Robby Kukurs

I’m Robby, and I’m a non-native English speaker. Throughout my entire life I’ve always wanted to speak in English fluently, but because of the way English is taught in schools, I always struggled with my spoken English.

I couldn't learn to speak fluent English for 5 years - read about what I was doing to learn to speak fluently HERE - are YOU in the same situation?

Then, one fine day, after years of constant pursuit of English fluency, I realized the key aspect of spoken English improvement – learning English phrases and word combinations instead of studying grammar rules and trying to construct sentences in your head from scratch!

If you’re interested in improving your English fluency too, please check out the English Harmony System which is a product I created to help all my fellow foreigners to better their spoken English and achieve so much more in professional, social and personal life.

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For those foreign English speakers whose English understanding, writing and grammar is already good but they're struggling with spoken English!

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Forget the English Grammar Tense Table Forever!

Here’s a very comprehensive English Grammar Tenses table with thorough explanations as to when each tense is used as well as sample sentences. All is nice and well, and you may print it out, carry with you, and learn it off by heart if you’re really passionate about your English tenses (by the way, it’s exactly what I did at the start of my 5 year long journey to English fluency!) As I said – all would be nice and well if not for a human being’s natural tendency to over-analyze and try to structure the knowledge when speaking which inevitably leads to English fluency problems. The moment you open your mouth, you’ll start wondering if the action you’re about to talk about is going to happen for sure or just MIGHT happen… Or maybe it’s going to happen over a certain period of time in which case you should be using Future II Progressive tense – “I will have been…” Basically the more you know about English tenses, the more confusing it may become, and in the end you’ll be constantly questioning and second-guessing yourself when trying to speak which is definitely something you DON’T want to happen because what good is your super-advanced English grammar knowledge if you can’t say a single sentence without hesitation and stopping to think about what tense to use? Moreover, there isn’t consensus even among English grammar professionals as to how many English tenses actually are out there! The more you read into it, the more confusing it will get. Just read this forum thread and you’ll realize that opinions differ so wildly that a normal human being can’t even wrap his or her head around it all! Some think there are only 2 tenses (which I personally thing is a total nonsense), and some extend the figure to 16, 24 or even 32 (which takes into account the existence of Passive Voice). So what do you do? Get totally bogged down on 32 tenses, learn all the conditions as to when exactly each of them is used, learn the respective sample sentences and then LOSE YOUR MIND when trying to speak with someone because of all the analysis happening in your brain while you’re speaking? NO! Instead, just FORGET the English Grammar tense table and approach the whole tense thing from a different angle!!! Forget the little used grammar constructs such as “I will have been speaking…” that aren’t used in real life English conversations. Forget the various Conditionals. And stop thinking about the merits of Past Perfect Progressive vs Past Perfect Simple. What I suggest you to do is this: (more…)

Watch This If You Have Total English Grammar Confusion!

Recently I got contacted by one of my blog readers and she told me that the more she thinks about the various English grammar tenses, the more confusing the whole thing gets… On a lot of occasions it seems that you can use a number of different Tenses, for instance – “I’m going to the movies tonight”, “I’ll go to the movies”, “I’ll be going to the movies” – so how do you know which one is right? And the more you analyze all this kind of stuff, the more confusing it gets and eventually you start feeling that you know nothing about English grammar! Now, watch this video above where I’m giving precious advice on how to approach such a state of mind, and if you’ve got any questions – don’t hesitate to publish them in the comments section below! Robby P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

This Exercise Will Help You Finally Master Those Annoying English Auxiliary Verbs!

