Learn more and pay less with this 2 book bundle:

2 book discountThe English Tense Practical Grammar Guide and Word Order in English Sentences are now available in a 2 book PDF bundle with a 15% discount.

These books are full of information, covering everything you need to know about the basics of English verb use and sentence structure. Combined, they give you a solid understanding of the essential building blocks of English, from the functions and positioning of the different word types through to describing time and sequences. Both books take you from the basics through to advanced ideas necessary for fluent English. With a 15% discount, their combined price is only £9.29 – cheaper than you would pay for a single English textbook.

Take note that all the prices in the shop are due to increase in the New Year – this is the lowest price you will be able to get both of these excellent books for, for a limited time only.

Get the book bundle here now!

This deal is available exclusively through the ELB shop – it is for 2 books in PDF form.

What English tenses exercises would YOU like to see?

Since I published The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide, I have been working on an exercise book to accompany it, 101 English Tenses Exercises. Containing no less than 101 exercises to really drill all the rules of the tenses. I need your help, though – my original idea was to exercise each lesson in the book, following a similar structure. It’s the wrong approach, it’s too complicated and simply not fun!

So, if you have a spare few minutes, I’d like to ask for some feedback. What English grammar exercises would you like to see? What are your favourite types of English exercise? Which do you like least?

On my site, I usually post gap fill exercises – either with individual sentences (e.g. this future tenses exercise) or in the form of a reading text (e.g. The Christmas Mess). These would be the bulk of the exercises in the book. Are there other styles you’d prefer to see?

I’m dividing the exercises into grammar themes (e.g. Past Simple or Past Continuous?) and more general themes for mixed tense exercises, which can build specific vocabulary (for example Christmas vocabulary). What topics would you like to see most?

Please comment below or contact me here if you have any thoughts on my upcoming project. After all, above all else I am trying to write something that is both enjoyable and useful to you!

Out now – Word Order in English Sentences 2nd Edition!

word order bookThe updated version of Word Order in English Sentences is now available in eBook and, for the first time, print form. Through extensive editing, and feedback from my readers, this new edition is over twice the size of the original – and looks a lot nicer!

The 1st Edition of the book was a brief introduction to sentence structure that covered the basics of some sentence components. I’ve built on it covering many more of the building blocks of a sentence – making the 2nd edition a more comprehensive guide to understanding how words fit together in English. It remains an introduction, but a much more solid one.

The full contents of the guide now cover:

  • Basic sentence structure (subject-verb-object and beyond)
  • Question forms
  • Negative forms
  • Verb phrases (now including phrasal verbs, transitives and intransitives, and combinations of verbs)
  • Noun phrases (now including compound nouns, noun complements and embedded questions as noun phrases)
  • Adjectives (now including adjectives in unusual positions)
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Sentences with multiple clauses (including simple, complex and compound sentences)

The book also includes 16 exercises to test knowledge through re-ordering scrambled sentences. The book will give you a solid basis for understanding how an English sentence fits together, and how one word relates to another – which is the first step towards understanding how sentences can then bend the rules.

Regular readers of this blog may recognise many of the lessons contained in the book – now you can own the material in one easy to use reference guide. The book is available in various electronic forms, including in PDF from the shop here. Meanwhile the print form is designed in a style that matches The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide (so they’ll look good on a shelf together!).

Coming this February – the expanded Word Order guide

word order bookMembers of my mailing list will already be aware that I have been working on a long-overdue update to Word Order in English Sentences – and with the help of my readers it is now almost ready for publication. This February I will be releasing the 2nd Edition of Word Order in English Sentences with greatly expanded content and a much more professional edit.

The 1st Edition of the book was a short eBook I originally produced as a piece of bonus material for my subscribers. It proved popular enough to keep selling, but as an early piece of work, I was never happy with the standard of the book, or the level of detail it covered. The basic original guide has therefore been given an overhaul, with the new version expanded from 47 pages to over 100 – and it will now also be available, for the first time, in print form!

