Hi, welcome back. I hope last week’s offering didn’t distance you! In that blog I spoke about using language to distance yourself from the person you’re addressing by using lots of words, something my colleagues from the USA say they don’t do: if they want something, they don’t beat around the bush they just come out and say it, in the politest way they can, of course. (To be honest, I think they’re generalising.)

Using language ‘to get something done’ is known in the trade as ‘functional language’ and the actual expressions you use are known as the ‘exponents’ of the function. Of course it usually depends on how you say it and the way you perceive the relationship between yourself and whoever you’re addressing, as it the ‘opening the window’ scenario from last week’s blog.

English language coursebooks often separate functions to make it easier for learners, for example one might say:

‘to make suggestions’ use: ‘why don’t you + verb ‘, ‘how/what about + verb+ing’, or ‘If I were you I’d.+ verb’.

Another book might say: ‘to give advice’ use: ‘why don’t you + verb ‘, or ‘how/what about + verb+ing’ or ‘If I were you I’d.+ verb’. It’s the same, yeah?

This confused me as a new teacher, asking, ’when does a suggestion become advice?’ Or when does ‘advice’ become a ‘warning’, or a ‘warning’ become a ‘threat’? I eventually realised that without a solid context, and without hearing how it’s said or intended to be said, no one really knows, once again bringing us back to the early pages of this blog. Remember – Context, body language, facial expression and pronunciation are crucial. Until next week. See you!