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Kev Nair

Idea Units and Fluency


Prof. Kev Nair was born in Kerala, South India, in 1949.
Hes an eminent scholar of international repute. Hes a first class
LL.B. and a first class LL.M. And he was ranked first in university
in both the LL. B. and LL. M. exams.
Nair was the first person in the world to give shape to the
area of study now known as English fluency development
and to systematize it into a distinct teachable subject... So he
is better known as the father of fluency development.
General Knowledge Today.
He had been researching since 1971, and the results... led
him to new discoveries...
THE HINDU.
Prof. Kev Nair is regarded the world over as the father
of fluency lexicography... Fluency lexicography came into
existence as a separate branch of dictionary writing with
the publication of Prof. Nairs Dictionary of Active Fluency
Combinations in 1986.
Competition Success Review.
A renowned English language lexicographer
The New Sunday Express.
One of the worlds most respected English language
scholars...Perhaps more innovative in method than Roget and
more modern in approach than Fowler, Prof. Kev Nair is... one
of the foremost Indian scholars who wield great influence
on the thinking of the English-educated people around the
world.
General Knowledge Today.
A towering English language expert
Competition Success Review.
Prof. Kev Nair... has... reached out to thousands judicial

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officers, professionals, top executives, scholars who need
that comfort and ease in speech with his specialised fluency
techniques.
The New Indian Express.
Prof. Nair is a lawyer by profession. He lives with his wife and
children in Kochi, Kerala, an enchanting place on the earth.

Fluent English Dictionaries1 by Kev Nair


A Dictionary of Active Fluency Combinations.
A Dictionary of Fluency Word Clusters.
The Complete Fluency Words.
A Dictionary of Essential Fluency Phrases.
Core Fluency Thesaurus.
Comprehensive Adjectival Fluency Dictionary.
Narrative Fluency Dictionary.
Thesaurus of Phrasal Verbs.

Note: The Fluent English Dictionaries do not form part of Fluentzy: The
English Fluency Encyclopedia. Theyre separate publications meant for those
who want to specialize in fluency-oriented vocabulary. For details, visit www.
fluencybookz.com.

Books by Kev Nair making up


Fluentzy: The English Fluency Encyclopedia
B1: Idea units & Fluency.
B2: Speech Generation & Flow Production.
B3: Teaching your Tongue & Speech Rhythm.
B4: Key Speech-initiators & Speech-unit Patterns.
S1/B13 & S2/B14: Fluency in Functional English (Vols. 1 & 2).
S3/B15: Fluency in Telephone English & Sectoral English.
B5: How to Deal with Hesitation.
B6: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Vol.1).
B7: Packing of Information.
B8: Impromptu Speech-flow Techniques.
S4/B16: Fluency Building & Mouth Gymnastics.
S5/B17: Fluency in speaking about people.
B9: Fluency in Asking Questions.
B10: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Vol.2).
B11: Fluency & Moment-to-Moment Speech-production.
B12: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Vol.3).
S6/B18 & S7/B19: Fluency in Topicwise English (Vols. 1 & 2).
S8/B20: Fluency & Pronunciation.

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B1

Idea Units
and Fluency
How units of ideas help speakers
achieve fluency THE HINDU.
Fifth Edition

Prof. Kev Nair

TM

Adult Faculties Council

TM

For Uma
idea units & fluency
Copyright Prof. K. E. V. Nair @ KevNair 1982, 1988, 1995, 2000, 2007.
First published 1982.
4th edition 2000 (16 impressions).
5th edition 2007. Reprinted, 2008.
Prof. K. E. V. Nair @ KevNair has asserted his right to be identified
as the author of this book in accordance with the Copyright Act, 1957.
All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this book shall be copied or
reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
manner whatever, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission, in writing, of the
publisher, except in the case of brief quotations or as expressly permitted
by law.
All quotations from this book shall credit the author, Prof. KevNair.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade
or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form
of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, and without a
similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on any acquirer
or the subsequent purchaser.
Any violation of these terms and conditions will invite civil and criminal
proceedings and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Published in India by Mrs. Uma V. Nair, Adult Faculties Council,
DP Lane, Elamakkara PO, Kochi-682 026, Kerala.
Printed in India by Ayodhya Printers Ltd., Elamakkara PO,
Kochi-682 026, Kerala.
Adult Faculties Councils websites:
www.fluentzy.com; www.fluencybookz.com.
Phone: (91)(0484) 2538449, 2408361.
Fax: (91)(0484) 2408361.
E-mail: info@fluentzy.com.
Price: Rs.175.00

Contents
How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books, 13
A one-pointed aim, 13
Read aloud and silently, 13
Importance of theory, 14
Importance of oral practice, 14
How to use the books for independent study, 15
Non-detailed study, 15
Detailed study, 16
Learning in bursts, 17
Regular study, 18
Do a lot of general reading, 19
Ordinary novels & plays suit fluency-building best, 20
Recommended reading, 21
You need a good dictionary, 22
Avoid bilingual dictionaries, 22
Avoid high-sounding and rarely-used words, 23
What dictionary should you buy? 23

Chapter 1: Fluency, only through idea units, 25


Speech comes first, and writing, only next, 25
Non-native speakers learn English the wrong way, 25
Learning words alone wont help, 27

Fluent speech and individual words cant go together, 27


Bite-sized pieces of ideas, 28
How does natural speech come out?, 29
What does natural speech come out in?, 30

Chapter 2: Ready-to-assemble units, 32


Chapter 3: Idea units: Your key to fluency, 42

Idea units of speech, and sentences of writing, 42


How context helps the speaker, 44
Importance of context, 45

Chapter 4: Types of idea units, 48


Phrases, 48
Phrases as idea units, 50
Dont let a few grammatical terms scare you, 51
Word knowledge and word mastery, 52
Clauses, 53
Independent clauses, 53
Non-independent clauses, 54
No complicated grammatical stuff, 56
Incomplete clauses and incomplete phrases, 56
Whole plus clauses and phrases, 57

Chapter 5: Why cant we speak in sentences? 61


Just a little at a time, and not a mouthful, 62
Strands of information, 63
Length and shape of idea units, 65
Points for dividing speech, 65
Boundary of a whole grammatical unit, 66

Boundary of an incomplete grammatical unit, 67


Boundary of a whole plus grammatical unit, 68
Other spots, 68

Chapter 6: How to divide speech into idea units, 70


Chapter 7: Segmentation Practice, 83
Chapter 8: Embedding and Lining up, 90
Roundabout connectivity, 91
Straight connectivity, 92

Speak in idea units, and not in sentences, 93

Chapter 9: V+N Clusters, 95


The thing to do, 103

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Preface to the 5th edition


Heres the latest edition of this book.
What is new about this edition is this: I have added some new
material extremely valuable covering the topic Ready-toassemble word clusters (including Verb + Noun clusters).
If you have any comments and suggestions, please do write to
me care of the publishers.
KEV Nair
Kochi, 2007.

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Abbreviations
sb

somebody

sth

something

sw

somewhere

Subject (Grammatical Subject)

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introduction To The Fluentzy series

How to make the best use


of the Fluentzy books
Let me start off with a few suggestions about how to make the
best use of the books in this series the Fluentzy series.

A one-pointed aim
The Fluentzy series is a set of 20 short books. And all these
books have a single aim a one-pointed aim: To help you gain
a priceless skill: The skill of fluency in advanced spoken English
the skill that gets your words to flow readily and easily when
you speak English. Especially, when you speak in detail, at length
when you describe something, explain something, tell a story,
argue, make a presentation, make a speech in public.

Read aloud and silently


As you go through the various books in this series, youll notice
one other thing: Youll notice that Ive written the books in a style
that is closer to the spoken style than to a high-sounding written
style.
Of course, one reason for this is plain enough: I want you
to clearly understand what I say quickly and without much
effort. But you see, theres one other reason: I want you to keep
reading this sort of English for some time English written in a
style that approximates to the spoken style. Why? Because thatll
help you pick up the feel of the real English speech to a great
extent. And thatll help you to get out of the written English track
and to get into the spoken English track.
So its not enough if you read through the books silently.
No. You should read the books aloud as well. Aloud and silently.

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

Not loudly or by producing a lot of noise, but just aloud in your


normal voice, so that you can hear yourself. Youll then get the
feel of spoken English.

Importance of theory
You know, the various books in this series consist of theory as
well as practice materials. That is, theyre made up not only of
practice-materials, but of theory, too.
By theory, I mean the detailed and basic practical aspects of
the things you should know (in order to become fluent) and
not a set of abstract ideas. The theory parts teach you the nuts
and bolts of fluency development, the rules and principles that
form the basis of the fluency skill.
So the parts containing theory are very important. They tell
you what you should practise, why you should practise those
things, how you should practise those things, and all other
details of principles. Understand the theory, and youll be half
way through to your goal.

Importance of oral practice


The practice-materials should be said aloud, and that too, again
and again. This is important. Why? Because, first off, you should
get to know these materials well. Secondly (and this is very
important), you have to train your tongue, lips and other organs
of speech train them to produce the sounds and groups of
sounds of the English language in the right way. Thirdly, you
have to train your ears to listen to these sounds and groups of
sounds, and to get to know them closely.
Do you know why you should train your ears? Because you
see, no matter how often youve read a group of words, and no
matter how often youve written it, theres still a problem: Your
tongue and mouth would hesitate to produce in speech the sound
combinations it contains. Your mind will fight shy of the sound
combinations, too.

How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

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And when will you be able to break free of this hesitation?


Not until those sound combinations have stopped sounding
strange to your ears. And when will they stop sounding strange?
Only when youve let your ears hear them said through your own
mouth often enough. Yes, often enough, and not once in a while.
And this is only possible if you do oral practice with word groups
of different types: Not with just any word groups whatever, but
with word groups that contain the kind of sound combinations
that are essential.
Mind you, your tongue, lips and other parts in your mouth
and throat these organs of speech have learnt certain habits.
These are the habits of your mother-tongue. And the habits of
our mother-tongue are different from the habits of the English
language not in one way, but in several ways. The way groups
of sounds are produced in English, and the way idea units are
produced in English these ways are different from the way
sound-groups and idea units are produced in your mothertongue. So if you want to speak English well, do you know what
you should do? You should train your organs of speech and your
mind: You should train them to learn the habits of English. You
should train your organs of speech and your mind to produce the
sound-groups and idea units of spoken English.
So give great importance to saying the practice-materials
aloud.

How to use the books for independent


study
Now let me tell you how you can use the various books in this
series for independent study.

Non-detailed study
Before starting detailed study, do a non-detailed study. That

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

is, first you should spend some time trying to get a general
understanding of everything in all the books in the series (or
in the set of fewer books out of them that youve purchased).
Go through all the books once or twice. Read through them
quickly, without making any attempt to study any particular
portion thoroughly. This would give you the overall picture of
the fluency-building system covered by the Fluentzy series of
books. A general idea. And whenever you take up a particular
part for intensive study later, this general idea would act as a
helpful background.
First, go through Books 1 to 4 (in that order) and Books 13
to 15. Then, go through Books 5 to 8 (in that order) and Books
16 and 17. Then, go through Books 9 to 12 (in that order) and
Books 18 to 20.
When you do the non-detailed study, use a pen or pencil,
and mark every part that strikes you as particularly helpful or
interesting.

Detailed study
Once youve finished the non-detailed study, you can pick up
each individual book for detailed study. Now, as far as possible,
you should spend a definite length of time every day, reading and
learning from the books, and doing drills and exercises. Can you
spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening
every day seven days a week till you finish a round of detailed
study of all the books in the series? Thatd be ideal.
Ideally, you must complete each book in about four days
time. You can then spend the remaining three days of the week
on extra practice and revision. Organize the periods you plan to
spend on the books accordingly.
Am I asking too much of you? Perhaps many of you are
already working hard on other things. For those learners, it may
be a bit difficult to find much time every day for this sort of

How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

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intensive study and practice. Im sure theyll work out on their


own a different schedule that suits them. For example, even if
they cannot devote sufficient time to their study for a few days
at a stretch, theyll find a way of compensating for the lost time
on some other day by spending extra hours on that day. But
the best plan would be to spend regular hours every day on the
learning activities. Otherwise, for many learners, the progress
would be a bit slow. But remember this: Slow progress is better
than no progress at all. So feel free to work out your own
timetable.

Learning in bursts
Some learners may not like to study at a regular pace, or may not
be able to do that, because of the type of jobs they have. They
may like to work in short bursts. That is, they may like to spend
a few days at a stretch learning from several books at once and
with great effort. Then they may like to relax their efforts for a
few days or for a few weeks. Then they may again work with
another burst of activity.
As far as fluency training is concerned, this sort of learning
in bursts is not a bad plan at all. You see, each burst of learning
activity adds to your fluency skill, and a series of such bursts
have a cumulative effect. Interim improvements are extremely
important, you know.
So, as far as fluency training is concerned, even during the
periods when youre not studying, youre actually learning. You
see, once you learn from a book about a few stumbling blocks to
fluency, this is what happens: From then on, you start becoming
aware of their presence in every real-life speech situation that
you come across. Till then, you havent been noticing them, but
from then on, you start noticing them. And you start dealing
with those stumbling blocks by putting to practical use the
fluency techniques that the book has taught you. From each of
those situations, youll be learning about the nicer aspects of the

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

fluency techniques. So you know, even during the periods when


youre not studying from the books, the things youve already
learnt are working inside your mind working hard to build
fluency in you.
You know, as far as the fluency skill is concerned, theres no
such performance as can be called a final performance. No. Your
performance keeps on becoming better and better throughout
the period of time you spend studying from the books (and
throughout your life) through gradual additions to it.

Regular study

Set 1: Books 1 to 4 and 13 to 15


First, pick up Book 1 and read through all the pages in it slowly,
carefully and seriously.
Try and understand what the explanatory parts say. Make a
conscious effort to get to know what they mean. Mark every part
that you find especially helpful or interesting. These parts would
be in addition to the parts you had marked when you had done
the non-detailed study.
Go through the examples and find out how they illustrate
the points in the explanatory parts. Practise the drills and work
through the exercises. Whenever a book in this series asks you
to do your reading aloud, read aloud. And whenever a book asks
you to repeat saying word groups several times, repeat them
several times. (Repeat saying each word group 3 to 5 times at
each sitting).
When youve finished Book 1 in this way, you can pick up
Book 2 and complete it in the same way. Then you can complete
Books 3 and 4 also (in that order) in the same way.
When youve finished Books 1 to 4, you can pick up and
complete Books 13 to 15 one after another in their serial order.

How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

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Set 2: Books 5 to 8 and 16 & 17


When youve finished the set consisting of Books 1 to 4 and
Books 13 to 15, you can pick up and complete the set consisting
of Books 5 to 8 and 16 & 17 in the same detailed way.
Revise the set consisting of Books 1 to 4 and Books 13 to 15
once a week. Pay particular attention to the parts youve marked
as important in those books. Practise the word group repetition
drills hard.

Set 3: Books 9 to 12 and 18 to 20


When youve finished the set consisting of Books 5 to 8 and
Books 16 & 17, you can pick up and complete the set consisting
of Books 9 to 12 and 18 to 20 in the same detailed way.
Revise the set consisting of Books 1 to 4 and Books 13 to 15
as well as the set consisting of Books 5 to 8 and Books 16 & 17
once a week. Pay particular attention to the parts youve marked
as important in those books. Practise the word group repetition
drills hard.

All 20 Books (Set 1, Set 2 & Set 3)


Revise Books 1 to 12 and 13 to 20 at least twice. Pay particular
attention to the word group repetition drills and other exercises.
You can now follow any order you want. You can pick up any
book now or any part in any of it first or next. But do revise
all the books at least twice.

Do a lot of general reading


Every week, you should read at least one English novel (or play).
Read a light one one thats enjoyable, entertaining and easily
understood, rather than a serious one.
This is because light novels and plays are normally written

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

in everyday English. And thats the kind of English that brings


you fluency. Of course, books dealing with serious subjects would
also help you if they are in everyday English. My aim is just
this: I want to get you exposed to a large amount of a particular
type of English the type of English that native speakers of
English actually use in speech in todays world.

