Simplify your language

What do you do when you want to say something in a foreign language which involves grammar or vocabulary which you haven't yet learnt. The answer's easy - simplify!

The ability to express complex meaning simply is one of the most important skills you can learn when you're studying a foreign language. It's going to be quite a long time before you reach a high level of proficiency in the language you are studying - and you may not even want to get that far. So learning to express everything you want to say within the level of the language you already know is a skill which is essential if you are going to be able to communicate effectively.

For instance, you might want to say something like If I'd known, I would have gone. But until you're at at least a high intermediate level in the language, you won't be able to - the verb forms are much too complex. However, you can express more or less the same concepts much more simply if you say I didn't know so I didn't go. Now all you need are past verbs - which unless you're a complete beginner, you will probably have already learnt.

Here are some more complex ideas which you might not yet know how to express in the language you are studying. How could you simplify them so that you can say the same thing using the grammar and vocabulary which you do already know?

1. I've been learning German for three years.

2. (To a friend who can't find her purse) You might have left it on the bus.

3. He was supposed to be here by now.

4. The room was unavailable because it was being used for another meeting.

5. He's bound to turn up late.

Click here for some suggestions.