English for the hairdresser's and barbershop

English for the hairdresser’s and barbershop

Jay hasn’t been able to get his haircut because of the corona virus so Vicki takes on a hairdressing challenge. What could go wrong?

Learn lots of English words and phrases that you’ll need at the hairdresser’s and barbershop.
You’ll learn how to:
– explain the haircut you want
– give instructions to your hairdresser or barber
– engage in small talk

Here’s just some of the hairdressing vocabulary we look at:
The tools: scissors, clippers, cape, gown, straighteners
Actions: to blend, to blow dry, to trim, to braid or plait, to clip close
Problems: bald spot, receding hairline, too much volume, straggly eye brows
Hair styles: pony tail, buzz cut, undercut, bob, quiff

You’ll also find out whether it’s possible to cut someone’s hair after watching YouTube videos. Enjoy!

My hair’s getting very long because the barbershops are closed.
Because of the corona virus.
So Vicki’s going to cut my hair.
I’ve never done this before.
But she’s watched some YouTube videos.
What could go wrong?
You’re going to learn phrases you could use at the hairdresser’s today.
And the barbers, or the barbershop.
Barber’s are for men and hairdresser’s are for men and women.
But mostly for women.
And we also have hair salons and beauty salons and styling salons.
But for us, it’s the kitchen!
Here are our tools. We have scissors.
We have combs.
We have a hairdryer.
We have clippers.
Straighteners. I don’t think we’ll need them.
And a spray bottle for keeping my hair wet.
It’s a bit dirty, Jay.
Yes, I use it when I’m grilling on the deck.
OK. We don’t have a razor.
That’s a very, very sharp blade.
And we don’t have one of those brushes for brushing away the hair that’s been cut off.
Another thing we don’t have is a cape.
That’s the gown they give you to wear so you don’t get hair all over your clothes.
But we do have a bin bag. Here’s your gown, sir.
Then it’s time for the haircut. How do you want me to cut your hair.
Yes but… Ok we need words describing what you want your barber to do.
Well, shorter all over, but not so short that my bald spot is uncovered.
Oh, OK. A bald spot is a place on your head where there’s no hair.
That’s different from a receding hairline.
A receding hairline is when your hair moves up and back.
How much shorter would you like? About .. about this much?
A little bit shorter? Maybe you can cut an inch off?
So you want quite a bit off. You don’t want me to just trim it.
No, a trim is really not short enough.
When you trim hair you make it neater by just cutting off a little bit.
I need to trim my fringe.
We call those bangs in the US.
What else can we trim?
Well we can trim a hedge.
We can trim the lawn. Erm, we can trim costs.
Oh yes. A business might have to trim costs.
The first thing they do at a barbershop is wash your hair.
I think we’ll use the squirty bottle. Um. It’s not working Jay.
You have to twist the front.
OK. We’ve hit our first problem. The squirty bottle doesn’t work. I’ll put some.. I’ll use a cup of water. All right?
Oh Jay. You’re going to get very wet today.
I AM getting very wet.
It’s a good job you’ve got the dustbin bag.
Jay’s hair’s very curly. Mine’s pretty straight. It’s just wavy at the bottom.
My hair’s getting so long, you could possibly braid it.
A braid. We call that a plait in British English.
It’s when you take three pieces of hair and rope them over and under eachother.
You can braid of plait and it’s a noun as well.
And if you have lots of them and they’re really long, they’re called dreadlocks.
And then there are pony tails.
That’s when your hair is tied at the back of your head.
Or pig tails. That’s when you have two bunches of hair.
Is your hair dry or oily, Jay?
Its dry. And hair can be thick or thin. Mine’s thin.
Uhuh. Mine’s pretty thick. So sometimes when I go to the hairdresser I say, ‘Can you take some weight off?’ or ‘Can you take… Can you give me less volume?’.
OK Jay. Do you want a parting?
No thank you. In American English, we call that a part, and I don’t want one.
OK Jay. Here we go. And this is getting serious now. Can you take your glasses off?
Great. How much do you pay your barber?
My barber is really very inexpensive compared to other barbers in the city here. He only charges me $20 for a haircut and I give him a $5 tip. But most of the barbers around town are $35 for a haircut, or more.
You see for a women’s haircut I think I pay about $75.
Well you generally have more hair than I do.
I don’t think we pay your barber enough. OK, tilt your head forward.
Does your barber offer you anything to drink?
For a $20 haircut? No!
I always get a cup of coffee.
I guess that’s why you pay $75!
Let me see how long it is in the front.
Cut some more off.
Cut more off?
Oh yeah. Sure.
Yeah. Oh, you’re right. Look at that.
Barber’s also cut sideburns.
Oh yes. That’s when you have hair that comes down here.
Well, we refer to ‘the sideburns’ even if they’re higher. The question is how do you make them absolutely even?
And the answer is the line in my ear. Right here. You make it even with that line..
Oh right.
And when you get the clippers out, you can make sure it’s a sharp line.
OK, you want a sharp line.
If I.. If I comb down.
I see.
And then cut it.
You’ll cut my ear off.
It will all look… It will look funny.
I see.
So you have to blend it.
I see.
That’s what they do on YouTube.
Oh, I hope I haven’t taken too much off. Do you think that much was too much?
I have no idea.
So what different kinds of men’s hairstyles are there, Jay?
Well there’s a buzz cut. That’s a military style where your hair is really very, very short.
And there’s also a crew cut. That’s a little bit longer than a buzz cut, but it’s similar.
And there’s a mohawk.
That’s where it’s spiky on top.
You have to put products in your hair to make it stand up straight.
And you could have an out-of-bed look. Sort of bed head. That’s when your hair’s a mess. It looks like you’ve just got out of bed.
There’s also a fade. A fade is when it’s very short at the bottom and gradually gets longer.
And there’s also an undercut. That’s when the bottom is really short and the top is much longer.
Women have this cut too and it’s quite fashionable. So sometimes they’ll have very little hair on the side, but then they’ll flick their hair over and it’s long.
And then there’s a quiff. This is a British English term. It’s when part of your hair stands up in the front above your forehead. Elvis Presley had a quiff. There’s another British term too that’s a bit old fashioned. And it’s a short back and sides and that’s when you have short hair at the back, and at the sides.
There are different kinds of hairstyles for women too. Long, short and medium length.
And some women have a bob, that’s very common. I have a wig that’s a bob. The hair is the same length all the way round. And then the opposite of a bob would be a layered cut where the hair is different lengths.
You know you need small talk when you’re at the barber’s of hairdresser’s. What do you talk about with your barber.
Well, we talk about how we’re feeling, we talk about our lives. We talk about how work is going. There are people that we both know. We talk about them.
You’ve known your barber a long time, haven’t you?
Well he’s been cutting my hair since 2003. That’s seventeen years.
OK, what about if you met a barber for the first time? What conversations could you have with him?
Well I’d ask him where he’s from. And how long he’s been doing this. I might ask about his family. Sometimes they talk about their children and grandchildren. It’s always fun.
So you go to very old barbers then.
Yes. Very experienced barbers.
With my barber, I always talk about politics. But it’s a safe topic for us because we support the same policies. Do you think politics is a good topic, Jay?
No, I do not. I’m not sure what my barber’s politics are and I’m even less sure of the other people in the waiting room. So no, it’s not a discussion I would have in the barbershop.
You could ask your barber to recommend hair products for you. The only one he’s recommended actually is, after he’s seen my gray hair, he’s recommended dye.
Jay and I don’t dye our hair, but sometimes I get highlights. It’s when they make strips of your hair lighter than others, so I have blonde streaks.
You can also get lowlights. That’s when they make some streaks darker.
The word ‘hair’ is tricky. It can be a countable noun or an uncountable noun.
When it means all the hair on your head it’s uncountable.
I have gray hair. That’s uncountable.
But when we’re talking about individual strands of hair, hair is a countable noun.
I have some grey hairs. Can you see them? Most of my hair is brown, but there are some grey strands there.
What products do use use on your hair, Jay?
Well there’s conditioner. That’s a liquid or cream you put onto your hair during or after washing to make it softer. It stops it from being dry.
And there’s hair spray. That’s a sticky liquid you spray on to keep it in place. It stinks.
And then there’s hair gel. That’s a thick wet substance that helps your hair hold a style.
And then there’s hair wax. That’s similar to gel but it’s made of wax so it doesn’t go hard. It doesn’t dry out.
I’ve never used clippers before. You can put attachments on them.
So Jay. Do you want it clipped close?
Not terribly close. I just want the lines to be straight.
Do you know what number you want?
Something in the middle maybe?
Number one is the shortest and then a higher number gives you longer hair.
Put your head down.
I can make a line like this Jay.
That’s right.
Good job, Vick.
Sometimes barbers will trim your beard if you have one, or your mustache. And they will trim my eyebrows.
Oh, I can do that for you because I saw how to do that on YouTube.
Good because I definitely need it.
Would you like your eyebrows trimmed, sir.
Please trim my eyebrows! I’m told that the gray ones are the worst ones to cut.
Are they?
Because they’re the straggly ones.
When the barber is done he always gives me a mirror so I can look at the back of my hair. With a hand mirror.
We don’t have one of them.
Probably just as well.
OK, sir. I hope that I’m going to get a good tip.
Oh absolutely! You’ll get the best tip that there is.


COVID-19 wordplay quiz

COVID-19 Word Play Quiz

People have been using English words in funny new ways during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Play along with Jay and see if you can work out what they mean.

We’ll look at these clever examples of word play
– covidiot
– coronacoaster
– coronials
– the COVID-10.
– fattening the curve
– the locktail hour
– quarantinis
– furlough merlot.
– bored-eaux.
– cabernet tedium
– elephant in the zoom

