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ChatGPT: Prompt strategies for better output (by a Linguist)

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Are you learning a new language and wondering if you can incorporate ChatGPT into your daily study routine? Or have you already started using ChatGPT and are searching for effective prompt strategies for better output and to enhance your learning experience?

If your answer is yes to either of these questions, then you have come to the right place! This post is designed to help you with exactly that.

As a language enthusiast and a linguist with extensive experience, I conducted a large case study on using ChatGPT as a tool for language learning.

This article is the fourth in a 4-part series where I share my findings.

I discovered that ChatGPT is an effective and enjoyable way to learn a language. Recognizing the potential of this innovative technology, I further researched how to write effective prompts, analyze prompts and responses, and organize them.

Today, I will show you how to write effective prompts by choosing specific verbs. You will also learn how to be creative and craft your prompts for the best results when using ChatGPT for language learning.

If you want to learn how to accelerate your language learning with ChatGPT with my step-by-step guide you can download it or read it on Kindle.

book  learning a language ChatGPT prompt

Pay Attention to Your Verbs

collage  learning a language ChatGPT prompt

Verbs are the backbone of any sentence, and they are especially important in language learning prompts. Choosing the right verbs can make the difference between a prompt that helps you practice and one that falls flat. So, when creating prompts for ChatGPT, pay special attention to your verbs.

You might be wondering why verbs are crucial in the context of prompts for ChatGPT.

Because this is actually the key to getting the best response by ChatGPT.  

The choice of verbs in prompts is a crucial factor in determining the effectiveness of ChatGPT and especially in language learning.

This is because verbs serve as the main indicator of the action or the task that the ChatGPT needs to perform.

When prompts are written with clear and specific verbs, ChatGPT can generate more relevant and accurate responses that aid in language acquisition.

For instance, using verbs such as “conjugate”, “translate”, “compose” or “formulate” in a prompt would enable ChatGPT to generate responses that are tailored to the specific task at hand.

In contrast, if the verbs used in the prompts are too general or ambiguous, ChatGPT may generate responses that are not helpful or relevant to the learner’s goals.

For example, using verbs such as “know”, or “learn” in a prompt may result in generic or broad responses that do not provide useful information for you.

Therefore, paying attention to the verbs used in prompts is critical in ensuring that ChatGPT provides the best possible outcomes for language learning.

Furthermore, the verbs used in prompts can also impact the complexity of the responses generated by ChatGPT.

Using more complex verbs can prompt ChatGPT to generate more complex and advanced language structures and vocabulary, which can help you improve your language skills and advance your proficiency level.

You can see how the verbs used in prompts can greatly affect the quality and relevance of the responses generated by ChatGPT.

Therefore, it is important to choose verbs that are clear, specific, and relevant to your goals in order to receive the best possible responses from ChatGPT.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Take time to carefully consider the verbs you use in your prompts

When creating prompts, it’s important to choose the right verbs as they can greatly influence the response you receive. Carefully selecting the appropriate verbs can guide the conversation in a certain direction and help elicit the desired information.

Choosing the wrong verb can result in confusion or irrelevant responses. Therefore, taking the time to carefully consider the verbs you use in your prompts can improve the quality and relevance of the responses you receive.

Choose verbs that are relevant to your language learners’ goals.

Use active verbs instead of passive verbs

Use active verbs instead of passive verbs to encourage ChatGPT to provide a more active response. For example, instead of saying

 “Can you explain how the passive voice is used in Spanish?“,

Say

 “How does the passive voice work in Spanish?”

Use specific verbs

Choose verbs that are specific and relevant to the language skill or concept you want to focus on. This will help ChatGPT provide a more targeted response.

Let’s further explore this topic:

Using specific verbs in prompts is crucial for ChatGPT to generate accurate and relevant responses that cater to your goals.

Here are a few examples of how to use specific verbs effectively in prompts:

Instead of using a broad verb such as “learn”, use more specific verbs such as “practice”, “memorize”, or “comprehend”.

For example, a prompt such as “Learn French grammar” is too general and ChatGPT may not be able to generate a specific response. However, using the more specific verb “practice” such as “Practice conjugating French verbs” would enable ChatGPT to provide a more targeted response.

Use verbs that are closely related to the language skill you want to develop.

