First, check out this "mean tweet" of the actress Emma Watson:
Emma Watson seems like the type of girl who I would be friends with for like three days and then get really sick of but not tell her.
Usually, you'd just keep reading and forget most of what you heard. However, if you want to have better conversations, it's important to occasionally pause what you're consuming and look closer at the details.
Let's look at that tweet in more detail:
Dude, that's such a long sentence.
You know what? You're right, little Kevin, that's why it's always a good idea to SIMPLIFY!
A simplified version of the first half of the tweet might be:
She seems like someone who I would be friends with.
Looking closer, we've got this expression "seems like," followed by the pronoun "someone" followed by the question word "who" since someone refers to a person.
In the second half, we have a hypothetical statement starting with "I would." and ending with the hypothetical result. We are saying that hypothetically, it's likely we might be friends with this person.
Do you know why we end this sentence with "with" and don't just say "someone who I would be friends?"
Well, it's because the expression is "I would be friends with her." We're always friends "with" people.
Note that grammar nerds will be mad at me and say, "She seems like someone with whom I would be friends" is the proper way to say this, but frankly, our goal isn't to pass grammar tests; it's to be able to speak English. And with that in mind, the original sentence is a pretty common structure in everyday speech. ✅
Now, imagine you're at a bar, and you see some guys at another table. One of them seems friendly. You might think about hypothetically joining him for a beer. Can you think of a common way to say that?
I would have a beer with him. Other verbs work here like "enjoy" or "get," but "have" is probably the most common one I hear.
Cool. Now let's put this into our original structure. What should the sentence be?
He seems like someone who I would have a beer with. (of course, the who is optional)
Awesome! Now, imagine you're on vacation, and you see someone paragliding. It looks like a lot of fun, and hypothetically you might like to try it. So you stand up, point at the paraglider, and proudly say:
That seems like something (that) I would like to try.
If we had said paragliding instead of "that," then the second "that" would probably fit better, but since we used "that" at the beginning, we don't want to be redundant.
Great, let's look at one more mean tweet.
Kristen Bell seems like the kind of person I'd be thrilled to be paired up with for a school project but then would never want to hang with her otherwise.
Yes, yes, I know, another long sentence. But don't freak out. Does the structure seem familiar? It's the same exact structure we saw before.
Simplifying, we see:
She seems like someone I would be thrilled to be paired up with.
Paired up means to make two people form a pair, usually in some sort of project in school or work.
Why do you think this with is here? Well, imagine you're at work, and your boss told you to work with a girl named Ali on a project. When you head to the bar after work, your friend asks you, "Anything interesting happen at work today?"
You might respond:
I was paired up WITH Ali for our final project of the year.
One last question. Imagine you asked your spouse to make you oatmeal for breakfast, but after trying it, you decided you didn't like it very much. Frustrated, your spouse asks you, "Why did you ask me for oatmeal if you don't like it?"
Using our structure of the day, how might you respond?
It seemed like something I would like, but I didn't.
Learning how to use structures like this is the fastest way to start thinking directly in English and stop getting stuck in conversations looking for the right words or organizing your thoughts.
Instead of trying to organize a sentence in your head one word at a time, you can just use the structure like a recipe and swap in different ingredients.
What you just did is called "deliberate practice," and it involves taking a little extra time to look at, analyze, and use something that didn't instantly make sense to you, or you wouldn't be able to use yourself in a conversation.
If you're ready to speak more confident English at work, then the Deliberate English Community is for you. In the community, you'll collect new expressions to help you express yourself, you'll practice use them in real-life challenges, and you'll get feedback from native speakers on everything you say. Best of all, you can join an unlimited amount of weekly live classes to boost your confidence and learn from business professionals.
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