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3 Things you Need to Know about English (and Maybe Didn't)

Learning English can be fun, but can also be challenging.  If you want to speak English well, here are three things you may not know about English, but will really help you.

#1  One of the most common nouns is “thing”

There are many uses of “thing”.  A common way that native English speakers use “thing” is when they can’t think of the exact word to use, but the exact noun isn’t necessary. 

For example, “She had a stick with a metal thing on the end.”

So if you can’t think of the word for something, or if you don’t know the word in English, try using “thing”.  Chances are that you will be able to communicate perfectly clearly without using the word (though you should still look it up in a dictionary later, of course, to build your vocabulary).


#2  English is a stress-timed language

things to know about english - stress-timed-English

A stress-timed language is a language where not all syllables are stressed equally, but the stressed syllables are said at approximately regular intervals, and unstressed syllables shorten to fit this rhythm.

This means that there are many unstressed syllables that are said so quickly that it is difficult to hear them.  This is the reason for the shwa  |Image result|.  This is why articles and prepositions are often so hard to learn, because they are hard to hear. 

In order to sound natural, it is important to NOT stress all syllables the same.


#3  Many words can be pronounced differently (and correctly)

things to know about english Caramel

Learning English can be difficult because spelling and pronunciation don’t always match.  Knowing how to correctly pronounce a word can be difficult. 

However, some words are easy – because there are more than one way to pronounce them and both (or all) ways are correct.  Some of these differences are between British and American pronunciation, but some vary in different parts of the same country.  So don’t worry about which is correct – they both are!

Examples include:

  • Caramel: KARR-uh-mel, KARR-uh-muhl, KAR-muhl
  • Route: rOOt; rOWt
  • Often: OFT-uhn; OFF-uhn
  • February: FEB-roo-ary ; FEB-yuh-ri
  • Tomato: to-MAY-to; to-MAH-to

If you want to learn many more tips about American English, study English in New York at the English Language Institute:  You can visit the ELI website,  contact the ELI  or apply here.


Word List:

  • interval (n):  a space of time between events
  • stressed (adj.): when a syllable of a word in speech is greater loudness