How to Speak in Plain English

December 14 is Plain English Day. Plain English Day celebrates simple and clear language that is more easily understood.

Sometimes when language learners write and speak, they can use more complex language than they need to, which can cause confusion.

We have 5 tips on how to speak in plain English and make yourself more easily understood!

1. Use as few words as possible to make your point.

Try not to add too many description words or details. These extra words can confuse your message and make you more difficult to understand.

Which sentence is easier to understand?
"I'm sorry, I can't go to the party"
or
"I regret to inform you that I will be unable to attend the party you are hosting"

2. Don't unnecessarily combine sentences. 

Writing compound sentences is a good way to show off your English skills. However, trying to fit too many ideas into one sentence doesn't show off language skills. The ability to craft simple, understandable and clear sentences is the real skill.

3. Get to the point and then explain it. 

Make your point clear when you start a story or sentence. Don't begin with a long explanation of why you're talking about the topic. You don't want to lose your audience before you've started!

4. Use vocabulary and language that you and your audience are familiar with.

It's exciting to learn and remember new vocabulary, but trying to use vocabulary that you are uncomfortable with might lead to some embarrassing mistakes. Also, if you are using very complicated language, your audience might not understand you.

5. Use active verbs,  not passive verbs. 

Active verbs are shorter and easier to use than passive verbs. Use active verbs to make your language clearer and simpler to understand.

Which is easier to understand?

"Once a week, Alex visits his sister"
or
"Once a week, Alex's sister is visited by him"

While this is an extreme example, it should help you understand why active voice is clearer than passive voice.

Use these tips to speak in plain English and get your point across! Learning to speak and write more carefully will help your language grow. It will also give you an opportunity to learn and practice more English.

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