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Launch Your English: Dramatically improve your spoken and written English so you

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Head over to www.SirEnglish.com for lots of fantastic free resources for enhancing your English.

Launch Your English

By Anthony Kelleher BA Linguistics & TESOL

Text copyright © 2016 Anthony Kelleher

All Rights Reserved

[] Introduction

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

-Ludwig Wittgenstein

First of all, congratulations on wanting to further yourself and excel in English! Whether you are a native speaker or a non-native speaker of English, there is always something to learn in this wondrous language.

There is no doubt that English is the global tongue: A total of 1.5 billion people speak English as first or second language. Making an improvement in your delivery of English is one of the best investments that you can make in yourself.

Maybe you want to deliver better presentations. Perhaps you want to share your everyday stories with friends and family in a more creative and articulate way. Perhaps you would simply like to express your thoughts more completely and precisely in everyday situations.

Whatever your reason, your goal is the same: To enhance your English ability.

You are reading this because you want to improve in this area. This book will help you do just that by guiding you through and showing you how to master six key areas of English. Mastering these areas will lead to dramatic improvement in your English use, both in speaking and writing.

We won’t get overly technical with grammar, or use complex terms to describe English. This book is written in as casual a way as possible so that it’s easy to read and (hopefully!) enjoyable.

English is a beautiful language, but are you using it to its full potential in your speaking and/or writing?

In the coming chapters you’ll learn exactly how to push the boundaries of your English ability, and improve in areas that you didn’t think were possible. You’ll become more articulate, more precise, clearer, more descriptive and more creative in your English delivery.

The techniques I outline in this book are tried and trusted. I have taught them to hundreds of students over the last 10 years. Join me on this journey to improving your English in an enjoyable, fun and engaging way.

Table of Contents

Introduction

About me

The building blocks of English

Verbs

Nouns

Adjectives

Adverbs

Metaphors

Similes

Putting everything together

How to keep improving

[]About me

Perhaps of all the creations of man, language is the most astonishing.

-Giles Lytton Strachey

My name is Anthony. Born in Ireland and raised in London, I became interested languages, in particular the English language, during my college years. As a result, I decided to study BA Linguistics & TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at the University of Roehampton in London. This subject involved studying modules on English language, English grammar and syntax, the sound structure of English, and many other areas.

This deep study of the English language fascinated me, and got me thinking about how simple it actually is. It can all be broken down into chunks which we can then explain using rules. If you want to become a speech therapist, you break down the language into sound patterns and structures; if you want to become a lexicographer (a person who compiles dictionaries), you break it down into words. If you want to become a teacher of English, you generally have to break the whole language down into chunks and explain them all.

After teaching English for the last 10 years, I learned exactly which chunks are needed for improvement in English in the quickest and easiest way. These are the most practical and actionable areas to immediately improve and, best of all, are very easy to grasp.

The insights I have gained during my teaching years led me to writing this book which I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. With the techniques I teach in this book, you won’t need luck to improve your English: You are guaranteed to improve as long as you read and take action. Let’s get started on this journey together!

[] The building blocks of English

Language embodies the intellectual wealth of the people who use it.

-Kenneth Hale

English is sometimes seen as an extremely complex system of letters, sounds, words, word classes, grammar structures and dozens of other technical classifications. It’s true that the combinations of words we can put together are almost infinite. English is so versatile, in fact, that we can construct sentences that have never before been uttered by anyone else in the history of the world.

But the fact that there are rules in English (and every other language) means that we are following some set patterns every time we speak. So even if we do utter a sentence that no one before has ever uttered, we are still following these set patterns. If we weren’t no one would be able to understand us!

The point I’m trying to make is that as complex as we think English is, it is actually quite simple when you break it down into its building blocks.

Imagine English as a wall which has been built over the centuries using bricks. Each brick represents a block or unit of language, such as sounds, letters, words, word classes (nouns, verbs etc.), grammar structures, phrases and so on.

For the purposes of this book, we’re going to focus on the big blocks rather than the smaller ones, which are really the nuances and basics of the language (the letters, the spellings, the sounds, the sound structure etc.)

The big blocks of English that we are going to focus on in this book are:

Nouns

Verbs

Adjectives

Adverbs

Metaphors

Similes

You might think that you are familiar with these blocks and that you learned all of this in primary and secondary school. But we’re going to go deeper into these areas, not just skim the surface. We’re going to learn how to excel using these blocks, which make up a huge proportion of the English language.

Become a master in these areas and you will see explosive results.

The first three blocks can be seen in almost every English sentence, and so are very important in our mission to improve our English. Again, they might seem easy to you at first glance, but we’re going to expand our boundaries in these blocks, so that we sound eloquent and articulate when we use them.

The last three blocks are the ones which will make you really stand out as a creative English speaker. They show that you have an excellent command of the language, and people will hang on to every word you say once you master these three. Even though English has set rules, the creative opportunities when using the last three blocks is endless.

We are going to master the six blocks by first analysing how to identify them, then learning how to improve each of them in our own language output (speaking and writing). We’re going to learn how to be precise in our articulation so that what we have in our minds is what we actually express.

Just excelling in one of the above areas will improve your English dramatically. Mastering all six blocks will take you to another level completely, and you will get better and better as time goes on.

So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into the six vital areas for mastering English.

[]Verbs

The quality of our thoughts is bordered on all sides by our facility with language.

-J. Michael Straczynski

How to distinguish verbs

Verbs are traditionally taught in schools as being ‘action words’ or ‘doing words’. However, there is more to verbs than that. For example, the words hate, want and love are all verbs, but are you physically doing anything or performing an action with these verbs? Not really.

Verbs can be distinguished by a number of factors. Here is how to know a verb when you see one.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. All verbs can be changed to mark tense: I walk daily; He walks daily; I walked daily.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. All verbs can accept an –ing ending: loving; hating; wanting; breathing; fighting.

If in doubt, you can usually fit a verb into the blanks and it will make sense:

[_ I __________. _]

[_ You __________. _]

[_ He __________. _]

[_ It __________. _]

I .

You .

He .

It .

Yes, sometimes the utterance may sound a little odd, but the main thing is they are grammatical. Simply add a word after the verb to make a good sentence.

I love cookies.

You walk home.

He breathes loudly.

It wants food.

This is exactly how to distinguish verbs easily. So, when you are stuck and wondering whether a word can be a verb or not, test it out using the 2 rules above, plus the gap filler test.

How to upgrade your verb usage

Now that you know exactly how to distinguish a verb, we can start looking at ways to improve the usage of your verbs in your speaking and writing. We can do this by being more precise and descriptive when using verbs.

A verb describes how the subject of a sentence acts.

The girl (subject) likes (verb) Michael (object).

For now, concentrate on the subject and the verb of the sentence. Every subject of a sentence has qualities that we can express in the use of the verb. So, depending on the verb we select, we can alter how the subject is perceived by the listener.

In the sentence above, we could express more about the girl to show how much she likes Michael by changing the verb.

The girl adores Michael.

