Instantly improve your English with 3 easy words!



The things I do for love.

There's not a thing...

Hi. James from engVid.

Today's lesson is about instantly improving.

Now, I know...

"Instant", what does that mean?

People say it all the time.

I want to show you a little trick that will make your English sound better instantly,

and I will give you a technique that you can use after to help practice this.

What I have found are students have a mistake or make a mistake when they drop these three

words, and because of that I know you're not a native speaker.

But today I'm going to address that, show you the three words...

Okay? Explain why, and then I will give you a technique that you can use at home soon as you go back

over this video or any video to practice it, and you will get instantly better.

10-20%. Okay?

Want to know what I'm talking about?

Let's go to the board and look at something you've learned, but today you're going to understand.

You ready?

So, Mr. E said: "Which three words can help you sound like a native speaker?"

I'm going to help you a little bit by doing this, and then we're going to go to the board.

The words I'm talking about, and you might not consider them words but they are words

are: "a" or "an"...

Okay, and I consider that one word because it's modified. Right?

"The" and "to".

Of course you're going to say: "Yeah, James, we know all these.

We learned this at beginner, so how does that instantly help me improve my English?"

The problem is this: When a person knows something they will talk, when they understand they

will change their behaviour or they will use the information.

Many students know about articles and the preposition "to", but they actually don't

use them in sentences.

Many times I've heard students go...

Say: "I need to go work tonight."

Soon as you say that I know you're not a native speaker.

Or if they say: "I bought car yesterday" or "I bought food..." Not "some food".

"I bought apple yesterday at the store."

I'm like: "A-...

You mean an apple, right?"

They don't think to say it, because they know: "Teacher, you know what I'm saying."

And I go: "Yeah, I know what you're saying, but the way you said it I know English is

not your first language."

So what I want to do is get you to come back to understanding, not just knowing why these

words are important, the fact that, especially with the articles we're going to talk about,

they are in most of the sentences.

You can almost not get by a sentence without using them.

So let's go to the board and take a look.

First, what is an article?

Well, you'll see an article is the letter "a" or "an".

Quickly on that one, "an" is used when we have a vowel sound, sound...

Not a... Not just a vowel.

So when you say: "A apple", we know "a" and "a" make it difficult for us to actually get

it out and for you to understand, so we add: "an" to put a consonant to make it easier

for the listener.

"I want an apple."

Oh, okay, cool.

How about "hour"?

Teacher, that has an "h" in front of it.

I'm like: "Enh?"

But we say: "hour", we don't say: "h-our", because with "a" we have to say: "an hour",

and that once again tells me one hour.

You keep noticing I keep saying "one".

I'll explain in a second.

Now, this is what we call and indefinite article.

I.e. it's not special.

When I say to you: "I want a marker", a marker.

All right?

I'm talking about this.

See this?

They're all basically the same.

I don't care what type of marker.

"A" just means generally speaking marker.

That's why it's indefinite; it's not special.

When we look at the word "the", "the" is special.

In this case, when I say to you: "I want the marker", which one do you think I'm talking about?

Can you see the difference?

Clearly. Even if you don't know, you would look and see four, and see this and go:

"He's probably talking about this one."

So with a definite article what's happening is someone is being very specific.

Well, there are two things.

They could say something is special or something is specific. Okay?

And here we have definite article is "the".

"Tell the man I like him."

Okay? "Tell the man", in this case both of us have to know what you're talking about, because

if there are 10 men you'll go: "Which man?"

But when I said: "Tell the man in the yellow jacket" or "yellow suit", you know I'm being

very specific about who I'm talking about.

If I tell you: "Tell a woman I like her", you can walk up to any woman and just say:

"He likes you", and you fulfilled my request.

So when we say indefinite, it doesn't matter; it's just general, it's open.

When we say definite we mean something specific.

And if you remember the example, when I say: "Give me a marker", you're going to give me

any of these, because generally speaking, it doesn't matter which one you give me.

But when I say: "Give me the marker", you and I must know I'm talking about this one.

I'm being very specific.

It is also special because it is red.