Learning how to use auxiliary verbs in English (do, don’t, doesn’t, etc.) is one of the trickiest aspects of the language. It’s not at all intuitive and it’s only used in very particular contexts. Misusing an auxiliary verb is a costly error, yet even high-level English students tend to commit it. In a best case scenario, making such an error would expose you as a foreign speaker, which inherently invites judgment. In a worst case scenario, you could communicate something that is the complete opposite of what you’re trying to say. Fear not! Below is an exercise that will solve all of your auxiliary issues. And the best part about it is that all levels of English speakers from beginner all the way up to upper-intermediate can benefit from it. Here’s how it works. (more…)

Confusing English Grammar: “Roast” vs “Roasted” Chicken – Can We Use Verb Base Form as an Adjective?

Native English Speakers Won’t Use Perfect Future Tenses – And You Should Avoid Them Too!

Here’s how to improve your spoken English when reading this article: read it out loud, then read out loud the collocations highlighted in red 10 times each to memorize them, then look away from the monitor and try and say 3 sample sentences for each of those collocations! For best results record your speech so that you can go back, spot any mistakes you might have made, and then do some more spoken English practice by correcting yourself! If you’re a really diligent English student and you’re into the advanced English grammar stuff, chances are that you’ve learned about the Future Perfect Tenses at some stage and most likely you’ve been using them in your speech. Just to remind everyone what these Future Perfect Tenses are all about: I WILL HAVE finishED writing this article by the noon. I WILL HAVE BEEN livING in Ireland for 14 years this August. The first sample sentence represents the Future Perfect Tense which is formed by using WILL HAVE and the verb adopts the Past Participle form -ED, and the second one is the Future Perfect Progressive Tense where you have to use WILL HAVE BEEN and the verb changes to the Present Participle form -ING. So far, so good, right? Well, not really. In theory, this is how these grammar tenses are formed, and the English grammar book will tell you to use them in situations when you refer to a particular event or an ongoing action that’s going to be finished at some stage in the future. Except that these tenses aren’t actually used in real life! If you take a closer look at the previous paragraph where I’m describing the purpose of the Future Perfect Tenses, you’ll notice that I’m not actually using Future Perfect. I’m not saying – “… action that WILL HAVE BEEN finished..” Instead, I’m opting for something much simpler, something that most native English speakers would go for – “… action that’s GONNA BE finished…”! Now, am I saying that these Future Perfect Tenses are NEVER used? Am I saying that you shouldn’t bother with them AT ALL? Well… YES! That’s exactly what I’m getting at, my friend foreign English speaker! You should avoid using these Future Perfect Tenses at all costs because it will: Make your English speech sound unnatural, Confuse you when you’re speaking, Prevent you from fitting in with native English speakers! So, would you like to learn how to avoid using Future Perfect and what to use instead? Well, just keep reading this article, my friends, and I’m going to reveal my best-kept secrets to you! (more…)

How to Decide Which Tense and Which Verb Form to Use?

English Grammar is Like the HTML Code

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g21Sao6UT8

1,000,000 English Grammar Questions Answered by Robby

Download PDF version of this article HERE! Hi guys! ;-) In this article I’ve combined all the English grammar-related questions from your comments on my previous article where I asked you to ask me any grammar questions that have been bothering you lately. I’m going to answer all of your questions in an easy-to-understand manner so as to not make you even more confused. I mean – what’s the point in providing an answer if it’s even more confusing than the original question, right? So basically when answering the questions, I’m not going to start throwing a lot of grammar-related terms around. Instead, I’ll provide simple and commonly used examples of how this or that particular grammar construct is to be used correctly and then you can take my advice on board and start using it the same way. Remember – it’s by far easier to learn one or two ways of using a certain grammar rule than to try and apply that rule on your entire speech! If you try to do the latter, you’ll start analyzing your speech too much and that will inevitably lead to fluency issues. So, without a further ado, let’s cut to the chase and let me answer all of your questions, my dear blog readers! Needless to say – you’re welcome to ask more questions in the comments section below! :grin: (more…)