The new contents include:

  • Expanded verb phrases structures, including introductions to tenses, transitive and intransitive verbs, and connecting verbs to locations, other verbs and clauses
  • Expanded noun phrase structures, including a detailed look at compound nouns, noun complements and embedded questions as noun objects
  • Expanded adjective rules, including adjectives after nouns and verbs
  • New chapter on Prepositions, discussing where they come in questions, passive structures, relative clauses and in relation to infinitives
  • New chapter on sentences with multiple clauses, including simple, complex and compound sentences
  • New chapter on flexible word order and sentence structure, introducing ideas for creating different forms from the same sentence

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with some of the new content added to the book. It is a massive improvement on the original – so look out for it in February (and be sure to join the mailing list to be the first to hear of its release!). If you would like to review the book for your website, or on Amazon, or would like to recommend review sites to me, do let me know.


The Impact of Dickens’ Christmas Carol – in Language and Culture

christmas carol dickens languageIn 1843, Charles Dickens wrote a novella called A Christmas Carol, a story still told today. The story followed a miser (a nasty man who does not want to share his wealth) on Christmas Eve, as he is visited by three spirits that teach him about kindness and caring. Its positive message, of a bad person becoming generous, has had a big impact on Western culture around the Christmas season – including interesting contributions to the English language. Continue reading

The English Tenses Grammar eBook – Free this weekend!

free grammar ebook

I’m happy to announce this weekend I’m getting married – and to help others share in the joy of my important weekend, I’m running a special offer via the Kindle store – for this fantastic wedding weekend, The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide eBook will be absolutely free. The offer will last from 13/11/2014 to 16/11/2014 (about the amount of time I’ll be celebrating). If you haven’t already got a copy, mark it in your diary! Continue reading

A lovely pile of books

printed booksThis just arrived at my door; a box of printed editions of The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide. And I’m happy to say these will all have a home, as this bundle has been produced for the purpose of promotional giveaways. Over the next few months, primarily through Goodreads, I’ll be running free book contests. If you want to be in with a chance of winning one of this delightful little grammar guides, be sure to follow me on Goodreads or via my email newsletter here.

Watch this space! [Meaning: look here for a future update.]

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide

english tenses grammar guide

“Phil Williams may have just released the most realistic approach to aide in understanding the English tenses.” – Meg, Amazon review

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Have you ever wanted to know why we say “I am reading this book now”, but “I am happy now!” and not “I am being happy now”? This guide explains these differences, and many more – giving a detailed study of how the simple rules for the English tenses can be expanded, compared and bent.

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide fully explains the different aspects of the English tenses and their uses. Its flexible approach to English grammar explores how native English speakers commonly use each tense, comparing uses across different tenses. It is designed to help English learners, teachers and speakers alike, to better understand the structure of our language, and its adapted uses. It can be used as an aide alongside core texts, as a reference or a standalone self-study guide. It is available now in PDF from this website, or in paperback and electronic forms from Amazon.

What’s included in The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide?

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide provides explanations of grammar construction, typical tense uses, and tense comparisons, all with many examples.

” I have yet to find a more approachable, intuitive, practical resource that delivers on its promise of tangible, palpable success.” – Stephen Thergesen, TESOL teacher

The 12 tenses explained in detail in this guide are:

  • Past Simple
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Present Simple
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous
  • Future Simple (will, “going to” and present simple and continuous uses)
  • Future Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • Future Perfect Continuous
  • Time Clauses

It also provides a glossary of terms used, and an analysis of time clauses.

It demonstrates how to use bare infinitives, and past and present participles, then gives typical forms for the simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous tenses, whether in past, present or future. The guide then takes each tense, from past to present to future, and demonstrates use with examples in tables that show affirmative, question, negative, and negative question form. Then, perhaps most valuably, it explores the various uses each tense can be applied to.

