Language and culture is always changing, so when you learn another language, it’s important that you know a little bit about how people communicate in that culture in different places.

Mistake: 

Wow, so high!

Explanation: 

There are many expressions that are used in song lyrics or poetry, but that do not sound natural or appropriate in spoken English. In informal spoken English, the kind you might hear in a song, saying someone is ‘so high’ might not only refer to simple positive feelings, but also to how someone feels after they’ve taken drugs.

Suggestions: 

Here are a few more natural expressions for general expressions of positive feeling:

This is great.

or

I’m having a great time.

or

Wow, what a great evening!

Here are some mistakes common to Chinese speakers, with explanations and suggestions for alternative ways to express the same idea.

1. 

Mistake: 

Is the food delicious? / I don’t think it’s delicious.

Explanation: 

‘Delicious’ is an easily-translated word that many English learners pick up early in their education, so it’s often over-used by learners of English in Hong Kong and indeed around the world. English speakers do use this word, but not all the time, and almost never in a question or negative form.

Suggestions: 

How’s the food? or Is the food good?

The food wasn’t that good. or The food wasn’t great!

2. 

Mistake: 

A: What music do you like?

B: Well, my favourite band is called The Blues Experiment.

A: I don’t know them!

Explanation:

In a situation like this, you are trying to start a conversation. If you don’t understand the person’s answer, avoid a negative response as it might kill the conversation. Instead, ask a question to keep the conversation going.

Correction: 

A: What music do you like?

B: Well, my favourite band is called The Blues Experiment.

A: Oh right, what kind of music do they play?