GYG Day 56. Perfecting your prepositions.

The most significant single mistake learners make with the foreign language is ….. translating out of their mother tongue into the foreign language. Hence, you get the typical ‘Dinglish’ mistakes, made by German speakers. It is a perfectly natural process because your main goal (in the heat of the moment) is to get your message across. Did (s)he understand me?

You can consider yourself very lucky if the person you are speaking to is a ‘stickler.’ A stickler is someone who will correct your English so you can learn from your mistakes going forward. Let’s face it; whoever does?

Sid Efromovich used the term ‘stickler’ in his excellent TED talk “5 techniques to speak any language” click the link to get the Free Vocabulary List PDF. Here’s the YouTube video link.

When the heat is on, you have to react NOW. There’s no time to dig out the grammar book, flapping you simply focus on finding the right words and phrases. Quite often they are direct translations, as you think to yourself “well, that’s how I would normally say it, let’s hope they do it like that too”. You string everything together in the hope that your buddy gets you. In other words, your knowledge of correct grammar often seems to get ‘thrown’ out of the window or at the very least pushed to the back of the ‘priority’ queue.

Guess which mistakes often seem most irrelevant? Yep, prepositions, those annoying little words, which are the least of your worries (as a learner). There are more critical things to worry about, correct vocabulary/phrases, tenses and sentence structure. Who gives a damn about effing prepositions, anyway?

Yes, we, as trainers, are complaining on a high level when it comes to correcting piffling little things like prepositions, I know. “Dave, get off my bloody case, will you?!”, you quietly rightly think to yourself! Nevertheless, prepositions could make or break communications. I will always remember doing a telephoning role play. Here’s how it went:

Caller: “Hi, I would like to speak to Dave Preston, please?”

Receptionist: “Oh, he’s engaged on his secretary in the moment”.

I sure my wife would be interested to know I regularly engage on my secretary. As cool as a cucumber, I did my best NOT to have hysterics in front of my students, but they all saw that something had tickled me and were eager to find out what. The person playing the receptionist went very red, and everybody (myself included I’m ashamed to say) roar with laughter.

So what to do? Download the free “Useful Preposition PDF Cheat Sheet” (click on the link) and create a learning system for yourself, in which you can learn them. Tomorrow’s Tuesday Teaser will help you see what you know and don’t know!

GOTD “Have you ever had any embarrassing ‘prepositional problems’?

Checked by Grammarly.

Hence (deshalb),“in the heat of the moment” (im Eifer des Gefechts), to consider oneself  lucky (von Glück reden können),‘stickler’(Pendant), “let’s face it” (machen wir uns nichts vor), term (Begriff), “When the heat is on” (unter Druck stehen), to dig out (etw auskramen), to flap (die Panik kriegen), to string sth together (hier: etw sagen), queue (Warteschlange), (to be) annoying (ärgerlich), the least of on’es worries (die geringste Sorge sein), to worry about (sich um etwas Sorgen machen), tenses (Zeitformen), sentence structure (Satzbau), to give a damn about sth (sich den Teufel um etw scheren), effing (scheiß), piffling (unwichtig), “get off my bloody case” (hier: lass mich in Ruhe), nevertheless (nichtdestotrotz), as cool as a cucumber (seelenrühig), to have hysterics (einen hysterischen Anfall bekommen), to tickle sb (hier: zum Lachen bringen), to be eager (eifrig), to be ashamed (sich schämen), to roar with laughter (vor Lachen brüllen), embarrassing (peinlich)

□ Do you want to know what phrases native English speakers use?

□ Do YOU want to use these phrases NOW?

□ Do you want to have a digital native speaker everywhere you go?

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