Do you want to play with some English words?
This video is about wordplay.
That’s when you use words in funny or clever ways to make jokes.
So come and play with some new COVID-19 words.
And join in our quiz!
Thank you everyone who’s been leaving us comments about how you’re surviving the corona crisis.
We’ve loved hearing about what you’ve been doing and learning about new words you’re using.
Here’s something I’ve learnt. If you translate the word elbow bump from German, it becomes an elbow kiss! So an English elbow bump is a German elbow kiss.
It sounds much nicer than a bump.
Lots of you have told us about English words that you’re using in your language.
So phrases like ‘social distancing’ have become international.
But in Indonesia, Saeful says it’s PSBB which means something like ‘restrictions on large-scale social’.
It sounds very formal.
Well it is in a way. Several of you mentioned this new word.
Covidiot! That’s a great one.
So what does it mean?
It’s a term for someone who thinks the coronavirus isn’t real.
So It’s a combination of COVID and idiot and it’s wordplay.
Covidiots think social distancing rules are unnecessary so they’re ignoring all the public health advice and going sunbathing on crowded beaches.
Or joining large crowds to protest about the shutdown.
And not wearing masks.
New words like this are being coined with the coronavirus. I’ve got some here and I’m going to see if Jay knows what they mean.
You can play along with me and see if you know what they mean too.
OK, here’s the first one: coronacoaster.
Does it mean drinking beer from Mexico?
Oh Corona beer. No.
Is it something to do with a crown?
Corona’s another word for crown. That’s how the virus got it’s name.
Because it has spikes like a crown. Good guess but no. Coronacoaster. It sounds like roller coaster.
So the amusement park ride?
Yes, a roller coaster has a lot of ups and downs and a coronacoaster is the ups and downs we feel during lockdown.
One minute we’re thinking this is great because we can stay at home with our family and and we have this extra time.
And the next minute we’re thinking this is terrible because of all the bad news about the virus. Living through COVID-19 is an emotional roller coaster.
A coronacoaster! OK, next one: coronials.
It sounds like colonials – people who live in a colony.
Yeah, but it also sounds like millennials.
Oh, it’s the generation of people who survive and live through the corona virus.
Nearly. But it’s a future generation of babies – babies that will be born in 9 months-time.
Because their parents were staying inside on lock down and finding fun ways to pass the time.
You’ve got it! Millennials are the generation of people that became adults in the early 21st century, so this is a clever bit of wordplay.
Where are these words coming from?
Oh they’re all over the internet. People love playing with words.
I wonder if they’ll make it into the Oxford dictionary?
Who knows. OK, next one. The COVID-10.
It sounds like a gang – a group of thieves or criminals.
OK, here’s a clue. We’ve both been eating more than we should during the lockdown.
Oh it’s the extra 10 pounds we’ve put on!
You’ve got it and there’s a similar one that made me laugh. You know how we’ve been talking about flattening the curve. What’s that?
That’s about doing things like social distancing so we don’t ovewhelm the hospitals.
Taking protective measures can flatten the curve, so hospitals have the capacity to handle all the COVID cases.
But there’s here’s the new term. Instead of flattening the curve, this one’s fattening the curve.
Oh that’s funny. That’s about all the extra weight we’re putting on from eating too much.
We’ve both been fattening our curves!
It’s so true! Have you been putting on weight too?
And have you got any tips for taking it off?
We need them!
I think the Simple English Videos family has been using its time wisely because several of you mentioned you were studying English and preparing for FCE.
Good for you! But what’s happening with the Cambridge English exams?
They’ve been disrupted because of the virus. In some countries, Cambridge have introduced a new IELTS exam that you can do online.
Even the speaking exam?
That too. It’s similar to the normal exam but online. They call it an indicator exam.
So it indicates the score you’d get if you took the real exam?
Yes. It’s a temporary solution for students who need to present their IELTS score to universities.
Cool! OK, let’s have another word.
OK. This is a phrase. The locktail hour. What’s that?
I’ve no idea.
You’ve heard of the cocktail hour, right?
Yes, it’s the time of day when we have cocktails.
So the locktail hour…
Is the cocktail hour during lock down! I think it’s been getting earlier in the days for lots of folks.
Yes! There are lots of funny phrases about drinking. What are Quarantinis?
You got me.
They’re experimental cocktails you mix from whatever you can find in your drink cupboard.
So quarantine – martini. Very clever. We could make some of those!
We have some strange drinks in our closet.
And there are puns about wine as well.
A pun is when you play with a word that has more than one meaning
Or words that have different meanings but sound similar. Here’s one: furlough merlot.
That rhymes! It must be the wine you drink to relieve the frustrations of being furloughed.
To be furloughed is when companies tell workers not to come to work for a while because they don’t have the money to pay them.
It used to an American rather than a British term, but I read it in the Guardian this week.
So you’re starting to use it in British English now?
Uhuh. Here’s another one. Bored-eaux. Get it?
Yeah – they’re playing with the wine varieties here.
And another: cabernet tedium
Instead of cabernet sauvignon.
Yeah. Tedium is another word for boredom. Tedious is the adjective.
Are you finding the shutdown tedious? We hope not.
OK, I’ve got one more for you and it’s my favourite. But first, what’s an elephant in the room, Jay?
Umm, it’s a problem that everybody knows about, but they avoid mentioning.
Yeah, it when there’s a topic that’s difficult so nobody wants to talk about it. Can you give me an example?
OK. Um. Racial inequality is going to be an elephant in the room for a lot of politicians in our next election.
Good example! OK, so here’s the new expression. You know how we’re all having video meetings these days. What’s an ‘elephant in the zoom’?
Oh, then this is about some sort of problem in a zoom meeting.
Maybe someone’s behaving strangely, but nobody says anything about it.
Exactly. So you can see something’s wrong.
Their office is really untidy – a big mess.
Or they might have grown a strange beard or perhaps they’re still wearing their pajamas. But nobody says anything.
Well things in Paris have been really really busy.
Well thanks for making time for this meeting. We’re just waiting for Jay. Oh, here he is. Hi Jay.
Hi everyone. Sorry I’m late.
Well, let’s get started then. Shall we all look at last month’s figures?
You know what we need a new word for.
What’s that?
The bad hair I’m getting from not being able to go to the barber.
Perhaps you can suggest one. What should we call it? Corona hair?
But I think the solution came today.
Open it up.
What this?
Let’s see what we’ve got here. This just arrived earlier today.
What have you got?
Would you like my help?
It’s hairclippers! Are you going to cut your own hair?
No actually, I was going to cut yours.
You’re kidding!
You’re going to cut it for me.
No, you’re going to cut if for me.
You’re very trusting.
Well, you can see how well she does in our next video.
We hope you’re finding better ways to solve your problems and enjoy life in these difficult times.
We’ll see you all soon, and in the meantime, wash your hands,
And call your grandparents. Bye now.

New English words & COVID-19

New English Words and Language Change with COVID-19

Languages change when new problems come up because we need to words to describe them.

In this video we look at some of the new words that have entered the Oxford English Dictionary since the outbreak of COVID-19, and we’ll show you how we use them in action.

You’ll learn:
– the difference between COVID-19 and the coronavirus
– new acronyms: WFH and PPE
– how the meanings of phrases like social distancing, self isolation have changed over time
– collocations for the adjective non-essential
– how we’re using the words lockdown, stay at home and shelter in place these days.

Language Change with COVID-19

The English we speak is always changing.
There are two things that drive the change. One is contact with other languages and the other is major events that change our lives.
When new problems come up, we need new words to describe them.
And that’s what’s been happening with the coronavirus.
In this video you’ll learn some important new English words and how to use them.
They’re words and phrases that you can use to describe your life and relationships in our new world.
Every three months the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words and phrases.
But because of the coronavirus, more new words and meanings have been coined, so they’ve done an early update.
For example, they’ve added the word COVID-19.
They call it ‘an acute respiratory illness in humans caused by the coronavirus.
Respiratory means connected with breathing and your lungs.
OK, what’s the difference between coronavirus and COVID-19?
Coronavirus is a general term so there are lots of different coronaviruses. The common cold is a coronavirus
More serious viruses like MERS and SARS are coronaviruses too.
COVID-19 is the particular strain of the virus that we’re fighting today. So COVID-19 is a more specific term.
It’s a short form of the phrase ‘coronavirus disease 2019’. 2019 was the year they identified it.
And sometimes it’s called novel coronavirus . Novel means new, because it’s a new coronavirus!
A lot of the new meanings in the Oxford English Dictionary are about how we interact with one another because of COVID-19.
For example, elbow bump.
So an elbow bump is a greeting when we don’t want to shake hands.
But in the past, elbow bumps were like high fives, a sort of celebration.
COVID-19 is making us rethink the way we interact.
Oh. Do you have the figures for February?
Oh sure. Let’s see. Oh, here it is!
I didn’t want to touch that paper after you’d licked your fingers.
We have to learn new habits and with new habits come new words.
Or new meanings of old words.
Here’s one. In the past self-isolation used to describe countries that kept themselves separate.
Historically, some countries have had an isolationist foreign policy where there was no foreign trade and it was very hard for people from other countries to enter.
But now self-isolation means something different.
If someone has or thinks they might have the coronavirus, they self-isolate and keep themselves apart from their family.
They have to stay physically separate and clean and disinfect any common areas.
Another word like that is self-quarantine.
Quarantine is a length of time when a person or animal is kept separate so that they don’t infect anyone with a disease.
But these days people are self-quarantining, so they don’t infect their families.
Self-quarantining is really tough to do.
And here’s another phrase that’s changed its meaning: social distancing.
You’ll hear this a lot.
In the past, social distancing meant not wanting to engage socially with other people.
We went to a networking event last night.
Oh, what was it like?
It was very useful. There were about a dozen people there and everyone made a short presentation.
I didn’t like it.
Did you meet any interesting people?
Yes. Well I did.
I didn’t talk to anybody.
So you kept your social distance from everyone at the event.
I didn’t want to get involved.
You didn’t want to talk to them!
But these days social distancing is less about feelings and attitudes and more about physical distance.
We need to stay six feet apart.
So now we get our groceries delivered, but the delivery person is careful not to come near us.
They leave the food on the front doorstep and go away.
Have a good day.
Thank you so much.
You’re welcome. Take care.
Thank you, bye.
We have lovely neighbours and we used to stand at the wall on our deck and chat to them.
But now we understand that we need to keep our distance.
Joao! Hello!
How are you doing?
We also have some new English acronyms.
An acronym is when you take the first letters of a phrase and turn them into a word.
Do you know what this means?
It means working from home and you’ll see it a lot in emails.
It’s usually written. When we’re speaking we normally say working from home.
How are you finding working from home Jay?
Oh it’s great! I never get bored in meetings any more.
Another new acronym is PPE.
We talked about that in our last video.
It stands for personal protective equipment, but that takes a long time to say so we just say PPE.
Doctors and nurses need PPE to protect themselves.
And we’re starting to wear PPE now too.
Good morning colleagues. Welcome back to work after the shutdown. Please remember to sit six feet apart. And please remember to wear masks. And don’t forget to wear gloves.
When something big like COVID-19 happens, we have change our ways.
It makes us rethink all the things we do in our lives.
What really matters? What’s important in life?
Here’s an adjective that’s been rising in frequency.
If something is non-essential it means it isn’t necessary
We talk about non-essential travel, non-essential workers, non-essential businesses…
For example, where we live in Philadelphia they’ve closed non-essential businesses.
But what is a non-essential business?
That’s a good question because people disagree.
Non-essential businesses are often recreational, so things like theatres, museums, restaurants, bars…
Schools have closed too, of course.
Here’s another group phrases we’re hearing a lot.
A lockdown is an official order that’s given in a dangerous situation. It controls the movement of people or vehicles.
Prisoners in jail might be placed on lockdown if there’s violence.
A lockdown is very strict and it suggests danger.
But these days people people are using ‘lockdown’ when they’re just talking about staying at home when they really want to go out.
In Philadelphia, we have a ‘stay at home’ order which sounds a little less strict than a lockdown.
We can go out, but only to do essential tasks like shopping for food.
Some states in the US have another term: ‘shelter in place’
This is interesting because ‘shelter in place’ used to be connected with gun violence in the US.
Well it’s still used if there’s an active shooter with a gun. People are told to shelter in place.
It means stay where you are and don’t move.
But now, with COVID-19 it can just mean ‘don’t go out’.
It’s become another way of saying ‘stay at home’.
We know a lot of you are obeying the rules and staying at home too
Yeah. We’ve loved reading your comments and hearing how you’re coping with the coronavirus in your part of the world.
Staying at home has been our best defense and thank you for doing that.
I have a question. Have you noticed any new words and meanings entering your language too?
Write and tell us if you have.
We want to hear about them.
And thanks to everyone who has already written and please keep the comments coming.
And don’t forget to wash your hands.
And don’t forget to call your grandparents, wash your hands and keep safe.

Click here to see another video we made about the coronavirus.

Covid-19 Stocks supplies and shortages

COVID-19: Stocks, supplies and shortages

Learn the English vocabulary you need to talk about COVID-19 and how it’s affecting your lives.
In this video we focus on important words and phrases for talking about stocks, supplies and shortages.
First we look at serious shortages of medical supplies:
– PPE: personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, goggles and gloves
– respirators and ventilators
– COVID-19 tests
Then Vicki and Jay show you how they’re coping. You’ll hear about contact-less delivery and learn many different meanings of the word ‘stock’ along with verbs like ‘snagged’ and ‘hoarding’.

