Traditionally, language learners learn grammar and vocabulary, and then try to put them together. But there is a more effective way to learn to speak - learning small groups of words that go together. This is how your brain learns a language at the beginning and this is actually how native speakers often speak.
Here are some examples:
How's it going?
more or less
I'm off to bed.
These are phrases that we use over and over again and they are always the same. You don't need to learn any grammar, you can just memorise the phrase.
So if you learn groups of words that go together like this, you will speak better English more easily. Speaking English will be more automatic. Even if you have a good level of English, revising these phrases can help you.
Here is a list of some of the most common 2- and 3-word groups with examples:
He has 3 sisters. No, I mean 3 brothers.
3. I think – your opinion or when you're not sure
I think it's 8 o'clock.
I think he's an idiot.
I think we should go now.
4. I don't know – I think you know this one!
You can follow it with a wh- questions word to create a longer sentence:
I don't know what to do.
I don't know where to go.
I don't know how to do it.
5. A lot of – use this instead of much, many or plenty.
There are a lot people here.
He earns a lot of money.
6. I don't think – for your opinion or when you're not sure
I don't think you should do it. I don't think dinner's ready yet.
A: Can you drink this water? B: I don't think so
7. Do you think – asking for an opinion
Do you think the shop's open today?
Do you think you can get some bread?
Do you think my bum looks big in this?
8. Do you want – offering / asking what someone wants
Do you want to go?
Do you want a coffee?
9. One of the
One of the problems of this house is the noise.
It's one of the biggest companies in Europe.
10. You have to – you is often used to mean everyone in general, not just the person you are talking to
You have to wear a uniform to school in England.
You have to drive on the left.
You have to get up, you're late.
11. It was a
It was a sunny day...
It was a great party.
12. You can – again, “you” is the person you're talking to or people in general
You can find really delicious Indian food in London.
You can put your coat here.
You can borrow my car.
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...