How is it possible that certain people can understand a particular language but not speak it?

In your case, is there any language you can understand ( at least more than half of what you read or listen to ) but not speak it?

12 Answers

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  • John P
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    After fairly brief study in Britain, I can read Spanish fairly well, and speak it somewhat, but I find it hard to understand native speakers.

    NB: 'Castilian Spanish', as used in Spain.

  • 4 weeks ago

    I can understand ,reading and listening most Afrikaans but I can not write it or speak it.Most other languages understanding the spoken language comes last.

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    You might hear a language enough to recognize words and sounds, but didn't take time 

    to put them together yourself. Grammar  really shouldn't be learned via google translate.

    ps: In my case, this applies to Portuguese. I'm fluent in Spanish though which is similar.

  • 1 month ago

    The way I was taught French at school, I could read quite difficult texts but when we went on a school trip to France I couldn't even order a coffee.

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  • 1 month ago

    Understanding a language is passive and takes much less effort and knowledge than creating sentences, which is active.

  • 1 month ago

    Sort of. You can be able to speak a language, but not read it (usually not, but can be vice versa). This happens a lot in Australia. Mandarin is spoken by 3% (yep, a lot of Chinese here). They can understand and/or speak English, but they read the Chinese-language newspapers. In countries like in Europe where languages are similar, some people (e.g. Italians) can understand others (e.g. Spaniards) in their language, but can’t speak it. Italian and Spanish are similar, some words are even the same (e.g. uno, dos, tres in Spanish/Italian is one, two, three in English). But they don’t speak it. Mostly this happens in Europe. In the Western World, consisting of Oceania (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) and the Americas (e.g. Canada, America, Mexico), this rarely happens because the different languages aren’t as similar. For example, most Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and Canadians speak English, but English isn’t as similar to say, French (in Canada) or Spanish (in Latin America) as Italian and French, or Portuguese and Spanish in Europe.

  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    lack of practice

    and if you don't use a muscle it can atrophy. For instance, adult anglos often cannot pronounce dutch sounds like eu, ch, uu and ui

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    I studied Latin for quite a few years. I can read newspapers and magazines in Italian and get the gist of what they say, but I can't speak a word of Italian.

  • 1 month ago

    maybe theyre not used to speaking it

  • rodcom
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    I frequently find immigrant families like this.  The children do not speak the language very well, but understand everything the parents say.  A guy I work with is Colombian.  He speaks to his children in Spanish and they reply in English. 

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