Ordinary novels & plays suit fluency-building


best
Understand this: In general, classics of English literature wont
suit our purpose. No, they wont. In general, they wont help you
supplement your fluency efforts. No.
Of course, classics of English literature are splendid when
your aim is appreciation of literature. But not when your aim is
to get help with your fluency efforts. The reason is this: Classics
of English literature are generally written in a literary style, and
not in an easy, conversational, everyday style. And theyre often
full of literary words and expressions. Most of them even contain
structures, words and expressions that are rare in speech or that
are no longer used even in writing. And they may mislead you
into thinking that the style of writing and vocabulary items used
in them are appropriate for use in speech. And you may even
unconsciously start copying them. That would be a disaster. An
utter disaster.
On the other hand, light novels and plays are normally
written in an ordinary, everyday style, and not in a literary style.
And theyre full of structures, words and expressions that are
used every day in real-life speech. These structures, words and
expressions are the power-house of the English thats actually in
use of the living English. And these are the structures, words
and expressions you need to have a mastery of. Light novels and
light plays get you to come across these structures, words and
expressions again and again in a variety of everyday contexts.
This develops your familiarity with them remarkably well, and

How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

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these structures, words and expressions begin to occur to you


readily whenever you think of putting facts and thoughts into
words.
Ordinary crime stories, romances, humorous novels and plays
may not be books of high literary merit. But theyll give you a lot
of exposure to these living structures, words and expressions. For
a start, its better to confine yourself to one author. Youll then be
exposed repeatedly to the same language, style, expressions, etc.
in a large number of situations. After youve read five or six books
by the same author, turn to another author. Then youll come
across a sizable amount of the same language, style, expressions,
etc. in a variety of situations created by this other author. The
cumulative effect of all this reading experience would be this: A
bank of ready-to-use English phrases and expressions gets set up
in your brain. And through association of ideas, this bank starts
supplying you with ready-to-use phrases and expressions when
you think of expressing your ideas.

Recommended reading
Books by Erle Stanley Gardner, James Hadley Chase and John
Grisham are ideal from this point of view. These authors would
keep you soaked in the living part of modern-day English. This is
the kind of English that youll find to be of the most general use.
Of course, books even by these authors contain here and
there vocabulary items and usages that are dated. Any book by
any author is almost certain to contain a certain percentage of
dated elements. But what these authors repeatedly expose you
to is that part of the English language that has achieved some
sort of permanence over the last 100 years or so, and not those
parts that only had a short life or will only have a short life. These
authors would get you immersed in English that is neither too
old nor too modern.

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

You need a good dictionary


You must get into the habit of looking up words in a dictionary
every now and then. Pick any word. From any page. Check their
meanings, usage, pronunciation. Read all the example sentences
under an entry. Dont try to learn anything by heart. Neither the
meanings nor the examples. Just pay attention to them. Thats all.
Look at the meanings and examples. Listen to what the meanings
and examples tell you. Just be with them for some time. Spend
some time with them.
You must do this dictionary work every day for some time
even if you think you know all the important words quite
well. You must. This dictionary work is very important, because
it helps you develop a feel for words and their collocations (=
words that normally tend to occur with those words). And if you
want to achieve a real mastery of the core vocabulary, this feel
is essential.
But there are two things you must be careful about:

1. Avoid bilingual dictionaries


You should generally use only an English-English dictionary, and
NOT a dictionary that gives English meanings for your mothertongue words or a dictionary that gives your mother-tongue
meanings for English words.
You see, bilingual dictionaries can only help beginners
starting to learn English, and not advanced learners like you.
In fact, theyll harm you. Yes. First of all, if you keep on using a
bilingual dictionary, your mind will get into the habit of thinking
in your mother-tongue and of trying to translate those thoughts
into English instead of getting into the habit of connecting
your thoughts directly to English speech. This translation-instinct
will stand as a barrier between your thought and speech, and
youll find it difficult to become fluent in English. And secondly,
the English you speak will be stilted and artificial, and not like

How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

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the genuine English that native speakers of English speak or


even write.
So you should avoid using a bilingual dictionary.

2. Avoid high-sounding and rarely-used words


When you run your eyes over the pages of a dictionary, your aim
must not be to learn all sorts of high-sounding and rarely-used
words. No. Your aim must be to learn how you can use frequentlyoccurring words. And even if you look up high-sounding words
and rarely-used words, your aim must not be to actually use those
words, but to find out how you can avoid them by making use
of simpler words in their place. The meanings of those words will
give you a clear idea.
Youll get lists of frequently-occurring words in the various
books in this series. Theyre the words you should pay all your
attention to.

What dictionary should you buy?


Now, heres a list (in alphabetical order) of some of the most
helpful dictionaries on the market:
Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary.
Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners English Dictionary.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners.
Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of English.
Chances are, you already have one of these dictionaries with
you. But if you dont, buy at least one of them now. Today. Dont
worry about which of them to buy. You can buy any of them
blindly. You wont go wrong. Theyre all equally suitable for our
purpose. Of course, each gives greater attention to one or two
aspects, and the others dont give as much attention to them. But
this doesnt take away the general usefulness of any of them for

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How to make the best use of the Fluentzy books

our purpose. So you should have at least one of these dictionaries


with you. All the time, if possible. And you should make use of
them every day.
Of course, these are British dictionaries, and not American
ones. But you should buy and use one of them, even if your
sole interest is in American English. Yes. This is because these
dictionaries deal with the common core of British, American,
Australian and other varieties of English thoroughly. But if youre
very particular that you must have an American dictionary
meant for advanced learners, you can also think of buying one
of the following dictionaries in addition to one of the five
dictionaries listed earlier.
NTCs American English Learners Dictionary
Random House Websters Dictionary of American English
But dont forget to buy one of the five dictionaries listed
earlier because the English language that has international
acceptance is the common core of the British, American,
Australian and other varieties of English. And that is the kind of
English you should be fluent in.
And whichever be the dictionary you buy, make sure that you
get the latest edition. Yes, the latest.
Thats it. Start building true English language fluency now.

***

F luenc y, only through idea units

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Chapter 1

Fluency, only through idea units


You want to achieve a high level of fluency in spoken English.
And this is only possible if youre aware of certain fundamental
things. So lets start off with them.

Speech comes first, and writing, only


next
You know, the first thing you should understand about a language
is this: A language has two sides, like a coin. Yes, two sides. A
spoken side and a written side.
Listen. Doesnt a child learn to speak long before it sees
writing? Hadnt people been speaking, long before writing came?
So isnt one thing clear that the spoken stage of a language
comes before the written stage? Isnt this also clear that
speech and writing are different things, and arent to be looked
at or learnt in the same way?
This is true about any language. Its true about English, too.
Dont you get one thing now? Dont you see why most nonnative speakers of English find it hard to speak fluent English?

Non-native speakers learn English the wrong


way
By non-native speakers of English, I mean people for whom
English is not their first language or mother-tongue, but a second
language or just a foreign language. You see, for people in
India, English is a foreign language but its also a second
language. For people in several other countries, English is simply
a foreign language, and not even a second language.

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F luenc y, only through idea units

Most non-native speakers of English find it hard to speak


English fluently, because they cant learn English the way they
learn their first language. You see, theyre born and brought up in
a country where English is not spoken as the first language. And
so they can only learn English in the wrong way: In a way that
is just the reverse of the natural process of language acquisition.
Havent we seen just now what the natural way is? Havent we
seen that the natural way is to learn to speak first, and then only
to learn to write? But most non-native speakers of English dont
have the opportunity of learning English in that way.
So you see, as a non-native speaker of English, youve been
learning English in the non-natural way in a way thats
opposite to the natural way of language acquisition. Youve been
learning to write English first, rather than to speak it. Thats what
youve been doing at school and college. Youve been learning
to produce written English. And the methods you had to follow
never fully made you understand this: The spoken style is quite
different from the written style.
You see, the spoken word is the basis for the written word,
and not the other way round. And so spoken English is more
fundamental than written English. But the non-natural way in
which you had to learn English planted the wrong notion in your
mind: A wrong notion that things are the other way round
that written English is more fundamental than spoken English.
So the result is this: Youre now steeped in written English.
And your written English orientation has been preventing you
all along from understanding one thing. It has been preventing
you from understanding that spontaneous speech has to be
composed differently that is, in a way quite different from the
way writing is produced. Result? You always try to speak the way
you write. And you do this by trying hard to follow principles of
grammar and usage as applied to writing, and not as applied to
speech itself.
Is there any wonder fluency has eluded you so far?

F luenc y, only through idea units

27

So I want you to understand one thing here and now: When


they speak spontaneously, fluent speakers apply principles of
grammar and usage in a way that is different from the way they
apply those principles when they write. And the spoken style
has a number of devices and conventions of its own, and these
devices and conventions are not derived from the written style.

Learning words alone wont help


Now just think about this: Suppose you learn a number of English
words very well say, a nice big stock of them. Then, will you
be able to speak English fluently? Im sure you know the answer.
The answer is, you wont. You wont be able to speak English
fluently just because youve mastered all the common words
there are. If this hadnt been so, would speaking have been a
problem? In fact, you may yourself have an excellent vocabulary.
Why, even a student who has completed high school knows all
the common words we use in everyday spoken English! But, is
every student who completes high school able to speak fluent
English? The truth is, even most post-graduates arent able to
speak English fluently even though they know all the English
words commonly used in speech!
Why is this so? Heres a chief reason: People who arent
fluent try to speak in words, by trying to put individual words
together. Theyre not aware that this is not the right way of
speaking English. The right way to speak English is to speak it
in word groups, by putting word groups together and to
use individual words only when an individual word can do the
work of a word group. This is because the real units of speech
are ideas (or information). And ideas normally get expressed in
groups of words, rather than in individual words.

Fluent speech and individual words cant


go together
Just listen attentively to the way fluent speakers speak. You can

28

F luenc y, only through idea units

then notice this truth: Fluent speech flows out mostly in bursts
of word clusters. As far as individual words are concerned,
they make their appearance in this flow of word clusters only
occasionally. And during each burst (of word clusters), fluent
speakers normally present a chunk of 2 to 10 words with most
of the chunks consisting of 4-6 words each. (In a long stretch
of speech, the largest number of chunks tend to be 5-word
chunks).
And when theyre speaking even at the slow-to-normal rate,
fluent speakers produce as many as 120-150 words per minute
(grouped into fewer than 20-30 chunks). And when theyre
speaking at a faster rate, they produce as many as 200-300 words
per minute (and sometimes, even more than 300 words).
Would anybody be able to speak at these rates, if they spoke
by choosing individual words? Of course not. Isnt that quite
obvious? Fluent speakers are able to speak at these rates, only
because they speak mostly by choosing groups of words, that
too, tried-and-tested ones rather than by choosing individual
words. If they were to speak mainly by choosing individual words,
they would have had only less than 1/5 to 1/2 of a second to
choose each word. And they would have had to construct speech
by choosing 2 to 5 words per second in 2 to 5 separate wordselection efforts. This is something impossible for anybody to do.
Not even for the most articulate of native speakers of English!
Is there any wonder people who are word-oriented, rather
than word-group-oriented, find it impossible to be fluent?

Bite-sized pieces of ideas


So the point you should understand is this: Natural speech comes
out in units or very short pieces of ideas. And most often, these
units of ideas are said and heard in groups of words. Sometimes
theyre said and heard in individual words, too.
Lets take a look at a few spoken texts, so that you can get a

F luenc y, only through idea units

29

clear idea of all this. Here we go:


He unlocked the front door + and we went in + and he
said + Ill be back in a minute + and he went upstairs + so
I remained in the hall + and then the phone started ringing
+ and he shouted to me to answer it + and I picked up the
receiver + and I said hello + but the person at the other
end suddenly hung up + so I replaced the receiver.
He passed the exam + with a very high score + and he
was thrilled + very pleased + and happy + and he treated
us to ice-cream + the very next day.
They were close friends + and they had similar opinions
+ and similar ideas + attitudes + and theyve worked
together + on several projects.
She gave him something to eat + something soft and
thick + sticky + a toffee-like thing.
Its a bit heavy + and so you cant move it easily + from
place to place + but it doesnt take up much space + so you
can put it in your bedroom + or in the hall.
Actually + I dont like that idea + though I cant say
anything against it + because I cant give any reasons +
and I dont know why I have this feeling + but something
in me tells me + that this idea may not work + and it may
even achieve the opposite result + from the one we want to
achieve + and that is not going to be a good thing.
Go through these five examples. Three of them contain one
one-word idea unit each. Did you spot them the first time you
went through the examples. If you didnt, why dont you try and
spot them now?

How does natural speech come out?


When a child wants something, what does it say? It says: Give
it to me. Do you think the child first learns the words Give, it,
to, and me separately, and, then connects them together? When

30

F luenc y, only through idea units

a child doesnt want a thing, it says: I dont want it. When a


child gets tired of walking, and wants to be carried, it says: Pick
me up. Do you think the child first learns the words I, dont,
want, it, pick, me, and up separately, and, then, connects
them also together?
For the child, Give it to me is the same as a single word
givitumee, and not four separate words. I dont want it is the
same as a single word Aidonwantit, and not four separate words.
Pick me up is the same thing as a single word Pickmeeyup,
and not three separate words. The child says each of these word
groups as a single utterance without any gap between any two
words. It doesnt make separate utterances for each of the words
in a word group. The child says each word group as a single unit
as though it were a single word.
This is what normally happens when a fluent native speaker
of English speaks English. And this is what normally happens
when a fluent native speaker of any other language speaks that
language. Think about what happens in your own mother-tongue.
Notice how you yourself speak in your own mother-tongue.

What does natural speech come out in?


From what Ive said so far, dont you see one thing? Normally,
natural speech doesnt come out in words. It comes out in word
groups.
Strictly speaking, natural speech comes out neither in single
words nor even in word-groups. Actually, it comes out in units of
ideas. Of course, most often, these units of ideas get expressed
through multi-word units (= word-groups) and sometimes in
single words.
Now listen: What was the child doing when it had said Give
it to me? Wasnt the child just giving expression to a unit of
idea or a thought or a piece of information? The idea (or
thought or information) came up in its mind, and it just made an

F luenc y, only through idea units

31

utterance an utterance that the child thought would express


that idea (or thought or information). This was so when it had
said I dont want it and Pick me up, too.
Actually, this is always so. Children always speak in their
mother tongue by uttering idea by idea, and not word by word. So
do adults, and everyone who speaks their mother-tongue fluently.
When they speak spontaneously, do fluent speakers consciously
search through their brain for word after word? No, normally,
they dont. Do they consciously stop to think about how to string
the words together? No, normally they dont. They just say what
they have in mind by using such vocabulary items as occur readily
to them spontaneously and without any conscious effort. And
normally, the stretches of speech that come out happen to be in
groups of words.
But how do they get this skill? This various books in this
series will tell you how. And these books will help YOU get this
skill, too. Just read on, and dont worry.
So, dont you see what the natural way of speaking is? Its to
make utterances, each carrying one component of an idea or
thought that is, one strand of information.
Lets call such an utterance an idea unit.

***

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Ready-to -assemb le u nits

chapter 2

Ready-to-assemble units
Let me tell you something very important. Its about what well
call ready-to-assemble units. Once you learn about them, youll
have a clearer idea of what an idea unit is.
Before I tell you more, just keep this in mind: Most of the
idea units that articulate native speakers of English use are readyto-assemble units (that can be assembled into an idea-unit chain
or complex). As for the remaining idea units they use, generally
speaking, they make them up either by assembling short ready-toassemble units or by joining one or two short ready-to-assemble
units with single words.
The point Im coming to is this: You should master readyto-assemble units of frequent utility, and you should learn how
to let ready-to-assemble units work for you. You should learn to
assemble them into idea units and into chains and complexes of
idea units. That is the only way to achieve true fluency. The only
way. Make no mistake about it.
Let me explain.
Theres a basic fact about fluent English you should be very
clear about. Its this: Whether youre going to be able to speak
English fluently or not depends a lot on a simple fact: Do you have
a good command of a type of word groups that can be described
as ready-to-assemble word groups? Theyre word groups that are
ready-made or ready-built. So when you use them, you dont
have to do the work of building them on the spot (by finding
and combining the words they consist of into a grammatically
correct combination on the spot). Thus they save you a lot of
trouble. And they save you time yes, they generate a good
amount of time for you which you can utilize for planning how
to go on speaking.

