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Book S5: Fluency in Speaking About People

Fluency in Speaking About People

Fluency in Speaking About People
By Prof. Kev Nair

"Fluency in Speaking About People helps you master the semantic and syntactic resources needed to achieve flunecy in speaking about people and their behaviour, attitudes, intelligence, personality, traits, feelings and emotions."
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

A person’s “make-up”

A person’s “make-up” is his/her nature or a combination of the various qualities that form their character.

I have chosen this topic for you because this is an area in which most people aren’t fluent.

If you monitor day-to-day conversations for a long time, you’ll be convinced of one thing: There are four subjects that very often come up during all conversations. They are:

1). A person’s behaviour.

2). A person’s attitude.

3). A person’s intelligence.

4). A person’s personality and personality traits.

These are the main elements in a person’s make-up, and during conversations, most people fail miserably in expressing ideas that have to do with these four subjects.

Why does this happen? Why do you often find it difficult to speak about someone’s behaviour, attitude, intelligence, personality or personality traits?

These are the chief reasons: Firstly, though you know the core words in English, you may not have much experience in using them to speak about these topics (a person’s behaviour, attitude, etc.). Secondly, to speak about a person’s behaviour, attitude etc., you should be good at using English in the “descriptive style” — and this style is quite different from the style of ordinary functional English dialogues.

The second reason needs some explanation.

In very general terms, we can classify the English language as “descriptive English” and “non-descriptive English”. Descriptive English is the type of English that you use when you want to explain or describe what someone or something is like or what they look like. And when you use descriptive English, what you actually do is to try and give a picture of someone or something to your listeners. For example, take the following word-groups:

• He’s a man of powerful build with a severe face.

• She’s a tall, business-like, woman of 35.

• He’s a short man in the early fifties, with a bald head.

• She had a blue dress on.

• His house has an entrance hall, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath.

• The floor is of white tiles.

• A hovercraft is a sort of vehicle, and it travels above the surface of land or water, and it can float above the land or water on a cushion of air.

These are examples of descriptive English. On the other hand, take the following examples:

• Don’t repeat the same mistakes.

• You’d better explain everything to her.

• Perhaps you may have a point there.

• Sorry, I’m not ready yet.

• That’s all right.

• I’m happy about the whole idea.

• Have a look at this photo.

• I’m not satisfied with this mixer.

Here you’re not trying to describe or explain what someone or something is like or what they look like, and so these are not examples of descriptive English, but of non-descriptive English. (Just a casual look at the two sets of examples would give you an idea of the difference between the two styles).

In general, when you speak about a person’s behaviour, attitude, etc., the style of English you use is the descriptive English style, and not the non-descriptive English style.

Now, there’s a complicating factor: When you describe or explain the physical appearance of a person or a thing, things are not very difficult, because you’re then speaking about concrete things — things you can see or touch or things whose pictures you can easily form in your mind. But when you describe or explain the qualities of a person or thing, the position is different. You’re then speaking about abstract things (and not concrete things) — things you cannot see or touch or things whose pictures you can’t readily form in your mind (because they don’t exist as material objects).

So when you try to speak about the behaviour, attitude etc. of a person, what you are trying to do is to describe or explain abstract concepts. And this is not easy.

Now remember this: I’m not trying to tell you that descriptive English is always more difficult than non-descriptive English. Actually, there would be occasions when you may find descriptive English easier than non-descriptive English, and there would be occasions when you may find descriptive English more difficult than non-descriptive English. But, in general, descriptive English becomes difficult to produce when you try to describe or explain abstract concepts like the behaviour, attitude, etc. of people. That’s why we’re concentrating on these areas in this Supplement.

Under each of the four topics in this Supplement, you’re going to get plenty of word-groups. Each word-group has been hand-picked to give you maximum training in using the core words that are relevant to that particular topic. Go through all the word-groups carefully. They’ll give you plenty of experience in using the core words to speak about these topics. And they’ll give you plenty of experience in handling descriptive English to deal with abstract subjects.

Now remember this: Core words are words of the greatest general service, and when you practise using them under a particular topic, you become good not only at using those words to handle that particular topic, but also at handling all topics in general.

Let’s now take up the word-groups. Here we go:


Group 1

• What I like about her is, she isn’t shy or embarrassed in the company of other people. • He’s very harsh/cruel, and will do anything to get what he wants. • He’s friendly, and enjoys talking to other people. • He behaves differently from other people. • He avoids too much of eating/drinking. • I found him willing and eager to be helpful. • He’s lively and enthusiastic. • He’s very concerned about unimportant details and is very difficult to please. • She frequently changes her mood without warning. • He was angry and upset. • His behaviour was stupid and insensitive. • She never does what she’s told to do. • She was in a bad situation, and she was willing to do anything to get out of it. • He’s stubborn and determined to have his own way. • She behaved as though she felt at ease. • He has the courage to do what he believes is right. • He allows things other people disapprove of. • He’s very aggressive and eager to argue. • I found him humble and unassuming. • Even when he knows what he has done is wrong, he doesn’t feel guilty or sorry about it. • That was a difficult situation, but she was calm and unemotional. • Stop behaving like a woman, can’t you, Ashok? • He’s very unwilling to spend money. • He’s very reliable and respectable. • I found him very confident and assured. • She was very upset and was behaving in an uncontrolled way.

