A basic, yet fundamental part of learning a foreign language is knowing how to effectively purvey your ideas. To do this, especially when you are a beginner, it’s important to avoid sentence fragments.
You probably already know that to create a complete sentence you need a subject and a verb. For example:
- Complete Sentence – You are going to the store
- Sentence Fragment –
Are going to the storeOR You to the store
Obviously the second ones are confusing because you either do not know who is going, or you don’t know how to relation the subject and the final idea.
But what about if we leave out the final idea–that ending complete thought. Well, our friends at Kaplan International have provided us with another nifty [neat/cool] comic explaining just how confusing English becomes if you do not communicate in complete sentence (click to enlarge).
The reason these two girls get so confused is because the recipe uses a lot of incomplete sentences without a complete thought. Let me give you some examples of how we could complete and make sense of these sentence fragments:
- After you add the sugar, add one teaspoon of baking soda
- While you beat the eggs, gradually add the flour.
- Before you put them in the oven, preheat it to 180 degrees Celsius.
However, we native speakers like to break the rules sometimes and will use incomplete sentences, as long as it makes sense. I recommend you do not attempt to do this until you are at an advanced level, but pay attention to it when listening to native speakers. Some example are:
- You going? (The complete sentence could be are you going to the store, but if you already know the destination, it’s not necessary to repeat it.)
- Coming! (This has no subject, and is therefor incomplete. It might be a response to let’s go to the store, and it’s assumed that the person responding is the one being referred to, so it’s unnecessary to say I am
- You can find many more examples by listening to the RealLife Radio podcast
If you enjoy cooking, following recipes is a great way to improve your English. Following is some useful vocabulary for baking (like if you want to make cookies!).
Additional cooking vocabulary:
- Measure (v): to get the amount that you need
- Teaspoon (n): a spoon used to measure a small amount
- Tablespoon (n): a spoon used to measure a larger amount (about 3 teaspoons)
- Measuring Cup (n): a container used to measure amounts in cups (common measurement in cooking in the United States and Australia instead of liters; for example, add two cups of sugar).
- Wooden Spoon (n): a large spoon made of wood often used for stirring
- Rubber Spatula (n): a flat rubber mixing utensil especially used with viscous or sticky liquids
- Whisk (n/v): A metal utensil used for whipping together ingredients like eggs or cream/the act of using a whisk to whip something
- Egg Beater (n): a small electrical appliance with two metal whisks that makes whipping eggs or cream faster and easier
- Stir (v): to mix with a spoon
- Pre-heat (v): To heat the oven beforehand so that it is at the correct temperature for baking