Ready-to - assemb l e units

33

Understand this: The kind of word groups that are the


mainstay of fluent speech are these ready-built word groups,
and not word groups that speakers construct on the spot. That
is, ready-built word groups are the most basic part of fluent
speech.
Let me make this point clearer. Just recall one thing: Ive
already told you that the basic units of speech are not individual
words, but word groups. Now Im going to go a step further and to
introduce you to another important fact about speech production.
Its this: A long stretch of genuine fluent speech would always
consist of a far greater percentage of ready-built (pre-built) word
groups than word groups made by the speaker on the spot from
individual words. (Well call the word groups that speakers build
on the spot spot-made word groups).
That is, whenever they speak spontaneously, every articulate
native speaker of English (as well as every fluent non-native
speaker) depends far more heavily on ready-built word groups
than on spot-built word groups.
And what you should note from this truth is this: If you want
to be truly fluent in English, you must start using ready-built
word groups as the most basic part of your speech.
Now what are the kinds of word groups that we can call
ready-built word groups?
Take the case of advanced learners of English who have
been exposed considerably to everyday English for example,
through months of deliberate practice (of the kind that the books
in this Fluentzy series get them to do) as well as through months
of reading, writing and listening.
Suppose that an idea occurs to them and that theyre trying
to express that idea. The moment they form an intention to say
something, this is what normally happens: Several previouslyheard word groups and several previously-used word groups
come rushing into their minds automatically, without any

34

Ready-to -assemb le u nits

effort on their part. (Youll soon notice that this is what happens
to you yourself, once youve progressed through the kind of skillbuilding practice that the Fluentzy books get you to do). These
are word groups like speech initiators, fixed and semi-fixed
expressions and phrases, collocations, everyday idioms, etc. Here
are a few examples:
abandon a plan, accidents happen, apply early, avoid a
pitfall, bear a grudge, beat a drum, big reward, confusion
arises, a cup of tea, develop a fault, eat heartily, firm
intention, How about...?, How would you like...?, Im
dying to know..., temperature drops, It looks delicious, It
takes all sorts (to make the world), Its going to turn cold,
Its not as bad as all that, make your voice heard, open
secret, out of all proportion to..., really mean (sth), solid
achievement, spotlessly clean, stiff competition, take the
lead, terribly ill, Thats the whole point, the law of the land,
the question of the hour, Theres no sign of him, Theres
nothing wrong with..., This will hurt me more than it hurts
you, thoroughly dishonest, Whats so special about that?,
wrongly assume (sth), You can bet your life that...
These example word groups can be grouped into three
categories:
1). Some of these word groups are complete clauses. So they
can be used as whole (complete) idea units complete
clausal idea units.
Eg: It looks delicious, It takes all sorts (to make the world),
Its going to turn cold, Its not as bad as all that, Thats the
whole point, Theres no sign of him, This will hurt me more
than it hurts you, Whats so special about that?
2). Some are phrases that can be used as complete idea
units complete phrasal idea units. They can also be used
as sections (segments) of longer idea units (especially, of
clausal idea units).

Ready-to - assemb l e units

35

Eg: abandon a plan, accidents happen, apply early, avoid a


pitfall, bear a grudge, beat a drum, big reward, confusion
arises, a cup of tea, develop a fault, eat heartily, firm
intention, temperature drops, make your voice heard, open
secret, really mean (sth), solid achievement, spotlessly
clean, stiff competition, take the lead, terribly ill, the law
of the land, the question of the hour, thoroughly dishonest,
wrongly assume (sth).
3). And some are multi-word items that can be used as
sections (segments) of idea units.
Eg: How would you like...?, Im dying to know..., out of all
proportion to..., Theres nothing wrong with..., You can bet
your life that...
For a person who knows English very well or reasonably well,
word groups like these are previously-heard and previouslyused word groups. Word groups like these are what I mean by
ready-built word groups. These are word groups that occur to you
ready-built and constructed in advance, and so you can simply
adopt them as wholes and use them in speech (and writing),
and you dont have to spend time and effort in constructing
them anew every time you want to express an idea that they
can express. You dont have to create them anew on the spot, for
the occasion by struggling with grammatical rules and trying
hard to find the appropriate words. Theyre already available to
be used off the shelf. Theyre already available as pre-created
clusters, with the work youd normally have had to do in order
to create them already done by past speakers (including yourself,
perhaps). From long or frequent use and acquaintance, these
word groups become memorized, and they occur to you readily
and effortlessly. They occur to you prefabricated. All you need to
do is to grab them when they occur to you and use them.
Now, there are two points I want to stress:
First, so far Ive been using the term ready-built word
groups, and not ready-built idea units. So to avoid confusion,

36

Ready-to -assemb le u nits

let me clarify a point: A ready-built word group that is a clause


often works as a whole idea unit. A ready-built word group that
is a phrase often works either as a whole idea unit or simply as
a section (= a portion; a segment) of an idea unit. Ready-built
word groups that work as sections of idea units fall short of being
whole idea units, but they can combine with one or two other
ready-built word groups or individual words and form an idea
unit. This sort of an idea unit (built by combining ready-built
word groups alone or by combining ready-built word groups
with one or two individual words) is a spot-built idea unit.
For example, if you combine the ready-built word groups
How about...? and a cup of tea, you can build an idea unit
How about a cup of tea? on the spot. This is a spot-made idea
unit made by combining two ready-built word groups.
Second, dont be under the impression that all the idea units
in fluent speech are ready-built idea units. No, that is not so.
That doesnt happen often except in short stretches of speech
during chats and light conversations. Most often, especially
during serious conversations and long stretches of speech (during
chats and light conversations), fluent speech (that gets produced
spontaneously) is a combination of two types of idea units:
(i) Ready-built idea units that come pre-fabricated.
(ii) Spot-made idea units created by the speaker on the
spot (a) mostly, by combining two or three short readybuilt word groups among themselves, or (b) by combining
a ready-built word group with one or two individual words,
and (c) sometimes by stringing individual words together.
Let me tell you something important here. Its this: Dont
let all these details and explanations worry you. You know, you
dont have to learn these details and explanations in such a way
or to such an extent that youre able to repeat them verbatim
somewhere or to somebody. No, you dont. In fact, you need to
understand only this one point: To a very great extent, fluency
depends on ready-built word groups. The role of the details and

Ready-to - assemb l e units

37

explanations is only to help you see this one point from different
angles. Remember this: A mere superficial understanding of this
point wont do. Your understanding of this one point must be deep
and thorough so that there would always be an internalized
feeling in you of how important ready-built word groups are.
Ready-built word groups would then become the backbone of
your oral English. Every detail and every bit of explanation would
help you deepen your understanding.
Now lets take a look at some of the very useful types of
ready-built word groups. Heres a small collection:
by accident, achieve your aim, in action, out of action, take
advantage of somebody/something, break the agreement,
go it alone, reach an agreement, as always, answer the
door/the phone, within arms reach.
go bad, have/take a bath, to the best of my knowledge/
ability, you bet, better off, thats better, a bit of a problem,
bit by bit, for a bit, youll only have yourself to blame, at
full blast, break a promise, out of breath, by air, by bus, by
car, by force, by himself/herself, etc., by plane, by train.
in that case, certainly not, in charge, take charge, under the
circumstances, under no circumstances, come true, come
to a conclusion, as far as I am concerned, take a chance,
by chance, how come?, out of control, cover the cost, at all
cost(s), a course of action, go to court.
keep a dairy, out of date, these days, in dead trouble, make
no difference, get into difficulties, down the road, get
dressed, on duty, off duty.
from beginning to end, in the end, excellent value (for
money).
fair enough, in fashion, out of fashion, fast asleep, on fire,
open fire (on the crowd, etc.), put a fire out, set fire to
something, at first, go up in flames, in a flash, fall flat, on
foot, for free, free of charge, free time, fresh air, have fun,

38

Ready-to -assemb le u nits

make fun of somebody, thats funny, make a fuss.


have a hair-cut, by hand, these things happen, hard at
work, come to no harm, there is no harm in, with all your
heart, a heavy sleeper, a heavy smoker, here and there, here
it is, think highly of somebody, hold your breath, go on
holiday, on holiday, hope for the best, I hope (that), lose
hope, have high hopes, for hours, in an hour, how about...?,
in a hurry.
have no idea, Do you mind if?, if I were you, was taken
ill, make an impression on somebody, on the increase, in
ink, take out insurance.
just a minute, just a moment, keep quiet, keep a secret, as
far as I know.
at last, laugh at somebody/something, against the law, at
least, least of all, not in the least, less and less, lets see, as
long as, looks as if.
go mad, like mad, make sure, no easy matter, whats the
matter?, a mild-mannered person, change your mind, I
dont mind, in a minute, too good to miss, by mistake, at
any moment, make a living, make money, more and more,
more or less, at (the) most, move house, remain a mystery.
never mind, no doubt, no wonder, for nothing, at short
notice, right now.
how often?, in the old days, on the left/right, at once, once
more, once or twice, keep things in order, the other day, out
of order, over there.
I beg your pardon, pay attention to somebody/something,
pick a quarrel, I cant see any point in..., point of view, in
practice, in the presence of.
on the radio, pouring with rain, raise your voice, out of
reach, within reach, break a record, as a last resort, right
away, right now, quite right.

Ready-to - assemb l e units

39

for goodness sake, I must say, make sense, set an example,


settle a bill, shake hands with somebody, What a shame!,
go into shock, have/take a shower, feel sick, sleep soundly,
go to sleep, so far, or so, soaking wet, something like that,
soon after, that sort of thing, without a sound, spare time,
in spite of, stay behind, in stock, out of stock, straight away,
call a strike, call a strike off, go on strike, on strike, all of a
sudden, moral support.
What are you talking about?, take a seat, in theory, tell
tales, have a temperature, thats it, all the time, at a time,
at times, from time to time, in a months time, just in time,
I told you so, I think, I thought, top of the class, get in
touch, keep in touch, by public transport, get into trouble,
in trouble, no trouble, tell the truth, take it in turns, turn a
corner.
get undressed, up and down, up the road, a stomach upset,
as usual.
wait your turn, at war, declare war, go to war, keep a close
watch on somebody, by the way, find your way, lose your
way, on the way, out of the way, weather permitting, lose
weight, put on weight, in other words, a long way, wear
well, what about, Whats wrong with?, the whole of, on
the whole, have a word with somebody, send word, worse
off.
Use your dictionary. Make these ready-built word groups
part of your everyday speech. (Youll be getting large collections
of ready-built word groups later in this Book and in the other
Books in the Fluentzy series).
Of course, many of the ready-built, ready-to-assemble, units
may only be capable of expressing your ideas in a very vague
way or of just helping you start off by saying something
connected to that idea or of acting as a floor-holder while youre
deciding what to say next or how to say it. But remember this:
In spontaneous speech, things are made clear not through tight

40

Ready-to -assemb le u nits

structures and precise vocabulary, but through a number of


speech-specific techniques. (Dont worry about them now. Ill be
telling you about them in the other Books in this series).
Why do word groups of certain types like these occur to you
ready-built? You know, this is because your experience with the
language gets you conditioned to uttering them automatically in
certain contexts. This conditioning happens this way: You notice
that certain word groups occur frequently in certain types of
contexts. And you also hear people you listen to uttering them
frequently in the same types of contexts. And you frequently see
many of the word groups in print in the same type of contexts.
From all this experience, you unconsciously get to associate these
word groups with the types of contexts they frequently occur in.
You connect together in your mind these word groups and the
types of contexts they frequently occur in. And you yourself start
uttering them frequently in those contexts.
Now note this: All these word groups have a particular feature,
and this feature makes them likely to be remembered: Whenever
they occur, they occur in set forms: Almost all the words within
such a word group are always the same, and they occur next to
one another in a fixed order with each word having the same
words before and after it. These words thus remain constantly
associated with one another in this fixed order.
And many of these word groups are also memorable,
because theyre phrased in an apt way or because theyre full of
meaning.
Because of these reasons, it becomes second nature or a
firmly fixed habit for you to utter these word groups in their
set forms. This habit helps you utter them with a great degree
of automaticity far more quickly and with a far greater
degree of ease than you utter spot-made word groups. In fact,
you dont utter ready-built word groups you just run them
off. You know, as theyre frequently-occurring word groups, they
occur again and again in a large number of contexts in your own

Ready-to - assemb l e units

41

speech and in the speech of other people. This sort of frequent


repetition and exposure give constant practice to you in making
use of them, and they get primed to come out of you readily and
smoothly (without any break) as a single word or well-knit unit
at the slightest stimulus.

***

42

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

chapter 3

Idea units: Your key to fluency


From what Ive said so far, one thing must be clear to you:
Most often, an idea unit contains more than one word,
and so, most often, an idea unit occurs in groups of words. But
sometimes an idea unit may happen to contain only one word.
These are situations when a single word would do the work of a
word group. In those situations, idea units come out as one-word
units. Thus, suppose somebody asks you, When do you want me
to come?, and suppose you reply, Tomorrow. In that context,
doesnt this single word Tomorrow do the work of a word group
and convey an idea? Yes, it does.
So here, Tomorrow is an idea unit, even though its a single
word. In this context, you dont always need to reply: I want you
to come tomorrow. All you need to do is to say Tomorrow, and
the idea would be clear. Here the single word Tomorrow does
the work of the word group I want you to come tomorrow.
A few pages back, we looked at a few spoken texts. Here
are three one-word idea units that three of those spoken texts
contained:
+ attitudes + + sticky + + Actually +
Go back to those spoken texts and spot these one-word idea
units.

Idea units of speech, and sentences of writing


Heres an important fact, and you may have noticed it by now
from what Ive said so far: An idea unit isnt always the same
thing as a sentence that we use in written English. No. Often, an
idea unit has a form that is quite different from that of a sentence.
Of course, this doesnt mean that short sentences cannot occur as
idea units. Especially, simple sentences that are short. In fact,

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

43

simple sentences that are short can occur as idea units and they
often do.
But first lets look at word groups that can only function
as idea units in spoken English, but not as sentences in written
English.
Suppose you ask a person, When did you come?, and
suppose he replies: Just now. Then in that context, doesnt this
group Just now make sense? And isnt this word group Just
now a grammatically acceptable combination of words? And so,
in that context, isnt this word group an idea unit? Just see! In the
context weve just now seen, the addressee doesnt need to reply:
I came just now. The addressee need only reply, Just now, and
the idea would be clear. This is because the words I and came
are understood from the context.
But is the word group Just now a sentence as a sentence
is usually understood in written English? It isnt hard to tell. No.
This group is not a sentence. You see, as it is generally understood
in written English, a sentence is a group of words that contains
a verb or a subject and a verb. But the word group Just now
doesnt contain a verb. And it doesnt contain a subject, either. So
it isnt a sentence. But havent we seen just now that this group is
an idea unit, when the context is clear?
But let me ask you: Even if the context is clear, is this word
group a sentence? No, its not. You can tell this even if you know
nothing about the grammatical definition of a sentence. Yet
havent we seen that you can use it in speech to do the work
of a sentence?
Now lets take the word Tomorrow. Is this word a sentence?
No. Of course, not. Its only a word, and not a sentence. But
havent we already seen that a single word like this can be used as
an idea unit? Havent we seen that it can be used in conversations
to do the work of a full sentence?

44

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

How context helps the speaker


Now what helped the word group Just now and the single word
Tomorrow to make sense and do the work of sentences? The
contexts in which they were uttered, of course. Contexts.
Suppose that a stranger comes to you now and says all of a
sudden: Just now. Will it make any sense to you? No, it wont.
It wont convey any meaning. But suppose you had first asked a
question, When did you come?, and suppose he had then said
Just now in reply to that question. Then this word group would
certainly have made sense, because then the question would
have provided enough context for the reply to be understood.
So a context is a thing of great help in speech. Itd save you from
a burden the burden of having to make up full sentences all
the time.
Suppose that somebody comes to you now and says:
Tomorrow. Will it make any sense to you? No, it wont. But
suppose hed said this word in reply to a question from you,
When do you want me to come?, then itd have made sense,
because then this question would have provided enough context
for it to be understood.
So the word group Just now and the word Tomorrow
are idea units in spoken English, but they cannot function as
sentences in written English.
Now lets take a word group that is not only an idea unit in
speech, but also a sentence in written English.
For example, take this word group: Can I have a look at it?.
Suppose a stranger comes to you and says all of a sudden: Can
I have a look at it?. Would it make any sense? No, it wouldnt
because he hasnt given you any idea about what he means
by the word it. But suppose he points towards a book lying on
your table and says, Can I have a look at it?. Then, wouldnt
this word group make sense? Of course, it would because the
context then makes the meaning of the word it clear and shows

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

45

that the word it refers to the book.