• Those children are noisy and not easily controlled. • He’s not careful in obeying rules. • She often complains about things. • She’s very sensitive and sympathetic towards other people. • She’s rather reserved and behaves very correctly. • He keeps trying to make people like him. • She feels embarrassed and nervous when someone is looking at her. • He’s not afraid of doing things even if they involve risk/danger. • I think he’s too confident and aggressive. • He’s very mean and hates spending money. • He gave the impression of being dishonest. • He was lively and entertaining. • Sometimes he behaves in a silly way, rather than being serious and sensible. • He only helps people if he thinks they’re important. • She’s always at ease in social situations. • He’s full of wit/humour. • He’s respectable, well-bred and refined. • She’s polite and has good manners. • He behaves as though he has no emotional interest in the things he does. • They were too eager to obey their boss and to do things for them. • They were cowardly, or they wouldn’t have attacked that old lady. • He felt so happy and excited, he found it hard to think and act normally. • He looked slightly embarrassed — as though he felt he had done something silly. • She was very helpful and polite. • It was a frightening situation, but he was brave. • He’s weak and cowardly. • It was a frightening experience, but she was very calm and self-controlled.

• She’s very kind and sympathetic towards other people, and she tries to do them as little harm as possible. • She was very friendly and relaxed. • I found him quiet and not aggressive. • He likes to have fun embarrassing people. • He behaves/speaks as though he’s superior to other people. • He behaves in a gentle and helpful way towards other people. • He was nervous and excited and seemed likely to lose control of himself. • He does a lot of dishonest/illegal things every day. • That child is very spirited and playful. • He often gets involved in arguments. • She’s very quiet and rather shy. • He doesn’t take enough care over how his words will affect other people. • The children were noisy, lively and full of energy. • He behaves in a way that’s too lively. • He doesn’t talk much about his abilities and qualities. • He is very dishonest and secretive. • He never understands how complicated things can be at times, and he interprets them in a way that’s too simple. • He doesn’t show any feelings or emotions. • He strongly supports people he likes, without thinking carefully about the matter. • He always says unkind things. • He appeared to be relaxed and was not trying to hide anything. • Our next-door neighbours are very friendly and helpful.

Group 2

• He’s very religious and moral. • He was angry, irritated and bored. • He was worried and unhappy about something. • She’s cheeky, but lively and full of energy. • She’s easily upset by unpleasant sights and situations. • He won’t hesitate to take risks to achieve what he wants. • It was a dangerous situation, but she showed courage. • He’s too self-confident and rather cheeky. • He gets angry quickly and easily. • He recognizes and accepts the true nature of situations, and tries to deal with them in a practical way. • He never gives any importance to other people’s opinions or beliefs. • He’s always careless about doing things. • He was so upset and worried that he couldn’t think clearly. • He’s very cheeky and always speaks rudely/disrespectfully. • I found his behaviour/accent very artificial. • He always behaves in a formal and unfriendly way. • He’s lively and full of enthusiasm and excitement. • He only agrees with people if he considers them to be important. • He has no hesitation in doing things even if they’re morally wrong. • He has an enthusiastic nature and is interested in everything he does. • He’s playful and unpredictable rather than serious and practical.

• Why do you hesitate to show affection openly and freely? • He has a strong belief in democracy. • He becomes angry and upset very quickly about small, unimportant things. • He’s rather shy and doesn’t enjoy talking about himself. • He’s very careful and detailed in his work. • He’s willing to try out new and unusual ways of doing things. • He’s prepared to be cruel to other people and feels no pity for them. • He was angry and said a lot of bitter things. • He’s very gentle, and he doesn’t get angry very easily. • He’s very naïve and believes that everybody is honest. • He’s a noble person. • Our new boss is bad-tempered and is easily irritated. • He’s quiet and shy. • Her son is disobedient and behaves very badly. • Your behaviour was so bad that you ought to be ashamed. • Our new boss is very strict and serious — I don’t like him. • She must have been very courageous to go into the burning building. • She always talks/behaves in a rude and offensive way. • She’s very lively and easily excited. • He’s a mild person, and he never shouts at other people. • He behaved as though he didn’t like/respect them. • He’s full of confidence and energy. • She seemed cold and aloof. • He does things suddenly without thinking about them first. • She’s always ready to quarrel. • He always behaves in a proud and unpleasant way towards other people. • She deals with situations without anxiety or emotional tension. • His behaviour was silly and immature.


End of sample content




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