For each statement, select the appropriate option in the column that best describes you. Please be absolutely honest with your answers and don’t worry if some questions seem to score in the ‘wrong direction’.
When you are finished, please add the test score that you’ve just selected, at the bottom of the test.
Not at all
|1.||I try to anticipate and predict possible causes of confusion, and I deal with them up front.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2.||When I write a memo, email, or other document, I give all of the background information and detail I can to make sure that my message is understood.||5||4||3||2||1|
|3.||If I don’t understand something, I tend to keep this to myself and figure it out later.||5||4||3||2||1|
|4.||I’m sometimes surprised to find that people haven’t understood what I’ve said.||5||4||3||2||1|
|5.||I can tend to say what I think, without worrying about how the other person perceives it. I assume that we’ll be able to work it out later.||5||4||3||2||1|
|6.||When people talk to me, I try to see their perspectives.||1||2||3||4||5|
|7.||I use email to communicate complex issues with people. It’s quick and efficient.||5||4||3||2||1|
|8.||When I finish writing a report, memo, or email, I scan it quickly for typos and so forth, and then send it off right away.||5||4||3||2||1|
|9.||When talking to people, I pay attention to their body language.||1||2||3||4||5|
|10.||I use diagrams and charts to help express my ideas.||1||2||3||4||5|
|11.||Before I communicate, I think about what the person needs to know, and how best to convey it.||1||2||3||4||5|
|12.||When someone’s talking to me, I think about what I’m going to say next to make sure I get my point across correctly.||5||4||3||2||1|
|13.||Before I send a message, I think about the best way to communicate it (in person, over the phone, in a newsletter, via memo, and so on).||1||2||3||4||5|
|14.||I try to help people understand the underlying concepts behind the point I am discussing. This reduces misconceptions and increases understanding.||1||2||3||4||5|
|15.||I consider cultural barriers when planning my communications.||1||2||3||4||5|
|56-75||Excellent! You understand your role as a communicator, both when you send messages, and when you receive them. You anticipate problems, and you choose the right ways of communicating. People respect you for your ability to communicate clearly, and they appreciate your listening skills.|
|36-55||You’re a capable communicator, but you sometimes experience communication problems. Take the time to think about your approach to communication, and focus on receiving messages effectively, as much as sending them. This will help you improve.|
|15-35||You need to keep working on your communication skills. You are not expressing yourself clearly, and you may not be receiving messages correctly either. The good news is that, by paying attention to communication, you can be much more effective at work, and enjoy much better working relationships! The rest of this article will direct you to some great tools for improving your communication skills.|
In English, knowing when to use ‘a’ or ‘the’ can be difficult. Fortunately, there are rules to help you, but you need to know what type of noun you are using.
When you have a single, countable English noun, you must always have an article before it. We cannot say “please pass me pen”, we must say “please pass me the pen” or “please pass me a pen” or “please pass me your pen”.
Nouns in English can also be uncountable. Uncountable nouns can be concepts, such as ‘life’, ‘happiness’ and so on, or materials and substances, such as ‘coffee’, or ‘wood’.
Uncountable nouns don’t use ‘a’ or ‘an’. This is because you can’t count them. For example, advice is an uncountable noun. You can’t say “he gave me an advice”, but you can say “he gave me some advice”, or “he gave me a piece of advice”.
Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. For example, we say “coffee” meaning the product, but we say “a coffee” when asking for one cup of coffee.
You can use ‘the’ to make general things specific. You can use ‘the’ with any type of noun – plural or singular, countable or uncountable.
“Please pass me a pen” – any pen.
“Please pass me the pen” – the one that we can both see.
“Children grow up quickly” – children in general.
“The children I know grow up quickly” – not all children, just the ones I know.
“Poetry can be beautiful”- poetry in general.
“The poetry of Hopkins is beautiful” – I’m only talking about the poetry Hopkins wrote.
More uses of articles in English
Rivers, mountain ranges, seas, oceans and geographic areas all use ‘the‘.
For example, “The Thames”, “The Alps”, “The Atlantic Ocean”, “The Middle East “.
Unique things have ‘the’.
For example, “the sun”, “the moon”.
Some institutional buildings don’t have an article if you visit them for the reason these buildings exist. But if you go to the building for another reason, you must use ‘the’.
“Her husband is in prison.” (He’s a prisoner.)
“She goes to the prison to see him once a month.”
“My son is in school.” (He’s a student.)
“I’m going to the school to see the head master.”
“She’s in hospital at the moment.” (She’s ill.)
“Her husband goes to the hospital to see her every afternoon.”
Musical instruments use ‘the‘.
