Don’t speak English like a robot

(Level A2+)

Some French speakers who speak English as a second or third language have adopted a robotic style of English. This is not their fault. It’s the way English has been taught.

If I ask a student: How are you? I know 90% will respond with this robotic reply: Fine and you?
Robotic or automatic answers lack warmth and charm.


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There are many other ways to respond to this everyday question that are friendlier and much more charming and inviting.

Here are a few examples:

I’m fine thank you. And you? (pause) How are you?
Fine thanks. And you? Busy?

Great! Thanks. (pause) How about you?
Not too bad thanks. How are things with you?
I’m well thank you. How are you? How was your weekend?

Advice: Change your response to the question How are you? and you might find that conversations start to blossom. How are you? is often the entry point into a conversation. Respond in a friendly open manner and show your interest in the other person and you never know where it will go from there…


Have a good day

An expression that is terribly overused is Have a good day.  This is the favorite phrase of customer service employees. It now can be found in every customer service manual on planet Earth. For many customer service employees it is compulsory to end a conversation with this phrase. Yuck! Berk! I am personally sick to death of it.

Advice: Instead of saying Have a good day try one of these phrases if applicable…  Enjoy your day or Thank you for your time.


C’est pas vraiment parfait

The French expression: C’est parfait! or simply Parfait! is used to positively agree with the speaker. But does it work in English? Can you say That’s perfect! or Perfect! to indicate you agree or are happy with what is being said?
Yes, you can. But, not all the time! It is better to reply: Great! Excellent! Very good!  Good or even Terrific! if you are very happy with what you hear. A simple Okay is enough to tell the speaker that you are in agreement with what he or she is saying.

Advice: Don’t overuse That’s perfect! You can say: Great! Excellent! Very good! or simply Thanks or Thank you or even just a simple Okay is fine.

But you can say: The car is in perfect condition. She speaks perfect English. The weather was perfect. It is a perfect day for a picnic. The instructions were perfectly clear.

And finally remember: No-one is perfect. Definitely not your English teacher.

Questions and feedback: [email protected]

Photo: Upsplash

Garry Littman

Garry Littman est le fondateur de The Language House à Genève. The Language House propose des coachings d'anglais à Genève pour les particuliers et les entreprises, ainsi que des cours intensifs d'anglais dans les pays anglophones. Garry a été journaliste en Australie et en Asie, il a travaillé pour World Radio Switzerland.

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