English Fluency Monitoring & Management
If you’re anything serious about improving your spoken English - and I bet you are otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my blog! – your English fluency is inevitably experiencing growth over time, it just can’t be otherwise. Regardless of all ups and downs you may encounter while having conversations with other English speakers, your English fluency trend is always going up – even if you don’t notice it! Of course, your fluency trend may be steeper than that of someone else’s, and it’s only natural because not all foreigners are getting the same amount of passive and active English immersion. And it’s actually totally understandable because everyone has their own fluency requirements depending on how much they use the English language in everyday life. For many of us, foreigners, practical life determines if we’re going to develop our English fluency at a fast pace or stay on a plateau for years. Anyway, today’s article is about your English fluency management and it’s especially relevant to those who experience sharp drops in fluency resulting in the infamous English fluency issue. Getting tongue-tied and stopping in a middle of a sentence, getting a feeling as if your head is stuffed full with thousands of English words and you know EXACTLY what you want to say but you’re unable to say anything, making stupid mistakes… These are the typical symptoms of the English fluency issue and what’s really baffling is the fact that we, foreigners, often experience such terrible moments right after having been absolutely fluent. We’re hitting the heights of our English fluency graphs, our confidence is very high, we’re achieving a near-native level of spoken English, and then suddenly we experience a downturn in our ability to express ourselves! It may even become so bad that on certain situations we find it hard to say anything at all, and it can be very, very distressing indeed… So how do you manage these peaks of your English fluency trend? How do you prevent the drops from being so sharp? To find answers to these questions, please read the rest of today’s blog post! (more…)
Want To Seriously Improve Your Spoken English? Find a Hobby For Yourself!
Confidence Lesson From Kristen Stewart For All Foreign English Speakers
5 Ways of Passive English Immersion
Recently I wrote an article about 4 Ways of Active English Immersion which included thinking, counting and also speaking with yourself in English – mad stuff altogether! But in order to achieve complete English fluency you should be prepared to resort to unconventional methods, and I really suggest you put my advice to good use if you want to see your spoken English come along. Let’s face the truth, however – you can’t possibly speak English ALL THE TIME. There will be times when you just lie down on a couch to relax after a hard day’s work when all you want to do is enjoy a movie or your favorite TV show, or have a read… As you might have already guessed, today’s blog post is about passive English immersion. It’s when you don’t get actively involved in the process through speaking but you soak up the information by listening, watching and reading. Before we look at the ways you can achieve passive English immersion, here’s another nugget of information for you. It’s been widely claimed that the first stage of any language acquisition is mostly listening and only then comes the speaking phase. Parallels are drawn between studying English and how small children learn their first language. Apparently the child doesn’t know how to speak and he only listens to adults and then starts to replicate sounds, words, and sentences. The proponents of this theory conclude that adult language learners should replicate this language acquisition model because it’s obviously the most natural one, isn’t it? This notion has become so common that many English teachers will even tell you to focus predominantly on listening and reading in order to prepare yourself for the next stage which is speaking… My dear foreign English speakers! It’s the biggest load of crap you’ll ever come across when it comes to learning and improving the English language! The simple truth is – and you can read my life story here - that you just won’t become a fluent English speaker no matter how much time you spend on reading and listening. Passive English immersion is great combined with active immersion and the priority ALWAYS goes to the latter one :!: It’s your MOUTH that you speak with, not your eyes or your ears, and I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to get it? If you spend most of your time listening and reading, you’ll develop huge passive vocabulary (words you RECOGNIZE but struggle using in real life conversations). If you spend most of your time speaking, on the other hand, you’ll develop your ability to speak, and it should be the top priority to any foreign English speaker. So – use the following passive English immersion methods in between your active immersion activities, and you will see your English improve in no time! (more…)
4 Ways of Active English Immersion for Foreign English Speakers