For example, if you want to improve your speaking skills, use verbs such as “describe”, “narrate”, or “elaborate” in your prompts. For instance, a prompt such as “Improve my speaking skills” is too broad and does not give ChatGPT a clear direction.

Next example.

Let’s imagine you want to learn about idioms in English. Which verb do you need to use?

Who is voting for “explain”?

The verb that would be most effective to ask about idioms in English is “explain”.

Using this verb will give the best response from ChatGPT because it clearly indicates what you are seeking: an explanation of the meaning and usage of an idiomatic expression.

By using the verb “explain,” you are asking for clarification and guidance, rather than simply a list of idioms or examples.

Additionally, asking for an explanation allows ChatGPT to provide more detailed and informative responses. ChatGPT can provide not only the meaning of the idiom but also its origins, usage, and variations.

This allows you to better understand the idiom in context and to use it correctly in your own writing and speaking.

Now we will explore further so you can understand my point.

I will send a message to ChatGPT. Should I ask:

“Can you explain which idioms native English speakers use in romantic relationships?”

or

“What are some idioms that native English speakers use in romantic relationships? Please explain.”

Ok. Let’s take the first one.

Here is the response:

“To answer your question, here are a few common idioms used in romantic relationships, along with explanations of their meanings:

  1. Head over heels: This idiom means to be completely and intensely in love with someone. For example, “He’s head over heels for her.”
  2. Lovey-dovey: This idiom describes a couple who are being overly affectionate and displaying their love in a cutesy way. For example, “They’re always so lovey-dovey with each other.”
  3. Heart skips a beat: This idiom refers to the feeling of excitement or nervousness one experiences when they see someone they are attracted to or in love with. For example, “Every time he sees her, his heart skips a beat.”
  4. Love at first sight: This idiom describes the feeling of falling in love with someone immediately upon meeting them. For example, “I knew it was love at first sight when I met her.”
  5. Swept off one’s feet: This idiom means to be completely taken by someone and to feel overwhelmed by their love or charm. For example, “She was swept off her feet by his romantic gestures.”

I hope these examples and explanations are helpful for understanding the idioms used in romantic relationships in English!”

screenshot learning  a language ChatGPT prompt

Q. Please explain the idiom “Head over heels”

ChatGPT: “The idiom “head over heels” is used to describe a situation where someone is completely and intensely involved or absorbed in something, often romantically. It means to be in a state of great excitement or enthusiasm, especially when this is caused by love or infatuation.

The phrase is believed to have originated in the 14th century as “heels over head,” which was used to describe someone who had fallen or flipped over. Over time, the order of the words changed to “head over heels,” and the meaning shifted to its current usage.

For example, “Samantha is head over heels in love with John” means that Samantha is deeply in love with John and completely consumed by her feelings for him. Or “I fell head over heels for this book” means that you loved the book so much that you became completely absorbed in it.”

screenshot learning a language ChatGPT prompt

Use verbs that are closely related to the specific topic or content you want to learn.

For example, if you want to learn vocabulary related to food, use verbs such as “identify”, “classify”, or “distinguish” in your prompts.

For instance, a prompt such as “Learn Spanish food vocabulary” is too broad and may not provide ChatGPT with enough information to generate a specific response.

However, using a more specific verb such as “Identify the different types of seafood in Spanish” would enable ChatGPT to provide a more targeted response.

Choose varied verbs:

Use a variety of verbs to keep the prompts interesting and to challenge you in different ways. For example, use verbs like analyze, compare, evaluate, or synthesize to encourage critical thinking and creativity.

Hey, dear readers! How is your day going? I would love to have you on my website. It’s called English Study Helper and is where you can find tips, strategies, and resources on improving your English faster and more effectively. Hope to see you there!

Let’s say, you could use prompts that require ChatGPT to:

Write a dialogue,

Summarize a text

Analyze a grammar structure

 Avoid vague verbs

Avoid using vague or general verbs like “know” or “understand” as they don’t provide specific guidance for ChatGPT to generate a detailed response.

Use Verbs That Convey Specific Actions

When writing an effective prompt for ChatGPT to achieve the best result for language learning, it’s important to use verbs that convey specific actions to guide the AI’s response.

Paraphrase

To rephrase a sentence or phrase in simpler language. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to provide an explanation in simpler terms.