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What’s different about this guide

Whilst other grammar guides, with simple rules, are vital to start learning English, it is a flexible language, and eventually you need to explore the less common uses of grammar, and to start asking why certain uses appear to bend the rules.

This grammar guide demonstrates all the ways that the English tenses can be used, as well as many areas where they might be confused. It shows why some tenses might be used in almost the same way, and how some tenses can be used to demonstrate specific emotions or emphasis, when another tense might seem appropriate.

For example, the book questions why an English speaker can say both I have cooked dinner and I cooked dinner to describe the same event – which is not simply a matter of time, but may also show emphasis. It also explores the many forms of the future simple tenses, discussing the difference between the present tenses with future meaning (I am watching the football this evening) and will or going to forms (I will watch the football this evening).

Parts of the advice offered in this book are already available on this site, in different articles, if you want a sample of the style and substance of what the guide offers. For example, read my introductions to choosing between the past simple and the past perfect, or the simplified instructions for using the perfect forms in future tenses.

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide is available on this site in PDF form, or from Amazon in print or digital form. You can also sign up to my mailing list to receive a free preview of the book, The Past Tenses, and other free content updates.

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What have other readers said about the book?

“Good information, simply written, concise and easy to follow.” – Betty Yoder, Amazon review


“This book was easy for my brain to digest, I was able to follow a long and the author kept things very simple. I enjoy feeling smarter after reading a book, mission accomplished!” – Erik, Amazon review


“Phil has given great detail to help one gain a deeper understanding of the English tenses and how to use them properly.” – Pammysue, Amazon review


Pictures worth a thousand words – textbook illustration examples

present tenseIn place of a lesson, today, I have some exciting new images for my upcoming grammar guide, The English Tenses. I enlisted the help of a local artist to produce these, following suggestions from a number of beta readers – and I am sure you will agree these pictures will add a lot of character and energy to the book.

The artist, Bob Wright (whose website is currently unavailable, but can be reached here), has studied existing English learning materials to produce work that is at the same time very effective and professional, but also uniquely stylised. These are line-work previews, with colour to be added soon. Note: as these are still works in progress, and will be part of the final commercial release of the textbook, these images are watermarked. Continue reading

Word Order in English Sentences: Grammar Guide

word order book

“If you are a non-native speaker intending to write in English, YOU NEED THIS BOOK!” – Amelie Chaloux , Amazon review

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Word Order in English Sentences teaches effective sentence structure in English. It covers the structure of sentences, explaining how and why different English word types fit into specific orders. It is available from this site in electronic form, or in print form on Amazon.

Effective Word Order Rules

“The greatest thing about this guide is that it doesn’t simply tell you what to do, it also explains why, so that you understand the subtle (or not so subtle) change in meaning of the sentence, which can occur if you swap just a couple of words in your phrase.” – Polina Zemsteva, Amazon review

The English language requires specific word order rules, to make sure your sentences make grammatical sense. When you change your word order, you can change the meaning of your sentence. This guide explains standard sentence structures, so that you will always be understood clearly. It takes you from the general ‘subject-verb-object’ beginning into more complicated patterns for specific words, including how to list adjectives, and how to position different adverbs. The simple chapter structure covers the following topics:

  • Basic sentence structure (subject-verb-object and beyond)
  • Question forms
  • Negative forms
  • Verb phrases (now including phrasal verbs, transitives and intransitives, and combinations of verbs)
  • Noun phrases (now including compound nouns, noun complements and embedded questions as noun phrases)
  • Adjectives (now including adjectives in unusual positions)
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Sentences with multiple clauses (including simple, complex and compound sentences)

Every topic is covered with standard word order patterns and exercises to practice your knowledge. The exercises use scrambled sentences which need to be re-ordered, and the answers include detailed explanations of why the sentences should be placed in these orders. For an introduction to the style of the book, you can see my Adjective Word Order exercise in this blog (which is similar to part of the adjective chapter in the book).

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