As I wrote in the previous blog post, the usage of the English language is limited to certain times and locations for most foreign English speakers. You use your native language in your family and with your native speaking friends, but you speak English at work, when dealing with official institutions and speaking with other English speakers. If you’re committed enough to improving your English fluency, however, there are many ways to immerse yourself in English even when you’re outside of your typical situations when you’d be using the English language. In particular, it’s relevant to those not getting enough exposure to live English and not getting enough opportunities to speak with other English speakers. So here’s the countdown of 4 most effective ways of active English immersion – if you combine them all you can essentially create your own unique English speaking environment! Personally I use all these methods to maintain my English fluency at a high level so you can take my word for it! (more…)
Speaking English in Unfamiliar Settings: Why You’re Ashamed of Speaking With Your Friends in English
Shortcut to Complete English Fluency – Learn How to Produce Instant English Speech
Whether you’re a Chinese exchange student heading off to do some studying in Massachusetts, a Russian construction worker getting on a plane having secured a contract in Australia or just another Latvian like myself coming to Ireland to try out luck in finding a job to save up some money – we all have one thing in common. Namely – we haven’t had much experience with speaking English in everyday situations. We may have been academically tutored at quite high standards yet our capability to start and maintain a simple conversation may be limited simply because it’s not normally taught in schools. By far the biggest problem is that you don’t have much time to consider what you’re going to say. When you’re having a conversation, you’re quite naturally expected to answer questions or make your point within a short period of time – and it will prove difficult for many foreign English speakers. Many of us will be more comfortable writing than speaking and it’s quite understandable – when you write you have all the time in the world to plan exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. You can construct grammatically perfect sentences, edit them if need be, and take your time finding the best fitting words to convey the message. It’s a different story altogether when you speak – you have to say what’s on your mind and for some it may present a serious challenge because their mind just goes blank. It’s the so-called information overload when your mind is attempting to process way too much information because all you keep thinking is what grammar tense to use, what are the best fitting words for the given situation, how to say it correctly so that you don’t make a mistake… The key aspects of fluent English speech is the ability to think in English and speak using plenty of collocations and idiomatic expressions; it enables you to speak automatically because nearly every word you say will trigger the next one. It’s the best place to be because you don’t even have to think about what you say – you can just speak as if you’re speaking in your native language. Anyway – this article is about how to use a certain shortcut in situations when your fluency is hindered and you’re desperate to get the message across successfully. So here we go! (more…)
What’s The Worst That Could Happen If You Make a Mistake When Speaking in English
How to Sell Your English Skills and Put On a Show Every Time You Speak
Everybody is a salesperson – even if you’re not aware of it. If you’re looking for a new job, you’re going to attend quite a few job interviews trying to do your best to sell your skill set and experience. When you’re meeting a potential partner you’re automatically putting on a performance to show yourself off – you’re essentially selling yourself just like any professional marketer would sell a product or a service. By concealing the downsides and emphasizing the advantages you’re increasing your chances of having the edge over your rivals, right? Same goes with nearly every other aspect of your life whenever you’re doing something that may possibly work to your benefit. When you’re cooking for your family – you’re selling your cooking skills. When you’re being professional and nice to a customer on the phone – you’re selling your customer service skills in order to remain in high estimation among the management of your company and earn promotion in the future. But here’s the thing – and every good marketer is going to confirm this – it’s very important HOW you sell it; you will outdo your competition 9 times out of 10 even if what you sell isn’t as good as your competitor’s! You may not be a professional cook, yet if you’ve served the food nicely and used enough spices, it may be just as tasty as what your partner cooks. “OK, I get it Robbie, but what it’s got to do with the English language? Your blog is about dealing with spoken English issues but you keep ranting about sales and marketing related stuff!” Fair enough, I understand your impatience; however, I didn’t come up with these sales and marketing related examples out of thin air. There is a very direct connection between being a good marketer and a foreign English speaker. Namely, you have to SELL YOURSELF as an English speaker :!: (more…)
Shocking: Native English Speakers Don’t Always Spot Your Mistakes!
3 Grammar Mistakes Which Are OK in Spoken English
Do You Really Suck At Speaking English?
