Top 10 Quick Grammar Fixes to Sound Smarter in English

Want to learn how to sound more conversational, and have people think you know more English than you really do? You don’t have to know everything about English grammar, or memorize the dictionary so you can remember every vocabulary word you might need! No!

It can be as easy as making a few simple changes to your sentences. Your listener will think that you’re an expert English speaker! Here are 10 tips for sounding more fluent when you speak. You can make these changes today, for free! If you change the way you speak by following these tips, you’ll sound more fluent in no time.

Some may be more challenging than others, but I promise they will be quick and easy for you to start using right now. By using these tips, you may even find yourself speaking better than some native speakers! Be careful who you learn from, because many advanced learners and even some English teachers still make these mistakes.

At the end, I’ll give you a little quiz to see how well you remember what we’ve talked about.

The United States

When you talk about the United States, or the U.S., you always need the article “the.” There are a handful of countries that require the article “the,” and the United States is one of them. It doesn’t need to be capitalized, because it’s not officially part of the name of the country.

It’s summer in the U.S. right now.
The United States is south of Canada.

Wish or Hope?

Think of the situation, not the grammar rule. “Wish” is used to express a regret, and “hope” is used to express a desire in the future. For example:

I wish we could go to the beach on Saturday.
(a present or future hope that can’t happen, maybe because we are too busy)

I hope we can go to the beach on Saturday.
(a possibility that you want to happen if circumstances are good)

I wish we could have gone to the beach last Saturday.
(you didn’t go, in the past, and it is a regret)

Using the Contraction “I’ve”

In American English, we don’t use the contraction I’ve (I have) when “have” is the primary verb in the sentence, and is followed by a noun, the thing that you have. This contraction is used when “have” is a helping verb followed by a past participle. Here are some examples:

I’ve a great English lesson.
(wrong – instead, say “I have a great English lesson here.”)

I’ve prepared a great English lesson.
(We can use I’ve, because it’s followed by the past participle, prepared – the present perfect tense.)

I’ve the keys in my pocket.
(wrong – instead, say, “I have the keys in my pocket.”)

I’ve put the keys in my pocket.
(correct, have is the helping verb for the past participle “put.”)

Present Perfect and Time References

Don’t use a specific time with the present perfect, in the same sentence. Ever!

I’ve been to New York last summer. (wrong)
I’ve been to New York. (right)
I went to New York last summer. (if you need a time reference, use the simple past.)

Uncountable Nouns Don’t End With “S”

We say “homework,” not “homeworks,” and “advice,” not “advices.” If you want to talk about more than one piece of equipment, you can say “some equipment,” not “equipments.” Say “some information,” instead of “informations.”

I did some homework this weekend.
Do you have some advice for me?

Describing People with Adjectives

Use “-ed” to describe how you feel. Use “-ing” to describe other people.

I’m interested.
You’re interesting.
I’m inspired.
You’re inspiring.

Incorrect Word Order

Put adverbs that describe how you did something after the noun that talks about what you did. It might sound funny to you, but it sounds correct to us!

I have ready the report. (wrong)
I have the report ready. (correct)

He wrote correctly the answers. (wrong)
He wrote the answers correctly. (right)

Since and For

We usually use “since” and “for” with present perfect. Always use “since” with a specific time or date. Use “for” when you are talking about a length of time.

I’ve lived in the United States since 2010.
I’ve lived in the United States for ten years.

He’s eaten the same food since childhood.
He’s eaten the same food for many years.

Prepositions!

We know prepositions can be tricky, and unfortunately, there are many that you just have to memorize. Certain verbs require certain prepositions, and they may not really make sense. This is when you just have to practice reading and listening so that the prepositions begin to sound correct to you.

I’m married to Paul. (not “I’m married with Paul.”)
They arrived at the school. (not “They arrived to the school.”)

Wordiness

Simply put, don’t make your sentences long and complicated. This doesn’t always make you sound more fluent. In fact, it’s often the source of more confusion! Keep it simple for better fluency and clarity!

Quiz Time

Here’s a really short quiz – can you spot the mistakes?

  1. I have worked at Microsoft since five years.
  2. They’ve listened with that video five times.
  3. Mario ate quickly the spaghetti.

What do you think? Let’s look at the answers.

  1. Because we’re talking about a period of time, we need to use “for.”
    I have worked at Microsoft for five years.
  2. The verb “listen” needs the preposition “to.”
    They’ve listened to that video five times.
  3. When we use an adverb that describes how we did something, it needs to come after the noun we are talking about.
    Mario ate the spaghetti quickly.

If you make these quick fixes, you’ll surely be seen as a more advanced English speaker! Remember, fluency isn’t about having an accent or not! Fluency is simply being able to communicate successfully and to be understood. I really like this quote from Amy Chua – “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.”

I’d like to know how long you’ve been learning English! For how many years? Since what specific time? Share your answer in the comments below!

You can find lots more tips and lessons to improve your fluency in our complete course. Click here to find out more! Also check out this post about other mistakes even advanced English learners make, and discover more tips on how to improve your fluency. See you soon!

 

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