Learning English, like all languages, involves mastery of complex grammatical concepts and the memorisation of hundreds of thousands of words (rough estimates state that there are around 1 million words in the English language).
While a rewarding process, it can be hard work at times. However, learning English also has its lighter side and, in that spirit, we look at five things that non-native English speakers love about English.
#1 Lack of gender
While many European languages include grammatical gender, English remains stubbornly gender neutral.
Many non-native speakers are delighted to find this out when they begin learning English, as it means that only one spelling of each noun has to be learned, rather than two.
Of course, there is always an exception to the rule and in English the word ‘blonde’ can be spelled either with or without its final ‘e’ in order to give it both masculine (blond) and feminine (blonde) forms. The rule is not strictly applied any more though and blonde has come to be the preferred usage.
#2 A French twist
Amusingly, one non-native speaker has observed that one of the best parts of English is its use of French, which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the speaker’s conversation:
“If a word doesn't immediately come to my mind, I can just use the French equivalent and people will think I'm classy instead of judging my language skills.”
#3 Flexible words
Another fun feature of English is its flexibility when it comes to the use of nouns as verbs. One example is the use of the noun ‘minute’ when referring to taking the minutes of a meeting. Though technically not a verb, those working in office where English is spoken will often hear it used as such:
“I just minuted the team meeting.”
“Part of my role is minuting meetings.”
More and more English nouns are turning into verbs in this way. Recent examples include ‘trend,’ ‘snowboard’ and ‘friend,’ all of which are now comfortable used as verbs in English.
#4 Use of ‘you’
The single use of the word ‘you’ is something that many non-native speakers enjoy. In French, ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ must both be learned, along with different verb endings depending on which is used. In Portuguese, ‘tu,’ ‘voce’ and ‘o senhor’ are all used to mean ‘you,’ depending on the level of formality that the speaker wishes to use – and that doesn’t even take into account the plural forms of each word!
English is far simpler in this respect. ‘You’ can be used regardless of how well a person is known to you or how formal you wish to be. It can also refer to one individual or a whole roomful of people.
#5 Choice of words
Many non-native English speakers love the sheer variety of words that the language contains and the levels of nuance that using different words can generate. A small object can be tiny, little, slight, miniature, diminutive or wee.
Such choice does make learning the language harder, but it also allows for a fantastic descriptive flow to conversations once all of these options have been memorised.
Are you a non-native English speaker? What do you particularly love about English? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box.