“Beat – Beat – Beaten”: Learn Irregular English Verbs Through Expressions!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dsvsomHg_c Hello my friends foreign English speakers! I’m back with another English irregular verb, and this time around it’s TO BEAT. As you know from my previous videos (if you don’t, please watch it HERE, it’s super-important!), you shouldn’t be learning English irregular verbs by repeating and memorizing word strings such as BEAT, BEAT, BEATEN (these are the respective Present, Past and Past Participle forms of the verb TO BEAT). Instead, you should learn each of those verb forms as part of a word combination and that way you’ll achieve all the following: You’ll avoid getting mixed up when using BEAT and BEATEN in real life; You’ll be able to use these irregular verb forms without much THINKING; You’ll INSTINCTIVELY feel when to use them – just like a native speaker! So, without a further ado, let’s look at the phrases containing the various forms of the irregular verb TO BEAT, and alternatively you can watch the video or listen to the podcast above to gain even more insight into using the following phrases: It BEATS me; I BEAT the traffic on the way to; BEATEN to death. (more…)

Using Short English Words AT, OF, A, THE in Conversations

Which is Better – Direct or Indirect Speech?

As you may already know, there are two main ways in the English language you can talk about what another person has said: DIRECT speech INDIRECT or the so-called reported speech Direct speech is a word-by-word account of what the person in question said. For example, if your friend asked you “Would you mind looking after my pets over the weekend?” and now you’re telling someone else what your friend had asked you using the direct speech, here’s how you’d say it: “Mark asked me “Would you mind looking after my pets over the weekend?” so I can’t really go out with you on a Saturday night, sorry!” As you can see, direct speech is very easy to incorporate into your own speech for the simple reason that YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHANGE ANY OF THE WORDS! You simply say it the way you heard it and I think it’s one of the biggest benefits of the direct speech – especially in situations when you find it a bit hard to speak in English and you hesitate and stumble upon words a lot. Indirect speech, on the other hand, requires a bit more thought put into it, and here’s an example: “My mom told me that my dad was going to take us to Disneyland the following summer, isn't that amazing?” Now, what I want you to pay attention to is the following: You HAVE TO CHANGE WORDS AROUND in indirect speech! The exact words used by mom were different; here’s what she said: “Dad IS going to take us to Disneyland NEXT summer!” – but when you REPORT what she said as part of indirect speech, it becomes “… dad WAS going to take us to Disneyland THE FOLLOWING summer…” It’s called BACKSHIFT and it simply means you have to change words around in indirect speech (verbs adopt Past Tense forms and words like “tomorrow” change to “the next day” etc.) if you begin the sentence with PAST TENSE – and more often than not, you will be using the Past Tense when reporting another person’s speech. After all, it was at some stage in the PAST when you heard the other person speak :!: So which one is more convenient for you as a foreign English speaker – direct or indirect speech? Keep reading this article to find out more about benefits and advantages of using both – DIRECT and INDIRECT speech when speaking in English with other people! ;-) (more…)

“Blow – blew – blown”: Learn Irregular English Verbs Through Expressions!

Don’t Learn Complicated English Tenses TOO Soon!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C3pRAX5T3M Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog - or welcome back to my podcast in case you're listening to this as an audio file on iTunes or on my blog. In today's video I'm going to tell you about English tenses, namely - what I think about them and how you should go about acquiring complicated English tenses. You see, I strongly believe that way too many foreign English speakers are focusing on English tenses too early in their attempts to acquire English fluency. I'm getting plenty of comments and emails sent in asking the same questions: "I'm all confused about the tenses. Please, Robby, explain how to use this or that English tense" and questions like, "I need to prepare for this English test or for this exam" and "can you help me to understand the complicated English tenses" and so on and so forth. Now, if it's about an exam or a test, then yes, I admit, the traditional English teaching industry requires you to analyze grammar, to understand tenses and it's a bad thing because that way you get all too focused on analyzing the language instead of speaking or writing spontaneously, right? My approach is, you have to start learning the English language and then proceed forward with learning simple language, simple sentences, simple word combinations, simple tenses. It's totally possible to speak using only three English tenses – Present Simple, Present Continuous, and Simple Past - and I know for a fact that a lot of YouTubers, video bloggers who come from the foreign English speaking background actually don't use complicated English tenses. (more…)