Now the listener understands more about how the girl acts. She doesn’t just like Michael, she adores him.

The girl treasures Michael.

How about this verb? It gives a sense that the girl would do anything for Michael, which gives a slightly different feeling to the verb adore, which is very different from like in the original sentence. This is a very simple example of how changing the verb adds much more meaning to the subject and how it acts.

Some verbs are so common nowadays that they are overused and have lost a lot of meaning as a result. Being more precise in our usage makes us go from sounding ordinary to sounding like a well-read and articulate person.

The mouse ran across the room and went in to the hole.

I hope you know which words are the verbs in this sentence! They are ran and went. Using the rules provided above, let’s test these verbs.

Both ran and went show tense: run; ran; go; went.

Both words can accept an –ing ending (using their base form): run; running; go; going.

Both words fit into the gaps in the gap fill test.

I ran (or I run)

I went (or I go)

You ran (or you run)

You went (or you go)

He ran (or he runs)

He went (or he goes)

It ran (or it runs)

It went (or it goes)

Now, back to the sentence above. You could easily liven up this sentence by replacing ran and went with more precise and descriptive verbs.

The mouse scampered across the room and darted into the hole.

Can you see how much more descriptive and meaningful this second sentence is? For a start, the verb scamper is used to describe how small animals move in a quick way. We could also opt for the verb scurry in this case.

And instead of using the undescriptive, overused word went, why not opt for a more descriptive, exciting verb to describe the movement? In this case darted is perfect for describing how the mouse moved, as it shows a sense of speed and anxiousness that mice usually exhibit.

Thinking about the subject of a sentence is key to selecting a precise and descriptive verb.

Here are some more examples on how you can be more descriptive, accurate and novel in your choice of verbs:

The robber went into the bank, pulled out his gun, and then shouted at the cashier to give him the money.

The robber barged into the bank, revealed his gun, and then barked at the cashier to hand over the money.

The second sentence expresses so much more in the movements and actions of the robber. Barge, bark and hand over show that he was very forceful, intimidating and even animal-like in his actions.

The verb reveal is used to say that something hidden has suddenly come into view and so creates a tense atmosphere.

Make sure you express how someone moves in your verbs.

The teacher watched as the students came in and sat down.

The teacher inspected as the students filed in and assembled in their seats.

The second sentence gives a more academic, regiment like feel with the verbs inspected, filed and assembled. It gives the listener a feeling that the teacher is rather strict and formal, and that the students obey their teacher. Using verbs like this can also give a sense of the overall atmosphere of a setting.

Now let’s use different descriptive verbs to give a completely different feeling to the sentence. This is to illustrate how verbs can dramatically change your perceptions.

The teacher looked on as the students sauntered in and dumped themselves down on their seats.

How do these verbs paint the teacher and the students? The verb look suggests the teacher had no control and was simply an observer, while the verbs saunter and dump tell us that the students were perhaps loud, brash and carefree.

This is a vastly different image to the first and second sentences, yet the three verbs in each of sentences all express the same basic meaning of looking at something (watched, inspected, looked), walking (came, filed, sauntered), and sitting down (sat, assembled, dumped).

Choosing the right feeling (or connotation) associated with a verb is a much better way to express your feelings and paint a vivid picture.

Practice

I hope you can now see the power of verbs and what a simple change can do to improve your English in terms of description, clarity and precision. Not only that, but how much more pleasant is it to hear a sentence with these more descriptive verbs rather than the boring, bland ones that everyone uses?

Here are some practice exercises for you to work through. First, confirm that the underlined words are verbs using the rules and test we went through earlier. Then replace the verbs appropriately.

Here’s a hint: Instead of wracking your brain to find another verb, use a thesaurus to help you. Simply go to www.thesaurus.com and type in the verb you want to replace. You will be given a list of synonyms (words with similar meanings). Select the right verb for the right context. Think about the feeling you want to express and select the best verb to express that.

Change these sentences to describe more precisely and interestingly.

Example

John walks home every evening, cooks his meal and eats it in a few minutes.

(Give the feeling that John walks home in a tired manner, cooks his meal in a quick, easy way and eats his meal in a hurry).

We could change the sentence to:

John trudges home every evening, microwaves his meal and scoffs it in a few minutes.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The cruise ship sailed along the ocean while the passengers slept in their luxurious cabins.

(Give the feeling that the cruise ship is large and is moving in a majestic way, and that the passengers slept deeply and comfortably)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Shakespeare wrote dozens of world-famous works and he is still known 400 years after his death.

(Give the feeling that Shakespeare was an expert writer and that his fame is huge all over the world)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The wet weather came today and it looks set to remain for the next week or so.

(Give the feeling that the wet weather came unwanted and will hang around for longer than wanted)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. We drank so much alcohol last night. Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed and went to work.

(Give the feeling that the speaker drank huge amounts very quickly, and that he went to work very reluctantly)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. I thought about whether or not I should stay at my current job, which I really .

(Give the feeling that the person thought deeply and that she strongly dislikes her job)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The government has promised to build more houses and give more money to the poor.

(Give the feeling that the government’s promise is strong and sincere, and change give to a more appropriate verb to suit the action of giving money to the poor)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Over the years, the company has grown into a multi-million dollar business and has overtaken all the competition.

(Give the feeling that the company has been around for a long time and has beaten all of its competitors by a long way)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a devastating war that forced people to leave their homes in order to find help elsewhere.

(Change leave for a more suitable verb in this context, and change help to show that the people were desperate)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. We spent a lazy afternoon walking along the beach and playing in the water with the kids.

(Give the feeling that the afternoon was casual and slow-paced, and that they played with a sense of childishness and excitement)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The team is unexpectedly outplaying all the rivals, beating them game after game by just a few points.

(Give the feeling that the team is an underdog and just about manages to win each time)

Now it’s your turn to use these descriptive verbs more and more! Don’t limit yourself to writing. Start noticing the verbs you use in everyday speech and think about how you could change them. Start listening to excellent speakers and notice how they use verbs to explain themselves more precisely and descriptively.

For an instant upgrade, some common verbs that you can change to more descriptive ones are: say, go, eat, drink, like, love, hate, walk and look. Look up some synonyms of these verbs and when you catch yourself saying one of these verbs, switch it up for the more interesting and descriptive synonym.

Practice daily by writing down examples of what you said or commonly say, then refine the sentence by using better verbs.

The main thing is to start noticing what you are listening to and reading. Start spotting verbs and how they are used effectively. Over time, with a little practice and listening, you will notice yourself dramatically improving in this area.

Now it’s time to look at another block of English: Nouns.

[]Nouns

Language is the dress of thought.

-Samuel Johnson

How to distinguish nouns

Nouns are typically defined as people, places or things. But there are more to nouns than that.

Consider the nouns pursuit, avalanche, love and peace. Are these people, places or things?

Further confusion occurs for some people when you explain that many words can be both nouns and verbs, depending on where they are in a sentence. Love, hate, gift, holiday and fight are all typical examples (in fact most nouns can actually be turned into verbs).

