About ESLhiphop.com

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On August 26th, 2014
ESLhiphop.com is a community for ESL (English as a Second Language) students and teachers who have a passion for the art of hip-hop. There are daily lessons for English language learners as well as teaching resources and ideas for instructors who are interested in bringing a new edge to their classrooms.

Grammar with MC Lyte: When ‘yet’ means ‘still’

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On November 30th, -0001

And I’ll blind you with the science that the others have yet to find,
so come along and I’ll lead you the right way.
Just clap your hands to the words I say.

Yet is an adverb that means an expected action or event has not happened. We normally use yet with negative statements and questions.

He hasn’t woken up yet.
I haven’t started my homework yet.
Did you call your brother yet?

Still is an adverb that means something has not finished. Something started in the past and it continues, perhaps to our surprise.

It has been raining for  three hours, and it is still raining.
He is still upset over the fight.
Are you still hungry? I can make you another sandwich.
In most cases, yet is used in negative statements and questions. When yet is used in affirmative statements, it has the same meaning as still. This usage is considered to be formal.

Subject + has/have + yet + infinitive

I have yet to hear from my brother. I am still waiting for my brother to call me.
The scientists have yet to find a cure. They are still searching for one.
He has yet to prove to be an effective leader. He is still gaining the trust of his team.
Writing Task

A common expression in English is The best has yet to come. Do you think this is true in some situations? Does the future always have something better for us? Please write your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

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Past Perfect and Vocabulary with ATCQ

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On November 30th, -0001
Grammar: Past Perfect

Drove down the road for two days and a half.
The sun had just risen on a dusty path.
Just then a figure had caught my eye.
A man with a sombrero who was 4 feet high

Use the past perfect in order to talk about the ‘earlier past’ and to describe something that happened before an event in the past.

Subject + had + past participle

Subject + had + not + past participle

Had + subject + past participle?

I had never heard such great hip-hop before I listened to A Tribe Called Quest.

She did not call me because she had lost her phone.
My trip to New York was great! My wife knew the city so well because she had lived there several years ago.
Had he studied English before he moved to the United States?

We can use the past perfect in conditional sentences with if. This grammar is called the third conditional, and it is used to describe unreal or hypothetical situations in the past.

If I hadn’t become a teacher, I would have joined the army.
You would have died if you had forgotten to wear your seat belt.

We also use the past perfect, not the simple past, to say how long something had continued up to a past moment.

He had studied Japanese for several years before he moved to Tokyo.
I had worked at the company for a long time before they promoted me to manager.
My mother and father had known each other for many years when they got married.


In this song, Q-Tip tells a story about losing his wallet in a small town called El Segundo, which is located in southern California.

Review these words and expressions to help comprehend the story.

go down (phrasal verb) – to happen; to occur. I had to roam, so I picked up the phone. Dialed Ali to see what was going down
the phrasal verb go down has several meanings, depending on the context.
yard (noun) – a slang word for $100. He left me a  yard to pay for the party, but it wasn’t enough money.
have/got something covered (idiom) – If you have something or somebody covered, it means you prevent problems by having control of a situation. If you need legal advice, you should hire my brother. He’s got you covered
catch somebody’s eye (idiom) – to attract somebody’s attention. There’s a lot of interesting graffiti in San Francisco, but not much has caught my eye.
sombrero (noun) – the Spanish word for hat.
grub (slang) – food. I’m hungry, so let’s get some grub.
in the middle of nowhere (idiom) – If something is in the middle of nowhere, it is far away from other cities or towns. This restaurant is in the middle of nowhere, but the drive is worth it!
wicked (adverb) – very; really. She’s a wicked beautiful woman!

Read the full article on ESLHiphop.com

Zero Conditional and Vocabulary with M.I.A.

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On November 30th, -0001
Grammar: Zero Conditional

I fly like paper. Get high like planes.
If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name.
If you come around here, I make them all day.
I get one done in a second if you wait.

The song’s first verse has several examples of some grammar called the zero conditional. A conditional sentence usually contains the words if/when and then, and we use it to discuss the results of a situation, fact or idea. Use the zero conditional to discuss a result that is always true, such as simple, scientific facts. The result of the condition is 100% true, and the result never changes.

In order to make the zero conditional, use the simple present verb tense.

If + subject + simple present verb, subject + simple present  verb.

