, , , , , , , ,

I’m not a native English speaker. What was that? Did you just say “I noticed”? Well, maybe you did notice, but one doesn’t have to be a professional singer to recognize the difference between Celine Dion and a neighbor singing in the shower.
Similarly, I really truly physically suffer every time I have to read a document written in bad grammar. In these cases I absolutely cannot concentrate on the content. Instead, I can’t stop imagining how I’ll print it all out, take a red (not any, but definitely red) pen, correct all the mistakes, go find that person who wrote this masterpiece and make them go over each and every mistake with me. And – although I’m a member of the corresponding group on one social network – no, I’m not a grammar nazi. How do I know that? A grammar nazi would have already committed suicide by the page 5 of that paper I had to read yesterday. I made it to page 10. Pulse elevated, gnashing my teeth, having violent thoughts about the author, I was still reading and am very determined to make it to the last page 53.
I also live in a non-English speaking country. So at work I have to put up with “neighbors singing in the shower” on daily basis. All of them are lovely people, but the masterpieces they produce make you want to start banging your head against the first hard surface available.
“Dear John,

great to listen you are ok. As bespoken on the phone we did the overhand of the Project. But server has “small” performance and must please get additional memory. We please need once again your Help and please need this latest tomorrow. I copied you in the email to the help desk.

Best regards.”

And no, I’m not making this up. Forget about your-you’re, its-it’s. As you can see, I have much bigger problems here. True story.
As you might already know, I tend to write things down if I have troubles processing them in a normal way. So to be able to cope with my suffering and to prevent myself from getting head injuries, I put together couple of tips for writing in English which might be also beneficial for the native English speakers who are struggling with grammar. And yes, I feel better already.

Writing in English: Tips and Tricks

(also for native speakers)
  1. When writing in English, think in English. If you think in your own language and try to translate your thoughts into fluent English text, you will definitely end up with “Something that has a little Sense and also will bring English Speakers to cry”.1
  2. Read English books and listen to native speakers. If you are lacking time, you can just switch on an English channel on TV while cleaning your apartment, or listen to an English audio book while driving to work. You don’t even have to pay attention. Your brain has its ways.
  3. Proofread. If you have time, do it the next day with a fresh eye. It’s amazing how the same text which seemed flawless yesterday turns out to be full of mistakes today. Magic.
  4. Trust your gut. Especially if you’ve been listening and/or reading a lot in English, after some time you will notice that some things just feel right (or wrong), even if you do not know why.
  5. If you are not sure, google! Or look it up in a dictionary. Or ask an English speaking colleague. Also, you can give yourself a pat on the back at this point. If you are not sure, it means your gut is doing its job.
  6. Study spelling and grammar. Yes, it doesn’t sound like fun. But if your goal is not only to stop “bringing English Speakers to cry” but also to impress them with your skills at some point, you will have to put some dedicated effort into it.
  7. Write more. The best way to learn anything is to practice. As they say it in Denglisch, “Exercise makes the Master”.
1 – What do you mean you didn’t get the joke? You don’t speak German? Well, maybe it’s time to learn it. I hear it’s fun! Ok, I’ll explain it to you for now: In German, all nouns are capitalized. Also German speaking people can’t “make you cry”; they “bring you to cry”, if translated word-by-word (and sometimes literary with their grammar).