But don’t worry. There is a beautifully simple way to identify nouns. Look at these four easy gap-filling frames:

The __________ was nice.

The __________ were nice.

The __________ was terrible.

The __________ were terrible.

These are all you need to identify nouns! If a word fits into one of these gaps and makes grammatical sense, it’s a noun. The sentence might not be entirely sensible, but it will be grammatical.

The love was nice.

The hate was terrible.

The gift was nice.

The avalanche was terrible.

The holiday was nice.

The fight was terrible.

You get the idea. In contrast, try adding the words happy, joyful, red, you, quickly or beautiful into the gaps. The sentences won’t make any sense, because these words aren’t nouns. Easy, right?

Nouns also very often have two forms: singular and plural (though not always).

One fight.

Two fights.

One holiday.

Two holidays.

One avalanche.

Two avalanches.

This is another test you can apply to check whether a word is a noun or not, but the first gap-filling frame is sufficient.

How to upgrade your noun usage

Nouns have what I like to call heading nouns and the items under heading nouns, the item nouns. A heading noun is the general term for things and an item noun is for more specific terms. In other words, item nouns describe heading nouns in more detail. Here are some examples:

Building (Heading noun. Building is the general term for man-made constructions.)

Tower (Item noun. Tower is a type of building which is usually tall and impressive.)

Skyscraper (Item noun. Skyscraper is a type of building which is extremely tall.)

Office block (Item noun. Office block is a building where people work and is often rather dull in appearance.)

Other item nouns that come under the heading building are hut, fort, stately home, apartment block and warehouse. With all these item nouns, you can easily just use the word building, but using the item noun describes the building more specifically. Item nouns also hold more connotations (the feeling that a word invokes) than heading nouns.

Here are some other examples of heading nouns and their item nouns:

Heading noun: TV programme.

Item nouns: Sitcom, soap opera, drama, sports show, documentary, makeover show, cookery show.

Heading noun: People

Item nouns:

Followers (This has the connotation of people who support and love someone no matter what)

Hangers-on (This has the connotation of people who don’t care for the person they are with, they are just using them)

Mob (This has the connotation of angry or violent people who want to start a riot)

Congregation (This has the connotation of orderly people who are ready to listen to something)

Horde (This has the connotation of a large group heading somewhere together)

When we choose an item noun with connotations, we are expressing even more meaning. At times, we want to paint a pleasant picture. Other times, we want to paint a more negative picture. Depending on which way you want to describe something, you will opt for the appropriate item noun with connotation.

Many people tend to opt for a heading noun instead of being more specific and choosing an item noun. We get lazy or we simply don’t know the correct term to use to describe the noun we are talking about.

Of course, sometimes it’s perfectly fine to use heading nouns when we are talking about something and the detail is not important. But it’s good to be aware that even with nouns, you can always add more clarity and precision to what you want to express.

What kind of word would you use to describe an author who writes about fantasies and fairy tales? A writer is a good word, but writers come in all shapes and sizes because writer is a heading noun. A fiction writer would be a more precise noun (when two nouns come together like this, the first noun usually describes the second noun).

What would you call a person who drives an airplane for British Airways? A pilot (heading noun) would be sufficient, but there are many kinds of pilots. An airline pilot (item noun) would be even better.

Using this kind of precise language paints a picture in the mind of your listener, and your message is therefore much better understood.

Become aware of the fact that there might be a better, more precise item noun to use instead of a generic heading noun. When you talk about a building, a person’s job, a type of food or a kind of music, think about how you can pinpoint the exact noun to fit with it.

Practice

Come up with as many item nouns as you can for these heading nouns. You can research the heading noun on the internet to expand your knowledge in these areas. Just search for ‘types of heading noun’ replacing heading noun with anything you choose.

Examples

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Beer

Item nouns: Stout, ale, IPA, lager, wheat beer, pilsner.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Character (from a book or movie)

Item nouns: Hero, protagonist, antagonist, anti-hero, foil, stock.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Painter

Item nouns: Impressionist, surrealist painter, conceptual artist, pop artist, abstract artist.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Play (as in a play at a theatre)

Item nouns:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Local area

Item nouns:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Writer

Item nouns:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Chair

Item nouns:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Heading noun: Pasta

Item nouns:

Now for some more exercises. Look at the underlined heading nouns in these sentences and replace them with more precise item nouns. You can use the internet to search for information to help you. For example, if you search for ‘types of buildings’ you can find item nouns for building. There can be more than one option to replace some of these nouns. There is no right or wrong answer, just use your imagination for each exercise.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Shakespeare was a writer who wrote many plays which are loved by people around the world.

When I change the heading nouns to item nouns becomes:

Shakespeare was a playwright who wrote many tragedies which are loved by his followers around the world.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The pilot accidentally crashed the plane into the .

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The house was extremely old, but the wood in the structure looked as if it had been placed there just yesterday.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. This beer is absolutely fantastic, but it doesn’t compare to the wine we had last week.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The sports star glanced at his adoring fans and dived into his car.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Quietly, the people stood up and prayed while the musicians played slow chords.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A crowd of newspaper journalists gathered outside the house and waited for the celebrity to make his appearance.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. I watched an amazing TV programme last night about celebrities who work abroad for charity, constructing .

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Van Gogh was an artist who, amazingly, didn’t achieve fame for his art until after his death.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. This book is incredibly interesting. The character is a soldier who wants to get revenge on a .

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Bella and Anthony are outside relaxing on the chairs by the pool, and Sam is looking around the shops in the .

I hope this section has opened your eyes to the possibility of using nouns to be more descriptive and specific in your spoken and written English. Start to notice how nouns are used and, as I mentioned in the previous chapter, seek out speakers that you like or who talk on topics that interest you, and listen to how they express themselves using item nouns.

Practice writing down more specific item nouns for heading nouns that you commonly use. Think about the connotations attached to the nouns as well.

Now it’s time to look at the third block: Adjectives.

[]Adjectives

Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.

-Mark Amidon

How to identify adjectives

Adjectives are typically referred to as ‘describing words’ and that’s not a bad way to define them. Adjectives modify nouns and explain more about the quality of nouns.

A happy girl.

A beautiful stately home.

A gleaming skyscraper.

A violent mob.

An excellent action movie.

An awful meal.

The underlined adjectives all describe the quality of the noun in the above sentences. They change the meaning of simply a girl to a specific kind of girl, a happy girl.

Here are some rules which make adjectives easy to identify.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Adjectives can be compared using –er and –est (happier, happiest) or more and most (more beautiful, most beautiful).

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Adjectives can take a degree modifier to express intensity: very happy, so beautiful, too slow, quite ugly.

If in doubt, we can use our trusty gap-filling frame to test whether or not a word is an adjective.

That’s a(n) __________ book.

That book is __________.

She’s a(n) __________ girl.

That girl is __________.

Again, sometimes the adjective that fits might sound a little crazy (that’s a squashy book or that’s a squashy girl!) but the main thing is that it’s grammatical. So, squashy is an adjective!