Importance of context
So dont you see? Theres a great advantage on the conversational
side of a language. You can make the context to help you speak.
You see, in speech, your hearers understand several things even
if you dont use words to say those things. The factor that makes
your hearers understand these unsaid things is the context.
By context, I mean everything that helps you make the
meaning of an idea unit to be clearly understood: The verbal
or linguistic context (= the things you say before and after that
idea unit), the situational context (= the place, time, attending
circumstances, etc.), the shared knowledge (= the things that
both you and your addressee know about each other, about the
world in general, about the topic of the conversation, etc.) and
the body language.
As theres always the context to help you in speech, you dont
have to make up and say full sentences on many occasions. And
even if you do make up a full sentence, you dont have to express
everything fully and clearly in that sentence. And you dont have
to hunt up and use right words in order to make your meaning
graphically clear and detailed through words alone. And often,
you dont have to complete your sentences at all, but can leave
them half-finished and start another one. And you dont even
have to start your utterance in a sentence-form. All that you need
to do is to just utter what stands out in your mind just utter
the bite-sized word groups that readily occur to you through
association of ideas. If what you utter doesnt make the idea
complete, the context would.
For example, take a look at the following strings of idea
units:
1. I like him + Hard-working + Polite + Always cheerful
(You dont always have to say like this: I like him, because
he is hard-working, polite and always cheerful).

46

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

2. He is a family man + Seven children (You dont always


have to say like this: He is a family man and has seven
children).
3. Where have you been? + Flu or something? (You dont
always have to say: Where have you been? Were you in bed
with flu or something?).
4. Nice dress. Paris? (You dont always have to say: Thats a
nice dress you have on. Did you buy it in Paris?).
5. Flip the switch + before you do that. (The speaker as
well as the addressee know what the word that stands for
in this context, and so the speaker doesnt have to use more
words to describe the thing that the word that refers to).
Keep this in mind: Whenever you speak, a number of
contextual elements would normally be there to help you. You
wont have to find out and add more words to what you utter just
for the sake of making up a perfectly-formed sentence.
In fact, if you find that your meaning has become clear to
your hearer (even before youve completed saying what you
started saying), you can even leave unfinished the word group
youre uttering.
Eg: Theres no truth in his story + I dont believe a word
of what... + You know + This isnt the first time + He
always tells lies.
Two thousand rupees? + Daylight robbery or what? + I
never thought the bill would come to... + This must be the
most expensive restaurant + in town.
I think + Ill have to refuse + You know + Ive thought
about it + carefully + And for a long... + Well, I dont
want to accept that offer.
In the 1st example, the speaker has left the word group I
dont believe a word of what... unfinished. But its clear from
the context that what the speaker wanted to say was something
like this: I dont believe a word of what hes said. In the 2nd

Idea units : Yo ur key to fluenc y

47

example, the speaker has left the word group I never thought
the bill would come to... unfinished. But its clear from the
context that what the speaker wanted to say was something like
this: I never thought the bill would come to so much. In the 3rd
example, the speaker has left the word group And for a long...
unfinished. But its clear from the context that what the speaker
wanted to say was something like this: And for a long time.
So when the speakers meaning is clear to the hearers from
the context, the speaker can leave a word group unfinished and
start the next one. Actually, a speaker can do this under other
circumstances, too. Well take up this topic for detailed study
later.

***

48

Types of idea units

chapter 4

Types of idea units


From what weve seen so far, one thing must be clear to you: There
are four types of word groups that can occur as idea units:
Phrases (including single words). Clauses. Incomplete
clauses and incomplete phrases. Whole plus clauses and
phrases.

1. Phrases
You see, there are 5 types of phrases in English:
Verb Phrase (VP). Noun Phrase (NP). Adjective Phrase
(Adj. P). Adverb Phrase (Adv. P). Prepositional Phrase
(Prep. P).
Youll be learning about the various types of phrases from the
fluency development angle later. But for the time being, lets take
a general look at what phrases are like.
In general, we can say that a phrase is (a) a single content
word, or (b) a small group of words that stand together as a
unit of meaning with a content word as the main word in
the group. Generally speaking, a content word is a verb, noun,
adjective or adverb.
A phrase normally occurs in speech in two ways: Either it
occurs as an idea unit by itself or it occurs as part of an idea unit
(that is, as a constituent element in a short independent clause
a clausal idea unit). And mind you, in modern grammar, even
a single content word is treated as a phrase.

(i) Verb phrase (VP)


VP = (helping verbs) + full verb.
Helping verbs are words like am, is, are, have, etc. and
words like can, may, will, etc. The term helping verbs have been

Types of idea units

49

given in brackets, because words that are helping verbs may or


may not occur in a VP. In the following examples, youll find verb
phrases given in italics.
She laughed. They disappeared suddenly. This belongs
to me.
He made a suggestion. I am working. She is crying.
They are having a meeting. He was doing something.
We were trying to help them. This sort of life doesnt suit
me. I dont know. He didnt answer the question. She
has a headache. They have changed their plan. We have
been waiting for the result. She can speak German and
French. He couldnt do it. They will come tomorrow. If
I may interrupt for a moment, heres an urgent message you
should see now.
They would have left by now. They might have been
expecting all that. You should decide what to do now. I
must exercise more. You ought to apologize to her.

(ii) Noun phrase (NP)


NP = determiners + (pre-modifiers) + noun + (postmodifiers)
Eg: Ajith, Jai Shankar, India, Great Britain, the US, science,
authorities, a pair of gloves, my family, Dr. John, the top
of the stairs, the water level, two cats, that book, her
son, some experience, some oranges, a big car, a pleasant
evening, a disappointed man, the ruling party, all those
people there, the civil service, the shop across the street,
the girl who went in just now, a feeling of satisfaction, the
width of the road, her uncles house, the man you were
speaking to, the boy in blue shirt.

(iii) Adjective phrase (Adj. P)


Adj. P = (pre-modifiers) + adjective + (post-modifiers)

50

Types of idea units

Eg: very tall, very happy, rather dull, quite comfortable, actually
hot, comparatively cheap, dreadfully ill, equally correct,
extremely busy, relatively mild, really amazing, terribly
sorry, large enough.

(iv) Adverb phrase (Adv. P)


Adv. P = (pre-modifiers) + adverb + (post-modifiers)
Eg: very carefully, rather too quickly, very seriously indeed, a
little more clearly, as quietly as he could, pretty faithfully,
extremely well, quite foolishly, most cunningly, more
sincerely than I expected, more and more effectively, fairly
easily, somewhat quietly, really professionally.

(v) Prepositional phrase (PP)


PP = preposition + a complement (= a noun phrase,
generally)
Eg: about that topic, above my head, along the road, among the
trees. around/round our house, at the shop, before the next
junction, below the knee, beside the bed, between them,
beyond control, by cheque, from London, in his pocket,
inside the house, into his mouth, near the door, off duty, on
the ground, opposite the Library, outside that building, over
the table, past bedtime, through the front door, towards the
gate, under the bed, up the stairs, within earshot.

Phrases as idea units


This is what weve seen so far: In general, a phrase is
A single lexical word. Or,
A group of grammatically related words.
The importance of a phrase in speech is this: On the one
hand, it can function as an idea unit by itself. On the other hand,
it can act as part of other types of idea units (= clauses).

Types of idea units

51

So by itself, a phrase can occur as an idea unit if it is


short enough for you to utter it as a single unit. And a phrase is
short enough, if it doesnt contain more than 5 or 6 words on an
average. For example, weve already seen that words and word
groups such as the following can occur as idea units:
Just now, Tomorrow, with a very high score, on
several projects, a toffee-like thing, from place to
place, Hard-working, Polite, Always cheerful, Seven
children.
These are all phrases.
In fact, just as single phrases, combinations of phrases also
often occur in speech short combinations. For example, weve
already seen that the word group Flu or something? is an
idea unit: See example 3 under the sub-heading Importance of
context above. This is a combination of two noun phrases Flu
and something, and the combining has been done by using the
connector or. Here are a few more examples of combinations:
Eg: Priya and her father + were here. My whole body +
shivered and ached. He deals with things firmly + You
know + Decisively and firmly. I was very tired + Tired
and hungry.

Dont let a few grammatical terms scare


you
Go through the examples carefully. Theyll give you a clear idea
of what a phrase is like.
Now let me tell you something important: Dont let what Ive
said so far (about phrases) give you a wrong idea. You see, in
order to speak English fluently, its not necessary that you should
learn to define a verb, noun, etc. No. And its not necessary that
you should be able to look at a word group and say that its a
noun phrase, verb phrase, etc. No. You dont have to learn to
label phrases by their names.

52

Types of idea units

All that is needed is this: You should have a feel for what a
phrase is no matter what its name. You should have a clear
understanding of what a close group of words is: A close group
of words that go together and form a unit.
The easiest and quickest way of developing this feel is to train
yourself with the word groups youll be getting in the various
Books in this series. Go through them silently several times. And
utter them aloud several times.
So dont let the names of different types of phrases scare
you.

Word knowledge and word mastery


An important part of your fluency training is to get to know the
various types of word-clusters called phrases and to train your
organs of speech in uttering them.
You should do this training seriously and in earnest. You
shouldnt let up, even if youre very highly educated in English
and even if youre extremely good at written English. You see,
phrase training is one of the most effective techniques for
mastering English vocabulary. Mind you, one reason why many
educated people cant speak fluent English is this: They havent
mastered essential English vocabulary. They think they have, but
they havent, actually.
Of course, they know a very large number of words. But their
knowledge of most of these words is superficial and is limited to
recognizing these words in reading or to understanding them
when somebody else uses them in speech. Their knowledge of
these words doesnt extend to a mastery of the full details of how
to use them how to use them along with other words. They have
no clear idea of the other words that occur regularly whenever
that word is used, or about the typical syntactic patterns in which
that word tends to occur normally. No, they havent achieved a
real mastery of these words. A real mastery the skill of using
them easily in order to express what they see, hear, feel.

Types of idea units

53

And the phrase training you get through the various books in
this series will help you achieve a real mastery over the essential
words. Yes, essential words because a serious problem with
educated learners is this: A lot of the words theyve spent time
in learning are not essential words. This is because those are not
production words, speech-production words. No. Theyre just
recognition vocabulary or reception vocabulary. If you want to
produce English on your own, you should have a mastery not of
just a set of random words (or of words belonging to the reception
or recognition vocabulary), but of speech-production words.
Thats why phrase-training is going to be extremely important.

2. Clauses
In general, a clause is a combination of different types of phrases
in a certain order. So it is a grammatical unit that is one rank
higher than a phrase. Broadly speaking, there are two types of
clauses:
Independent clauses. Non-independent clauses.

(i) Independent clauses


At the minimum, an independent clause consists of a Subject
element (= S) and a Verb element (= V). This is the SV-pattern.
Eg: The door opened. They laughed. My stomach hurts.
A car crashed. She coughed. Somebody screamed.
The jewels sparkled.
But most often, there will be one more element after the
Verb element. And this other element is usually an element called
the Object element (= O). This is the SVO-pattern. This is the
most common clause pattern youll find in spoken English.
Eg: She picked a red rose. They welcomed him. I enjoyed
that book. She heated some milk. The news upset her.
He threatened revenge. She praised him. The cat
climbed a tree. Her behaviour pleased those people.

54

Types of idea units

That man grabbed her handbag. He lit a cigarette. She


wrote a cheque. Most of them break traffic rules.
There are, of course, other patterns that are not as common
as the SVO pattern. In fact, well be taking a detailed look at all
the clause patterns (common as well as less common) later in the
other Books in this series.
Now, if an independent clause is short enough (for you to
utter it as a single unit), it can occur as an idea unit in speech.
For example, weve already seen that word groups such as
the following can occur as idea units:
He unlocked the front door. He passed the exam.
They were close friends. She gave him something to eat.
Its a bit heavy. I dont like that idea. Give it to me.
Pick me up. I dont want it. Can I have a look at it? I
like him. He is a family man. Where have you been?
These are all single independent clauses. You know, a single
independent clause is also known as a simple sentence.

(ii) Non-independent clauses


We saw that the word group before you do that can occur as
an idea unit. (See example 4 under the sub-heading Importance
of the context above). Grammatically speaking, this is a nonindependent clause more commonly known as a dependent
clause or a subordinate clause.
So you see, like an independent clause, a non-independent
clause can also occur as an idea unit if it is short enough for
you to utter it as a single unit. Here are the various types of nonindependent clauses youll come across in speech:

(a) Subordinate clauses


Subordinate clauses starting with a subordinator like
after, as if, because, before, if, so and though:

Types of idea units

55

Eg: They arrived + after you had left. He spoke to me + as


if I had done something wrong. He bought it + because
its so cheap. Theyll come + if you invite them. Discuss
it with him + so he can give you some tips. He hadnt left
the office + though it was past 7.
Subordinate clauses starting with a wh-word like when,
whenever, wherever, etc.:
Eg: She was out + when you phoned. I always visit them
+ whenever Im in Bombay. The police will find him +
wherever he is. You wont be disappointed + whichever
you choose.

(b) to-infinitive clauses


Eg: Theyre planning to do everything possible + to cut costs.
Why dont you ask him + to come tomorrow? He took
it home + to show it to his wife. You should tell him + to
stop doing that.

(c) -ing participle clauses


Eg: I waved to that man + thinking that he was Hamid. We
sat there for some more time + talking about this and that.
I dont want to go to them + asking for help.

(d) -en participle clauses


Eg: Taken by surprise + he couldnt answer their questions.
NOTE: Clauses like these are rare in speech.

(e) Verbless clauses


Eg: While in Bombay + he used to take some interest in social
activities.
Now remember this: Among clausal idea units (= idea
units that are clauses), independent clauses occur far more
frequently as idea units than non-independent clauses. Yes, far

56

Types of idea units

more frequently. And among non-independent clauses, those


introduced by subordinators [(a) above] are more common
than the other types. In fact, the last two categories of nonindependent clauses (-en participle clauses, and Verbless clauses)
are not common at all.
Well be learning about all the types of non-independent
clauses later.

No complicated grammatical stuff


Before we go ahead, let me ask you something: Do these
grammatical terms scare you? Dont start thinking that fluency
work requires you to learn a lot of complicated grammatical
stuff by heart. It doesnt. And so dont worry. (Just treat these
grammatical terms as names names for things). Just as I told
you while we were dealing with phrases, understand this: In order
to speak English fluently, you dont have to learn to describe the
various types of clauses to anyone. No. And you dont have to
be able to look at a word group and say that its such and such
a type of clause. No. You dont have to learn to label clauses by
their names. All that is needed is this: You should have a feel for
what a clause is whatever its name.
In the various Books in this series, youll be getting collections
of various types of clauses that are usual in spoken English. Train
yourself with them as these Books tell you. And youll soon
develop the kind of feel thats needed.

3. Incomplete clauses and incomplete phrases


Under the sub-heads Phrases and Clauses above, we saw clausal
idea units and phrasal idea units that are whole ones clauses
and phrases that are complete in themselves. But in spontaneous
speech, youll find one more class of idea units. Theyre incomplete
clauses and phrases: Clauses and phrases that are partly uttered
and then discarded, left unfinished. Yes, fragmentary clauses
and fragmentary phrases. Theyre as important for spontaneous

Types of idea units

57

speech composition as whole clauses and whole phrases. Weve


already looked at a few unfinished word groups that can occur as
idea units. Here they are:
I dont believe a word of what... I never thought the bill
would come to... And for a long...
Now here are a few spoken texts. They contain other examples
of incomplete word groups occurring as idea units:
Eg: Hes a very... + You know + Hes always annoyed about
something + or other + And so hes very difficult to be
with. Youll have to... + You shouldnt give up + though
its a bit difficult + And you should keep trying to do it.
He came and told me all about it + And he was very... +
And he showed how much he enjoyed it + And he was very
excited + I could tell that + by the way he... + you know
+ he described it to me in great detail + and with a lot of
enthusiasm.

