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"I am so slow when I speak!! For every word, I need to stop and think. Do I need to conjugate this? Where does this go? Is this the right preposition?".

If this is you, then you are not alone. In intakes, people often tell me, "the grammar is slowing me down". So what can you do when grammar is bogging you down?

Grammar is a tool.

Like any other tool, there is a correct way to use it and an incorrect way to use it. If you use a hammer to drive a nail into the wall to hang your favorite painting, then the hammer has served you well. If you use the hammer to eat your soup, it will probably take you a very long time to finish your soup. Or you will end up so frustrated that you decide to stop eating soup all together.

Nothing wrong with the hammer itself, it’s all about how you use it.

*Disclaimer: In my amazing metaphor, speaking Dutch is represented by the soup. Dutch grammar is represented by the hammer. No soups nor grammar nor frogs nor hammers were harmed in the making of this newsletter.

Dutch Grammar Hammer.

Same thing goes for Dutch grammar. So how should I use grammar then, you ask?

As you have noticed, when you try to have a conversation with someone and at the same time try to get the grammar right, you slow down too much. It’s like eating soup with a hammer. Another thing that happens is that you lose the connection with the other person. When you "go inside" to have a mental conversation with yourself about word order, you are hardly in contact with the person in front of you. You "zone out". That is not a nice sensation, not for you and not for the person you are talking to.

The challenge is to learn grammar to use it right.

Use grammar as a feedback tool.

If you know the rules, then don't correct yourself as you speak, but once you are finished with your sentence.

Manual for grammar use


1. Content first

When in a conversation, focus on what you want to say, the content.

Make contact, use all the words and non-verbal communication you have to get your message across. Don’t worry about the grammar, focus on the interaction.

2. Give yourself feedback

When you are done speaking, do a quick scan. For each stage in your learning, choose a specific grammar skill and focus on that. Ignore all else.

For example, the word order in the sentence or the verb conjugation.

Check if your sentence was correct by just focusing on that specific grammar rule, and if not, mentally correct yourself. This way you can be quick about it, and continue smoothly with the conversation.


1. Content first

When you are writing a text message or email, focus on what you want to say. Don’t worry about the grammar. Just look for the words that express your thoughts and feelings best.

2. Give yourself feedback

When you are done writing, do a quick scan. You can use the step-by-step guide in your workbook. Focus on the first 3-4 grammar checkpoints and practice them until they have become more or less automatic. Then add new checkpoints once you improve.

Any questions? Or looking for more advice?

Hope to see you soon!!



Rubio Dutch Blog

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