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

christmas carol dickens language

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

The English Tenses Grammar eBook – Free this weekend!

free grammar ebook

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 “The English Tenses Grammar eBook – Free this weekend!”

A lovely pile of books

printed 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

“The most realistic approach to aide in understanding the English tenses.” – Meg, Amazon review


Want to know why we say “I am reading this book now”, but not “I am being happy now”? What about “We’re going to the park” or “We will be going to the park”? “I had been studying” or “I was studying”?

This guide explains these differences and many more – with a detailed look at how the rules for the English tenses are actually used (and abused!) by English speakers in real life.

The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide uses a flexible approach to English grammar to explore how native English speakers commonly use each tense, comparing uses. It is designed to help English learners, teachers and speakers alike, to fully 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 paperback and electronic forms from Amazon.

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

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

  • 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



Pictures worth a thousand words – textbook illustration examples

present tense

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 “Pictures worth a thousand words – textbook illustration examples”

Word Order in English Sentences: Grammar Guide

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



Word Order in English Sentences teaches effective sentence structure in English. It explains how and why 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.” – 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.

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Best textbook for English classes? New English File review

english class textbook intermediateWhen teaching in a classroom setting I always had a selection of reliable textbooks. No one book really fulfils the needs of a teacher, but one of the best I found, for a comprehensive course taught in an interesting way, was the New English File series. These cover all levels, from beginner to advance, with a wide range of exercises and activities. They include considerations for a variety of media and are vividly presented, enough to engage all classes. And if you opt for the teacher’s book too, the lessons are basically planned for you. Continue reading “Best textbook for English classes? New English File review”

Best English grammar book for learning and practice

best english grammar bookWhenever I recommend just one English grammar book, I suggest Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in UseThe English Grammar in Use series covers all areas, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, though the one I find most useful is Intermediate. The large selection of grammar points in the Intermediate book is suitable for students of all levels above elementary, either to learn more or to review. Each point has easy-to-follow examples and exercises. It works as a useful accompaniment to test the lessons taught in The English Tenses.

Though it is excellent for self-study, I sometimes also use this book for teaching, as the grammar rules are clear and well-organised. Continue reading “Best English grammar book for learning and practice”

Improve your English writing skills with this book

improve writing skillsThis book is not as well known in the UK as in America, so I discovered it quite late. But it summarises many of my personal views on good written English. In America, it is incredibly famous. It was labelled one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books, the most influential books Written in English since 1923, by Time magazine. The Elements of Style, otherwise called the Strunk and White (after its authors), is a prescriptive language book – meaning it is forced upon students. With good reason. It is a writing style guide that will improve your writing skills if you take careful note of its simple and effective rules.  Continue reading “Improve your English writing skills with this book”