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The Three Things in English that You Absolutely Should Know

sorry

1)  English speakers don’t usually say just yes or no.

They say at the very least: “No, sorry,” or “Yes, okay.”

If you give a short answer, you’ll be considered rude or unfriendly.

In other languages it may be acceptable or even admired when you don’t use a lot of words, but not in English. If you can choose between a short answer and a long one, the long one will win you many more friends. That is because longer answers are simply perceived as more polite.

Here are some examples:

A Question: Are you coming to my party Friday night?

Short answer:

Sure.

Long answer:

Yes, I’d love to come. When does it start?

B Question: Would you like some more soup?

Short answer:

Okay.

Long answer:

Yes, please. This soup tastes great.

 

2)  English speakers say sorry a lot

Even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

For instance if you don’t understand a speaker because she uses all kinds of jargon or she speaks so softly that you need a hearing aid, still say: “Sorry, I couldn’t hear what you were saying.”

Or if you’re waiting in a queue and someone is pushing their way forward, still say: “Sorry, but I believe I was here before you.”

If you really have to go home now, you’d say: “Sorry, but I really have to go now.”

If you don’t agree with someone, say: “I’m afraid I disagree with you.”

You get the idea.

 

3)  You really must know how to use the verb tenses.

However, when you speak, they’re mostly shortened.

Like this:

You wouldn’t say “you will” but “you’ll.”

The same with the other pronouns: I’ll, she’ll, he’ll, we’ll, they’ll. It’ll is also shortened, although it’s a little harder to pronounce. You can also combine ‘ll with a name, such as Fred’ll.

The same with forms of “to be.” You probably know those already: I’m, you’re, she’s, he’s, it’s, we’re, they’re. You can also contract with a name: Marina’s (= Marina is).

“Have” and “has” are also contracted: I’ve, you’ve, he’s, she’s, it’s, we’ve, they’ve. Here as well, you can contract with a name: Fred’s (= Fred has).

It depends on the sentence how you understand he’s, she’s, and it’s. They may stand for he is, she is, and it is, or he has, she has, and it has.

And the last one shortening is with “would:” I’d, you’d, she’d, he’d, it’d, we’d, they’d. Shortening with a name doesn’t work with a name that ends in d, such as Fred’d. But you can say Marina’d.

Shortening with “had” sounds the same as with “would.” So again, we’re getting: I’d, you’d, she’d, he’d, it’d, we’d, they’d. It depends on the sentence how you interpret the “‘d:” it can be would or had.

To practise, try saying these contractions, first on their own and then in your sentences.

Exercise:

Make these answers politer and friendlier by making them longer:

1 Question: Can we meet tomorrow morning?

Short answer:

No, I can’t.

Long answer:

2 Question: How was your flight?

Short answer:

It was alright.

Long answer:

3 Question: Have you seen my work plan?

Short answer:

Yes.

Long answer:

Scroll down for some possible answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keys:

1 Question: Can we meet tomorrow morning?

Short answer:

No, I can’t.

Long answer:

Sorry, I have to finish my project first. Is Wednesday morning good for you?

2 Question: How was your flight?

Short answer:

It was alright.

Long answer:

It was smooth. I slept for most of it.

3 Question: Have you seen my work plan?

Short answer:

Yes.

Long answer:

Sure I have, but I’ve been too busy to get back to you. I’ll do that by tomorrow.

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