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

Communicating change

Change isn’t coming. Change is here. Covid-19 has seen to that.  Millions of people who have never before worked from home are now expected to telecommute. Meetings are now done exclusively online – even at the highest levels. And even for people like me who work from home on a regular basis, the way we work has changed dramatically.

The problem is that people don’t like change – even if that change is subtle. A recent article from Bain & Company pointed out that change, particularly during a crisis, reduces people’s sense of control, which would explain why even small … Read the rest

Keeping your focus when working from home

I’ve been hearing from people all week about how difficult they find working from home. This article from the BBC has some suggestions that deal with motivation and work/life balance – which are good. But how do you deal with distractions? Truthfully, most of them involve turning things off. Here are my tips:

  1. Turn off your emails unless you are expecting urgent, time-sensitive information. Let’s face it. Most emails do not need to be read immediately. Set a timer to check your emails every hour or 1/2 hour.
  2. Turn off social media platforms and messaging apps for the same
Read the rest

Working from home: online meeting etiquette

Working from home

Normally, I spend my working week dashing from one client’s office to another. Our sessions are always face-to-face, up close, and personal.

That changes as of today as I will be working strictly from home. Unfortunately, I could see this coming. I wouldn’t call myself a pessimist; however, my old army training taught me to always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. And that’s what I did.  Last week, I set up everything to do my lessons online until this crisis passes. I don’t have any problem with this change – to me, it’s business as usual. … 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.]


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

It is important to … Read the rest

New year, new language skills


I’ve been living in Germany now for 18 months and my German language skills are OK. I can understand about 80 per cent of what’s being said, both on TV and in real life.  However, when I open my mouth to speak, the vocabulary and grammar rules in my head seem to disappear.  Don’t get me wrong – people definitely understand me.  But just being understood is not enough.

Sound familiar?

New-Year_s-ResolutionsBefore moving to Frankfurt, I took German at a language school in London twice a week for over a year.  During that time, I saw real progress.  I was … Read the rest