I’ve received countless e-mails saying basically the same thing – “Robby, I’m a useless English speaker, when I try to speak with other English speakers – especially native ones – I get very nervous. I’m struggling to say the right words and I hesitate a lot when speaking…” Well… Maybe you’re right… to a point. You’re useless as far as you believe you are, and the more you convince yourself of it, the deeper the conviction gets ingrained into your mind. It’s the so called self-fulfilling prophecy when something happens just because you believe it will happen :!: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should turn a blind eye to the problem and just ignore it. While ignorance may be bliss on some occasions – such as ignoring strangers’ opinion of your level of English simply because they can’t possibly know how well you speak just because you’ve made a mistake when speaking with them – you still have to deal with your emotional and mental issues preventing you from fully enjoying English conversations. So what I’m saying is – even though the issue is there, you have to change the way you view it. You have to analyze the nature of the issue, make conclusions and see if you really are as useless as you think. Subsequently, you should come to realize that the issue isn’t as bad as you believe it is, and that conclusion in turn should make you into a more confident English speaker. Essentially it’s the same self-fulfilling prophecy – only now you have to get it to work to your favor! Now, are you ready to turn your assumption that you suck at speaking English on its head? (more…)
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…)
3 Things ANY Foreigner Can Implement To Boost Their English Communication Skills!
Useful Tips on Improving Your English Using Google
In the previous article about using Google as an English improving tool I looked at the basics of Google Search suggestions. I brought up a good number of examples on how Google immediately displays the most relevant contextual suggestions for your search term if you want to figure out in what context the particular English word is used. Unfortunately, we also concluded that on many occasions Google won’t show you the most relevant collocations when you type in a certain word. The reason behind that is simple enough – Google isn’t used only by linguists, of course; billions of searches are performed every day based on popular trends and news, and it all affects the search suggestions. Not all is that bad, however, if you know certain ways and techniques to get the best out of what Google offers! Here’s my take on the whole Google search thing (find more phrases with the word ‘thing’ here) – if you have to find out meaning of a new English word and see how it’s used in context, use the best English dictionary websites to look them up. Sites like Dictionary.com and TheFreeDictionary.com will display sample sentences along with a very detailed explanation for the word you’re looking up, and you’ll be also given a bunch of synonyms and antonyms to help you understand all connotations of your search term. On the other hand, on occasions when you DO have an idea of what a particular word might mean and how it might be used, but you’re not 100% sure of what collocations and idioms are there containing that word, or if you’re unsure of correctness of a particular phrase – Google is the quickest and handiest tool for the purpose! OK, I won’t keep you waiting for any longer, my friends, so I’ll cut the rant short and let’s get down to business! (more…)
2 Dictionary Websites You’ll Ever Need To Improve Your English
How To Hesitate Like A Native English Speaker
You may like it or not, but every English speaker – be it native or foreign – is bound to hesitate at some stage during a conversation. While excessive hesitation is a sure sign of an English fluency issue whereby you constantly keep mixing up things in your head while speaking, in moderate amounts it doesn’t indicate any serious fluency problems. It’s just normal that you would pause a little bit when you’re not sure on how to put it in the right words – and I’m not talking about you being unable to choose the right English words here. I’m talking about situations when you’re asked some question that you can’t give a straightforward answer to; or situations when you’re a bit tired or just can’t seem to be able to gather thoughts for some reason. It can also happen when you speak in your native language, so you don’t have to feel as if you’re unable to communicate in English properly just because your brain doesn’t fire on all cylinders on this particular day. Some will probably judge your spoken English skills by those occasions when you hesitate a little bit, but you shouldn’t really mind them or else you risk putting your sanity on the line :!: Anyway, there is something that any foreign English speaker should know about hesitation if they want to sound natural, so read on if you want to find out how to hesitate like a native English speaker! ;-) (more…)
Can You Speak Fluent English Without Learning Idioms?
Get the FREE eBook “How To Stop Struggling With English Writing”!
How to Give Weight to Your Opinion? Use Smart English Phrases!
