Be Specific – Don’t Try to Make a General Statement When Explaining Something in English!

By Robby

If you are new here please read this first.

Fluent English can ONLY be acquired by learning IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS – and that’s why I’m going to highlight them for you in RED!

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it!

Transcript Below:

Hello everybody and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog. It’s been a while guys since I recorded my last video for the simple reason that I’ve been really, really busy at work and I have to study on top of my daily duties at work as well so it’s really hectic lifestyle to say the least. And then when I’m coming home at night it’s quite late as well and then I have to do all the other stuff, prepare for the next day, pack my food, prepare my clothing, walk the dog, whatever, respond to my emails, right? You guys are asking a lot of questions on a daily basis!

So unfortunately my video recording days when I used to record at least one video a day or every few days are over. But it doesn’t mean that I’m stopping it altogether. Not at all. It’s quite the opposite actually, right? I’m actually enjoying this process immensely and for too many reasons. First of all, I love helping you guys. I love talking to my audience and obviously you love it, too. And secondly, it helps me improve my own spoken English, right? That’s the way it goes.

Anyhow, I’m having my morning coffee. Morning to you all! Cheers!

Huge Problem For Foreigners – Being General When Describing Something!

This time around it’s real coffee just to get my day kick-started, right? And today I wanted to talk about one problem that a lot of foreign English speakers have in common. Basically, when we are asked something or probably not just asked but when we want to explain something in English to the other person the first thing that we’re trying to do is we’re trying to explain it all in an abstract way.

So let’s say for argument’s sake you are asked about animal rights or something, right? Why I picked that topic about an animal? Because I have a cat lying right there next to me on the bed. So let’s say for argument’s sake you are asked what’s your stance on the whole animal rights issue or whatever.

And obviously that’s a very, very broad subject, right? So you might actually have like 20 different opinions on the certain aspects of the whole thing, right? But if you’re trying to grasp the whole thing at once and provide a prolific all-encompassing answer to that person it becomes mission impossible for the simple reason that it’s pretty much impossible even in your native language to manipulate with all those abstract concepts that might be popping up in your mind when it comes to the whole animal issue.

So what you need to do in order to handle such conversations is instead of being general, instead of trying to generalize stuff and provide an answer from a bigger perspective you’ve got to be very, very specific!

Be Very Specific Instead of Being General!

So specific is the key. Just pick one example, right? And it might sound like a bad idea on certain occasions. You may think “Hold on a second, Robby but if I’m asked a general question what good is it if I’m trying to tell that person a specific situation that I had or heard about or read about or whatever.”

Well, here’s the deal. That is actually the best way to illustrate a point and to get the message across, right? All too often people go on and on about some general things failing to focus on the specifics, right? So it’s not actually such a bad thing at all, quite the opposite. It’s the best way to communicate.

So if I were asked something, I would probably try and remember what my daughter told me because she’s big into the whole animal thing. She wants to be a vet, the other one wants to be an architect but one of my daughters wants to be a vet and she’s been helping in places like animal shelters, veterinary clinics and so on.

So I would have probably picked a specific situation that my daughter had that she told me about and that’s how the conversation would start developing. I would tell that particular instance and then my conversation partner would probably respond with something and that’s how the whole thing develops, right? And that’s a normal conversation.

Whereas if I were to try and use some sophisticated terms describing the fact that the animals have rights and then being abused and it’s important to set up and maintain and sponsor all these animal foundations and animal right organizations and what not and ensure that it happens at a government level, you know. You’re getting into very tricky area so to speak. And because you cannot talk about it confidently, you might in fact have a very vague understanding of the whole thing and you’re basically shooting yourself in the foot by trying to – it kind of ties in with the whole concept of not trying to speak using some sophisticated language, trying to sound too smart. Get down to earth, you know. Use simple language.

Don’t Be Afraid of Using Simple Language and Short Sentences!

And in this connection I want you to check out this article and there’s a video as well. Click on it, right? Click on the link, it will take you to the respective page on my blog “Speaking in Short Sentences? It’s Normal!” So it kind of ties in with the whole thing, right? There’s no need to try and speak in long sophisticated sentences because more often than not you will end up not being able to say anything. Whereas if you stick with using simple words, simple sentences it’s going to be much better for your fluency.

And the second one I want you to check out is planning your answer – click here:  “How to Answer Unexpected Questions?” And being specific is one of those points I’m making there in that article, right? So just a couple of refresher links. In case you haven’t read them at all it’s going to be all good for you. My friends, it is going to serve as an eye-opener for you, I promise, right? Because this is a big deal.

So many people and a lot of my former Fluency Star students had this issue as well. I would have a conversation and then that person is trying to say it all at once, kind of be very general and then use those abstract concepts. It’s very difficult. It’s a very, very gray area to wander in. So you’d be much better off just sticking with specific situations. If you have to think about it take your time 5-10 seconds. Use some hesitation phrases such as “Well, let me see… I have to think about it…. Hold on a second…” or something like that, right? Or even the typical sentence starters “Well, to be honest with you… If I think about it I can actually remember this particular situation.” Or something along those lines and that’s when you start talking about that specific situation, you know.

So The Bottom Line Is – Instead of Being General, Be Specific!

Even if sometimes it might sound like a bad idea, trust me, being specific is going to help you, it’s going to make your speech way more fluent, it’s going to organize your thought process and it’s going to serve as an ice breaker in different social situations. And that’s how the whole conversation develops. You know, you mention something specific and it leads to the next thing, to the next one, then the conversation partner responds with something.

And if you think about it, more often than not, casual conversations are about specific things. Obviously we would be sometimes mentioning some abstract or generic concepts or whatever but more often than not, just like I said people talk about specific stuff. So that is the key to your fluency my friends.

So thanks for watching this video. If you have any further questions obviously please feel free to post them in the comment section below. Thank you. Bye-bye!


P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System