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Book S1: Fluency in Functional English (Part - I)

Fluency in Functional English (Part - I)

Fluency in Functional English (Part - I)
By Prof. Kev Nair

"Two volumes of Fluency in Functional English help speakers achieve the skill of being able to say the right thing in the right social and career contexts."
The New Indian Express.

Please note: This book is not sold separately. It is available for sale only as part of Fluentzy: The English Fluency Encyclopedia.

Sample pages from this book

Functional English

One of the chief reasons why people want to learn a foreign language is this: They want to be able to “do things” in that language. That is, they want to “agree or disagree with someone”, “accept or reject an offer”, “deny something”, “express likes/dislikes”, “offer food and drink”, “compliment someone” and do a lot of things like these. In other words, they want to use that language and perform a number of “everyday communicative functions”.

Functions like these are everyday functions, because you’ll have to perform these functions whenever you deal with people. In fact, you’ll have to perform each of these functions not once, but several times, every day.

If you want to become good at performing these everyday functions in a particular language, keep this in mind: Every modern language has a certain set of word groups that would help a speaker perform a certain set of functions. And when you want to perform a particular function in that language, you’ll have to utter one or more of the word groups that are normally used in that language to perform that function.

For example, if you want to “express your gratitude” in English, you’ll have to use an expression like “Thank you”, “That’s very kind of you”, “I can’t thank you enough” etc.

Through this Supplement and the next, I’m going to introduce you to all the important functions you’ll have to perform every day in English. Under each function-heading, I’ll also give you a collection of word groups that would help you perform that function.

What you must do is this:

You must utter each of the word groups several times — ALOUD. In that way, you must get your ears and organs of speech used to these word groups.

While uttering each word group, take a look at the function-heading (under which it comes) and remind yourself what function it helps you to perform. This is very important. While doing your practice with each word group, keep reminding yourself (silently) that it helps you perform a particular function. For example, while uttering the word group “I do wish you’ll be more careful” during your practice sessions, remind yourself that it helps you perform the function “Forgiving someone”. In that way, that particular function and that particular word group would get associated in your mind. And your mind gets conditioned to recalling that word group automatically, whenever you use English to perform that function.

Now remember this: It’s not as though one particular word group can be used only to perform one particular function. No. That’s not so. Often, you can use a particular word group to perform more than one function. For example, take the word group “Thank you very much”. You can use this word group to perform the function “Expressing gratitude” as well as the function “Accepting an invitation”.

So there’s no strict one-to-one correspondence between word groups and functions. That is, we can’t say that a particular word group is used only to express a particular function or that a particular function can only be expressed by a particular word group. At the same time, bear in mind that certain word groups are used more often to express certain functions than to express certain other functions.

In fact, most word groups can normally be used only to express one or two functions. I’ve classified the word groups you’re going to get by taking these realities into account.

And remember this: When you say something to a person, he’s aware of the conversational situation in which you say it. And this awareness of the conversational situation would easily help him understand what function you intend a particular word group to perform when you utter it.

So when you practice uttering the word groups aloud, don’t let your aim be to reproduce by heart a list of word groups that would help you perform a particular function. That is, you don’t have to learn to list the word groups by heart and to say that such-and-such a word group listed under such-and-such a function-heading would help you perform such-and-such a function. No, that’s not necessary at all and won’t be of much help. All you need to do is to associate in your mind each of the word groups listed under a function-heading with that function — because nobody ever says anything in real life by first recalling the names of the functions they want to perform from moment to moment and then by recalling word groups that’d be appropriate to fulfill those functions. No — nobody does that! In fact, once you complete your practice with the functional word groups, you can safely forget about the names of the functions that those word groups perform. Actually, the function-names are not important outside the practice sessions.

So let me stress one thing: When you practice uttering each word group aloud, you must keep reminding yourself what specific function that particular word group helps you to perform. I want you to do this, because the name of a particular function-heading would form a common basis for relating in your mind a set of word groups together (that is, to one another) as well as to a particular function. Of course, this exercise may also help you to easily and readily recall appropriate word groups — function-wise at the right time — when you have a real conversation. But the point is, that’s not the reason why I want you to do this exercise.

Let’s now move on to the functions themselves.

You’ll find these functions covered by two Supplements in this course: Supplement 1 and Supplement 2. You should first take a look at the tables of contents on pages 3 and 4 of these Supplements. Each table gives a list of the functions covered by each of the Supplements. These tables give you a bird’s eye view of the communicative functions that you’ll have to perform every day, and of the word groups and patterns of word groups that English-speaking people often use in order to perform those functions.

But when you have to locate a negative function-heading like “Expressing inability”, “Expressing disagreement”, “Expressing disapproval”, “Expressing uncertainty” etc, don’t look for them in the places for “inability”, “disagreement”, “disapproval”, “uncertainty”, etc. Instead, look for them in the places for the positive words “ability”, “agreement”, “approval”, “certainty”, etc.