How are you?
We really hope you’re keeping safe and healthy.
We’re both fine and we’re staying at home because of COVID-19.
We know many of you are too, so we’re going to tell you how we’re coping
And we hope you’ll share your stories with us too.
This video’s about vocabulary you can use to talk about your lives and how you’re affected by COVID-19.
We’ll focus on language for talking about a big issue – stocks, supplies and shortages.
A shortage is when there isn’t enough of something that’s needed.
The most serious shortages are medical supplies and equipment.
Doctors, nurses and other essential workers need PPE – Personal Protective Equipment.
In particular, they need masks to protect their faces.
Goggles to cover their eyes.
Gowns to protect their bodies.
And gloves to cover their hands.
Hospitals also need ventilators and respirators.
They both help with breathing so what’s the difference?
A ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breathe.
It pumps oxygen into the lungs if they’re too ill or weak to breathe themselves.
A respirator is a kind of mask, so it’s a kind of PPE.
The American Centers for Disease Control recommends that health workers wear N95 respirators that fit tightly around their nose and mouth.
Now ,there are some kinds of respirators that pump air, so they’re a kind of ventilator too.
So sometimes the words respirator and ventilator can be synonyms and mean the same thing.
But normally, ventilators are machines that help patients breathe and respirators are the protective masks.
OK. Another serious shortage in the US is testing. It’s very hard to get tested for COVID-19 here.
We lack the tests we need.
There’s a lack of testing.
Notice the word ‘lack’ here. We use it when there isn’t enough of something and you can use it as a verb or a noun.
There’s another thing we lack at the moment.
What’s that?
Good news.
Yes. The news is so bad.
But personally, we want you to know that Vicki and I are fine.
And we’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s been wishing us good health in the comments.
Thank you all. We’ve been isolating for nearly a month now, so we haven’t left the house.
And we’re lucky because in Philadelphia we can order online and get food and other things delivered.
It’s called contact-less delivery because they just leave it on your doorstep.
Can you do the same? I know it’s harder for my family in England.
But it can take a while to get a delivery here now.
Lots of people are ordering online so there are delays
It took two weeks to snag a delivery.
Snag – that’s an interesting use of the word snag.
Really? It means we were lucky to get a delivery.
That meaning is more common in American than British English.
Well I’m glad we snagged it. Our stocks were running low and our refrigerator was empty.
We ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables.
When you run low, you don’t have many.
And when you run out, you don’t have any.
We need to learn to order early. But we’ve stocked up now.
Now, what about that word ‘stock’? It has a lot of different meanings.
We have the stock market. For example, the stock market fell when the corona virus hit.
Here stock means a share in a company.
And stock can be a liquid too that we use in cooking.
This is stock. It’s a liquid you make by boiling meat or vegetables and you can use it to make soup.
But more often, stock is a supply of something.
Companies might do stocktaking.
That’s when they count their inventory and all the materials they use to manufacture their products and do business.
And the word ‘stock’ can be a verb too. If a store stocks something, then it has it for sale.
And they might stock the shelves – keep them full.
And if a store has an item available for sale, then we say it’s ‘in stock’.
And if there aren’t any for sale, then the store is ‘out of stock’.
Here’s a message I had from Amazon this week. It’s quite formal English because it was a written message. If I were saying this, I’d probably say something like ‘This item is out of stock, so we can’t get it. We’ve cancelled your order and we’re sorry.
What were they out of?
Contact lens solution.
So you can’t clean your contact lenses?
No but it’s not a big problem, yet.
With the corona virus, lots of people have been ‘stocking up’ on things – buying them in large quantities.
Like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
People have been panic-buying because they’re worried about a shortage. They’re hoarding them.
Now hoarding is another interesting verb. It has negative connotations.
It’s when you have a secret stack of something that you don’t want to share.
Here’s another phrase we use with the word stock.
We could say a supermarket is well-stocked.
That means the shelves are full of different things.
We have a well-stocked refrigerator.
We can order food online and get it delivered so we’re not worried about running out.
But drinks are a different story.
Yes, we don’t know what we have so we want to ‘take stock’.
We want to evaluate our situation because we can’t buy any more.
Yeah. The reason dates back to the 1920s when there was prohibition in America and nobody could buy or sell alcohol.
And when they changed the law so you could buy alcohol again, Pennsylvania, the state we live in, took control of all the liquor stores.
When the COVID crisis started, the governor closed down all the non-essential businesses, but he left the liquor stores open.
So other businesses complained and they said ‘Hey! That’s not fair!’ So then he closed down the liquor stores too…
And people REALLY complained about that.
So they opened up an online store and as soon as they did…
… the website crashed!
But luckily we have some alcohol in the house. We’ve got.. We’ve got some red wine. We like red wine. There’s a bottle of port there, and I think it’s full.
Oh my goodness. There’s a little tiny bit of martini. Another bit of port. Oh look, there’s some English sherry.
Oh, very nice.
A pre-dinner drink one night. Some pickled onions.
An English delicacy. Erm…
And then we have this Frangelico liqueur.
Where did we get that?
I have no idea.
I think it’ll give us a headache.
We’ve also got this.
Ah, cachacas. You mix this with lime juice and a lot of sugar and it makes a caipirinha. You get those in Brazil.
And we’ve got a little bit of campari but I haven’t got any soda water. I’ll have to get some. And then a bit more wine. Is it.. oh…
It’s scotch whiskey.
I think we’ll be all right for a little while.
Do you have plenty to eat and drink too? We hope so.
And are you like us and looking through your cupboards and finding food and drink there that you’d forgotten you had?
Are you staying at home too? What are you doing through this COVID-19 crisis?
We’d love to hear about your experiences, so please write and tell us in the comments.
Or make a video about them. You can post it on YouTube and send the link here.
We’d love to know how you’re getting on.
Please keep safe everyone and don’t forget to call your grandpa and grandma.

What do you like doing? The SEVY Awards 2020

What do you like doing? The SEVY Awards 2020

What do you like doing? That was the question we asked members of the Simple English Videos family this year.
We’ve always suspected that we have the world’s most interesting English learners and now we know for sure!
This year’s SEVY awards winners are amazing!
So if you want to meet a photographer, a botanist, a singer, a dancer, athletes, artists, linguists, and so many more creative and talented people, you’re in the right place.