How to upgrade your adjective usage

Adjectives are perhaps the best word type to focus on to instantly upgrade your English level in terms of being able to describe with clarity and creativity.

Whenever you use a noun, you can use an adjective to add further meaning to it. In the last chapter we spoke about heading nouns and how to make them more specific by using item nouns. We can add extra qualities to that item noun to really sound fluent and creative. Look at the effect of item nouns plus creative adjectives:

No adjective and a generic heading noun:

A home.

A more specific item noun:

A stately home.

A more specific item noun plus a descriptive and creative adjective to describe it:

A grand stately home.

The difference between a home and a grand stately home is huge. It tells you so much more about the qualities and appearance of the home.

Here’s another example:

A pilot.

An airline pilot.

A proud airline pilot.

A building.

A skyscraper.

A gleaming skyscraper.

A TV programme.

A drama.

A pulsating drama.

Can you see how we are refining meaning with each step and creating a more vivid picture of exactly what we want to express? And these are just short, simple sentences. Imagine what you can do with longer sentences and more complex topics. This is the power of words!

Now, back to adjectives. Like nouns and verbs, adjectives can have connotations which add more feeling to the word. Grand means big, but the feeling of the word goes further than that. It has the connotation of something large, impressive and expensive.

A grand banquet was laid for all the guests.

The grand palace is situated on a vast estate.

John has grand plans for the business.

Replace grand with big in the above sentences and the feeling just isn’t the same. So your choice of adjective is important when describing a noun.

Here is how perceptions can be changed depending on the adjective you use. Look at the meanings of these adjectives, which are all synonyms of dislike.

I despise everything that the new boss has done so far.

Despise gives the feeling of hating something with a passion. It shows emotion of instense hatred and is a strong form of dislike.

I hate everything that the new boss has done so far.

Hate is still strongly disliking something, but the feeling is less intense than despise.

I disapprove of everything that the new boss has done so far.

Disapprove is a lot lighter and shows that while you don’t like something, it’s not an emotional hatred. It much more diplomatic than the previous to synonyms of dislike.

Depending on your feeling and how the new boss appears to you, you will select the appropriate adjective to describe.

Using adjectives in this way paints a picture in the mind of your listener or reader and adds emotion to what you’re saying.

Practice

Change the adjectives in these sentences to give more meaning to the nouns.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The movie was : it was full of action and drama, and the acting was .

When I change the adjectives becomes:

The movie was : it was full of action and drama, and the acting was .

Unreal expresses that the movie was so amazing that it was almost too good to be true. First-class express that the acting was of the highest quality rather than simply great. Remember to use a thesaurus to help you find synonyms.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. My neighborhood is quite dangerous at night as there are scary gangs that loiter on the corners.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The hot summer months here in Greece cause my white skin to turn .

#
p<>{color:#000;}. John exercises hard at the gym. He always comes home tired then he collapses on the bed.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. There is a huge shiny skyscraper being erected in the middle of the city.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Travelling and exploring the huge world around us opens our mind and makes us more accepting of other cultures.

Here are some more exercises for you. Add adjectives to these sentences to modify the nouns. Try to express the exact feeling you want to convey. These sentences don’t have to be true, just make them up if you like. The main thing is to get practising using adjectives in a meaningful way.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ There is litter all over this __________ city. It’s time this __________ government did something about the mess. _]

When I add adjectives becomes:

There is litter all over this wonderful city. It’s time this inept government did something about the mess.

I used the adjective wonderful to show that I feel positively about the city. If I was feeling negatively, I might choose grubby or horrid instead. And to describe the government, I used the adjective inept to show that I feel they aren’t doing a good job. If I thought the government usually did a good job, I might use the adjective able or strong.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ I received a __________ mountain bike for my 16 th_] [_ birthday. I love the __________ feeling of riding it rapidly and the wind blowing against my face. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ At night, I always fall into a __________ slumber. It’s difficult for me to wake up in the mornings, so I set two __________ alarms just in case I sleep through one of them. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ A __________ robber entered our neighbour’s house and threatened them with a gun. The thief got away with Mary’s __________ jewelry and gold. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Whenever the New Year comes around, I always make a __________ promise to myself to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been saying that for the past 10 years and my __________ fat just hasn’t budged at all. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ The public transportation in this city is so efficient. The __________ buses are always on time, and the __________ subway network is vast. _]

Start noticing ways in which you can be clearer in your meaning and feeling when using adjectives to describe nouns. Think about some typical things you do, or stories you like to tell, and describe them in more detail by adding descriptive adjectives.

Let’s move onto the second half of the six blocks and look at adverbs.

[]Adverbs

By words the mind is winged.

- Aristophanes

How to identify adverbs

Adverbs are words which we can use to describe verbs and which typically end in –ly. Adverbs are often an optional addition to sentences, and therefore some people rarely use them when expressing themselves. However, they can add so much meaning to a sentence. Adverbs usually describe a verb (hence ad for adjective + verb)

There are three kinds of adverbs:

Manner adverbs describe more about the manner in which something is done. They almost always end in –ly (carefully, quickly, sensibly, beautifully).

Place adverbs describes the location or direction of an action (underneath, there, above, overhead).

Finally, time adverbs describe (you guessed it) the time or frequency of an action (tomorrow, never, always, yesterday).

For this section, we are going to focus on manner adverbs as they are the ones that can improve your English in the most interesting and creative way.

Manner adverbs say something about the action that is performed in a sentence (the verb). As mentioned above, you can easily identify them by their –ly ending.

Many adjectives can be transformed into adverbs with the simple addition of an –ly (slow, slowly; eager, eagerly; quick, quickly). Other adjectives that end in –ly need some slight spelling modifications to turn them into adverbs (careful, carefully; happy, happily; clumsy, clumsily).

How to use adverbs

Let’s look at some ways we can add adverbs to our repertoire to improve our English.

The young man walked down the street.

Let’s start with this easy sentence. There are no adverbs in this sentence and it doesn’t contain much information about how the man walked. We could change the verb like we saw earlier to add some more detail.

The young man sauntered down the street.

Now we have an idea of how he was walking down the street. But what if we want to add even more detail, more description and more clarity? We can use an adverb to describe exactly how he sauntered.

The young man sauntered clumsily down the street.

Now we know how he sauntered. It wasn’t with confidence and boldness. It was in a clumsy, awkward fashion.

Look at this sentence:

The elderly woman stared at the picture with a tear in her eye.

How did the elderly woman stare at the picture? Was it with regret or with love? With hatred or with anger?

The elderly woman stared happily at the picture with a tear in her eye.

Just adding this one adverb can dramatically change the meaning of the sentence, and as a result change the feeling of your listener or reader.

When you utter or write a sentence, you can almost always punctuate it with an adverb. I’m not saying include them in every sentence you use, but try to use them more often to clarify the meaning that you want to convey. Remember, an adverb describes a verb. It describes how someone does something.