Use English Comparative and Superlative Adjectives Sparingly – Better Describe than Compare!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9JwdPhNlUc Here’s a couple of English adjective related problems even an advanced foreigner might run into when having a conversation with others. PROBLEM #1: Analyzing your speech from the grammar standpoint Let’s say for example, you want to describe something during a conversation, but your mind keeps going back to the tables in your English grammar textbook where irregular adjectives were listed. It may happen completely involuntarily, but it’s this traditional way of structuring adjectives according to their forms that makes you analyze the structure of a sentence instead of being fully engaged into the conversation. That in turn may result in all sorts of English fluency issues! PROBLEM #2: Limiting your means of expression You may be brilliant at describing and comparing objects, living creatures and people, but if you only stick with the traditional system – adjective – comparative adjective – superlative adjective – you’ll limit your spoken English development. For example, in a sentence “She’s really resourceful in the way she solves practical problems compared to her sister”… the word ‘resourceful’ isn’t a comparative form of some other adjective. If your mind is tuned to the standard way of using adjectives, however, you may find that you just can’t see past the standard way of using the same adjective you already described her sister with. Let’s say for example, you described her sister as not being practical, so if you go down the traditional adjective comparison road, you automatically may say – “she’s more practical than her sister”. Well, it’s not a bad thing in itself, but it’s just that on certain occasions it may limit your ability to speak freely and improvise. So how do you develop your ability to speak automatically and without analyzing too much if you’ve got to use this or that particular adjective form? WATCH THIS VIDEO WHICH EXPLAINS MY MISTAKE USING 'ADVERBS' INSTEAD OF 'ADJECTIVES' THROUGHOUT THE VIDEO ABOVE... SORRY! ;-)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuDsWq-LEN4   (more…)

The ONLY 3 English Grammar Rules You Need to Know to Speak Fluent English

Personally I stopped studying English Grammar the traditional way years ago. By now I’ve actually forgotten most of the grammar terms and rules I had hammered into my brain, and just as well – they only prevented me from speaking English fluently. Why? Simple enough – I used to spend way too much time analyzing my thoughts, applying Grammar rules and preparing my speech in my head. It was killing my English fluency, and it took me quite a while to figure out the simple truth – English collocations (phrases, idiomatic expressions, most commonly used sentences) already contain all necessary grammar in them! When I speak English now, I don’t think about grammar anywhere near as much as I used to. I just rely on my “gut feeling” and get fully involved in conversations. My intuition takes care of English Grammar! For instance, English preposition usage rules determine that you have to say “ON this occasion” but the word ‘situation’ goes with a preposition ‘in’ – “IN this situation”. Personally I don’t look at it as something that has to be constantly recalled during English conversations. I mean - once you learn the relevant collocations – “in this situation” and “on this occasion” – it sticks with you and you don’t have to consciously think which preposition to use every time you speak. Having said all this, however, I have to admit there are a few English Grammar rules I always bear in mind, and they’re just about the only ones you need to know on top of naturally occurring English phrases and collocations to form correct and fluent English speech. Of course, I’m not saying the ones below are the only English Grammar rules you’ll EVER need. But let me remind you that this blog is for advanced foreign English speakers therefore the main presumption is that you don’t have a problem with Basic English Grammar – it’s completely out of the question here! So, let’s look at the 3 English Grammar Rules that will help you to maintain your English fluency – especially on occasions when your English fluency experiences slight dips and you need to be a bit more careful when speaking. (more…)