Welcome to the 2020 SEVY Awards
The awards for students who rise to the challenge of speaking English.
Speaking English to the world!
We’re thrilled to present members of the Simple English Videos family.
People from all over the world who’ve risen to our communication challenge.
People of great courage!
And amazing creativity.
At a time when we’re on lock down from the corona virus.
And many of you are too.
Let’s share and connect.
Hey, this is exciting.
Yeah. For the last two weeks we’ve been waking up and finding amazing videos in our mailbox.
Congratulations to everyone who took part. You’ve all won a SEVY.
That stands for Simple English Videos – Yay, you did it!
This year’s challenge was to answer the question ‘What do you like doing?”
And boy did we get some great answers.
Let’s see the first one.
Hi. My name is Jakub. I’m from Poland. What I love doing is wild life photography. I’ve been photographing wildlife since I was eight. I have recently taken up micro photography and underwater photography. Would you like to see some of my photographs?
Here you go!
Wow. Oh my goodness. That’s beautiful.
I know.
I also make videos. and I use English for the descriptions so your channel is very helpful. Your channel is great. Bye!
Jakub, your photos were amazing.
And you win the SEVY for the best wildlife photography.
If people want to see more of your photographs, I’m going to put the link to your channel below. Go check it out. OK, what’s next?
Hello, my name is Derya. Here’s Onur. He’s three years old. He’s my baby boy and I’m a full-time mother. I know I’m speaking so fast but I know I have a little short time. So I love spending time with my sweetie. Right now we are painting and I’m teaching him English as I can, now Onur is going to say you the colours. Onur, which colour is it?
Good job!
Which colour is it?
Yes. And this is me. I hope you like the video. Bye-bye.
Oh wow. Derya, we loved the video. And Onur wins the prize for being the youngest, cutest English speaker.
And you win the SEVY for being the best parent in a video.
And the best English teacher too.
Right. OK, let’s see what’s next.
Hello Jay and Vicki and hello to those viewers who might watch in the future. And greetings from China. I’m Novem from China. I’m a college student majoring in building automation and I’m a senior this year. I would like to join this speaking challenge but it’s my first time to record such a video so I’m a little nervous, but I do like to answer that question. First I would say I absolutely like the channel of Simple English Videos because they really help me a lot with my English. And also I like playing basketball, swimming, mountain climbing and horse riding. But because of the corona virus these days in China, I can only stay at home, which is really boring. But as you can see behind me, the sky is really blue and the weather is really nice so I get a chance to take a walk in the park and record this video. I really appreciate this chance to join this competition, and thank you again Jay and Vicki, I just can’t thank you enough. OK. Bye-bye.
Bye-bye. You are very welcome.
And thank you for recording the video. Novem that was really interesting. Thank you for sending that. You said you were nervous but you came across… you hid your nerves and came across very confidently.
And you win the SEVY for a great British accent and excellent pronunciation.
Yeah. Next one.
Hey, Vicki and Jay. Great to meet you again, although we meet quite often thanks to your videos. They’re just masterpieces. My name is Bozhena, not Bohdan, because in a previous video you called me Bohdan, but in Ukrainian it’s a male name. But I’m a girl! I’m thirteen years old and I take elective classes in English. Except English, my hobby is drawing. I like to draw sketches. Why do I like to do it?
Because they are understandable and simple positive, like your videos. Our teacher said that we should learn to see simplicity as genius, and I try to achieve, at least, a small success.
Bozhena, did I say that right? Is that correct? Bozhena? I have to tell you that you win the SEVY for drawing. That was spectacular.
And also I want to give you a SEVY for improvement in… not confidence because your were confident last time we saw you, but your fluency was just amazing. Really, really good. Lovely to see you again and thank you for sharing those drawings. We loved them. Manga-style!
OK, let’s see another one.
Now, before you watch this one, it needs some explanation. Marina shot this at an International Women’s Day event in Russia, where she was invited to perform. And there’s some background music, and I’m hoping that the tool YouTube uses to spot music won’t wipe the music out so you can still hear her. But in case you can’t., I’ve put captions up.
Hello Vicki and Jay. I’m an English teacher but besides that, I like dancing belly dancing. Bye.
Oh she’s really good. Marina, you looked amazing. It was wonderful.
You know which SEVY she wins.
What’s that?
The SEVY for belly dancing!
Of course! We loved it. Thank you so much for sending it.
Let’s see the next one.
Hello everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
I’m Jay and I’m American.
So I’ve heard that Jay finds some troubles believing that my accent is the best.
Unfortunately I can’t argue with his because my accent prevents me from being hostile. It’s well known for its quietness and easiness actually. Yeah, it’s well understandable and slowly spoken as well, but…
Wait, wait. Who said that? British accent isn’t at all (like that) but my accent is. And you can witness that by seeing programs and movies. You know, they prefer speaking in an American accent to Vicki’s accent. So I think my accent wins.
No, no. You won’t win. You know we are not in a war of accents. Don’t be nervous, Jay.
Oh, I’m not nervous. I’m just relaxing right now.
You must admit that you love the way I speak…
[An argument breaks out] [French voice]
Before the video ends, I’d like to thank you so much Jay and Vicki for your interesting videos and it doesn’t matter actually what accent you speak, as long as the listener understands. This is the idea of the video. Good luck English learners and bye.
Oh Abdo, that was absolutely amazing! He’s… he’s so funny. He has to win… He has to win the SEVY for the best parody.
Oh, I would agree, but I thought his imitation of you was right on!
And actually you made a really important point about accents. We both agree with you on that one. We loved it. Thank you for being so creative. Next one.
Hi Vicki and Jay. My name is Quyhn. I’m fourteen years old. I’m from Viet Nam. What I love doing in my free time is watching English videos on YouTube. My favourite channels are Simple English Videos and English with Lucy. That’s all. Thanks for watching. Good-bye.
She’s adorable.
It was so mice to see you again, Quyhn.
And we want to give you a pronunciation SEVY, because your pronunciation was so clear. Spectacular job!
And you were so confident. Thank you very much for the video.
Oh hello. Hello Mrs Vicki and Mr Jay. My name is Leven … and I am from Sakartvelo, also known as Georgia. My favourite thing to do is botany. And here am I in my greenhouse now. So I like to take care of my plants. So I’m going to show you something here – a mint family thing – that’s called lemon balm I’m growing here.
So it is here and it looks pretty healthy, huh?
Leven, that’s terrific. Those plants are much better than the ones Vicki grows on the deck.
Leven, you win the SEVY for green fingers. If you have green fingers you can grow things very well.
In America we don’t say green fingers. We say green thumb.
Oh all right then. Green fingers. Green thumb. That’s your SEVY. WE loved seeing your plants. Thanks so much for sharing that.
Hello my name is Alice and I’m French. I love running, reading, writing, learning a lot of things, and greatest above all, watching simple English videos.
Alice, that was so mice. It’s lovely to meet you. Thank you.
Alice, you win the prize for bravery. It can take a lot of courage to make a video in another language and I know you were worried that you might sound ridiculous. You didn’t. You sounded great. It was very clear and easy to understand and thank you for doing that. Bravo!
Hello Vicki, Hello Jay. I’m Christophe from Berlin Germany. I’m 19 years old and I love drinking tea.
He’s got good taste.
Oh I think he should try coffee.
It’s so delicious. Of course I like watching your videos too. They are amazing. Have a nice day!
Thank you Christophe. That tea did look good even though I prefer coffee.
You win the SEVY for excellent English and taste.
And for the best tea cup.
Lovely to meet you. Thank you for sending that.
Good morning Vicki. Good morning Jay. Thanks for this opportunity. I’m Vinicio Fuertes. I’m from Ecuador. I really like watching videos on YouTube – a lot of kinds of videos. For example games, music and songs. But these days I am practicing jogging, and I really like it. However, the most enjoyable thing for me is going for a walk with my dog, because when we are in the park we can play and we can have fun. So that’s it. Thank you so much. Bye.
Goodbye Vinicio. You know what? I always liked walking with my dog too. I understand that.
Vinicio, you win the SEVY for fluency. You just went for it and you were so fluent, it was really impressive. And we think you’re going to go far. Well done!
Thanks for the video.
Hello Vicki and Jay. I’m Pipino from Tblisi, Georgia. I am a dog, as you see. I am also the most beloved in my family and the most kind-hearted. Today I want to tell you what I love doing in my leisure time. I major in eating and devouring a lot of food. I love running and playing, especially with a ball or toys. My favourite hobby is stealing things such as books of jewellry from mommy. Sometimes I get punished, but by licking them, I get forgiven so easily. I love singing, but in dogs language. You can see here. Thank you. Simple English Videos Yay!
Nina, that was amazing. Erm Pipino is adorable….
A star!
And able to speak English, beautifully! I want to see that singing again. Hang on.
Incredible. Nina, you should win a SEVY for creativity. Thank you very much. What a great laugh!
Love it! OK.
Hello. My name is Saad-Ali Khan and I am from Pakistan. I love to make drawing videos and I love Simple English Video’s channel.
Saad-Ali. Nice to meet you and thank you for sending us the video. So he make drawing videos?
Yes, they’re videos about maps and how to draw maps.
Wow! Then he wins the map drawing SEVY.
Yeah! I found them on his channel. I’ll put the link below. Thank you for sending us that video, Saad-Ali.
Hi. I’m Roxana. I’m from Romania. You know, the country from where the Dracula phenomenon spread all over the world. Well today I’m going to share with you two things about me. The first thing is that I’m into arts and crafts. Like these adorable hearts that go so well for Mother’s Day. You can stick it to your T shirt. The second thing is that despite coming from Romania, the home of vampires, ghosts, zombies, you name it, we are nothing else but friendly adorable people, so don’t be afraid of us! Have a lovely day. Bye!
Roxana, you have a wonderful sense of hu mor. Thank you for that.
I want to meet Roxana. Roxana, we’re going to give you the SEVY for being entertaining. We loved it. And you’re not scary at all.
Hello Vicki, hello Jay. My name is Dicky and I’m from Indonesia. So this is my second time joining the SEVY. I love learning languages, including Japanese and English. I learn English a lot from your videos. Thank you for your videos. They’re all very useful for me. Thank you. Bye!
Dicky, thank you so much. It’s good to see you again. Thanks for submitting another video.
And we think your English is getting even better so we want to give you the SEVY award for improvement this year. Well done.
Hello. Speaking of my hobbies. I actually love learning languages, especially Chinese and English. And I fall in love… I’ve been falling in love with language learning for many years. And I always turn my bedroom into a learning library – a language learning library. You can take a look at my learning library, that supports who I am today.
Now that’s Bank. Where’s Bank from?
Bank’s from Thailand but he’s learning Chinese and English.
You know Bank, that’s a really impressive set of books you’ve got in that library.
I loved looking at them and I recognised some of the publishers. That was fun to see. Bank you earn the SEVY for the best independent language learner. Congratulations!
Hi. I’m Wiktor and I am from Poland. I live in Lodz in the middle of the country. I like recoding and watching films on YouTube, especially Simple English Videos. I like scuba diving. I;m very good at this sport. And for the end, I play in a volley kicks team. I really love playing with my friends from school. Bye!
OK, so Wiktor, I understand what scuba diving is, but what’s volley kicks?
I looked… I googled it and it’s like football where you don’t let the ball touch the ground.
You mean like soccer but you don’t let the ball touch the ground.
You have to be very athletic to play it, ’cause you can’t just kick the ball along the ground. Wiktor, we’re going to have to give you the athletic SEVY because you’re clearly really athletic. Well done, we loved your video.
Thanks a lot.
Hello Miss Vicki and Mr Jay. Thanks for this nice challenge. This is Marcello from Chile and what I love doing is playing basketball. It’s an excellent exercise. I’m used to playing basketball alone, both for relaxing and for exercising a little bit. And finally I’m going to score a basket, for you guys. And before, I want to say that exercise bouncing the ball is really useful. It has… It has low impact. Perhaps if you suffer from stress of your knee or things like that, this exercise of bouncing a ball and scoring a basket is great. Let’s try. I’m going to jump. Wow! I enjoy it so much. OK, thank you very much guys.
That’s some of the best dribbling I’ve ever seen. When you bounce the ball it’s called dribbling in basketball.
Yeah, all right. Marcello, it was lovely to see you again, and thanks so much for that, and for the tip as well.
Now Marcello, you get the SEVY for the best two pointer.
What’s a two pointer?
Well, when you score a basket, when you get the basketball through the net close to the basket, it’s worth two points.
The best two-pointer. Thank you, Marcello.
Hello. I’m Gala from Russia. I’m a typical woman and I like doing simple things such as knitting or cooking while listening to the radio. One day there was a quiz on the radio about Abba. The Abba.
The group.
And I happened to win a prize – a trip to Sweden.
I hadn’t got a visa and I had to fly to Moscow to provide my biometric data.
Ah yeah.
And then I was waiting for a visa at home, and then they called me and said I need a code. And so I should go back to Moscow to provide my biometry again.
Oh no!
I should, but anyway, it would be too late to be on time for the trip.
Unlucky me.
A few days ago, I received a totally unexpected package with a T-shirt, a bag …
Oh yeah.
And a few other things.
Oh terrific.
And some other things with symbols of Abba.
And that’s fine.
Go Gala!
I do like the group and I also like dancing to their music and singing along to their songs… along with their songs.
Oh Gala! That was such a sad story. Our daughter-in-law is Russian too, and she has trouble getting visas as well so I really sympathize with that story. I’m so sorry you couldn’t go to Sweden.
So what is the SEVY that we can give to Gala?
Well, Gala it has to be the SEVY for the best story. We did enjoy it and it had a sort of happy ending.
I did love all the gear you got.
Thanks for sending us that.
Welcome. This is Javier. Thank you for watching my presentation. Maps and geography are my passion. Like a geographer, I’m focusing now on helping people to discover the world walking through the geography. I’m an enthusiastic person when it comes to hiking. And that’s it. I love geography and see you soon. If you want to know more about my work, that is my hobby, you can visit my website walkexperience.org. Bye-bye.
You know that was actually really very interesting. Thank you, Javier. What place did he mention?
He mentioned a place in the Pyrenees, so between France and Spain. And he arranges walking experiences for people designed specially for them.
I would enjoy that very much. Now what SEVY should we give Javier?
It’s enthusiasm, isn’t it? It’s got to be enthusiasm. It shone right through Javier. Thanks for talking to us about that.
Good evening Jay and Vicki.
Good evening.
My name is Michael. I’m speaking from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So as requested by you, I’m recording this video from my work. I work in a hotel as a receptionist. I work in a small city whose name is Itacuruca. It’s a beautiful city located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. I love o study English. I love to speak in English. I love, too, watching some English movies. I’ve been learning English since I was twelve years old. I’m now 45 years old. I’m still learning English, and I’m learning from your videos. I’m learning from you and I can see the difference between British English and American English from your videos. Thanks for this opportunity you are giving me to record this video for your channel. So I’m sharing your channel with my friends who are learning English here in Brazil. And I love to listen to music, and I love watching movies, and I love to learn English. God bless you, Vicki. God bless you Jay. Thanks for teaching me the difference between British English and American English. God bless you. Thanks for this opportunity. This is my by little. God bless you. Thanks for this opportunity. Your friend from Brazil, Michael Alexandre.
Thank you Michael. Now we’ve been to Rio de Janeiro, but have you been to that town?
Oh really?
Yeah, without you.
Without me. Very interesting. Michael thanks so much for that and we’re really glad we can help you learn English.
What SEVY should we give Michael?
Michael is a long term persistent learner who’s going up and studying regularly. So you get the award for being a long term learner Michael, because you’re keeping at it. A little bit every day. It works.
Thank you very much Michal for sending us that video.
Good work! For some people this speaking challenge is extra difficult because for religious or for personal reasons, they can’t appear on camera.
So some of our viewers have some up with amazing creative ways to send us a video. Let’s look.
Hi, I’m Sarah. I’ve been watching your videos for a very long time and they’ve been helping me a lot. I would like to thank you for that. So to the question what I love doing. I love drawing and writing. Most of the time I come up with a story and then, after that, I start drawing the characters to it. Here are a few pictures.
Wow, look at that! Amazing. Another artist.
Well, my absolute favourite thing to do in my free time is learning new things about the English culture. I love England so much – everything about it really and I’m looking forward to going there for the very first time this year. I can’t wait. I’ve been learning about how much importance English people attach to politeness and the weather, not to mention. I’m just living for it. All the new types of tea I will get to learn about. All of the amazing people. So yeah, that was it I think. Thank you ever so much and have an amazing day.
Thank you Sarah. Once again, as we mentioned last year, you have an accent that is so beautifully English. I would never guess that you’re not a native speaker. That’s so impressive.
I think you’re going to have a wonderful time in England and we must say a special congratulations to Sarah because she passed her C1 exam this year. Yay! Go Sarah!
Now my the way, that artistic work was also spectacular. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Yes, you should have a SEVY for paintings as well.
Thanks again Sarah.
Hi Vicki. Hi Jay. I’m Farshid. I love doing my architecture projects. These are what I did last semester for my university. And this is what I do in my free time. And I also like drinking tea.
Another tea drinker.
And with Winnie the Poo on his cup!
You know what was amazing Farshid was the perspective that you’re able to get into your designs. That’s really terrific.
I thought your designs were really interesting. I did so enjoy those glimpses. And that’s what you must have the SEVY for this year, I think. Design.
Thanks a lot Farshid for sending us that video.
Hi! Dear Vicki and Jay, Super Agent, Steffi and everyone. I am Simone from Italy. C’est une chanson. Qui nous resemble. Italy, not France. Our lovely teachers honoured me by putting my presentation in last year’s video. É o pau, é a pedra, é o fim do caminho. There I didn’t film myself, because my face shows my frequent headaches. [Italian folk Song] OK, that’s an Italian folk song. Now Vicki and Jay asked what we like doing. Summertime, and the living is easy. Can you guess? Although my voice has lost its power I still can’t… not can’t sing. I wish you all a life full of music and joy and health, since 2020 will be remembered for the corona virus. Bye!
Simone. I have to say that your voice hasn’t lost anything. When you were singing Gershwin, you really got to me.
It was wonderful. And it reminded me of some of the images we’ve seen this week coming from Italy where everybody is on lock down, and of Italians on their balconies. Singing in solidarity as a community.
It’s really amazing.
And I have to say, Simone has been an important part of the Simple English Videos community for some years now and I personally want to thank you for all your efforts.
And to give you the singing SEVY. And congratulations to everyone who took part in this challenge.
We’ve been blown away by your videos.
It’s been very motivating for us to meet you and learn more about you.
Especially at this time when we’re on lock down and feeling very isolated.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
And now go call your grandma orgrandad and see how they’re doing.
See you soon everyone. Bye-bye.

