Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for the worm. I'm changing a very, very famous quote by a very good speaker, and his name was John F. Kennedy. Great American president -- or a good American president. There's another one by a British man named Winston Churchill from World War II, "Never, never, never, never give up." All right? So why am I bringing these up to you? Because to become an effective speaker, you need to know what to do. But sometimes, you need to know what not to do. And in this particular lesson, I'm going to help you become a much more effective speaker in English. To not make the mistakes that many native speakers make because it's their language, and they don't think about it, I don't want you to make these mistakes to start with. So let's go to the board shall we? Mr. E is talking to a cat, Mr. Kitty. Meow. Okay. Why is there a cat? And if you look clearly or carefully, you'll notice there's one, two, three, four, five legs. Well, when I went to school years ago, I was in a philosophy class. And one of the professors said, "When writing a good essay or writing a paper or speaking, you should beware of the five-legged cat." "Beware" means "watch out for". Now, in your own language, you might do this, and many people in English do this a lot. Notice I said "many", not "all". And that's one of the key things. They use words like "every, all, none, never, and always." I'm sure you've heard English people use them, and you're thinking, "What's wrong? There's nothing wrong with them." Well, there isn't, as long as they have a reference. So if you say, for instance, "All of the people in this room", that's okay. But if you say, "All people think", we have a problem because you're generalizing. And that's what we're talking about. How to avoid generalization, all right? Or exaggeration. There's a fancy English word for this, and it's called "hyperbole", and it means to use words in a way to evoke, which means to get a strong emotional reaction. So a lot of people use these words because they want to get something from you. They want to prove a point strongly. Or they want you to get really energetic about it. Good point, "you always leave the toilet up." "Always? Always? Every single time in my whole life you've seen the toilet up? Always?" Clearly, it's not true. But when you say "always", you don't have to look at specific, you can just generalize. Generalization can be helpful. But when you really want people to understand, it actually takes away from what you're trying to do. So let's go to the board and take a look at it. How can we get around this generalization problem that happens many times when people speak? Well, there are better words to use. Now, if you don't know what these words are, that's part of the problem. Okay. So let's take a look at the first two words, one and two, "always" and "never". What people don't realize because where I'm from, most of us aren't taught grammar; we learn it. And we use it. And we're pretty good at using it, but we don't actually understand exactly where they come from. So if you've got English friends, this is a good lesson for you to turn on for them, too. "Always" and "never". There's a term for this. "Always" and "never" belong to what I call, "The Seven Sisters." These are called "adverbs of frequency", okay? Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something happens or how much you repeat something in a period of time. I can actually put another word for this one, "often", here, see? "Often". Okay. So adverbs of frequency tell you once a week, five times a day, six times a year. That's how many times I repeat something in a period of time. "Always" and "never", if you notice, are part of the adverbs of frequency. There's nothing wrong with them except they give you nothing -- they say these are absolutes, always, forever, now, and in the future. And this isn't how the world works. If it was, we'd all be perfect. And I don't know about you, but I'm not very perfect. Okay. So "always" and "never", there are other choices we can make. So one way we can get rid of generalization is to change it. I'll give you an example. Instead of saying, "The bus is always late", you can say, "It is often late or regularly late." This is true because I'm sure there's at least once or twice it comes on time or comes early or arrives early at your stop. So you want to keep that in mind, right? You can say, "You are never on time." How do we get around "never on time"? Remember. We can go here. There are other adverbs of frequency. "You are seldom on time." This is more accurate. So what we're looking for is being accurate in our language about when people repeat things. This is much more true or truer, we could say, right? Versus just using the two absolutes which take away from truth, and it stops the listener from listening to you. Why? Well, you're generalizing. They will fight with you to prove that you're wrong. And your point gets lost, and that's what this is about. How to keep your point so people listen and understand you instead of stopping listening to you because you generalize too much. All right? So we've done the first two, The Seven Sisters, and the adverbs of frequency, right? And we've got "always, regularly, usually, sometimes, seldom, rarely, and never." And you notice they go up and down from 100 percent true to 100 percent never happening, negative, and in between. Use these instead of saying "always" and "never". All right? Now, what about the other three legs of the cat? Remember, we have four-legged cats on Earth. Five-legged cats make me think. So if you're seeing someone who uses these words regularly, that's the problem. Now, what's the problem here? Well, here we go. What these people are using are indefinite adjectives. An adjective describes, yes? Well, an indefinite adjective, what it does is it describes, but it isn't attached to a noun. So when you say, "You always do this" -- no. Sorry. Not "always", but let's give an example for "some" -- or no. "Every". "Everyone knows this." "Everyone" is who? Everyone on earth? Everyone in the universe? "Everyone in this room knows this." Okay. That makes a bit of a difference, okay? We're being more specific. Or "all". "All books" -- no. I'll give you a good one. "All personnel must report to the office" instead of "all must report." "All personnel or all the people must go to the office." People who work in a specific place. We have "personnel". How about this one, "Some. Give him some." Give him some what? If I say, "Give him some money", that's specific. Once again, we have gone from very general to specific. And in doing so, you're bringing the person to understand what you really want them to know instead of generalizing over everything. Okay? And this is a little bit of a complex lesson. Why? Because usually I like to have fun in our videos. And we barely talked to Mr. E. He's petting the kitty, right? Keeping it calm. But what we want to do is overall -- let's go back over it. We want to go from generalization in our speech because we want to be effective speakers, and we want to be more specific. One of the mistakes that people do is they either take adverbs of frequency, and they use the absolutes to say this is the way things are in the world. Or they take indefinite adjectives, and they don't actually use a noun to describe exactly what we're speaking about. So to fix that, what we do is we take the other adverbs of frequency, which are more specific, or we change our indefinite adjectives to indefinite pronouns. In both cases, we become very specific, and we let the person we're speaking to understand what we really mean versus generalizing over everything. Now, I hope you liked the lesson today. I always try to produce a good one for you. I never want to let you down. So I don't want to exaggerate about this and say every time I come out you're happy, right? But Mr. E and I are going to take a little step out. But I wanted to say something before I go, which is, like I always say: I want you to go to www.engvid.com, "eng" as in "English", "vid" as in "video", where you can do the quiz, find other wonderful teachers, and visit Mr. E and I for other lessons that we hope you'll enjoy. Okay? Cool. You have a good one. And that's no exaggeration.