3 Grammar Mistakes Which Are OK in Spoken English

Using Past Participles As Adjectives vs Passive Voice

It’s not my job to explain what English Passive Voice is all about, and how it’s constructed. After all, once you’re reading my blog, most likely you fall under the category of advanced English speakers, and you already know that Passive Voice is formed by using the verb ‘to be’ followed by Past Participle of the main verb - “A huge amount of money was stolen from our shop today”. Passive voice is used when the object is unknown or it’s irrelevant to know who’s behind the action; all emphasis is put on the action itself – “money was stolen”. The very same English Tenses are used in the Passive Voice as in the Active Voice – Simple Tenses and Perfect Tenses - and the usage of both Passive and Active Voices is governed by the same rules. So, “Someone seals up the box” and “The box is sealed up” (general statements) are equivalent expressions in the same way as “Someone has sealed up the box” and “The box has been sealed up” (describing a finished action) are. I noticed a long time ago, however, that in conversational English it’s not as straightforward as it may seem if you just look at the Passive and Active Tenses comparison table. I would hear quite often that the Simple Present form in the Passive Voice – “The letter is written” - is used instead of the Present Perfect one – “The letter has been written” - despite the fact that the proper way of expressing the completeness of the process would be by using the Present Perfect Tense… This phenomenon was bothering me for a long time because I used to translate from my native language when speaking English and on many occasions I just couldn’t decide which of the two options I should go for :mad: (more…)

Embedded Questions – When Reversing Word Order Isn’t Necessary

Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced English Grammar? Nonsense!

Much of that stress you experience when learning and improving your English could be alleviated if there were no different English grammar complexity levels, isn’t that right? Just think about it. The moment a foreigner decides to learn or improve English, his success hugely depends on his attitude towards the process. Depending on the perceived difficulty he can either achieve that long-desired English fluency or become completely unmotivated to improve if the end goal of being a fluent English speaker seems like an epic task. I believe that ANY process – be it English learning, or learning high level chemistry isn’t difficult as far as you fully understand what’s being discussed in the particular lesson or book’s chapter OR you can replicate the results without focusing too much on the details :!: Even rocket science is easy once you know what you’re doing! ;-) I believe the same goes with English grammar. Well, first of all, I don’t think English students should focus on grammar as much as the industry requires them to do in the first place. Grammar is nothing more than bunch or rules determining how words are arranged in a sentence and you can learn it all just by speaking mimicking native English speakers because spoken English already has all NATURAL grammar in it! But if you do incorporate certain amount of English grammar studies in your English improving routine, you may become overwhelmed by its complexity. All the grammar terms ranging from very easy ones such as a verb and a noun and ending with advanced high-end grammar stuff like conditional sentences and compound sentences will make you feel that there’s so much to acquire and that you need to spend long, long years learning all that stuff. And you’re right. If you want to become an English teacher and know all ABOUT English grammar, it will be a lengthy task indeed. If, on the other hand, you want to become a fluent English speaker, your perception suddenly changes. You don’t need to divide English grammar into beginners, intermediate and advanced because it will only inhibit your progress. Do you want to see a proof that there’s no easy and difficult English grammar? All right, no problems! (more…)

Forget About WILL Future Tense – Use Present Progressive Instead!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjB9AvqISbI Hello my friends, and Happy Christmas to everyone! :-) I’m back with another practical English grammar lesson, and today let’s look at how to talk about future in conversational English. Just to remind you what I'm teaching in Practical English Grammar – it’s conversational English and it’s not always 100% correct. Real life English is different from school books and text books, so I’m using my extensive experience as a foreign English speaker living in an English speaking country to help you speak more fluently. All right, so let’s look at how we speak about future events in English. The standard grammatical Future Tense in English is formed by using “WILL” followed by the verb's infinitive form. However, this is far from the full picture of how you can describe future in English. To be more precise, this is just one quarter of possibilities that the English language offers, and here are the other three ways how you can describe a future action: I’m going to come home, I’m coming home, I come home. Are you slightly confused? Are you thinking now – “Why is Robby giving examples of Present Progressive and Simple Present Tenses? They’re clearly used to describe actions taking place right now, in this very moment!” Well, you’re right, they are used for that purpose, but Present Progressive, for instance, can also be used to describe Future actions which have already been arranged and the very fact of the arrangement is kind of going on right now, does that make sense? If you say “I’m coming home tomorrow” you mean indeed that you are going to arrive back home tomorrow, but you have apparently decided at some stage that you’ll come home. So as far as English grammar is concerned, the progressive action is already taking place – since the moment you decided that you would come the action is kind of happening - only taking place tomorrow instead of now. (more…)