If you catch me at the border, I have visas in my  name.
If you come around here,  I make them all day.
If you wait, I get one done in a second.

In the above examples, the IF CONDITION is first, and the result is second. In this case, use COMMAS to separate the clauses. It is also possible to write/say the result first, but you do not need a comma

I get one done in a second if you wait.
I have visas in my name if you catch me at the border.
I make them all day if you come around here.


paper planes (noun) – a slang expression for visas, which are legal documents for entering, residing and working in foreign countries. Paper planes might also be slang for joints/spliffs, which are cigarettes rolled with marijuana.
bona fide (adjective) – A Latin phrase that means authentic or genuine. It is always used immediately before a noun.
hustler (noun) – a person who earns money illegally.
bong (noun) – a water pipe that is commonly used for smoking marijuana.
swagger (noun) – If somebody has swagger, they are very sophisticated in fashion and behavior.
burner (noun) – an inexpensive, pre-paid mobile phone. Criminals often use these phones and then throw them away to evade the police.

Read the full article at ESLHipHop.com

5 Pronunciation Tips That Will Make You Fluent!

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On November 30th, -0001

Pronunciation: Using Reductions

It takes two to make a thing go right.
It takes two to make it outta sight.
 Hit it!

We can hear this reduction in the track’s chorus, which is commonly called the hook in hip-hop. The female vocalist tells us that Rob Base and EZ-Rock make good things happen. In other words, it takes two… two rappers… to make good things happen. It also takes two good rappers to make it outta sight. If something is “out of sight”, it is extraordinary and incredibly good!

A few months ago, I featured a song called “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A., and you can find a lot of great examples and different meanings of the reduction outta in this lesson.

I wanna rock right now.
I’m Rob Base, and I came to get down.

Rob Base is ready to party and make some good hip-hop! He is also ready to get down! If you are ready to get down to business, it means you are ready to start some serious work.

Wanna is a very common reduction in spoken English. The word to, used as a preposition or  as part of an infinitive, is almost always unstressed in spoken English. Because it does not take stress, it blends in with the word before it. Don’t worry about sounding too informal either! Wanna and other reductions are so common that you will even hear it by company CEOs and university professors. It is perfectly fine to use in any social situation, and it actually makes speaking English easier.

Be careful! You cannot always use wanna as a reduction for want to. In very few cases in English, it is actually incorrect! 


Read the following questions below and decide which question uses wanna incorrectly.
What do you wanna eat?
Who do you wanna hit Stephen with a football?


My name is Rob. I gotta real funky concept.

In this sentence, I gotta also means I have a/an. We normally use this verb in the present perfect aspect, and it’s very common to hear:
I’ve gotta
You’ve gotta
He’s gotta
She’s gotta
They’ve gotta

Rob Base is telling us that he has a real funky concept. In other words, he has a very unique style that makes him special and different from other rappers.

We can also use gotta to mean have to, ought to, and must for obligations. Check out my lessons with EPMD’s “You Gots to Chill” to see more examples.


Listen up! Because I’m gonna keep you in step.

Rob Base is a very good rapper, and he wants us to listen up and pay attention to him as he raps! He’s going to keep up in step, which means he has us under control. Another common expression is keep in check, and this specifically means to prevent something from getting worse.

We use gonna to talk about our future plans that we have made in the past. Be going to is used differently than will, and I discuss it in detail with a song by Bone Thugs ‘N Harmony.


I’m kinda stingy that’s why I don’t want to lend
a funky rhyme to a foe or a good friend.

If somebody is a stingy person, they don’t like to share or lend anything. This is especially true of people who don’t like to spend money, and it is usually negative in connotation. Rob Base is stingy with his music. He doesn’t want to make music with other people and share his talent and success. It doesn’t matter if you are his foe (enemy) or if you are a good friend. He won’t share his funky rhymes with you!

Kinda is an adverb that means slightly or not very.

Pronunciation Practice
The best way to improve your speaking skills in English is to practice a lot! Record a short video of yourself, upload it to YouTube or Google+, and share it with ESLhiphop! I will listen to your recording and offer feedback and comments on your pronunciation!
In your video, try to use as many reductions as you can. Introduce yourself, talk about your friends and family, and tell us a secret about yourself! Your video can be long and short, and I will be happy to help you!

Read the full article at ESLHipHop.com