Tag: speaking english

English Lesson: To Wrap My Head Around

English Lesson: To Wrap My Head Around

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.
Advertisements
English Lesson: “Too Much” vs “So Much”

English Lesson: “Too Much” vs “So Much”

Time for another round of “This is why you don’t sound like a native speaker.” This tip comes courtesy of my friend Jameson.

Do you know the difference between “too much” and “so much”? Often, I’ll hear people say something along the lines of “I like this too much”.

Unless they’re joking around, those people actually want to be using “so much”.

“So much” is the phrase we want to use to indicate “a lot”. For instance, I drink a lot of water everyday. We can then turn it into: I drink so much water everyday.

Here’s some more examples:

  • Jack spent so much money at the casino. = Jack spent a lot of money at the casino.
  • Lisa doesn’t talk to me so much. = Lisa doesn’t talk to me a lot.

“Too much” means an “excessive amount”. It’s probably easier to think of it like “too, too much”. Let’s say I drank way too much alcohol. That means I drank an excessive amount– far beyond my limit.

If I’m your server and I’m pouring your water, I should stop before the water overflows, right? If I’m not paying attention and the water spills over, then I’ve poured too much.

Of the two phrases, “too much” is going to be the better one to implement. For the times you want to use “so much”, saying “a lot” or “a bunch” will sound more natural.


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.

English Lesson: How to Use “Doubt”

English Lesson: How to Use “Doubt”

Remember, there’s a difference in vocabulary when you, yourself, express something and when you describe a situation. In this English video, here’s how that comes into play with the word “doubt”.

The word doubt means to not completely believe. Maybe you want to, but there’s some hesitation involved. Sometimes, the hesitation can be very strong, and you don’t believe something at all.

Let’s imagine that there’s a sale at your electronics store. Something that is normally expensive is marked down for a cheap price. We all like finding a good deal. However, if you saw an iPhone for only $20, would you believe that’s right? Probably not!

In this case, you’re doubtful. That’s the term to describe your attitude. But if you were going to speak out loud– actually expressing your thoughts– you’d say something like “A $20 iPhone? I doubt it!”

This is an issue of adjectives and verbs. Don’t confuse them. They really impact your fluency.

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.

English Lesson: Way

English Lesson: Way

When you’re first learning a language, you learn several stock phrases. I’m talking about the rudimentary basics like:

  • How are you?
  • My name is~
  • The weather is~

For all intents and purposes, these are “correct” uses of English. The big problem is that when you only use these kinds of basics, you’ll continue to sound like a beginner– no matter how advanced you become.

Remember, switch up “How are you?” to “How’s it going?”. In the future, I’ll be sure to show you how to change up the other two phrases as well. But for now, let’s focus on one word that’ll be good to avoid in conversation: “very”.

“Very” is… very easy to understand and use, and I guess that’s why people who learn English use it so often.

  • That test was very difficult.
  • The school is very far.

Again, not bad to use in either of those situations. However, I’d recommend you get accustomed to using some other (even more natural) expressions:

  • That test was really difficult.
  • The school is so far.

Then, if we wanted to really emphasize that point, how would we do it? Some people was say: “really, really difficult” or “very, very far”– and in both cases that’s okay. You’ll hear native speakers use that repetition too. But did you know you can also use the word “way”?

  • That test was way too difficult.
  • The school is way too far.

Be sure to include “way too X” in your speaking, and you’ll sound more natural!

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.