I’ve blogged extensively about the importance of being able to conduct English small-talk and get involved in simple, everyday chats with other English speakers as opposed to trying to sound smart using sophisticated expressions because there’s always a chance you’ll get tongue-tied. Also I’ve stressed how important it is not to lose your head when you can’t remember a certain word or a phrase in English but paraphrase instead. Let’s say for instance, you’re having a chat with your friend and you’re trying to explain that you weren’t aware of a particular fact, but then it slowly became obvious to you. The phrase you’re trying to remember is “it dawned on me” – which means that you started to realize the truth. But if you can’t remember the exact word ‘dawned’, there are still dozens of ways to convey the same message – “I suddenly realized”, “and then I got it”, “I started to understand” etc. While it’s important not to get too hung up on using the exact same phrase you can’t remember – or else you risk constantly getting stuck in the middle of conversations! – it’s also important not to ignore specific English phrases or so called idiomatic expressions that might just help you make your point more effectively and also would help you sound more like a native English speaker. Just imagine that you’re watching news and they’re showing the latest developments in the world which unfortunately way too often involve natural and man-made disasters, atrocious crimes and other bad news that normally make the headlines. You’re watching the news with a couple of your friends, and halfway through the news your own worries and problems that were so pressing a mere ten minutes ago, all of a sudden seem to have become ridiculously unimportant. Compared to what people are going through in North Africa and Middle East at the moment, your life is actually a walk in the park! Now, you can express your feelings to your other family members in a couple of sentences just like I did in the paragraph above, OR… you can use a single phrase – “Yes, it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?” That’s the beauty of such and similar English phrases – they allow you to express your feelings in a single phrase! Moreover – they can be used in many different situations so a handful of smart English phrases can indeed help you explain yourself like a native English speaker! But now I’m going to give you some more examples of smart English phrases so that you can clearly see the importance of learning them. (more…)
Embedded Questions – When Reversing Word Order Isn’t Necessary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMEMmNpmc84 Today we’re going to look at a very simple yet often ignored English grammar feature which affects the word order in interrogative sentences, otherwise known as questions - and it's called embedded questions. As we all know, in a question the word order changes, and regardless of what word the sentence begins with – whether it’s an auxiliary verb such as ‘to do’ or one of those ‘wh’ words like ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘when’, or ‘who’ followed by an auxiliary verb – the word order in a question is the following – auxiliary verb followed by the subject and then followed by the main verb in infinitive and then followed by other words. So a statement “You broke the law by trying to help me” becomes “Did you break the law by trying to help me?” when words are re-arranged in a question form. Of course, it’s all common sense, and you’ve probably started wandering why I’m talking about something so simple in this practical English grammar lesson. Well, don’t be so rash, my friends, for here comes the tricky part! (more…)
How to Decide What New English Words to Learn?
3 Ways of Hard-wiring Unnatural English Collocations into Your Brain
When fluent English speakers speak, they don’t stick separate words together. Every word they pronounce automatically triggers the next one; the whole sentence is rather a chain of words linked together. Let’s say, for example, you’re asked a question “Would you like to come along to a party on Saturday night?” Most likely your response would begin with words “Thanks for…” and then you’d follow it by either “…asking” or “…inviting”, and come to think of it, when you pronounce the first words “thanks for…” the rest of the phrase kind of comes out of your mouth by itself, doesn’t it? That’s a typical example of collocating English words – they would normally go together in spoken and also written English, and foreign English speakers find it much easier to speak if their vocabulary has been built based on collocations as opposed to memorizing separate words. Well, the aforementioned phrase was a very simple response, and most likely you’d be able to respond using such a simple phrase even if you didn’t memorize it as a single unit of spoken language. Yet I’d say you picked it up by mimicking other English speakers because you surely must have heard someone say “Thanks for asking” or “Thanks for inviting” and that’s why the phrase got imprinted into your mind. Of course, by listening alone you won’t become fluent, you need to speak to add new phrases to your active English vocabulary, but I can’t deny that it does work to some extent. Anyway, when the wrong methods are used and wrong associations between English words are established, you may unwillingly create unnatural collocations. They manifest themselves in the following way – you start speaking by saying a word or two, but instead of continuing with a word that logically complements the phrase, you say something completely unrelated, something out of context, so to speak. OR, such out-of-place words may start pushing themselves into your mind even before you speak, and you may get a feeling as if someone else has taken control of your mind. Freaky? That’s how I used to feel and that’s how many other foreign English speakers feel if they use the wrong English learning methods. But now I’m going to list the worst of them so that you can avoid them like the plague! (more…)
4 Reasons Why Any Foreign English Speaker Should Read English Fiction
5 Ways of Learning Natural English Collocations and Creating Useful Vocabulary Associations
I’ve been blogging extensively about creating wrong associations in your mind between English words and also English vocabulary and your native language. This time let’s look at how to create natural collocations so that you wouldn’t blame me for focusing only on the negative! Learning new English vocabulary in context is very important because if you come to think of it, the smallest language unit is a phrase as opposed to a word. Learning separate words is so old-school; if you really want to be fluent you need to feel instinctively how things are said in English naturally and in what context certain words are used. If you translate directly from your native language when speaking in English, most of the unique characteristics of the English language will be lost on you – starting with English idioms and ending with specific terms – and that’s why contextual English learning is so important. (more…)
Information Overload: How To Stop Thinking TOO MUCH When Speaking English!