Practice

Adverbs are excellent for instantly upgrading your English level, simply because people tend not to use them unless they have to. Adverbs are almost always optional, so it takes effort to start dotting your English with them. But when you do, you will instantly sound more advanced in your speaking and writing.

Add meaning to these sentences by using an adverb. Think about how the action (the verb) of a sentence is done.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The monstrous aircraft carrier glided past the tiny warship.

I want to paint the picture of the aircraft carrier being scary and threatening in comparison to the tiny warship. So this sentence becomes:

The monstrous aircraft carrier glided ominously past the tiny warship.

I opted for the adverb ominously. This adverb gives the sense that the monstrous ship is scary and potentially dangerous. Another suitable adverb could be menacingly.

On the other hand, if I wanted to paint the opposite picture, that the aircraft carrier wasn’t threatening or scary, I would opt for a different adverb.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The monstrous aircraft carrier glided carefully past the tiny warship.

Now the feeling is that this huge monster of a ship is actually being very cautious and assisting to the smaller, less powerful ship.

Try adding you own adverbs to these sentences. If you get stuck, first think of an adjective (careful, threatening, menacing, happy, sad) then simply transform it into an adverb (carefully, threateningly, menacingly, happily, sadly).

As always, use a thesaurus to help you find synonyms.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ I __________ ran after the man, shouting and screaming as he got onto the bus without his wallet. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ The soldier __________ glanced at the man as he pulled out his gun and fired. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Class 7B __________ complete their homework every time. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ The woman __________ finished the marathon even though she was exhausted and almost fainting. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Tomorrow, the weather is going to be __________ hot. The government has even issued a warning. _]

Here are some more exercises. Try to change these sentences to have a different meaning by changing the adverb.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Paul eagerly sat down and listened to his mum’s decision.

I want to change the meaning so that Paul isn’t so eager and keen to hear what his mum has to say. This sentence becomes:

Paul reluctantly sat down and listened to his mum’s decision.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. I bravely went in for the tackle and I ended up breaking my leg.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. My son happily saves all the pocket money he receives so that he can buy his favorite Lego toy.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The president has been seen tearfully talking with the victims of the war.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The crowd eagerly waited in the pouring rain to get a glimpse of their hero.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The sun reluctantly made an appearance today after weeks of cold, gloomy weather.

Now it’s your turn! Start noticing how adverbs can be used to enhance your English and start dropping them into your own sentences. If you get stuck, simply think of an adjective related to the verb and then transform it into an adverb.

Now it’s time for some real creativity to spice up our English and make people hang on to your every word. Let’s look at metaphors.

[]Metaphors

Language is wine upon the lips.

-Virginia Woolf

How to identify metaphors

Maybe you studied metaphors in school, and vaguely remember what they are. These expressions are really powerful for creating vivid images in the listener’s mind.

Metaphors are expressions which are used to say that A has the same qualities as B. Like this:

Sally is an angel.

In this sentence, we want people to think that Sally has the same qualities and characteristics as an angel: sweet, innocent, beautiful and kind.

Metaphors are not to be taken literally, but show our feelings because we associate the qualities of something with another thing. We can use them with powerful effect.

Metaphors don’t just explain in black and white terms: They explain in a roundabout way so that the listener is forced to imagine and come up with a picture in his or her mind.

This is a ‘black and white’ sentence:

Our holiday to the Caribbean was absolutely wonderful.

This is a perfectly good sentence which includes an adverb and a descriptive adjective. But if we want to paint a picture in the listener’s mind, we should use a metaphor, like this:

Our holiday to the Caribbean was a trip in heaven.

This is a metaphorical sentence. You are taking the positive qualities of heaven and associating them with your holiday.

Metaphors are extremely powerful to use in our language. Of course, not every sentence has to include a metaphor. But when you want to describe something with imagery and emotion, metaphors are perfect.

When we offer metaphorical explanations rather than ‘black and white ones’ it does two things:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It forces the listener to pay closer attention to what you’re saying and invest more in what you’re saying because he or she has to use imagery.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Better still, it also causes the listener to want to listen more because you are adding variety to your English. Rather than reeling off straightforward sentences and expressions, dotting your English with metaphors spices things up and makes people curious and engaged in what you’re saying.

By using metaphors we can transfer qualities and characteristics such as appearance, sound, personality, smell, taste and color. Look at this metaphor:

Look outside! There is a thick white blanket of snow on the streets.

This metaphor is comparing the snow to a white blanket. The characteristics transferred are the color and texture of the blanket, and even the positive connotations of a blanket, which is soft and fluffy.

Here’s another example of a metaphor:

Just listen to that noise. The classroom is a zoo!

Here we have transferred the sounds of a zoo to the classroom. It even compares the wild, uncontrolled tendency of the animals in a zoo to the children. Metaphors can convert the qualities to unsaid words too.

This example transfers intellectual quality:

[_ Mark got an A+ in the test. He’s a real Einstein. _]

This is an easy one to grasp. We have transferred the typical notion of Einstein being a genius and placed it onto Mark to show how clever he is.

Samantha is distraught. She was crying rivers of tears over her break-up with Sam.

Here, we are placing the image of masses of flowing water into the listener’s mind. We’re comparing Samantha’s tears to a flowing river.

Imagine if we rewrite the sentence about Mark the Einstein or about Samantha’s break up.

Without a metaphor: [_ Mark got an A+ in the test. He’s a real Einstein. _]

With a metaphor: [_ Mark got an A+ in the test. He’s really clever. _]

Without a metaphor: Samantha is distraught. She was crying a lot over her break-up with Sam.

With a metaphor: Samantha is distraught. She was crying rivers of tears over her break-up with Sam.

Immediately the sentences without a metaphor have lost some of their charm and imagery.

The beautiful thing about metaphors is that they aren’t fixed. Unlike vocabulary such as verbs, nouns and adverbs, metaphors are flexible and can be made up on the spot! Let’s look at how we can do it.

Use metaphors to upgrade your English

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of metaphors that we use in everyday English: You’re an angel; he has a heart of ice; New York is a melting pot; John is a night owl.

However, we certainly aren’t limited to these everyday metaphors.

Here’s a metaphor I just made up. See if you can guess my intended meaning:

Her eyes were blue diamonds shining in the night.

What qualities of the blue diamonds did I want to place on the woman’s eyes? I wanted to convey a sense of beauty, clarity, a wonderful blue color and sparkles in her eyes.

On the other hand:

Her eyes were dark stones staring right through me.

Here I want to create a sense of fear about the woman’s eyes with the association of blackness, coldness and hardness from the dark stones.

Here’s another metaphor:

The fighter jets were eagles racing through the sky.

What associations do I want to make between the eagles and the fighter jets? I want to show fearlessness, bravery, looking for the enemy.

Conversely:

The fighter jets were mosquitoes buzzing around overhead.

Here I am expressing that the fighter jets are annoying. The qualities of mosquitoes tend to be irritating, noisy and unwelcome.

These associations get made in an instant in the mind of your listener. Let’s practice constructing some metaphors.

