Easy ways to improve your English every day

It is only natural that when someone studies a language, they want to see improvement.  Yet, these same people often get frustrated because they have been taking lessons for months – even years – but aren’t making progress.  When I ask what they are doing between classes to engage with English, my question is often met with silence and a blank stare. [1]

Part of the problem is that language learners often have unrealistic expectations.[2]   To see what these expectations were, I did an internet search “become fluent in English.” I was shocked by the results.

First, … Read the rest

Say it ain’t so: the top errors native English speakers make (and how to avoid them)

We all make mistakes.  Just because a native speaker says something doesn’t make it right. 

In a recent conversation, a client said, “I didn’t see nobody.”  When I corrected him, he was confused because this was how they said it in American movies.  A few days later, I got a text from another client who had seen a statement from Boris Johnson who said, “I have today left hospital.”

“Why did he use the present perfect?” she asked.  “It started and finished in the past and we know when it happened.  Why didn’t he use the past simple?  And why … Read the rest

Behold the power of the comma

Happy Monday everyone, and here is your Monday Morning Tip from Marshallsay English!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had so many questions about punctuation that I decided to write a series of short articles on the subject. Today, we are going to start with the easiest – writing lists using commas and semi-colons.

Basically, we use a comma to separate items in a list with more than two items.

I like peaches, apples and pears. [No comma before the last item.]

or

I like peaches, apples, and pears. [A comma before the last item.]

It is important to … Read the rest

Behold the power of the verb: a true Christmas story

Nativity scene

I love reading human interest stories this time of year – you know, stories that really aren’t news but they make you feel good.  I was reading just such a story in The Guardian this week when I came across this sentence:

A camel, cow and donkey that were found roaming together along a Kansas road have been booked to appear in a Christmas Nativity scene.

I was a bit confused.  I hadn’t finished my first up of coffee yet and was making assumptions.  Were the animals booked to do the nativity scene first, then got away?  Or had … Read the rest