Is Google Any Good For Improving Your Spoken English?
The Single Biggest Culprit Causing Foreigners’ Speech Anxiety
I’ve published loads of articles in the past dealing with English speakers’ confidence issues, but I’m resolute to drive it home this time. I was browsing the Web last night and started reading different language learning articles and related comments, and after reading a particularly heated clash of opinions I suddenly realized WHY so many foreign English speakers and indeed – learners and improvers of ANY LANGUAGE - are intimidated and may potentially develop a phobia of speaking their target language. Not that I didn’t know it prior to that, it’s just that for some reason it became so clear to me last night... So here you go – it’s the academically minded foreign language speakers (and sometimes also native speakers) who feel superior to ANYONE who can’t speak at their level that make others feel that they’re useless as foreign language speakers :!: :mad: (more…)
Unnatural Collocations and Wrong Mental Associations
I've highlighted the importance of learning English collocations in many of my previous blog posts; this time let’s look at what happens if you create wrong associations in your mind between words in English as well as in your own language. If it doesn’t sound believable, just think of such quite a realistic situation. An ESL student is learning how to conjugate the verb ‘to be’ so he’s reciting the string of words “I am, you are, he, she, it is, we are, you are, they are…” in order to memorize the personal pronouns with the respective form of the verb ‘to be’. Now, when the student has repeated the aforementioned sequence of words for a good number of times, it imprints itself into his mind, and the desired effect has been achieved. Of course, for those words to stick with the student permanently, he needs to go back to them the next day, and then after a few more days – that’s the basic principle of spaced repetition. Anyway, the job is done, and the English student is now capable of using the verb ‘to be’ in real life conversations, isn’t that right? All right, fair enough! But now let’s try to remember how many times you’ve heard a foreign English speaker mix up the two personal pronouns – ‘he’ and ‘she’ – when speaking? I would say it happens quite often, and by the way – haven’t you made the same mistake at some stage during a quick chat in English? I have, and I have my own theory on why it happens. It’s all because wrong association has been created between the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ when repeating the words “… he, she, it is…” :!: You’re training your mouth to pronounce those two words together in one phrase and later on even years after you were just a beginner English learner, you may catch yourself saying things like “You know, I haven’t seen her before. He… sorry, she… hmm… she is Jennifer’s sister and is going to work here for the next half year while Jen is away.” Had there been a strong separate connection created between words ‘she is and ‘he is’ followed by a contextual example or an abstract image of a male and female, you wouldn’t be making such mistakes. Your subconscious mind would be used to describing activities where females are involved as “she is…”, so I’ll say it once again – it’s all about unnatural collocations, and I have loads of advice in store for you on how to avoid creating wrong associations in your mind! Did it pique your interest? Then read on! (more…)
Moving to an English Speaking Country is Like Recovering Eyesight
Mad Stuff – Speaking With Hard Foreign Accent to Facilitate English Fluency
When I started EnglishHarmony.com back in 2007, the English Harmony System wasn't there yet. Instead I was offering an eBook to my website visitors explaining the English fluency issue and how to deal with it. Among such methods as elimination of translation and slowing down the speech, I was focusing on something more radical in the eBook. Namely, speaking with your native accent. I know it sounds really strange, and I can understand if you’re somewhat reserved when hearing that in order to get your English speech back on track, you need to do away with proper English pronunciation and start speaking using your native language pronunciation instead. Yet there’s great wisdom concealed within such a technique, and I suggest you keep reading this article if you also experience unexplainable drops in English fluency every now and then! (more…)
Why Thursdays are My BEST English Fluency Days
Top 15 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Foreigners Settling Down in an English Speaking Country
