Simply Didn’t Know
You have a fairly good knowledge of grammar. You have a vocabulary of three or four thousand words. You know one or two thousand idioms. You are rather careful about usage. You ought to be able to write fairly well.
But are you1? If you are not2, why not3? One of your troubles, I think, is that you often cannot express what you want to say. You cannot4, but when you have seen your meaning expressed by someone who can express it, you will most probably say to yourself5 “That seems easy enough. I simply didn’t know.”
You are right. You simply didn’t know. Just a few common words arranged in a simple grammatical order by someone who is at home in6 English. That expresses your meaning, and yet you simply didn’t know which common words to choose and how to arrange them.
This is a very common trouble with Chinese learners of English. It is due to the fact that they do not read widely enough, nor carefully enough. There are thousands of useful expressions that are not generally considered idioms. They are so easy to understand that they are apt to be neglected7. But those who neglect them will forget them, and fail to use them when they need them.
You cannot learn to write with much freedom of expression8 till you have laid in9 a stock of useful phrases and sentences, and you cannot do it without reading widely and carefully.
- But are you?=But are you able to write fairly well?
- not=not able to write well
- why not?=why are you not able to write fairly well?
- cannot=cannot express what you want to say
- say to yourself 想
- at home in 精通
- are apt to be neglected 易于被人忽略
- freedom of expression 表达的自由；写作自如
- laid in 储藏