4. Whole plus clauses and phrases


A whole plus clause = A whole clause + one or two extra
words (The extra words are not grammatically part of the whole
clause). A whole plus phrase = A whole phrase + one or two
extra words (The extra words are not grammatically part of the
whole phrase).
So you see, a whole plus clause is a 1 clause, and a whole
plus phrase is a 1 phrase. A few examples would make the
nature of whole plus clauses and phrases clear:

Whole plus clauses


(i) Independent clause and Extra word(s) +
In the examples that follow, youll find the extra words (that
converts whole clauses into whole plus clauses) given in
italics.

58

Types of idea units

(He handled the situation + with a great deal of courage)


He handled the situation with + a great deal of courage.
(He has a good chance + of getting that job) He has a
good chance of + getting that job. (I can do it + with the
help of those people) I can do it with the + help of those
people. (I didnt want him + to do all those things) I
didnt want him to + do all those things. (He smiled at
me + and said something) He smiled at me and + said
something. (Handle it properly + or it can be dangerous)
Handle it properly or + it can be dangerous. (I like him
+ but I dont want to work with him) I like him but + I
dont want to work with him.
In these examples, the whole plus clauses are the
following:
He handled the situation with, He has a good chance of, I
can do it with the, I didnt want him to, He smiled at me
and, Handle it properly or, I like him but.

(ii) Extra word(s) and Comment clause +


Comment clauses are pre-fabricated or ready-to-use expressions
like I believe, you know, etc. Theyre often used as fillers in
spontaneous speech. Comment clauses become whole plus
clauses when theyre used medially (= in the middle of an
independent clause, rather than at the beginning or the end).
In the examples that follow, the extra words occur immediately
before comment clauses. The part that are not in italics before the
+ sign is a comment clause. The words in italics are the extra
words.
That man I believe + is a doctor. This I think + is that
girls idea. This plan Im afraid + isnt going to work.
That wasnt you know + what they had expected. They
were you see + trying to help us. He is if you ask me
+ very rude. He isnt if I may be frank + experienced
enough to get that job. That was if I may be blunt + a

Types of idea units

59

very foolish thing to do. They have since you want to


know + decided to cancel your contract. You shouldnt
have if I may say so + refused that offer.
Youll be learning more about comment clauses later in the
other books in this series..
Let me point out one thing here:
Whole plus clauses occur quite frequently as idea units in
spontaneous speech. So whenever they occur to you naturally,
dont try to avoid them.

Whole plus phrases


You see, idea units happen to take the shape of whole plus
phrases when the speaker adds an optional phrase in the middle
of an independent clause rather than at the beginning or at
the end.
The following examples would make this point clear. In these
examples, youll find the extra words added at the beginning of
the optional phrases given in italics.
He had for twenty years + worked for that company.
She hadnt before her marriage + seen him at all.
She had by then + left the building. He could with the
help of those people + complete the work in time. He
occasionally + goes and meets them. He doesnt usually
+ criticize anybodys work. I was frankly + a bit worried.
Hes obviously + in love with her. The whole campaign
was in short + a disaster. They were of course + a bit
disappointed. He wasnt strictly speaking + guilty. Hes
after all + their boss. Their loss was in comparison +
quite small.
Here are some examples containing vocatives used
medially. (A vocative is a word like madam that you use when
youre speaking to someone or when you want to attract their
attention).

60

Types of idea units

That is madam + a very good idea. Will you Mr. Saxena


+ be standing again in the next election? You mustnt
Dad + be so nasty to them. That wasnt professor + what
I meant. Lets Grandma + sit here and talk. That you
stupid idiot + isnt what you should do.

***

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

61

Chapter 5

Why cant we speak in


sentences?
What weve seen so far can be summed up like this: If your
speech is to be fluent, youll have to learn to speak by stringing
idea units together. Very roughly, about 50% of these idea units
would grammatically be the same as written English sentences.
And most of these are simple sentences (= independent clauses).
The remaining 50% of idea units wont be sentences. Theyd only
be phrases, non-independent clauses and incomplete clauses and
phrases that is, units that are lower in rank than a sentence,
and the fragments of those units.
Now why arent we able to speak spontaneously by stringing
sentences of the written English kind alone? Why do we have to
use a lot of non-sentence idea units, too? Why?
The chief reason is this: Spontaneous speech is produced
under conditions that are quite different from conditions in
which a piece of writing is planned and produced. And speech is
generally processed by hearers who hear it under conditions that
are quite different from conditions in which a piece of writing is
read and understood.
When we speak spontaneously, we compose our speech as
we go on speaking. That is, we give shape to our speech at the
same time as we speak. So when we speak spontaneously, we
only have a very limited time to construct what we say. And that
limited amount of time we have is not sufficient to plan and
construct sentences of the written English type, and to put them
together into a text. We need much more time to do a thing like
that. And so, when we speak spontaneously, we wont be able
to speak by constructing and stringing sentences of the written
English kind. While speaking spontaneously, well only be able to

62

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

say what we want to say chunk by chunk bite-sized chunks,


each chunk containing a few closely related words and carrying
one unit of information. These chunks may or may not happen
to be sentences. In fact, many wont be sentences at all, but just
sentence-fragments and phrases.

Just a little at a time, and not a mouthful


Remember this: Unlike writing, speech is produced orally. This
means that each group of words that you utter at a time will have
to be short enough, so that its length is manageable for you to
utter as a single unit. That is, it should not be a mouthful or so
complicated or long that it is difficult to say as a single unit.
You see, normally, our organs of speech will have no difficulty
in uttering chunks containing 5 or 6 words on an average
if these words are short and simple, and are closely related
grammatically and lexically. But if the chunks contain more
than 9 words each, the organs of speech will find it difficult to
produce them without faltering even if the words are short
and simple.
But listen: This does not mean that all your chunks must
contain as many as 5 or 6 words. No. The length of the chunks
keeps varying from 1 to 9 words. Of course, chunks with a single
word are not very frequent. And chunks with as many as 9 words
or more are not frequent, either. In fact, on an average, a native
English speakers chunks tend to contain only 5 or 6 words,
and not more. Yes, on an average. Most of the chunks contain
around 5 words. Many chunks contain less than 5 words. And
some chunks contain more than 5 short words (but less than 10
words). Normally, only about 20% of the chunks would contain
more than 7 words. And heres something you should note: For
uttering a standard chunk with 5 to 6 words, a fluent English
speaker takes about 2 seconds.
Fluent speakers produce a series of these chunks or segments
continuously, one after another. Connectors like and, but, or, then

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

63

and so help them move smoothly from one segment to the next or
from a group of segments to the next. In this way, fluent speakers
produce a series of speech-segments as a stream.
Heres an example of a series of speech-segments lined up
end to end:
Shes had two job offers + and she cant decide + which
one to accept + because both the companies + you know +
both offer a generous salary + and the working conditions
are good + at both places + and shell have to give a reply
+ by this Saturday + and her father says + her career
prospects would be better + in the first company + but her
friends say + thats not so + and they want her to join the
second company + though shell have to be miles away +
from home + if she joins the second company + but her
mother wants her + to reject both the offers + because...
So an idea unit is nothing but a bite-sized speech-segment:
A short group of words that is uttered as a single unit. And each
unit usually carries one strand or unit of information.

Strands of information
Now, what exactly is a strand of information? This is something
that is difficult to define or state in precise terms. But I can give
you a general idea. You see, a strand of information is a onecomponent thought, a one-component idea that the speaker has
in mind a thought or idea that only has a single component
or a single ingredient. Thus, if a thought or idea has more than
one component part, each component part can be treated as a
separate unit of information.
In practical terms, a strand of information is nothing but
what the speaker himself chooses to present as one thin piece of
information to his addressee. That is, the speaker has the freedom
to decide how much of a thought or idea he must present as
a single unit of information. Of course, hell have to limit the

64

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

content of the information to 5 or 6 words on an average or


hell find it difficult to utter the unit as a single chunk.
For example, take this word group:
They had a country home in that village.
You can see that the information contained in this word
group has two informative components: (i) They had a country
home; and (ii) The country home was in that village. If the
speaker chooses to treat the whole information as a thought with
two component parts, hell utter it as two idea units:
They had a country home + and it was in that village
But if the speaker chooses to treat the whole information as
a thought with only one component, hell utter it as a single idea
unit:
They had a country home in that village.
Here are a few more examples:
The explanation he gave was not satisfactory. (= He gave
an explanation + and it was not satisfactory). A man
carrying a brief case left that house. (= A man left that
house + and he was carrying a brief case). He gave her
some flowers done up in tissue paper. (= He gave her some
flowers + and it had been done up in tissue paper).
He criticized her harshly and upset her. (= He criticized
her harshly + and he upset her). He opened the door and
went out. (= He opened the door + and he went out).
You can show it to her or her husband. (= You can show it
to her + or you can show it to her husband). He was very
happy and in high spirits. (= He was very happy + and he
was in high spirits).
I like him though hes a bit rude. (= I like him + though
hes a bit rude). Ill speak to you after I get back. (= Ill
speak to you + after I get back). I gave it to her because
I like her. (= I gave it to her + because I like her). He

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

65

spoke to me before he left. (= He spoke to me + before he


left). You can have it if you want it. (= You can have it +
if you want it). I saw him when he came in. (= I saw him
+ when he came in). Ill ask him after the meeting. (= Ill
ask him + after the meeting).
Both of them had come from far away. (= Both of them
had come + from far away). He showed it to us during
the interval. (= He showed it to us + during the interval).

Length and shape of idea units


By now, you must have noticed that the length of an idea unit is
an important factor. You see, if you speak continuously for a long
time (say, for an hour), almost 80% of the idea units that you
utter is likely to be 1 to 7 words long and the most common
lengths would tend to be 5 or 6 words. As Ive already told you,
idea units of more than 9 words are not very common.
Obviously, by their very nature, the lengths of idea units
tend to vary considerably within these ranges. This is because
the speaker has to adjust their lengths depending on the
communicative convenience and needs of himself and his hearers.
So this is what you must understand from all this: The speaker
only says at a time what is possible for him to say as a single
unit, and he says it in a shape that is possible for him to give
at that moment. That is, the speaker has the freedom to decide
what information, and how much of it, is to be presented to the
addressee through an idea unit.

Points for dividing speech


By now, weve learnt one thing: English speech does not come
out of the speakers mouth word by word or as a continuous
stream or at a non-stop or uniform rate. It comes out as short
chunks or short stretches of language. Each chunk or stretch is
what we call an idea unit. And each idea unit highlights one piece

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of information. Now a question naturally arises in your mind.


What are the points at which a stream of speech can be split up
into idea units?

Boundary of a whole grammatical unit


In connected speech, the boundary of a whole clause and the
boundary of a whole phrase are grammatical junctions.
A grammatical junction marks the end of one clause or phrase
and the beginning of the next clause or phrase. This means that
grammatical junctions are ideal points for splitting up a stream of
speech into idea units. This is the general principle you should
follow for splitting up a long utterance into idea units. In fact,
idea units that native speakers of English produce do generally
tend to form their boundaries at grammatical junctions.
Here are the grammatical junctions of various types. The
examples would give you a clear idea. In these examples, youll
find the idea unit marker + at grammatical junctions.

(a) The junction between two clauses


Eg: They were very tired + and he asked them to rest for a
while. He must be very busy + or he would have come.
You can tell him + but I dont know how hes going to
react. If you dont work harder + you wont be able to go
to university. He decided to resign + though everybody
was against it. He always says exactly what he thinks +
even if that may offend other people. He said + he was
leaving. She was very happy + that they came. She
asked me + to go and meet Sekhar. I had an awful job +
persuading him to come.

(b) The junction between a clause and a


phrase
Eg: There was a bit of a confusion + over their hotel

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67

reservations. He took a firm grasp + on the rope. I


found the suggestions + very helpful. Could you get
me + a glass of water? I know both of them + perfectly
well. Thats the way he behaves + all the time. The
contractors completed the work + last month.

(c) The junction between the Subject and


the Predicate (within a clause)
You see, the Predicate is the part of a clause that follows the Subject
element. (An independent clause = Subject + Predicate).
Eg: People like him + cant be trusted. The finance
committee + has made some recommendations. She and
her sister + hate housework. Her father + is a doctor.

(d) The junction between two phrases


Eg: An old building + in a bad state of repair. A lively little
girl + very cheerful + and pleasant. Very friendly + and
easy to talk to. At 4 o clock + next Monday + at the
Chairmans office.

(e) The junction between a phrase and a


clause
Eg: After the meeting + they went out for lunch. For a few
days + Ill be out of town. The whole day + they were
here. Next month + our sales will be going up. George
Thomas + Thats his name. Obviously + he doesnt want
to be interrupted. Curiously enough + he wasnt at the
party.

Boundary of an incomplete grammatical unit


The point at which speakers give up a fragmentary grammatical
unit and start uttering another idea unit that point is a

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Why can t we speak in sentences ?

suitable point for splitting up a stream of speech. Here are some


examples:
I dont know what your... + If you want to tell me
something + stop beating about the bush. I think he
wants to... + Is he planning to join the army? Ask them
if... + Do they have enough supplies of food + for a week?
They all thought she... + I knew she would get the job.

Boundary of a whole plus grammatical unit


Weve already looked at whole plus clauses and whole plus
phrases in some detail. Here are some examples thatll show you
the boundaries of idea units belonging to this category:
He handled the situation with + a great deal of courage.
That man I believe + is a doctor. He had for twenty
years + worked for that company. Will you Mr. Saxena +
be standing again in the next election?
For more examples, go back to the discussion under the
heading 4. Whole plus clauses and phrases a few pages back.

Other spots
Heres an important thing you should note: There are no rigid
rules that say that you can only split up a stream of speech
at grammatical junctions or at boundaries of whole clauses
and whole phrases or at the boundaries of fragmentary
grammatical units. No. There are no such rigid rules.
This is an important thing to understand. And once youre
clear about it in your mind, youll realize that you have a lot of
freedom in marking off one idea unit from the next. And once
you understand this clearly, your speech-production-stress would
instantly get relieved to a great extent.
In fact, when you speak spontaneously (that is, without any
prior planning or preparation), your idea units can form their

Why can t we speak in sentences ?

69

boundaries at virtually any point. Yes, even at points that are not
boundaries of whole clauses and phrases or of incomplete or
non-whole clauses and phrases. Your idea units can form their
boundaries at virtually any other point at any other point you
choose according to your communicative convenience.

***

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H ow to divide speech into idea units

chapter 6

How to divide speech


into idea units
By now, weve seen a few general principles of speech composition.
Based on those general principles, heres a set of guidelines.
These guidelines will help you split up a stream of speech into
idea units.

Guideline 1: Short clauses: Undivided


Utter a short independent clause (= simple sentence) as a single
idea unit. A short idea unit is one that contains not more than
9 simple and short words. Usually, a short independent clause
contains 5 to 6 words on an average.
IMPORTANT: Heres a tip: Youll find it easy to utter a short
clause as a single idea unit if you use as the Subject element
a pronoun (I, He, She, It, You, We or They) or a simple noun
rather than a noun phrase containing 2 or more words.
Eg: Theyve gone. Everybody has come. Hell help you.
The meeting began at 11. Weve met before. His work
has improved. She made a cake. Hes won the election.
He loves classical music. I admire her courage.
Nothing satisfies our boss. She cant keep a secret. Hes
applied for several jobs. Hes aiming at a promotion.
She called him a liar. Theyve chosen him captain. We
elected him (as) our President. She served our food hot.
He dyed his hair brown.

Guideline 2: Short clauses: Divided


Even if a clause is short, you are free to split it into more than one
idea unit, if you want to highlight a particular element.

H ow to divide speech into idea units

71

Eg: He used a box + as a stool. He was lying + on his bed.


That book + is mine. My back + is aching. The lights
+ have become dim. The surface + felt smooth. Your
coffee + has turned cold. The fire + was burning low.