Paraphrasing a text can have several benefits for you, including vocabulary development, improved grammar and punctuation skills, and enhanced spelling abilities. Here are some specific examples of how paraphrasing can help:

Vocabulary development:

Paraphrasing involves using different words to express the same idea. By doing so, you can expand your vocabulary and learn new words and phrases that are synonymous with the original text.

For example, if  ChatGPT paraphrases the sentence “The cat chased the mouse,” and might say “The feline pursued the rodent,” thereby increasing your vocabulary with words like “feline” and “rodent.”

Grammar and punctuation:

When the robot paraphrases a text for you, next you need to pay close attention to the structure and syntax of the original text. This can help improve your understanding of grammar rules and punctuation usage.

For example, if CharGPT paraphrases the sentence “The teacher graded the papers quickly,” it might say “The papers were graded quickly by the teacher,” thereby reinforcing your knowledge of subject-verb agreement and the use of adverbs.

Spelling

Paraphrasing can also help you improve your spelling abilities by exposing you to different spellings of the same word or variations of similar words.

For example, if ChatGPT paraphrases the sentence “The color of the sky is blue,” it might say “The hue of the heavens is azure,” thereby encountering new spellings and variations of the words “color” and “blue.”

You can see how, paraphrasing can provide you with an opportunity to expand your vocabulary, improve your grammar and punctuation skills, and enhance your spelling abilities.

I encourage you to practice paraphrasing exercises with ChatGPT, as you can develop a deeper understanding of the language and become more proficient in your communication skills.

Spell

To write out a word or phrase correctly. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to provide the correct spelling of a word. For example: “Can you spell the word ‘ambiguous’ for me?”

ChatGPT prompt

Proofread

To check for errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to review a piece of text for errors. For example: “Can you proofread my essay and suggest any corrections?”

Edit

To make changes to a piece of writing to improve its clarity or effectiveness. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to provide suggestions for improving a piece of text.

For example: “Can you edit my paragraph to make it more concise?”

Rewrite

To write something again in a different way, often to improve its clarity or effectiveness. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to provide a completely new version of a piece of text.

For example: “Can you rewrite this sentence to make it more understandable?

Condense

To make something shorter while retaining its essence or key points. Using this verb in a prompt can guide ChatGPT to provide a shorter version of a piece of text. For example: “Can you condense this article into a brief summary?”

After reading these examples you can clearly see how by using these verbs in your prompts for ChatGPT, you can guide the AI to provide responses that are tailored to your specific needs and objectives for language learning.

Use Precise Verbs

When writing prompts for ChatGPT, it’s important to use appropriate verbs that indicate the kind of response you’re looking for. Here are some examples of verbs that are commonly used in prompts for ChatGPT, and why they are important:

Explain

This verb is useful when you want the model to explain a concept or idea.

For example, “Explain how to use the subjunctive mood in Spanish.”

Describe

This verb is useful when you want the model to provide a detailed description of something.

For example, “Describe the difference between the past simple and present perfect tenses in English.”

Compare

This verb is useful when you want the model to compare and contrast two or more things. For example, “Compare and contrast the use of ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ in Spanish.”

Give an example

This verb is useful when you want the model to provide an example to illustrate a point.

For example, “Give an example of a phrasal verb in English.”

Analyze

This verb prompts ChatGPT to examine a text, grammar rule, or cultural phenomenon and break it down into its constituent parts.

Example prompt: “Can you analyze the differences between the preterite and imperfect tenses in Spanish and provide examples of their usage in context?”

HEADS UP!

If you want the AI to fully understand your request, make sure your prompt includes a verb that clearly expresses your intent. For instance, “condense this,” is more powerful than, “rewrite this to be shorter.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: CHATGPT FOR LEARNING A LANGUAGE

Yes, you can use ChatGPT to learn a language, but it should not be your only source of language learning. ChatGPT can help you with things like vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, but it cannot provide you with the full immersion and practical application that you would get from speaking with native speakers or using language learning software designed specifically for language acquisition.

However, ChatGPT can be a helpful tool to supplement your language learning. You can use it to practice writing and speaking in the language you are learning, and to get feedback on your language skills. ChatGPT can also provide you with a wealth of information on the language’s grammar rules and sentence structures, as well as offer examples and practice exercises.

