When learning a new language most people want to sound like a native speaker. A large part of sounding natural is pronunciation, but some is also about learning the culture of the language. There are some phrases that are never used in the English language, while some phrases are just not culturally appropriate. In the video below, Gabby covers five things that native English speakers never say.
Native English speakers never say “Can I practice my English with you?”
This is an example of a grammatically correct phrase, but English speakers would not ask this question as they are native speakers. To sound more like a native speaker, try “can I speak English with you?” or “can I talk to you?”. Even better, find something in common to discuss. Instead of focusing on just practicing your English, think about creating meaningful conversations. Creating meaningful conversations will feel real, natural, and authentic and the result is that you will be relaxed, excited and more determined to make the conversation be understood.
Native English speakers never say “I am fine, thank you”
Unless they are not fine. If you are feeling not fine, like bored or maybe even a tiny bit annoyed or even mad at someone, then please do use the word fine. So much of the meaning behind the word “fine!” will be in how you say it, and the emotion you push it forward with. But if you are feeling fine (meaning: feeling good or content), native English speakers would say instead “I am good” or “I am great, thanks!”.
Native English speakers never say obvious things about people (unless it is positive)
In North America, it is not polite to say something negative that you notice about someone to them. A native English speaker would not say “you look tired”. Nor would they say “you have a lot of pimples on your face” or “you do not look good”. Any negative observations would be held back, even with a best friend. Instead, native English speakers are subtle about negative comments. If you feel you want to say something to your friend, try asking “I am worried about you, have you been working too hard?”. It is acceptable to say positive observations like “You got your haircut, it looks so cute short!”.
Native English speakers never say “Are you married?”
In North America we don’t ask personal questions like “are you married?” right away when we meet someone. When you do, people may feel you are being too bold. If you are really curious, you might ask in an indirect way like “did you travel here with your husband?”, or “Would your wife would like to join us for dinner?”. Otherwise, just be patient and wait until that person lets you know.
Native English speakers never ask about money
In North America, asking someone about their money is also considered too personal. For example, asking “how much did you pay for your house?” or “how much do you get paid per hour at work?”. Asking about money is not appropriate for small talk when you first meet someone. Money questions are best left until after you know someone really well, and while engaged in a conversation where both parties are comfortable talking about it. If you are needing information, try asking in a subtle way “if you don’t mind me asking, how much would rent normally cost in an apartment this size?”.
Watch your Teacher Gabby explain five things native English speakers never say in the video below!
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