American Slang

More American slang expressions that Brits don’t use

How good is your American English? Play along and find out.

In this American English slang lesson you’ll learn 6 American English colloquial expressions that Brits don’t use, and one (or maybe two) that both Brits and Americans use.
They include:
— riding shotgun
— pork
— bet the farm/ranch
— bought the farm
— the buck stops here
— rain check
— lemon

To see our other American slang video, click here: https://youtu.be/8RJXV7A2mMI

To see our baseball idioms videos, click here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwrM2Wcy_MsBe5FMsZBCy65hpCMEw2XGu
To see our videos on British slang, click here: https://youtu.be/InnF3M5qWS0

We’re back with some more slang expressions today.
I have some American slang words and colloquial expressions here and I’m going to test Vicki with them.
And you can play along with me.
I’m Vicki and I’m British
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And we’re going to see if I know what some American expressions mean.
You did very well last time, but I think that’s because you’ve lived with me for more than twenty years.
Is this my prize?
Stop. You’ll have to get them right before see the prize.
Let’s get started then.
Oh yes, this is one my kids always used.
Riding shot gun. OK, if you have a car, there’s the driver of the car and then sitting next to them is the passenger.
In Britain.
All right, sitting next to them is the passenger.
In America.
And that seat… the person riding in that seat is riding shot gun. Is that right?
That’s exactly right. When a family would get into a car, one of the kids would shout out “I call shot gun’. That means they want to sit in that front passenger seat. Now this comes from the old west.
Oh right.
When the stage coaches took money and people and parcels all across the country. To protect whatever was in the stage coach, sitting next to the driver was a guy with a shot gun. He was riding shot gun.
To ride shot gun means to ride in the front passenger seat of a car or truck.
Oh, here’s one that’s fun.
Ooo. Pork. Well, of course literally pork is the meat that we get from a pig. But in American English, it has another meaning in American politics. It’s like.. um… it’s like a bribe that you add to a bill to get politicians to vote for it.
Very good. What happens is a legislator in the senate or the house of representatives, or one of our state legislatures is asked to vote for a specific bill to become law. And the legislator might say, ‘What’s in it for my district, for the people I represent?’ And so something will get added to the bill which costs more.
So the bill gets more and more expensive because of the pork.
And sometimes people won’t vote for it because it has too much pork.
Yes, and it benefits just a few instead of everybody.
Pork is a bad thing in American politics. What happens is legislators, those are the people who have the power to make laws, increase the money that’s spent on projects in their districts. They usually do it to get more votes but it means that government money isn’t shared fairly.
Here you go.
Bought the farm. I’m not sure if I know what this means. Erm. I know the expression ‘bet the farm’. And if you bet the farm then you bet everything you own. Usually on a very risky venture – a very risky bet. So you quite probably lose everything. Um. So does the farm represent all the belongings of a family or something?
Well, your explanation for ‘bet the farm’ is exactly correct, but ‘bought the farm’ means something very different.
What’s that?
Well, this expression was developed by American pilots in the second world war. When an aircraft would sadly crash in the ground they would say the pilot bought the farm.
The piece of ground where the pilot landed was the burial plot that he bought.
Now this followed from British pilots, also in the second world war, who said that when an aircraft crashed that the pilot ‘bought it’.
And we still say that in British English – ‘He bought it” and it’s an informal euphemism for ‘He died’.
If you bet the farm on something, you make a risky bet. For example, the company bet the farm on the new product and lost. But if someone ‘bought the farm’, it means they were killed. For example, his plane went down and he bought the farm.’
In British English, we might say ‘He bought it’ and it also means he was killed.
Oh, here’s a fun one.
Ooo. ‘Pass the buck’. Well, first of all, a buck is a dollar in American English. But that’s not what it is here, is it? No, if you pass the buck, then you avoid accepting responsibility that you should accept. So perhaps there’s a decision that was made, and someone has to accept the blame or say ‘I’m responsible’, but if you pass the buck you say “oh, they’re responsible. It had nothing to do with me.”
Right, no have you head the expression, ‘The buck stops here.’
Yes. I think it was said by an American President. Roosevelt?
Close. His successor, Harry Truman, the President from April 1945 to January of 1953, famously said, ‘The buck stops here’, meaning ‘I take full responsibility’.
If you pass the buck, you don’t accept full responsibility for something. For example, ‘It’s your fault so don’t try to pass the buck’. If someone says ‘The buck stops here’ it means they accept full responsibility. For example, ‘It’s my job to make this decision. The buck stops here’.
We should have more politicians who don’t pass the buck these days. It would be very good.
I agree.
And next… Oh this is one of my favorites.
A rain check. Erm. It’s a baseball idiom and we’ve made some other videos about American baseball idioms. I’ll put the link there. If there’s a baseball game and it rains during the game so they have to stop play, then you get a rain check, which is like a ticket to another game.
Well, that’s very close. The rain check is actually part of the ticket, so if the game goes on, when people leave the stadium, they still have the raincheck because they still have their original ticket. When I was a kid, I would collect rainchecks from people who were leaving the stadium. All the kids did. And at the end of the summer, we would trade them to see who could collect the most complete set of rainchecks.
But most of the time, you don’t use it like this now. It has another meaning in American English. If I ask you do to something, like ‘Do you want to come to the movies?” and you say, ‘Oh, I’d love to but I’m busy tonight. Can I take a raincheck?’, it would mean, can we do it again at a later date? Yeah?
Yes, and it also is used in advertising and in stores. If a product is advertised at a sale price and you go to the store to get it and they’re sold out, you can get a rain check.
So what does that mean?
It means you can come back later to the store, when it’s back in stock, and buy it for the original sale price.
So you get the lower price.
Good deal.
A rain check has several meanings in American English. It can be a ticket that will get you into another baseball game if the first game is cancelled. It can be a promise to sell something at a low sale price. And we also use raincheck to refuse an invitation, but say we might accept it later. For example, ‘Do you want to come out tonight?’ ‘I can’t tonight, but can I have a raincheck?’
This is very interesting.
A lemon. Erm. Well, of course a lemon is a citrus fruit, a yellow fruit. Erm, but that’s not its only meaning in American English. If something is not working well, if it’s not fit to do the job it was supposed to do, then it’s a lemon.
If a product is badly made and doesn’t work the way it should, it’s a lemon. For example, ‘This car you sold me is a lemon! Give me my money back.’
And in fact, in almost every state in America, there is now a lemon law that allows you to return a car within a few days after you bought it if it’s not working very well.
I think we might use this phrase in British English now too. I’m not sure. So have I won a prize again?
Yes, I suppose so.
Why ‘I suppose so’? I did really well.
Pretty well.
A chocolate brownie.
A vegan chocolate brownie. You’ll love it.
It’s a good prize!
Hey, if you liked this video, please share it with a friend and give it a thumbs up.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. See you soon! Bye!

Practice Speaking English

Speaking English Challenge – Be in a YouTube Video

This is your invitation to practice speaking English with us and appear in one of our videos!

Make a short video where you’re speaking in English, and we’ll share it with the world.

Here’s how it works:
1. You make a short video of yourself speaking – just a few sentences. Tell us who you are and what you love doing.
2. You upload the video and send us a link where we can download it.
3. We put your videos into one longer video that we publish on our channel.


Keep your video short – just a few sentences is fine. Tell us:
1. Who you are:
What’s your name? Where are you from?
2. What you love doing:
Maybe you love your job. Or perhaps you

If you have a YouTube channel, post your video there as unlisted or public (not private) and send us the link. The deadline is Monday March 9th, 2020.
Please check the video for Vicki’s email address or use the contact form on our website: www.simpleenglishvideos.com.

Here are links to some videos our viewers sent us in previous years:

It’s not easy to find ways to practice speaking in English and this is your chance! We can’t wait to see your videos! Thank you so much!

Are you feeling brave?
We hope so because we have a speaking challenge for you.
We’re going to make another SEVY awards video.
A SEVY is our version of the Oscars. They’re awards for students who rise to a speaking challenge.
SEVY stands for Simple English Videos YES!
Or Simple English Videos YAY!
Here’s how it works. You record a short video of yourself speaking English and send us the link.
Then we download them and put them together in one long video that we publish on our channel.
And share for the world to see.
It’s a great way for you to practice speaking English.
And to get to know other people in the Simple English Videos family.
We love seeing you and learning more about you.
OK, so are you ready for this year’s topic?
We want you to answer this question:
What do you love doing?
Maybe you love your job?
Or perhaps there’s a sport you like playing.
Or a hobby you enjoy.
Maybe it’s something you do with your family or a friend?
Whatever it is, tell us about it in a few sentences.
Perhaps we need some examples.
Hi I’m Vicki and I’m British and this is my kitchen. I love cooking! I think I’ll make some onion soup today.
Hi I’m Jay from Philadelphia and I’m an amateur radio operator, sometimes called a ham radio operator. And I love talking to people all around the world. This is WA2UAR. Listening.
If you want some more inspiration, I’ll put links to previous SEVY award videos in the description below.
You can watch videos that other people have sent us in the past. They’re really good!
And if you want to put a picture or two in your video, that’s awesome.
We can’t wait to learn what you love doing.
OK, some filming tips. Remember to make sure the camera is horizontal when you shoot, and not vertical.
It should be landscape, not portrait.
And this is important. No music please.
We need to make sure we have copyright permissions for any music we use.
And if any other people appear in your video, make sure you have their permission too.
OK. The next thing is how to get it to us. If you have a YouTube channel, upload your video there.
Make sure to post it as an unlisted or public video, not a private video.
If it’s private, we can’t see it!
Then send the link to this address.
This is me! I’ll email you back to confirm I’ve received it.
And if you don’t have a YouTube channel, it’s no problem.
Just write to me and we’ll work out another way for you to send it.
OK, are you ready for your deadline?
It’s Monday, March 9th.
That’s not long.
It’s just 10 days.
So get your cameras out and get busy!
Remember. Keep the video short and simple. Just a few sentences is fine.
And if it’s good, you might win a SEVY.
We can’t wait to see your videos. Have fun everyone, and see you soon!

The passive voice in English

8 Things We Love about Spain – Passive Voice

Learn 8 things we love about Spain while we quiz you about the passive voice in English.

We’ll show you how we use the passive voice in spoken English and answer questions like:
– How do we form passive structures?
– When do we use passives?
– Are passives more common in written English?
– What verbs are often used in the passive form?
– How can passives sound more elegant?
– Is ‘be’ the only verb we use in passive structures?
– What does ‘have something done’ mean?

And along the way you’ll see some of the fun things we loved about Spain like the sugar packets, the orange crushers and the wonderful child friendly culture.