Practice

Create a metaphor for these situations. Think about the qualities of the thing you want to transfer to the noun and make sure they are appropriate for what you want to express.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of a ballerina gliding across the stage.

I want to associate elegance, beauty, and beautiful fluid movement to the ballerina. What comes to your mind when you think of these qualities? Here is my metaphor:

The performance was breath-taking. The ballerina was a beautiful white swan gliding across the stage.

I chose a white swan to transfer these qualities. Feel free to experiment with all that you have learned up to this point. Change the verb, throw in an adjective and adverb if you wish, and use an item noun if needed. You can also add a sentence before or after for further emphasis and effect.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of an angry teacher screaming at his class.

Some ideas for association to the teacher: a volcano erupting, a raging bull, an army sergeant, a loudspeaker.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of the library’s very old computers.

Some ideas for association to the old computers: antiques, dinosaurs, ancient artifacts, objects from a Dickens’ novel.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of a world-record sprinter racing down the track.

Some ideas for association to the sprinter: a bullet, a cheetah, a racing car, a missile, a blur.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of a young boy with an enormous appetite.

Some ideas for association to the boy and his appetite: a bottomless pit, an empty trash can, a horse, a vacuum cleaner.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Show the image of a city which is extremely busy and crowded with people moving about.

Some ideas for association to the city and the people: ants rushing around, bees constantly working, a sea of people.

Now construct metaphors with these ideas, thinking of your own associations.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A young girl with an extremely short temper.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A football coach who is mean and unkind.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. An excellent student whose story was awarded first prize in the competition.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A young boy who is full of energy and enthusiasm.

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p<>{color:#000;}. A building which looks very futuristic and hi-tech.

Keep practising with your own ideas. Start conjuring up metaphors for things you see as you go about your life. This will get your creative juices flowing and is great practice.

Next we’re going to look at the sixth and final building block, which is closely related to metaphors: Similes.

[]Similes

Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.

-Edward Sapir

How to identify similes

Similes are very similar to metaphors. They use the qualities of something and attach them to the noun you want. They paint an image in the listener’s mind and allows them to feel and see exactly what you felt and saw. Like metaphors, they offer variety in your language, so that you don’t always explain things in a black-and-white fashion.

There is, however, a key difference between metaphors and similes:

A metaphor:

. He’s always running around, full of energy.

Similes:

. He’s always running around, full of energy.

. He’s always running around, full of energy.

In the 3 sentences above, we are placing the racing car qualities (rapid, quick, fast) onto Tommy.

Metaphors compare things by saying that A is B. The comparison is strong because, in the above example, we are saying that Tommy is actually a racing car (even though this is obviously not true).

Similes, on the other hand, say A is like B, or A is similar to B. The comparison is slightly weaker.

Another key difference is that similes use like or as in their construction, whereas metaphors don’t.

With similes, we can also compare longer phrases rather than just nouns. We can describe what we do as similar to doing something else:

Watching the 3-hour performance was like watching paint dry.

With these kind of similes, you can get really creative and descriptive, because they can essentially be as long as you want them to be.

Similes are also great to be more humorous and exaggerated in your speaking:

I wore jeans while everyone else wore a suit, which made me stand out like a nun at a rock concert.

Your creativity is your limit when it comes to similes! The best way to push your creative boundaries is to practice.

How to use similes

When we use like in a simile, we can simply use the noun that we want to compare to.

John is like a bull.

But we can also add adjectives to further clarify our meaning.

John is like an angry bull.

When we use as in a simile, we must use an adjective.

Jane is as busy as a bee.

We are forced to use an adjective in this structure because we are using as to show that Jane is busy, just like a bee is busy.

If we used a metaphor in this case, our intended meaning could be misinterpreted.

Jane is a bee.

This sounds quite negative and could be taken to mean that Jane is a rather nasty woman! So similes have their benefits in cases like this. But you could just as easily clarify the metaphor with an adjective:

Jane is a busy bee.

The difference in meaning between similes and metaphors is subtle, but the main things that similes offer are variety, length and humor.

Let’s practice some similes.

Practice

Using the as simile construction, compare these two things by adding a suitable noun.

Example

*
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ You still use a record player? That thing is as ancient as __________. _]

Becomes:

You still use a record player? That thing is as ancient as a dinosaur.

or

You still use a record player? That thing is as ancient as an antique.

or

You still use a record player? That thing is as ancient as the pyramids.

Be creative and come up with a few different ideas. There are no right or wrong answers here.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Congratulations on your new born baby. She’s as cute as __________. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Look at the muscles on him. He’s as strong as __________. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Christine isn’t eating much nowadays. She’s as thin as __________. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ Moscow is a beautiful city, but it’s as cold as __________. _]

#
p<>{color:#000;}. [_ I love my new coat. It’s as soft as __________. _]

Here are some more practice exercises for humorous similes. Humorous similes are great for really spicing up your English and capturing people’s attention with your language. Try making similes using the ideas provided using both like and as.

Examples

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make a simile using these ideas: William is extremely unhappy. Penguins hate heat.

William’s as unhappy as a penguin in a sauna.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make a simile using these ideas: Michelle is extremely happy. Pigs love rolling around in mud.

Michelle’s so happy she’s like a pig in mud.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make a simile using these ideas: Patrick is all wet after being out in the rain. Fish are always wet, especially on a rainy day!

Patrick, you’re as wet as a fish on a rainy day!

Exercises

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p<>{color:#000;}. The meat you are eating is very dry. The Sahara desert is a dry area.

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p<>{color:#000;}. There is a bad smell in the area. Rotten fish smell bad, especially rotten fish which hasn’t had a shower for 6 months.

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p<>{color:#000;}. The bar you are at is extremely loud. A rock concert at a zoo would be extremely loud.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Andrew’s skin is very red after being out in the sun all day. Strawberries are red, and are even redder when they’re dressed as a tomato.

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p<>{color:#000;}. A boxer is very strong. A bull is strong, especially one who lifts weights every day.

These similes are for over-the-top humor, and of course should be used sparingly. But the other similes can be used more often, just like metaphors. Start noticing these in your everyday life, especially when you read. Writers use similes and metaphors a lot in order to paint images in the reader’s mind. We can just as effectively use them in our spoken English.

We have gone through a lot of techniques to improve your English. Now it’s time to put them all together so that you can use them naturally and confidently.

[] Putting everything together

The only weapon that becomes sharper with constant use is the tongue.

-Anonymous

Now that we have gone through a lot of ways to enhance your English through being more descriptive, more precise, more creative, clearer, and through capturing people’s attention by using interesting similes and metaphors, we can put it all together.

The first thing to note is that you don’t have to use all these techniques all the time! That would be unnatural. Instead, pepper your conversations, your sentences, your paragraphs, your greetings, your presentations, your stories and all your other English with the techniques you learned.

