See, Watch and Look

The words ‘see’, ‘look’ and ‘watch’ are often confused by students of English because they are so similar. Here are a few examples of each one to help you out.



Used for ‘meet’:

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Instead of ‘meet’ for animals:

I saw a nice dog on my walk.

Used to mean ‘watch’ but with a more casual feeling, indicating leisure:

I saw a great film yesterday.



Indicates action or change:

You have to watch the cake because it might burn in the oven.

Used for going to a location to observe something:

I’m going to watch the boats come in at the dock.

Like ‘look’ but with greater attention:

Watch this! I can juggle five balls.



Observe or read briefly:

I looked at the menu.

Make eye contact:

Please look at me when I’m talking to you.

Describes appearance:

She looks beautiful.


Word cards

Word cards are one of the most useful ways to study vocabulary, in my experience. You can take them with you easily, and remove cards with known vocabulary from the list so you are studying only what you need.

I think it is best to study vocabulary in English only, as much as possible. The best way to do this with your word cards is:

1. Write out a sentence with the word you want to learn on one side.


2. On the other side write the word you want to learn.


3. Next to the word, write its meaning in English or draw a picture.


Remove cards from this pile when you know them and keep them in another stack to look at them every month or so and throw them away when you really do know them.

Improve Your Email

Blank Email

Today people use email for business and pleasure. It’s slightly different to the traditional letter; it’s occasionally perceived as a little less formal than a letter. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the standard form of the letter. In this post I will show you how to improve your email writing.

If you want to get more detailed advice about business email, buy my ebook, Better Business Email.


If you’re writing an informal email a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ will do. It’s a nice touch to use the name of the person you’re sending the email to: that way, they know that you haven’t sent the email to the wrong person by mistake.

If you’re writing a business email, ‘Dear’ is the standard opener. You may often see business emails without ‘Dear’, and with only the name. This is only acceptable when you have already established a working relationship.


For friends, use given names (e.g. John) or nicknames (e.g. Johnny). For business it’s more complex.

If you have a working relationship already, you can use a given name. If you don’t, it is best to use a title (that is, Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.) followed by the family name.

Never use a title followed only by a given name. It looks and sounds strange.

Get to the point!

A lot of people have full inboxes. Say what you want to say. Make it short, but include details and keep it interesting. This is true for both personal and business emails.

Signing off

Use ‘Yours’ or even ‘Bye’ in personal emails. For business or formal emails, ‘Yours faithfully’ is the most appropriate for first contact. In further emails, use ‘Yours sincerely’.

Sign off with your name. Your given name is fine for personal emails. Use your full name in business emails. You can use your title with your full name but be aware that this looks extremely formal.


Business emails should include an automatic signature with your company name and address, URL and telephone and/or fax number.

Check your spelling and you are ready to send your email.

Here are some examples:


Hi John,

It was great to bump into you the other day. I wish I’d had more time to chat and maybe go for a coffee.

I have some time off next week. Do you want to meet up for a coffee, dinner or drinks sometime?

Let me know.



Dear Mr. Smith,

I was very pleased to have met you again at the conference. I was disappointed that I did not have time available to discuss your company’s language training needs.

I am available for most of next week. If you would like to let me know a time that is convenient for you, I would like to meet you to discuss this.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Marc Jones


Time with prepositions

One thing a lot of people have problems with when describing time and action relationships is choosing the right preposition. Here is a quick guide.

on + date or day

I will arrive on 26th September.
Could you meet me on Thursday?

in + time period, such as seasons, times of day and months

Let’s meet in June.
Could you arrive early in the morning?
It’s very humid in Summer.

at + time

The meeting starts at noon.
Would you be able to get the train at seven o’clock?

no preposition with this ~ / tomorrow ~ / next ~ / today

Let’s meet this Friday.
I’m busy tomorrow.
What are you doing next week?
Do you have time to talk today?