To see our video on ‘have something done, click here.

The passive voice in English

Here are 8 things we love about Spain.
Can you guess what they are?
We’ll tell you all about them in this video.
And we’re also going to quiz you about the passive voice in English.
Most English sentences are organized like this one. They start with the person or thing that does the action.
So ‘we’ is the subject and it comes first. Sentences like this are active voice.
But it’s not the only way to organize sentences. Sometimes the thing that receives the action can be the subject. And then we use the passive voice.
Here’s your first task. We’re going to tell you about our trip to Spain and you have to spot the passive form.

The first thing we love about Spain is the breakfasts.
The weather is lovely so we often go out and have a tostada.
That’s a piece of toast with jam.
Or ham and cheese, or tuna. Whatever you want.
And the coffee’s good too. And the sugar!
Some of the packets are printed with famous sayings and quotations.
We liked trying to work out what they meant in English and practicing our Spanish.

Did you spot this sentence? The verb is passive.
The active version would look like this.
But we’re not interested in who printed the packets, so the passive voice is very natural here.
That’s the important thing about passives. We use them when we don’t know who does something, or if they’re not important.
The focus is on the action.
Yeah, the action – not who did it.
But we can say who did it if we want. Let’s see an example.

Another thing we love about Spain is Almeria. That’s the city we visited last fall.
It’s on the southeast coast and it has a port, a beach and a castle.
The castle was built in the 10th century by the Moors.
The city has a beautiful old town with lots of historic buildings, but there aren’t many tourists.
Most people work in agriculture and farming. A lot of Europe’s fruit and vegetables are grown here.

We had a special reason for going to Almeria though. My grandson is there.
In fact he was born there.
You’ll see him later. But first some grammar.
With passives, if we need to say who did an action, we use the word ‘by’.
So this castle was built by the Moors.
A question. Do most passive sentences contain the word ‘by’? No. Only about 20% do. That’s because the focus is on what happened – not who did it.
Two more examples.
Notice the form. We use the verb ‘be’ and the past participle of the main verb.
These two sentences are present tense.
To switch to a different tense, we change the tense of the verb ‘be’.
Forming passives is normally straightforward.
Knowing when to use them can be tricky though.
But you know some already. For example, which sentence is correct here? It’s this one.
‘Was born’ is the passive form of the verb ‘bear’.
The active would be ‘His mother bore him’, which sounds really weird.
And there are other verbs that you hear a lot in the passive form.
See if you can spot one.

Here’s something I didn’t expect to find in Spain. There are a lot of Chinese convenience stores.
They sell all kinds of things and they seem to be open all hours of the day.
Most of the things they sell are made in China and they’re really cheap.
There were some things we’d forgotten to pack.
Like the plug adaptors for our toothbrushes.
We found them here.

Did you spot the passive form? It was the verb ‘make’.
You’ll often hear it in questions too.
And I have another verb.
Let’s see it.

There’s a Spanish vegetable soup that we love.
It’s called Gazpacho and it’s served cold.
Very cold.
But you can buy it America.
Yeah, but in the US they add sugar.
It’s much nicer in Spain.

‘Call’ is another verb you’ll often hear in the passive form.
If you don’t know the name of something you can say ‘What’s this called?’ It’s a useful question when you’re learning English.
Some very common phrases contain passives.
And sometimes the passive voice just sounds better.
What do you mean?
Let’s see some examples.

Another thing I love about Spain is the tapas.
Tapas are small plates – small dishes of food.
They’re served in bars so when you order a drink, it comes with one or two dishes.
Tapas are sold all over Spain but in Almeria they’re special because there are big menus to choose from.
What about those menus though? Could you find things you liked?
Ummm, sometimes, but they had a lot of meat and fish and that was difficult for me because I’m vegan.
Luckily I’m NOT vegan so I loved the tapas!
I thought the wine was wonderful, though.
Ah! That’s the next one!
We both love red wine and one of our favourite grapes is tempranillo.
It’s used to make Ribera and Rioja wines.
Our local market had big barrels of it.
And even better, we could try it first to see if we liked it.

Tapas is the subject of the first sentence here, and the second.
If we made the second sentence active, we’d have to change the subject and that would sound awkward.
Another example. We start with a passive verb here and continue with an active one. Sometimes mixing active and passive verbs let’s us keep the same subject, so it sounds better.
One more example. First we have the active voice, then the passive.
It wouldn’t sound so good if we just used the active voice.
With a passive verb, we can carry on talking about tempranillo.
So sometimes the passive voice sounds more elegant.
It can sound more formal though.
It’s more common in written English and you’ll often find it in technical writing and legal documents.
OK, I have another question. We form passives with the verb ‘be’, but are there any other verbs we use? Yes!
See if you can spot one.

My favourite thing about Spain is the child-friendly culture. It’s a lovely place to bring up children. Whenever we went out with my grandson, we were stopped by strangers in the street.
They all wanted to talk to him and tell us how wonderful he was.
And when we went into shops, he got given little gifts, like stickers or sweets.
He was given lots of candy.
And the funny thing is, he’s only one so he doesn’t actually know what sweets are. His Mum and Dad don’t let him eat sugar.
So what happens to the candy. Do they it throw it away?
Oh no! I think it all gets eaten. His dad likes sweets.

Did you spot the verb ‘get’? ‘Be’ is the standard verb we use, but in spoken English, we often use ‘get’ instead. These sentences mean the same thing, but the first one is more likely to be spoken.
You heard another example. Notice that we need a passive here because we don’t actually know who eats the candy. We have our suspicions though. We’re watching you Tom!
OK, I have another question. Are ‘be’ and ‘get’ the only verbs we use in passive structures?
No, they aren’t.
There’s another verb with passive characteristics.

Jay found a new toy to play with in Spain.
Yeah! A lot of Spanish supermarkets have machines like this.
The oranges get crushed by the machine and the juice comes out at the bottom.
So you don’t have to squeeze your oranges yourself. You can have them squeezed for you. It’s so cool.

We heard another example of the verb get. We often use passive forms to describe technical processes like this.
But what about this example. We could have bought the oranges, taken them home and squeezed them ourselves, but we didn’t. We had them squeezed for us.
The verb ‘have’ has a special meaning here. We use it to talk about a service that’s performed, and again it emphasizes the process and not who does it.
We’ve made another video about ‘have something done’.
I’ll put the link here and you can check it out.
Why not watch it next?
Yes, because it’s time for us to say good-bye.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our future videos.

top comedy sketches

2019 Rewind – top comedy sketches

Come and join us on a trip down memory lane. Join us on a trip down memory lane and review some of our top comedy sketches from 2019. You can laugh and learn English at the same time.

We’ll also plan the videos we want to make in 2020 and you can let us know your thoughts too. What would you like to see?

This video is longer than normal because we’ll look back at our favorite English comedy sketches. Play along with Jay and see if you can name them. (You might beat Jay!)

We’re publishing this video as a premiere, so if you’re watching at 1 pm New York Time on December 31st, Jay and Vicki will both be live in the chat, responding to questions and comments. The great thing about a premiere is we can chat in real time!

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki
And I’m Jay.
And welcome to our 2019 review video.
We’re publishing a little early this week, because we wanted to catch the end of the year.
And wish you all a very happy 2020.
Every year we look back on what we’ve done, and look ahead to the next year.
And make plans.
So come and join us because you can help.
Thank you all so much for your support in 2019.
And a big welcome to all our new subscribers.
A warning before we begin. This is going to be a much longer video than normal, so you might want to get a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable.
We’re going to be looking at lots of the comedy sketches we made this year.
And we’re going to play a game.
Yes, I’m going to show you a clip and you have to name the video it came from. What language point were we talking about?
Well this sounds like fun. You can play along too.
OK, Let’s roll the first clip.

Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat?
It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s germs?
Are you ready to fight against coughs and sneezes?
Nothing protects you from a cold like a big steel pan.
And when you’re all done your steel pan rinses clean.
Call or go online to get your big steel pan today.

I don’t know what we were teaching but I remember we had a lot of fun shooting it!
It was a parody of a cold medication commercial.
A parody is when you copy the style of something for comic effect.
And you don’t know what language point we were teaching?
Something about steel pans?
No. It was vocabulary for talking about illnesses and sickness.
There has to be a better way to cure a cold than that steel pan.
How’s your headache?
I’ve recovered. OK, give us another clip.

Do we have a meeting with Kathy, today?
Yes, this afternoon.
Oh, what time is it? I can’t be late again.
Oh yes. She was furious last time.
When is it?
Let’s see. Three fifteen.
Three fifty. I’ll set an alarm for 3.40 so I won’t be late. What?
Oh nothing. See you there!
See you there.

You’re so mean to me!
Yes. The meeting was at 3.15, but when I said 3.50, you didn’t correct me!
I must have misheard you.
Right. I know what the language point was though.
It was about the pronunciation of numbers that people often confuse, like fifteen and fifty.
Correct! OK, let’s see if you get the next one.

There’s something wrong with that thermostat.
You know, I’ve noticed that too. The temperature keeps shooting up.
Did you say up?
That’s weird. I thought it went down. It should be 75 degrees.
Why do you want it to be 75 degrees?
It’s a comfortable temperature.
Yes, for you. But I like it at 65.
Yes, but you can take your jacket off if you get too hot.
Why don’t you wear more clothes?
65 is freezing!

I have no idea what we were teaching but I recognize the argument.
We have different opinions about the temperature in our house.
65 degrees is good. I’m right, aren’t I?
And you don’t know what we were teaching?
I’ll give you another clue. This clip came from the same video.

Is this the design?
Oh nice! You should do it in colour.
I like black and white.
No, you don’t. You’re only saying that because I suggested colour.
Well, you’re always wrong.
So whatever I say, you’re always going to disagree?
You know, you’re absolutely right.
Yep. Black and white is perfect.
You think so?
Yeah. Don’t change a thing.
Then I’m going to make it in color.
What just happened there?

I’m the victim of reverse psychology – and I still don’t know the language point.
It was the video we made about how we disagree.
Then how would I know. We never disagree!
That’s true because I’m always right.
Give me an easy one now.
OK, this is really easy.

Now settle down children. We’re going to do some grammar. Who threw this sock?
Jay did.
Vicki did.
Whose sock is this?
It belongs to him. miss.

Who, whose and who’s. I knew that one!
Well I should hope so. The words were on the screen.
I liked your wig. You should wear it more often.
Thank you.
It covers your face.
Speaking of wigs, I have another one for you.

With all this choice, I’m never going to get fed up with wearing the same wig again.
I’m amazed at the prices. They’re very reasonable.
There are lots of other beauty products here. I’m not very good at makeup.
This one would be excellent for Halloween.

Do you know what we were teaching?
I’m not sure.
We were looking at adjectives.
I was going to say that, because we said reasonable, excellent, amazed…
‘Amazed’ is interesting because we have amazed and amazing and they’re both adjectives.
Some adjectives can end with -ing OR -ED.
I have another clip for you about that.

Imagine you’ve found a great book. It’s so good you can’t stop reading it.
You can’t put it down. What would you say about it.
I’m very interested in this book.
I’m very interesting in this book.
We use interested to say how we feel. We use interesting to describe the person or thing that causes the feeling.
This is a very interesting book.
And I’m very interesting in this book.
This is a book about me.