At first, it might seem strange or challenging to start using these more descriptive words and phrases in your speaking. This is because everyone has a set vocabulary that they use, and we all tend to stick with it. We are in our ‘comfort zone’ which is nice, but doesn’t lead to pushing our boundaries. If you want to grow and get better at something, you need to push those boundaries and step outside your comfort zone. Gently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will reap great rewards in terms of your ability to express yourself.

The main thing is to keep practising and keep wanting to improve. Don’t think this is all going to suddenly change overnight. But, rather like going to the gym to build muscles or lose weight, over time you will see excellent results: Your ability in expressing yourself will get stronger and stronger. It simply takes practise and consistency.

Let’s start putting everything together into short paragraphs. Trying to fit it all into one sentence will sound odd. A nice short paragraph is better. Try to describe and express your ideas naturally and fluently, rather than squash them all into a single sentence.

When practising, it’s best to describe and talk about things that actually happened or happen in your life. This way, it’s easier to remember and recall when you do actually want to talk about these things with friends and family in the real world. You won’t be trying to think about what to say next, it will be spontaneous and natural.

Practise writing and talking aloud about any aspect of your life: You could talk about business, work, travelling, fitness, books, art, the weather, politics, the current top celebrity, comics, family, friends or computer games. The list is endless. Anything that interests you, you are passionate about or that you have experienced is a great topic to use.

I’m going to first show you an example. I’m going to explain about a fantastic holiday that I went on. This is memorable for me because I had such a wonderful time. I often share this story with people I meet when we talk about travel and holidays.

This is what I might say without using the techniques that we studied:

I once visited the island of Corfu. Everything about the place is special: the food is delicious, the beaches are peaceful, and the people are kind. My wife and I walked around and found great places away from the tourist areas.

This is quite a bland, normal way to describe a place, with words like special, peaceful and great. These adjectives are OK, but not very descriptive. The verbs are undescriptive and common (walk, found). There are no similes, metaphors or adverbs. There are a number of heading nouns which don’t show much detail or connotation (island, food, streets). Overall, it’s nothing special.

But if we upgrade this paragraph by implementing everything we learned in this book, I think you’ll agree that the difference is striking:

I once visited the picturesque Greek island of Corfu. Everything about the place is magical: the Mediterranean food is fresh and tasty; the powder-sand beaches are serene; and the locals are like family. My wife and I curiously meandered along the colorful backstreets and discovered hidden gems away from the touristic spots.

Look carefully at the second paragraph I wrote. It includes everything that we have covered up to this point: Verbs that describe the movement in detail; item nouns to give more description; interesting adjectives with appropriate connotations; an adverb to show how we moved; metaphors to add imagery; and a simile to compare, to add imagery and to offer variety.

Descriptive verbs

I used the descriptive verbs meander and discover. I could have opted for the more common verbs walk or find but they wouldn’t have explained the detail that I wanted to express. Meander has the feeling of being carefree and relaxed in your exploration. It also details the winding pattern that you walk, inferring that the backstreets are not straight but snaky in their layout.

The other descriptive verb discover could be replaced with the more common find, but again, this wouldn’t have shown the detail and connotation that discover does. Discover gives a sense of excitement and adventure, much like searching for gold or diamonds. It implies that you have found something hidden and special.

Notice that in order to include a descriptive verb, it’s often best to explain something interesting that you did or saw.

Item nouns instead of more vague heading nouns

The item nouns Greek island, powder-sand beaches, locals and backstreets come under the heading nouns island, beaches, people and streets respectively. Just by using an item noun, I have added another level of descriptive detail.

Greek island is a very easy item noun to use. I simply added the location of the island. But even though it’s a simple addition, Greek has very positive connotations in terms of weather, touristic spots and food.

Powder-sand beaches tells the listener what kind of beaches I visited in Corfu. They weren’t pebble beaches or white-sand beaches, but powder-sand beaches. What extra feelings does powder-sand beaches evoke compared to simply beaches? It gives a feeling of softness and serenity, and an almost utopian image.

Locals expresses what kind of people I am talking about. It comes under the heading noun people and gives a sense of a small and close community.

Backstreets is the other item noun which, in contrast to streets, feels like a place that’s quiet, secretive and somewhat adventurous.

Descriptive and precise adjectives with appropriate connotations

The adjectives picturesque and serene are quite often used to describe places of beauty. That’s because they have positive connotations. I described the island as picturesque because everywhere you look could be a scene from a postcard, a painting or even a movie. In fact, Corfu was actually a setting for a James Bond movie, so picturesque couldn’t be a more appropriate adjective!

Serene is the other descriptive adjective, which evokes feelings of a calm, peaceful and beautiful location. Even the smooth sound of the word gives these connotations.

An adverb to show how we moved

The adverb curiously shows how we meandered along the backstreets. We didn’t just meander, we meandered curiously. What images does this evoke? Meander means to leisurely wander, which gives a feeling of slow-paced exploration. Curiously adds to this image with feelings of interest and intrigue about the place. It shows we weren’t just aimlessly meandering, but were meandering with a purpose.

Metaphors to conjure vivid images in the listener’s mind and add variety

The first metaphor in the paragraph everything about the place is magical is comparing the place (Corfu) to magic. It is placing the qualities of magic, and feelings evoked when we use this word, onto the place. What are the qualities of magic? They are generally very positive, such as mystical, wonder, excitement and heavenly.

The second metaphor is discovered hidden gems. This is quite a common metaphorical expression. The expression hidden gems has qualities of being mysterious and having discovered something special. It also gives images of diamonds, rubies and crystals. In other words, we found tucked-away places that were very special and unique.

A simile to add even more imagery and creativity

Did you spot the simile in the paragraph? It is the locals are like family. This is a simile using like. Remember, we can also use as in similes, but we need to use an adjective if we do. We could have said something like the locals are as kind as family.

The simile I used adds an extra layer of imagery and variety. I compared the locals to family, which is (usually!) positive. When you think of the locals, you imagine very friendly people who are willing to help you.

Practice

Now look at this paragraph and try to analyze each area like I did above. Think about the description, the feeling the word gives, the connotations, the imagery and the clarity. Write down a short analysis under each heading. This exercise will get you thinking more deeply and lead to greater insights in each area.

Exercises

Read this paragraph, which contains all the elements studied in this book:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. I currently live in Seoul, which is a bustling metropolis in South Korea. Life here is fast-paced: New apartment blocks shoot up in just months, the locals scurry about like mice, and the cars dart around the city. Although it is one gigantic race, residing in Korea’s capital is an adventurous and fascinating experience. Dining in the countless eateries always brings a new experience to my taste buds, and learning about the culture and history helps to explain how Seoul became the machine that it is today.

Now write these headings and give a short analysis of each area: Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Metaphors, Similes.

Here is one more example for you to look at to show that you can include these techniques into stories about everyday occurrences too. Analyze this like you did with the previous paragraph.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Last week, I was frantically running to catch the express train to London when a young boy approached me. He said something to me but the station was like a zoo, so I struggled to hear what the pup was trying to tell me. Looking at the train about to depart, I impatiently leaned towards him to listen to what he was saying. He was pointing towards the distance and explaining that I had dropped my wallet in my sprint for the train! I thanked the boy, dashed to recover my wallet, handed him £10 for his kindness, and then clambered onto the train with a second to spare.