“She plays the piano.”
Sports don’t have an article.
“He plays football.”
Illnesses don’t have an article.
“He’s got appendicitis.”
But we say “a cold” and “a headache”.
Jobs use ‘a’.
“I’m a teacher.”
We don’t use ‘a’ if the country is singular. “He lives in England .” But if the country’s name has a “plural” meaning, we use ‘the’. “The People’s Republic of China “, “The Netherlands “, “The United States of America “.
Continents, towns and streets don’t have an article.
“Africa”, ” New York “, ” Church Street “.
Theatres, cinemas and hotels have ‘the’.
“The Odeon”, “The Almeira”, “The Hilton”.
Abbreviations use ‘the’.
“the UN”, “the USA “, “the IMF”.
We use ‘the’ before classes of people.
“the rich”, “the poor”, “the British”.
We use some and any with uncountable nouns and plural nouns. The general rule is that you use “some” in positive sentences and “any” in negative sentences and questions.
“I have some ideas.”
“I don’t have any ideas.”
“Do you have any ideas?”
However, we can also use “some” in questions.
“Would you like some tea?” (I expect the answer to be “Yes”.)
When we use some in a question, we limit what we are offering the other person.
For example, “Can I get you something to drink? – Coffee, or tea?” means I am offering you a limited choice of things to drink.
When we use “any” in a question, we are not limiting the choice.
For example, “Would you like anything to drink?” includes a whole range of things to drink.
“Do you have any questions?” (You can ask me anything you like!)
We can also use any in positive sentences which have a negative meaning. We often use “any” with “hardly”, “without” or “never”.
“There’s hardly any petrol left in the car – we need to go to a garage.”
“He went out without any money on him.”
“She never has any problem understanding.”
In spoken English we often use lots of or a lot of. In written English, it is more common to write many (for countable plural nouns) or a great deal of (for uncountable nouns) in positive statements.
A common mistake is to use lot of. For example, “There are lot of accidents on this road”. To avoid making this mistake, remember either to use a before lot, or to make lot plural – lots.
We can say either a lot of or lots of before a noun. For example, “There are a lot of people here” or “There are lots of people here”. There isn’t any difference between the two expressions.
We can also use a lot as an adverb to say how much you do something. For example, “She talks a lot“.
A lot is also used in short answers. For example, “Do you like swimming?”, “Yes, a lot.”
Like and as are often confused in English. They can both be used to talk about how things are similar.
Like is followed by a noun or pronoun. For example, “I’m like my sister”, or “Like my sister, I have brown eyes.”
As is followed by a subject and verb. For example, “She’s a good student, as her brother was before her.”
However, in spoken English, like is often used instead of as. “She’s a good student, like her brother was before her.”
As is used with a preposition, such as, “As in the 1960’s, the population explosion will cause some problems.”
We can use as in certain expressions, such as “as you know”, “as you requested”, “as we agreed”.
We also use as…..as to give comparisons. For example, “He’s as clever as his sister.”
There are four main types of if sentences in English, often called conditional sentences.
These sentences are in two halves, with the if part in one half and the other part where you can use words such as can, will, may, might, could and would.
If + present form + present form
“If you heat ice, it melts.”
In this type of sentence, you could use when instead of if. It’s always true that when you heat ice it melts. This is why this type of sentence is sometimes called a zero conditional.
If + present form, + will, can or may
“If I am late, I will call you.”
“If you need me, you can call me at home.”
“If it gets any hotter, we may have a thunder storm.”
In these sentences (or first conditional sentences), there is a strong possibility that the first part (coming after if) is going to happen. The second part says what will happen as a result.
If + past form + would, could or might
“If I got a pay rise, I would buy a new car.”
“If you left your job, you could travel around the world.”
“If you were nicer to him, he might lend you the money.”
In these sentences, the first part with if shows that the event is unlikely to happen. In English, we often use this type of sentence (called a second conditional) to talk about hypotheses, or imaginary future events.
For example, “If I was President of the United States , I would change some laws.” But I know that I’ll never be the President of the USA – I’m just saying what I would do if I was in his/her position. Note: in American English, it is correct to use “if I were…” In British English, it’s more common to say “if I was…”
If + past perfect + would/might/could have done
“If I had revised, I would have passed my exams.”
“If we had gone out earlier, we might have got to the cinema on time.”
“If you had told me there was a problem, I could have helped.”
In these sentences (or third conditional sentences), the first part of the sentence with if didn’t happen. So there is no possibility of the second part of the sentence happening. I didn’t revise, so I didn’t pass my exams and there is nothing I can do about it now. English speakers use this type of sentence to show how things could have been different.