That was about the adjectives interesting and interested
Saying ‘I’m very interesting’ is a very common mistake and it sounds funny in English.
But we shot that scene in bed when we were much younger.
We made a series of three videos this year called ‘how good is your English’, and they were all quizzes about common mistakes.
And sometimes we used clips from old videos.
Yes. That series was very popular.
I think we should make some more quizzes like that next year.
I’ll put it on our list. I’m actually thinking of writing a book about common mistakes.
Hey, what about your book? Tell everyone how it’s going.
Mmm. Not well. I’m afraid I’ve been slow!
I think you were overambitious.
I started out wanting to tackle English grammar – which is an enormous topic.
You were trying to do too much
Yeah, I just need to rethink and work on smaller segments.
But you’re still going to write a book?
Oh yes. So please stay tuned everyone.
And we’ve had a lot of other things happening this year so we’ve been busy. Like we decorated the house and we went on vacation.
Speaking of which, I have another clip.

If your flight is departing from B or C gates, please board the next available train from either platform. The first stop will be for all B gates and the second stop will be for all C gates.
The tech is getting more and more advanced.
Her eyes seemed to follow me as I moved around. But the funniest signs were in the subways – the exit signs that tell you how to get out.
You loved them.
Yeah. They made me think of hippies in the 1960s. When something was cool they’d say it was ‘far out’ or ‘way out’.
It’s far out man. Way out there.

I know this one. It was about funny things about England. England’s a very strange country.
But what grammar point were we looking at?
I don’t know. I’m the video guy. Not the language guy.
It was comparative adjectives.
And we went to Spain and shot some video there too.
That video’s in the works. First I thought it should be about adverbs but then I thought it should be about passives.
What would you like most?
Tell us in the comments.
So what’s next?
It’s very short, so pay attention.

Oh, do you need a hand?
Well it’s quite heavy.
Oh, all right.

I know this. It was the ‘quite’ video and how we use the word differently.
You’re right.
I’m American so for me quite means ‘very’, but for you…?
It can mean ‘very’ in British English, but often it means fairly.

What did you think of my report?
It’s quite good.
Did you want to make some changes then?
No, it’s quite good. You can send it to everybody now.
But it needs to be VERY good.
It is. It’s good to go.

Quite is the trickiest word for me to understand in America.
We used to misunderstand one another a lot with this word.
Well, words are very interesting things.

What do we call this in our house, Jay?
This is a mug.
And why do we call it a mug?
Because it has a handle and I drink coffee out of it.
OK. What’s the difference between a mug and a cup?
Well a mug doesn’t have a saucer and it’s taller.
OK. Then what’s this?
Well, this is what we call your coffee cup. Cup!
But it doesn’t have a saucer and it’s tall.
Yes, but it has curved sides and mugs have straight sides.
So we call this a cup because it has curved sides. OK, what’s this?
This is a bowl.
And what’s this?
That’s a bowl too.
So size doesn’t matter.
Well size always matters but in this case what’s important is that they have curved sides.
OK. What’s this?
That’s a bowl.
But it has straight sides.
Yeah, but it’s a bowl.
It isn’t a mug?
No. Cups and mugs have handles and bowls don’t.
OK. So this isn’t a bowl?
Yes, I’d call that a bowl because it’s bigger than a cup.
But you just said size doesn’t matter for bowls.

I don’t know what video that was but I’m really confused now.
It was about prototype theory and how we grade words in categories.
Oh yes. Words don’t have clear boundaries.
Yes. OK, see if you can guess this one.

Help! Help!
Super Agent Awesome!
That is me. You mess with the lady, you mess with me.
Oh no!
Oh yeah!
Thank you Super Agent Awesome. If it hadn’t been for you, he’d have gotten away.
If I’d been faster, he wouldn’t have caught me.
If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have escaped.

I know this one – the third conditional.
And you saw Super Agent Awesome and his Dad.
A lot of you asked if Super Agent Awesome is our grandson.
And he is.
He’s been in a lot of our videos recently, because we made a series about British and American words.
We published a lot of them in the last two months because of COPPA – that’s the Child Online Privacy Protection Act.
It’s a law and its goals are really good.
Under COPPA, you can’t track children online. In fact you can’t collect any data about them without their parents agreeing first.
It had big implications for YouTube. Officially you can’t sign up to YouTube and watch videos unless you’re 13, but in practice, a lot of kids did.
And YouTube tracked what they watched, so it could deliver more videos they’d like, and also deliver advertising that targeted them.
So then the FTC got involved.
The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission. It’s a government agency that protects consumers
They said hey YouTube, you can’t track kids. That’s illegal and YouTube agreed to pay a penalty of $170 million.
And then, for 2020, YouTube changed its rules. For each video that’s uploaded, you now have to say if it’s directed at children.
At first we thought, this isn’t relevant for us, because we make videos for adults, not children. But when we read the first guidelines, we were confused.
They had a list of things that could appeal to kids. For example, music.
We love music.
And play acting.
We act out a lot of comedy sketches so you can learn English grammar and vocabulary in context.
And child actors.
Usually we have adults on screen but sometimes Super Agent Awesome appears.
And they also listed games.
We love games too.
It was worrying. It seemed that if we said a video was for adults but the FTC said it appeals to kids, we could get fined $42,500.
$42,500 per video!
We just couldn’t risk that!
So we thought, crikey. We should stop making videos until we understand what this means.
But then, just before Christmas, the FTC gave clearer guidelines.
It doesn’t matter if some children watch our videos as long as they are designed for adults. So we can carry on using music and acting out scenes and playing games – just like before.
It was like an early Christmas present because it meant we could carry on making videos.
Yeah. So are you ready for another clip?
Do you remember this?

Kerfuffle. I… I heard this years ago from Vicki and it really confused me. It means something that’s very, very difficult. So, if
something is very complicated, it’s a kerfuffle to do.
Ah, nice try. No. No, it’s when there’s when there’s a lot of noise and activity and commotion and for no good purpose. It, it’s…
There’s lot of disturbance and making a fuss and getting excited about things. So like when Jay’s cooking a meal in the kitchen,
there’s often a lot of kerfuffle. There’s a lot of activity and commotion but nothing much gets done.
I always thought it was because I had so many things happening at once. I had rice here, I had water here, I had pasta here. That’s a
kerfuffle, right?
That is a kind of kerfuffle when you’re in charge. A kerfuffle is when there’s a lot of noise and activity and excitement. And it’s an
unnecessary fuss. We might ask, ‘what’s all the kerfuffle about?’ And it’s like asking ‘what’s all the fuss about?’

I know that one. It was about British English and you tested me on slang expressions.
You’re right.
My British English was quite good.
He means quite in the British sense.
I was just kerfuffling along.
You can’t use kerfuffle like that. It’s not a verb.
Hmm. Now didn’t I test you on American slang?
Yeah, we made two videos on British slang and one on American.
Then we need to make another American one next year.
Write it down!
Here’s your next one.

Oh, this is a good one. Um, John Hancock. And it means, I think, your signature. So you might put your John Hancock on a document.
Exactly. But do you know who John Hancock was?
Oh, I think so. I think he was the first person to sign the declaration of independence. So he was the first traitor in America.
Well actually, he was president of the continental congress right here in Philadelphia in 1776. And when the declaration was first printed, he signed his name so large, the legend goes, so that King George III could see it without his spectacles.
So he was the first traitor to commit treason and betray his country.
He was a great American patriot.

We have a different view of American history.
Yes, I think they taught some of the stories a little differently in English schools.
We live in Philadelphia and it’s an important place in American history.
I think we should make some videos about it because we can show you some of the sights.
And it could help people who are taking the US citizenship exam.
And it’s interesting too.
Then put it on your list with a question mark and let us know what you think.
OK. Next one.

I need to know about my job interview. What questions are they going to ask me?
Oh this is interesting. Well I never!
Is it good news?
Yes. Do you have shares in Acme Corp?
Well buy some.
I can’t. I just gave you all my money.
That’s a shame. They’re going up tomorrow. Well, that’s it then.
But you haven’t told me about my job interview.
Just let make a note of that. Buy Acme Corp ….

I remember. We had fun shooting that one!
Yeah, but what grammar point was it?
And you were a fraud. You didn’t answer any of my questions.
I wasn’t a fraud.
You took my money.
My crystal ball may have been faulty. The video was about going to, will and the present continuous.
So how to talk about the future.
OK, let’s have another clip.

What’s your favourite room in your home?
My bedroom.
And why’s that?
I like it.
And is it a large room?
Jay’s answers are too short here. One way to extend your answers is to give reasons.
I like my bedroom because it’s where I keep my pet spider.

You were a terrible candidate
That came from a series we made about the IELTS exam.
We made it with Keith from IELTS Speaking Success.
Have we finished the series?
We’ve done part one and part two but Keith and I would like to make another couple of videos about part three.
We should do that. A lot of you have written to us and told us they’ve been very helpful.
It’s on my list.
English exams can be very stressful.
And we love it when we can help.
There’s a shot at the start of those videos where it looks like you and Keith are in the same room, but in fact he was in Spain and you were here in Philadelphia.
We used a green screen, so I could put me in his shot. It worked fine.
Green screens are terrific
We use our green screen a lot because then we can put different backgrounds behind us.
It’s quite big, but it just about fits in our living room.
You know another funny thing happened to us this year. A local television station made a video about us.
Oh yeah. We live on Arch Street in Philadelphia in a little row home.
That’s a little terraced house in British English.
And channel 10 moved in just up the street, into a big new skyscraper, so I welcomed them to our street.
He was very cheeky. He sent them an email saying welcome to the new kids on the block from the old video production studio on Arch Street.
I was playing around because Simple English Videos is tiny. It’s just Vicki and me, and Channel 10 is enormous.
It’s owned by the Comcast empire. But they watched some of our videos and then brought their news cameras along to make a news story about us.

In a world filled with millennials making money by posting videos online (Hi. Hi.) You can consider them above average. (Hello everybody. I’m Vicki and I’m British. And I’m Jay and I’m American.) A couple who spent decades carving out their own careers found a new way of showcasing their wealth of knowledge. And now they’ve got a worldwide reach. (Oh no, what happened?) And now in their sixties and seventies, Jay Silber and his wife Vicki Hollett are senior YouTubers and they teach people how to speak English properly on their channel called Simple English Videos. (So I said two nice things here.) For now they’re just happy helping new English speakers sound their best.
People tell us how we’ve changed their lives, how we’ve helped them, and in fact there’s a long queue, to borrow a British English term, developing now of people who want us to be their grandparents.
Of course. You’re lovable.
How awesome is that?
Well Jay has a career creating instructional videos and even reported for NBC 10 many years ago. Vicki has a background in English speaker training and writing textbooks, so you see people of all backgrounds are getting in on YouTube.

They took up the angle of us being old, but young at heart.
Yeah, I like the young at heart, but I’m not sure how I feel about the old bit, but it was fun to have them here.
I liked the boxing clip they used. I didn’t have to go to the gym that day because I worked out on the set.
That came from this video.
Now before we start the conference, there are some people whom we must thank. There’s Mr. Jones, who sent the invitations and Mrs. Smith, who organized the accommodation. And then there’s Mr. Peters, whom you will meet later when he will explain the conference schedule. And then there’s something green in your teeth.
Did I get that green thing out?
And I know the language point too. It was about when we use who and whom.
If you find who and whom hard you’re not alone.
Lots of native speakers find it difficult too.
I’ll put a link here.
OK, next clip.
You’ll know this one.

I can’t come home yet. I’m literally up to my ears in work.
It was so funny, we literally died laughing.
I’m leaving.
No wait. It’ll literally only take me two seconds to get to you. See! Literally two seconds.

OK that one was about how we use the word literally.
And possibly overuse it.
But it’s very common these days.
We had some really interesting comments on that video.
We get lots of really interesting comments on our channel. And thank you so much to everyone who writes to us. It’s really motivating.
Someone wrote a comment last week saying we should also make a video about the word basically.
Oh that’s interesting, because that’s another word that some people think is overused.
We try to respond to all the comments we get, but it’s become harder this year because there are a lot of them.
But we read them all and we really appreciate them.
And we love it when you give us ideas.
I’ll put the word basically on our list and research it.
So basically we’ll try to make a video about that!
And please keep sending us ideas. It means a lot to us.
And telling us what you like helps us to plan.
Yes. Some of our most popular videos this year were these.