By using these techniques like this, you can turn everyday occurrences and happenings into exciting and engaging stories. These stories will always be in your memory bank, so when you want to tell the next person about the event, you will be able to do it with all the techniques you learned in this book.

When you write down these stories or events, practice speaking them out loud. Don’t simply write them and forget about them. Reread and recite them. When you recite them, you don’t have to reel them off word for word like a robot. Tell the stories naturally. If you don’t use all the techniques, that’s no problem. Used sparingly, they can still be very powerful for upgrading your English.

Take your time in crafting these paragraphs. Don’t think you have to rush through them. Use a thesaurus to find similar words that express the exact meaning you want. Think of creative metaphors and similes that paint an accurate image. With practice you will be able to do it more quickly, and very soon it will become second nature when you speak.

Try writing one short paragraph a day whenever you have 10 minutes to spare. That’s all the time it takes! The very action of writing it down will allow you to grow and develop in this area consistently, which will in turn accelerate growth in your spoken English.

Here are some more exercises for putting everything together. Use the topic ideas and write a paragraph containing all (or as many as you can) of the techniques we studied.

Exercises

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing an amazing place you visited. What fascinating things did you do there? Who did you meet or see? Why was it so special and why should other people visit?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing an everyday event that occurred within the last week or so. Even if it’s not particularly exciting or interesting, embellish it with all the elements covered in this book to bring it to life and create imagery. What happened? How did you feel and what did you do? What was the reaction of other people?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing an interesting person in your life or a famous figure that you like. Talk about their character, their past, their positive aspects and why you like them.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing an object that is special to you. For example, if you are a writer, your pen, your laptop computer or your notebook might be a treasured item. If travel long distances to work, your car might be extremely important. Describe why it’s so important to you and why you couldn’t live without it.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing your country, city or town. Describe it vividly, imagining that the listener has never visited this place. What are the people like? What kind of architecture is there? What makes it special and unique?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing your favorite movie or TV show, or a scene from one of them. Talk about the characters, the story, the setting and the atmosphere. What made it stand out for you? Why should other people watch it?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing an event from your childhood. Close your eyes and picture the event, trying to relive it in vivid detail. Describe what you see and feel in your mind, bring the old memory back to life and making it an interesting story.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Write a paragraph describing one of your dreams or ambitions. Explain what it is and why it means so much to you. Explain what you will have to do to achieve it and what you will feel like when you do.

Now we’re going to look at exactly how to keep improving in your English ability long after you have finished this book. After all, learning should be a life-long practice. Let’s look at how to keep improving.

[] How to keep improving

Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.

‒Sarah Caldwell

Change won’t happen overnight. But just like losing weight, gaining muscle or learning a new skill, you will become a master at English over time. Practising what I outlined in the previous chapter Putting everything together is the best place to start.

Write short paragraphs about whatever interests you and whatever you tend to talk about in your day to day life. This way, you are engaged and you will be able to actually use what you practised.

There are many other ways to get better and improve your English. Here are some of my favorite:

Notice the language

This is a simple but effective one to start with. When we listen to people speaking (face to face, on television, on the radio etc.) we rarely think about the words, phrases and expressions they are using to express themselves.

Starting to consciously listen to these words, phrases and expressions makes you start to notice what is happening in language. You are not passively listening now, you are actively listening and analyzing what is said. This simple change will help you advance in English very quickly because you can then start to implement what you noticed in your own English output.

Learn from the awesomeness of others

Don’t try to figure out everything by yourself! People get inspired by other people all the time. You must have some people in your life or a famous figure that you like to listen to, simply because they speak with clarity and creativity. Learn from their awesomeness! Be inspired by them. It doesn’t mean go and copy them word for word and change you voice to sound like them. But you can learn from them and be inspired by them to want to learn more.

Listen to MP3s in your ‘dead time’

MP3s are fantastic because they are playable on portable devices such as an MP3 player or a smartphone. This portability allows you to listen to excellent English speakers anywhere and anytime you choose. I like to do this in my ‘dead time’.

‘Dead time’ refers to time spent doing something that isn’t so productive. For example, travelling on a plane, train or bus. During this time, you can’t do anything else, so you may as well listen to an MP3 rather than stare into space. You can make this time your ‘English advancement time’.

Download podcasts or speeches by excellent speakers who you find interesting and appealing. Listen carefully to how they express themselves and start thinking about the language they use. What makes them effective? What techniques did they use that are outlined in this book?

If you hear any interesting words, expressions, similes or metaphors, make a note of them and practice them in your writing and speaking.

Read books

Reading books is an obvious one, but people rarely read nowadays. Obviously you do read, that’s why you have my book! Start reading quality writing, in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. Writers can be one of the best sources to learn from, because they have spent countless hours perfecting their skills of description, clarity, creativity and imagery. Books are also interesting and are available in every topic imaginable.

Above all, have fun with English. Don’t fret over trying to use every technique all the time. Let your words flow naturally, and use the techniques sparingly. Over time, you will develop a natural tendency to use them and it will become second nature. Have patience and become aware of the English language techniques we studied, and you can only get better.

Let me finish this book with a quote by the famous writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie. This quote resonates with me and I hope you too. It sums up my goal of this book: For you to be able to use the right English words to explain something clearly, and add a touch of creativity and imagery.

Your purpose is to make your listener see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. Relevant detail, couched in concrete, colorful language, is the best way to recreate the incident as it happened and to picture it for the listener.

-Dale Carnegie

Head over to www.SirEnglish.com for lots of fantastic free resources for enhancing your English.


Launch Your English: Dramatically improve your spoken and written English so you

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." -Ludwig Wittgenstein Do you wish you could speak English with more creativity, clarity, articulation and confidence? Would you like to dramatically enhance your English speaking with some simple, easy-to-follow techniques? Then you are in the right place! As a teacher for more than 10 years, I have learned the best methods for quickly improving your English ability. Whether you are a native speaker who wants to sharpen their verbal toolkit, or a non-native speaker who wants to learn how to navigate the English language maze, this book will provide you with information and techniques for instant improvement and lifelong learning. Maybe you want to improve your presentation skills. Perhaps you want to tel more interesting and engaging stories. Or maybe you simply want to become more articulate in your day-to-day use of English. Whatever your needs, your goal is to improve your English, and Launch Your English can guide you to do just that. In this book you'll learn how to: • become more creative and descriptive in your English usage • capture people's attention with your vivid and enhanced expressions • break English down into building blocks for easy improvement • select the right word and expression to articulate your thoughts exactly Free resources for students of English -> SirEnglish.com

  • Author: Anthony Kelleher
  • Published: 2017-03-06 15:05:12
  • Words: 12151
Launch Your English: Dramatically improve your spoken and written English so you Launch Your English: Dramatically improve your spoken and written English so you