I can help you rewrite or correct business documents or academic writing, polishing your style to make it flow more easily.

I can help you if you feel that you can’t understand the conversations around you.

I can help you if you want to understand more about English culture, history or our quirky sense of humour.

I have been a Teacher of English since 2009, and have a CELTA qualification.  I have taught business, academic and colloquial English at Berlitz London and other schools up and down the country.  Lessons can be face to face or online.

I include a sample of some of the exercises that I have written, but remember I can tailor the material to suit you.


Present into Past
This is a telephone call.  Imagine that this happened to you yesterday.  Rewrite this passage in the past tense as if you are telling what happened to a friend.  Start the new passage with Yesterday.

My car has broken down.  I have been sitting in my car for half an hour and now it is starting to rain.  I want you to send someone to fix the car: I have to be in town in ten minutes for an appointment.  There is smoke coming out of the bonnet and when I try to start the car there is a funny grinding noise.  […]  Sorry?  I have been waiting for five minutes for you to answer the phone and now you have I can’t hear you.  […]  Maybe the connection’s breaking up.  It was breaking up earlier.  Now it’s really starting to rain.  Can you send someone as soon as possible?  […]  Two hours?  You can’t send anyone earlier but you will send someone in two hours?  That’s preposterous.  Oh hell, I’ll walk!

Do and Make
The difference between Do and Make is a subtle one.  To put it simply Do is about performing an action, while Make is about creating something new.  Sometimes there is a grey area and both words are acceptable.  For example: To Do/Make a presentation.  (I personally would use Make, as a presentation is the result of a process).

Make tends to focus on the end product: e.g. to make a cup of tea, make a cake.  It can mean to create, to cause, to bring into being.

Bill made a chair from oak wood.

Something is created at the end of it.  It might be created even if you didn’t mean to.  One makes a mistake: the mistake is a thing that has been made, that wasn’t there before.

One exception is To make the bed.  This simply means to tidy the sheets and blankets.

To make someone do something can mean that they order it to happen, and can imply that they forced somebody to do something.

He made me write the report all over again.

 The robbers made the bank manager open the safe.

 Or take the phrase To make a difference.  This refers to the effect that somebody or something has.

It really made a difference to morale when we had a new boss, who was more encouraging than the old one.

 Having the air conditioning on really makes a difference in this stuffy office.

 You can also Make a friend.  Obviously you didn’t literally make him (his parents did that), but he was at first a stranger and now, by being friendly, you have made him a friend.

With food Make and Do are often interchangeable.  If we are merely heating up something from the fridge Do would be more accurate.  I can do a pizza.  If you are making a pizza with fresh ingredients you would say I can make a pizza. 

When travelling one can say We are making good time.  This means that we are early.  You might say We will make Edinburgh by nightfall, meaning we will arrive at Edinburgh by nightfall.  In this sentence we are thinking of Edinburgh as a result of an action.

Do refers to performing or executing an action: e.g. to do the washing up.  When the washing up is finished you haven’t made a new thing, you have simply completed an action.

It also refers to how a person or process is progressing.  For instance, if somebody has been ill you might ask ‘How are you doing?‘  Or somebody trying to learn something might ask ‘How am I doing?

How am I doing on this computer?

Again this is about a process, rather than about the end result.

Do can also be used about whether something is adequate or sufficient.

Can I have some money for shopping?

I’ve only got ten pounds.  Will that do?

 -I’m hungry.

-I can make scrambled eggs.  Will that do?

Yes, that should do it.

An American habit is to say ‘Let’s do lunch‘, when we would say ‘Let’s have lunch.’  This may be because Americans like to seem active.  To make lunch, of course, would mean cooking it.

To do can also refer to putting on a performance.

The theatre is doing King Lear this week.

 Or it can refer to a process.

I’m doing an O Level in French. 

Are you doing well?

Yes, I’m making good progress.

 We talk about making progress because it is a result, (even though it is an ongoing result) rather than a process.  Of course it is also a process, but we are concentrating on the result.  I do a lot of work so I make good progress.

TIP – Do can function as an auxiliary verb.  E.g: I do love strawberries.  This means the same as I love strawberries, the do is added for emphasis.  Make however is never an auxiliary verb.


Punctuation is a vital part of written English.  In this exercise we look at two punctuation marks.

Consider this sentence.

Woman, without her man, is nothing.

That is a sentence that could get a man into trouble if he said it.  Now look at this sentence.