Youth…sss, Youth-s. Yous. Ah, it’s kind of difficult this one.
Yeah, it IS difficult.
What does it mean?
A youth is a young person and the plural is youths.
We often say youths when we disapprove, so we might complain about a gang of youths who started a fight or something.
Oh my god. Youths.
They pronounced it very well.
This word is like work out for your mouth. It gets your face muscles moving.

Have we made a video about that ‘th’ sound yet?
No, but it’s on my list. We know you want it and we’ll try to make it.
The YouTube algorithm seems to love videos like that and it recommends them to lots of people.
And we love it when you recommend tricky words. We’ve had such good suggestions in the comments.
People sometimes wonder how we make those videos.
What happens is we go to a place that’s popular with foreign tourists.
We’re lucky because people from all over the world come to Philadelphia.
We set up our camera in front of the Art Museum.
That’s a popular tourist destination because the Rocky statue is nearby.
Then we put up a sign that says if you’re a non-native English speaker, please stop and talk to us.
Then we explain what we’re doing and the fun begins.
But sometimes we wait for ages and nobody talks to us.
But if we get one person to stop then other people see that we’re having fun and then they stop too.
Yeah, it’s very unpredictable, but we’ll try to make more of these videos.
It has to be a nice sunny day with good weather. Not too hot but not too cold. The summer is best.
And we’ve met such nice people.
Thank you to everyone who has stopped and talked to us. We really appreciate it.
OK, Next clip.

Hey, it’s looking good in here.
Yes, I’ve been getting the room ready for Kathy’s seminar.
You got all the chairs out.
Yes, I had to find eighteen of them.
And what’s this? Slides?
Yeah, I made a PowerPoint presentation for Kathy.
You’ve been working very hard.
You must be tired. Have you had lunch yet?
No, I’ve got to tell Kathy the room’s ready.
I can do that for you. Why don’t you go and take a break? You deserve it.
Well, thank you very much. That’s very nice of you.
You’re welcome.

What were we teaching?
Was it how to thank people?
And what happens next? I can’t remember, but I’m sure something bad happens to me.
I’ll show you.

How did Kathy’s presentation go?
Oh very well. How was your lunch?
Oh Kathy, how did you like the PowerPoint slides?
They were excellent.
Oh good.
Thanks for making them, Vicki.
I’m so glad you liked them.
And thanks for getting the room ready. It was great.
My pleasure.
It’s nice to work with someone who’s so helpful and supportive. I really appreciate it.
But I made the PowerPoint slides and I got the room ready.
Yeah, thanks for doing that.

You got me again! You’re always getting me into trouble or putting me down!
Some of you have asked me when I am going to get Vicki back for all the trouble she gets me in and I’m working on it.
It’s never going to happen. Dream on! OK, next clip.

Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the park.
You’re in a good mood.
Well, The Phillies are playing the Dodgers today and I’ve got tickets to the game. Oh, do you want to come?
Oh yes! But I thought it was an afternoon game.
It is. If we leave at 2.30, we’ll be there for the start.
But what about the office? If we left at 2.30, Kathy would go crazy.
Nah! She won’t care.
She never lets us leave early.
Kathy. Can we go to the Phillies game today?
Absolutely not! Forget it.
Told you.

I love that sketch but I’ve no idea what language point we were teaching.
It was the second conditional.
Of course. If we left at 2:30, Kathy would go crazy.
That’s it – the imaginary situation. There was another funny sketch in that video, so I’ll put a link to all our conditional videos where you can watch it.
We’ve done the zero, first, second and third conditionals now. Are we finished?
Officially yes, but I’m wondering about adding another video about mixed conditionals.
They’re tricky. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see a video about them next year.
Yeah. OK, we’re near the end now and I’ve been saving my favourite sketch for last
Your favourite?
Uhuh. It’s very long, so I’m just going to show you part of it.

Hey, I have a meeting with management in five minutes.
It’s my performance review.
Oh yeah.
Have you had yours yet?
Yeah, I had mine yesterday.
I want to do really well. Do you have any tips?
Well yes.
What are they going to ask me?
Well, the first question is always ‘Have you achieved your goals this year?’
Oh great.

Oh no. I know what’s going to happen now. You’re going to give me such bad advice.
But what was the grammar point? It was a really useful one.
I can’t remember.
I’ll give you another clue.

I’ve met all my sales targets. In fact, I’ve just won the top sales person award.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to appear too big-headed.
Big headed?
Yes, you don’t want to sound like you’re boastful or conceited. That’s very bad.
Then what can I do?
Tell them your co-workers have helped you achieve your sales targets.
Yes, it shows you’re a team player.
Oh I get it. Praise the team.
Exactly. Say you couldn’t have done it without them. Management will love that.

You’re going to get me in trouble again, but I know the grammar point now. It’s the present perfect.
You’re right. Good job. When we’re making videos, Jay’s focused on the video production and I’m focused on the English so that’s why he doesn’t remember a lot of these. But you did well there.
It was a funny video.
You were very gullible.
I believed everything you said. I should never trust you, but next year, perhaps I’ll get my own back.
So keep watching folks.
So 2019 has come to an end. Thank you so much for all your support and we hope you’ll stick with us in 2020.
We wish you all a very happy new year and we want to help you take your English to new and wonderful heights.
We have a list of ideas to start us off, but please add your ideas for videos you’d like to see in the comments.
Now, how should we finish this video.
We need Super Agent Awesome.
He’s so amazing at sign off messages.
Yeah, when I’m working with him. I never know what he’s going to say, but he’s always so funny.
Then let’s let him sign us off today. Bye everyone.

Bye now.
Bye…wait! We almost forgot something really important.
The subscribe button.
Oh. Could you tell them about that?
Yes. Hi ladies and gentlemen. Super Agent Awesome here. If you really like our videos and you want to stay informed on this channel, then hit the subscribe button below this video. It’s the red button. Do it in Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Did you hit it yet? Congratulations. You just subscribed and you’re a new member of Simple English Videos. And that’s the end of the video. We are about to say goodbye. Super Agent Awesome signing off. PEACE!

words that are hard to say

Words that are hard to say in American and British English

We’re looking at 9 words that are hard to say in British and American English.
• epitome
• vitamin
• pharaoh
• logically
• twelfth
• literally
• Connecticut
• phlegm
• guarantee

We talk about:
• silent letters
• the tricky English th sound
• syllable and word stress
• British and American differences
• /g/ and /w/ sounds
and lots, lots more.

To see our other videos on how to pronounce difficult words, click here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwrM2Wcy_MsApm3hDJWaGQn7IUb1oFARW

What words do you find hard to pronounce in English?
Today we’re looking at some words our viewers have found difficult.
I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And helping us today are English students who come from other countries around the world.
English is their second language, or even their third or fourth language.
So we’re going to challenge them today.
We’ll ask them to pronounce some words our viewers sent us.
Let’s get cracking!
That one was really hard.
Yeah they’re all wrong!
The spelling is misleading.
Epitome has four syllables. Epitome.
She got it right!
What does epitome mean?
If something is the epitome of something, it means it’s a perfect example.
It’s quite a formal word.
For example, I am the epitome of a fashionable man. My clothes are the epitome of good taste.
Well, they’re the epitome of 1990’s fashion.
Humph! Say the word with us.
OK, next word.
They were all correct. Pronounce this word like them.
No they weren’t! They said vitamin. I say vitamin.
It’s a British and American difference.
Vitamin… vitamin.
Vitamins are substances in food that keep you healthy.
No, vitamins keep you healthy.
Say it with us.
Next word.
OK, lots of people found this hard.
Pharaoh, pharaoh.
The spelling is very confusing.
What is a Pharaoh?
It’s an ancient Egyptian ruler. The word has two syllables and the stress is on the first syllable.
Say it with our learners.
What’s next?
This was another request from our viewers.
Logical – ly.
OK, there are two things to know about this word. The first one is how to make that g sound. We say ‘dzh’.
Logic – logically.
It’s actually a d and a zh sound together. ‘dzh’.
And what’s the second thing to know?
How many syllables does it have? 3 or 4?
It has three syllables, not four.
Log-ic-all-ly – that’s wrong. Log-ic-ally – three syllables.
Say it with us.
OK, this next one is going to get your mouths moving.
It’s good exercise for your mouth muscles.
The thing is, there’s the cardinal number, twelve, and then there’s the ordinal number twelfth.
Twelfth is much more difficult to say.
Oh, what’s that? Twelfth.
It’s very hard.
So you’re going to make a L. /l/. Then you bring your bottom lip up to touch your top teeth /lf/ . And then you have to bring your tongue forward to make a th sound. Elfth – twelfth
Wow, they did really well!
Really well, because they did it fast and clearly. But when you’re practising, it’s best to do it slowly first so you can think about it.
Is there any way to make this easier?
Yes! There are a couple of ways to cheat. The first one is to drop the /f /and just say th.
We often say it like that when we’re speaking fast.
And what’s the other way to cheat?
In British English, you can drop the th and just say the f sound instead.
In parts of the UK, particularly around London, quite a few people say /f/ instead of /th/ these days.
He sounded great to me!
OK, next word.
They’re NEARLY right.
Yeah, they just need to change the word stress.
The main stress goes on ‘lit’.
We said this word a little differently. Did you notice?
For me it has four syllables. Li-te-ra-lly.
And for me it has three. Lite-ral-ly.
Our learners said it both ways.
Literally is a useful word and we’ve made another video about it.
I’ll put the link here.
Say it with our learners.
There’s a lot of regional variation in how we say some of these words in the UK.
That’s true in the US too.
Write and tell us what you say in the comments.
So what’s next?
This one is the name of an American state.
Ah, good guess, but that second C is silent.
They got it right!
It has four syllables. Conn-ect-i-cut
And in American English we flap the t sound in the middle, so it sounds like a fast d sound.
Say it with us.
Where is Connecticut?
It’s in New England, north of New York. And the state song is Yankee Doodle Dandy.
OK, what’s next?
This one’s funny.
Good guesses but wrong!
The spelling of this word is confusing.
Yeah. ‘ph’ of often pronounced /f/ in English.
Like the word photo, pharmacy, phone…
And the ‘g’ is silent here. But some of our learners got it.
Ph… phlegm.
They sounded unsure but they were right.
So what is phlegm.
It’s a thick substance that forms in our nose and throat when we have a cold.
Say it with us.
There are lots of silent letters in English.
Yep. Here’s another one.
Ah no!
This word is particularly tricky for Spanish speakers.
We have two different words: guarantee and warranty. G – guarantee and w – warranty
And they have similar meanings so what’s the difference?
One meaning of guarantee is a promise. Like Jay often arrives late for work and when I complain…
I say ‘I guarantee it won’t happen again.’
It’s a promise he never keeps.
And a warranty is a kind of promise too, but it has a more limited meaning.
A warranty is a written promise. If we buy a new washing machine, they might promise to repair it if it breaks down with a year.
That’s a kind of guarantee.
And the document they give us a a warranty.
Look at our mouth positions when we say the words.
Guarantee. Warranty.
Guarantee. Warranty.
When we say /w/, our lips are more rounded.
Yeah, but there’s another problem that students can have with this word. The spelling is misleading.
They’re not quite right.
The letter U is silent.
They got it.
Yeah. Say it with us.
OK, that’s it. but do you realize this video is part of a series?
We’ve made videos about other words that are hard to pronounce.
I’ll put a link to the playlist at the end of this video.
But now we’d like to thank all the English learners who helped us teach the words.
They were so nice to give us their time and such fun to work with.
If you’ve enjoyed this video why not share it with a friend?
They might enjoy it too.
Have a great weekend everyone and see you soon.