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17 Comments

Question to all (non-)native English speakers

Hi indie hackers,

I am curious to know how you feel when you write about your product or your journey in English.

My question is primarily aimed at people who do not have english as their mother tongue (like me), but of course everyone is welcome to take part in the discussion.

Is it difficult for you sometimes?
How do you deal with that?

I have days when I am not very good at writing texts in English. 😄
On days like that, I just do something else or I translate a lot.

What tools do you use to help yourself?
I use google translate, ms word, grammarly, deepl and a vocabulary a lot and I often write directly in english - sometimes I end up in the flow. 😁

How many of you are not native English speakers?
🙋‍♂️😊

  1. 3

    I love writing in English. I wrote a book in English (220+ pages) and many blog articles too.

    I barely write in my mother tongue anymore. The advantage we have as non native speakers: we don't have the vocabulary of a native speaker most of the time, so our writing is simpler.

    It feels less natural too, unfortunately.

    1. 3

      Yep, agree with that comment: as non-native english speakers, we make simpler, shorter, more focused sentences.

      And guess what? It's actually an excellent thing when it comes to marketing, or product description.

      There are upsides in every situation ;)

      1. 1

        It's an excellent thing for mostly everything, even books. Unlearning the complex and verbose way of writing from school is more difficult than not learning it at the first place...

    2. 1

      Thank you for this reply. So, practice (writing/leastening/speaking) is the key :)

      we don't have the vocabulary of a native speaker most of the time, so our writing is simpler.

      That is true :-) I also blog and can confirm this.

  2. 3

    @arvidkahl and @zenorocha write books in English as non-native speakers

    Anne-Laure, @anthilemoon, published 300 articles in 20 months

    1. 1

      Thanks for the examples.

  3. 2

    Hey there! I use mostly Grammarly and Google Translate. Sometimes I find it useful to Google a phrase when I think it might sound too foreign, but only if I have the time or I think I'd benefit from not letting out that I'm South American.

    1. 2

      Hey, thanks for the reply. :-)

      Sometimes I find it useful to Google a phrase when I think it might sound too foreign, but only if I have the time or I think I'd benefit from not letting out that I'm South American.

      That is a good hint :-)
      I also check from time to time in google complete phrases.

  4. 2

    Non-native English speaker here. I have been writing in English for the past two decades so I’m not too bad at it now.

    Anyway, here is a tip for non-native English speakers like myself. For me personally, the most important thing in writing effectively is the structure. And to get over the fear of wrong grammar and spelling.

    To write more, you need to read more. Having more vocab is good but it’s not the solution to being able to write better. So don’t stress too much about not knowing many vocabularies. Many great articles and books are written in very simple English.

    Feel free to check out my writing on Medium or Twitter. My username is @eisabai.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much for the valuable hints!

      To write more, you need to read more.

      I agree completely and that is what I do - I am reading not only technical articles and books, but also non-technical.

      So don’t stress too much about not knowing many vocabularies. Many great articles and books are written in very simple English.

      That is a relief to hear. :-)

  5. 2

    I have been practicing English as a non-native speaker for over four decades, so writing comes natural. I no longer think in my native language and translate, I write directly in English. I said it comes natural, not that what I write is pretty 😀

    My main tools are Google (the dictionary and thesaurus features) and the ProWritingAid grammar and style checker.

    A friend of mine, a fellow Italian, has just started a podcast in English. He's aware his English isn't perfect, so he leverages his weakness with humor to give a distinctive voice and personality to the podcast. I suggest that you listen to the beginning of the first episode where he elaborates on this.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the hints.

      I also force myself to write articles in english first and check them when I'm done. Sometimes it works pretty good.
      And often we all are better than we think we are (a little self-confidence is always helpful). ;-)

      I'll have a look at the podcast.

  6. 2

    I don't find writing small texts very difficult, but long texts like the blog posts is the real challenge for me. I think this is because my English vocabulary is weak or limited, I am trying to solve this problem by expanding my vocabulary through reading and learning new words this way.

    I use Grammarly and Google translate.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the reply.

      I don't find writing small texts very difficult, but long texts like the blog posts is the real challenge for me

      Same here (also the tools). :)

      With time and practice we all get better at what we do.

  7. 2

    I don't think too much about it tbh, but I try to run things like copy by native speakers that I know for example.

    Always feel like they do that part better 😁, maybe I'm just bad at writing copy 🤔

    1. 1

      I think, that this is a good approach - just write and speak what you hear and read. Kids do the same while growing - imitate parents and others. :)

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