Native English Speakers Don’t Say “Clever” Much

Always interesting to hear and analyze how non-natives speak the English language. What’s difficult? What do they mess up?

One random observation: the word “clever.” Most fluent English speakers I know don’t use the word “clever” very often, certainly not as a catch-all compliment for intelligence or savviness. If anything, “clever” can have a slightly negative connotation — like sneaky. Yet many folks in Latin America use “clever” very often and in broad contexts.

Second random observation: “this” and “that.” Neither is technically grammatically better than the other, but you can hear it when it doesn’t sound right.

3 comments on “Native English Speakers Don’t Say “Clever” Much
  • North American native English speakers don’t, but those from the UK and Ireland sure do. “Smart” usually means well-dressed there, so “clever” is usually the word they use for intelligent.

  • Indeed, “clever” is British English. I remember that you made a similar comment a while ago, saying that native English speakers don’t say “holiday” much. Again, “holiday” is frequently used in British English. Although this is changing, most of the world still learns British English in schools, as it is seen as the original/purer form of the language… who’s to judge?

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