Simple lesson, but when we understand something simple we can use it better and we probably

will use it, because now you know when you talk to somebody, I was talking to...

You're going to think first: "Do I know...?

Does my friend know who I'm talking about?

Yes, I was talking about the man from yesterday."

If my friend doesn't know, I have to say: "I was talking about a man from yesterday."

Right away your English has improved and your friend won't say: "Huh?

Which person? I don't know."


So that's just the use of articles.

Now, I'm going to give you a little something that doesn't usually come up, but something

to be aware.

Articles are really just a special type of adjective, because what does an article do, really?

It tells you: One.

It might be one group...

The people of Canada, we are a group, but we are one group in the world.

Or one thing, the pencil on my desk.


It describes one.

Now, we're also being very special by saying: Is this something special that we both know

and share, or something general that I'm just talking about, like apples?


"I want an apple for lunch.

I don't care if it's green or red, just get me an apple."

But if I say: "Get me the green apple on my desk", I want that one, no other one.

If you get the green apple from Josh's desk I won't be happy because I said from my desk.

Special and specific.

Are we good? Good.

So remember the article helps describe the noun that it precedes, so it tells us information;

that it is a single thing or a single group, it could be general or specific, but it is

an adjective and it describes.

And just like we know, we need sometimes adjectives because if I say: "I want a pencil", and there

are millions, you might say: "Which one?"

I go: "The blue pencil", you go: -"Oh, that helps me."

-"Ah, blue pencil helps me as well."

All right?

Now, those two needed to be used in sentences because 80%...

Maybe not, but 70% of the time you'll find there are articles in a sentence.

So, be aware of them and use them if you're saying a noun, if you're not...

Even if you say: "Blue", you will probably say: "The blue pen" or "A blue pen".

Use them.


What about "to", why am I bringing that up?

Well, articles are for nouns, but to have a sentence or an idea, a full sentence, you

need a noun and a verb.

There you go.

That's where this bad boy comes in.

"To" can be used for direction: I'm going to the school or go to my house.


In that case you're telling the direction you are travelling. It's a preposition.


Infinitive, I like to say it this way because basically an infinitive can be a noun: "I like to eat."

Okay? With a subject.

That's what I'm talking about.

But I like to say it, or some people consider it base form of the verb, but it's not.

The base form of the verb, if I said "to eat" would be just "eat".

I like to make it simple.

Remember I said I want you to understand?

So I don't care about the grammarheads.

Please don't get angry, grammar people.

I'm saying it's important, that's why I'm saying preposition and infinitive, blah, blah, blah.

I'm just trying to teach some people to understand, instead of have knowledge without understanding.

An easy way to think of it is like this: Now, just imagine...


There are two verbs.


I'm just going to put this on the board, so look carefully.

I'm sorry, I'm left-handed, so I'll be off the screen.


And verbs are angry people.

They don't like each other very much, so they like to fight.


Now, the only way to stop two verbs from fighting is to put a wall, a magic...

A magic wall that's invisible.

A Trump wall.



If you put a "to" between two verbs, they won't fight anymore and it's easier for us

to understand. Right?

"I want to go", "I like to eat", "I have to do", "You need to be".

Once again, it's not about grammar, it's about understanding.

So if you have two verbs and they're in the base form, just put "to" in between and it

makes it nicer and proper, or proper English for us.

And future, you go: "'To' in the future?"

Well, we have this word: "go", it becomes "going", but "going" just means moving on.

But when you add "to" on the back end of it, it becomes future.

Oh, it becomes strong possibility in the future.

I'll show you the forms in a second, but I need you to understand that "to" helps give information.

And a lot of times students drop it off.

Right? They go: "I need go. I need go store."

I'm like: "Ohh. 'I need go', you mean: 'I need to go to the store.'"

That's an English sentence.

And now that you understand the importance, especially of how "to" is used, and how infinitives...

Sorry, articles are used...

All right?

Now we can start combining them, we can start making you sound instantly better by 20% because

at the very least "to" will be in at least every second or third sentences you say, and

either the direction form is a preposition, the infinitive form separating verbs, or future

- things you're going to do, or it will be with articles almost every second sentence,

if not every sentence where you have to say: 'a' or 'the' to show that we're on the same

wavelength or we have the same idea.