Guideline 3: Long clauses: Subject


Split up a long independent clause (or one with a complex Subject
element), into its Subject and Predicate, and utter the two as
separate idea units. As Ive already told you, the Predicate is the
part of a clause that follows the Subject element.

(a) Subject element: A short noun phrase


Eg: America + will have a new government soon.
Arrogance + will get you nowhere. Corruption + seems
to be on the increase. The weekly meeting + will be
when the boss gets back. That blue bag + is 1000 rupees.
All children + like funny stories. The girl who just left
+ is his secretary. Some powerful and influential people
+ have agreed to back the scheme. People like him + are
impossible to deal with.

(b) Subject element: A long noun phrase


If the Subject element itself is long, divide it up into two (or
more) idea units. (See the tip given under Guideline 1).
Eg: Cheap + and inferior products + wont give you value for
money. Her elder brother + and my next-door neighbour
+ were standing outside the gate. People he was living
with + in Delhi + were from England. The thing I like +
about his style + is its simplicity.

Guideline 4: Long clauses: Predicate


As Ive already told you, the Predicate is the part of the clause

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that follows the Subject element.


You know, sometimes, the Predicate may happen to be long
or its elements may happen to be complex. When that happens,
divide up the Predicate into more than one idea unit.
Eg: [He] [takes a lot of interest + in everything we do].
[She] [did the job + with a great deal of enthusiasm].
[All this] [shows + a lack of experience of life].
[He] [tries to impress + people who are listening + by
exaggerating things]. [He] [thought + that it was an easy
job]. [The spot over there] + [is where the new building
is going to come up]. [The tourist season] + [is when
their sales usually go up].
NOTE 1: In each example, the first pair of brackets encloses the
Subject element. The following pair of brackets encloses the
Predicate.
NOTE 2: For the time being, if you feel like pausing before
a full stop, pause only where you see the + sign (= the
grammatical junction marker). Well be learning in detail
about pauses later.

Guideline 5: Fronted elements


Sometimes youll find it easier to speak if you can arrange the
elements in a clause in a different order than usual. You can
do this, by placing a later-occurring element before all other
elements even before the Subject. This process is known as
fronting. If you front an element in this way, you can utter the
fronted element as a separate idea unit.

(a) Fronted Object (Direct Object)


Eg: Some of the branches + She had to cut off. Both the
exams + Hes passed. A firecracker or something + He
exploded during the meeting. Her hair + She tied with a
ribbon. The dishes + Well have to wash and dry now.

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73

Complicated methods + Lets avoid. Traffic regulations +


Many people occasionally break. The way mothers take
care of their babies + You should watch. A doll + He
gave her for her birthday. One more question + I would
like to ask you.
How much they had to pay + They havent told me yet.
Which of the two offers is better + You have to decide.
What they want + I dont know. Whether theyll agree +
I doubt. Sitting at home doing nothing + I cant imagine.
Working with those people + I enjoyed very much.
Waiting for half an hour or so + I dont mind. Gossiping
+ She hates. Being criticized + She cant stand.

(b) Fronted Complement


Eg: About five feet tall + She was. Sweet + Those flowers
smelt. Very heavy + That box felt. Guilty + The judge
found him. Very calm + She was. Very strange + Her
voice sounded. Rather bitter + That tea tasted. Very
odd + Everybody found what happened.
Her cousins + They are. An expert + Hes become.
A nice girl + She found him. A good idea + It sounded.
Chairman + They elected him. Clean and tidy + You
should keep the room. That man + I cant trust. Very
serious + The whole situation was.

Guideline 6: Co-ordination: Clauses


If you use the link-words and, or, or but and connect two (or
more) independent clauses, you can treat the word group up
to and, or, or but as one chunk, and the remaining portion
(including and, or or but) as another chunk.
Eg: I met him there + and he came with me. I like novels +
but he likes plays. He may not be there + or she would
have seen him.

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H ow to divide speech into idea units

and
He saw smoke + and he raised an alarm. She did
well at the interview + and she got the job. Sales have
improved + and well be able to make some profit this
year. He opened the door + and (then) he flicked a
light-switch on. Life is splendid + and were quite happy
here. Hes a bit reserved + and shes very outgoing. He
works hard + and (yet) theyre not satisfied. Give him
some money + and (then) hell do it for you. Let him
apologize to her + and shell forgive him.

or
We can go for a film + or we can go to the museum.
You have to do a lot of learning yourself + or you cant be
a good teacher. He must have killed her + or he knows
who killed her. That must be an old car + or thats not in
good condition. You can call him back + or you can leave
a message. You must be very careful + or youll make
mistakes. He doesnt like this job + or thats what he said.

but
She saw him + but she didnt smile at him. He
panicked + but she remained calm. Our income
hasnt increased much + but our expenses have gone up
considerably. I am all for this campaign + but Im against
the way its being planned. Ill wait for you + but you
should hurry up. I can explain it to them + but I dont
know if theyll understand me correctly.

Guideline 7: Co-ordination: Predicates


If you use and, or, or but and connect two (or more) Predicates
together, you can treat the word group up to and, or, or but
as one chunk, and the remaining portion (including and, or or

H ow to divide speech into idea units

75

but) as another chunk.


Eg: [He] [picked up a novel] + [and started reading]. [He]
[wants it] + [but hasnt told me yet]. [We] [can go for a
film] + [or visit some friends].

Guideline 8: Subordination: Clauses


Suppose that you use a subordinator and connect two independent
clauses together. Then one independent clause becomes the main
clause and the other independent clause becomes a subordinate
clause. Here are the simple subordinators that speakers normally
use in spontaneous speech for making this sort of connection:
after, although, as, because, before, however, if, once, since,
that, though, till/until, unless, when, where, while, as far
as, as/so long as, as soon as, as if/as though, (just) in case,
rather than, so, so that.
You can utter the combination of the two clauses as a single
idea unit if the combination is short enough (that is, if it
doesnt contain more than 9 simple and short words).
Eg: He left after I had come. They came because you called
them. Ask her if she saw him. He was sure (that) you
would.
Of course, even if the combination of the two clauses is not
long, youre free to utter the two clauses separately as two idea
units, if you want to highlight a particular element in each of the
clauses or if that is what you find convenient to do.
Eg: He left + after I had come. They came + because you
called them. Ask her + if she saw him. He was sure +
(that) you would.
But suppose that the combination of the two clauses contains
more than 9 words. Then you must divide up the combination and
treat the main clause and the subordinate clause as separate idea
units. Normally, in speech, the main clause comes first, and the
subordinate clause comes next. Here you can make the division

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H ow to divide speech into idea units

immediately before the subordinator.


Eg: He left the place + after John and the others had come.
Their house is quite large and has plenty of space +
although its a bit old. They looked surprised + as she
started speaking in fluent French. He behaved in a
strange way + as if he didnt trust us. They came all the
way from there + because you wanted to see them. You
can do it + however you want. He wanted to ask her + if
she saw him anywhere there. Take a copy of that report
with you + in case he asks for it. His attitude towards
work changed + once he got his promotion. They
decided to go by car + rather than taking a train. Theyve
never made a loss + since they started that business. It
is not seen here + so it must be with my wife. You must
start early + so that you can avoid traffic jams. He was
not very sure + that your brother would come. Hes very
hard-working + though he isnt as competent as others.
I had to wait + till he came out of his office. We wont
be able to do much in this matter + unless you co-operate
with us. I hate it + when people speak to me like that.
I didnt know + where he had gone. I cant sit back and
watch + while they suffer like this. Hes still with that
company + as far as I know. There wont be any disputes
+ as long as you keep to the agreement. I fell asleep + as
soon as I went to bed.
But sometimes you may choose to speak by reversing the order
of binding the two clauses. You may then utter the subordinate
clause first, and the main clause next. Even here, you can treat
the clauses as separate idea units. Here the point of division is at
the boundary of the subordinate clause:
Eg: After I had come + nobody left the place. Because you
called them + they came. If you want it + you can have
it.

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77

Guideline 9: Scene-setting adverbials


You can utter scene-setting adverbials as separate idea units.
NOTE: Adverbials are vocabulary items that express
circumstantial information such as the position of someone
or something, the direction of their movement, the manner
in which something happened or was done, etc. Singleword adverbials are often adverbs, and sometimes nouns.
Multi-word adverbials are usually prepositional phrases.
Eg: For several years + shes been suffering from a disease
of the liver. On Monday + therell be another meeting.
For an hour + he studied hard. From 4 to 6 + we waited
for them. For two months + hell be away. Twice a
day + you must take these tablets. Once a month + he
goes there. That evening + they had a quarrel. The
whole day + he lay on the sofa. Till 10 + the rain has
been pouring down. During the meeting + he remained
silent. Last week + several workers reported sick. On
Friday next + shes getting married. A week ago + they
cut off our electricity supply. All the year round + they
get plenty of water for their crops. Every day + they start
work at 9. Generally + he doesnt make mistakes like
this. Originally + this was not what we had planned to
do. Daily + he leaves at dawn. Suddenly + her face
became very sad. All of a sudden + she got up and left
the room. This past year + their company didnt make
much profit.

Guideline 10: Attitude-disclosing


adverbials
You can treat attitude-disclosing adverbials, and field-marking
adverbials placed initially (or finally) as separate idea units,
especially when the adverbials are polysyllabic adverbs.

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H ow to divide speech into idea units

Polysyllabic adverbs
Eg: Actually + Ive just had my lunch. Admittedly + they
were against the proposal. Apparently + he didnt like
the idea. Basically + hes against political ideologies like
these. Briefly + thats all Ill be able to do. Certainly +
this is a very important event in his life.
Clearly + his work isnt good. Cleverly + she avoided
all those difficulties. Confidentially + theyre not satisfied
with her work. Definitely + he deserves some reward.
Essentially + you should have a clear idea of the procedure
you should follow. Evidently + he isnt interested.
Foolishly + we decided to change the plans. Frankly + I
didnt like it. Fundamentally + our legal system is quite
sound. Honestly + that music affected me deeply.
Ideally + we should ask the opinion of each one of them.
Maybe + he doesnt want to do the job youve given
him. Naturally + they couldnt believe what they heard.
Obviously + shes having a fine time. Officially + the
news hasnt been confirmed. Plainly + they dont want
to give you a friendly welcome. Perhaps + this is the best
time to sort out the dispute.
Personally + I like it very much. Possibly + many of
the passengers are badly hurt. Privately + I didnt like
it. Probably + her feet were wet. Really + you should
consider yourself lucky. Rightly + they decided to call
off the strike. Seriously + this job needs a lot of skill and
knowledge. Curiously (enough) + he wasnt disappointed
at all. Funnily (enough) + I ran into that man again
in the street. Oddly (enough) + the bag was empty.
Strangely (enough) + they havent even sent a reply yet.
Fortunately (for me) + I am on good terms with them.
Hopefully + theyll come to an agreement soon. Luckily
(for her father) + that bus was going to Pune. Mercifully
+ it was not a serious accident. Thankfully + it didnt

H ow to divide speech into idea units

79

rain that day. Unfortunately (for them) + there was a


long period of dry weather that year.
Even more important + we should prevent the situation
becoming worse. Most decidedly + theres something
wrong. Most likely + hell be back in an hour. Most
unexpectedly + certain problems came up. Quite likely +
she was trying to avoid him. Very likely + he was afraid
to tell him about it.

Prepositional phrases
As a rough estimate + it may cost a million. From
what I know about him + he wont hesitate to betray his
friends. In all fairness + they tried their best to help us.
In all frankness + I wont trust him for a moment. In
short + that portrait was a fraud. In practice + rules like
these are more often broken than obeyed. In theory +
these things may appear possible. On paper + thats our
only task. He failed the driving test once again + to his
great disappointment. To my knowledge + hes a very
courteous man. To my misfortune + that was a holiday.
To my regret + they refused my offer. To everybodys
surprise + he got promoted within a year. With assistants
like them + youll be able to get any job done easily.
Without some help from them + we wont be able to
complete the project in time. Without a bank loan + we
wont be able to buy a car.

to-infinitive clauses
To be fair + he must get all the credit. To be frank + I
dont think this dress suits you at all. To be honest + we
dont have enough money for all this. To judge from what
he said + he seems to be an authority on this subject. To
be precise + this happened on the 15th of July (+ last year).
To put it frankly + I didnt expect him to behave like that.

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H ow to divide speech into idea units

-ing participle clauses


Frankly speaking + I dont like people playing jokes on
others. Generally speaking + jobs like these take a long
time to complete.
Putting it bluntly + you take yourself too seriously.
Putting it crudely + they dont care two hoots about all
this. Putting it frankly + we dont want to charge them
for the damage. Putting it mildly + your criticism was
a bit too much. Roughly speaking + he draws about Rs.
75,000.00 a month. Speaking frankly + neither of them
is correct. Speaking generally + were not conscious of
our shortcomings. Speaking personally + I feel some
hesitation. Speaking (purely) for myself + I liked that
film very much. Strictly speaking + hes a Lt. Colonel (+
and not a Colonel).

Guideline 11: Clause-relating adverbials


You can treat clause-relating adverbials (multiword phrases as
well as polysyllabic adverbs) as separate idea units.
Eg: You can raise prices + (Or) Alternatively + you can
cut costs. Their food is superb + And you get excellent
service + Altogether + Thats a very good restaurant.
That house is too big for us + Anyhow + we cant afford
it. We wont be able to complete it today + Anyway +
there are two more days left. Hes very good at this sort of
work + Besides + his charges are very reasonable. You
must pay a small advance + Otherwise + they may sell
it to somebody else. Hes very generous in giving help +
And he has done a lot for us + Above all + he has a kind
heart. You should treat them well + After all + theyre
here to help you. (All) in all + it was an excellent idea.
Sometimes he behaves very rudely + All the same + I
like him. He doesnt want to get married + At any rate
+ not right now. I dont think they expected to win +

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81

At the same time + this defeat must be disappointing.


They didnt ask you to do it + By the way + why did
you do it? There are several reasons + First of all +
hes new to this job. I dont think we should accept this
offer + For one thing + the price theyve quoted is too
high + (And) for another (thing) + their service is very
poor. They havent done a good job + For example/
instance + look at those tiles + Theyre out of alignment.
You must get as much information on this as possible +
For a start + why dont you make a few phone calls?
Hes an experienced engineer + and an expert in this field
+ For all that + he couldnt find out what caused the
explosion + at the plant. Theyve already hired two buses
+ In addition + theyve asked us to provide two or three
cars. We havent received a reply yet + In any case +
the worst they can do is say no. In the first place
+ he didnt have the necessary qualifications + In the
second place + he was over-aged. Theyre planning to
simplify the procedure + In the meantime + well have
to follow the present system. Hes a District Collector +
In other words + hes a civil servant. All these flowers
smell sweet + In particular + this flower has a very
pleasant smell. You earn your living as a photographer
+ In the same way + I earn my living as a journalist.
We did everything we could to persuade him to stay on
+ In spite of it all + he resigned and left. He trained
hard for several months + In spite of that + he couldnt
reach his best form. You think hes for this proposal + In
that case + why did he speak against it at the meeting?
There are a number of mistakes in that report + But of
course + she had to type it in a hurry. He didnt like
the film + On the contrary + I found it quite enjoyable.
On the one hand + he wants to continue as a doctor
+ But on the other hand + he wants to practice as a
lawyer. Their attitude towards all this has changed +

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Similarly + they have softened their position on several


other government policies. His car broke down on the
way + Therefore + he couldnt get there on time. To
begin/start with + this idea may not work in practice +
And secondly + how are you going to find the funds?

Guideline 12: Vocatives


Vocatives are attention-drawing words and word groups. You
can treat them as separate chunks if they are uttered at the
beginning.
Eg: Sheela + give it to me. Mr. Gupta + please come here.
Excuse me + are these yours? Look at that one +
madam. Sir + can I have a word with you? Whats for
dinner + mum? Listen to this + kids. You fool + thats
not the way to do it. Thats all + ladies and gentlemen.
Doctor + is it anything serious? Dont do that + darling.

