• Atoms, Modal Verbs and Phrasal Verbs: An English Listening Exercise

    If you’ve been taking our English classes for any time, you probably already know that modal verbs and phrasal verbs are some of the most difficult things to learn. We’ve done a lot of lessons to explain them, including a video series on English modal verbs.

    Recently I was watching this TED Ed video on the size of atoms and noticed that it had a lot of modal verbs, and a few phrasal verbs as well. It’s a really interesting video, with great animation. You can watch the video below, and then try to answer the questions in the exercise.

    Fill in the gaps with phrasal verbs or modal verbs. You can put your answers in comments, and we’ll let you know if they’re correct.

    1. You probably already know that everything is ____ __ __ little tiny things called atoms.

    2. You _____ even know that each atom is made up of even smaller particles called protons, neutrons and electrons.

    3. Let’s ____ __ each of the atoms.

    4. You _____ remember the old pictures of atoms from your science class.

    5. If you ______  ____ the blueberry and ____ searching for the nucleus, ___ be invisible.

    6. So, if everyone on the earth _____ their own car, and they don’t, and you put all of those cars into your box, that _____ be about the density of a nucleus.

    Reading questions

    How big would the nucleus be if you made the atom the size of a football stadium?

    What do you think the gorilla in the background is a reference to? (Hint, it is related to another scientific experiment).



    •  Hi Paul, it is certainly a good exercise! I have a friend who’s teaching an ESL course I will refer this to her. The students for sure will like this 🙂

      • LOIEnglish

        Thanks Mariz! I’m glad you enjoyed it. How did you do on the the exercise?

    • Anna Pfitzner

      COULD you publish the tapescript as well?