"The man", "the boat", "the car", we both know what I'm talking about.

Or speaking in generalities, or generally speaking: "It's a nice day."

All right?

Now you know how important they are because they occur so often, and I've tried to make

you understand the importance let's look at some of the forms.


Generally put, articles will go first...

Article, then the noun.

"He bought the car yesterday."

Clearly we both know what car and who he is.

"The machine broke down on Wednesday."

There's only one specific machine.

"I had a pizza last night."

You didn't know what I was eating, so I'm telling you I had a pizza.

You don't need to know, you didn't see it, but you know I had a general pizza.

You might ask me a definition, and you might say: -"What kind of pizza?"

-"On the pizza", now you know about my pizza, "was pepperoni and ham".

I don't know, I'm...

That's my favourite kind of pizza.

Just forget I said it.

But that's what I like.

All right?

Now, that's the form generally taken with articles and nouns.

Now, when we look at the verb part of the sentence where you might find the verb and

you might find "to", the first one was preposition "to" and then article.

"Go to the store.", "Go home.", "Going west."

Or, sorry: "To go to tell my friend."

Direction I'm going used as a preposition.


So you'll find that, plus sometimes an article: "Go to the store.", "Go to the city."

Not always.

All right?

When we have the infinitive form you'll have verb, plus "to", plus the other verb.

"I need to eat.", "We went...", "We must go..."


"We must..." No.

[Laughs] I can't believe I made that mistake, and you must not make this mistake.

You cannot say "to" with modals.


"Must", "should", "could", "can".

Don't use those with modals.

So even though I said verb to verb, a modal is a different type of verb.

So don't say: "Must to", and I almost did it. Whew.

Oh, that would have been bad.

But you can say: "Need to go", "Have to go", "Want to", "Like to help", regular verbs.

Okay? Remember what I said about modals.

That's just in case.

Don't do this with modal verbs.


And finally: "Going to", a future term where it's about 80% going to happen.

When you say: "will", which is also a modal, you can't say: "will to".

But that's decided now.

When you say "going to" it means you made a plan and you probably wrote it down somewhere.

So I'm going to Jamaica this summer.

I bought the tickets, I have a hotel.

I made a plan.

My friend, Daniel, is going with me.

I'm going to Jamaica.

Okay? I will go.

I haven't spoken to Daniel yet, but I'm going to.

80% going to happen.


And that's where we have our future.

And these are the forms that they will take.

Okay? And when we talk about nouns, this is the form it will take.

These words help define syntax.

In English, "syntax" basically mean the word order, where they should go so that it makes sense.

We don't like having the verbs before the nouns because action without who or what is

doing the action, or a subject confuses us.

So, when you put these words in the correct syntax, and that's why I taught you the form,

and you make sure you use them in the sentences, you will start noticing immediately people

will say: "Hey. Your English is better."

And you're going to say: "I didn't learn anything new, but I understand how to use what I have."

Right? It's like being given a credit card.

Don't leave home without it and you can buy whatever you want.

Now, on that note I want to give you, when I come back, a technique that will...

You can use right after this video, and come back and watch again, and you can learn from this video...

Because I've probably done it several times already using articles and the word "to",

you can use immediately and we'll have our quiz.

Are you ready? Let's do it.



So, I might have made a small mistake, and I hate to do this, but just in case I think

I said the noun goes before the verb.

That's not always the case.

It is the subject.

A subject will happen to be a noun.


But you have noun clauses and other things, so I want to make sure you're clear: The subject

goes before the verb in a sentence, which can happen to be a noun.

I just want to clear that up just in case.

All right?

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's go back to the board and I want to talk about

my #1 technique.

You're not allowed to see.

No one can know.

Well, I lie, I have to tell you.

We talked about articles and we talked about the preposition "to", and how it can be an

infinitive and blah, blah, blah.

But what's important is telling you that and you going: "Yes, James, I understand", and

saying it with me once or twice is nice, but in order to make it yours...

