Grammar Lesson I [B2]



Patients are often anxious because the diagnosis is new, they fear severe illness or death, or they worry about the impact on their family. They also may have information from friends or the internet that is not completely true or may even be completely false. 

For this reason, we also show that we understand why they are worried – in other words, we show empathy – before we reassure them and give them correct information.

We can reassure by giving solutions.

Our tone of voice can also be reassuring – it can be softer and lower on parts we want to make less important, and stronger and higher on things we want to stress.





BUT be careful!    When reassuring someone, it is not usual to actually use the words “reassure” or “assure”.

  • “I reassure you that you will get better.”
  • “I assure you that we can treat this disease.”

In fact, in many situations, these kinds of statements might make the speaker sound rather untrustworthy!

Instead, we reassure with indirect language, a reassuring tone of voice, and by using emphasizing language, such as the adverbs ‘definitely’ and ‘certainly’ .

For more on Emphasizing, see this module GRAMMAR Lesson J.

For more on Reassuring, see also Module 4 READING LESSON F Part 1.


Both direct and indirect techniques are used to show encouragement.

1. “I encourage you to…”  – We can use the verb “encourage” directly in sentences.


  • Health professional to patient: “I encourage you to take the patient leaflets home, read them carefully, and call us if you have any questions.”


  • Health professional to patient/family member: “We always encourage patents and relatives to join one of the community-support groups where there are others with the same challenges, and where you can find support.”

2. Intensifiers or minimisers – these are words like ‘very’, ‘definitely’, ‘certainly’


  • Dietitian to Patient: “You have definitely done very well sticking to your nutrition plan. Your weight loss has certainly helped to improve your shortness of breath a lot. You’re doing really well!


3. Focus on the positive – we discuss problems and challenges but focus most of our language on positive points and potential solutions.


  • “I understand asthma is a problem for a farmer. But with medication and some SIMPLE lifestyle changes, you can certainly CONTINUE TO WORK. For example, you COULD have your farm hands do more work in the barn area so you can REALLY reduce your exposure to mold.”


Warning, Advising, Reassuring or Encouraging?

Instructions: Read the short texts and choose the best response.

TIP: For best marks

  • Focus on the meaning of each text and option.
  • It is not important if you believe the option statements are true or not.

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