To understand feels good. Not being able to understand feels bad. And, being able to express you don’t understand is super important.
Having a variety of expressions is also helpful. Too often, non-native speakers will jump straight to “I don’t understand”. Depending on the context, straight and to the point can be best. Unfortunately, if you’re always too direct and basic, it makes your language comprehension skills seem lower than they are.
If you’re in the intermediate-advanced range, you should know different ways to dance around your unfamiliarity:
- I tried, but I still don’t get it.
- I’m not sure I follow.
- I think I might, but I’m not positive on what you mean.
Those kinds of phrases, while natural, are a bit harder to utilize.
It might be easier to use a substitute like “to wrap my head around” (to comprehend, to visualize, to understand fully/well).
Most of the time, you’ll use this phrase in the negative form:
- I hear you, but that’s so hard for me to wrap my head around.
- I can’t quite wrap my head around it.
My client, “T”, had heard about a problem patient. His colleagues said,
“This patient really gets worked up.”
What does “worked up” mean?
If you’re “getting worked up” over something, that means you’re irritated and on the way to being angry.
So could you just swap out the words? Sure.
Then, why would people use “worked up”? Remember, being a better speaker means you get to have a preference for which words you use. You can develop your own speaking style.
You would rarely use “worked up” for yourself. It’s much more common to use it to describe someone else.
“Wow, he’s really getting worked up over this meeting.”
In other words, you’re surprised that the meeting is bothering him so much.
Let’s took a look at some more nuances:
- I’m angry. (perfect English, but it just sounds too simple to be said)
- I’m really upset. (similar problem as above, but now it sounds even more formal; by sounding too “polite” it really won’t convey your feelings)
- This is pissing me off. (very casual, you’ll totally sound like a native speaker)
- This has me all worked up. (technically correct, but still sounds weird because it’s not common to use it for your own perspective)
- I know I shouldn’t be getting so worked up over this. (using your own perspective, but it’s downplaying the situation; sounds ok)
Don’t Confuse With:
There are a lot of phrasal verbs using “work” as its base, but many of them are positive in meaning.
work out – to exercise
“I try to work out three times a week.”
work out – to negotiate, to come to an understanding, to solve a problem/disagreement
“We managed to work things out.”
work up to – to gradually reach a point
“It’s rare to be hired as a CEO. You need to work your way up to that position.”
s8x0: Could you please explain how to use “point of you” in a sentence? I always hear it in debates.
So here’s the thing: “point of you” isn’t a common expression. There’s times you might see it in a sentence like this: I don’t see what’s the point of you going.
But in this case, the phrase to focus on is “what’s the point” (i.e. the reason, purpose). In that example, “you” could be swapped out for plenty of other subject markers.
- I don’t see what’s the point of her staying home.
- I don’t know the reason why she’s staying home.
- I don’t know the purpose of her staying home.
Small nuances in each sentence, but the interpretation will vary on the context. The bottom line is, for most English learners, you don’t need to learn how to use this sentence structure. You just need to be able to understand when a native speaker talks this way– and I don’t think it’ll be that often outside a movie or TV show.
Back to the matter at hand, s8xo is actually referring to “point of view”. Put simply, this is an opinion on a topic. That’s why it makes sense he would hear it often in a political debate. Debates are all about challenging the other person’s opinions, beliefs, and stances on issues.
Note: you’ll often use the preposition “from” with “point of view”:
- From my point of view,
- From her point of view,
- From his point of view,
- From your point of view,
- From their point of view,
What’s the big difference between using “from my point of view” and “in my opinion”? Nothing major really. In English, we have different words to emphasize certain senses. In this case, the emphasis is visual.
So when we respond to someone using visual-focused vocabulary, we might say:
- I see what you’re saying. = I understand.
- I don’t think we see eye to eye. = I disagree.
If you’re interested in learning more conversational English like this, connect with Jon to sign up for online private English coaching or face-to-face sessions in Boston. We’ll work on making you sound like a native speaker.
Don’t confuse nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Don’t try to change people’s minds with a “hard sell”. Let them come to the conclusion on their own.