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    #1

    How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    I went to a customer’s office and gave some documents to the customer for signature. Usually my boss deals with the customer. This was the first time I met him.

    When I came into his office, I said ‘Hello’ and explained why I was late. When I present the documents for his signature, he said ‘You can speak very English?’. I said “No,No” with an embarrassing smile. Then he asked me to explain something regarding the documents.

    I think I have no difficulty in communicating in English with foreigners. But I don’t think I can speak very good English. In the above case, how do I say in response with ‘You can speak very English?’
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 02-Aug-2014 at 04:53.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    "You can speak very English" is not at all grammatical.

    You can speak very good English.
    You can speak English very well.

    NOT: you can speak very English.

    You can simply say "I'm still learning" or "Thank you. I am trying very hard to speak it well."
    There are a number of ways you can respond.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    "You can speak very English" is not at all grammatical.

    You can speak very good English.
    You can speak English very well.

    NOT: you can speak very English.

    You can simply say "I'm still learning" or "Thank you. I am trying very hard to speak it well."
    There are a number of ways you can respond.
    If I say "No,No” with an embarrassing smile.", does it mean that my spoken English is not good in the eyes of native speakers.

    In Chinese culture, some Chinese would say "no" with a smile like the following case.

    Mother A: Your son is very smart. He is always the top in his school. (This is the fact)
    Mother B: "No,No, sometimes he does"


    Could you give me some more ways to respond?
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 02-Aug-2014 at 05:33.

  2. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    If I say "No,No” with an embarrassing smile.", does it mean that my spoken English is not good in the eyes of native speakers.

    In Chinese culture, some Chinese would say "no" with a smile like the following case.

    Mother A: Your son is very smart. He is the top in his school. (This is the fact)
    Mother B: "No,No. Sometimes"


    Could you give me some more ways to respond?
    Hello, Winwin.
    We often use that kind of "No, no..." in Japanese, too.
    Last edited by tzfujimino; 02-Aug-2014 at 06:31.

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    #5

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Barb's response is an attempt to tell you that anyone asking you "do you speak very English?" is someone with poor skills in English.

    Your questions about how to answer in a humble manner are really a separate issue. If a true native speaker (i.e. NOT someone who says "you speak very English") compliments you, just accept it. You don't have to verbally downgrade yourself.

    English-speaking culture can understand someone who tries to deflect praise, but we do not, as a rule, expect people to act more humble than they are.

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    #6

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Barb's response is an attempt to tell you that anyone asking you "do you speak very English?" is someone with poor skills in English.

    Your questions about how to answer in a humble manner are really a separate issue. If a true native speaker (i.e. NOT someone who says "you speak very English") compliments you, just accept it. You don't have to verbally downgrade yourself.

    English-speaking culture can understand someone who tries to deflect praise, but we do not, as a rule, expect people to act more humble than they are.
    Is it common for people to act humble in American culture? For example: "Wow! looks like you are really good at this!" "hum....I guess I just got lucky." Is it common?

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Mother A: Your son is very smart. He is always the top in his school. (This is the fact)
    Mother B: "No,No, sometimes he does"
    Is it better to say 'No, no, he is just sometimes so'?

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    #8

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Barb's response is an attempt to tell you that anyone asking you "do you speak very English?" is someone with poor skills in English.

    Your questions about how to answer in a humble manner are really a separate issue. If a true native speaker (i.e. NOT someone who says "you speak very English") compliments you, just accept it. You don't have to verbally downgrade yourself.

    English-speaking culture can understand someone who tries to deflect praise, but we do not, as a rule, expect people to act more humble than they are.
    Thanks SoothingDave

    Please note that " "you speak very English" is a typo. It should be "You can speak very good English?" The speaker is an American native speaker

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    #9

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeTyan View Post
    Is it common for people to act humble in American culture? For example: "Wow! looks like you are really good at this!" "hum....I guess I just got lucky." Is it common?
    Yes, humbleness is appropriate at certain times. It is not, in my experience, as common as it is in some Asian cultures.

    A false humility, and the pointing out of one's own humility on social media, like Twitter, has caused the creation of the term "humblebrag."

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/defin...erm=humblebrag

    It is a complicated subject, to be sure.

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    #10

    Re: How do I say in response with You can speak very English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Thanks SoothingDave

    Please note that " "you speak very English" is a typo. It should be "You can speak very good English?" The speaker is an American native speaker
    Then I would probably interpret his words as genuine. The fact that he followed the compliment with a desire to continue the conversation and have you explain things further shows that he meant what he said.

    If he said "your English is very good" and then quickly showed you the door, then you would have a better reason to doubt his words were genuine.

    The fact that he basically ignored your humbleness and asked you to explain more, in English, shows his true feelings.

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