***

Segmentation practice

83

Chapter 7

Segmentation practice
By now, Ive given you certain guidelines, and those guidelines
showed you the points where you could divide a stream into
chunks. Go through the guidelines once again.
Now remember two points:
First, the knack of segmenting dividing a stream into
idea units is not difficult to get into. The training youve had
so far must have helped you pick it up by now. Im now going
to give you some more material for the segmentation practice.
Go through the practice material given below. Theyll give you a
lot of training in dividing up long stretches of speech into idea
units.
Second, in a long stretch of speech, there will often be more
than one point where the division can be made. And its normally
up to you to decide where exactly to make the divisions. In
general, youre free to split up a long stretch at any one or more
of those points. The only thing you must not forget is this: You
must divide a long stretch of speech into idea units. And you
must divide them into idea units of manageable lengths. (As you
know, a manageable unit is one that contains, on an average, 5 or
6 words and, in any case, not more than about 9 words).
Now lets go for the practice material. Say each word group
aloud several times. Here we go:
Strictly speaking + its a work of little value. Besides +
the mark of the wound still shows. Fortunately + it was nice
to the taste. Im off to Bombay + tomorrow. I heard someone
coming + stamping loudly + and you know + a shiver went
down my back. Ive sent it to her + by post. Of course + they
made friends again + after the quarrel. Now that Ive come here
+ Id like to see them all. To quote him + you have a strong

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will. Hes a doctor + now. Look at it for some time + and itll
make your eyes water. Sometime soon + you should meet him
+ and give it back. Its quite good + really. Oddly enough +
this bucket could hold more water + than that one. Actually +
there was no money on me. Maybe + the water spread on the
floor. He told me + it was made of a sort of plastic. From now
on + dont tell him more + than you can help. Thats all + for
today. Ill be there + by tea-time. This is Anita + my sister.
Fortunately for us + that was news to him. If you ask me +
there could be no mistaking + what he had seen. I heard it +
and my heart skipped a beat. He has only brought a few + this
time. Definitely + it was only imagination.
Seriously speaking + its a lazy habit to go to bed + so
early every day. From what she told me + I cant see any harm
in that. Technically + it hardly matters at all. Theres Anita
+ over there. He was standing at attention + and didnt look
friendly at all. In my opinion + its too costly. As you know
+ hes in poor health. Thank you + for your help. If you tell
her + shell tell them. She hit him + so he struck her back.
For goodness sake + keep quiet a minute. He has a cat + and
it lives in his bedroom. By the way + whenll it be finished?
Apparently + he fell heavily. Personally + it weighed heavily on
my mind. Curiously enough + she didnt pour out the coffee.
During the day + he has his business to attend to. Im leaving
+ the day after tomorrow. Lets not do it + that way. Plainly
+ its more blue than green. Im boss + here. Its a bit chilly
+ today. With most children + play is more important + than
study. He gripped her shoulder hard + and shook her. He tells
me + its not available. Whats more + they had lost all hope
of winning.
Frankly + there was no one in the restaurant + to serve
us. The trouble with him is + hes too ambitious. Even more
important + you must sleep more than you do. On top of it all
+ he was very quarrelsome. You can have it + if you like. It

Segmentation practice

85

hadnt been used in a long time + and it looked rather battered.


With your help + I can manage it. If I may say so without
offence + I had imagined you as a sadist. We stayed away + for
a very good reason. He struck at her + but missed his aim.
All things considered + were bound to win. Break the egg into
a cup + and crumble some bread into it. This shirt + doesnt
fit me. If I may be blunt + the quarrel has not yet been settled.
From what his wife told me + he valued it at 5000 rupees.
To their disappointment + washing it didnt do it any good. In
that case + give them cloth that wont tear. She has got a job
+ as a typist. I wont tell anybody + I promise. If you ask me
+ its worse than useless. Also + dont play in the dirt. His
ambition + is to be a doctor. With all her faults + I like her.
I was dumbfounded + and my knees kept buckling. We did
sight-seeing + mostly. With friends like that + your hopes will
only be disappointed.
Evidently + its a valuable sort of wood. She didnt see
the joke + and I had to explain it to her. There are no shows +
on Sundays. As she puts it + he has an uncertain temper. He
nudged me + and pointed to her with a glance. No + thanks.
Quite likely + he went there for his health. You neednt pay
+ this time. Im leaving for Bombay + day after tomorrow.
He spends his time there + all day. He lost control of himself
+ and he struck her a violent blow. How extraordinary + she
keeps sending us letters. He likes to play + but only if he wins.
I couldnt get her + on the phone. No doubt + he paid a high
price for it. Speaking for myself + I can come to a settlement.
Next + she poured some water into the glass. In two weeks
time + Ill be back from my journey. Whats more interesting
+ somebody has moved these papers. So far + theyre a man
short. They all say + its not serious. Im not objecting +
this time. Thankfully + he can stand without support now.
He poked a finger into my stomach + and gave me a big smile.
Thank you + for all youve done. Most unexpectedly + he
looked hopefully at me.

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S egmentation practice

If I may say so + their help has been valuable. Presumably


+ this was a secret between them. He had a shop + in Bombay.
Honestly + its difficult to tell + at this distance. After the
accident + the car was only a pile of iron. Ill be ready + by
then. If I may be personal + you have always had bad health.
Thats mine + over there. They started off + at the India
Gate. At present + hes far too busy. Instead + itll only strike
terror + into their hearts. He wasnt at home + last night.
She gave it to him + and he carried it around + in his pocket.
Seriously + dont hold pins in your teeth. To judge from his
remarks + he was asking + for a settlement of the account. In
other words + nothing remained of it. Shes staying with us +
next month. At that very moment + the string came untied.
It would be awful + if we failed. Its a bit stuffy + in here.
Strangely enough + he didnt move in his sleep + yesterday.
It would be nice + to have a house like that. Thankfully + he
didnt mind what I said. He clapped for silence + and we burst
out laughing. Im not free + at the moment. Above all + she
spoke about it quite hopefully.
If you ask me + the flag was up + and not down. If I
may say so + I cant see the good of doing that. To my regret
+ hes a quarrelsome fellow. Ive some business + with him.
Hes quite upset + I gather. Sadly + she suffered in health +
when she was there. She says + she simply must go. Fruits
are quite cheap + this time of the year. Last night + my foot
struck against a stone. All told + that makes 75 rupees. The
road was slippery + and I had to watch my step. That knife +
wont cut at all. Surprisingly + he couldnt manage + to settle
the business. If I may be frank + they didnt weigh it at all.
For several days + people poured into that place. Frankly + I
was so angry + that I felt like tearing my hair. Hullo + Anil.
Im glad + to have you here. Possibly + shes more frightened
than hurt. Get a move on + do. Im sorry I couldnt come +
on Monday. As far as I can see + you were foolish to do it.
With all his influence + hes unhappy. I got into bed + but I

Segmentation practice

87

couldnt fall asleep. Those people + left nearly a week ago now.
Somehow + he raised my hopes.
To be frank + its immensely valuable to us. Anyhow +
theyre all in the secret now. Generally speaking + they take
no pity + on the losers. It rained all day + last Sunday. A
big lorry piled high with fire-wood + passed this way. Its a
shame + he cant continue. Last of all + we put them in a
big heap. He has no patience with you + Im sure. She has
dropped it + all over the place. Whats even more remarkable
+ it struck fear into their hearts. Its so tiring + by bus. When
hes feeling good + he likes to hop and skip. Im not sure + yet.
First of all + can the room hold + all the people? Hopefully
+ that settles the matter. By any chance + did anything remain
of the house + after the fire? Its a nuisance + having to wait
so long. Many times + the string came undone. Not a single
fine day + this week. I like it + here. To her displeasure +
they moved nearer to the light. Your handwriting is quite good
+ really. By then + it had quite gone out of my mind. Until
then + everything was coming along fine. I should perhaps +
have tried some other method. Evidently + he didnt see the
inside of it.
In all frankness + is that of any value? Personally + I
dont like her manners at all. To start with + we separated the
small ones. Ive just been talking to him + in the other room.
The man sitting opposite me + laughed a real sneering laugh.
Next + I heaped them up together. Its the absolute truth +
I swear it. Its useless + meeting him again. Surprisingly +
I didnt hear the clock strike. When I retire + I would like to
live there. In that circus + there are wonderful elephants. To
my misfortune + it was slippery + and I lost hold of it. The
cheapest chair + costs 75 rupees. As far as Im concerned +
I rather liked it. Putting it bluntly + theres nothing settled.
If you understand me + hell remain like this + all his life.
After a time + it comes easy. His steno + is first class. Well

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S egmentation practice

be getting more soon + after all. Anyhow + its no business of


mine. Youll have to do it + I suppose. Not unreasonably +
they mistook my meaning. I must go + now. I bit into the
cake + and she said + that was no way to eat. No one can go
in there + so he said. Sadly + he was suddenly taken ill.
Since you want to know + your ideas havent much value.
In any case + hes rather a showy person. Basically + hes
a quick learner. I really havent time + this morning. She
came running over + and smiled a sneaky smile. The paper
says + 200 rupees. Then + I heaped all those things over it.
The answer to the question + is no. I dont want it + really I
dont. Seriously + will these shoes stretch? As a general rule
+ we dont do it. When the engine is running + you can smell
the petrol fumes. First to the hotel + and then to the office.
Luckily for him + it was slippery + and I couldnt keep hold of
it. In short + theres nothing decided. Quite likely + the rain
has spoilt all the flowers. His shirt + is the blue one. With
the audience making so much noise + how could you make the
speech? They arent making him Manager + surely. Itll be
easy + if you help. I want five + at least. She rang me up
+ at the last minute. Clearly + hes not much of a painter. I
cant come + Im afraid. Since you want to know + theres no
mistaking who I had seen. Hes a stuck-up person + and thinks
hes very special. Anitas + is the red one. Perhaps + he may
have fallen ill.
To my surprise + he asked me to settle the bill. Certainly
+ the news will soon spread. Ill bring it tomorrow + honestly,
I will. Confidentially + how does this plan strike you? He
didnt look serious or angry + and I heaved a sigh. I saw her +
at the party. Curiously enough + that was no news to her. Hes
professor + and he comes from London. I saw her + last week.
In all fairness + there can be no mistaking + how he had done
it. Keep it for yourself + or return it to her. He grabbed her
by the hand + and dragged her + down the hall. So long as the

Segmentation practice

89

place is not crowded + its easy. What is even more important


+ she has a very strong imagination. Most likely + they havent
paid him + the full value of those things. For a month + we
did business with them. Actually + the hall was packed with
people. I was through with my food + and I wanted to wash
my hand. Im terribly lazy + these days. To begin with + they
directed me wrongly + and I went to a wrong place. This bag
+ is Ashas. Evidently + his hearing is not very good. I cant
get it to work + anyway. When he walks + he stamps his feet
+ and makes a lot of noise. Ive got a party + tonight. To his
annoyance + the bag couldnt hold all his things.

***

90

Embedding and Lining up

chapter 8

Embedding and Lining up


There are two techniques that help you combine several strands
of ideas : Embedding and Lining up. But if you want to achieve
fluency in speech, embedding is something you should avoid as
much as possible. And lining up is what you should go after.
Embedding happens (i) when you work one clause or phrase
into another phrase as an element within this phrase (the way
an egg is placed inside a ball of dough); or (ii) when you work
one clause into another clause as an element within the second
clause (the way one tube is forced inside another tube).
Lining up happens when you place one phrase or clause
next to another phrase or clause end to end (the way an egg
is placed side by side with a ball of dough or the way one tube is
placed next to another tube end to end).
Heres an example of embedding:
A tall girl {from an office [in that building (across the
street)]} gave that to him.
And heres an example of lining up:
A tall girl gave that to him. Shes from an office + in that
building + the building across the street.
Heres another example of embedding:
Somebody who had come from the US where he was a
computer engineer told our boss something.
And heres an example of lining up:
Somebody told our boss something + That person had
come from the US +and he was a computer engineer there.
Heres another example of embedding:
When we had a huge mass of data to analyze, somebody

Embedding and Lining up

91

told our boss something.


And heres an example of lining up:
We had a huge mass of data to analyze + and somebody
told our boss something.
You see, lining up is the natural way in which strands of
information come out of their minds when fluent speakers speak
spontaneously. But writing depends on embedding to a great
extent, because it serves a useful purpose in writing. Within limits,
embedding helps the writer to save words and space, and to save
his reader from having to spend much time and energy trying to
separate essential points from what is strictly unnecessary.
Take a look at this group of clauses:
When we had a huge mass of data to analyze, somebody
who had come from the US, where he was a computer
engineer, told our boss that we needed a computer to do
the job, as it was impossible to analyze all that data by
hand.
This is a written English sentence. Now, how many strands
of information are there in this sentence? At least six, and not
just one:
(i) We had a huge mass of data to analyze; (ii) It was
impossible to analyze all that data by hand; (iii) We needed
a computer to do the job; (iv) Somebody told this to our
boss; (v) That person was somebody who had come from
the US; (vi) He was a computer engineer in the US.
Actually, you can see that some of the strands can still be
split up and separated into thinner strands of information (as
youll see below), depending on the speakers communicative
convenience.

Roundabout connectivity
You see, what the writer of the sentence has done is this: He

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Embedding and Lining up

has connected together the individual strands of information in a


roundabout way through the process of embedding.
This is what he has done: He has worked the 3rd strand into
the 4th, then he has worked the 1st strand into this combination
of the 3rd and 4th strands, then he has worked the 6th strand
into the 5th strand, then he has worked this combination of the
5th and 6th strands into the 4th, then he has worked the 2nd
strand into the 3rd, then he has worked this combination of 2nd
and 3rd strands into the combination of 3rd and 4th.
So you can see that he has passed the connecting threads
across each other in a criss-cross fashion, and has made up a
single sentence. A complex one.
In natural speech, embedding and roundabout connectivity
do not normally happen to this extent. No. Instead, fluent
speakers line up strands of information end to end, and connect
one to the next, that to the next and so on, and move straight
from one strand to the next, and keep the strands separate,
yet connected. They dont bind the strands together, the way
several strands of cord are twisted together into a rope or the
way several cards are bound together by putting a rubber band
around them.

Straight connectivity
In natural speech, the things that come straight out of your mind
(and your mouth) would be simple idea units each containing
one strand of information, and each said as one utterance. And
they would appear as a chain of railway coaches that are all
connected together end to end. So in natural speech, youd say
something like this:
We had a huge mass of data to analyze + And it was
impossible to analyze all that data by hand + And
somebody told our boss + we needed a computer to do the
job + That was somebody who had come from the US +

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93

where he was a computer engineer.


Or something like this by dividing up some of the longer
idea units into shorter ones:
We had a huge mass of data to analyze + And it was
impossible + to analyze all that data by hand + And
somebody told our boss + we needed a computer to do the
job + Somebody who had come from the US + and he was
a computer engineer there.
Or something like this by dividing up some of the longer
idea units into still shorter ones and by adding a few fillers like
you see, you know, I mean, and yes:
We had a lot of data + to analyze + A huge mass, actually
+ And you see + it was impossible + quite impossible
you know + to analyze all that data + I mean + by hand
+ And somebody told our boss + we needed a computer
+ yes + a computer + to do the job + And that man +
you know + he had come from the US + and he was a
computer engineer there.
The point of all this is this: When you speak spontaneously,
dont try to do what you do when you write: Dont try and fuse
two or more strands of information together into a single unit.
Let the strands remain separate, but connected end to end.

Speak in idea units, and not in sentences


By now, you must be convinced about one thing: Sentences
are not part of natural spoken English. Theyre part of written
English. Spoken English is made up of idea units, instead. So
dont even think of speaking in sentences. Speak in idea units,
instead.
And we saw one thing: You started learning English the
wrong way that is, not in the natural way. You started learning
to WRITE first, and not to speak. And perhaps, for several years
since you started learning English, you havent been living in a

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Embedding and Lining up

place where you could regularly listen to a lot of conversational


English.
So, dont you see? Because of these reasons, your mind
is immersed in written English. And so, which way does your
mind work? The written-English-way, of course. And whats your
automatic instinct, when you want to speak English? Its to speak
in the way you write. To follow the written English style.
So whenever you want to speak in English, what do you do?
You try to express your ideas and feelings not by speaking
out idea units, but by making up sentences. By using the wrong
thing, written English, as your model.
When your mind is so set on making up written English
sentences, what happens? Your mind turns away from what you
say to how you say it. You stop paying attention to the substance
of your speech and start concentrating on the form. Result? You
lose track of what to say, you get lost and confused, and you find
yourself at a loss for speech.