How To Speak About Past Events During English Conversations

“Don’t focus on studying English grammar – go for spoken English instead!” – this is one of the few phrases you can read on my blog nearly every time I publish something. Reasoning behind this statement is that if you learn to speak correctly, you’ll also learn English grammar along the way. You see – grammar is set of rules binding the words together and determining their place in a sentence. The more you learn English in a natural way, the more you’ll start developing the special “feel” for correct English grammar and you’ll instinctively know how a particular thing has to be said. Real life conversations can sometimes go against standard English grammar rules, and it’s important for you as a foreign English speaker to be aware of such exemptions :!: Not that you’re required to stuff your spoken English with slang phrases and pose as a native speaker! It’s just useful to know that sometimes you can ignore one or another grammar rule to make your speech easier and friendlier! In this video I'm discussing how native English speakers speak about past events during a conversation, and the respective choice of English Grammar Tenses. It can be quite confusing for a foreign English speaker to get the tenses right – especially when we start looking at the Perfect Tenses and such. So watch this video to see how you can make your life easier and also make your English speech sound more native! ;-) And of course, if the video playback is hampered for some reason – have a read of the video script below! (more…)

Is Past Perfect Tense Any Good For The Average English Speaker?

Using Perfect Simple And Passive Voice In Spoken English

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/0d2vKh7YwLA Hello everyone who watches my video blog – thanks for tuning in and finding time for watching my next video! I can assure you – your time won’t be wasted because today I’m going to highlight important aspects on using different English grammar tenses in live English conversations. First of all I want to give you an example. Here’s a simple phrase you’d use when you’d have finished doing something – I’ve done it. This is Present Perfect Simple – a grammar form to describe an action that has been finished at some time in the past but the actual time of its completion isn’t known. Well, so far it’s all fairly simple and understandable, and you shouldn’t have any difficulties with using a simple phrase like I’ve done it. But now let’s take it one step further and look at the same phrase only in Passive Voice this time. Just a quick reminder for those not sure what Passive Voice is – it’s a way of describing an event without mentioning who did it. (more…)

Future In The Past – Often Ignored But Very Useful!

Is English Difficult Or Easy To Learn?

Today I got to read an article written by an English teacher Locke McKenzie where he expresses quite an interesting view on difficulty of English language compared to other European languages – mainly German. The article was tweeted by Tim Ferris so I thought – must be something of value – and I spent some of my precious time :-) reading it. Basically Locke McKenzie is saying that even though initially it seems that learning English is child’s game compared to learning numerous verb conjugations, noun genders and absurd tenses in languages like Spanish, German and Polish, it’s not that simple at all… He describes his experience with German students in a classroom when trying to teach them which verbs are followed by gerund and which – by infinitive. For example – following English grammar rules the verb to enjoy is followed by gerund as in Locke’s example – I enjoy baking cookies. The students were asking him how they could know which words are followed by gerund on which he was forced to answer – there’s no rule… This, and also various English grammar tenses which were difficult for the German students to grasp, made the article’s author to conclude with the following words, I quote: We have a mongrel language that has taken on words and rules unnecessarily, adding bits and pieces of whatever we like until there is no sense of order at all. Our language is slowly dissolving into nonsense. Poets and creatives should be appalled. It isn’t good for anything but business and politics, the only sectors where the more cryptically you talk, the better your chances of striking a deal. With all due respect to the article’s author I really want to disagree. (more…)