Woman, without her, man is nothing.

Just by shifting the comma by one word, the meaning of the sentence has been changed completely.


Let’s eat Grandma.

would mean that the children are planning cannibalism.  Putting in a comma makes it:

Let’s eat, Grandma.

which is the children asking their grandma to make dinner.

A comma is, in a way, a sign telling the reader that the sentence has, so to speak, changed direction.  In the above example Let’s Eat is a complete thought, it’s a suggestion, and Grandma is the person to whom it’s made.

You don’t normally need a comma before and or but as these and other co-ordinating conjunctions tell a reader that you are introducing a new part of the sentence.

I think it is a good idea and Jamie agrees with me.

If you want to emphasise the fact that Jamie agrees with you you can use a phrase like besides or what’s more, in which case you would use a comma.

I think it is a good idea and besides, Jamie agrees with me.

Commas mark off different parts of a sentence, making it easier to read.  For instance, if that last sentence had been written without a comma it would read: Commas mark off different parts of a sentence making it easier to read.  Without the comma one might think that sentence making is a phrasal verb and then have to reread the sentence to get the meaning.  Commas are also used for subordinate clauses.

I went to Rome, which I’d never done before, and fell in love with an Italian waitress. 

We don’t need which I’d never done before for the sentence to make sense, it is a piece of additional information.

Imagine the difference between Twenty-five dollar bills ($25) and Twenty five-dollar bills.  ($100.)

Or the difference between A man eating chicken and A man-eating chicken.  It’s the difference between a man eating his dinner and a deadly animal you’d have to run from.  The word Eating could be used as a verb, as in the first sentence, or as part of an adjectival phrase (man-eating) in the second sentence.

They also attach a prefix to a word.

Pre-Christmas drinks party.

Post-natal depression.

They can also eliminate confusion, especially if a word in a sentence can be both a noun and a verb as in the sentence Lucy went to the cake shop to shop.  This is a little confusing, as if she went from shop to shop looking for a cake.  It is clearer when it is written Lucy went to the cake-shop to shop.

Sometimes an adjective might refer to one of two objects.  The cupboard was filled with old men’s shoes.  In this sentence it is ambiguous whether it is the shoes that are old or the men.  If you write  The cupboard was filled with old-men’s shoes you make it clear that the men are old and own the shoes.

Sometimes we use a hyphen when two adjectives are used to describe one thing.  We don’t use it in sentences like The big shiny red apple, which has three adjectives, but they are all distinct, but we would for adjectival phrases such as golden-brown or bitter-sweet when things are simultaneously gold and brown or bitter and sweet.

Or consider Jane looked out to sea and noticed a ship to shore distress signal.  When we are reading we are looking for definite information, so the reader takes in Jane looked out to sea and noticed a ship and thinks that Jane has seen a ship and is expecting the next words to describe the ship.  But they don’t, instead we get what seems to be a meaningless jumble: to shore distress signal.  Two hyphens would help clear up this confusion.  Jane looked out to sea and noticed a ship-to-shore distress signal.  Here we can see that ship is part of ship-to-shore which is an adjectival phrase describing a distress signal that is fired from a ship in order to be seen on shore.  In fact distress-signal could also be hyphenated, as signal, which in this sentence is being used as a noun, can also be used as a verb.  (Bill signalled to the people on the opposite bank of the river.)    


The sentences below could all be made clearer with the addition of commas or hyphens.  See if you can insert the punctuation in the right places.

  1. Most of the time travellers worry about losing their luggage. (Clue, this sentence is not a science fiction story about people who travel through time.)
  2. The greenish yellow car was parked on a grey white pavement.
  3. The student said the teacher is crazy.(Add two commas to make the student the crazy one.)
  4. The coffee coloured labrador lay on an oddly made blanket.
  5. What is this thing called love?(There are two places where one can add a comma and change the meaning of this sentence.)
  6. Look at that huge hot dog!(Add a comma to make it a living animal.)
  7. Look at that huge hot dog covered in mustard.(Add a hyphen to make it clear that the sentence is about a sausage.)
  8. The team will play in the semi final match in April.(A hyphen would make this clearer.)
  9. Here we have white ladies night dresses.(Put in a couple of hyphens to show that the shop is not practising apartheid.)
  10. After we left Mum Dad and I went to the cinema.(Use a comma so that only Dad and I went to the cinema.)