I know this question might seem somehow ridiculous to you or silly. You may ask me why don't answer these questions by thinking of what you do in your native language. The thing is that I didn't want to generalize since English has a different grammar structure and every language is different from another one even at the smallest scale. Also you may ask me since you type in English why can't you answer the questions. The thing is the question is asked at a deeper level, when speaking or when thinking, by last I mean when you hear your inner voice in your mind. The ultimate objective of an English learner, in my opinion, is to have the ability to think integrally and with easiness in English and also by doing so the speaker will get the capability of speaking with the others at an extensive level. And lastly and thank you for also reading this small description, if you could tell me more about how you think in English I would be extremely thankful.

  1. Do native speakers think of the structure of the sentence (placing the order of the words, choosing a word in favor of another one, the tense they want to use etc.) or do it automatically?
  2. What is the element of morphology that drives you to say the sentences with so much confidence? The noun, the verb or something else?
  3. Do you visualize in your mind the words you are thinking of? If so, you visualize mainly the nouns? How do you do it when you have a more abstract word that isn't an object such as 'calm'?
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    You should know the answer to that from your own native language. Most native speakers don't think in those terms, or even know what morphology means. They open their mouths and speak. Sometimes when speaking I have to phrase a sentence carefully, but that's not a matter of grammar. But, the more you speak a foreign language, the more you begin to think, or even dream, it. – Weather Vane Aug 23 '18 at 23:05
  • @WeatherVane Yeah, but the question is more about the science of speaking and thinking inside of your brain. It is indubitable that in every language there are these 'non-thinkers' that you are referring to and open their mouths without too much logic. But it is more about those who think and also to these 'non-thinkers' I mean sometimes they reflect about their lives and other problems – An english thinker Aug 23 '18 at 23:11
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    Yes, but thinking speakers in their own tongue still aren't thinking about grammar. They had most of the grammar before they even went to school - now they are thinking beyond that, to the context, to how the listener will understand what they say, or to anticipate how they may respond. Although as you irrelevantly say - there are speakers who will talk endlessly about nothing. – Weather Vane Aug 23 '18 at 23:14
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because is not about learning English. It might be better to ask this kind of question on Psychology & Neuroscience SE. – user3169 Aug 24 '18 at 5:11
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    "the question is more about the science of speaking and thinking inside of your brain." OK, but that's not the topic of this site. And I don't see why you think that native speakers of English would think in in different ways to native speakers of any other language. – David Richerby Aug 24 '18 at 13:22

At various times, I "mentally rehearse" various aspects of what I am going to say.

If I am writing a letter, or saying something complicated, I think about:

  • My main point.
  • Details that support my main point.
  • Avoiding details that weaken my argument.
  • Avoiding details that distract from my main point.
  • How to introduce the topic.
  • How to conclude the topic.

When I am building a single sentence, there are several ways I can start thinking about it:

  • Continuing a previous thought. (This often results in sentences that start with a conjunction, such as "So", "And", or "But".)
  • When or where something is relevant. (This often results in introductory clauses, such as "When in Rome,".
  • The main verb. (This sometimes results in imperative commands. Sometimes the main verb is generic, like "go".)
  • The subject. (This is often a pronoun, like "I" or "you" or "this" or "that".)
  • The object. (This is often a pronoun, like "you" or "me" or "them".)
  • An adjective or descriptive phrase. For example, "hungry" or "engineer". (These often turn into sentences like "I'm hungry." or "She's an engineer.")

When I am awake, I might not notice the stage where the sentence is mostly made of pronouns and generic verbs. When I am tired, I often fail to replace pronouns with noun phrases, and often fail to replace generic verbs with specific verb phrases. So when I am tired, I deliberately try to replace the pronouns and generic verbs.

I am under the impression that once I reach the stage of replacing pronouns, I fill in determiners fairly automatically. (Determiners are words like "my", "our", "a", "an", "the", and numbers.) After I explained how articles work to a Ukrainian, he summarized that "a", "an", and "the" are really part of the word.

Compared to filling in determiners, I think more about adding adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases. These embellishments change the meanings of the sentences. (Or at least change what aspects of nouns and verbs are emphasized.) They are also often unnecessary.

Some prescriptive rules in English are not natural for me. They cause a disproportionate fraction of my conscious thinking about what to say. For example, "who" vs. "whom". Correctly capitalizing, spelling, and punctuating my writing takes a similar effort. (All of these things are learned in school, instead of as small children.)

  • Thank you very much for sharing your way of thinking, I truly appreciate it. So, If you allow me, perhaps the 3 most important aspects that you are taking account for when you are making a sentence are: your main point, how it ends and begins and what is the verb you use – An english thinker Aug 23 '18 at 23:45
  • @Anenglishthinker -- Yes. But remember that some verbs are as generic as pronouns, so we do not think about those verbs much. – Jasper Aug 23 '18 at 23:47
  • @Anenglishthinker -- I worry about the beginning and ending of paragraphs and essays more than I worry about the endings of sentences. – Jasper Aug 23 '18 at 23:50
  • And also, if you may, what about when reading something? The point of the reading isn't revealed that fast – An english thinker Aug 23 '18 at 23:53
  • @Anenglishthinker -- You might want to ask separate questions about how people visualize what they read, or visualize what they are about to say. I don't know if this Stack Exchange is the right forum for asking those questions, though. Also, different people visualize things very differently. (And some people are not visual thinkers.) – Jasper Aug 24 '18 at 0:00

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