To use ChatGPT, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose a platform: ChatGPT is available on different platforms, such as OpenAI’s Playground, Hugging Face, and other chatbot services. Choose a platform that you are comfortable with.
  2. Start a conversation: Once you have chosen a platform, start a conversation by typing a question or a statement. ChatGPT will respond to you based on its training data.
  3. Provide context: ChatGPT is a language model that generates responses based on the input it receives. Therefore, it’s important to provide context for your questions and statements so that ChatGPT can provide a relevant response.
  4. Ask open-ended questions: ChatGPT is best suited for answering open-ended questions. Try to avoid yes/no questions or questions that can be answered with a simple fact.
  5. Use correct grammar and spelling: ChatGPT is trained on a vast amount of text data, including correct grammar and spelling. Therefore, using correct grammar and spelling in your questions and statements can help ChatGPT understand you better.
  6. Keep practicing: ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for language learning, but it should not be your only source of practice. Keep practicing your language skills with other resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and language exchange programs.

Remember, ChatGPT is a language model and not a human tutor. It can provide helpful responses based on its training data, but it cannot replace the value of human interaction and feedback when learning a language.

There are several ways you can use ChatGPT for free:

OpenAI’s Playground: OpenAI’s Playground is a free platform where you can interact with ChatGPT and other language models. Simply go to the website, select the language model you want to use (in this case, ChatGPT), and start a conversation.

Hugging Face: Hugging Face is a free platform that allows you to interact with ChatGPT and other language models. You can access it via their website or through their mobile app.

Chatbot services: There are several chatbot services that offer ChatGPT as one of their language models, such as Replika, Dialup, and Pudding. These services usually offer a limited free trial or free version that you can use to interact with ChatGPT.

Yes, you can use ChatGPT for Spanish language learning. ChatGPT has been trained on a vast amount of text data, including Spanish text, which means it can help you with things like vocabulary, grammar, and syntax in Spanish.

You can ask ChatGPT questions in Spanish, practice writing and speaking in Spanish with ChatGPT, and receive feedback on your language skills. You can also use ChatGPT to practice reading and listening comprehension in Spanish by asking it to provide you with Spanish texts or audio samples to work with.

However, as I mentioned earlier, ChatGPT should not be your only source of language learning. It’s important to also engage with other language learning resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and language exchange programs, to achieve fluency in Spanish.

Provide context: Providing context for your questions and statements can help ChatGPT generate more relevant responses. Try to give ChatGPT as much information. Provide clear and concise input: ChatGPT generates responses based on the input it receives. Therefore, it’s important to provide clear and concise input so that ChatGPT can provide a relevant response. Avoid using slang or overly complex language.

Use correct grammar and spelling: ChatGPT is trained on a vast amount of text data, including correct grammar and spelling. Therefore, using correct grammar and spelling in your input can help ChatGPT understand you better as possible about the topic you are asking about.

Ask open-ended questions: ChatGPT is best suited for answering open-ended questions. Try to avoid yes/no questions or questions that can be answered with a simple fact.

Experiment with different prompts: ChatGPT is a language model that generates responses based on its training data. Therefore, it’s important to experiment with different prompts to see what works best for the type of response you are looking for.

Keep practicing: ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for language learning, but it should not be your only source of practice. Keep practicing your language skills with other resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and language exchange programs.

Remember, ChatGPT is a language model and not a human tutor. It can provide helpful responses based on its training data, but it cannot replace the value of human interaction and feedback when learning a language.

Conclusion: ChatGPT: Prompt strategies for better output (by a Linguist)

In conclusion, this blog post has explored how to use specific verbs to get better responses from ChatGPT for language learning.

As a linguist, I conducted a case study to determine how to get the best results from ChatGPT as a language learning tool, and this article is the fourth in a 4-part series in which I share my findings.

In the series, I discussed effective prompt strategies for better output, analyzing and organizing prompts, and the importance of using specific verbs to ask questions.

Using more precise verbs in your prompts can help to guide and provide clear direction to the model, and indicates the type of response you are looking for. ChatGPT provides more accurate and in-depth responses and improves your learning experience with ChatGPT.

By using verbs such as “explain” to ask about idioms or “provide examples” to practice vocabulary, you can receive more detailed and informative responses from ChatGPT. These strategies can lead to a better understanding of the language and improved language skills.

With these tips in mind, you can use ChatGPT to enhance your language learning experience and improve your proficiency in the language.

Thanks for reading!

With love and respect,

M.K.

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