***

V+N Clu sters

95

chapter 9

V+N Clusters
Ive already introduced you to a special type of word groups, and
Ive called them ready-built word groups.
Now, among the ready-built word groups, theres a very useful
category of word groups called collocations. Yes, collocations.
Let me tell you what a collocation is.
A collocation is a combination of words but a special
kind of combination. It is a combination of words that combine
together habitually. As a matter of habit. That is, the words that
combine to form the combination have a tendency to occur
together with a certain amount of regularity. So just keep this
in mind: A collocation is not a chance combination or a random
combination, but a habitual combination, a typical combination.
Here are some examples of collocations:
1). Verb+Noun:
run a department, call an election, do the dishes, fight the
flames, take a trip, take a break, have dinner, make lunch,
run a risk, shrug your shoulder.
2). Noun+Verb:
bomb explodes, culture spreads, engine runs, focus shifts,
luck improves.
3). Adjective+Noun:
my big brother, consistent manner, funny joke, a huge
construction.
4). Noun+Noun:
car key, chair leg, pay packet.
5). Adverb+Verb or Verb+Adverb:
seriously harm, sincerely hope, fit badly, shiver violently.
6) Adverb + Adjective:

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V+N Clu sters

absolutely clear, totally impractical, madly jealous,


dreadfully sorry.
Of these six types of collocations, Verb+Noun collocations
are the most frequently occurring ones.
Heres a very useful collection of these collocations
Verb+Noun collocations for intensive oral practice. Get a
lot of practice saying them aloud, and your ability to express
thoughts in word groups would start improving immediately:

Group 1
change the oil (every 5000 kilometres), avoid an accident,
cause an accident, have an accident, close an account, begin an
action, bring an action (against sb), control an activity, feed an
addiction, build an addition, deliver an address, enjoy a big/
great advantage, enjoy an advantage, gain an advantage, have
an advantage, answer an advertisement, place an advertisement,
break an agreement, conclude an agreement, have an agreement
(with sb), form an alliance, call an ambulance, double the
amount, draw an analogy, find an answer, get an answer, give an
answer, guess the answer, have an answer, demand an apology,
change the appearance (of a building), approve an application,
grant an application, break an appointment, adopt an approach,
begin the final approach, clear an area, accept an argument,
cause an argument, have an argument, enter the army.
confirm an arrangement, have an arrangement, consider
an aspect, discuss an aspect, foil an attempt, attract the waiters
attention, clear the attic, adopt a more responsible attitude, adopt
a positive attitude, adopt a wait-and-see attitude, have a (bad/
good) attitude, have a (positive/negative) attitude, convince the
authorities, contrast A and/with B, expect a baby, find a babysitter,
fold the corners back, carry a bag, check the contents (of a bag),
achieve a balance, find a balance, catch the ball, hit a ball, break
a barrier, create a basis, establish a basis, form a basis, clean
the bath, charge a battery, fight a battle, fight a losing battle,

V+N Clu sters

97

confirm a belief, encourage a belief, have a belief, hold a belief,


feel a sense of belonging, enjoy the benefit(s), feel the benefit(s),
gain a benefit, have a benefit, close the gap between, approve
a bill, debate a bill, deliver a blow, check the departure board
(for flight/train times), drop a bombshell, close a book, close
a border, cross the border, defend the border, cross a boundary,
draw a boundary, bury a box, apply the brakes (of a vehicle), hit
the brakes, extend an olive branch, cut a slice of bread, build a
bridge, call the fire brigade, extend the budget, enter a building,
fire a bullet, carry the burden, catch a bus, drive a bus, enter the
film business, expand a business, cut the cake, divide the cake,
answer a call, conduct a campaign, fight a campaign.
buy a new car, clean the car, design a car, drive a car, fix
the car, bring a case, close a case, feed a cat, advance a cause,
champion a cause, add a note of caution, accept a challenge,
enjoy a challenge, face a challenge, anticipate a change, cause
a change, demand a change, effect a change, create a character,
develop a character, establish a character, feature a character,
admit a charge, bring a charge, deny a charge, drop the charges,
face a charge, cash a cheque, dress a chicken, adopt a child, help
a child, feed the children, catch a chill, have a choice, build a
church, draw a circle, form a circle, bring a claim, deny a claim,
beat the clock, buy a new coat, break a code, enter a code, battle
a cold, catch a cold, display a collection, have a collection, enter
a college, develop a company, draw a comparison (between
two events), enter a competition, file a complaint, build a new
shopping complex, find a compromise, gain a concession, grant a
concession, bring a meeting to a conclusion, draw a conclusion,
break the conditions, create the conditions (for sth), attend a
conference, enter a conflict, establish a connection, accept a
consequence, consider a consequence, face the consequences
(of your actions), award a contract, break a contract, conclude
a contract, end a conversation, have a conversation, hold a
conversation, double the cost, fly the country, free the country,
attempt a coup, adopt a course, attend a computer course, attend

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V+N Clu sters

a course, complete a course, enjoy a course (of study), finish a


course (of study), follow a course.

Group 2
commit a crime, attract a crowd, bring a crowd, draw a crowd,
force a passage through the crowd, break a cup, drop a cup,
close the curtains, draw the curtains, beat the deadline, break
the deadlock, close a deal (with sb), conclude a deal (with sb),
cut a deal (with sb), die a natural death, die a painful death,
die a sudden death, die a violent death, close a debate, clear a
debt, announce a decision, challenge a decision, avenge a defeat,
accept a demand, call the fire department, fit the description,
give a description (of sb/sth), fight the desire, forget the details,
draw a diagram, follow a diet, discuss the difference, explain
the difference, cause a difficulty, face a dilemma, cook a good
dinner, face the opposite direction, conclude a discussion,
end a discussion, have a discussion, hold a discussion, catch a
disease, cause a disease, contract a disease, control a disease,
develop a disease, fight a disease, draw a distinction (between
two events), gain distinction, ask a doctor, become a doctor, call
the doctor, answer the door, close the door, force a door, get the
door, break the door down, design a dress, beat a drum, have a
duty (to do sth), get an education, give an education, have an
education, achieve an effect, counteract the effect, examine the
effect, experience the effect, feel the effect, have an effect, call an
election, fight an election, hit the enemy, force an entry, affect the
environment, create an environment, damage the environment,
destroy the environment, commit an error, contain an error,
correct an error, attempt an escape, have a lucky escape, have
a miraculous escape, have a narrow escape, celebrate an event,
hold an event, connect the two events, draw a parallel between
two events, conduct an exercise, cover sbs expense.
describe an experience, enjoy an experience, have an
experience, conduct an experiment, accept an explanation,

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99

demand an explanation, give an explanation, have an explanation,


assume an expression, catch the readers eye, forget a face, accept
the fact (that), establish a fact, explain a fact, give the facts, hide
a fact, examine the facts, feel a failure, feed a family, have a
family, correct a fault, develop a fault, discover a fault, find a
fault, have a fault, charge a flat fee (for sth), enjoy a new feeling,
get the feeling (that), have a feeling, catch the ferry, continue the
fight, face a fight, have a fight, discover a secret file, face a fine,
build a fire, fight a fire, buy a flat, announce the cancellation
(of a flight), book a flight, clean the floor, clean the kitchen
floor, hit the floor, arrange the flowers, gain a foothold, bear the
responsibility (for), complete a form, cost a fortune (S = sth),
build a foundation, establish a foundation, form a foundation,
form a close friendship, extend the frontiers, fulfil a function,
have a function, close the gap, check the fuel gauge, cast a
glance (at sb/sth), achieve a goal, establish a goal, advise the
government, elect a government, establish a government, form
a government, gain a high grade, draw a graph, cut the grass,
fix a post in the ground, hit the ground, form a group, gather
a group, bear a grudge, change the guard, aim a gun, carry a
gun, draw a gun, fire a gun, become a habit (S = sth), break
a habit, develop a habit, feed a (drug etc.) habit, balance a pot
on your head, cut the hedge, climb a hill, drop a hint, fill a hole
(with earth/water), book a holiday, build a house, buy a house,
clean the house, disturb the whole house, extend a house, cross a
hurdle, advance an idea, get an idea, get the idea (that), have an
idea, cause an illness, develop an illness, have an illness, create
the illusion (of sth).
create an impression, form an impression, gain the impression
(that), get an impression, get the impression (that), give an
impression, have an impression, have the impression (that),
achieve an improvement, demand an improvement, expect an
improvement, control an impulse, fight the impulse (to do sth),
earn an income, generate an income, get an income, have an
income, cause an increase, have an influence (on/over sb/sth),

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V+N Clu sters

gain the initiative, grant an injunction, cause an injury, have


an injury, conduct an inquiry, hold an inquiry, gain an insight,
follow the instructions, cover the cost of insurance, announce
an intention, confirm an intention, declare an intention, express
an intention, develop an interest (in sth), express an interest (in
sth), have an interest (in sth), attend an interview, conduct an
interview (with sb), get an interview, give an interview, grant
an interview (to sb), have an interview, close an investigation,
conduct an investigation, demand an investigation, decline an
invitation, address an issue, avoid an issue, become an issue,
cloud the issue, consider an issue, discuss an issue, evade an
issue, examine an issue, explain an issue, explore an issue, force
the issue, highlight an issue, detect a note of jealousy, accept a
job, finish the job, get a job, handle the pressures of a job, have
a job, begin a journey, complete a journey, continue a journey,
cloud sbs judgment, exercise your judgment, form a judgment,
hit the kids, climb the career ladder, climb the social ladder,
develop the land, adopt a language, break the law, cut the lawn,
change a law/the laws (on sth), establish a lead, extend a lead,
hold the lead, challenge the leadership, bend your legs, cross
your legs, address the letter (before posting it), answer a letter,
hold a licence.

Group 3
close the lid, have a full life, call the lift, define a limit, extend
a limit, draw a line, form a line, develop a link, establish a
link, find a link, earn a/your living, arrange a loan, establish a
location, find a location, force a lock, cast a look, handle the
mail, form a majority, get a majority, have a majority, die a poor
man, assist the manager, head a march, carry a mark, hit the
mark, finish the match, discuss a matter, cook a meal, catch the
meaning, discover the meaning (of sth), explain the meaning
(of sth), develop the means, find the means, adopt a measure,
announce a measure, approve a measure, arrange a meeting,

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attend a meeting, call a meeting, call an emergency meeting,


chair a meeting, close a meeting, conclude the meeting, fix a
meeting, have a meeting, hold a meeting, become a member,
carry a message, deliver a message, adopt a method, apply a
method, choose a method, develop a method, employ a method,
find a method, fire a missile, admit a mistake, avoid a mistake,
correct a mistake, discover a mistake, contribute the money, find
the money, exercise a monopoly, break the monotony, create a
mood, climb a mountain, cross the mountains, enjoy a movie,
commit a murder, adopt a name, forget the name, answer a need,
fulfil an emotional need, build a nest, announce the news, break
the news, hear the news, buy a newspaper, hear a low moaning
noise, hear a noise.
change a 100-rupee note, double the number, achieve an
objective, employ a staff of thirty etc., fit the description of, form
an impression of, gain the distinction of, admit an offence, commit
an offence, deny an offence, accept an/your offer, consider an
offer, decline an offer, enter an offer, call the office, design an
office, blow the whistle, advance an opinion, change an/your
opinion, express an/your opinion, form an/your opinion, give
an/your opinion, have an opinion, hold an opinion, enjoy the
opportunity, get an/the opportunity, have an/the opportunity,
found an organization, bear the pain, feel a sharp pain, change
a paragraph, draw a parallel, act the part/role (of sb/sth), crash
a party, check a passport, hit a problem/bad patch, clear a path,
create a pattern, draw a pattern, establish a pattern, follow a
pattern, form a pattern, accept a payment, delay a payment,
demand a payment, carry a penalty, draw a pension, deliver a
performance, give a performance, have a (great) personality,
have an interesting etc. personality, file a petition, answer the
phone/telephone, draw a picture (of sb/sth), buy a little place,
clinch a place, earn a place, gain a place, agree a plan, announce
a plan, back a plan, construct a plan, discuss a plan, drop a plan,
explain the plan, have a plan, board a plane, catch a plane, drop
a plate, direct a play, call a plumber, develop a point, call the

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police, develop a policy, conduct a poll, adopt a position, consider


a possibility, discuss a possibility, exclude a possibility, explore
a possibility, catch the post, fill a post, agree a price, ask the
price, charge a price, cut the price (of sth), abuse a privilege,
exercise a privilege, grant a privilege, award a prize, collect a
prize, get a prize, address a problem, attack a problem, cause a
problem (for sb), consider a problem, create a problem, discuss
a problem, establish a problem, experience a problem, fix a
problem, have a problem, follow a procedure, head a procession,
enter a profession, enter the legal profession, enter the medical
profession, achieve a profit, earn a profit, forecast a profit,
generate a profit, broadcast a program (live), hate a programme,
finish the project, break a promise, extract a promise (from sb),
fulfil a promise, discuss a proposal, enter a protest, defeat the
purpose (of sth), have a purpose, gain a qualification, affect
the quality (of sth), have a quality, answer a query, address a
question, answer a question, ask a question, discuss a question,
evade a question, have a question, form a queue, hear the rain,
become a reality (S = sth).
explain the/your reason, give a reason, have a reason, beat a
record, break a/the record, establish a register, break a regulation,
establish a relation, end a relationship, enter a relationship, form
a long-term relationship, form a relationship, have a relationship,
have no religion, find a copy of a report, build a reputation,
develop a reputation, earn a reputation, establish a reputation,
gain a reputation, consider a request, grant a request, conduct a
research, have a responsibility (to do sth), find a good restaurant,
achieve a better result, beat a (hasty) retreat, hitch a ride, avoid
the risk (of sth), cross the river, build a road (sw), cross a road,
extend a road, hit the main road, fire a rocket, extend a room,
follow a route, beat the rugs (to remove dust), apply a rule,
break a rule, enforce a rule, establish a rule, follow a rule, bend
the rules, break the rules, beat the rush, dress a salad, collect a
sample, address a question to sb, ask a favour of sb, bring a legal
action against sb, bring a note from sb, create an impression on

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sb, discuss a contract with sb, discuss a problem with sb, drink a
toast to sb, enlist the help of sb, exert a strong influence on sb,
expect a call from sb, expect a letter from sb, expect a visit from
sb, explain the problem to sb, explain the situation to sb, face a
challenge from sb, file a suit/lawsuit against sb, fix the blame on
sb, aim a blow at sb/sth, aim a kick at sb/sth, assume the mantle
of sb/sth, bear a close resemblance to sb/sth, bear a (passing/
striking) resemblance to sb/sth, bear little/no relation to sth,
bear a similarity to sb/sth, cast a spell on sb/sth, catch a glimpse
of sb/sth, clear a space for sb/sth, focus the camera on sb/sth,
cause a scene, describe a scene, film a scene, develop a scheme,
gain a scholarship, build a school, enter a school, find a suitable
school, hit the screen, cross the sea, conduct a search, create a
sense of reality, develop a sense of humour, experience a sense of
relief, attend a service, change the sheets.

The thing to do
The thing for you to do now is to read what Ive said so far in this
Book not once, but several times.
The aim should not be to learn anything by heart. No. The
aim should be to understand the principles. Yes, to understand
them. Get to know the whys get to know the reasons behind
the principles. Then your progress would be faster. But dont get
too worried over the principles. Youll get to know them gradually
as you go through the various Books in this series. What is
more important now is to read everything this Book says. And
to let your mind remain with those things. Your mind will then
start working, consciously and unconsciously, and ultimately
everything will sink in, and youll understand them fully.
Actually, theres only one major point you should understand
from all that Ive said so far. Only one major point: You should
produce speech, idea unit by idea unit and not word by word
or sentence by sentence. All else are matters of detail, and theyre

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only meant to make you understand this one major point.


Have you understood this one point thoroughly? Not just
verbally, but deeply in your blood? If you have, youve crossed
a major barrier that stands between you and the fluency skill.
And from now on, this understanding itself will check your
tendency to construct complicated sentences orally. So pay all
your attention to this one major point.
Thats it. Bye for now.

***