1. Be realistic about the level of interest in your national background by others. Be proud of your origins, but don’t be obsessed with telling every single person you meet about your country, your nationality, how “How are you” sounds in your native language, the name of your president, your favorite national soccer team… People will listen to you just to be polite, but don’t forget that for someone living in an English speaking country like the US, Australia or the UK, the name of your country might not ring any bells at all! Personally I quite like it when people don’t ask questions about my origins right off the bat and I’ve realized by now that whenever they DO ask that question “Where are you from?” right after you introduce yourself, it’s just small-talk really. So I think we foreigners should be realistic about the interest of locals in our culture and we shouldn’t be too enthusiastic! In my current job, for instance, I got two know two girls a couple of weeks ago and they didn’t seem to notice the fact that I was a foreigner. Not that they couldn’t tell it, but our conversations never went that far. Only recently they showed interest in my background, so I think it’s natural to speak about those topics when you get to know someone better rather than boasting to everyone how cool your country is! Many years ago I used to work with a bunch of Romanian lads, and believe me – there was nothing more annoying than listening to hours long stories of their home country and how great life was back there, and how miserable their situation is in Ireland… For Christ’s sake, will you get a grip on yourselves?!? Don’t take me wrong – I’m not saying there’s something wrong with being proud of your nationality, not at all! My point is – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and maybe you’ll realize the conversation is boring for your conversation partner. IMPORTANT! -> Why I'm highlighting parts of text in RED? 2. Stop spotting mistakes in native English speakers’ conversations and pointing them out to others. There is no such thing as correct English! English is spoken differently in many countries and regions so don’t be the perfectionist telling everyone how awful locals speak, and how grammatically wrong some of the most commonly used local phrases are. Oxford English and real English are hundreds of miles apart, and you’ll be more practical by learning spoken English as it’s spoken in the country you live in than spotting mistakes and pointing out that according to proper English standards this or that particular thing doesn’t sound right. I can tell you one thing I’ve heard quite often in the local Latvian community when we’ve touched the topic of English learning and improving – “Irish themselves don’t speak correct English!” I think it’s rather a handy excuse not to improve one’s English (if the locals don’t speak correctly, how they can accuse me of speaking wrong?), or just trying to show off one’s academic English knowledge which actually has much smaller practical application when going about the daily life. We, foreigners, should realize one thing – theoretical correctness has little importance in dealing with real life situations. So don’t be the perfectionist by keeping saying “Has it been done?” if you hear everyone else around you using a much simpler colloquial phrase “Is it done?” Also it’s important to understand that native English speakers don’t make mistakes because they lack spoken English skills. Their mistakes are “natural”, and we can’t use it as an excuse not to improve our English! (more…)
Learn English Irregular Verbs Through Collocations, Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
4 Things Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell YOU!
You Can Say Nearly Everything Using the Word “THING”!
We foreign English speakers often speak too complicated. Why go the extra mile every time you want to say something and explain the whole situation in the very detail? Compare the two sentences “So what do you think about our management trying to recoup some of the lost profits by cutting our wages?” and “So what do you think about the whole wage cuts thing?” The first sentence details the topic you’re discussing; the second one gets straight to the matter without wasting much time on explaining what’s already known to both people involved in the conversation. Also, it sounds more friendly and casual, and you can definitely ease any tension that’s present between you and the person you’re taking to :!: Say for instance, you find yourself sharing a launch break with someone you haven’t spoken a lot with, so you’re a bit uncomfortable with that person. Then he or she makes a casual comment about something going on in the company, it’s just small talk really. Now, if you respond with “Yes, the whole thing looks pretty bad all right!” it’s going to sound much better than “Yes, I agree, there’s not enough resources available to our management to complete the new building”. The first phrase is a very common way of confirming the other person’s opinion and sounds friendly enough. You really don’t need to repeat what the other person said to you, so a short phrase “The whole thing about…” is totally OK as a reply. Of course, if you’re having a formal conversation you wouldn’t risk being taken for a person with bad manners, so you would probably explain everything in more detail. If you’re chatting with a friend of yours, on the other hand, why beat around the bush? It’s so much more convenient to use the amazing English word “THING” to describe nearly everything you want! (more…)