So you now understand but you still need to practice.

Here's my technique.

Technique number one: Go to YouTube.

Surprise, you're there.

Unless you're on engVid, and then you don't have to go to engVid.

Surprise, you're there.


So if you're here already, or you know, you can go to YouTube and watch a video of a movie you like.

Okay? Or you can stay and watch me because I've used a lot of sentences, and I will, and we

do the test again and again to help you.


Find a video or program you like.

Find a few sentences with articles.

"He had a fun time", "a fun time", "He had a fun time", all right?

"They brought an ele-...

They brought an elephant from Africa.

They brought an elephant from Africa.",

"Go to my house and get the keys. Go to my house and get the keys."


So find a few sentences with articles and the preposition "to".

Repeat them until it is natural.

It may seem awkward-and "awkward" means difficult or hard-at first because really your brain

isn't programmed for them because sometimes you use it when a teacher tells you or a book

tells you, but generally you don't.

But if you take not more than two or three sentences, you don't need a million, because

really what you want to do is take two sentences or three that you know people you regularly

use and then repeat it with the article, taking the time to say: "a pen", "a pen",

"Give me a pen", "I would like a piece of chocolate", so your brain gets used to putting it together.

Once that happens and you start using other sentences once you've got this down, maybe

you can do three to 10, but at one time no more than two, three - you will start noticing

that you naturally put it in conversation because you've been practicing and have got

your brain to think this way.

So not only do you understand what your brain will now understand the syntax of the sentence,

but you have the practice that your brain automatically wants to throw it out because

you've been looking at regular sentences.

That's why I said go to a video or go to YouTube, or watch me in this video because I'm doing it on purpose.

And with that practice that you've done by thinking and understanding

-[snaps]-it will be instant.


I kept my promise.

Now let's do a little bit of a test just to make sure you really understand. Okay?

First question is this one: "____ man who asked you out is my brother."

What would that be?

You think about it.

I'm just going to read my paper.


Oh, you've got the answer?


What would the answer be? Did you say: "A man"?

Well, the fact I said: "my brother" means I know, and they asked you out - you know

them, so it would have to be... What?

"The man", right?

Because they asked you out so you know who it is, it's my brother, we both know - we

must use the article "the", not "a", which is a general man.


Let's try the next one.

Oh, you're busy. Okay.

Would you let me read the paper?

Fine, fine, okay.

"It's ____ good day when I get free money."

"It's the good day"?

Well, you don't know what's going to happen, so it's not...

It is special and it is specific, but it says "day" here, and we're going to have to put:

"a good day" because you say generally speaking when I get free money it's a good day.

There is no specific day, it's just generally when this happens.


All right.

Let's try number three.

Are you going to let me read this, or...?

Okay, okay, I'll put it down.

"She is ____ most important person in my life."


Are you talking about your mom?

Yeah, probably?


She is the most important person in my life, my mom.

She's special and specific.

Next one: "Can we go ____ the zoo tomorrow?"

I don't think an article's going to work here.

We already have an article telling us or defining this.

Probably a preposition because I want to know what direction. Right?

"Can we go to the zoo?"

It's not an infinitive, but it is the direction or my intention of where I want to go.

And how about the last one?

This one's tricky.

Take your time, think about it.

"____ letter 'A' is ____ first letter in the alphabet."

Hmm, you are smart.

I thought I would trick you, but you knew...

We both know what the letter "A" is and we both know it's special so we have to use the

word "the" twice.

Congratulations, you did a good job.

I'm impressed.

But anyway, I really need to go to the washroom and read my paper.

You understand.

So, what I want to say is I'm going to say good-bye, but before I do, as always, thank you.

I appreciate you coming and watching, and learning with me.

And you don't have to go to just see me.

We have other teachers at the place I go to, which is engVid,

and that's go to www.eng, as in English, vid as in (, and subscribe.

So, I don't know where the button is here, but press that button.

Go to engVid and you can do the test that's there as well, and see some other fabulous teachers.

Thanks a lot.

I'm going to be busy.

I'll see ya.