Tag: verbs

Actions Really Do Speak Louder

Actions Really Do Speak Louder

“Actions speak louder than words.”

That’s a pretty well-known maxim. It’s right up there with “don’t spit in the wind” and “five dollar footlong” when it comes to familiarity.

For my non-native English speakers out there, that quote means that doing has more impact that speaking. But, I bring this up because there’s both an English and communication lesson in there.

The other day I was caught in traffic and running late to a client session. I texted him a heads up, and he replied back with:

“Safe driving”

I understood him, of course, and it’s a very easy fix: drive safe. In that correction we have good rule of thumb to follow. Focus more on the action (i.e. verbs) rather than the nouns.

Think about it conversationally:

  • Have fun
  • Be safe
  • Enjoy the movie
  • Have a good night

Too often, in the pursuit of trying to translate from one’s native language, there’s too much focus on finding the right descriptor or single word choice. Even if you find it, you’ll sound unnatural.

Here, you don’t need big vocabulary, and if need be you can always explain in more detail. That rings true in the professional world. When you have to talk about yourself in an interview, you can’t use fancy words to describe yourself. You’ll sound pompous and unrelatable. You can, however, simply state what you do:

  • X I’m very organized. –> I put all my files in alphabetical/chronological order
  • X I’m very creative. –> I prefer to make my own templates instead of…
  • X I’m a good communicator. –> When I’m at a social, I try to talk to as many people as possible.

Use those verbs, mmkay?

English Lesson: “May” vs “Might”

English Lesson: “May” vs “Might”

“What’s the difference between ‘may’ and ‘might’? I always get them confused.” – Jose

This is a great question that demonstrates a huge difference in conversational English and academic English. The simple answer is this: most people are never going to use “may”.

“May” is just too polite. Everyone would rather say “Can I borrow $10?” instead of “May I borrow $10?”– even though the later is technically more correct.

Now the question becomes, “How do I use the word ‘might’?” And here’s where it gets confusing because the idea of “might” is the same as “maybe”. Let’s look at it like this:

  • I may be telling the truth.
  • I might be telling the truth.

Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. Who knows? I might be! These verb forms mean the same thing. Just be careful not to confuse “maybe” with “may be”. One if a single word. The other is two words.

When can we use the single word “maybe”? In response to a question you’re not sure about.

  • Q: Do you think he’ll come?
  • A: Maybe.

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.