6 Keys to Fluency: 5. Don’t Get Hung Up on Grammar

When you get hung up on something, that means you are stuck on it in the sense that you are thinking too much about it or worrying about it.  Getting hung up on grammar means to worrying so much about how you are saying something, that you can’t concentrate, or think about, what you are saying (or what another person is telling you) to have a fluent conversation.  Paying too much attention to being grammatically correct becomes distracting to your brain, and then you cannot focus on the quick back and forth of a conversation in English.

This is not an unusual problem for learners.  I have met many English language learners that score really well on exams and probably know more about English grammar than I do, but have a difficult time keeping a normal conversation going in English.  Instead of approaching the complications of English grammar from an academic standpoint and memorizing the long lists of rules and exceptions to rules, it is better to learn it the way most native speakers learn it, by listening and practical usage.  If you ask a native speaker why he uses grammar in a certain way,  he will probably reply that “it sounds right”.   That’s the way most native speakers figure out the correct answers on grammar exams too! (and the reason why so many native speakers have bad grammar habits)

Of course, some basic grammar rules must be learned, and even memorized.  There is no way around that in any language.  However, beyond the basics, listening to English conversations and learning the way phrases are used by native speakers goes much farther in helping a student become fluent. I personally hate teaching advanced grammar rules to students, mainly because it is boring and complicated both for them and me.  Over the years, I have made an extensive study of the English language and all of its peculiarities, and I still am learning new things about grammar all the time.  So don’t worry too much about having perfect grammar when you are speaking to someone, chances are that no one will even notice if you make a mistake or two.

Thanks for reading my blog.  It is very important to me to meet the needs of learners of all types.  Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment about anything you would like me to talk about in the blog or check out my Facebook page for more cool stuff.  I also have video course available for purchase on UDEMY.com.  If there are any topics you would like me to host a course on, please let me know!  If I use your suggestion in my next course, I will make the course available to you at no charge.




2 thoughts on “6 Keys to Fluency: 5. Don’t Get Hung Up on Grammar

  1. Hello Mr Aaron,thank you for your helpful tips on English grammar and others English skills. Actually I have some trouble with the correct meaning and usage of- figure out- understand- work out- sort out.I think they all can be used to talk about understand something or find out about something, but I’d really like to know the proper usage and the proper context in when to use them. I’m an Italian ESL online student of 42 years old, I subscribed your 2 courses on Udemy and read your blogposts on your website. Sometime I have nice but small conversations with my customers at work, but my fluency is harmed by all these doubts.Thank you for your help and kind regards. Monica – Italy


    • Thanks, Monica, for your comment! Just a quick comment on those phrasal verbs: work out: although it can have 3 different meanings, the one that you may be having trouble with is the meaning: “to make a calculation”. For example: We have to work out the total cost before we buy the house. Figure out is very similar, it means: understand, to find the answer. For example: I need to figure out how to fit the piano and the bookshelf in this room. So, the difference between these two is small, but slightly different. Use “work out” for calculations or when making a plan to accomplish something. Use figure out to understand or find a solution. You may figure out the solution to a problem by working out a plan to succeed. To understand simply means to comprehend or know the meaning of something. The best way to learn phrasal verbs and collocations is to view them as individual vocabulary words. Learn the meanings of these as a whole and use them in sentences to familiarize yourself with these.

      Also, it’s very good that you’re aware of your doubts. Work to build your confidence by learning, using, and memorizing the most useful or commonly used phrases for your business when speaking with customers. Fluency takes time and but when you display confidence, you’ll be surprised at how well your English will improve. Thanks again!


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