quizzes have no answer keys.  Answer keys are really important because they allow the students to know whether they truly understand the materials or not.  However, many websites they provide are very useful. This website lists multiple links for improving students’ knowledge of prepositions.  See especially OWL’s.
  4. Indirect objects --Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  The first website is really useful because it is informational and everything is presented very clearly, but there are many sub-links and they are a bit confusing.  The second website is not quite as useful as the first one because it does not provide many facts or examples about indirect objects. This website provides sentence examples of indirect objects in English - and Latin, too!  See also: 
  5. Direct Objects—Useful? Not Useful? Maybe Useful? Comment:  This website is a useful website because everything is clearly presented.  It also provides many examples and the explanations are thorough as well.  It does not have lengthy explanation, which is a good thing because wordy explanation will only confuse students even more. This website explains and gives examples of direct objects and distinguishes them from other noun phrases following verbs.

Verbs and Sentence Roles

  1. Transitive and Intransitive Verb Quiz (Quia) --Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  The quiz is useful in a sense that is not too easy or complicated, the level is right for university students.  However, it does not teach what intransitive and transitive verbs are.  There is a lack of reference for students to look at while they are having trouble with some questions.  In addition, it fails to explain the wrong and right answers. This quiz helps students recognize transitive and intransitive verbs.
  2. Identifying Transitive and Intransitive Verbs--Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This website are bit too easy for university students. This website is useful because it gives a brief explanation for intransitive and transitive verbs so students can reference to when they are struck on one question.  
  3. Simple Explanation of Ditransitive Verbs--Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  The website is useful because everything is briefly explained in a clear manner.  Not only does it teach ditransitive verbs but, it also teaches indirect and direct objects.  What I find most useful about this website is a list of ditransitive verbs.  Students can view this list and understand which words are used ditransitively and which are not. This website provides explanations of transitivity and ditransitive verbs.
  4. Detailed Explanation of Ditransitive Verbs--Useful?  Not Useful?  Maybe Useful? Comments:  This is a useful website because it has clear explanations of what a ditransitive verb is.  It also shows examples how these verbs interact with the objects in the sentence.  The only thing that this website lacks is an exercise that gives students a chance to test their understanding.  This website is very useful in learning ditransitive verbs. This website provides detailed explanations of ditransitive verbs.