Questions about spoken English.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

1
vote
2answers
433 views

Usage of 'on the brink of'

(Talking about a chimp): "In human age, he would have been on the brink of puberty." I was told that this sentence is odd because 'be on the brink of' is usually used for something negative: ...
-5
votes
1answer
534 views

Do people with a lisp write in the same way they pronounce?

Just curious to know whether people having a lisp (speech defect) write in the same way as they pronounce the word. For example they pronounce s as /θ/ and z as /θ/. So, do they write 's' as 'th' like ...
1
vote
6answers
2k views

Polite/professional alternative to 'It turns out'

I have been tasked with coming up with a nicer phrase to use than 'It turns out'. It is to be used in situations like the below: 'It turns out' that we cannot... 'It turns out' that we ...
0
votes
2answers
127 views

Usage of the article 'a' before bait in this particular instance

Is it acceptable to use the article 'a' before 'bait' in this sentence? Is there a difference in meaning here when you use 'a' or drop it? "You would not have sent it to me for no reason. It was a ...
-1
votes
1answer
78 views

Using 'show' with 'treatment'

Is it proper to say 'show special treatment' for example in "He showed him special treatment."? I know it sounds more natural to say, "He took a special interest in him because of his background." ...
0
votes
2answers
194 views

Is the phrase “breed of men” weird or just different?

Forgive me for asking two questions in a single post, but I think it would make more sense to post them together. So please indulge me. Sentence: He is not unique. We should be able to discover such ...
0
votes
2answers
455 views

How can you encourage native speakers to correct mistakes non-native speakers make? [closed]

My English is pretty advanced, yet I still make mistakes (not many, but some). I am constantly talking to native speakers and always tell them to correct my mistakes. My problem is that in most ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

“See you all” or “see you everyone”

When leaving from work, how to say "see you" to colleagues? Which one is appropriate, "see you all" or "see you everyone"?
1
vote
2answers
231 views

Does anybody use the elative degree in modern speech? [closed]

I read that English has the following degree of comparison: positive, comparative, superlative (with definite article) and elative (with indefinite article). I'm wondering, whether sentences like "it ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

The word “dear” in public speech

I am a member of a Toastmaster club in the Czech republic where people work on their public speaking skills. It is a usual to open a speech by Dear fellow Toastmasters, dear guests,... It is a ...
0
votes
1answer
293 views

Is “be-gruntled” a word? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When does a word become a ‘word’? Someone in work asked about the welfare of my girlfriend, to which I replied "She's fine, a little be-gruntled but fine." People knew ...
2
votes
0answers
383 views

Appearance of “is is” in speech patterns [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “The thing is, is that…” Why do some people say “the reason is is that,” with “is” twice in a row? For the past few years I've been noticing a curious phenomenon. ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

“Do my best” vs. “my level best” [closed]

Is there any difference between these two sentences? Which one is grammatical in speech? I will do my best. I will do my level best.
3
votes
1answer
299 views

Should the abbreviation 'i.e.' be used in speech?

I often hear people use the abbreviation 'i.e.' while speaking. It does not seem right to me. Similarly with 'e.g.' — I would always say 'for example' rather than 'e.g.'. So is it appropriate to ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is most North American speech rhotic?

Most North American speech is rhotic—why is that? Does it come from the early English settlers or perhaps from the Irish settlers?
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Usage of “to be done” [closed]

The following is a transcript of the well-known recorded lecture by Prof. Michael Sandel of Harvard University (the cited portion starts at 43:36): The only argument this painter makes is that the ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Punctuation of direct speech, edge cases

I recently learned that I have developed a consistent, but entirely wrong approach to punctuating direct speech in fiction. I am in the unenviable position of trying to relearn. Previously I wrote ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

“You know” in spoken English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to use “you know” Why is "you know" most commonly used in spoken English. Or to phrase it differently, why do native speakers use this expression a lot ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it bad behavior to add filler words such as “so”, “um” in business speak?

Sometimes when I speak with my fellows at work, I start my sentences with "so" or "um". I don't know if this a bad behavior in business speak or not? If so, how can I get rid of those filler words?
27
votes
7answers
3k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
1
vote
1answer
359 views

Usage of “ain't” in formal conversation

Is it okay to use ain't in formal conversation? I know ain't can be used for am not, is not, are not, have not, has not. So if I can use it in day-to-day life, it will be easier for me I guess.
7
votes
1answer
915 views

What do people usually mean when they ask “Do you have a family?”

When American people ask you, "Do you have a family?" does that mean "Do you have any children?" or just "Are you married?"
5
votes
1answer
569 views

Relative pronouns after prepositions: is it okay to use them in speech?

Consider the following usages of relative pronouns: The lecturer introduces a study in which participants were asked to choose one attractive picture. At the university I met famous professors, many ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
1
vote
3answers
179 views

How should the first “o” in “operator” be pronounced?

I've always been taught that a vowel before a double consonant following another vowel should have a short sound. Conversely, there are many situations where a vowel preceding a single consonant and ...
2
votes
2answers
439 views

What does “I fort” stand for?