And to make it still easier for you to locate a particular function, the key-word in the name of each function has been printed in italics.

Here we go for the word groups that help you express each function.

1. Expressing ability

• He can drive. • I can drive a car, but not a lorry. • The door was stuck, but he was able to open it. • When I was your age, I could run a mile in 5 minutes. • He’s better able to do it than her. • He’s quite an expert at this sort of work. • She knows how to swim. • He finished the work on his own without help from anyone else. • He has ability, but he is lazy. • She’s capable of passing the exam if she tries harder. • He’s a good painter. • He’s a good carpenter. • Will you be able to come to the meeting tomorrow? • She’s good at guessing things. • I wouldn’t put it past him to do a thing like that. • You can do much better, I’m sure. • He has the ability to make decisions. • She can speak Spanish fluently. • You’re capable of doing better, you know.

2. Expressing inability

• He cannot do it without help. • She can’t speak Telugu very well. • He couldn’t understand a thing she said. • I’m sorry, I won’t be able to come. • I couldn’t answer her questions. • He won’t be able to type so fast. • She’s incapable of behaving rudely to anyone. • I wasn’t able to pass the driving test the first time. • He’s incapable of hard work. • He’s incapable of telling a lie. • He’s unable to help her. • I can’t swim as far as you. • I tried to move it, but I couldn’t. • I want to come, but I’m unable to. • I’ve never been any good at repairing things.

3. Asking about ability or inability

• Can you swim across the river? • Can you drive a car? • Can you ride a bike? • Can you type? • Is she able to understand the instructions? • Were you able to solve the problem? • Can’t you explain it more simply? • Isn’t he able to read or write? • Is he unable to walk without crutches?

4. Accepting sth (= something)

[See Function (Fn). no.18 Accepting an apology, Fn.no.67 Accepting help, Fn.no.85 Accepting an invitation, Fn.no.100 Accepting an offer of food or drink, and Fn.no.149 Agreeing to/Accepting a request. See also Fn.no.10 Expressing agreement].

5. Expressing admiration

(See also Fn.no.21 Expressing appreciation, Fn.no.22 Expressing approval, and Fn.no.41 Complimenting sb).

• That’s the most magnificent performance I’ve ever seen! • You don’t say! You mean you made it? • Look at the building. Isn’t it beautiful? • I just adore this colour. • I’ve never seen anything like it! • You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen! • Oh, that’s marvellous! • Ah, really wonderful! • It’s really wonderful! • It’s really something! • Isn’t that fantastic! • It’s quite extraordinary, really! • Oh, that’s lovely! • What a grand view! • Well, I never! That’s incredible! • Really fantastic! • It’s absolutely splendid! • That’s quite fantastic! • This dress looks really stunning on you. • Terrific! • What glorious roses! • Ah, super! • Oh, smashing! • Oh, lovely! • My! • Oh, it’s the most impressive speech I’ve ever heard! • I’ve never met anyone so attractive.

6. Admitting sth

• Yes, it’s possible. • I’m sorry. It was a mistake on my part. • Well, perhaps I should have handled it with some more care. • I’ve been wrong about that. • It was my mistake entirely. • I think it was wrong of us not to invite them. • Well, perhaps I may have been a little careless about it. • I guess I didn’t have the nerve. • Well, it could be true. • No one is to blame but myself. • Yes, OK, it looks as though I’ve slipped up. • Look, I’m not able to do this — I find it too difficult. • I’ve made a mistake in inviting them. • I don’t know much Tamil. • Yes, all right. • I admit that I was absent-minded. • He may be able to do it. Yes. • So what if I broke the vase? It wasn’t intentional, you know. • I’m sorry. You’re quite right about it. • It was my fault entirely. • This was all my own fault, really. • What I said was quite wrong. I know. • Well, perhaps we ought to have been a bit more careful. • I’m entirely to blame for it. • Oh dear, I seem to have made a mistake. • There’s something in what he says. • I made the mistake of trusting him with money. • I had a part in that decision, too. I admit that.

7. Admonishing sb (= somebody)

(See also Fn.no.168 Warning sb).

• Don’t repeat the same mistake again. • Don’t try to harass me — I’m warning you. • You’ll be more careful in future, won’t you? • Don’t give me any more cause for complaint. • There’ll be serious consequences if you try to cheat us again. • I think you’re making a mistake. • I don’t think that was very wise. • Let me warn you: Don’t interfere in my affairs in future. • Be more careful in future. • Next time, I won’t forgive this kind of behaviour. • You had better watch out! • You had better not make another mistake. • Don’t all talk together. • I wouldn’t do such a thing again, if I were you. • Just be more considerate in future. • If you do this again, I’ll come down hard on you.


End of sample content




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