In Terry Pratchett's The Truth, Mr Tulip says "I fort" 5 times. "I fort that at the start" "I fort so!" (twice) "I fort you said this city was a -ing pushover?" "I fort we wanted to find.." Is ...
1
vote
1answer
121 views

Is there a Public Library that lends English Audiobooks? [closed]

In germany there are now a plethora of public libraries where I can borrow Audiobooks. I can search and download DRM protected files and can use them for a couple of days or weeks before they get ...
2
votes
0answers
642 views

How to place pauses in a sentence when speaking? [closed]

I would like to know how to place pauses in a sentence when speaking (besides pauses on comma and semicolon) to deliver a better message to audiences. I researched this for a while but I don't find ...
4
votes
2answers
984 views

Simple present vs. present continuous

What is the difference between saying: Are you still working there? Do you still work there? Which is more common in spoken vs written English? Google books returned results for both of ...
13
votes
3answers
35k views

Difference between “asleep” and “sleeping”

I know asleep and sleeping are interchangeable in many cases. But in these situations, I am not sure. I read stories to my son after he went to bed. After reading the stories, I stayed for some time ...
-2
votes
3answers
356 views

Why “who is” sounds “whiz”?

Please elaborate, when we say "who is", why does it sound "whiz"? Also one more example I would like to include: why "visit us" sounds "visi-tas"?
3
votes
1answer
590 views

What are some effective ways a foreign speaker can improve pronunciation in English? [closed]

How can a foreign speaker (where a "foreign speaker" speaks English as a second language) effectively improve their spoken English by improving their pronunciation and reducing their foreign accent. ...
22
votes
12answers
3k views

Just how offensive are the terms “retarded” and “gay”?

My college-age son and his friends use the terms "retarded" and "gay" pretty much interchangeably to mean substandard, bad, lame (in the sense of ineffectual or weak) or just plain wrong. I've ...
-2
votes
1answer
256 views

Indirect speech, past tense use

A member's post on another site has the structure: This a post I put on [site] and [member] suggested I posted here too. (emphasis mine) It appears that being reported speech, post is required to ...
-2
votes
3answers
567 views

What is the deeper meaning of the phrase “as I was just saying to X”? [closed]

This is the scenario I'm thinking of. Person A talks to person B about something. Then person C joins them. For some reason Person A says something to Person C that they were just talking about with ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Are there rules of pronunciation for words in English? [closed]

I know that there is at least one language we can pronounce based on the word's form (Vietnamese) which means that once you know how to write it, you will also know how to pronounce it. But in ...
1
vote
2answers
729 views

Why/When need some kind of short spelling or pronunciation?

In regular usage, nowadays we use short spellings of words in speaking or writing. For example: They are in the cinema. => They're in the cinema. We have been waiting for me. => We've been waiting ...
0
votes
3answers
239 views

Should laconism be favored over clarity? [closed]

One might argue that to be as understandable as possible, one should use common words and phrases. On the other hand, unnecessary verbosity is often frowned upon. Stop acting so childish and ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What are some good books on articulation?

I am fully capable of speaking, reading and writing (British-)English and my native language, but I find that I tend to mumble and muffle my voice. Furthermore, I would love to perfect my speech in ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

How can I learn to speak with various accents? [closed]

How can I learn to speak with appropriate English accents when reading books aloud? For example, are there simple rules for each accent? My question is general question, but my application is ...
14
votes
4answers
359 views

“They had whatted the car?”

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language says this: Echo what is syntactically very different from the interrogative pronoun what. It can replace words of more or less any category, and can ...
36
votes
5answers
11k views

What term can be used to describe Yoda's speech?

What is Yoda's speech called? Is there a particular name for it (such as "dangling...")?
2
votes
1answer
224 views

Term for 'baby-talk'

So many newly-weds have this practice of calling one another ridiculous but affectionate names i.e. honey-bunch, or 'bunny-boo' etc. Is there a single-word term for this practice?
5
votes
6answers
4k views

Do native speakers understand all the words in songs? [closed]

I'm wondering if native speakers understand all the words in songs? For me it is very very difficult, as I can understand only 30% of words and phrases in songs usually. While listening to people's ...
1
vote
5answers
337 views

Should I pause before or after the “that” of an object clause?

For example, if I want to pause in speech, which way is better: I {a very long adverb phrase} realized | that English is so useful but not easy to master. or I {a very long adverb phrase} ...
8
votes
0answers
422 views

When to use passive and active voice [closed]

When is it better to use passive voice in writing and speech? When is it better to use active voice in writing and speech?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Are the expressions “pissed” and “pissed off” inappropriate?

I've seen people go quiet when they hear one of them. I also remember hearing it bleeped on television. Are they inappropriate? To what extent? What audience could or should not hear it?
4
votes
1answer
583 views

Punctuation within quotes

When I was at school I was told that a quote should end with a comma. For example: "The car is on the road," said Tom. "No it isn't," replied Dick. "He's right — it's over there!" said Harry. ...